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John’s Horror Corner: Intruder (1989), a worthy 80s slasher with some memorable death scenes and feisty shenanigans… and the Raimi brothers among many great cameos.

October 29, 2022

MY CALL: Want to watch an awesome bad movie? This is a solid choice. This flick is fun to watch, scratches your 80s itch in just the right silly spots, and keeps good pacing with gory death scenes and butchered body parts presented scary booby traps. MORE MOVIE LIKE Intruder: There are many 80s slashers of high quality. I’d recommend the earlier half of the decade with the likes of Maniac (1980), The Prowler (1981), Madman (1981), Pieces (1982) and maaaaaybe even The Slumber Party Massacre (1982).

It’s closing time at the local supermarket and the staff—including Jennifer (Elizabeth Cox; Night of the Creeps, The Wraith), Linda (Renée Estevez; Heathers, Sleepaway Camp II), Bill (Dan Hicks; Evil Dead 2, Darkman), Randy (Sam Raimi) and the produce guy (Ted Raimi; Evil Dead 2, Shocker, Darkman, Candyman, Wishmaster, The Grudge) among others—is preparing for their night stock and inventory duties when ultra-creepy ex-boyfriend and ex-con Craig (David Byrnes; Witchcraft VII, Witchcraft IX) wanders into the grocery store and harasses Jennifer. He’s dangerous and angry and he wants her back. After a big, clunky full-staff fistfight feeling like the stuff of “the best worst movies,” Craig becomes our primary suspect for the slasher flick to come.

Despite kicking him out of the store and calling the cops, Craig continues to skulk around outside and grocery staff begin to die off one by one. As the body count rises, so does the playful occurrence of randomly displayed severed body parts throughout the store. And while I’d not call this a horror comedy, the body part presentation is amusingly zany. Cheeky even. We also enjoy a good chuckle when the killer uses a severed head as a weapon to repeatedly bludgeon another man unconscious.

The death scenes are decent for a low budget entry of the era. Happening largely onscreen with a lot of blood and latex, there’s much for a classic 80s gorehound to enjoy here. The hydraulic head smash was my second favorite death, behind the obvious show stealer when a guy’s head is buzzed in half with a table saw in gloriously gory form. The aftermath of that kill is an iconic screen grab among 80s slashers.

Directed by Scott Spiegel (Hostel Part III, From Dusk Till Dawn 2) and produced by a young Charles Band (Prison, Dolls, Parasite, Meridian, From Beyond, Doctor Mordrid, Head of the Family, Castle Freak), this slasher classic is also a who’s who of before-they-were-huge actors and filmmakers. In addition to the Raimi brothers, we enjoy brief cameos by Bruce Campbell (Moontrap, The Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, Escape from LA) and Greg Nicotero (The Walking Dead).

This flick is fun to watch, scratches your 80s itch in just the right silly spots, and keeps good pacing about itself between gory death scenes and impish macabre displays of butchered body parts set up essentially as scary booby traps. A nostalgic romp for sure… but also sort of bad. But like, the good kind of bad.

The Movies, Films and Flix Podcast – Episode 457 (The Devil All the Time, Chicken Livers, and Robert Pattinson

October 29, 2022

You can download or stream the pod on Apple Podcasts, Tune In, Podbean, or Spreaker (or wherever you listen to podcasts…..we’re almost everywhere).

If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome.

Mark and Jonny Numb (@JonnyNumb on Twitter) discuss the 2020 drama The Devil All the Time. Directed by Antonio Campos, and starring Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson, Riley Keough, Bill Skarsgård, Sebastian Stan, Mia Wasikowska, Jason Clarke, Eliza Scanlen (seriously, this cast is stacked), and some delicious chicken livers, the movie focuses on multiple intertwined storylines that involves horrible people doing horrible things. In this episode, they also talk about Robert Pattinson’s accent, spider bites, and southern gothic cinema. Enjoy!

If you are a fan of the podcast, make sure to send in some random listener questions (we love random questions). We thank you for listening, and hope you enjoy the episode!

You can download the pod on Apple Podcasts, Tune In, Podbean, or Spreaker.

