Made in the fine tradition of killer insect movies, Benjamin Diez’s Stung is gross, shocking, outlandish and entertaining. Even if the main plot is kind of flimsy, the setting is great: two young people cater a party for an elderly rich woman at a creepy ancient mansion, and killer wasps show up. Well they are mutant wasps, of course, although the hilariously deadpan mayor played by the legendary Lance Henriksen doesn’t think it matters if they’re bees, wasps, whatever. Matt O’Leary as Paul and Jessica Cook as Julia happen to be the young folks trapped in a bad situation, and things just get worse from there. Because if you get stung or bit by one of those monstrous insects, you end up changing into one. And that is if they don’t eat you, first. I am reminded of several other, notable and more famous horror films, yet even I cannot overcome my disgust of bugs. Most people hate and fear insects, and often for good reason.
Despite Henriksen really being the only professional here, I did like both O’Leary and Paul, who had good chemistry together despite their characters ignoring it the entire movie. A good love story adds to the film, which is good since I was a tad disappointed at times, since the trailer builds it up to be way scarier. Also I think I am tired of horror films having an obvious “Supposed to be shocking” conclusion that pops up after the film should have ended. However, as modern horror goes this is still a fun popcorn flick, and I believe it is still available on Netflix.
In the USA, it is known as The Vanishing, which is a rather simplistic title for such a film. This is a very intelligent film, well crafted, an exercise in mortality, good vs evil labels, the nature of people. Even though the ending was given away online long ago, I always knew that such knowledge does not matter, and actually the ending is hinted at early in the film, anyways. I love that use of foreshadowing, giving the audience clues, filing us in while leaving the characters in the dark.
At times this can be frustrating on both ends, yet in George Sluizer’s modern classic he is more concerned with the bigger picture than details or giving the audience closure. I hate that it is supposed to be a European or foreign in general style of film making, especially when someone such as Christopher Nolan or other American directors have used such techniques. This all depends on the audience, and in the horror genre audiences can be rather fickle, as I learned after going to see It Comes At Night last week. And no I have not viewed the remake of this film, which I imagine was a disappointment because it either copied the original, or it decided to forego anything that makes Sluizer’s film a remarkable experience.
Imagine that you went on vacation and your beloved disappeared after making a pit stop. Even worse despite not being under suspicion for her vanishing, you spend the next couple of years desperately searching for her, never knowing her fate, only being able to guess at what happened. In many countries people randomly or purposely disappear; there is a Wikipedia page devoted to such cases, and it is rather creepy. Sluizer embodies his main character, Rex, with both devotion to his beloved, Saskia, and the obsessive need to find her, to know what happened, even as his dreams give him a darker realization he chooses to ignore. Raymond, the other man in the film, is one focusing on his own nature, choosing to embark on a horrible path that his philosophical musings have lead him to-its as if both men are bound by destiny.
It is great that the film even features this discussion, especially in an intense moment between Raymond and Rex (interesting names for the two, both start with R and are masculine in nature) where both men struggle physically, emotionally, and even spiritually. You can properly label Raymond a monster and yet Sluizer refuses to give us this easy out, showing him as a family man with a capacity to love.
In fact, Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu as Raymond gives one of the finest performances ever in a horror drama film. He is both creepy and sympathetic, and unlike Rex, who seems to at times doubt who he is Raymond never once denies what he is doing or his very nature. Raymond’s monologue about his boyhood past is equal parts chilling and sad, a part of the film that is very important to understanding what he has become over the years.
I really dig the film’s ending because it as much about the banality of evil, of making us realize how monsters do not exist save for in fiction. People commit acts of evil, yet that does not make them any less human. Rex perhaps deserves what happens to him, for he cannot turn away and move forward, his past love trapping him. Gene Bervoets also deserves proper credit in this film, as he is also great, and Johanna ter Steege as Saskia shows why Rex cannot let her go, casting her spell over the film even after she exits. When it comes to horror films that leave an impact, Spoorloos is in that rare class of horror that is quite unforgettable, and is a great example of a horror movie that has added more to both world cinema and horror in general.
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.
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.
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.
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 does 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 films.
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.
The Fury has many great set pieces that do stand out, ranging from the action packed opener to a car chases that is funny and well executed. There is plenty of slow motion, and yet none of the slow motion comes off as dumb; one scene it’s 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.
