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.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Don't Kill The Messenger 47

Hey everyone! It's been a busy week here, so I'm going to get right to it.

Going Into The Light.

I tweeted about this earlier in the week, but I wanted to take the opportunity to elaborate on it. Actress Zelda Rubinstein passed away last Wednesday in California after a long illness. She was 76. Despite only taking up acting while in her late fourties, she racked up an impressive list of credits. She was obviously most well known for her role as Tangina, the medium who tried to help the Freeling family in the Poltergeist films, but I'll always remember her as Ginny, the speaks-her-mind dispatcher from the show Picket Fences. Also, anyone who hasn't seen the 1987 Spanish horror movie-within-a-horror-movie Anguish, should do so immediately. Rubinstein was also known for early activism in the fight against AIDS. R.I.P. Ms. Rubinstein.

There's A New Blog In Town.

My buddy Mike Schwartz recently started up a new blog called Cartoon and Horror. It's basically an archive of his two favorite things. The site is still in its infancy and amassing posts, but what I wanted to bring attention to was his new MIA on DVD segment. Here he sounds off about old titles that still have not been given the DVD treatment. First up, a movie that we have had many long conversations about. The Video Dead. Click the image below to check it out.

Up All Night Indeed.

This week, Jason Bene over at Killerfilm told me about this great site called Up All Night. This is my new favourite, ladies and gentleman. I've spent the last few days devouring its content. It is basically an archive of covers and trailers - and in some cases, links to full versions - of movies from the VHS era. It is split up into four categories; cheesy teen movies, midnight movies, slasher flicks and teenage sex flicks. My God, I'm in heaven. Blood Beach, The Prowler, Alone In The Dark and Junior are just a few of the flicks on display here. And then there's the ridiculous Oh-my-God-I-can't-believe-this-actually-exists-but-then-again-I-guess-I-shouldn't-be-surprised movie Over-Sexed Rugsuckers From Mars.

Click here to go to the site. I hope you have some free time.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

War. What Is It Good For?

I know it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, but I really haven’t been watching any movies that I felt were appropriate to file here.

That is until I finally caught Ari Folman’s animated documentary Waltz With Bashir last week.

I remember it being at the Toronto Film Festival in 2008, and had it earmarked to watch ever since. Even after all this time, Zip still hadn’t felt inclined to send me the Blu-ray, but fortunately this month, it played on TMN in HD.

This is one powerful movie folks. From the very first scene, it had me.

Its main hook is its incredibly unique animation style, which somehow manages to be interchangably beautiful and unsightly. The tale is simple enough. Folman, who served in the Isreali army during the 1982 Lebanon War, is having trouble remembering anything from that time, so he tracks down others who were there to see if they can fill in the blanks. These conversations are what make up the bulk of the narrative.

Waltz With Bashir has no problem showing us the ugliness of war and the ending is especially affecting when Folman peels back the silk screen he had been using to protect us from the naked truth. There’s not really much more I can say to you, as this is a film that really just needs to be experienced.

Friday, January 29, 2010

More Logo Love.

Being that this is the day for logos, I just had to throw this up here. Playing before the premiere of Tucker & Dale vs. Evil at Sundance last week was a great little short doc called The S From Hell. Apparently on television during the late sixties, the company logo for Screen Gems terrified many a child. The doc explores this strange phenomenon, and Slashfilm was kind enough to supply a link to the full thing today. It's pretty great, with excellent use of footage from Halloween III.

I find it funny that so many people would find something as innocuous as a company's logo frightening. Although, I did run from the room before the end of those "falling baker" segments on Sesame Street. I don't know, seeing that cook continually ruin all those delicious treats really upset me as a wee lad for some reason.

Bring On The Show!

This week’s intro is Vidmark Entertainment.

Gosh, that one really makes you feel like you’re at the theatre, doesn’t it?