The Movies, Films and Flix Podcast – Episode 456: The Tomorrow War, Time Travel, and Chris Pratt

October 26, 2022

You can download or stream the pod on Apple Podcasts, Tune In, Podbean, or Spreaker (or wherever you listen to podcasts…..we’re almost everywhere).

If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome.

Mark and Norbert (@eddiecaine on Twitter) discuss the 2021 science fiction film The Tomorrow War. Directed by Chris McKay, and starring Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski, Sam Richardson, and a jacked J.K. Simmons, the movie focuses on what happens when soldiers travel to the future to battle deadly monsters. In this episode, they also talk about snowmobiles, Miami, and creature features. Enjoy!

If you are a fan of the podcast, make sure to send in some random listener questions (we love random questions). We thank you for listening, and hope you enjoy the episode!

You can download the pod on Apple Podcasts, Tune In, Podbean, or Spreaker.

John’s Horror Corner: Goodnight Mommy (2022), a remake of the 2014 Austrian story of a mother scorned by her children’s distrust.

October 24, 2022

MY CALL:  A solid atmospheric horror. This review may not read as positively as my experience watching it. But that is because I find the not-so-old original to be the better of the two, and see little merit to having remade it at all. Still, this is a good film that specializes in distrust and tension.  MORE MOVIES LIKE Goodnight MommyWell, I’d recommend (and also prefer) the original Goodnight Mommy (2014). For more family therapy horror, consider Hatching (2022; aka Pahanhautoja), The Twin (2022), Relic (2020), The Dark and the Wicked (2020), The Lodge (2019), Hereditary (2018), Pyewacket (2017), The Witch (2016), Goodnight Mommy (2014), The Babadook (2014), The Uninvited (2009), The Good Son (1993), Pet Sematary (1989) and The Stepfather (1987).

Twin preteens Lukas (Nicholas Crovetti; Big Little Lies) and Elias (Cameron Crovetti; The Boys, The Grey Man) arrive to stay with their mother (Naomi Watts; The Ring 1-2, Dream House, Funny Games), who is recovering from what rather seems to be some elaborate cosmetic and/or reconstructive surgery. Unaware of this upon their arrival, young Lukas and Elias are taken aback by her full-head gauzy appearance.

For her recovery, mother has demanded some rules to keep things peaceful and restful. But among her rules were some curious limitations, like not being allowed in mother’s room or the barn. Mother is quick to scold the boys for violating her rules, and later Elias hears mother on the phone discussing something disturbing that involves him. The boys sense something suspicious is going on, and as the audience we feel that tension. Worse still, they become terrified of her, and their relationship spirals out of control.

The unnerving anxiety stems from the boys’ strengthening assumption that the woman behind the masking gauze is, in fact, not their mother at all. And they test their would-be imposter in more ways than one, some ways more subtle than others. You may find yourself rooting for the boys to prove their dark hypothesis true, while reeling at the undeniably uncomfortable sympathy one must feel for the woman who very well may be their scorned and so readily discarded mother.

An issue I have with this remake is the same as that of the original. I fear that a keen viewer (even without seeing the original) will swiftly predict what’s wrong (i.e., the big twist, the mystery, etc.) in less than 10 minutes of screen time. I could spiral into an essay on ways this movie’s twist can be accomplished more effectively, but any vague explanation or even the movies to which I’d compare it would surely give away the thinly veiled mystery. And make no mistake, I’m not saying everyone will see through it as I did. In fact, if you don’t, you’d likely enjoy the movie even more. And I did enjoy watching this. Yet another issue I have is that, while not bad, I find the ending of this remake inferior—whereas the original finale cut me deeply, this remake’s ending falls flat. It’s as if they decided the original was too intense, so they watered it down… a lot.

Despite all my criticism, overall this was an enjoyable watch and a well-made film. It somewhat pains me that this was only remade to appease those who don’t care for the subtitles of the superior original film. Yet I must admit that reading subtitles during a more plotty horror-drama can take the viewer out of the experience significantly, and dubbing can likewise seem jarringly off-kilter. But still, it was generally well-produced and well-acted.

