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Down The Rabbit Hole

Sometimes I Post Stuff, Sometimes People Read It

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: Wyrmwood (2014, Kiah Roache-Turner)


Every time I think zombie films have run their course, that I am tired of my favorite horror sub genre, someone goes along and makes one that restores my interest. Wyrmwood (also known as “Road of the Dead”) is a ridiculous, gory, visceral horror experience that covers a zombie outbreak caused by, well, no one is quite sure, although the air is hinted at as being the cause. I don’t really care how zombies happen, all that matters is that the zombie film have engaging characters and be at least entertaining. Kiah Roache-Turner’s film checks all of those boxes and offers more than I expected, which is a nice bonus. Poor Barry has a bad weekend in the Austrian Outback, and things spiral from there, as he is forced to band together with others to survive a zombie attack.

One thing I really dug about this film is the zombie killing violence, which is heavy throughout the entire movie. Roache-Turner decides to make a fairly simple and energetic horror film, and it shows throughout. I really liked the character of Benny, who has plenty of wisecracks and a fairly wiry take on the entire situation. Oh and don’t forget the mad scientist elements, which reminded me of Day of the Dead (1985). Plus hey zombie blood is flammable, so you can use it for fuel. Finally they’re useful! I cannot reveal more about this film without compromising the last, intense final act, yet I will not forget what I have seen anytime soon. I like to call this movie a great cousin of the Evil Dead series, and I wonder what Roache-Tuner will do next for an encore.

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Get Out (2017, Peele)


WARNING: MASSIVE SPOILERS FOR GET OUT:

Also this essay is a work in progress and was penned while drinking at my favorite local bar after I saw the movie months ago:

From the very beginning when a black man is afraid to walk the suburbs to the gory and exciting last act, Jordan Peele’s Get Out is an exercise in pure fear. Every once in a while there is a horror film that scares the crap out of me, and 2017 delivers one that should be seen on the big screen. I laughed and then got quiet as a poor black man was knocked out and stuffed into the back of a trunk, while weird southern music played in the background. Cue opening credits. Thanks to Halloween (both versions) and Scream I am terrified of the suburbs. Only this time it’s not one psychopath wearing a mask.

Also don’t forget the liberal racism of white people, although I doubt most of the guests at the dinner party Rose’s creepy white parents throw during the weekend that Chris, her boyfriend, and her decide to visit fit leftist ideals. Upon arriving we get two black servants and a house straight out of any upstanding horror film. This movie has so many references I lost track, although several came to mind: Rosemary’s Baby, The Shining, Burnt Offerings and even Funny Games and You’re Next. I think there may even be a little Texas Chainsaw Massacre in that instead of poor redneck cannibals it’s a rich family using black people to keep on living forever, obtaining their strengths. One thing I got out of the dinner party is how secretly cruel and awful elderly people set in racism can be, and that even the one who isn’t apparently racist is in fact just as bad as the rest of them.

Oh and Chris’ buddy, Rod is hilarous yet also makes sense through out the entire film. When he goes to the police it doesn’t matter that they’re minorities, either: his story is dismissed, partly for being crazy but also because cops are worthless in any horror movie. They never believe what is happening, even if presented with evidence. When Chris gets carded by the police and responds with a tired expected compliance, it’s very telling. As is when a cop car pops up later and Chris assumes the hands up position that I’m sure all too many people of color know quite well.

Peele couldn’t have picked a better pair of people to play Rose’s parents. Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener are a perfect embodiment of white privilege and attempts to convince people they aren’t racist. Although I wonder if they would take anyone who fits their ideal of strength and proper genetics, according to them anyways. Get Out also features their kids carrying on their parent’s heritage of racism, this proving that hoping the younger generation overcomes their parents brand of hate is a foolish notion. If anything the film almost suggests that eliminating white racists is the answer, although I don’t want to read too much into a movie where a man kills someone with deer antlers.

I love the little details in this movie. Someone on Twitter pointed out how Rose refuses to mix her colored cereal with her milk. Her brother sits and pulls a Deliverance, playing some type of guitar while Rose and Chris reenter the mansion shortly before things completely explode. If there is critiques of this movie then it is that I saw the twists coming, although they are fairly telegraphed in the film. I really hope that Jordan Peele makes another film and has a successful career as a director. He has style, ideas and has given the world another great film, not just a horror film but a movie. Might as well cut back on the titles anyways.

The Dog Days…I Mean, Films..Of Summer


Inspired by Willow from Twitter. In no order:

Friday the 13th series

Dazed and Confused

The Sandlot

Jaws

George Washington

Heavyweights

Wet Hot American Summer

Terminator 2: Judgement Day 

Bottle Rocket

Do The Right Thing 

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 

The Graduate

Alt-Right? Yeah, right….


