Horrorfest 2014: Presents: A Field In England (2013, Ben Wheatley)


Wandering through the English countryside a group of deserting soliders flee a battle gone horribly wrong. Having witnessed death they seek comfort and shelter at a distant ale house. Only too late do they realize that two men have commandeered them for a dark purpose: the finding of a great treasure. Having escaped one master they are now under new management; one of them says of their new lord, named O’ Neil, “It does not surprise me that the Devil is an Irishman, though I thought perhaps a little taller.”

This is only the beginning of their horrors, both seen and lurking beneath the surface. A Field In England has many of the grace notes of a Ben Wheatley film, only in this case he dials up the surreal factor to new heights. Part drug trip part nightmarish journey into a fresh green hell, filmed in glorious black and white, this is a jarring and harsh movie. There is even some grin inducing bleak humor, followed by sharp and nasty violence. Each man falls prey to their own nature, with one of them transforming. Into what, well….that is a bit unclear.

As in all of Wheatley’s films truths emerge and people’s real selves are unwrapped, as if they were nasty presents from a demonic Santa. Chaso erupts and lives are changed forever. That stark final shot is perhaps the most jarring and odd climax to any of Wheatley’s works, and I have no idea what it means. Still this is a creepy and excellent movie, fine tuned and crafted to give the viewer an outer worldly experience.

Horrorfest 2014 Presents: Phantasm II (1988, Don Coscarelli)


Created almost a decade after the original cult classic, Phantasm II is a really cool, well made sequel. Reggie, Mike return to do battle with The Tall Man once more after surviving the events of the first film. Hunting the evil being across the United States, this film has the look and feel of a road trip movie in addition to being a horror film. The stakes are even higher in this movie, as Mike rushes to save a girl he loves from a terrifying fate.

Unlike the first movie there is more action involved. Particularly in the form of a chainsaw battle, which is epic. Also the flying spheres of death are back and one turns out to be the ultimate in horribly killing people. The series retains its dark sense of humor and keeps the strong weird factor that makes it so watchable and interesting in the first place.

Furthermore elements of this film are right at home stylistically when it comes to some of Don Coscarelli’s work. You have inter-dimensional beings, sinister henchmen that dress only in black, and even a mocking of organized religion. It seems that many of the 80s and 90s horror films had something to comment about God, the Devil, and evil versus good in the world. Also the flamethrower moments plus the beings from another plane of existence reminded me a bit of one of his latest films, John Dies At The End, which I also enjoyed last year.

Naturally this is not the last entry in the series. I look forward to viewing the rest of the Phantasm series and enjoying what they have to offer. Oh and they are making another one, which just goes to show that nothing truly ends.

Horrorfest 2014 Presents: Zombie (1979, Lucio Fulci)


Lucio Fulci sure loves his zombies, as evidenced by many of his movies. Especially the aptly named cult classic Zombie, made in 1979 and styled as a quasi sequel to George A. Romero’s Dawn Of The Dead. However this film is more graphic and violent, which is the usual hallmarks of a Fulci movie. This one starts out with a brutal killing followed by a freaky and gory incident on a boat in the New York harbor.

A reporter and the daughter of a doctor team up together and decide to travel down to the island to find him. This leads to them using a pair of vacationing adventurers and a mysterious island where a strange doctor is conducting bizarre experiments. Nothing is what it seems and the undead lurk around every corner, set on devouring the living. This is made especially clear during a horrific scene where a woman is powerless to stop a zombie from attacking her in gruesome fashion.

From that point on the film turns into a walking nightmare, as the undead rise and begin to attack. Most zombie movies have a siege moment at one point or another, and Zombie sure provides it. Funny how cowboys vs Native Americans are incorporated in many horror films, as the heroes must blast their way out and prevent themselves from becoming monster food. Also it helps that they have enough guns to battle the zombie menace.

Despite the low budget and the cheesy acting this is a really well shot horror film. Also the film has one of the coolest moments ever when a shark battles a zombie. Plus the ending is fantastic and eerie, a fitting conclusion to what could be Fulci’s masterwork. Also the film could be seen as a case study in different awesome ways to slaughter a zombie. Even though its not really dived into more there is also a subtitle yet also obvious commentary on how the island’s inhabitants get revenge/seek to devour their seemingly white colonial masters, in addition to the island’s curses that plagued its Spanish rulers coming back to haunt the living centuries later. I can’t wait to see some of his other films, as I have already viewed and liked a few of his other works.

Horrorfest 2014: Still Not Quite Dead


Since 2008 I have watched horror movies from August to early November ever year. Its a grand tradition, one that I will probably keep on doing until I’m finally tired of horror movies…..or more likely run out of the free time necessary to binge every year. There is no set schedule this time, and the theme is horror franchises. Buckle up folks: its going to be another fun ride.

