In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Short of the Week #44: The 7 Sevens

This week's short is a terrific little tale I saw my first year as a festival screener. I've always found the phenomena of number stations to be extremely interesting and I love Lane & Ruckus Skye's take on it. Below is their 2015 short, The 7 Sevens.

The 7 Sevens is a perfect example of all you need to make a great film is a solid idea and a pair of really talented actors. The Skye's are currently finishing up post on the debut feature, The Reckoning

Friday, November 16, 2018

Moon Jockeys.

Freshly acquired from this year’s Horror-Rama, this week’s VHS is Roland Emmerich’s 1990 sci-fi flick Moon 44.

Set in 2038, IA agent Felix Stone (Michael Paré) is sent undercover to a remote mining colony with a bunch of convicts to investigate some stolen shuttles filled with precious ore.

After watching Emmerich’s 1985 effort Making Contact this summer I was kind of hoping for something equally bonkers, but somewhat disappointingly Moon 44 was a fairly standard representation of the nineties sci-fi that populated video store shelves around that time. I mean, the ambition was there as the first act saw Emmerich reach for the lofty world building heights of Blade Runner and Aliens, but it gets bogged down in its plot. I found it often took itself too seriously, as well.

As with most direct-to-video sci-fi (it did play theatrically overseas) it had a pretty solid cast in Paré, along with Brian Thompson, Stephen Geoffreys (basically playing a drug dealing Evil Ed) and Malcolm McDowell, who despite having gone grey by then still looked young as fuck. Also, was it just me or was Leon Rippy the only one sweating profusely throughout this movie?

Fundamentally, I thought this movie needed more dog-fighting. By utilizing sweet practical effects, they definitely made up the best parts of the movie. Moon 44 built to a climax where convicts were being trained to fight incoming robot pirates and when they arrived, only Paré and Thompson fought them – and not even together! I know I know, budgets, but imagine if at the end of The Magnificent Seven, five of them decided to stay at the saloon.

Michael Paré as Felix Stone in Moon 44. 

Perhaps the most distressing and ill-advised part of the movie was when it's implied that one of the navigators was raped in the shower by a pilot. Considering that when the pilots are actually in the air, their lives are in the hands of their navigator – in a tandem even more unclear than the one in Pacific Rim – I really don’t think the assaulter really thought things through. Things don’t end up well for either of them.

As far as sci-fi space mining movies go, I have to say – and I can’t believe I am – Gary S. Tunnicliffe’s Within The Rock is the more entertaining joint. Moon 44 was certainly watchable fare, but it’s just a hair before Emmerich started positioning himself as the filmmaker we all know and love/hate.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Short of the Week #43: Black Eyes

This week I'm posting one of my favourite shorts from 2015 in Rick Spears' Black Eyes.

If you know anything about me at all, you know that this kind of stuff is my bag. Sadly, Spears has been quiet (at least according to Imdb) but at least two members of the team, Michelle Lombardi & Drew Bolduc - whom I had the pleasure of meeting during one of my trips to Bloomington - are in post production on their newest project, Assassinaut.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Friday, November 9, 2018

She Came From Within.

Carrying over the Montreal locale, this week’s VHS is David Cronenberg’s 1977 effort, Rabid.

After undergoing experimental surgery, Rose (Marilyn Chambers) acquires a taste for human blood for which her victims subsequently become violent zombies.

Rabid is one of those films that so much time has passed from when I would have first seen it that I can’t remember if I actually watched it, or just manufactured an idea of it from seeing the coverbox so much as a kid. Considering I recalled almost nothing, I wager the latter is true. Though Rabid is one of Cronenberg’s least talked about works, I think it’s still a solid piece of work.

Obviously, the main talking point was the casting of porn star Marilyn Chambers (apparently a suggestion by Ivan Reitman after the studio balked at their first choice in Texan Sissy Spacek) that I think was as bold as it was perfect. I felt she had real screen presence in this film, switching back and forth between innocent and predatory with ease. Her comfort level with the nudity was to be expected I suppose, but I also got the sense she really trusted her director. I mean, can you imagine her reading the script, “soooo I have a parasite that comes out my armpit???” 

Marilyn Chambers as Rose in Rabid.

After watching Strange Shadows last week, I was surprised by how different Montreal looked even though both these movies were filmed around the same time. Granted, a lot of Rabid was shot at night, but I definitely felt there was more grittiness to this one. As with most of Cronenberg joints, this had so many recognizable locations. If there’s ever a Montreal edition of Horror Express, I hope that at least the mall and apartment complex are on the list.

Also while watching Rabid, I couldn’t help but draw parallels to George A. Romero’s The Crazies released a few years earlier. Not that there was any intentional aping going on, but they did share similarities in both pathology and escalation. It’s also clear the pair shared the nihilistic streak that was so common during that decade, it was almost a badge of honour.

I mentioned Rabid wasn’t as popular as some of the Baron of Body Horror's other efforts, but that’s not to say it doesn’t have its moments. It played to me as an extension of Shivers, moving beyond the confined space of Starliner Island and sweeping into the entire city of Montreal where truck drivers, pervy moviegoers and mall Santas were all caught in the crossfire. Not to fear though, as Cronenberg’s version of squeegee kids were there to clean up the mess.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Short of the Week #42: Latched

Last week, Canadian filmmaker Justin Harding posted his award winning short filmography on his website. I have posted his 2017 opus Latched below, but afterwards you should definitely go check out his earlier work.

I stand by my past declaration that Harding is currently the top hombre working in this medium. He has fantastic ideas, the resources and skills to execute them and his many years working in the television industry have given him to chops to churn out his projects at a break-neck pace. I have no doubts Harding will soon become a major player in the horror industry.