Jason's Forest Cabin

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Stay Tuned

I will be doing some reviewing pretty soon, so no, I'm not letting this die again.

I went out on a limb and ordered a copy of Trick 'r Treat, which from what I hear, is a really respectable new spooky flick that has all the earmarks of a "classic". I sure hope so. I hate buying DVD's that end up sucking, and I'm pretty picky about modern stuff. More on this soon.

I will be watching The Fog shortly, which I usually do once or twice a year. Great and underappreciated movie. May put up some thoughts on that as well.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

oh, the shame...

So I really dropped the ball yesterday. I didn't go to the Rock n Shock horror convention, which a bunch of my friends did. I missed out on a few horror stars I've yet to meet. I also missed out on getting to see Saint Vitus live and hang out with them and my friends afterwards. What a buffoon I am.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Combat Shock/American Nightmares




This one will be brief because my good friend Phil over at Grim Horror already reviewed this flick a while back, and his review was my reason for seeking this film out.

This movie packs a punch. Buddy G's Combat Shock is one of the most relentlessly bleak, disturbing, and depressing films I've ever seen. Because of these qualities it succeeds. Even though it's one of the most uncomfortable movies to watch I can say that I "like" it, because it brings you to the place it intends to take you and doesn't let go. It is very hard to find cinema this intense and disturbing, yet this honest at the same time.
Combat Shock is a film detailing a Vietnam War veterans' life of poverty, dementia, and depression as he struggles to cope with continuing visions of his life in combat and as a POW. Frankie's entire life is an abysmal mess. No job, no money, no food, shitty delapitated apartment (of which he is being evicted), a nagging wife (can you blame her?), and a baby with deformities blamed on Frankie's agent orange exposure in Vietnam. He has seemingly no friends or family who can help him, and has criminals he is in debt to. Things are not looking good for Frankie.

As Phil and many others have said before me, Combat Shock shares themes and has a similar tone to films such as The Driller Killer, Eraserhead, Maniac, and Taxi Driver. A definite must-see if you're into this type of thing. Troma recently released a beautiful 2-Disc DVD, so grab it while it's available and prepare to have your mind mangled. The comparison to The Driller Killer is mostly in it's gritty, raw New York atmosphere, as well as having a similar look to the cinematography, at least as far as the film is concerned. I wouldn't be surprised if both were originally 16mm, but I don't know a lot about that sort of thing. Combat Shock was blown up to 35mm by Troma when they purchased the film, it was shot in 16mm and originally titled American Nightmares. The other films I brought up for comparison are mostly only tied thematically. David Lynch's Eraserhead baby is very obviously referenced here and the way the child is represented as part of the story definitely shows the influence that film had on Mr. G's Combat Shock. While they share obvious similarities, Combat Shock makes (Scorsese's masterpiece) Taxi Driver look like an episode of Sesame Street. No joke. I'm going to try to avoid ruining the film for you, but if you've seen any of the films I've made reference to, I'm sure you have an idea of what happens as Frankie's fragile psyche receives continuous bludgeoning as the film plays out.
If you're depressed, this movie can have two effects one you (maybe both?):
A) It can make you feel little better about your own life situation because hey, at least you're not in the same shitty situation Frankie is in. However, this soon wears off because this movie is so raw and realistic that obviously it draws from real life shit that many people have gone through, and that's also pretty damn depressing; knowing how many unhappy and seemingly helpless people there are out there.
or
B) It can spin your depression in an even further developing downward spiral of paranoia and hopelessness.
Either way, you still lose. Enjoy the movie, manics. Don't worry, I'll be back to something a little more fun next time around.
Well, so much for being brief.

16 more days 'til Halloween?

Can you believe it, folks? We're almost there, and that means 2009 is also drawing to a close. Where'd the time go?