Moreover the atmosphere was steadily tense. And a film like this is all about that uneasy atmosphere. I’d consider this a strong success for director Matt Sobel (Brand New Cherry Flavor).

REMAKE/REIMAGINING/REBOOT SIDEBAR: Oddly enough, this is Naomi Watts’ third horror remake—after The Ring (2002) and Funny Games (2007).
For more horror remakes, I strongly favor the following: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), An American Werewolf in London (1981), The Thing (1982), The Fly (1986), The Blob (1988), The Mummy (1999), The Ring (2002), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), Dawn of the Dead (2004), The Hills Have Eyes (2006), Mirrors (2008), Friday the 13th (2009), Piranha 3D (2010), Let Me In (2010), Evil Dead (2013), Carrie (2013), The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014), It (2017), Suspiria (2018) and Child’s Play (2019).

Those to avoid include Body Snatchers (1993; the second remake), Japanese Hell (1999), War of the Worlds (2005), The Invasion (2007; the third remake), Prom Night (2008), Night of the Demons (2009), Sorority Row (2009), Patrick: Evil Awakens (2013), Poltergeist (2015), Martyrs (2015), Cabin Fever (2016), Unhinged (2017), The Mummy (2017) and Wrong Turn (2021).

I’m on the fence about An American Werewolf in Paris (1997), The Grudge (2004), Pulse (2006), Halloween (2007), The Uninvited (2009), It’s Alive (2009), My Bloody Valentine (2009), A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010), Fright Night (2011), The Thing (2011; a prequel/requel/remake), Maniac (2012), Rabid (2019), Pet Sematary (2019), Castle Freak (2020) and Slumber Party Massacre (2021), which range from bad to so-so (when judged as remakes) but still are entertaining movies on their own.

For what it’s worth, I also enjoyed the recent “requels” of Scream (2022) and Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022).

 

The Movies, Films and Flix Podcast – Episode 455: Empire Records, Rex Manning, and Movie Soundtracks

October 22, 2022

You can download or stream the pod on Apple Podcasts, Tune In, Podbean, or Spreaker (or wherever you listen to podcasts…..we’re almost everywhere).

If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome.

Mark and Erik and discuss the 1995 cult classic Empire Records. Directed by Allan Moyle, and starring Liv Tyler, Ethan Embry and Renée Zellweger, the movie focuses on the shenanigans that occur at a bustling record store. In this episode, they also talk about Rex Manning, excellent store managers, and why this film has become such a beloved cult classic. Enjoy!

If you are a fan of the podcast, make sure to send in some random listener questions (we love random questions). We thank you for listening, and hope you enjoy the episode!

You can download the pod on Apple Podcasts, Tune In, Podbean, or Spreaker.

John’s Horror Corner: Screamers (1995), a classic killer robot Sci-Horror that exceeds expectations with a small budget.

October 22, 2022

MY CALL: A wily writer, director, cast and crew succeed beyond their budget’s means in telling of a great piece of science fiction. No, this movie is no masterpiece of cinema. But it’s a great Sci-Fi story, and a solid, classic Sci-Fi movie. Strong recommendation for fans of Peter Weller. MORE MOVIES LIKE Screamers:  For yet more bonkers killer robot fare, try Chopping Mall (1986), Deadly Friend (1986), Hardware (1990), Moontrap (1989), Virus (1999), Nemesis (1992). For more serious Sci-Fi with strong stories to tell, consider Enemy Mine (1985), Starship Troopers (1997) and Total Recall (1990).

On a 2078 mining colony scorched by radiation and war, the planet Sirius 6B has become a sandy apocalypse with sand-burrowing, self-replicating killer robots called screamers infesting the land in search of surviving humans. The robots serve the New Economic Bloc, trying to eradicate the remaining members of the Alliance in this wasteland.

