Category Archives: Horror

The Birds (1963)

Don’t they ever stop migrating?

— Annie Hayworth

You know how much I love Alfred Hitchcock movies. He is the only director that I have reviewed at least five on his movie at the time of the LAMBs in the Director’s Chair series. The Birds is another movie that I crossed off that list. It was nominated for a single Oscar for Best Visual Effects. This movie that did not make me feel the same way about birds as Jaws did with sharks.

Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) goes into a pet shop in downtown San Francisco to pick up a bird that she had ordered. Her bird had not come in the time it was supposed. She had to wait until a dashing young man comes into the store, Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor) mistaking her for the a worker there. Mitch asks Melanie about what type of bird is best for his sister, Cathy (Veronica Cartwright). He wanted lovebirds. They begin to chat each other up until he leaves.

Melanie decides to surprise Mitch by buying the lovebirds and leave them out on his apartment. She learns that he is out-of-town for the weekend. He is visiting his family in Bodega Bay. She drives to Bodega Bay to find out where the Brenner house is located. She visits the local schoolteacher, Annie Hayworth (Suzanne Pleshette) to ask her about the family home which across the bay. She charters a small boat to sneak birds into the house.

When she crosses back across the bay, she is attacked by seagull. She and Mitch thinks that it is a fluke until the birds of the town start going crazy and start attacking all the residents of the town. The town becomes under siege with seagulls, crows and blackbirds for neighboring towns.

The movie for the most part is unsettling to watch, but I didn’t completely buy into it. I have to say who the hell get killed by a bunch of birds. What, do they peck you to death? It sounds ludicrous to me.

Did anybody get the feels that there is something more about Melanie and Lydia Brenner (Jessica Tandy)? Did you get the sense of a man being a attracted to a version of his mother? I got that feeling big time.

Judgment: The movie is unsettling to with, but it won’t make you afraid of birds.

Rating: 7.5/10

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Let Me In (2010)

 Do you think there’s such a thing as evil?

— Owen

I wanted to see Let Me In for a long time, because I gave high praise for the Swedish version, Let the Right One In. I h ave no idea what prevented me from seeing it, but my other sister-in-law rented the movie — she loves vampire movies — and I told her that I wanted to see the movie. After she was done with that, she lent it to me. This happened after midnight and a full moon rising before my SIL festival was supposed to start. That might be why I was disappointed with the movie.

 The setting transforms from the desolate of Sweden to the stark black, gold and white landscapes of Los Alamos, New Mexico 1983. We meet a lonely boy named Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) who is constantly bullied by Kenny (Dylan Minnette) and his cronies, Mark (Jimmy “Jax” Pinchak) and Donald (Nicolai Dorian). Owen dreams of the day to get back on the assholes that torment him everyday.

One night while looks out of his bedroom window, Owen sees a little girl, Abby (Chloë Moretz) and her Father (Richard Jenkins) moving into the apartment next door. He notices that it is March and she doesn’t have any shoes on.

The audience sees that the new neighbors are not what they seem to be. The Father stalks in the night to kill virile young men and drain them of their blood. A Policeman (Elias Koteas) tries to figure out who is killing this men solely for their blood.

Owen and Abby meet each other on the jungle gym in the courtyard of their apartment building. They begin to build a friendship while Abby helps out Owen with his bully problem and Owen keeps Abby’s secret from others.

To those people who have seen the Swedish version — which I have subtitled and dubbed — I thought it was infinitely better this version. I did stay faithful to the original, but it lost the hidden mysteries that were in the original. The origin of Abby, the relationship between Abby and her Father, etc.

Some things were changed for better, but mostly for the worst. I know that the screenwriters wanted to get rid of the peripheral characters, but those characters made the world more dangerous. You did not delve into Owen’s broken home and his parents relationship. It was barely touched on. It could have been great with the Virginia (Sasha Barrese) character and her transformation.

I felt cheated with this movie. I have no qualms in saying that the movie was at times boring to watch. The leads were very morose and monotone that I prayed for the movie to be over.

Judgment: There were so many chances for the film to be as good as Let the Right One In, but it didn’t.

Rating: 6/10

The Thing (1982)

I dunno what the hell’s in there, but it’s weird and pissed off, whatever it is.

— Clark

I’ve heard of John Carpenter’s The Thing in passing. This is currently the #163 movie of All Time on IMDb. I always mistake it for Swamp Thing for some reason. I wanted to go into the movie totally blind. Well, that’s not the whole truth. I read the plot summary of the movie. It intrigues me. Watching the movie, it freaked me to no end.

