Thursday, October 23, 2008

ZOMGbie Part II: The Requiem of Vengance

It seems people keep comming up with new and exciting ways to get zombies into a story. The triggering case for this observation is that the good dudes and dudettes over at Shocktillyoudrop writing about a movie called Cockneys vs. Zombies. I'll give you a second to absorb that title. To my understanding it's kind of Snatch/Lock, Stock meets George Romero, or possibly 28 days later, you know how it goes.

That's one thing I love about zombies, they're like cheese. And by that, I do not mean that their quality increases over time, nor that they're what sweet dreams are made of (think about it.) What I mean is that you can add zombies to damn near everything. Of course, it might be silly, but in some cases, it might be good, or possibly even awesome to the point of awesomeness.

In closing: Zombies are like cheese.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The really big question

One can only gaze into the movie monstrosities of fright films for so long before the inevitable queston does dawn upon the intrepid horror movie geek. Why am I watching horror movies, why does gruesome bisections, stabbage and, to be brutally honest, quite frequently laughably translucent plots fascinate me so. Of course, the obvious answer, being "because it's fun," or "because I choose to" if you're in a particularly rebellious geek mood.

When discussing the topic at hand, it does strike me with great impact that there's a lot of people that know far more about the topic than me. Of course, this happens increasingly often, proportionally increasing with my increased internet usage, as the sheer weight of people that know stuff out here is quite crushing. Anyway, I digress.

There's something very alluring with the fright on the silver screen. The combination of overall unsympathetic characters getting sliced away to Valhalla in gory but ultimately satisfying ways, without having to worry about getting red on you, or indeed be in any danger at all. Truly, thanks to a solid fourth wall , there are few things so safe and snug as a horror movie watcher. That is, after you're finished being hysterically afraid for this solid concrete wall #IV suddenly breaking apart, leaivng them at me mercy of chainsaw-wielding maniac cheerleader zombie vampires, who may or may not be the local inbred nutjob, who in turn may or may not be dead and secretly someones father.

With that said, movies that smash through the fourth wall can also be all kinds of awesome and fun, despite scaring the ever-loving crap out of yours truly. Despite how cozy your average screen slasher may be, there's something very revitalizing with these flicks. Not only do they manage to be scary long after the usual horror fanatic has been hardened to the point where most horror movies couldn't scare them unless it leapt out of a nearby shadow in real life, riding on a velociraptor together with Miley Cyrus. To get there in the first place, movies such as these have to reimagine itself without becomming predictably unpredictable.

Why this more primal thrill is fun, well, that's more a simple question about feeling alive. Sure, I may not be the bravest in the bunch after watching a fourth-wall fracturing fearorama, but Cthulhu damn it, the adrenaline shock is a real rush. There's just something about the highly audible heartbeat I identify as my own, the heightened awareness that my forefathers used to not be munched on by the more feral parts of the fauna back in the day. I can't say I long back to the day where art was LSD trips being drawn crudely on rock walls, and romance was a fancy word for "find mate, fuck mate, repeat," but there's undeniably a part of me that, when I'm properly scared, goes "fuck yes, I'm feeling like sabertooth steak tonight."

When chasing for new horror movies, I'm always on the lookout for movies from the latter category, although I'm, in most cases, forced to make do with the former. It is, however, not without its merits. To my observations, watching a horror movie is a very special social setting, not only because there's usually a large crowd that just won't watch horror movies, but also because it's a rather intimate thing to give in to ones primal fears in the presence of others. Especially as this is a side of yourself you hardly come in contact with otherwise. Of course, the occasional panicked grab for something, or someone, to hang on to through the dread, does only enhanche this atmosphere.

In addition, one could muse over the paradox of shielding yourself from the horrors of the real world by drowning yourself in fictional horrors, to which one can shrug and say "meh, it's only a movie after all." I won't go so far that to say that this is the major reason why people watch horror movies, but it certainly doesn't hurt.

