Thursday, April 30, 2009

Laid to Rest - Review

Sure, Bruce Campbell is God. Sam Raimi, George Romero, and Dario Argento are royalty. But the makeup FX artist… he’s the fucking rock star of the horror world. Winston, Savini, Bottin, Nicotero and Berger – these are the guys every genre geek wants to be. So it’s only natural we’ve had a few of them venture into the world of directing. We’ve had the late Stan Winston’s modestly successful Pumpkinhead, and Savini’s NOTLD remake, but as cool as these movies are, when you put an FX guy behind the lens its usually going to be all about the FX. Rob Hall’s Laid to Rest (now available at The Lobby DVD Shop On Whyte) is no exception – and it’s a fucking beautiful thing.

Hall, previously known for his effects work on Buffy, Angel, Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles, and films like Quarantine, previously directed 2004’s indie drama (yes that’s right… drama) Lightning Bug. That may explain why despite the blood and mayhem of Laid to Rest, there’s some meat on them there bones. And I’ll get around to beating that meat shortly.

The plot is simple. Girl wakes up in coffin, escapes, but can’t remember where she is, why she’s there, or even who she is. Worse yet, some dude with a metal skull face and two of the most pimpin’ knives you’ll ever see is chasing her. One impalement and a gouged eyeball later, and she’s fleeing for her life. And that’s before the title card even rolls. From there, it becomes your typical slasher movie, with said girl being chased by ol’ nickelface and him killing everyone that gets in his way.

The good? Some pretty solid performances. We’ve got some cameos from Terminator’s Lena Hedley (who rocks her all-too-brief role) and Thomas Dekker, and genre steadfasts Johnathon Schaech and Richard Lynch, but the weight of the movie rests on leads Bobbie Sue Luther (who bumped uglies with Cousin Andy in "Curb Your Enthusiasm") and Kevin Gage. Luther was a little off-putting at first, playing her amnesiac more like a b-movie bimbo version of Nell, but as her character toughens up, damn it if she didn’t have me cheering her on (although she didn’t pull out the twins at all, and spent a good chunk of the film in a bulky flannel shirt). Gage is extremely likeable and stoic in his role as well.

But if we were really interested in the craft of acting we’d be watching James Lipton. We’re here for the kills, baby, and boy does this nasty little sucker deliver. While the killer, Chromeface, looks mildly interesting at best, it’s the way he kills that makes him such a memorable badass. Hall’s company Absolute Human Inc. pulled out all the stops – we’ve got head skewerings, face cleavings, impalements, some acid face-eating, death by tire sealant and beheadings gruesome enough to make Iraqi insurgents flinch. And the makeup effects are good… spooky good. This movie has more than it’s share of “holy fuck” moments.

The bad? The usual suspects – poor editing and cinematography. Not to rag on the people behind the camera, its just disheartening to have a film with so many great elements look crappy because of budget restraints. As much as I loves me some indie horror, this movie would have been so much better with a tighter pace and a slicker look. Also, Hedley, Dekker and Schaech were completely wasted. Hell, it took more time to figure out how to pronounce Schaech’s name than his actual screen time. (Remember when that guy used to work with Tom Hanks? Yeah, neither did I.)

But despite some annoying flaws and some poor pacing, LTR is a great throwback to the old slasher flicks of yesteryear. Pop this on with Adam Green’s Hatchet, crack open a sixer of stubbies, and bask in the sweet rancid smell of nostalgia.
Saturday, April 18, 2009

OFF THE RAG!!

If you're bored tonight and want to catch a flick with some great folks, head down to Happy Harbour Comics for a double bill of My Name Is Bruce and Repo! The Genetic Opera. Yeah, you can rent these and watch them at home, but these movies are meant to be seen with a rowdy crowd of geeks like me, so head down and check it out.

And they have, as Kevin from The Lobby so eloquently says, "sweet sweet alcohol".

Movies start at 7:00PM. All proceeds go to support the Pure Speculation Fair.

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OFF THE RAG!! - Dracula 2000

There are loads of unsuccessful horror movies littering the cinematic landscape. Most of these movies are unsuccessful because – simply put – they suck hind tit. However, every once in a while, there comes a movie that undeservedly gets ragged on by the horror community. I’m here to take the dirty rag off and reveal a previously unseen gem that deserves a second look. The bloody clot I plan on dislodging this week is, fittingly, a vampire movie – Dracula 2000!


