Friday, March 27, 2009

Halloween

This isn't really a review per se, but out of all the big horror franchises, I think Halloween is the weakest one. I know I'm not alone in my opinion, but there are some fans who just go completely bananas over these movies. Don't get me wrong, the first Halloween is a total classic and a great archetypal slasher, but the sequels? Give me a break. Crucify me, but in my twisted little horror movie world I envision the Halloween films as the retarded cousin in an otherwise "normal" family of goofy slasher franchises.

As a film, the first Halloween is a landmark. So many things that are now stereotypes of the slasher genre were either borrowed from earlier films like Black Christmas, or legitimately invented here; you know, back when John Carpenter still had a soul.

The sequels on the other hand are totally bland. Halloween II had it's charm, picking up directly where the original left off, but it's still pretty boring (despite having that really cute short blonde haired nurse), and doesn't have any of the drive of the original film. The aspects of plot that were introduced in this film are iconic of the franchise, but I think they ruined it. Michael Myers became a hell of a lot less scary when he started to have even slightest semblance of motive.

Now Halloween III: Season of the Witch is pretty cool. To start with, it has Tom Atkins, who as we all know is friggin' awesome. Along with that, the storyline is pretty damn interesting and bizarre and makes for a relatively entertaining film, with the final few minutes giving some obvious nods to the original classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The absence of Michael Myers was obviously the reason for it's failure, but I think it works. It's no masterpiece, but I enjoy watching it once in a while.

Now every other movie in this franchise completely sucks in my opinion. Starting with part 4, I get the obvious impression they were trying to turn this into a franchise to rival the likes of Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm St. The stories are boring, the characters are annoying, and the movies just aren't scary, but it's obvious they really are trying to be. For me, the appeal of Friday the 13th is that the movies aren't scary (with the exception of some creepy moments here and there). Though they are trying to be scary, they fail miserably but in the most glorious way possible. The characters, particularly in the first four movies have real color and are fun to watch get murdered, especially with the glorious death scenes the franchise used to provide. From the get go, Halloween was too psychological and moody to try and be a slasher franchise and it just doesn't work for me. Admittedly, part 4 is the most watchable of the sequels (other than part 3), but nearly unwatchable compared to pretty much every Jason and Freddy flick.

I'd rather watch Friday the 13th part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan than most any Halloween besides the original anyday. You feel what I'm sayin? This may sound like complete Jason fanboy nonsense, but I know many people who share this opinion so I know I'm not alone. I guess I just don't understand the love Halloween fans have for the franchise when I see so many boring inconsistent films. Seriously, Parts 5 and 6 are awful. Then again, those fans are really die hard and probably don't get why my boy Jason is so much more popular. Maybe they like it that way, loving the underdog of the slasher franchises; maybe it makes them feel more connected to it. That's saying something I suppose. But seriously, does anyone REALLY think H20 or especially Halloween: Resurrection are good films? I mean even in a charmingly stupid slasher way...

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Defenders of the Faith

A far cry from a post about horror films, but I really felt like compiling my list of the 10 greatest Judas Priest songs of the 1980's. There must be plenty of horror fans out there who love Judas Priest as much as I do, so hopefully someone will enjoy this.

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10) You've Got Another Thing Coming
Yeah it's on here...
Some fans really don't like this song all that much, probably because it still seemingly defines Priest for the casual mainstream rock radio listener. Despite this, it's a great song. Great lyrics that work for the same reason many of their anthems of independence work so well. What's so effective about the song for me is how especially in the pre-chorus Ian Hill thunders on his open notes with Tipton and Downing playing a different chord progression entirely; but of course any chrod progression is different from Ian Hill's playing, since you know, he's only playing one note and all. It adds tension and really builds the song. This song isn't really that heavy, certainly not fast, and is relatively tame, but it always pumps me up.

9) Desert Plains
This is a track that took me a while to appreciate. Point of Entry seems to be one of the most hated records in the whole Priest canon, but it does have a few good songs, this being one of my favorites.

8) Grinder
Absolutely ferocious. Lyrics that spoke to those of us who strive for independence, and it has an air of rebellion that really resonates with fans. I can't even imagine how heavy the "breakdown" in this song was in 1980. Groundbreaking.

7)Rock Hard, Ride Free
By the time Defenders of the Faith was released it must have been clear that Dave Holland was a complete slouch behind the drum kit. This song is a true example of this. I wouldn't be surprised if I found out it was a drum machine on many of the tracks on the record, as they have some of the most mechanical and uninspired beats in rock history. Despite this, many of these songs have become undeniable Judas Priest classics, and some of the best material of their career. This track has some insanely memorable riffs, and is a runner up for my favorite Tipton and Downing solos of all time. Tight, emotional, and classic. One of Halford's best vocal performances in my opinion. This is an anthem.