Vidmark came onto the scene circa 1984 and over the years they released many horror titles including The Unnamable, Hellgate, Nightwish, American Gothic, Warlock, Guillermo Del Toro’s debut Cronos and all the Leprechaun films. They were also one of the few companies that offered rated and unrated versions of their releases. Being that I worked at Cockbuster, you can be sure they capitalized on that and that's why Vidmark had a big presence in my store. Rated, cut-to-shit films for everyone! Yay!!! We may have rented the rated version of Dead Alive – with a full TWELVE minutes chopped - but I least I ‘borrowed’ our unrated screener, which is what the clip above was taken from.

Ooooooo aaaahhh!

Vidmark also put out one of my very favourites from the early nineties. Return Of The Living Dead 3 starring the lovely Mindy Clarke. We had the rated version of that too, but unlike with Dead Alive, I didn’t realize it until many years later. The unrated cut, to my knowledge, has still not seen a Region 1 DVD release.

What is wrong with the world today? That there is a thing of gruesome beauty; share it with the rest of the class! A larger company eventually swallowed up Vidmark and currently most of its catalogue belongs to Lionsgate.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

It Came From The Archives!

I’ve mentioned before that going into the crawlspace of my childhood home is kind of like that warehouse scene at the end of Raiders Of The Lost Ark. Except mine has a ceiling that’s only three-feet high. The point is that when I was kid, I basically hoarded anything that was even remotely horror and now it all resides in the dark and dusty confines of this place.

Last year, while undertaking that massive project with my posters I came across tons of crazy items and the first thought that went through my mind was always the same. I have to put that up on the site at some point. Well, the time has come to start doing that. I knew I wanted to start with this and since the last few posts have been Barker-related; there really couldn’t be a better time to pull it out.

Behold, Nightbreed: The Interactive Movie.

Disk 4?! Geez!!!

I wonder if I showed that floppy disk to my nephew, would he even know what the fuck it is? God I'm old. Here are some shots of the manual. To save you squinting, you can click to enlarge.

CGA? VGA? WTFGA?! So complicated!

I wish I had more memories of this game, but the truth is I couldn’t get past the third or fourth level where you have to dodge an increasing onslaught of blades thrown by the nefarious Decker. I certainly never got to the part with the FLYING FUCKING MANTA RAYS!!!

I'd love to play this again, but I don’t think there are many people left in the universe that have a PC that is able to play games that take five-and-a-quarter floppies. Christ, even still owning a VCR is considered antiquated these days. However, I was able to find some footage of the game on YouTube (courtesy user markadam88). I seem to remember it being a little bit more… exciting. It looks like he might have had trouble with the same part I did because all this footage is from pretty early on in the game. Here it is below. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Demons To Some...

After yesterday’s review of Book Of Blood, it seems appropriate to continue the Clive Barker theme for this week’s Coverbox Wednesday. Though Barker has only directed three films (not counting his two early short films Salome & The Forbidden), his literary works have inspired many more. Here are the Clive Barker movies that made it into my store.

The artistic vision on display here is remarkable. The iconic Cenobites and The Lament Configuration are just a few of the fantastic things this movie is remembered for.

Though Barker did not return to the director’s chair, there are a few things that are done even better here. The make-up effects are taken up a notch (40% more maggots!) - though unfortunately at my store, as was the case with many titles, we had the rated version - and giving us a look into the other side was a neat place to take the series, as well.

I think I died a little inside when I first saw the scene where the Cenobites are marching down a city street taking on the cops Heat-style.

Even though the studio butchered this movie – Barker once said it was because they couldn’t wrap their heads around the fact that the monsters were supposed to be the ‘good guys’ – the creature designs were absolutely spectacular. The same amount of meticulous detail went into each character, whether it be the ones front & center like Peloquin and Kinski or ones we only saw for a second like Otis & Clay. An original cut exists and if you want it released, sign the petition here.

This one could be my favourite. It has a strong story rooted in a timeless urban legend and an even stronger performance by Tony Todd as the title character. I’ve never been able say his name five times in the mirror. Have you?