Hey look ma! Racists without the hoods!

Sunday I woke up to find that in Charlottesville VA a group of white people, among them infamous alt-right leader Richard Spencer, had gathered to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. Looking at the photos of a group bearing torches and marching at night, I couldn’t help but think two things: “The KKK rises again, and wow they are Nazis.” I mean the crowd chanted “blood and soil,” a famous Nazi chant, along with “Russia is our friend.” Having lived in Iowa my whole life and thus being aware that even up north the KKK still exists, I should not be completely shocked. Yet it is rather dismal that so many people would think that removing a symbol of the racist Confederacy should be controversial. I don’t think it is preventing anyone from knowing history, but rather it is the mayor of Charlottesville taking necessary action.

Oh and funny enough, according to the AOL.com article I am currently reading:

 “A group suing Charlottesville over the Lee statue removal says it had no involvement in the Saturday events. “It has come to our attention that several out-of-town groups associated with white supremacy and (identitarian) beliefs conducted events and protests in both Lee and Jackson Parks today,” a rep wrote on Facebook. “Neither Save the Robert E. Lee Statue nor The Monument Fund were in any way involved in these events and only learned of them though media reports.” (https://www.aol.com/article/news/2017/05/14/protestors-nazi-charlottesville-jackson-lee-white-supremacist-rally/22085869/)

Image result for snl alt right is why grandpa lives in argentina now
Saturday Night Live on point, as usual…

Which means that even those who want the statue to remain are even distancing themselves from a mob that felt the need to speak for the actual town. Go figure. However I think the other problem is that over the years, we have misused the term “Nazi,” and thus need to go back to only using it in serious moments. How can I take it seriously when someone labels someone a “Grammar Nazi” (by the way proper grammar is a good thing, something I even fail to practice)? These days we need to reserve the term for actual Nazis. The ones who think that racism no longer exists, who think that white supremacy should be a thing. You know, the people that our ancestors thought they defeated in World War II. It does not help that the US government throughout the Cold War decided to prop up fascist right wing governments simply because of fears of “Communism” or “Socialism.” I also fail to understand why people can be okay with a group that thinks Russia is our friend, but that is another lengthy article for another day. I also have to remember that the KKK, alt-right and white supremacists have wised up, taken off the hoods, and popped up in areas trying to sway folks, all under the guise of supposedly “Peaceful protests.” From my understanding, if you need torches and you are attempting to get a rise out of people, there is nothing peaceful about your protest.

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: Bad Milo (2015, Jacob Vaughan)


If you cannot stand ass jokes, or gross out moments, or extreme gore in a film where a literal monster emerges from a guy’s butt and goes on a murderous rampage, this film is not for you. But if you think this sounds funny and entertaining, well then you, like myself, are a prime candidate to enjoy Bad Milo. Despite having some limitations story wise I still found this to be an awesome and quite memorable experience. I also cannot recall the last movie I saw with this type of premise, although I am sure there are many other body type horror films like this out there. I hope they are just as remarkable as this entry from Jacob Vaughan, who recognizes that comedy and horror can be great bedfellows if done just right. Oh and I think all of us one way or another can empathize with the down on his luck main character.

Veteran character actor Ken Marino gets a chance to shine as Duncan, a middle class fellow with a loving wife in Sarah (the always great Gillian Jacobs) who is beyond stressed out, by well, everything. His job is driving him nuts (Patrick Warburton is hilariously deadpan as his jerk of a boss), Sarah is pregnant, which scares him, and he has serious gastric problems. All which manifests itself in the nasty little bugger of a creature he comes to name Milo, a problem that he uncovers thanks to visiting a highly unusual therapist, played by Peter Stormare. The creature effects in this film are surprisingly well done, which I did not fully expect. Most of the jokes in this film range from witty to flat out potty humor, and I rather liked the film’s outrageous last act. Even if this isn’t high art I still like Milo, and I look forward to whatever Jacob Vaughan does next.

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: The House on Sorority Row (1983, Mark Rosman)


Having viewed numerous 1980s slasher films it was only a matter of time before I saw one that, despite receiving praise from others, is a film I did not enjoy. The House On Sorority Row has some good moments and does not lack in tension, however I found the characters to be mostly bland and the movie’s kills to not be particularly memorable. In fact I had to revisit the film’s synopsis just so I could review it months later, something that I rarely have to do when covering movies I like. I viewed this film on Hulu with sizable expectations based on the quality trailer and good word of month, so perhaps that affected my viewing a little. That said, despite not caring for “Sorority Row” I did note that the film created and embellished upon several notable cliches of the slasher genre.

