Movie Review: BRAIN DAMAGE

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Ventura Distribution

Brain Damage is another one of those cult horror flicks from the 1980s that, for the longest time since getting back into being a horror movie enthusiast, I’ve been trying to locate in a decent form to finally view.  It wasn’t easy, finally finding a good uncut version on – of all places – YouTube to view.  Couldn’t find a rental anywhere here where I live, nothing on Netflix streaming, and there was no way I was going to pay the high prices on this online.  Figured, if I liked what I saw, I would go ahead and get a copy.  And so, it was with this mindset that I sat down and watched this sucker.  No pun intended, there.

Brain Damage tells the tale of Brian, a young 20-something lad that finds himself suddenly attached to an ancient wormy thing named Aylmer who talks like Bing Crosby and injects Brian with a mind-altering substance in exchange for brains to feast on.  And so, while he’s tripping out, hearing the colors and feeling sounds, Aylmer’s using his body to find hapless victims with fresh brains to suck out.  And when Brian gets wise to the whole setup, his attempt to rid himself of this little parasite doesn’t go very well, and wackiness ensues.  Especially when his girlfriend, brother and Aylmer’s former caretakers get involved.

See, it’s movies like Brain Damage that reaffirm my love of the horror genre of the 1980s.  It may have been cheesy, but at least it was fun cheese, with some good attempts at originality.  The whole premise of a parasite worm intelligence that secretes a mind-altering drug and must subsist on brains is good, yes…but have that thing talk like Bing Crosby (seriously, I was disappointed orange juice wasn’t referenced) and name him Elmer (which is explained in a bit of exposition) adds a rather refreshing absurdest twist to things.  The story itself is interesting, if a bit slow-moving in some parts.  There’s a scene where Brian and Elmer are staring each other down in a rundown motel in an attempt from Brian to dry out from Elmer’s influence that’s equal parts tragic and hilarious at the same time.  Don’t ask me how, it just is.

Overall, Brain Damage was an amusing bit of cult horror wackiness, low budget fun.  Not as gory as I was lead to believe, mind you, but I can understand why Brain Damage is held as one of the underground favorites of the genre.  As to wanting to seek out a hard copy of my own…eh, maybe in the future.  If you can find this for rental, check it out.

Movie Review: FRIGHT NIGHT (2011)

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Fright Night 2011

DreamWorks Pictures

“You smell that?  It’s your fear.  It’s intoxicating.  It’s a very specific scent, Charley.”

Senior Charley Brewster finally has it all.  He’s running with the cool kids and dating the hottest girl in high school.  But all hell breaks loose when charming Jerry Dandridge moves in next door.  Charley thinks there’s something odd about him, although no one – including his mom – seems to notice.  But after too many of his classmates vanish under bizarre circumstances, Charley comes to an unmistakable conclusion: Jerry is a vampire preying on his neighborhood!

In the pantheon of remakes that have been a constant stream this past couple of decades, the Fright Night remake came as no surprise.  I understand there was the standard nerd rage that came with the announcement of a remake of the cult favorite from 1985.  Then, at its release in 2011, the reviews were less than kind, let’s just say.  Me, I had my doubts, but was actually cautiously optimistic at a modern updating of this post-modern vampire flick.  But, I wasn’t going to watch this thing in the regular first-run theater.  No, I waited until it showed up at the second-run theater, what I lovingly refer to as the El Cheepo, around the much more appropriate Halloween season that year.

And the result?  Um…I actually enjoyed the movie  This is really more of a revisioning than a straight remake, as there’s enough deviations from the source material to make this Fright Night its own entity.  Matter of fact, they could have done without naming this Fright Night, and things would have worked.  Different setting, different characterizations, different motivations…completely different movie, really, with only the character names and the movie’s title having anything in common with the original.  I would say that the best way to view this thing is to come into it as its own movie, and not try and compare it to the 1985 one too much.

So, with that thought in mind, what did I think of this Fright Night?  Well…it was entertaining.  It’s your standard Vampire Moves In Next Door, Wackiness Ensues movie, with the clear standout being Colin Farell as the vampire Jerry Dandrige, playing the role with a twinkle in his eye and a playful menace.  Really, any scene he wasn’t in was kind of boring.  Even the ones involving David Tennant as the Criss Angel clone Peter Vincent, who was interesting in the role, there.  Otherwise, everyone else seemed uninteresting, suffering from the standard “pretty white popular kids with no interesting qualities” pitfall that movies like this feature all too often.  Kill fodder and sex appeal, mostly.  You get a sense that maybe there was some studio interference, but for the most part you just wanna root for the vampire to win at the end.  Which he doesn’t.  Which is a bummer.