Also fittingly, the film is directed by Patrick Lussier, the man at the helm of this year’s My Bloody Valentine 3D. I hadn’t been this excited about the release of a mainstream Hollywood horror movie since Grindhouse (and for a remake no less). MBV3D kicked serious ass with an arsenal of pick-axes, flying jawbones, and 3D boobies.

Anyways, back to Drac. I caught this film on it’s opening weekend (the last week before 2001 - nothing like leaving it to the last minute, Weinsteins) with a theatre maybe a third full. It’s a shame, because this reimagining of the Dracula legend was pretty damn ok.


The flick starts out in Victorian London, where Van Helsing (played by the ever-hammy Christopher “Starcrash” Plummer) had finally caught Dracula (Gerald “300 Abs” Butler) and imprisoned him in a silver, cross-laden coffin. Flash forward to 2000, where an antiques dealer and descendent of Van Helsing – also played by Plummer – tends to his shop, Carfax Abbey (actually the BCE Building in Toronto). It gets robbed by high tech thieves led by Omar Epps, Jennifer Espisito, and Hyde from the 70’s show, who make off with a familiar silver coffin. You don’t have to be a fucking Rhodes Scholar to guess what’s inside. Turns out old VH junior is actually VH senior, kept alive by shooting up leech-filtered vamp blood so he can stay alive and guard Draccy. The thieves fly stateside, with junkie Abe and his protégée (Johnny Lee Miller) in hot pursuit. Hyde fucks up (as Hyde is prone to do), Drac gets loose, and the plane crashes in New Orleans, where stud muffin Vlad quickly rounds up a posse of pussy and searches for Van Helsing’s daughter Mary. Hjinks ensue.

We got vamps in New Orleans, hot chicks, and Hyde… so what went wrong with this film? First off, it had that shitty “Wes Craven Presents” line before the title, you know, to make you think Wes Craven actually directed it when he didn’t. But by this time, people were kinda sick of Scream and all its clones, and Wes was off making dramas with Meryl Streep, so it’s kind of a moot point.

Problem #2: the Scream connection. Bad marketing made this seem like yet another of those shitty Kevin Williamson clones. Did you see the poster? The marketing guys musta busted out the ol’ “I Know What You Did” template in Photoshop.


What did the movie do right? First off, as much as Butler got flak for not being charismatic enough, he did a pretty decent job of playing the baddie. In particular, there’s a great scene where he’s marvelling at a Monster Magnet video on the big screen outside Virgin Records. Also, Drac’s satanic sluts, including Seven of 9 and one-hit-wonder Vitamin C, were hot, the New Orleans locale was well used, and there were lots of little nods to vampires past.


But by far, the best thing about Dracula 2000 was his origin story – such a brilliant stroke of genius and by far the best reimagining of a character I’ve seen in a long time. See, Drac ain’t just Vlad the Impaler… he’s (SPOILER NOTE!!)








…Judas Iscariot! The backstabbing bastard himself! By expanding his legend, the writers have crafted such a cool origin for the Prince of Darkness that you’ll slap yourself on the forehead and exclaim “why the fuck didn’t I think of that!” All of Drac’s little quirks, like the aversion to silver and crosses, all suddenly make sense.

Stylish with a little bit of brains thrown in, Dracula 2000 should have found a bigger audience than it did, especially with the shit that came out that year. Strangely, it was enough of a success to merit two craptastic straight-to-dvd sequels. Go figure.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Freddy Vs. Rorschach

The big movie news this week: Jackie Earle Haley IS Freddy Krueger. Haley, last seen as the psycho vigilante Rorschach in Watchmen, will strap on the rusty razor glove and pizza-cheese face in Platinum Dunes’ remake of A Nightmare On Elm Street. This is inspired casting; I just wish Michael Bay would be as inspired in his choice of directors. Almost every single fucking remake done by Dunes has featured a music video director at the helm, including ANOES’s Samuel Bayer. To Bayer’s credit, he’s actually got a pretty extensive resume, which includes the classic Nirvana video Smells Like Teen Spirit, but does this mean he’s qualified to remake one of the most seminal horror movies of all time? Furthermore, if you’re going to remake a classic Mr. Bay, why not grow some brass balls and allow an established director to put his own spin on it? Or let someone from the amazing new crop of international directors (including those from the “new wave” of French horror) take a crack at it.