Most famous being a group of people covering up a deadly accident with awful repercussions that they never could have imagined. These college girls end up being the target of an unseen and unknown killer, all while being more worried about whether or not their secret will be revealed. In fact they seem to be in denial about themselves being in danger until its too late. I wanted to really like this film considering its solid mostly female cast and myself enjoying some of the film’s murderous scenes. Yet I was left unsatisfied by the film’s conclusion, which is now a horror film cliche in itself (but relatively fresh by 1983 standards), and the film lacking enough suspense for my liking. It tries too hard to be a mystery film instead of a slasher movie, and I think the movie would have benefited from having an established veteran in the group.

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: The Traveler (2010, Michael Oblowitz)


Despite being a fan of one Val Kilmer, this is clearly one of his worst films and probably the first movie I’ve seen from him where I actually wanted him to be silent. This movie is the type that the MSTK crew would mock if it had been made years ago, and I realize that serial killer movies don’t work if they fail to meet two important criteria. One is that they be entertaining if they fall into a more campy style, and the other is that if they are meant to be scary, well they need to be terrifying or creepy. The Travler has some initial promise and throws all that away midway through the film. The hardest movies to get through are not the truly awful ones or even the mediocre films, but rather a movie like this, where any good elements are buried. Even the flashback scenes manage to be shot in a manner that wouldn’t even pass muster for a cheesy monster film or a low budget slasher. Whatever this film cost, it was too high and the money was squandered.

Skip this movie and watch Twixt instead, which is also on Netflix. Oh by the way there is a twist, and its stupid and I hated it. Even the kills are blah, half measure efforts that fail to be really shocking or interesting. The last act takes the movie into even sillier territory, and I can’t believe I finished the movie without the aid of beer. I don’t even recall any of the other actors because they failed to make an impression upon me, and I don’t really care to look them up, either. I can abide bad comedies since some of them still make me laugh, yet a bad horror film is the equivalent of a poor meal. Throw this movie in the trash.

31 Films 31 Years: A Favorites List


Favorite Films From Every Year I’ve Existed:

1986: Big Trouble In Little China

1987: Wings of Desire

1988: The Great Outdoors

1989: Field of Dreams

1990: Wild At Heart

1991: The Fisher King

1992: Hard Boiled

1993: Jurassic Park

1994: Cemetery Man

1995: Fallen Angels

1996:  Scream

1997: L.A. Confidential

1998: The Big Lebowski

1999: Three Kings

2000: American Psycho

2001: Memento

2002: Gangs of New York

2003: Finding Nemo

2004: The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou

2005: Brick

2006: A Scanner Darkly

2007: Hot Fuzz

2008: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

2009: Watchmen

2010: Monsters

2011: Drive

2012: Skyfall

2013: The Place Beyond the Pines

2014: The Guest

2015: The Hateful Eight

2016: The Nice Guys

2017: John Wick: Chapter 2

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: The Fury (1978, Brian De Palma)


All hail Kirk Douglas, one of the finest actors of his time. Brian De Palma, fresh off of making Carrie decided to craft his own film about kids with psychic powers, giving birth to a film that is equal parts horror, science fiction, action, thriller and drama. Some elements don’t quite work, yet what results is a great and exciting movie that always manages to be entertaining while also featuring one hell of a last act. I love how De Palma’s movies seem to be campy and yet work regardless, as he is a talented director capable of executing his visions through his work. It doesn’t hurt that this film has a great cast, with Douglas facing off against  John Cassavetes while trying to save his son, played in creepy fashion by Andrew Stevens. Frequent De Palma actor Amy Irving also shows up as the girl who can maybe help Douglas in his quest, all while trying to remain one step ahead of the governmental agency he used to work for before they tried to kill him. Plus the film also has Charles Durning, who appeared in the De Palma classic Sisters, this time as a doctor instead of a private investigator.

Many set pieces work incredibly well, ranging from the action packed opener to a car chases that is funny and well executed. The film has plenty of slow motion, and yet none of the slow motion comes off as dumb; one scene its used for is full of violence and inspires horror and despair. Cassavetes is a great villain, manipulative and sleazy, while Douglas embodies Peter with the stoic drive to get his son back that never comes off as sappy. The psychic scenes are also never goofy and add to film’s overall chill factor, while the conclusion is truly shocking and unexpected. I came in not expecting much and left feeling that this is one of De Palma’s best films, and its too bad that he hasn’t made more than a few other horror films during his career. He seems to have a knack for them, understanding that people can be scarier than any monster.  Oh and the score by John Williams is fantastic, which comes as no surprise-I never comment on music in horror movies enough, it seems.

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