2011’s Fright Night is a decent way to kill off 90 minutes.  Relatively interesting, I’d say it’s worth a rental just to check out Farrell’s take on the vamp.  Otherwise, this is yet another attempt at making over an old classic for the iPhone generation – glossy, flashy, looks pretty, but overall pointless.

Movie Review: FRIDAY THE 13th Pt. 4

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Paramount Pictures

“He thinks that’s funny.  He thinks that’s a funny thing he’s doing.”

It’s Jason Voorhees versus his arch nemesis, a prepubescent Corey Fieldman! Yes, here it is, in the fourth and increasingly mislabeled “The Final Chapter” in the Friday The 13th series, where we witness the final death of Jason, and also the final movie in the First Era of the Friday The 13th franchise.  Confused?  Let your Uncle NecRo explain, my tender dumplings…

After three films, Paramount decided to make the fourth one the last one in the popular slasher series.  As such, they pulled out the stops, and brought us the for-realsies death of the living Jason Voorhees, once and for all.  Why did they decide to do this?  Beats me.  The result, though, was an entry that many fans consider the best one of the entire franchise.

Also notable is the appearance of not only the aforementioned Corey Fieldman as the young, adorable horror enthusiast, but also a not-yet-too-weird Crispen Glover as part of the cast.  Of course, this is a Friday The 13th movie, so there’s kills aplenty, all culminating in a showdown that’s interesting but rather satisfying.

Had they stopped here, like they intended to do so, I’m sure no one would have complained too much.  Of course, everyone bearing the power of hindsight, we all know what had happened after this movie.  But, that’s for a bunch of fanboy whining in other blog posts.  As it stands, Friday The 13th Part IV might not really be the “final chapter”, but it is a rather fun watch in a series that has definitely seen much worse days.  Recommended.

Movie Review: 976-EVIL 2

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976-EVIL 2Lions Gate Home Video

“Look, Daddy! Every time you hear a bell, a zombie takes us all to hell.”

A mysterious telephone service transforms Professor Grubeck, the dean of a small California college, into a diabolical killer who uses the dark art of astral projection to slay the school’s most beautiful co-eds. Spike, the bad boy hero introduced in the first 976-EVIL installment, teams up with Robin to battle the supernatural forces in this cult horror film from director Jim Wynorski.

A year ago, I subjected a few of my friends to a hunk of stinky 80s cheese known as 976-EVIL. Which, as it turned out, was a lot more fun to watch than the actual “good” movie that we brought along as the second in that night’s double feature. A lot can happen in a year, and though I was unable to gather the usual gang with me (gee, I wonder why) to suffer through this, the second movie, I nonetheless soldiered forward, watching 976-EVIL II and taking it like the good horror fiend that I am.

Now, the first question that usually pops in people’s collective minds is, “Why make a sequel to…this? Of all movies?” Hey, it was a different time. Back then, they didn’t need a really good reason to make a sequel, let alone a movie. Which actually does explain a lot of movies back then. And remember, the first couple of years of the over-rated 90s were really just a hangover recovery period from the 80s, so those get a pass as well. So it’s really no surprise that there was a sequel made to one of the more obscure cult horror titles out there.

And honestly? Unlike a lot of needless sequels to equally needless movies – one needs to look no further than Weekend At Bernie’s II…or the stupid-inducing Mannequin II – 976-EVIL II I found to be a much more fun watch than its original predecessor. And the original was chock full of the cheesy goodness. I do suspect that 976-EVIL II may have started life as a wholly separate stand-alone movie, and then got the sequel-izing done to it at the last minute, for whatever reason, probably cocaine. Because the 976-Number-From-Hell angle seemed tacked on, as did the bringing in of the Spike character from the first movie, now a leather-n-Harley drifter sporting bigger hair than the female lead. Mostly, this is a movie about a creepy old dude who can astral project and kill people with his spirit, and the two hapless college-age kids who try and stop him. Sure, it’s shown that the guy got the powers from that entity on the other end of that phone number, but that’s rather incidental. Eh, doesn’t matter, as the movie’s a lot more fun to watch, as the lead evil guy has fun with the character and chews up all the scenery with gleeful abandon. The effects are silly, the overall acting is hammy and things haven’t aged well…but in this instance, who cares? The unintentional humor was hilarious, and at least they used an angle that’s not really looked into a lot in the horror genre.