Taking place in the most desolate of places, Antarctica, a group of twelve men are stuck in a post. One day, the camp is invaded by a couple of Norwegian guys in a helicopter trying to shoot down a Siberian husky. When one of the Nordes starts rapid shooting at the dog and the team members, the leader of the group, Garry (Donald Moffat) shoots and kills the Norwegian. They take the dog inside the bunker.

The group begins to wonder what the hell was going on with the Norwegian shoots at a dog. MacReady (Kurt Russell) and Copper (Richard Dysart) investigates the Norwegians camp to see what lead them to go batshit crazy. Going through charred remains, they discover a hollowed out block of ice that might have a specimen inside of it. The question is where is it now? They find some film reels and the charred remains of a body. They take it back to base camp.

Dr. Blair (Wilford Brimley) examines the body to determine that it was human but it was somehow fused together into a gigantic glob. At the same time, Clark (Richard Masur) has to put the husky into the cage with the rest of the huskies. The others start to snarl and bark. The rescue husky starts to transform into a giant spider/dog/human like creature that is siphoning the dogs as food.

Hearing the yelping, MacReady quickly torches the creature. Examining the creature Dr. Blair concludes that the creature has the ability to shift itself into anything the creature kills. If any part of the organism gets in contact with a human it takes over the body like a virus.

The team looks over the footage they salvaged from the Norwegian camp. They saw that the Norwegians discovered a spaceship that crash-landed in the ice for over 100,000 years. The alien pilot tries to get out but was buried in the ice.

The team becomes paranoid that the alien would take the form of any of team members and they start to turn on each other.

This was a great exercise in tension. When the paranoia sets in with Dr. Blair or with MacReady, nobody knows who is human or who was replaced by the alien. You think that when they kill the creature, they are done. No. The alien comes up with a vengeance. These ultimately realize that they might now make it out. They are in total isolation with help thousands of miles away.

Judgment: A horror movie that is not about the blood and gore. It has something to say.

Rating: ****

The Crazies (2010)

Don’t ask me why I can’t leave without my wife and I won’t ask you why you can.

— David Dutton

I have not seen the original George Romero cult classic. When I saw the promos for The Crazies, I was intrigued about a different take on the “zombie movie” genre like the 28 Days Later series. The movie overall is an enjoyable ride, but has some glaring inconsistencies within it.

It seems like a typical American town, but something strange is starting to happen. One of the town’s residents, Rory (Mike Hickman) wanders unto a high school baseball game in progress holding a shotgun in his hands. The Pierce County Town sheriff, David Dutton (Timothy Olyphant) tries to reason with him, but he points the gun towards him. David has no choice but to shoot Rory dead.

David is haunted by his act, when Rory’s family questions his actions. He believed that Rory was drunk when David shot him, but the medical examiner said otherwise that he wasn’t under the influence. He begins to investigate what could trigger a guy to do that kind of act.

Slowly the residents of this community start acting strange. A concerned wife, Deardra Farnum (Christie Lynn Smith) takes her husband, Bill (Brett Rickaby) to the town doctor, Judy Dutton (Radha Mitchell) to be examined. Judy thinks that Bill looks fine, but something is little off. Things change when Bill shows the same signs as Rory by locking his family inside his house and set it on fire. David and his deputy, Russ (Joe Anderson) put Bill up in their holding cell until he could be transferred.

A trio of hunters discovers a dead parachutist in the middle of a swamp, but David and Russ see that it was a big plane nearby. It was there for over three months and was poisoning the town’s water supply. David wants to shut down the town’s water supply, but was rejected by the mayor (John Aylward) who thinks that this farming community need to water to help the crops.

When they come back to station to find Bill lying on the floor, they think he’s dead, but he tries to come after them from behind the bars. They wanted to know why it is taking so long for other agencies to arrive. They realize that the internet is not working nor cell phone signals. In a matter of hours, the town becomes a ghost town. David and Russ begin seeing the townspeople committing unspeakable acts.

During the middle of the night, a bunch of soldiers bursting a take the rest of the townspeople away on buses to be cage up in a quarantine area at high school stadium. .Judy thinks that a virus is unleashed on the town. A word around the grapevine is that a toxin has been released in the town’s water supply meant for another city that making the resident loose their marbles.

Judy is quickly taken away, because they think that she has contracted the virus. Truth is it she’s pregnant. He wants to save her but the contaminated people have broken loose and the military presences have retreated. David has to find some way to get his back and leave town before there is nobody left.