In closing, I'd like to stress that I'm in no way an expert. A combination of some guessing, a little movie theory and mountains upon mountains of personal experience and musings hopefully manages to produce something at least faintly

Saturday, October 18, 2008


As far as I'm concerned, the isolated togetherness in a dark movie theatre is the best way to deliver chills and thrils, but the slightly more accessible television terrors certainly can't be underestimated either. The bite-sized horror of various TV series might have it's problems compared to the complete and undivided attention one gives to a movie, but that's not saying some series won't scare the living crap out of you.

It's my experience that the various horror-themed series aren't as effective as they could be, but then again, such is the case with many, many horror movies. Some series that work hard to break through the fourth-wall barrier and roar into our faces include:

Supernatural. Although most Supernatural-episodes aren't very scary, some are even downright funny like Mystery Spot, it still has its share of old-fashioned horror, with freaky children, shapechangers, or ghosts 'a plenty. The classical rock soundtrack certainly help for those, such as yours truly, who appriciates some music.

Dexter deserves a honorable mention, when the title music and intro is scary enough to give chills, it doesn't really matter how un-scary, although undoubtably exciting, the rest of the show is.

While on the topic of winsome intros, we also have Masters of Horror, as I discussed earlier. Any horror fan should check these out, as they're a great way to open up your mind to new and exciting directors and their different directing styles. Needless to say, horror nerds that are also movie nerds will have a ball.

Lastly, we have Doctor Who, ask anyone who grew up with this, it has some scary stuff. I've saddly just experienced the last few seasons of this granddaddy of scifi, but there has been plenty of genuinely scary moments. For example, Blink is just pure scary, featuring statues that come to life and kills you (technically though, just send you back in time and let you live yourself to death, the point remains,) if you should take your eyes away from them, or The impossible planet/The satan pit, where the main characters stumble accross a planet keeping the most ancient of evils trapped within. Doctor Who succeeds in being scary as hell because of untraditional monsters, good writing and editing, and it's definitely worth a look if you're on the lookout for something slightly different.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Jack brooks: Monster Slayer

A Slowzombies review

Expectation is indeed a strange brew, it does odd things to your brain wether it's positive or negative. I had quite a bit of expectations around this particular flick. The concept of a plumber with anger issues fighting monsters Ashley J. Williams-style undoubtably was interesting. On the other hand, there was quite a lot that could go wrong with this movie. If it wasn't funny enough or failed to provide the apropriate level of tounge-in-cheek sillyness, the movie would leave a bad taste in ones mouth, to the point where a Uwe Boll movie would be a breath of fresh air in comparison.

The story is, as mentioned, not horribly complicated. The titular plumber comes to clash with a demon who is possessing his science teacher, turning the latter into a tentacled animatronic fiend. The choice of having the majority of the movie to be set in a highschool, despite the main characters being a good couple of years to old to be in one, is interesting, as it allows the movie to discretely poke fun at teen horror stereotypes. Otherwise, the pliot is nice and properly predictable, with some foreshadowing so blatant it borders on humor in itself, at least to the genre-savvy watcher.

When it comes to acting, I can't really say anyone stands out as particularly bad or good.One can argue that the talents of Robert Englund is misused slightly, most of his major scenes on-screen are highly slapstick/sillyness-driven, and doesn't really tap into Englunds potential to freak out and flat out scare. One must be wary, however, of judging this like one would judge a movie that takes itself seriously. Therefore, I'll settle on the neccesarity of the sillyness portrayed by the man who gave the sleaze slasher a name and a, properly charred, face.

When it comes to the special effects, we're talking proper oldschool. Any notion of modern CGI effects are discarded in favor of animatronics, giving the monsters beasts and ghouls a nice trip through uncanny valley. It's obvious the filmmakers did know a good deal about the limitations of these special effects, because they seem to do well with these scenes, avoiding the many possible pitfalls of machine monster mayhems.