These delightful little mecha-fiends scream as they whiz through the sand like moles on steroids, then leap at their targets scything off limbs with their mini-buzzsaws. They’re like a cross between a Phantasm (1979) flying sphere and a humorless graboid from Tremors (1990). Considering this came out within a couple years of Starship Troopers (1997; $105 million budget) and five years after Total Recall (1990; $65 million budget), the special effects and set design budget seems especially humble (considering the $20 million for the entire film). Despite this, which would normally be a major visual shortcoming, I find that this movie tells a great, even if simple story very effectively. Peter Weller leads the narrative well, some nicely illustrated backgrounds of the apocoscape give character to Sirius 6B, and the charming stop motion screamer variations make me smile.

Our plot readily thickens as we discover that the screamers are evidenced to be the creation of the Alliance, that Colonel Joe Hendricksson (Peter Weller; Of Unknown Origin, RoboCop) has received recent communications to “end the war” from an Alliance representative who has apparently been dead for years, and that there are new and very different kinds of upgraded screamers to wage war against mankind. Joe teams up with the leader Jessica (Jennifer Rubin; A Nightmare on Elm Street 3, Bad Dreams, The Crush) of another bunker, who joins him on a journey of distrust, losing one man after another to betrayal of both human and robotic origins.

The fights with the screamers are not outstanding, but they manage to “work” in the context of the storytelling. Still, I loved seeing an army of little boys in identical outfits and carrying identical Teddy bears getting mowed down by Joe and Jessica’s machine-gunning squad (incl. Roy Dupuis). Frankly, while this movie doesn’t compare to blockbuster Sci-Fi releases of the era, I am quite entertained with the effects and pleased with the film overall.

Based on the short story “Second Variety” by Philip K. Dick (Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report, The Adjustment Bureau, Electric Dreams) and adopted to screenplay by Dan O’Bannon (Alien, Aliens, The Return of the Living Dead, Lifeforce, Total Recall, Bleeders), director Christian Duguay (Scanners II-III) helmed the telling of a great piece of science fiction. No, this movie is no masterpiece of cinema. But it’s a great Sci-Fi story presented by a wily cast and crew who did the best they could with what they had. This is a solid, classic Sci-Fi movie.

John’s Horror Corner: Deadstream (2022), a very worthy found footage-ish, horror-comedy, haunted house movie with an extra helping of Sam Raimi.

October 15, 2022

MY CALL:  If you want a funny, feisty, popcorn horror night loaded with the kind of jump-scares that both feel earned and make you laugh, then this is the funhouse horror movie for you. I really enjoyed this one.  MORE MOVIES LIKE DeadstreamDashCam (2021) and Unfriended (2015) both provide good “live-streaming” horror experiences, whereas As Above, So Below (2014), Grave Encounters (2011) and Paranormal Activity 1-2 (2007, 2010) are more documentary-gone-wrong and found footage.

Wacky, over-the-top internet personality Shawn (Joseph Winter) has made his career by hilariously facing his fears on his YouTube show. Recovering from a long-term ban from his monetized social media, Shawn plans his big comeback by facing his fear of ghosts while livestreaming a full night in a haunted house by himself and he must follow one rule: if he sees or hears anything unusual, he must check it out or he doesn’t get paid! Sounds like a fun gimmick.

Shawn is rather enjoyably kind of annoying. Right away I’m really digging the comedic tone as he explains how he’s spending the night in the most haunted house in the country… “that’s not so famous he can’t record in it.” He methodically explains his plan, the history of the house, and sets up his cameras. While much more hokey, it reminds me of the opening of a one-man-show iteration of Grave Encounters (2011).

Nearly half of this movie could transpire in the absence of anything supernatural, but it’s by no means less entertaining for it. After an amusing series of jump-scare-rich feisty false alarms, weird sounds, frantic responses to live subscriber comments ( a la DashCam), and possible paranormal goings-on, Shawn is unexpectedly joined by his fan Chrissy (Melanie Stone; several Mythica movies), who figured out where he was during his livestream.

Eventually things do take a wild swing into the supernatural. We enjoy many fun jump-scares and a lot of antics that strongly smack of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead movies. We also see a monster that reminds me of Digging Up the Marrow (2014), a variety of groaty nasty gangly slimy zombie-ish things, and a really janky mutant kid. But most prevalent is the Sam Raimi influence. So if you choose to interpret this as anything other than homage, it may bother you. Other may love this about the film.