After watching Martyrs this past week, it was a no-brainer that director Pascal Laugier is the perfect choice to helm the upcoming redux of Hellraiser. But for Bayer, I find it hard to believe that Bay and co. sat down, watched a couple of Cranberries videos, and said “Fuck Craven! This is our guy!” I’d like to believe the producers at Platinum Dunes see something in these directors that we don’t, because the alternative – that these guys are hired because they’re cheap, glossy, and willing to tow the company line – is a pisser.

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In splatter news of a different kind, the Paintball Warriors of Classic Terror (sponsored by The Lobby DVD Shop on Whyte) have some vids up on YouTube of their last tournament in which they scored 3rd place! Also, they’ve been undefeated for 8 games straight… way to kick ass for us gorehounds, boys!
Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Foolishness













“Let’s All Go to the Lobby…”

If you’re bored as fuck tonight, in a movie-watching mood, or just a sick bastard in general, Kevin at The Lobby DVD shop on Whyte has something special for you.

First up, Martyrs, the most controversial horror film of 2008, hits DVD today, (a month earlier than the US!). This French film reputedly made audience members pass out during several screenings last year due to its extreme nature. The plot? I can’t even begin to describe it… from what I understand it goes from revenge fantasy to spiritual torture porn, with strong religious overtones. To give you an idea of what to expect, director Pascal Laugier has been tapped by the Weinsteins to direct the upcoming Hellraiser remake.

With titles like Haute Tension, Inside, Frontiere(s), and now Martyrs, it seems like this new wave of French horror (it even has a wiki entry: the “New French Extremity”) is running roughshod over anything Hollywood has to offer.

Also out this week is Lucio Fulci’s Cat in the Brain. Long before Adaptation or Being John Malkovich came Fulci’s whacked-out movie-within-a-movie. Director Lucio Fulci (Zombie, The Beyond) plays himself, tormented by strange visions while filming his latest gore opus. If you like this one, DEDfest has a Fulci-related surprise for you this summer… stay tuned for details!

And last but not least – The Sinful Dwarf. I never knew there were Dwarfsploitaion movies until now. Mere pointless words can’t do this justice, so here’s the trailer:






Kev will be doin’ his thing ‘til 9PM tonight, and he’s got shitloads more on the shelves, including Timecrimes (another TIFF favourite), a few releases from this year’s After Dark Collection, and Frankenstein the Rapist. Yes, you heard that right.
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ATTACK OF THE SWEET TRANVESTITES
See Rocky Horror the way it was originally meant to be seen – live onstage. Dylan “the Vylan” Caddy has informed me that this is the final weekend for the Odd Lot Theatre Company’s presentation of the cult classic musical. It’s rare we get a piece of live theatre this cool, so head out and support these guys while you can. Tickets are available at Tix on the Square.

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BUCKLE OF DOOM
In other news, our friends at Rue Morgue have found yet another way to suck those sweet, sweet dollars out of my pocket: a new pewter belt buckle designed by the amazing Ghoulish Gary Pullin. Here’s the pic (click on it to hit the Rue Morgue Shoppe of Horrors):






Also, I just picked up my copy of issue #88 dedicated to the late Lux Interior of The Cramps. Lux passed away from heart failure earlier this year. Only the gang at RM has enough of a don’t-give-a-fuck attitude to put Lux on their cover and give him the props he deserves, so props to them.

Dead Heat Remake?

Looks like Michael Bay and the gang over at Platinum Dunes are on a roll. Coming off the success of their F13 remake, and with a Nightmare On Elm Street re-imagining on slate, the production company may be setting its sights on the 1988 cult classic Dead Heat. Sources say casting has already begun, and that the buddy-buddy cop team originally played by Treat Williams and Joe Piscopo will now be played by Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson.

“We figure Ben will likely be playing Roger (Mortis, the undead hero cop)” says Bay. “The comic potential is endless – remember in ‘There’s Something About Mary’ when his dick got bit by the dog? Imagine it comes off and somehow winds up in his mother-in-law’s dinner. That’s the kind of vibe we’re going for – Meet The Parents meets Dead Alive.”

Production is set to start April 1, 2010.

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