6) The Rage
Relatively under appreciated gem of a song and one of my personal favorites. Absolutely crushing lead riff, with some lyrics that make nearly no sense. Based on the odd reggae-esque opening and middle section, possibly the most interesting song on British Steel.

5) Heading Out to the Highway
This is probably one of the greatest road songs of all time. It's not particularly "metal", as it really just sounds like a straight ahead mid paced rocker; but it's incredibly catchy and some amazing vocals by Halford. Best song on the Point of Entry album by far, but few would argue that.

4)Freewheel Burning
How could we forget. This is the real deal; Judas Priest completely pure and unleashed. What can I say about this song that hasn't been said already? It's unbridled aggression and energy, but it's fun and catchy at the same time. Essential.

3) Devil's Child
It's getting really hard to place these songs in order now. This track just can't be denied. The vocal climax before the final verse is easily one of the finest performances of Rob Halford's career. When I saw these guys last summer their performance of this song was undoubtedly the highlight for me. It is classic Priest, pure and simple.

2) The Sentinel
Despite once again displaying some relatively bland drumming from Dave Holland, this song absolutely shreds. From the heavy as hell opening guitar riff, to the driving verse and menacing chorus, this song bleeds Judas Priest. The dueling twin guitar solos are Tipton and Downing at the top of their game. When I want someone to really understand why I love Judas Priest, I play Sinner from Unleashed in the East, and this track. It's an absolute scorcher and exhibits a peak in songwriting craft.

1) The Hellion/Electric Eye
Some of the greatest most driving riffs in heavy metal history right here. Priest hit it big with British Steel, induced quite a few yawns with the understandably disappointing Point of Entry, and returned to top form with Screaming for Vengeance. The perfect opener to one of Priest's most perfect records. From the snarling and menacing opening, The Hellion, to the classic solo of Electric Eye, this was the perfect way for Priest to show us that the style of Point of Entry was not here to stay and they were back, literally Screaming for Vengeance.

So there you have it. While my favorite era of the Priest is the 70's, they were not to be fucked with in the 1980's either. You'll notice there were no songs from 1986's Turbo or 1988's Ram it Down. While I don't outright hate these albums and enjoy some songs from them, I limited my list to 10 and those songs just don't hold up to the ones I've chosen, in my opinion. If this were a to 15 I may have also included Out in the Cold from Turbo and the title track from Ram it Down. Soon enough I'll be posting another horror entry, but until then, keep rocking.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Whilst looking through other horror blogs I started to realize that most of them reflect the writers' particularly taste in horror, be it mostly obscure Z-Grade flicks, 70's exploitation, slasher films, etc. It's pretty great to be able to keep my eye on a number of different writers having an idea of what to expect a review of. Maybe once this thing gets a little more established with a few more weeks of entries, someone might notice some genre consistencies, but I really don't see it happening that way. Mostly because my love of horror is fairly all encompassing and as such may appear erratic. Sure I'm a huge fan of Italian gorefests, but I'm also a big American slasher fan. You'll also find me contemplating the morbid genius of David Cronenberg's films a lot of times.

That said, I'd like to know what your favorite sub genre of horror is, if you have one.

A "real" post to follow tomorrow.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

...

I have almost no "followers" (yet?), but for those who read this, excuse the lack of posts as of late. Either tonight or tomorrow there will be something for me to yell about.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Last House on the Left "remake"

Yeah the very concept of this one really confused me. The original is a film that is classic and so completely impossible to repeat. It's amateurish, sleazy, graphic, and actually is truly shocking and scary. Pretty much the embodiment of everything today's mainstream horror, and ESPECIALLY remakes, is/are not. It's atmosphere and mood can not be repeated, nor should it be attempted. Just like most of the other recent (last 10 years or so) remakes, this movie was created to cash in on the name. It's a legendary film with a notorious reputation, so it's easy to exploit. Hollywood has created a new non-underground kind of exploitation film for the new millenium: the "remake". I can picture a bunch of dickmouths sitting around an office discussing how to make a shit ton of money, making stupid movies exploiting the titles of great landmark movies that actually had artistic vision, or at least actually were shocking and sleazy.

It makes so little sense it's almost genius...