Co-writers and co-directors Vanessa and Joseph Winter (V/H/S segment “To Hell and Back”) have made a horror comedy that is delightfully loaded with jump-scares, and that tends to divide the camp. Many consider jump-scares cheap, employed in lieu of actual atmosphere or earned sense of horror. However, this feels more like the fun, self-aware nervousness of being in a haunted house. Watching this movie, I felt all a giggle, ready to laugh at loud at the next hard turn of this funhouse ride. A lot of the jumpiness is cultivated by Shawn’s own scared yelps, which adds more levity to the nervous laughs. So for me, this felt like a movie that wisely implemented jump-scares as a device to manifest an atmosphere (a la Lights Out), rather than a ploy to mask the lack thereof. Moreover, found footage or docu-style horror can divide interests as well—in this, the common critical case to facilitate lower budgets and weak effects. I felt the livestream documentary-style was done very thoughtfully, and complemented Shawn’s manic nature with a grounding sense of order as we shift back-and-forth from Shawn’s fearful screaming fleeing to his assessment of the cameras to form his next plan of action. Additionally, we could see everything very clearly, including any gross zombie effects/make-up.

I really enjoyed this film. Well done, Winters. Oh, and more like this please.

The Movies, Films and Flix Podcast – Episode 454: Tenet (2020), Christopher Nolan, and Protagonists

October 12, 2022

You can download or stream the pod on Apple Podcasts, Tune In, Podbean, or Spreaker (or wherever you listen to podcasts…..we’re almost everywhere).

If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome.

Mark and Niall discuss the 2020 action blockbuster Tenet. Directed by Christopher Nolan, and starring John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki and many inverted objects, the movie is what happens when Nolan is given $200 million to make whatever he wants (and it’s wonderful). In this episode, they also talk about kitchen fights, protagonists and Nolan’s fascination with time. Enjoy!

If you are a fan of the podcast, make sure to send in some random listener questions (we love random questions). We thank you for listening, and hope you enjoy the episode!

You can download the pod on Apple Podcasts, Tune In, Podbean, or Spreaker.

John’s Horror Corner: Japanese Hell (1999; aka Jigoku), a bizarre, mildly erotic, occasionally grotesque B-movie remake of such slow pacing it’s not worthy of the Tokyo Shock subgenre.

October 10, 2022

MY CALL: Sorry. But there’s not enough gore, bad movie antics or weirdness to make this worth your time for all its long boring sections. Not when there are so many other great, weird, shocking, provocative Asian horror films out there. Still, it wasn’t regrettably bad, and might make for a solid Bad Movie Tuesday. MORE MOVIES LIKE Japanese Hell:  You want crazy bonkers Asian horror? Let’s try Mystics in Bali (1981; aka Leák), The Boxer’s Omen (1983; aka Mo, Black Magic 4), Seeding of a Ghost (1983; aka Zhong gui) or Lady Terminator (1989). ASIAN HORROR REMAKES: For more horror remakes, I strongly favor The Ring (2002), Mirrors (2008), The Grudge (2004), The Uninvited (2009) and Pulse (2006).

To save her soul, the mysterious Miss Enma (Michiko Maeda) offers Rika (Kinako Satô; Exte: Hair Extensions, Strange Circus) the opportunity to see Hell so she may avoid the sins that may lead her to such a fate. Guided by Enma’s young ‘non-human’ associate Mako (Yôko Satomi; Maid-Droid), Rika is forcibly disrobed, guided on a walking tour of Hell, and shown Hellbound sinners along with their sins and punishment. The visions of Hell largely amount to a fever dream of semi-nude denizens with disfigured faces twitching among grub-infested corpses.

Almost like an anthology movie, we see sinners’ sins as standalone vignette short films. Afterwards, we witness the infernal sentencing, which (in the case of the first sinner) included having his arm, then his feet, legs and head sawed off by some Yokai Monsters in rubber suits. The budget is humble. But at least everything boldly happens on-screen. This movie is doing its darnedest with the few dollars they scraped together to produce it.