The Dry Run:

1. Zombie (1979, Lucio Fulci)-Zombies
2. Phantasm II (1988, Don Coscarell)-Supernatural
3. A Field In England (2013, Ben Wheatley)-Crazy People

Netflix Instant Viewing Films:

1.    Phantoms (1998, Joe Chappelle)-Creature Feature
2.    The Ninth Gate (1999, Roman Polanski)-Satanic
3.    Red State (2011, Kevin Smith)-Rednecks
4.    Sharknado (2013, Anthony C. Ferrante)-Creature Feature
5.    V/H/S/2 (2013, Simon Barrett, Jason Eisener, Gareth Evans, Gregg Hale, Eduardo Sanchez, Timo Tjahjanto, Adam Wingard)-Anthology
6.    Ravenous (1999, Antonia Bird)-Crazy People
7.    Below (2002, David Twohy)-Ghosts
8.    Wishmaster (1997, Robert Kurtzman)-Supernatural
9.    Grabbers (2012, Jon Wright)-Aliens
10.    Candyman (1992, Bernard Rose)-Slasher
11.    The Keep (1983, Michael Mann)-Supernatural
12.    Humanoids From The Deep (1980, Barbara Peeters)-Creature Feature
13.    Black Sabbath (1964, Mario Bava)-Anthology
14.    Visiting Hours (1982, Jean-Calude Lord)-Slasher
15.    Dust Devil (1992, Richard Stanley)-Slasher
16.    Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920, John S. Robertson)-Creature Feature
17.    Night of the Living Dead (1990, Tom Savini)-Instant Viewing-Zombies
18.    Event Horizon (1997, Paul W.S. Anderson)-Instant Viewing-WTF

The Franchises:

Listed are only ones that I have not seen yet. I might think of more later. I’ve viewed most of the Halloween series and all of the Friday the 13th films so they will not be featured.

1.    A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989, Stephen Hopkins)
2.    Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991, Rachel Talalay)
3.    Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994, Wes Craven)
4.    Child’s Play (1988, Tom Holland)
5.    Child’s Play 2 (1990, John Lafia)
6.    Child’s Play 3 (1991, Jack Bender)
7.    Bride of Chucky (1998, Ronny Yu)
8.    Seed of Chucky (2004, Don Mancini)
9.    Curse of Chucky (2013, Don Mancini)
10.    Halloween: Resurrection (2002, Rick Rosenthal)
11.    Psycho II (1983, Richard Franklin)
12.    Psycho III (1986, Anthony Perkins)
13.    Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990, Mick Garris)
14.    The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986, Tobe Hooper)
15.    Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990, Jeff Burr)
16.    Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994, Kim Henkel)
17.    The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003, Marcus Nispel)
18.    Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013, John Luessenhop)
19.    Critters 3 (1991, Kristine Peterson)
20.    Critters 4 (1992, Rupert Harvey)

It’s Hammer Time Presents: The Man Who Could Cheat Death (1959, Terence Fisher)


Operating as another one of the studios famous mad scientist movies, The Man Who Could Cheat Death has some of Terence Fisher’s usually strong visual style of film making that is the reason why he is the best out of the studios’ stable of directors at the height of its popularity. This film is well made and also is a tad creepy, as the title character turns out to be a monster as a result of his desire to live forever. Georges Bonnet is arrogant, intelligent, murderous and yet utterly charming. Without the parathyroid glands he takes from his victims Georges will finally die after living for over a 100 years. His mentor, Prof. Ludwig Weiss, refuses to help and therefore Georges has to force Pierre Gerard to perform the operation that will enable Georges to continue living forever. A scene that shows what happens to Georges’ victims is rather eerie, aimed at being terrifying and featuring plenty of green. Its almost as if Georges was an alien instead of just a man who thanks to science has found the secret of eternal life. This gift is of course not without a steep price.

Its a bit strange seeing Christopher Lee in a non-monster/evil person role, and he does a fine job here as Pierre, the doctor who unless he aids Georges will suffer the loss of the woman the two men love, Janine Dubois (played by the lovely and talented Hazel Court).  Anton Diffring is fantastic as Georges, giving life to a man who has become evil in his quest to never die. His fate becomes sealed by different forces, and the finale is rather violent and intense, as are most endings to Hammer Studios movies. This film is rather good also for its discussion on what long life, especially possibly living forever, can do to a person. In a key scene Ludwig and Georges argue about the surgery, with Ludwig mentioning that the years have changed Georges for the worse, not for the better. It almost reminds me of some newer Doctor Who episodes where the Doctor’s companions tell him to never travel alone, and how the Doctor often reflects that living so long has turned him into a different man completely.

Some argue that this movie is too heavy on dialogue, yet I like how Fisher sets up his more dramatic elements. Plus the killings are properly horrific and there is plenty of suspense in the final act. I do want to view the original version of this film, titled The Man In Half Moon Street and compare the two films. Hammer Studios was usually quite good at making remarkably entertaining remakes that either channeled the spirits of the originals or offered a new twist on previous material.

Your Worst Inhibitions Tend To Psych You Out In The End


Gus and Shawn are a great pair together. Shawn happens to be the son of a legendary policeman named Henry, while Gus is his life long friend and companion. Sure this show at times reminds me of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson yet it has a unique twist: Shawn pretends to be a psychic. The police use them as consultants although they also have their own private detective agency. Lassiter and Juliet are the two police detectives who put up with their shenanigans as they all try to solve cases every episode.

What I love about this show is the rapport that Gus and Shawn have with each other. The jokes come fast and are rather sharp. Also the supporting cast is fantastic. You also have Henry, who is the reason why Shawn has a heavily observant ability in the first place. Although the show lacks a true arc save for some episodes there are requiring characters and the show does focus on certain aspects.

One of them being Shawn’s dangerous twisty game with an infamous serial killer. The other being Shawn and Juliet being near perfect for each other. Also the major underlying theme of the show is that Gus and Shawn have to keep up the idea that Shawn is psychic. If the police find out Shawn could be in serious trouble. However thanks to the pair’s gift for getting themselves in and out of trouble such worries are pushed aside.

Many episodes are hilarious and I am working back through Psych while anticipating the last season, which is not on Netflix. I do reflect on the show’s joyous aspect plus its great sense of humor and style. The USA Network has some good shows yet I’ve grown mostly attached to Psych over the years. Also its theme song rules.