Director Breck Eisner created a mood that seemed real, even though it’s cheesy premise. There were some good gory scenes. I did have major problems with the movie. There was an instance when Russ thinks he’s going crazy and threatened to shoot the David and Judy. David punched him with his right hand, but earlier in a scene where he was stabbed on that same hand Rory’s family, Peggy (Lisa K. Wyatt) and Curt (Justin Welborn). There was the scene in the car wash. Really? That climatic scene at that roadhouse. Hmm…

Judgment: An enjoyable ride that has some bumps along the away.

Rating: ***1/2

The Wolfman (2010)

I am what I say I am… a monster.

— Lawrence Talbot

The Wolfman is another movie that was bumped of the 2009 season so the studio could make changes to the score, changing directors and the digital effects of the werewolf transformation. I did not see the original movie that this reboot is based on, but I wished I did see that movie. This movie is mediocre at best.

1891 London, Lawrence Talbot (Benicio del Toro) is with theater troupe when he gets a letter from his brother, Ben’s fiancé, Gwen (Emily Blunt) telling him of his brother disappearance. He is estranged from his family for years. He drops his life to go back to his childhood home to find out from his father, John (Anthony Hopkins), but learns that his brother’s body was found, mangled and mauled. They are preparing for the funeral.

Lawrence out of the blue decides to investigate the circumstances of his brother’s murder when he saw his body at the morgue. He sees a gold medallion in his brother’s possessions and tries to find the origin. The people of the town think that something is killing people that make it look like a wild animal attack them.

Not heeding his father’s warning about venturing out on a full moon, Lawrence goes into the woods where the gypsies live to find out what exactly killed his brother. It was not a wild animal. It was a beast. The beast attacks the settlement in a gory blur, spraying gypsy blood all over the forest. Lawrence tries to shoot the wild animal attacking the villagers. He is attacked by the wild beast. Gwen tries to nurse him back to health.

Scotland Yard Inspector Francis Abberline (Hugo Weaving) comes to town to interview Lawrence about the attack. He wants a specialist to examine his injuries suffered in the attack that have miraculously healed. People want to take him because he was bitten by the beast, a werewolf. They want to restrain him before the beast comes out again.

This movie is so lame. The characters are bland and boring. I did not believe that del Toro and Hopkins were family. Emily Blunt was wasted as the scared woman going between brother to brother. The “love story” was forced and uninspiring. The story meandered. I had no idea what was going on. I didn’t care. I was sick of jump scares. Stop it! What the fuck is with that dream sequence in the insane asylum? Lawrence’s flashbacks had me scratching my head.

Judgment: This movie almost made An American Werewolf is Paris look like a masterpiece. Almost.

Rating: **

Daybreakers (2010)

Immortality is the miracle, we are blessed.

— Charles Bromley

I wasn’t that interested in seeing Daybreakers, because of the back story. The movie was supposed to come out in 2009, but it sat on the self until it was released early last month. I guess, somebody wanted to cash in on the vampire mania that is sweeping the nation. I thought that the movie was different take on the vampire genre with a social allegory.

Taking place in 2019, ten years after a virus mutation turned most of the world into vampires. The humans are an endangered species. Five percent of the world populations are human. There is not enough blood to feed off the human. Vampires are starving and turning into subsiders, Nosferatu-like creatures that live underground. They turn to the head of Bromley Marks, Charles Bromley (Sam Neill) to farm the last remaining humans.

With a month of actual blood left, Bromley turns to the top hematologist at the company, Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) to find a blood substitute to help the vampires from starving. He has been working with his partner, Christopher (Vince Colosimo) to desperately find a solution with disastrous consequences.

On a drive home that night, Edward gets into an accident where he learns that the people in other car are human. When the accident happens, the cops try to apprehend the humans, but Ed feeling sorry for the humans, protect them and let them escape.

Ed’s little brother, Frankie (Michael Dorman) comes home to celebrate Ed’s 35th birthday for the tenth time. Frankie is military enforcer for Bromley Marks to round up any humans to be harvested. He brings home a carafe of pure human blood for Ed. Ed doesn’t want it. He is reluctant to drink human blood.

The next day, Ed’s security system goes off when Audrey (Claudia Karvan), the human that met at the accident scene, offers him to meet her at a place in broad daylight to find a way to stop the blood shortage.