At times, this is deliciously bad. Another sinner’s vignette shows assailants abducting a man and his wife “in slow motion.” But the actors are literally trying to move and even speak “slowly” in real time and are doing so inconsistently and out of sync with each other. Keeping in line with the “slo-mo” acting are the stop motion plastic roaches. We grin at the bad movie antics. But it’s just not doing it for me.

Fair warning, one vignetter features a cult leader who is rather rapey—so there’s that. The cult leader’s sinful story leads into Rika’s sinful inclusion in the cult. It’s a long stretch of very boring scenes that felt like a cult drama with several sexual assault scenes. This was a rough chunk of the film. The vignettes are generally long and soporific. Still, it’s not without its occasional merits. A truly cartoonishly stretchy tongue-removal was the absolute highlight of this movie.

In this remake of the 1960 film Jigoku (aka, Hell), writer and director Teruo Ishii (Evil Brain from Outer Space, Female Yakuza Tale) has cobbled together something which seems to mix very low budget theatrical over-the-top Hell scenes with grounded, normal, boring scenes in reality. The inconsistent result is like the proverbial worst meatloaf ever whose outside is burned while the inside is somehow undercooked—yet we still get to laugh at the mere fact it was served in the first place. Overall, this film featured not nearly as much gore, bad movie antics or weirdness as I had hoped. So it’s probably not worth your time when there are so many other great, weird, shocking, provocative Asian horror films out there. Still, it wasn’t regrettably bad.

John’s Horror Corner: Grave Robbers (1989; aka Ladrones de tumbas), an obscure Mexican horror film that isn’t awful.

October 9, 2022

MY CALL:  I’m not recommending this, but it’s not terrible either. I simply had to see it because I had never heard of it until today.  MORE MOVIES LIKE Grave Robbers: For more Mexican horror (or moreso movies taking place in Mexico), consider Demonoid (1980), Dolly Dearest (1991), Cronos (1993), The Ruins (2008), and Hellraiser: Revelations (2011).

This obscure Mexican movie comes from co-writer and director Rubén Galindo Jr. (Don’t Panic, Cemetery of Terror). The themes are all too familiar. Satanic rituals, impregnating women with the Antichrist, Armageddon espoused by the birth of that Antichrist… that old story.

Centuries ago, during his torture-coerced confession for his crimes of attempting to forcibly impregnate and ritual sacrifice a young woman in the name of Satan, a surprisingly muscular cultist (Agustín Bernal; El Ninja Mexicano) curses his Archbishop accuser that he will one day rise again and enact his Antichrist-fathering ambitions upon the daughter of one of his descendants.

Skip to present day, and the lucky girl is the daughter Olivia (Edna Bolkan; Cemetery of Terror) of Police Captain Lopez (Fernando Almada), and she is going camping with her friends on the same weekend that some grave robbers roll into town. Guess whose long-hidden grave they’ll find?

Hoping to find gold, the group of young grave robbers (including Erika Buenfil; Cemetery of Terror) stumble into the underground torture chamber of the cultist’s demise and accidently resurrect him. Now risen as an undead executioner armed with the axe that killed him long ago, the cultist begins murdering everyone he encounters. Not really sure why. Maybe he’s just cranky from being dead for a couple hundred years.

The deaths are hokey for sure, but they are bloody, flesh-rending and occur on-screen. So I guess I can’t complain. This isn’t really that bad, even if it’s not very good either. Overall this undead killer feels a lot like generic brand zombie Jason Voorhees (or even Evil Ash from Army of Darkness) with an axe and a humbler budget as he mows through a handful of grave robbers, campers and locals. There’s frequent axe-cleaving-face shots. Even with little follow-through, that’s fun to see. I chuckle every time.

There is one particularly memorable death scene in a prison cell when the killer somehow “magically” tears through a grave robber’s stomach as if from inside him. The aftermath leaves a gory gaping hole in his stomach with guts strewn about—a very Lucio Fulci visual.

The ending is more like the finale fight scene in a dark action fantasy movie (e.g., Conan the Destroyer), but with yet clumsier execution. And then the movie is just over. And that’s fine for a breezy 90 minute obscurity that I had never heard of until today.

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