For a horror junkie I'm admittedly not very into dressing up. A few Halloweens ago when a friend of mine was dressed a zombie and grunted the all too familiar call of "brains!" I felt the need to speak up and explain him and my girlfriend at the time which film series this originated in (as they had not seen it). The aforementioned (now ex) girlfriend was confused and said "for someone as insane about horror as you, how can you not like dressing up for Halloween?". I really don't know.

I'll tell you what I really like about Halloween though: Horror DVD sales. This is the time of year when I scarf up all the leftover goodies I had been contemplating purchasing but for nearly half the normal price. It often times pays to wait a while after a DVD is released before purchasing, especially if Halloween is on the way, as not only do DVD's go down in price months after release, but Halloween causes the prices to plummet. I purchased like four movies the other day for like 6 dollars a piece. When you're considering that two of them were special editions that actually boasted special features, that's a bargain, and that makes me pretty giddy.

I always get excited about watching horror movies in October. Watching Suspiria (or Halloween for that matter) always feels all the more fitting when the air is chilly and dry, and you can hear the leaves blowing around outside. July just doesn't create the same mood. Though that doesn't stop me.

Every year, often times on Halloween, I choose to watch the immortal film taking it's name from this joyous holiday. Something about the season just doesn't feel complete until I screen this gore-less classic and marvel yet again at it's effectiveness. A true masterpiece. We all know how I feel about (most of) the sequels though.

Readers (?), have any of you unearthed any treasures this Halloween season?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Drag Me to Heck!

This is how you do a PG-13 horror film folks. I was really skeptical when I heard Drag Me to Hell wasn't R rated, but I was wrong, and now wish I hadn't waited until DVD to check it out.

Though a self professed gore fiend, this movie is pretty bold with it's use of body fluids and other nastyness and pushes the boundaries of the rating. A number of things work for it regarding it's use of horror and mild comedy. While it is a serious story, it plays very much like an old episode of The Twilight Zone or an EC Comics/Creepshow tale (in that it's a morality tale with a semi-humorous twist ending). While it doesn't get into any full blown slapstick comedy scenes, it uses humor to it's benefit in that it lightens the mood a little at times. Highly recommended.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Holy crap, guess what? I haven't died.

What have I been doing? You probably don't want to know. Or rather, I don't want to tell you. My recent activities make posting pros and cons of 1980's slasher films sound hip by comparison, and I don't think I can deal with the ridicule.

Zombieland? Nope haven't seen it. Will I? It's possible. I am a bit of a snob though, and wonder how good this thing can possibly be. Woody Harrelson is awesome, but being that zombies are "cool" right now (and not in a Fulci kind of way) I have to question the merits of this one. Call me jaded of call me elitist, I don't care. People at work who know I'm into horror crap have attempted to crawl into my little world by talking about this movie with me and these are people who've only seen 28 Days Later and the new Dawn of the Dead. That said, I'll probably end up seeing it this week while I'm on vacation.

You know what's really awesome though? The Creepy and Eerie Magazine reprints I've been reading.

No one even reads this! After 6 months, can I blame them?

Monday, July 6, 2009

So what have I been up to? Since Monster Mania I've probably watched just as many horror flicks as ever (maybe more), but have been damn busy and haven't been thinking about writing blog entries. I've been watching a lot more older films lately, namely delving into a few of the immortal Vincent Price's filmography. I recently watched the original classics House of Wax and House on Haunted Hill, both of which I admittedly had never seen. I also revisited Witchfinder General and it's notorious copycat Mark of the Devil, both of which are classics in their own twisted ways.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Monster Mania bub!

So now I'm finally getting around to writing this entry. I've been sick with some crappy throat infection the last couple days and I'm starting to feel a bit better now that I'm on antibiotics, so sitting down and writing this post is finally feasible.

About a week ago at this time I was wrapping up my festivities at Monster Mania in Cromwell, CT. I got the notion to check this thing out when I saw all the footage of conventions on the new Friday the 13th Part 2 DVD and got really excited to check one out. A short time later I read Matt's review of Monster Mania in Cherry Hill, NJ (check it out here). Read it and come back to me because how could you not want to check this thing out after reading his article? Or don't, because he's a much better writer than I am.