Overall, I'm content with my purchase of Jack Brooks: Monster slayer, it certainly isn't the most thrilling horror movie you will find, but when it comes to humor and just plain fun, it has it in spades. Perfect for weak-hearted, or -stomached moviegoers who wants some nice and easy halloween fun, or the slightly more hardened horror veteran provided you've got a sense of humor. Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer is highly recomended.

Final Rating: 5 of 6 Headshots

In closing, I would like to state that I'm actually hoping for more Jack Brooks sequels. Sure, the movies won't be less silly as the series progress, but the tounge-in-cheek style hopefully will ride the wave more stylishly as the more serious movie series.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Freaky weekend wrapup

I don't really know what kind of devil possessed me this weekend, but apparantly I was fated to write about yet another movie that really, really, belongs in the freaky files. The name of the movie is Imprint, and is Takashi Miikes contribution to the Masters of Horror TV series.

If you've seen any other of Miikes works, you might know that he's not one to pull the punches. Imprint is a flat out torturefest, complete with needles, nails 'n lips and cojoined semi-demonic twins. Yup, you heard me. Of course, the torture scenes are the most insanely uncomfortable ones, but the scenes leading up to said scenes is almost more uncomfortable. The haunting atmosphere of a seriously messed up brothel does really manage to creep under your skin, before the sound of needles pushing through flesh takes the hold and rips said skin straight off.

As a traditional horror film, Imprint might not be as effective as it could be. Sure, it has gorn a-plenty, but that's not what I'd call scary, except that someone actually thought up and went through with the idea. Miike does that to you. At any rate, Imprint does have some scary scenes, the first narration scene, prior to the torture, is very creepy with slightly odd camera angles and vauge shapes in the background that are never identified. Actually, it bothers me how nobody seems to know or care what those things were.

When it comes to Masters of Horror, my favorite episode is Cigaret Burns. To me, a film student, this movie provides both a lot of nods to the classics in the genre and a few interesting observations around the power of the moviemaker, especially the director. I can't say I believe there's a movie so gruesomely cruel it can make people murderously insane, my watching of The Sinful Dwarf notwithstanding, but it's a cool idea, and the search for the maddest of mad geniuses is exciting. The other Masters episodes are definitely not without merit. Mentionable ones include Incidents on and off a mountain road, with one of the better twist endings I've seen and The Fair-haired child, with good ole' nightmare fuel a'plenty.

Halloween countdown: 18 days

Thursday, October 9, 2008

On a truly unnerving piece of celluloid

It's not often I wind up seeing a movie that's so profoundly screwed up that it truly freaked me out. Also, I really wouldn't expect a movie like this to come from our neighbours in the south, Denmark. The movie in question is called Dværgen, or The sinfull dwarf. The story? Well, it's about a starving artist-type author and his wife renting a room at a run-down place owned by a retired cabaret singer and her diminutive son, Olaf. As the movie continues, it's revealed that the two is running a formidably shady kidnapping/prostitution gig, and shortly decides that the young writers wife would make an excellent addition to their... collection.

This movie is what you'd call Dwarfsploitation, a genre I honestly can't blame you if you do not have a too close relationship with. The core ingredients are sex, drugs, women in distress and, as the name does imply, dwarves. Like most exploitation movies, the whole thing is done with the tastefulness and tact of your average porno. The comparison, incidentally, is quite accurate, with acting so poor in places that one really can nothing but whince. While on the topic of uncomfortable viewings, I've as of yet seen sex being portrayed so... lacking a better word... unappetizing, its a genre thing I s'pose.

The Sinful Dwarf clearly not a movie for the average watcher of flicks, in fact, I don't think I can recomend it at all, but it's an interesting experience if you want to know exactly how bad it can get.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

It is not all good that is gore

Today, I figured I should write about a key component for any good horror flick. We're talking the red stuff, the redrum, the kroovy. Blood and gore is the focus today. Now, when I say horror and gore makes a good combination, a lot of movies seem intent on proving that the two really doesn't belong together. It's not as much malice as criminal misuse of the adrenaline pump quickstarter that's the problem.