I tried not to compare Genocide to other 1960s monster movies, and yet I came away disappointed even though the film has some notable characteristics. There is some interesting thoughts on the nature of man and how destructive we can be, yet the film lacks the dramatic strengths necessary to overcome its weak monster. You have a monster movie without an actual cool looking beast, as in this film there are insects instead, although some appear as huge thanks to radiation. In one part of the film the insects act as a huge cloud that consumes a military plane carrying a nuclear weapon, a scene that is kind of suspenseful and then is followed by a love story I did not have any interest in.
Perhaps the other films in the Shochiku horror collection available on Criterion are better or at least not as slow as this one. Yes this film has an apocalyptic finality that works okay, however it comes far too late in the film. Also the poor acting, which I can excuse in a movie with better directing or truly strong themes hurts this film considerably. Not every Japanese monster movie had to be a Ishirō Honda style film, yet after seeing Genocide I think more praise should be directed his way for crafting something remarkable out of silly man in suits fighting each other films.
Every franchise has its humble origins somewhere, and in this case Puppet Master was born out of a studio’s need to make a low budget direct to video success. These days movies are even released on Netflix and other streaming services instead of in the studio, but in the 1980s direct to video was emerging as another way for horror filmmakers to get their movies out to the general public. Schmoller’s iconic cult film spawned 12 sequels and is a fairly solid, nasty and entertaining piece of work in its own right. I have no idea if I want to view the rest of the series, however I am endlessly amused by Hollywood’s desire to make endless franchises out of just about anything that makes money. Andre’ Toulon is shown in this one, however its only in a flashback that illustrating his ability to give puppets life. If you, like myself, find puppets to be creepy then this is a terrifying possibility, and the film eagerly builds upon the fear that many people have of wooden dolls scurrying around.
Years after poor Andre’ offs himself to prevent Nazis from gaining his ancient secret, a group of psychics show up at an old hotel. They’ve been brought together by the suicide of a colleague who they suspect discovered Toulon’s puppet formula. Unfortunately for them, Toulon’s old puppets are still wandering around, and everyone there is in grave danger. I rather liked the design of all of the puppets, each of them unique in their own ways. Blade is probably the most famous of the group, and is the puppet group’s leader. Despite being low budget the movie has some gory kills and a finale that is equal parts suspenseful and rather violent. I also liked the main character, Alex (Paul Le Mat), who is prone to nightmarish visions which are also some of the film’s creepy highlights. Even though the movie isn’t well shot I still liked this film, and am glad that Hulu had it at the time, and its design and conception reminds me more of 1990s horror films in that the genre was beginning to go more underground.
What if all those times people faced hillbillies and thought said hillbillies to be evil they were misguided? Maybe it’s all one huge misunderstanding and if both sides talked to one another they would clean up matters before anyone gets hurt. Unfortunately that does not happen in the outrageously funny horror movie Tucker & Dale Vs Evil, a modern day cult classic which makes us root for a pair of guys who in any other movie would be the villians.
Tucker and Dale are simple country buddies who go out to fix up a cabin in the woods. Having never seen any horror movies and having already frightened a group of college students also on site, Tucker and Dale get sucked into a weekend from hell. They innocently save a drowning girl named Allison, only to face her friends who think she has been kidnapped. This leads to many hilarious and very gory moments, of which my favorite was the best woodchipper joke since Fargo.
The last act manages to be even more ridiculously awesome, and a few notable flaws aside this movie rules. Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk have great chemistry together as the two leads and Katrina Bowden is very likable as Allison. Too bad this film suffered the fate of too many great cult movies that were ahead of their time. Especially since this one came out before The Cabin In The Woods, another funny and great spin on the horror genre. Remember folks: maybe next time that chainsaw wielding guy might be cleaning trees around his cabin. Maybe. Or he might be coming to kill you. I really don’t know these days.
Despite knowing that this was a MSTK entry I still watched this movie late at night on TCM. It’s awful and yet there’s something fascinating about bad old school horror science fiction. Plus this movie was, like many of its time era, cheaply made as fast as possible. Not every low budget film can be a winner. Too many of them end up like this one, which is too bad since the ending is at least entertaining.
Why is a creature chained up in a mad doctor’s basement? Why doesn’t he just move on from his girlfriend, who is now only just a head? (They didn’t have seat belts in the 60s I guess) Why won’t WordPress let me post the trailer for this turkey in my post? Watch the film for some answers, although I don’t recall getting any. A modern day remake of this could result in an goofy and fun movie. Or it could be made really gory. Either way this is a prime candidate.
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