I went to the Monster Mania website and saw that in just a few months yet another one was coming up, but it was a hell of a lot closer than New Jersey. After taking a look at the list of guests who were scheduled to be there to sign autographs and do Q&A panels, I knew I couldn't miss it.

I arrived on Friday afternoon not completely knowing what to expect. I've been to conventions before, but never one with this much cool shit happening. I pulled into The Crowne Plaza Hotel on Friday afternoon wondering how many people were going to be around.

entry

It looked unnassuming enough. After all, it was just the first day. Though sooner rather than later, I saw this happen:

betsypalmer1

Betsy Palmer had arrived, and then I knew it was the real deal.

Before too long, the outside started to look like this:

outside

The convention existed on almost the entire first floor of this hotel. On one side were the autograph rooms and the room where the films were screened and Q&A's were held, and on the other side was the massive dealer room and of course the hotel bar.

There were a ton of dealers at this thing, and while I'm not much for collecting toys (especially considering I have little to no room to put them), there is a lot of really cool stuff out there. The only stuff I was really interested in were hard to find DVD's, books, and T-Shirts. I managed to pick up some of each. My recent screening of Nekromantik, as well as the resulting entry in this blog is thanks to the dealer room.

dealerroom1

dealerroom2

One of the coolest things about the dealer room is that a met a dude named Tad Leger who does a lot of graphic design work for Grindhouse Releasing's DVD covers. He had a table in the dealer room where I purchased a cool and informative book detailing Italian Cannibal and Zombie films titled Eaten Alive. Click here and check out his website.

After letting a good deal of money burn a hole in my pocket and depositing my treasures in my car, I knew I could use a drink.

thebar1

There were tables set up all around the place selling Coors Light out of overly foamy kegs for $4 per cup, and you could only purchase these beers with tickets you purchased in the lobby. I purchased one such beer before coming across the hotel lounge. It was comparable to discovering a lush oasis after shuffling aimlessly through a desolate desert wasteland crying for reprieve. Only the desert sands were shit and annoyance and the oasis was free flowing, cold booze. It turned out to be a great place to chill and fuck with your phone and delete blurry pictures you took, but primarily it turned out to be a place to goof off with other horror nuts and get shitty.

joe

This man, Joe the Bartender, kicks ass. Completely professional and with a sharp wit. He reminded me of a real life version of what a movie bartender would be like. After downing a few cocktails I decided I should venture into the autograph rooms. The images that follow include me making retarded faces with my half in the bag glaze being an obvious element.

stevedashandI

Steve Dash himself. He was Jason in my favorite F13 movie and I had no problem telling him so. His girlfriend/wife was also extremely nice and seemed to be having a great time. I had him sign a photo for me, which I will proudly frame and place on my wall.

stevedashphoto

Moving on...

johnsaxonandI

Above is me with the great John Saxon. Getting the chance to shake this man's hand was a major highlight for me, as he is a true legend. I really enjoyed hearing his memories of Dario Argento when I asked him about Tenebre, but thanks to the beers and the shots of Makers Mark I had enjoyed with Cassie a short time earlier, I only remember bits and pieces of the story. Damn.

I walked around and got signatures from everyone there who was in the original A Nightmare on Elm Street and then decided it was time yet again to get back to the bar.

thebar1

After a couple more drinks I headed into the screening room where The Ladies of The Evil Dead were going to be doing commentary for the classic film. It was great to see them riffing and making fun of eachother.

thebar3

It's been said before (such as in Matt's article at X-Entertainment.com) but the bar really is a great place to meet the stars. It's also a great place to meet your fellow horror goofballs, drink a bunch of beer, and take dumb pictures where my face is cut off.