Driving around in blacked out windows, Ed meets Audrey at the meeting place which in another a huge tree. Audrey introduces Ed to Lionel “Elvis” Cormac (Willem Dafoe), who used to be a vampire. Ed thinks that this is impossible, but when Lionel tells him his story. The trio try to find a way to harness a way to cure the vampirism.

I thought that this movie was a fascinating take mass consumption, overpopulation, and dwindling food supply. Is this a great movie? No. I had some people with the vamps smoking cigarettes. They are dead. How could they inhale the smoke? Why would the first vampire test subject be strapped to a heart monitoring system? No heartbeat. Why were the doctors in scrubs? It’s not like they are going to catch cooties.

Judgment: An enjoyable film that doesn’t have anything to do with sparkling skinned vamps.

Rating: ***1/2

Drag Me to Hell (2009)

You’d be surprised what you’ll be willing to do, when the Lamia comes for you.

— Rham Jas

Don’t hate for this proclamation, but I am not familiar with Sam Raimi’s comedic horror past with The Evil Dead series. I should visit them in the future, but I thought I would start with Raimi going back to his roots with Drag Me to Hell. This movie freaked me out.

A plucky loan officer, Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) longs to be assistant manager at her bank, but she is constantly undermined by ass kisser, Stu (Reggie Lee). Her boss, Mr. Jacks (David Paymer) is deciding between the two of them. In order for her to get the position, she needs to make tough decision to secure it.

As by maligned fate, a decrepit woman Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver) appears at her desk, asking Christine to stop the repossession of her house. With two extensions under her belt, there is nothing for Christine to do. She decides to turn her down. Mrs. Ganush begs her to try to save house. Christine stands her ground. Mrs. Ganush pounces on Christine and is forced out.

When Christine is going to her car after work, she is attacked by Mrs. Ganush who felt that she has publicly shamed her. They fight. Christine thinks she defeated her, but the old hag got the upper hand reciting an incantation by using a button from her jacket. She hands the button back to Christine.

Visibly shaken from the ordeal Christine wants to get her fortune read when strange occurrences start to happen. Her boyfriend, Clay Dalton (Justin Long) goes with her. The fortune teller Rham Jas (Dileep Rao) says that she has been cursed by the old woman. A dark spirit surrounds her. Clay is skeptical of the fortune teller’s powers.

After Christine arrives home alone, she hears strange noises in her house when she is alone. She sees a demonic figure. A doctor thinks that it’s post-traumatic stress disorder because of the attack. In the middle of night, a fly enters her body. She thinks it’s not real but she can here is buzzing inside her. She begins to see the old woman in nightmarish hallucinations.

She tries to get back with Mrs. Ganush to ask her for forgiveness, but she is recently died. She goes back to the Rham Jas; he tells her about the dark spirit that is haunting her. It is called a lamia, which takes the possessor of the cursed object to Hell. He offers alternative to rid of the curse. She wants to do anything to not be condemned to hell in three days time.

I thought that this movie would be a cup of tea. Damn, I was sucked into this movie. The genesis of how Christine got the curse was a little ridiculous, but I could forgive it because of nature of the movie. Besides I think the posters and the trailer kinda give away the ending. That’s unfortunate.

Judgment: It’s a wild ride that everyone should get on board.

Rating: ****1/2

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

One, two, Freddy’s coming for you. / Three, four, better lock your door. / Five, six, grab your crucifix. / Seven, eight, better stay awake. / Nine, ten, never sleep again.

— Children

Since news of a remake to A Nightmare on Elm Street became known, I decided to revisit the Wes Craven original before watching the retread. This is not your typical slasher movie. It’s about a killer that kills you in your dreams. It’s more like mental warfare. That’s scary. This movie freaked me out when I was younger. Seeing it now, it stills creeps me out.

Tina, Nancy, Glen and Rod (Amanda Wyss, Heather Langenkamp, Johnny Depp, Nick Corri) are teenagers in the neighborhood are having terrible dreams about a “bogeyman” of sorts. They realized that they were having dreams about the same disfigured man in a red and green sweater with glove made of knives. His name is Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund).

During a sleepover at Tina’s house, the foursome is alone together in the house. As the night drags on, Tina and Rod have sex. Something mysterious happens in the house when pebbles are thrown at the window and nobody is there or a strange figure is coming out of the walls.

Tina hears the sound of her name whispered outside. She goes to investigate and is confronted by the monster her dreams, Freddy Krueger. Only she is not awake, she is having what looks like a night terror. She thrashes on the bed, blood coming from an open wound. She levitates and dragged along the wall to the ceiling where she dies.

