Horrorfest 2014 Presents: A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989, Stephen Hopkins)


Following up the last two films which dealt with Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund in his most famous role) coming back again and again, The Dream Child is a tad darker and even more twisted than The Dream Master. Poor Alice (Lisa Wilcox) thinks that she has defeated Freddy for good, however this belief turns out to be horribly wrong as Freddy returns through her unborn child, which she meets in her dreams. This film also dives a bit further into Freddy’s past, although the whole thing with his mother was already covered in The Dream Warriors so it feels a tad overdone. Still I liked that this film, Freddy’s quips aside, was trying to be rather creepy in the same style as the rest of the series, particularly the first three.

This one also feels a bit weird, as only Alice seems to remember or know who Freddy is despite him having terrorized people for years now. Her friends are oblivious to what is going on, and only after people start dying do they actually take Alice seriously. This film has some nasty kills, although by this point I felt that the creators had run out of creative ways to murder people onscreen. The motorcycle death was rather ghoulish and disturbing however, and there are a few other moments that made me grin a little. Despite being a fifth installment The Dream Child manages to overcome some unfortunate campy scenes and is a solid addition to the series. What the A Nightmare On Elm Street series lacks in true greatness it seems to make up for in consistency.

Horrorfest 2014 Presents: The Ninth Gate (1999, Roman Polanski)


Although more of a thriller than a horror movie, The Ninth Gate is rooted in both the supernatural and reality, something that Polanski did with Rosemary’s Baby, The Tenant and Repulsion. Johnny Depp portrayals a book dealer and collector who is hired by a rich collector named Boris, played by Frank Langella to prove his copy of a book written by the Devil is not a fake. Even though the reasons are never revealed, Depp’s Corso presses on with the search, brushing past increasing dangers and witnessing horrible things in the process.

This, like all of Polanski’s films is rather well made and is engaging throughout. However it almost falls apart in the second act and the ending is a tad unsatisfying, and the film could have been shortened by at least 20 minutes. The mystery woman (the rather gorgeous Emmanuelle Seigner)  that aids Corso is a little too convenient and the film itself dives into silliness in certain parts. Yet I was still mostly entertained and the film has the hallmarks of many of Polanski’s best works. A much better modern Polanski thriller is The Ghost Writer, a film that has a better cast and is more tightly paced.

 

It’s Hammer Time Presents: The Phantom of the Opera (1962, Terence Fisher)


Unlike its predecessors, Terence Fisher’s The Phantom of the Opera (1962) is more of a modern style take on the original 1925 classic, which starred Lon Chaney. In this remake Herbert Lom tackles the role, and gives it style, grace, and a tragic flare that was missing from the original film. In fact despite not being as good as the 1925 version one thing I like about the 1962 adaption is that it is more in tune with the book. The Phantom was not a monster at first, but in the end was turned into one because of circumstance-in this case, it is because the Phantom was robbed of his works by an arrogant and selfish individual, leading to him turning into a horribly disfigured man. Also I was a bit reminded of the 2004 musical, especially since there are actually musical numbers in this movie and much of the film is as much a drama as it is a horror movie.

The cast is pretty good here-Hammer Studios regular Michael Gough is wonderfully evil and sinister, Edward de Souza plays a solid and likable hero, and Heather Sears is rather good while doing the thankless job of being the pretty damsel who ends up the object of the Phantom’s desire. Much like Fisher’s other Hammer films the visuals here are stunning, and the set designs are remarkable. Even though it lacks the 1925 version’s high level of creepiness, and Lom unfortunately doesn’t measure up to Lon Chaney’s brilliant and freaky Phantom, who he completely made his own, this is a rather solid remake. Some of Hammer Studio’s most notable efforts included non-franchise movies such as this one, and its a shame that this movie failed at the box office. At least its developed a cult following since.

Horrorfest 2014 Presents: Phantoms (1998, Joe Chappelle)


Too bad the creature storming a remote Colorado ski town takes on the knowledge of its victims. The people it mercilessly devoured went to their gross goo covered graves thinking they had been eaten by the devil. Which doesn’t make a lot of sense, although maybe when one is being eaten whole by a monster one lacks the time to think properly. Such is Phantoms, a campy yet surprisingly enjoyable horror film that has gotten endless bad reviews since its release. And of course praise in the form of “Affleck was the bomb in Phantoms, yo.”

Before he started directing quality movies and winning Oscars Ben Affleck bounced from one poorly reviewed film to another. Nevermind that Phantoms is actually good, undeserving of the hate it received. You have Rose McGowan being gorgeous, Affleck offering steely resolve, Peter O’Toole wonderfully hamming it up and Liev Schreiber acting creepy. All in one monster movie filled package that wisely borrowed from other previous and better films.

You have references to Tremors and The Blob remake in addition to some scenes reminding me of 28 Days Later which is funny considering Phantoms came first. Sure there is some awful dialogue and the ending is weak and a tad standard by modern horror conventions. However the film maintains a good level of atmosphere and it also wisely keeps the monster mostly under wraps. Every year I view one horror film that actually turns out to be a gem that wasn’t fairly received, and this year I think its Phantoms.

The Revolution is Here….Maybe?


Weeks have passed since a policeman in Fergunson, Missouri shot and killed a man. After that terrible moment people started protesting the fact that, well, a man was shot six times when he may not have even been guilty. This resulted in the police reacting in a manner benefitting a fascist, well, police state. The whole mess has left myself and others wondering exactly how something like this could even happen in America, which is supposed to be the land of the free. Never mind the growing income equality, the fact that many politicians are okay with measures that slash funding for much needed services or that racism hasn’t been magically conquered just because we, the people (well over half the voting population) elected an African American president. The hate that so many black people face every day never went away, and it speaks to the problems of overbearing police authority, the militarization of our police forces, and a growing divide between the haves and have not’s in this great country of ours.

So its no surprise that people have taken to the streets in protest, and I salute them for it although its sad that outsiders have looted and given those legitimately speaking their mind a bad name. Ferguson’s police has responded with tactics that make me ashamed and sad, angry and furious, left wondering what could possibly be going through their minds as they tear gas crowds that have also featured journalists and even a senator. Journalists by the way have been falsely imprisoned, as one journalist wrote about, in addition to being threatened by police. This is not what should be happening in America, the supposed land of the free, home of the brave. Also I’m rather depressed that people are actively supporting the policeman that shot Michael Brown, the dead man who was shot six times. I don’t care if Brown was attacking the policeman there is no need to shoot someone six times. Six goddamn times. I thought the police were supposed to try and apprehend suspects without killing them, but hey what the hell do I know? I’m just a civilian after all.

What is even more depressing is the thought that the police will not be held properly accountable for this beyond screwed up mess that has occurred. I do agree that the officer that shot Brown should have his day in court, although the trial if it even happens will probably take place miles away from Ferguson. Its both funny and tragic that before all this took place I didn’t even know where Ferguson, Missouri was or had even heard of such a place. However if we, the people do not take the lessons of this tragedy to heart such moments in time will unfortunately happen again. Its up to those in power to finally act and keep in mind that our country sadly has a long way to go before solving the problems of excessive authority, racism and prejudice.

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.