usweirdos

Cut to Day 2. I arrived on Saturday and instantly got into the line to meet Robert Englund. He was the only present cast member of the original NOES who hadn't signed my poster and I couldn't wait to meet him. Check out the line/waiting room:

robertsline

This was after I'd been in line for over an hour. In all seriousness though it wasn't really that bad. It was great to see Robert interacting with the people he was signing for, and not only did it break the monotony by providing some entertainment on occassion, it showed he really does care for his fans. Check out the photo:

robertandI

Too bad it turned out blurry and was taken too far away, but you get the idea. I actually just recently cut my hair, so these photos are not an accurate representation of me anymore. Robert is the man. I was very happy to meet him. Now, my poster was signed by all the cast members who were accounted for. Jsu Garcia (credited in the film as Nick Corry) was scheduled to be there but couldn't make it for some reason. Disapointing, but oh well.

NOESposter

As for a Johnny Depp signature getting on this thing, I'm not holding my breath.

This kind of confused me:

whymewes

So that's Jason Mewes. Why the hell was he a guest at this thing? I really can't figure it out. I'm betting it wasn't because of his cameo in Scream 3. I'm guessing it's because a lot of horror nerds probably also like Kevin Smith movies.

I decided to jump in line to meet Bruce Campbell, which surprisingly took no time at all, because I got in on it at the very end when almost everyone had already waited for like 3 hours and gotten their autograph already.

brucecampbell

After getting Bruce's signature I went back to the autograph room:

EvilDead

I'm sure you guys have seen this DVD before. Well, I got it signed by the entire cast.

evildeadsigs

Sarah York, Hal Delrich, Ellen Sandweiss, Betsy Baker, and of course, Bruce himself all blessed this evil tome.

The coolest things were yet to come though. The Q&A panels I was really interested in were coming right up, but before they started I popped into the bar yet again for a bit of the hair of the dog, and who was hanging out having a little vodka but Robert Englund. I didn't want to be annoying, so I waited until he was done having his conversation and then asked him about Dead and Buried. He talked a bit about it and how cool the poster was, etc. It made my day as when I actually met him in the autograph room I didn't want to take up too much of his time, and I'm sure the people behind me didn't want that either. Also at some point in the day Derek Mears (Jason in the newest F13 film) bought me a beer. I made my way to the Q&A hall for a marathon of The Ladies of the Evil Dead, Bruce Campbell, a Friday the 13th reunion, and then finally the cast reunion of A Nightmare on Elm Street. These were all great, with Bruce Campbell in particular being absolutely hilarious.

Blurry Photos.

The Ladies of The Evil Dead:

ladiesevildead

A Nightmare on Elm Street cast reunion:

NOESpanel

From left to right: Charles Fleischer (doctor), Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, Ronee Blakley, Leslie Hoffman (creepy hall monitor), and Amanda Wyss.

My props go out the Monster Mania staff for making this thing happen, as it was easily one of the coolest things I've ever participated in. I met a lot of cool people and had some great times and I'll definitely remember it for the rest of my life.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

An exercise in depravity

I'm still stalling on my monumental Monster Mania recap. Primarily because I have to get ready for work in a little while and I don't want to finally get rolling on a long entry and have to stop.

I will however like to post a quick entry about a film I finally got around to seeing last night...

Nekromantik

Nekromantik.

Have any of you seen this one? It raises some interesting taboos, but I found it was most effective as a test of how far I've desensitized myself. Funny enough, there's a scene where our main character (our hero?) watches a TV show where a psychiatrist talks about exposure to our phobias in order to desensitize ourselves and better deal with them. Of course while he's watching this his girlfriend is in the bathroom bathing in blood laden water.

I don't want to go into it, but this film is gross. I found one scene particularly gruesome and honestly, I was glad for it. There isn't much out there that I haven't seen that can make me feel a little uneasy. Nekromantik delivers. That's saying a lot. I think part of it is the at times documentary style cinematography. It feels very raw, though the gore effects are quite realistic. The music is also very effective at making you feel uneasy, mostly because a lot of it is so damn cheerful. I heard this was the directors intention.