Rex is a lesser-known adaptation from the UK, taken from the story in one of Barker’s Books Of Blood. It involves a demon that is accidentally released from its prison and then wreaks havoc in the Irish countryside. The creature effects are pretty good, as well. This is definitely a title worth tracking down.

Also known as Underworld, this small British film featuring Denholm Elliot and Miranda Richardson was about a mad doctor who keeps his mutated subjects locked up underground. I saw it a very, very long time ago and can’t even remember if it was any good or not.

The Books Of Blood story The Yattering and Jack made an appearance in Volume Five of this video series.

Lord Of Illusions and Candyman 2: Farewell To The Flesh came along in 1995, but I had moved on to a different retail hell by that time.

Well that was fun, wasn’t it? Be sure to check back tomorrow as I still have one more Barker-inspired post up my sleeve.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Book Of Blood

It has been a long time since Clive Barker directed a film. After clashing with Hollywood's bottom line philosophy, Barker returned fully to his first loves, writing & painting, where he had total control again. Sure, several of his works have been adapted in his absence, like Midnight Meat Train and the upcoming Dread, but they rarely pop with the enthusiasm that made films like Hellraiser and Candyman stand the test of time. Such is the case with last year's adaptation Book Of Blood which I watched a few days ago.

When drifter Simon McNeal (Jonas Armstrong) is abducted by a psychopath, he tells him the tale of the Book Of Blood – which has been carved into his skin – in exchange for a quick death.

Book Of Blood is actually two Barker short stories combined into one narrative. The first is the title story, which appeared in Volume One of his Books Of Blood collection and the second is a tale called “On Jerusalem Street”, a postscript from Volume Six. Book Of Blood did remind me a tiny bit of Hellraiser, but there is not enough interaction with the denizens of the other side to really make it interesting. The story has a lot of the eroticism and elements of the fantastic that we have come to expect from Barker, but without his guiding hand behind the camera, something seems lost in the translation. It is certainly not a bad film. The acting is good, the effects solid and it actually starts out really strong with a girl being attacked by a spectral force and having her face violently peeled off, but it never reaches those lofty heights again.

I think the main thing that disappointed me was what Book Of Blood wasn't. Obviously, this doesn't reflect badly on the film, but I wanted this movie to be an anthology. It certainly seemed that it was going to be early on when Simon began to tell his captor of the tale etched into his skin. So the story started and a half-hour in I started thinking, is the next story going to come on soon? It is too bad that more stories weren't worked in because Book Of Blood does tend to meander a bit in the middle, suffering from the common problem of a short story padded to feature length.

Return To Glory?

It has been fifteen years since Clive Barker sat in the director's chair. And after his past experiences, I don't blame him. But we miss you, man. He IS working on the film adaptation of the Tortured Souls series, so hope is alive, but I keep having this terrifying vision. Of Hollywood bigwigs. Standing in the shadows, like Cenobites. Wearing suits instead of leather, wringing their hands together and just waiting to get their hooks into his final cut.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Always Check The Merchandise.

I was at a flea market this weekend, looking for anything interesting in the way of VHS, when I came across this old goodie.

The main reason for this acquisition was so I could capture Key Video's intro, but when I took it out of the box, I was met with this atrocity.

Hmmm, something missing.

I'm not too deflated, as I only paid $1 for it, but I did (re)learn a valuable lesson from all this. If something is dirt cheap, there is usually a reason. Oh well, at least I have the coverbox. AND I did manage to pick up the two curiosities below for the same low price, as well.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Don't Kill The Messenger 46

I've got a few goodies for you this week, so let's get right into it.

Here Fishy, Fishy.

This week, we finally got a trailer for one of this year's most anticipated horror flicks, Piranha 3D. Yep, it pretty much looks like what I was expecting. Aweeeesome! See it below.

