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.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


With Jessie Alba’s The Eye remake blowing into the theatres this Friday, you might assume that I would make Asian horror the theme for this week’s installment of Coverbox Wednesday. While that is a good idea, the J-horror (or Asian horror, as Japan is certainly not the only contributor) movement had not been established back when I was working the viddie aisles in the early nineties. Sure, there were a few titles out there, like Kwaidan and the Chinese Ghost Story films, but the ball didn’t really get rolling until Ringu (The Ring) came along in 1998.

Still, the “ghost story” is a universal one, so that’s what I’m showcasing this week. Enjoy!

I apologize for the quality of some of these pics. I'm hoping to replace them with original captures if I can ever locate them.

For better or worse, I will be checking out The Eye remake this weekend, so look for my review shortly after. Later kids.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Reflections Of Evil

You remember before when I was talking about the dangers of a queue? Well, I got dinged again last weekend. A movie called Reflections Of Evil showed up at my door and I had no idea where it had come from.

This is the only pic. Thank me later.

After a credit sequence with a young woman in a pink nightgown wandering the streets aimlessly, I was immediately treated to a 400 lb. man (well, actually a 200 lb. man with a couple of pillows shoved up his shirt to make him look 400 lbs) violently throwing up on the sidewalk. Aw, crap! I can only blame myself on this one, considering whichever site turned me onto this piece of garbage is a long, forgotten memory. The next ninety minutes was basically footage of said fat ass walking around L.A. trying to sell cheap watches, intercut with him shovelling food into his disgusting maw.

Reflections of Evil is a downright mess. There are parts that are so incoherent, it was like I was watching it on 1.5x speed (I swear I wasn’t…. honest). The overdubbing was so ridiculous, it was almost disembodied. I kept looking down at the bottom right of the screen to see if the MST3K silhouettes were there. I don’t think even those guys would have appreciated this movie. If I were to ever come across someone who actually liked it, I’m sure they would tell me that the incoherence was intentional to set up the conclusion. Even if that were true, the hackneyed ending doesn’t even slightly redeem the psychotic narrative.

How many times do I have to say this? If you have enough material to make an interesting ten to twenty minute short, please don’t stretch it out to feature length. You are wasting everyone’s time! Only twice during this movie did I not have one eye on the clock. The first was an inexplicable flashback sequence where the pink nightgown girl sneaks onto the Universal Studios backlot and sees a young Steven Spielberg at work. The only thing noteworthy about this is that the actor they got to be Spielberg actually looked and sounded like the man himself. The other part that was when a series of rides at an amusement park malfunction, throwing bloody mannequins everywhere.

AVOID THIS MOVIE! I have no idea how you would ever come into contact with something like this, but just in case. Heed my words! I took a bullet on this one. Don’t let my sacrifice (of an hour and a half that could have been spent playing Guitar Hero III) be in vain.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Groan. Here we go again.

I always forget about the song and dance of shuffling release dates the studios have us endure every year.

The first announcement of this young year is Eli Roth’s pet project Trailer Trash (which I put at #5 on my top anticipated of ’08 list). Bloody-Disgusting reports that MGM has pushed it back from its original release in August, to an undetermined date in 2009. Dimension’s Hellraiser remake has also been delayed until next year.

Oh, well. At least they can keep Mandy Lane company. She knows a thing or two about being kept in limbo.

You can check the full story over at BD, by clicking here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Quoth the Craven

As promised, here is this week’s Coverbox Wednesday installment. The theme is the films of horrormeister Wes Craven. No particular reason other than Queen Video downtown had a Craven section, so I was able to get pics of most of his early filmography. Enjoy!

The last two above came along after I was long gone from the store, but I figured I’d add them because I do own them on VHS. You can mark the Scream coverbox as the genesis for the stale, cookie cutter designs we often see today. But I digress. That is a rant for another time.

As I stated before, we didn’t have Last House at our store, but I can’t mention Wes without giving a nod to his infamous debut.

That’s it for now. Be sure to check back every Wednesday for a fresh slew of covers.

What a waste...