We've seen it before, horror gorefests, where any attempt at a story is discarded in favor of showing another few bucketworths of the red stuff, where the human body apparantly does contain 43 gallons of blood under pretty high pressure. Especially sequels seem to suffer from this.

Don't get me wrong, I love gore, if done properly. Few things are as satisfying as a good silver-screen machete fatality, complete with apropriate splatting and gushing, and when there's a pool of it anywhere, you can bet your ass there'll be more, probably also lots of it. Good usage of blood keeps the viewers at least slightly unnerved. After all, humans are more or less preprogrammed to react when the red stuff is on the outside.

Same goes for torture, except that very rarely makes for awesome watching, even when done properly. The first Saw movie was pretty damn sweet in my opinion, but that's more or less the honest exception. The sequels, and seemingly neverending slew of imitators, however, did not fare quite as well. Let's face it guys, your fevered sadistic nightmares have fed you a couple new ways to kill people slowly, fair enough, but the real problem does arise when you come to the realization you really don't have a good story. Actually, more often than not, no story at all is present. So, how does one remedy such an ailing? By sitting down and actually trying to craft a good, coherent story?

Hehe, I wish. My experience with scriptwriters/directors in this situation is that they go with the everpopular "make a vauge story and with so much graphic gore people hopefully forget about this pesky story thing"-solution. Worst thing? People get away with it. All the time.

Oh well. Halloween countdown: 24 days.

Quick update

Just a quick word about upcomming attractions. I have ordered Jack Brooks: Monster hunter on DVD, and I will probably post the first ever Slowzombies horror movie review. Of course, if I have positively nothing to say about the movie, I'll most likely write about it anyway, demonstrating how mind-breakingly little there is to say about this movie.

Also, in other horror flick-related news, I've got my hands on a canadian 'un called Ascension. For once, I truly have no idea about how this one will turn out. The story, at first sight, appears to be sort of Immortel (ad vitam)-esque, and the visuals looks unsettling in a kind of awesome way. Time will tell if my predictions are right or not.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

And now for something completely different

Now that I've covered the World War Z movie, it is time to return to the topic I had originally intended. Yes, horror movies is still the primary source for winsome entertainment, but your friend and humble narrator also knows to appriciate a good book, especially if it's horror-themed. Unfortunately, in horror fiction, like everything else, Sturgeon's law applies. However, those pieces not affected by said law, is quite awesome.

As previously mentioned World War Z is awesome. Although it's not what I'd call directly scary, it's definitely providing the aprorpriate bleak zombie apocalypse feel that makes the book pretty difficult to put down. On the less typical horror side, you can find The Raw Shark texts. The book is essentially about a man fleeing from a mind-shark that eat conscience, also involved later is a villain who has achieved immortality by copying his own conscience over to an increasingly large number of new hosts. It's a fun book that really uses the potential of the media. Many, many books I've read have in reality wished to be movies, but this one ain't one of them.

While on the topic of movies and books, the book How to survive a horror movie is also highly recomended, it's a true must for the genre-savvy slasher flick survivor. If you ever wonder how to deal with the various typical horror killers or outsmarting the increasingly sadistic scriptwriters, this certainly is a book worth picking up. And yes, I said sadistic scriptwriters, as the book employs a large degree of meta-thinking to provide the "skills to dodge the kills."

Continuing to one of the oldies but goldies, one of the granddaddies of dread-inspiring fiction, none other than Howard Philips Lovecraft. I went ahead and bought a collection of his short stories (the "Necronomicon" one) this summer, and boy, was that money well spent. Some of his works are truly terrifying, although there are some a bit below average. The Horror at Red Hook didn't particularly tickle my fancy, for example. Overall, though, Lovecraft really mastered an art that many creators of horror fiction in all media still struggle with to this day. Lovecraft was a master of understatement, providing just enough scares to keep our feeble human minds guessing on the exact nature of the otherworldly horrors. While on the topic of horrors, the greatest monstrosities, those who transcend all kind of human logic and comprehension, really is what makes Lovecrafts stories shine. The mere cosmic pessimism of the notion that there exists creatures that regard the workings and morals of humans about as high as a human would regard a colony of ants.