Now, the bad news. It looks like the Weinstein Company have pushed back this little ditty to August. They say it is so they don't have to compete with Kick-Ass, but there have been rumblings around the Interwebs of another story. It is rumoured that the Weinstein Company is hemorrhaging money these days and by the time August rolls around, they might not have enough dough to even RELEASE the movie. Oh, Weinstein... why do you hate horror so much?

Camera Obscura.

I've been reading the tweets of Drew Daywalt's upcoming web series Camera Obscura for what seems like forever, and finally we have a trailer. Here it is below.

This looks super fucking wicked. I get a sense there is a real depth to this project and you can see from just the trailer that the creature designs are really something. No release date yet, but stay tuned.

The Biters Are Coming.

This week it was announced that AMC has ordered a pilot episode for the television adaptation of Robert Kirkman's long running comic series The Walking Dead. Now, with Frank Darabont and Gale Anne Hurd in the mix, I am optimistic, but I do have one reservation. Is AMC the right network for this project? Don't get me wrong, AMC has proved itself a solid contender with shows like Mad Men and Breaking Bad, but it is still not a full 'cable' network. Can they really go as far as they need to go with some of the material contained within Kirkman's zombie opus? This has happened before. My biggest problem with the television adaptation of Stephen King's The Stand was how sanitized it was. Will The Walking Dead share the same fate? Now, I know we've come a long way as far as what's allowed since then, but my apprehension still remains. I'll guess we'll just have to see.

Friday, January 22, 2010

VHS Diplomacy

Here's a biggie from the eighties. Embassy Home Entertainment.

That intro was pulled from my prized copy of The Video Dead. Embassy, established in 1981, was the home video arm of Embassy Pictures. Although they did have quite a few theatrical titles in their roster like Blade Runner, The Cotton Club & The Graduate, Embassy became synonomous with horror flicks. Over their tenure, they released such fare as The Stepfather, Children Of The Corn, Parasite, Phantasm, Mausoleum & The Supernaturals. They also seemed to have a nose for sniffing out future icons, after they picked up the early works of directors like Wes Craven (Deadly Blessing, Swamp Thing), David Cronenberg (Scanners, The Brood), Joe Dante (The Howling) and James Cameron (Piranha 2: The Spawning). Sadly, Embassy became defunct circa 1986 and their catalogue has been dispersed to several different companies over the years, with many titles like Death Ship and Rituals* still waiting for a DVD release.

To check out the Embassy-themed Coverbox Wednesday that I posted in April 2008, click here and let the memories flood in.

*Code Red did have a special edition Rituals DVD in the works, but it has since been put on hold due to rights issues. I also believe it has been released as The Creeper on one of those 50 horror film collection sets, but the quality is so incredibly shitty it is barely worth mentioning.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I Be Frightening!

I got more good news today as I discovered Corey over at Evil On Two Legs nominated me for a Fantastically Frightening Award. How can I not beam with pride when the trophy looks like THIS?!

So, in acceptance of this, I, in turn, want to nominate a few blogs that I didn't mention when I naming names as part of my Kreativ Blogger a few weeks back.

If you don't know what Halloween Addict's favourite day of the year is... well... you're just not very smart I guess. AllHallowSteve has the line on all things pertaining to the 31th of October. I have fond memories of checking in on his regular Trick 'r Treat updates while he - like a ton of us horror fans - waited patiently through delay after delay.

Mad Mad Mad Mad Movies is run by two crazy cats by the name of The Duke of DVD and The Vicar of VHS. It is another one of my favourite nostalgia websites and their expansive and witty reviews of horror gems from my childhood number in the hundreds.

Chris Hallock of All Things Horror is a filmmaker and regular reader of mine. He also organizes a lot of film events in the New England area. I know how much work goes into running these things, so I have mad respect for the dude. Oh, and he also dropped a One Lovely Blog nom on me. Awesome!