This is how I see it:
Exploitation films were very often horror films and followed on the heels of a film or group of films that were extremely successful because it expanded the boundaries of film by introducing a subject or concept that hadn't been touched upon, and presented them in way that was shocking, as well as sometimes offensive and unsettling. Obviously there's tons of subgenres, some insanely specific (nunsploitation anyone?), but now there's a whole genre of exploitation dedicated to remaking old exploitation? What the hell? These guys seriously have no interesting ideas, otherwise they'd at least be coming up with NEW film titles, writing midly original plotlines, and making films that were just new school exploitation ripoffs.
Anyone who knows me knows I'm not a fan of the so called "torture porn" films, but at least the "Saw" and "Hostel" films are their own entities and don't require the name of a classic flick to supposedly sell tickets. I don't know many young horror fans, but I bet plenty of them have never even heard much about "Last House on the Left", let alone seen it, so what's the point in using the name?

I'm baffled.

Note: I originally started this post as a comment in response to Phil's review of the new film, but it got fairly drawn out as one can see. Check out his blog for the full monty. It's on my reading list to the right there, but here's the link http://grimhorror.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Big Monster Mania Connecticut News

Bruce Campbell has been added to the list of confirmed guests for the show in June. Freddy and Ash. Joining him will be the three ladies from the original "The Evil Dead"; Ellen Sandweiss, Betsy Baker, and Sarah York. Life is good.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Daria Nicolodi Appreciation Post



Seriously, have you ever seen a more major babe than Daria Nicolodi? I sure as hell haven't. In her day I would have to count her among the most beautiful women I've ever seen. Sadly, she hasn't aged as well as one might hope, and while not quite 60, she certainly looks a bit older. Ever seen "The Third Mother"? What she saw in a gremlin like Argento is beyond me. Well, you know, besides his incredible artistic sense and absolute genius that is...

I chose two images from Bava's final film "Shock" to display her beauty. I really don't think she's ever looked better on screen than in that movie.



Her magnificent appearance aside, she was a pretty damn decent actress and was also co-writer on "Suspiria", which gives her a lot of credibility in my book. Even if Argento's movies don't always have the most coherent storylines, those storylines are usually what allow him to present us with the amazing setpieces, atmospherics and brilliant music he uses. Regardless of how much sense the stories make, they sure turn out to be incredible films in the end. If Nicolodi had something to do with what is in my opinion Argento's most visually accomplished film, she gets a thumbs up from me.

Note: While I consider "Suspiria" the most visually stunning of all Argento's films (meaning that it certainly leaves the most lasting impression) I don't think I'd go so far as to call it my absolute favorite. Though I don't think I could pick a personal favorite at all, as he is probably my favorite director. If you have one, what is your favorite Argento film and why? I'd like to know.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

in the mood for pork...



Damn does this movie suck. However, it is comical enough to sit through once, maybe even twice.

Here's about all I have to say:

This movie has some of the worst acting I've ever seen. Most shitty horror movies I've seen have actors that seem like they are really trying to succeed, but just fail miserably. There's a couple actors in this thing who don't even appear to look like they're trying. Check out Sal (I think?). The most amazingly phony Italian accent ever, but he's one of the ones who appears to be trying. I think that's saying a lot.

There's a lot of swearing in this movie, and most of it, particularly in the earlier part of the movie, is directed towards women. Pretty weird. The fat dude with the mullet wearing the pig nose is a complete douche bag and I can't believe any of these people are friends with him. Even if I was total asshole, which I try not to be, I wouldn't call a girl "bitch" ALL THE DAMN TIME for no reason whatsoever. It's one thing when this type of behavior is meant to generate audience hatred for a character; in turn causing us hope for their quick and brutal murder (see every F13), but in this movie it doesn't seem like that's the intent of his personality. I don't get it.

Being released in 1988, I'm going to assume this was an Evil Dead ripoff. Some other elements, especially the demon make-up design, seem to be inspired (or directly lifted) from Lamberto Bava's "Demons" and it's first sequel as well. I could go on and on about "Demons" but it'll have to wait.

Easily the best part about this movie is Linnea Quigley. I don't know who else could have made a scene where their character sat topless in an empty room putting lipstick all over their face and have it be this entertaining. If you do, by all means let me know.

At one point the only black actor in the film returns from a darkened room looking terrified. One of his friends says "You're as white as a ghost!". I was really pleased that no racially related joke was made here. Even in a newer movie there would be something. Hell, in the new Friday the 13th film there's a light-hearted, yet retarded exchange between two of the characters regarding race.

I really don't have anything else to say. It's late, I'm tired, and this movie hardly inspires creativity. I'll come up with something with a tad more substance next time. Once again, I'd like to hear your thoughts on the movie, so feel free to comment.

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21st century rocker with a multi-track mind.

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