I can't really push forward today without mentioning the shocking news of yesterday afternoon. As I'm sure you all know by now, Heath Ledger was found dead in his New York apartment. It's always sad when a young man is cut down in his prime, but even more so when it comes as such a surprise as this did. I mean, Heath Ledger? That guy flew totally under the radar when it came to the public eye.

I don't mean to sound glib about death, but when you've got ticking time bombs like Britney Spears and Amy Winehouse running around, it seems really unfair that someone like Ledger would be the one that goes down. Now, we don't know the real details of his death yet, but his family insists that suicide was not in his character and I'm inclined to believe them.

It also sucks that he was due to be launched into the stratosphere of celebrity - with his performance as The Joker in The Dark Knight this summer - and he won't be around to experience it. From what I gather, he wasn't really into the glitz and glam of Hollywood, but still. It would have been a hell of a summer for him.

Again, really all you can say is... what a waste.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Tales From The 'Sauga

Do you know those movies that you won’t watch? There’s just some bad association with them for whatever reason and then so much time goes by, you don’t even remember why you didn’t want to see them in the first place.

Tales From The Hood was one of those movies for me. Something about it seemed – for lack of a better word – ‘ghetto’, so I never really entertained the thought of watching it. The poster wasn't really helping their cause either to be honest. Then, last weekend, at Serena’s latest movie night, the theme was anthology horror and Tales From The Hood was on the docket. I was going to see it, predispositions or not.

Thankfully, I ended up enjoying it. I certainly wouldn’t put it anywhere near my favourite anthologies (Creepshow and the original 1972 Tales From The Crypt), but the ‘hood’ element certainly added to some of the stories. It didn’t have me right away though. The gangstas at the start were walking clichés that had me rolling my eyes (inwardly of course, as I was in the company of people who loved it), but it became less distracting as time went on.

I’ll tell you what though. There were a couple of occasions where I thought I had the stories pegged and then was completely wrong. My favourite of the quartet of stories was probably the one with Corbin Bernsen as the racist politician living in a haunted plantation estate. It had some creepy stop motion animation and a great finish. There was only one weak installment, which was basically a mishmash of A Clockwork Orange and an early Twilight Zone episode. However, it did serve the purpose of setting up the conclusion, so it can be forgiven.

So, in the end, Tales From The Hood is further proof that you can’t judge a book by its cover.

Also on the slate that night was Creepshow and Planet Terror. Creepshow still holds up beautifully. This time though, I was able to fully appreciate the comic book artistry of the narrative that I obviously didn’t as a kid. My favourite story is still ‘Something To Tide You Over’ with Ted Danson and Leslie Nielsen. I never realized until now that Nielsen’s ill fated wife was Gaylen Ross (Fran from Dawn Of The Dead). Planet Terror is still a rocking good time. The extra footage doesn’t really add anything to it though. It just further validated my decision to hold out for the theatrical Grindhouse release. I’m sure as hell not getting the current DVD version of Death Proof; the last thing that movie needs to be is longer.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


I just wanted to mention a few things before I spend the day in front of the TV, beer in hand, for the Pats game.

First, the DVDWolf links are up. The majority of my genre reviews from my six year tenure at can now be found in the right hand sidebar. Check them out if you like. I read a few of them again and it is funny how sometimes opinions change over time. From my original review, it doesn't sound like I appreciated Haute Tension as much as I do now. I did actually write a follow-up article a few years later, but it never got posted. Conversely, I gave passing grades to many films I likely wouldn't now. For a lot of movies circa 2002, it seemed that as long as it wasn't as bad as Feardotcom, it was okay. My glowing reviews of Resident Evil and Silent Hill seem a bit exaggerated in hindsight, but I will still go to bat for them against the hordes of haters out there.

Next, is a BIG news item that I missed this week because I was avoiding movie news in the wake of Cloverfield. Variety reports that Dario Argento has begun work on his new film. It is titled 'Giallo' and stars Ray Liotta, Vincent Gallo and the ever entrancing Asia Argento. I am extremely excited to see him going back to his roots. I know that Dario is very sensitive about being pigeonholed and marginalized and perhaps snagging this high profile talent will be a breakthrough for him. I love the crazy devil no matter what! You can read the full Variety news item here.