Also, the fact that he makes a norwegian ram the great old one cthulhu in the face with a steamboat and thus saving earth temporarily, didn't exactly hurt.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Today's entry was going to be about something entirely different, but I suddenly stumbled across an interesting piece of news that really pushed my fanboy button. Originally, I was planning to write about interesting horror litterature, including my newfound love for the works of a certain Mr. Lovecraft. However, when I did some research on the book World War Z, among others double-checking the name of the author because that's incredibly embarrasing to mess up in a blog, I learned that there is a silver screen treatment of WWZ in the works.

World War Z is written by Max Brooks, the man who wrote The zombie survival guide, and as the title and previous works implies, it's about our favorite shambling piles of reanimated flesh. World War Z is somewhat unique in that it tells the typical zombie story from the point of view of the people who survived it.

The one thing that worries me, except for a slight chance for running zombies, is that the book is narrated in such a way that making it into a traditional hollywood flick would be nothing short of a lovecraftian nightmare. One hopes that the film is made, like the book, heavily flashback-based. Now that I think about it, there's actually several things that can go wrong, for example shifting the unique focus of the book, that being how the Zombie crisis wrecked all of the world, rather than, like most zombie movies, just focusing on how the Americans, or in some cases the Brits, are faring.

There's not really all that much more I know, hope or fear about this movie, except that I know it'll be about zombies, I hope it'll be awesome and I fear it will be full of fail. While waiting for more details to be released, feel free to check out this script preview and/or wait in eager expectation.

Musical and Horror, a viable combination?

As a perceptive reader might allready have picked up from my previous entry, I love horror movies, and I'm constantly searching for that thrill, that jolt of adrenaline that let's me know my body is quite convinced I'll snuff it any minute now, while my head knows I'm still safe, comfortably cuddled up behind the everpresent fourth wall. As the perceptive reader might also have found out, I'm also fond of the musical genre. No, it doesn't bother me how everyone suddenly knows the lyrics, and quite often the dance moves. Then again, like in horror, musicals can be good and outright horrible, so not everything is good.

At any rate, I would like to see these two genres combine, mingle, produce viable offspring, if you will. There are a few faintly horror-themed musicals, like Canibal! and, to a degree, Sweeney Todd, but the horror ends up either fading out entirely or taking the backseat to the musical and accompanying drama. The Rocky Horror Picture Show is mostly horror only in name, as it's named after the mute brute Rocky Horror. Of course, it references multiple horror movies of the good old fashioned sort, but it's not quite the same.

What I want to see is a genuinely creepy horror film that is also a musical. I am not quite sure you can actually make a movie like that, but I'm still hoping. The first possibility that springs to mind is a slasher musical. Imagine the scene, one of the early victims walk down a dark corridor to investigate a noise, open a door, and out bounces a confuddled cat (or possibly a ferret, since it's always a cat.) The soon-to-be slasher victim picks up the pet and returns to whatever she was doing, singing about how freaking scary everything is. As the song ends, she is predictably, but of course throughoutly gruesomely, murdered. The whole movie would probably end in some claustrophobic labyrinth setting where the survivor girl and the movies monstrous madman chase eachother, singing a duet (or more like a two-way monolouge while singing, think "My Friends" from Sweeney Todd.)

As I said earlier, I'm not really sure if anyone could, or would, try to make a project like this work, but I guess there's always the faint hope. Additionally, yours truly, being a wannabe filmmaker, would probably have a gander at the possibilities of making Stab: The musical if the occasion should ever arise.