Things That Don't Suck bestowed upon me a Kreativ Blogger, so now I'm reciprocating. The curator is a fellow named Evil Dead Junkie which should let you know that we are on the same page. Currently, he is in the middle of "Bigelow Week", which is pretty fucking bad-ass if you ask me.

I'm pretty sure that No Room In Hell has already received this award, but I'm putting them on anyway to remind me to thank them for including me in their "What Scares You?" post a few weeks back AND for awarding little ol' me a Zombie Chicken.

"The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken – excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words."

Once again, thanks to everyone for the props and continuing to give me fertile surfing grounds on a daily basis.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Three Cheeky Monkeys...

This weekend, I finally got around to watching Black Water, a 2007 killer-croc from Australia that I’d been hearing good things about.

While fishing in a mangrove swamp, three vacationers and their river guide are set upon by an unusually ferocious salt water crocodile intent on making them its next meal.

I have to say that I was super impressed by Black Water. Incredibly simple, Black Water boasts a tiny cast and packs an almost impossible amount of suspense into such a small production. My hat goes off to directors Andrew Traucki & David Nurlich for pushing the limits of their low budget (around $1M) and making realism their top priority by choosing to not employ CG effects. Instead, they relied on compositing, which looked extremely convincing and some of the best work I think I’ve ever seen. Some shots I didn’t even realize were added in until I watched the accompanying ‘making of’ documentary on the disc. In fact, the actors never even came in contact with the real thing! Finding this out made me respect the actors even more. Diana Glenn, Maeve Dermody & Andy Rodoreda all turned in fine performances, but now I knew they had to project extreme emotion to tennis balls and voice cues. All the crocodile footage was taken separately by Traucki at a breeding farm. Actually, there was a joke that the producer asked if it was really necessary to insure the director because they had a spare. The featurette also showed you what a well-oiled machine the crew was, only having three hours a day to shoot – at least anything wider than a close-up – while the tide was in.

Not where you want to be.

So, let us move onto the inevitable comparison to Rogue, the other 2007 Aussie killer-croc movie. Well, Black Water is definitely the more realistic of the two, which is no in small part due to how they decided to shoot it. Overall, I’d say Rogue still has an edge because it has more characters and a bit more happens, but you can’t go wrong with either in my opinion. Traucki & Nurlich are definitely directors to watch and I am now REALLY looking forward to the former’s next project The Reef. If he shoots sharks as effectively as he does crocodiles, I might be watching it through my fingers.

As far as small budget horror goes, Black Water is as good as it gets.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Don't Kill The Messenger 45

Hey there. I hope you are having a good weekend. I've got a larger than normal DKTM for you today because there were some items I forgot to put in last week.

Doin' It Right.

I found out last week that Ti West's House Of The Devil is being released on VHS. That's right, you heard me, VHS! I really have to hand it to Dark Sky Films here, I mean look at these promo images.

Photos courtesy of Dread Central.

I think I even see the vintage Gorgon Video label on the cassette, for Christ's sake! The whole thing just puts a smile on my face. There will be an VHS/DVD edition available, as well as the Blu-ray. You can check them out on Amazon here.

Signs Alive!

Here's a really cool post that DirtyRobot threw up on his blog Filmopia a while back. Basically, it's a bunch of old NYC theatre marquees. You can click here to see the rest, but here are my favourites.

The Most Important Meal...

I saw this odd commercial earlier this week. At first I thought it was way too good to be a North American ad, but turns out it was made by Leo Burnett, the famous Chicago advertising agency. Clearly they were inspired by H.R. Giger's Alien design, but I'd say there is a lot of Stan Winston's Pumpkinhead in there, as well. See the video below.

The Last Title.

After Dark Films announced the final film on this year's Horrorfest lineup. It is Chris Moore's Kill Theory. The first half of the trailer looks incredibly generic, but the second half does make it seem like a hybrid of Battle Royale and the Saw series, which means it's at least worth a look. Check out the trailer below.

Late Night Classics.