Nancy’s father, Donald (John Saxon) is called to find Rod in connection with Tina’s murder. At the stationhouse, Nancy is at his office with her mother, Marge (Ronee Blakley) where she explains to her parents about Tina’s dreams about somebody trying to kill her.

The days after the incident, Rod is arrested and Nancy is haunted by the possibility that she might suffer the same fate if she falls asleep. Every time, she dozes off Freddy comes after her. She realizes that her imagination is coming true.

I heard that this was Johnny Depp’s movie debut as Nancy’s boyfriend, Glen. Huh. The movie has not aged well. It’s twenty-five years old. The special effects are a little wonky with the extending arms or the obvious stunt double when Freddy’s on fire. There is something about the way that Tina runs screams cliqued horror movie girl with the flailing arms and constantly looking back.

Judgment: I want everybody to watch this movie before watching the remake.

Rating: ****

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey.

— The Criminologist

The cult classic musical The Rocky Horror Picture Show has been entrenched in American culture since it bombed at the box office in 1975. I always wanted to go to the midnight showings of this movie, but I didn’t want to feel like a noob going there. I am familiar with the music seeing that I have the soundtrack to the 2001 Broadway revival. I get a kick out of going back into a time warp to visit Dr. Frank-N-Furter and his cretins of the night.

Nostalgia floods back when the first thing you see is those flame red lips singing the opening number about this tale of an uptight couple; Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick) and Janet Weiss (Susan Sarandon) getting stranded one fateful night in a rainstorm. The Criminologist (Charles Gray) that recalls the events of that night narrates the tale.

They arrive at the castle of Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry) with his band of misfits, abused manservant Riff-Raff (Richard O’Brien), maid Magenta (Patricia Quinn) and groupie Columbia (Little Nell). Brad wants to use the telephone to get the car fixed, but the Doctor has other plans for the twosome.

He wants them to witness the birth of his perfect companion, Rocky Horror (Peter Hinwood). As the night progress, the Transylvanians’ influence corrupts the good couple.

Everybody knows that the acting is not good bordering on soap opera melodrama. The music is spastic like the cast sucked helium before recording the soundtrack. Is it bad or is it so bad that it’s good?

Judgment: There is something enjoyable about this trainwreck of a movie.

Rating: ***1/2

Vampyr (1932)

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I probably wouldn’t ever see Carl Dreyer’s Vampyr if it wasn’t for The 1001 Movies You Must See that I recently joined. This sucker was hard to find, but I managed to find the Criterion Edition of this classic vampire tale. I made the same mistake again by watching a semi-silent movie at night. I dozed.

Allan Gray (Julian West) religiously studies of the occult, devil worshiping and vampires lore. He becomes so obsessed that he could not distinguish between real and the supernatural. One night, he wanders into a creepy chateau down by a river in a town called Coutermpierre.

When he gets settled in, he hears what appears to be an incantation from somewhere in the inn. He investigates. Allan doesn’t see anyone and returns to his room. In the midst of sleep,  the lord of the manor (Maurice Schutz) bursts into his room and babbles to Allan about leaving the place before the house takes him over. He leaves a mysterious package on desk to be opened after his death. After the lord leaves,  Allan fears that someone– not himself–  is in trouble.

During his stay at the chateau, he sees shadows dancing on the walls, but nobody is there. He meets more of the inhabitants like the scythe-wielding man that carries a bell. Allan explores more of the chateau and the strange happenings around the place. The lord’s daughters, Gisèlle (Rena Handel) and Léone (Sybille Schmitz) have been suffering for what appears to be anemia.

The lord of the house is shot by one of the shadows and Allan is asked to stay away from the family with a servant to get the village doctor (Jan Heironimko). After the lord’s death, Allan opens the package to find a book, “The Strange History of Vampires” by Paul Bonnard. It chronicles the history of vampire lore. He reads the passages and suspects that there is a vampire amongst them.

This movie was made in1932. I want to know how they got the skulls or the shadows to move independently. This is a fascinating movie that I thought was a silent film. It has probably ten minutes of actual dialogue in the movie. Most of the time is Allan exploring the chateau.

The one complaint I have to the movie is the camerawork. It felt jerky. The way that the camera follows the characters in and out of rooms felt jerky and sped up the suspense to be effective.

Judgment: I would recommned this for the people who don’t want to be the blood and gore of other vampire movies.

Rating: ****

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