Some really weird shit comes out of Germany. I definitely wouldn't say I liked this film, but it sure did succeed on one level, weirding me out. That's becoming a harder feat everyday, and I'm sure Nekromantik will help contribute to this.

This is some seriously sick stuff. If there's one thing I've learned though, it's that creating or watching gory, shocking, and offensive cinema does not mean that one harbors homicidal fantasies. Far from it. I can't pinpoint why I like it so much myself. I don't wish for violence upon anyone. However, watching these scenarios on film and seeing how fictional characters get out of them (or how they don't) is fascinating. The idea that there are still some films out there (like this one) that can still get under my skin is proof that there's still effective terror cinema left for me to check out. I just really doubt I'll be screening this one again anytime soon.

On an interesting side note, there is a scene in the film where the main character, Rob, goes to the cinema to watch a violent horror movie. The movie (with scenes filmed specifically for this movie) features sound effects, music and screams from various horror films. The first music I noticed came from The Burning, next I heard screams from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, followed by music and screaming from Night of the Living Dead.




Monday, June 15, 2009

I piss on "Twilight".

Monster Mania Con was friggin' amazing. A full recap will take place very soon.

The real reason for this post is to briefly bring up a conversation I had with my father yesterday. I stayed with him for the weekend while I went to Monster Mania and he was bringing up movie titles to see what I thought of them. My stepmother had read through the Twilight books and my dad decided to ask me what I thought of them. I said I can't stand them, at which point he rightfully asked if I'd seen the movie or read the books. Of course, I said I hadn't. At which point I am pointed out as being closed minded and judgemental. This is when I flipped out. I don't have to see or read these pieces of sludge to know there is ZERO appeal for a person like me. As someone who doesn't even really care for vampire movies in general (I think the original Dracula and Near Dark are the only ones I really like), I don't need to see much more than the trailer for Twilight to know it wouldn't interest me. Just based on what I've heard and the trailer, it sounds like a cross between an episode of Degrassi and Interview with the Vampire. William Broadbent said it best, "High School Musical for goth kids."

I don't inherently hate Twilight. It never did anything to me. I do not however like that it is at all associated with horror. The two have nothing in common. Vampires do not a horror film make. Especially not vampires with teased hair.

I'm pretty open minded when it comes to film in general. I also like some really SHITTY movies. Movies that appear that they were crafted by people with almost no knowledge of where to place a camera or light a shot. However, many of these movies have some real nuggets of greatness, especially in that many of them also feature some of the most startling and offensive gore scenes of all time. I won't try to tell you Anthropophagus is a good film, because I know it isn't. I do love it though. If you've seen it, you know why a gore fiend like me places this one up pretty high. If you haven't seen it, you probably shouldn't. The thing about films like this is that they don't try to present themselves as good films. Upon telling my father I had no interest in Twilight and don't like it almost just based on principle, he brought up that when I was a young lad, probably thirteen years old, I absolutely hated Halloween III and made it barely halfway through. Now that I'm older and have seen it all the way through multiple times, I think it's great and highly underrated, with Tom Atkins turning in a classic performance. Now my father has no dedication to Twilight, he was really just trying to get me worked up, at which he succeeded. My biggest argument to this point is that maybe when I was twelve I might have liked Twilight. It's a juvenile movie and concept. Him arguing that maybe I'd like a vapid film like Twilight and should give it a chance because I hated H3 at first when I was only into the original Halloween, the first A Nightmare on Elm Street, and stupid modern slashers like "Who gives a fuck what you did last summer" isn't a valid argument, at least not in my eyes. Granted at least the former two of those three movies are a step in the right direction (and I still love them dearly to this day), it's obvious that my horror palette wasn't particularly refined yet. If at this point I've decided that H3 is actually a cool movie and that Scream and I Know What You did Last Summer are lame and too teenagery (in a 90's way), why on Earth would I now like Twilight? My tastes don't regress.

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21st century rocker with a multi-track mind.

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