While at the midnight show for Cloverfield, I saw trailers for three upcoming horror flicks. One was good, one was okay and one was utter shite. It shouldn't be hard to figure out which trailer below had people actually laughing out loud in the theatre.

See what I'm talking about? I mean Jesus! It looks worse than the Black Christmas remake. I'm still pretty pumped for The Ruins though.

Well, that's it. Talk to ya soon.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Cloverfield Review

Cloverfield had me from day one, back when I first saw the teaser trailer in front of The Transformers. I really have to hand it to JJ Abrams for being able to keep the details of this project under wraps for the last six months. I didn’t realize how MUCH I had been anticipating this movie until it started and for the first fifteen minutes, I couldn’t get my leg to stop shaking.

Cloverfield is well executed, accomplishing what it sets out to do in fine fashion. The idea of retelling an old story with a modern approach – from the point of view of the people on the street – is a stroke of genius. There is a certain truth to it. The sequence where people are standing around taking pictures of the severed head of the Statue Of Liberty when they should running like hell speaks volumes about today’s YouTube generation. It was stuff like that, that made some of the other more questionable logic leaps easier to swallow.

The thing I was most apprehensive about going in, was the BIG REVEAL. How would the CGI hold up? I think it succeeds for the most part. The effects are at their best, when it is most important. Also, the shaky-cam didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. Like a similar film I saw recently ([REC], to be remade here as Quarantined), the filmmakers are skilled enough to make sure you see everything you need to see, even in all the chaos. Speaking of Quarantined, Cloverfield has unfortunately taken most of the wind out of its sails. Quarantined has the exact same narrative (though on a smaller scale) and will probably be frowned upon by the uninformed, as a copycat.

Cloverfield really stretches its PG rating. In all the commotion, I didn’t even notice the lack of swearing until someone pointed it out to me later. It makes sense though. In the same situation, I wouldn’t be screaming “Oh my God! Oh my God!”, but rather “Holy shit fuck! Jesus motherfucking Christ in a sidecar!”

A funny thing is that even after the movie has played itself out, there is still a great deal that remains a mystery. This is however, not frustrating, like Abram’s other pet project, Lost. I don’t think Cloverfield blew me away as much as the first time I saw The Blair Witch Project (the pioneer of this technique, at least in the mainstream) though. That’s not due to any weakness on Cloverfield’s part, but rather just the simple truth that you can’t go home again.

Cloverfield is an intense theatre experience and I urge everyone to check it out. Just don’t sit too close to the screen!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Fearsome Fifteen

Considering the intent of this blog is to catalogue vintage video cover art I guess I should actually, well, do that. I’m still gathering photos from various sources around Toronto (many thanks to Queen Video for letting me take some snaps of their archives), but I figured I could get the party started in the meantime.

The best place to begin would be with a group of titles that I’ll call the Fearsome Fifteen. Any horror fan worth their salt has seen every single one these titles and probably has a personal fave that they watch on a yearly basis. These films are at the top of the class and are all incredibly important to the genre as a whole. Now, I am aware that there is a conspicuous lack of foreign films on this list and that is by no means a knock. The titles below I grew up with though, so they are the ones I hold most dear.

So, without further ado. Here they are!

Simplistic brilliance.

The template for creativity on a shoestring budget.

Often imitated, never duplicated.

Kubrick & Nicholson. A match made in hell.

Best mix of comedy and horror ever.

Still as impressive as it was 25 years ago.

These two made their respective generations fear the water (inside and outside).

I’m hoping to have a fresh crop of covers to display every Wednesday from here on out.

-My apologies to Day Of The Dead, consider it piggybacked onto the first two if you like. I adore it as well, just not as much as Night and Dawn.
-Alien and The Thing could technically be considered science fiction, but they both have horror elements in them, so that’s why they are included.

Monday, January 14, 2008


Since this month’s Final Girl Film Club selection is Dario Argento’s 1977 film Suspiria, I will gladly throw in my two cents. Suspiria is the first of The Three Mothers trilogy (1980’s Inferno and last year’s Mother Of Tears being the following two parts) and I think the best entry by a fair margin.