Overall, I found 976-EVIL II to be just as amusing as the first movie. By itself, and stripped of all the ties to that movie, and this would have still been an amusing B horror movie. Recommended watching for cheese freaks like myself.


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7 days of darknessMidnight Releasing

In 2008, six reality television contestants spent seven nights in an abandoned and haunted asylum. The show never aired but an editor for the network was able to piece together some footage. The prize for staying all seven nights was a share of one million dollars that was to be split amongst any contestants that didn’t leave. No prize money was ever awarded.

Okay, so right off the bat, after hitting “play” on 7 Nights Of Darkness, I’m greeted with the above text, telling me what follows was what was found after a reality show taped inside an abandoned mental asylum and cobbled together.

Urge to kill, rising…RISING…fallingRISING!

GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! Nooooo, that premise has NEVER been done before! I’ve NEVER had to sit through DOZENS of these kind of found footage movies! I DON’T MIND HAVING MY INTELLIGENCE INSULTED BY HACK MOVIE MAKERS! I especially have NO PROBLEM sitting through yet ANOTHER derivative piece of CRAP yet again!

Okay, okay, deep breaths here. I’ve barely made it through the opening text. Maybe 7 Nights Of Darkness won’t be as bad as I think it will be. It’s only…90 minutes?!? Aw, maaaaaan.

Well, I’ll give it this: 7 Nights Of Darkness, despite being derivative and highly unoriginal in the concept, story and execution, wasn’t as utterly painful as I was expecting. Mostly this is due to the actors being a bit more competent with their parts that what I’ve come to expect from low budget horror. And, I’ll admit, there were some halfway decent creep-out moments in this. Overall, it wasn’t bad…well, not as bad as it could have been, but not exactly a great waste of 90 minutes either. See it once, and then promptly forget it.

Movie Review: 28 WEEKS LATER

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28 WEEKS LATERFox Atomic

“Abandon selective targeting. Shoot everything. Targets are now free. We’ve lost control.”

Once again I have underestimated the power of independent horror to scare the earwax out of me. Shouldn’t have been so precautious about seeing this one. Truth be told, I’ve been kinda jaded and weary of shelling out my own hard-earned cash to see what could potentially be 90-plus-some minutes of wasted potential. Let’s face it- the horror genre has been a vapid wasteland as of late, which does explain the lateness of many, many reviews I should have posted by now. But, I digest…

28 Days Later rocked my face off with its tale of post-apocalyptic survival in London after a bio-plague turned much of its citizenry into maddened flesh eaters. 28 Weeks Later picks up after all of those infected by the Rage virus died of starvation, and the American Nato force is cleaning up London to repopulate and rebuild. A couple of kids who were in Spain during the initial outbreak return to their father, who thought he saw his wife die at the hands of the a group of infected. Said kids decide to break out of the sector into the restricted area of London to gather some mementos from their old digs, and discover their mother alive and…well, alive. Turns out she’s infected, but is immune. Because of this, one of the Nato scientists figures they could come up with a vaccine to the Rage; because she’s a carrier who could potentially reinfect the populace, the command wants her eliminated. Before anything can be done, though, Patient Zero’s husband, in an act of remorse-fueled stupidity, gets infected by her, and wackiness doth ensue.

Compared with other thriller / horror movies like this that have come out recently, 28 Weeks Later comes out on top. This movie I found to be truly creepy on all levels. You actually connect with the kids and their father’s plight, along with the crisis of conscience that some of the soldiers have dealing with this new insurgence. The makeup effects, especially on the infected Ragers, is very effective. Once the credits rolled, I was twitching quite nicely, thank you very much.

Am I kicking myself for not having seen this in the theaters? Well, not quite. Still don’t like the prices they charge nowadays, even if the movie is well worth the price. Would I have kicked myself if I never got around to watching this in the first place? In a heartbeat, baby. Recommended…

Movie Review: 2012 ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE

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zombie apocalypseThe Asylum

“There was a zombie so I killed it.”

In this indie horror flick, a group of humans who’ve survived a zombie pestilence desperately try to get to safety on an island off the coast of California.  But the flesh eating undead are hot on their trail.

Ooooh, another flick from The Asylum.  I should really know better by know.  But, my inner zombie-phile pleads with me, “please, may we watch a bad cheesey zombie movie? I would be ever so thankful.”  Which I imagine being said in a young boy’s voice, English, possibly Cockney in origin.  But, I see that all-too familiar glazed-over look forming in your eyes, so let’s get on with the review, shall we?