Jason Bene over at Killerfilm recently did a post on a lesser known VHS horror title from the eighties called Twice Dead. What makes the post even more awesome is that he somehow managed to snag an interview with the film's star Jill Whitlow. You may not recognize her name, but if you spent anytime watching movies in the eighties, you've seen her as she appeared in such titles as Weird Science, Porky's and Night Of The Creeps. Click on the image below to be redirected to his great interview.

Well, that's it for now. See you next week!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Them Bones

I finally saw The Lovely Bones yesterday. It seems like it took an eternity to finally make its way north of the border. So, was it worth the wait? Weelllll, kinda sorta not really.

After a young girl (Saoirse Ronan) is murdered by her neighbour, she is caught in limbo between heaven and hell.

I guess I should mention that I did not read the book, so I have no reference as to how it translated, but I have an idea that the literary version was a little more resonant. Don't get me wrong, there is a good chunk of this movie (mainly the middle act) that I was into, but it felt to me there were two movies here that didn't really gel together as a whole. I mean, the fantasy sequences were pretty, but seemed a little overblown at times. I get what Jackson was trying to convey, but after a while, I just wanted it to get back to the real world and the part of the story I was actually engaged in. And that's not to say that the film felt overly long, but there was certainly stuff that could have been trimmed. Probably most surprising considering WETA Digital was involved – perhaps their A-team was working on District 9 when this was on the docket – was that the visual effects were a little dodgy at times. It bothers me when films use CG when they don't need to because it almost always takes me out of it. It's one thing to have a floating digital handkerchief in a movie like Drag Me To Hell, but when you are making a serious drama, it's best to leave the ones & zeros to the fantasy sequences.

Pray he doesn't come to your neighbourhood.

The performances in The Lovely Bones ran the gamut from serviceable to excellent. Mark Wahlberg, who plays Ronan's father, was a little miscast here, having to step in for Ryan Gosling (who I still agree was WAY too young for the role) at the last minute. The highlight of the film was definitely Stanley Tucci as the uber-creepy killer, George Harvey. Aside from that, most of The Lovely Bones seemed very plain Jane to me though, like they were holding back. I'm not saying I wanted to see the more darker aspects of the book, but there WAS something missing here. Lastly, I'd like to say I found the ending really unsatisfying. It reminded me of the conclusion of 2001's The Pledge, although that film was far superior.

It's disappointing, but if someone asked me if they should check out The Lovely Bones, I would probably just tell them to rent Heavenly Creatures, as that is a far better drama in Jackson's filmography. Oh well, they can't all be winners I guess.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Ooooooh LASERS!

Continuing on from last Friday, here is the home video intro for Prism Entertainment.

That was taken from my beat up copy of Thou Shalt Not Kill... Except. Prism was founded in 1984 and released many horror films over the years, including Cheerleader Camp, Demon Wind, Shock Waves, Girly, the rat duo of Willard & Ben and the sleazy giallo classic Torso. As the eighties came to close, Prism got more into the softcore side of things, releasing almost every movie Shannon Tweed did in the early nineties. Sadly, Prism Entertaiment folded circa 1995. I would have thought that the revenue generated from Snapdragon alone would have kept them afloat (I know it was ALWAYS out at my store at least) but whatever. *Sigh* Another casualty of a bygone era.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

In The Year 2000... plus ten.

So, here we are! 2010 people! We're in the future, the year we make contact apparently. What better way to celebrate this brave new world than by pulling out a few old coverboxes. Here is a selection of movies that either took place in the 'future', featured 'futuristic' tech, or, as in one case, had a time travelling scientist from 2031.

I couldn't find the cover we had with Jan-Michael Vincent looking all bad-ass holding a BFG.

Okay, that last one was a Jumbo Video special, but I love that freakin' piece of trash. Any flick that takes place in 225 A.B. (yes you read that right, A.B. stands for 'After the Bomb') rules all as far as I'm concerned.