Suzy Bannion (played by Jessica Harper), an American ballet student, arrives at a prestigious dance school in Germany the same night one of the students is brutally murdered. The two crossed paths earlier that stormy night and from the start Suzy thinks that something is not right with the school. As more girls go missing, Suzy decides to do some investigating of her own.

Mention Suspiria to a horror fan and you’ll likely see a glow of recognition creep across their face. It’s one of those movies that simply represent the horror genre on a greater level. It may not be as pervasive as Halloween, The Shining or The Exorcist - probably because Suspiria came from across the pond - but it is as highly regarded by many horrorphiles.

Suspiria is not just a film. It’s an experience. I remember seeing it as a teen and being immediately struck by the abstract style. Well, that and the flying rubber bats. Suspiria’s strength lies not in its story or narrative, but rather how they are enhanced through its visuals and audio. The bright colours and pounding score by Goblin (one of many collaborations with Argento) are characters in themselves.

Style over substance has always been a trademark of Argento’s work and I don’t know anyone who can pull it off better than he can. His brilliant set pieces, which in someone else’s hands would seem absurd, are elevated above their unlikelihood. I’m sure there aren’t many dance academies that have a roomful of loose razor wire lying around, but the way Argento sets it up, it almost seems plausible.

The next PSA

Now, the stigma that goes with being a classic is that the suits of today inevitably think remake. I have been hearing about this possibility for over five years now and nothing has come to fruition yet. I can only hope that it is because the powers that be have realized that it is a fool’s errand. Suspiria is not only a film, but also a piece of grisly art. Would you repaint the Mona Lisa? Of course not. I apologize for sounding overdramatic, but with companies like Platinum Dunes around, the word “remake” always gets my back up.

Suspiria is a wonderful dark dream that should be experienced with the lights out and the volume cranked high.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Sundance '08 goodies

In addition to bone chilling cold and broken New Year’s resolutions, January, to me, also means another crop of films at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

The Park City at Midnight programme at Sundance has showcased some great films over the years, including The Blair Witch Project, Haute Tension, Oldboy and The Descent.

This year’s lineup looks promising, as well. Here are some that piqued my interest. Click on the titles for more info.

The Broken (USA)
Dir: Sean Ellis
Feat: Lena Headey
A psychological thriller about an average woman’s life that starts to unravel when she thinks she sees herself drive by in a car one day. An interesting concept, but I’d be interested to see if this cool idea can be stretched out to feature length.

Donkey Punch (UK)
Dir: Olly Blackburn
Feat: Robert Boulter, Sian Brecklin
Come on! I have to see this movie on its title alone. The story revolves around passengers on a yacht turning on each other after one of them ends up dead.

Time Crimes (Spain)
Dir: Nacho Vigalondo
Feat: Karra Elejalde, Candela Fernández
This one sounds like a very interesting time travel film, handling a complicated concept in a minimalist kind of way – much like the 2004 time travel film Primer did.

Hell Ride (USA)
Dir: Larry Bishop
Feat: Larry Bishop, Michael Madsen, Dennis Hopper, Vinnie Jones
Larry Bishop’s – who some will remember as the sleazy titty-bar boss in Kill Bill Vol.2 – first film Mad Dog Time strikes me as a lot like this one. Mad Dog Time was a small production about a mob boss (Richard Dreyfuss) coming back from a stint in the loony bin. It has a cast of stars in it as long as my arm (see for yourself), but flew completely under the radar when it was released in 1996. I don’t know if I’d go so far as to call it a good movie, but it was entertaining. It certainly had personality. Hell Ride has this same vibe. Again, an impressive cast to be used this time in a biker gang revenge story.

Also, on the Midnight schedule are Michael Haneke’s Funny Games remake and George A. Romero’s newest feature Diary Of The Dead. I saw the latter last September and it’s tons of fun.

Lastly, not in the Midnight programme, but still caught my eye, was the animation anthology Fear(s) Of The Dark. It is an exploration of the nature of fear by six different artists.

Check out the Sundance website here for info on the other films playing there this month.