2012: Zombie Apocalypse, for all intents and purposes, is one of those SyFy (*twitch*) original movies, produced by The Asylum, and is also a very mediocre 90 minute trip down all-too-familiar territory.  We get, after a few minutes of 28 Days Later-style expository montage touching on the rise of the Zombie Apocalypse, the usual humans banding together in the aftermath, loved ones getting eaten for, you know, poignancy or something, a bunch of walking and expository dialogue, more zombies, more walking and talking, more zombies, a trio of Hawkeye from the Avengers inspired survivalists joining the gang, a MacGuffin of sorts, more poignant deaths, more walking and talking and zombies (oh my)…basically it’s another one of those “lather, rinse, repeat” type scripts.  The bright spots that somehow made this movie halfway watchable?  The zombie makeup.  And Ving Rhames.  Mmmmm, loves me some Ving Rhames, baby.  Though, I have to admit, there are running zombies in this movie, as well as the standard shufflers, which usually takes me out of things.  But, at least here they hang a lampshade on them by calling them “Runners”.  There are more than a few times where I was wondering if the zombie players were wearing Halloween masks, from the looks of things.  And there’s a battle with the lamest CGI’ed zombie tiger I’ve ever seen this side of a Playstation One game.

Overall, Zombie Apocalypse is a fairly decent time waster.  I sat through half of it, then did some busy work while this played and didn’t miss any of the plot points, so take that as you will.  You probably won’t be riveted to your seat, and be chuckling more times than not.  But, eh, I can think of way worse zombie movies to waste your time with.

Movie Review: 13 SECONDS

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13 SECONDSRavencroft Cinema

“Blasphemy is just so damned convenient.”

The members of the band Night Gallery have set up to record their third disc in an abandoned…whatever it is (the back of the DVD cover says a schoolhouse, but it’s mentioned in the movie that it was an old silent theater house, so you’re guess is as good as mine), along with a sound engineer and a couple of girls. When night falls, though, weird things start to happen: Monsters in straight jackets with what appears to be tourettes syndrome and wielding axes come after them, blood appears on the walls, paintings predict the group’s demise, doors bang shut, people are sliced n’ diced, and then Satan shows up. The end.

To say that this movie was badly executed would be like saying that Mozart tinkered around with the piano. 13 Seconds is a prime example of a horror fan trying to make a horror movie with exactly zilch knowledge on how to make one. Let me run through these: First off, the whole thing looked like it was shot directly to a video camera, which made it seem like a porno rather than a horror movie. Seriously, if everybody suddenly got naked for no reason and started having sex, I wouldn’t have been surprised (GIRL: “My, what a big axe you have! Can I touch it?” MONSTER: “Um, okay…” *wa-ka-ka-ka-wa-ka-ka-ka*). Fortunately, everyone kept their clothes on the entire 90 minutes (sorry, skin hounds), so this gains a couple of points for not resorting to that tired old exploitation angle. Secondly, the sound quality was so low, I had to turn up my television almost to the very loudest it could go, and even then I could barely make out what was being said. Not that I would have missed much, as what dialogue I did catch was ruined by the worst acting I’ve ever witnessed. Mind you, I said the worst, as it was in a class all by itself. I don’t think any of the “actors” here did any kind of acting before in their lives, and if they did, it probably was only during their elementary school days.

Style-wise, it’s like someone grabbed a “Horror Movies For Dummies” and crammed every single horror movie device in here- Abandoned building…check. Pitch-black night….check. Really, really heavy fog…check. Creepy woods with hidden evil…check. Cryptic symbols and words written in blood on the walls…check. Doors slamming shut for no apparent reason…check. Axe-wielding monsters…check. Demon possession…check. A meat locker filled with hanging bodies…check. A Ouija board scene…check. Mysterious shifting paintings…check. Ghostly voices captured on tape…check. Satan showing up…check. Unexpected twist ending…*sigh* check. And I’m sure I’m missing other ripoffs as well. Oh, and there’s also an Aliens-like chase through the ventilation system, now that I think about it…

To tell the truth, that ending itself was pretty good. I didn’t see it coming. And considering I was eyeballing the stop button on my DVD player throughout the movie, I almost didn’t see it. To tell the truth, 13 Seconds would have been a very good psychological horror fest, had there been, say, a budget, competent actors, effects that didn’t come straight from the Spencer’s Gifts’ Halloween sale, and more than that irritating Casio keyboard for a musical score. Jeff Thomas (who wrote, directed and stared in this thing) does have an eye for horror, but his first attempt falls flat…


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13 HOURS IN A WAREHOUSECrotalus Productions

“All day long, man. THWACK! Rag doll.”

After a successful museum heist, five thieves hold up for the night in an abandoned warehouse while waiting for the guy who hired ’em for the heist to show up, taking a last minute hostage with them. As they settle in for a night of cards, beer drinking, and discussions on masturbation and the film work of Robin Williams, a mysterious number appears on the warehouse wall. Then ghosts start popping up. And it’s just a matter of time when the five guys let their paranoia run rampant…

Gotta say, I was kinda surprised by this film. I do watch a lot of low-budget horror flicks, so much so that, at this point in the game, I have my expectations rather low. There are those low budget films that range from the beyond terrible, and on the other end of the spectrum there are those that are surprisingly well-made for the budget they had to work with. 13 Hours In A Warehouse falls somewhere in the mid-point of that spectrum, leaning a bit towards the later end.

Story wise, the plot is something like a poor man’s Reservoir Dogs stumbling upon the House On Haunted Hill remake. Or Warehouse On Haunted Hill. Or something. The warehouse in question was once used to make snuff films by the father of two of the thieves, and thus the haunting by the spirits of the dead victims of said films fills in that plot device. The actors do pretty well, hamming it up a bit, but overall competent enough. No one was particularly annoying, like a lot of low-budget actors I”ve had the displeasure of seeing. The effects are sparce, but done particularly well for what they had. The ghost effects were rather creative, I thought. The running time was 90 minutes, though there could have easily been a good 10 minutes total shaved off here and there to keep things going, as this film does suffer from pointless lags.

But, overall, I did enjoy the movie on a certain level, thinking that, if given a good polish job on the script, some decent experienced actors (Vin Diesel could have easily played one part, methinks), and an experienced director, editor, and a budget for effects and such, this could be a contender for a good theatrical horror release. Otherwise, as it is, I would recommend checking this out at least once, just to see a diamond in the rough.

Movie Review: 11/11/11

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11-11-11Asylum Pictures

Bravo.  Bra-vo, Asylum Pictures.  You have finally fooled me into watching one of your mockbusters, thinking it was the original I was going to watch.  And since the original had been released to DVD for some time, and your title having such a subtle difference…well, job well done, there.  One day you shall be revisited all the pain that was foisted upon me when I watched this…this thing.

Turns out, the big difference between this and the original’s title, is the dashes used between the 11’s in the original, and the back-slashes used in he Asylum mockbuster.  See?  BIG difference!

Okay, so I can’t really speak about the plot of the original for a comparison.  To tell the truth, I didn’t really have much desire to watch the original to begin with.  It was just…there for the watching.  And since I was handed this instead, I actually sat through it.  And what I got was perhaps the saddest rip-off of The Omen I’ve seen in, well, ever.  And that includes the Winona Rider travesty Lost Souls.

Yeah.  Essentially a family of three movie into a small California town, as the father’s the new professor at the college, and it turns out their 10-year-old son is the key to opening the gats of Hell on his 11th birthday.  And certain key members of the neighborhood are in on the secret, and try to bring about Armageddon by protecting the boy.  And the crazy old lady who lives next door tries to prevent said Armageddon by repeatedly trying to kill the kid.  And the closer he gets to his birthday, the weirder the kid acts.

Ye gads, I really needed the extra-strength industrial sized bottle of Ibuprofen long before the end credits rolled on this movie.  Seriously, 11/11/11 basically chop-shops the various plots and ideas from way better movies than this; The Omen and Rosemary’s Baby being the obvious two.  But, there’s some rather laughable attempts at bringing in pseudo-Biblical numerology in there (never heard of the number 11 being “Satan’s number” before), and a scene where all the town’s conspirators are gathered in a smoky van pledging their allegiance to the Dark Lord (Lucifer, friends call him Lucy) that had me rolling in laughter.  Tie this all up with very horrible acting from the first moment, a rather tedious pacing, unintentional laughs and a budget quality that’s barely above Shot On Home Video quality, and boy HOWDY you’re in for some pain.

Thing is, though, 11/11/11 falls under the So-Bad-It’s-Good category of bad movies, which is something that Asylum has on their side.  So yeah, grab some friends and some snacks, and pop this thing in.  Don’t’ say I didn’t warn you first, though.

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