Posts Tagged ‘gore’

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Tail, Claws, Teeth, Cement Tile, Street Sign, Bare Hands, Pump Shotgun, Bow & Arrow, Syringe, Revolver, Poison Gas, Metal Pole, Molotov Cocktail, Gasoline

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Reviewed by: Betty the Murder Mare

 

And no. Before we begin, we are not about to delve into the 2008 Twilight-esque movie about chrome plated pacifist pod people aliens with a shitty romance. What we are about to talk about, is the 2006 foreign monster flick that focus on a father’s dedication to finding his daughter.

Judging a movie by its cover, one would assume that The Host was nothing more than another South Korean monster movie. Even the intro is misleading, as we open up to some realistically irresponsible American military men dumping toxic waste down the drain. It nearly fooled me into thinking I’ll be watching an hour and a half long PSA of how I should dispose of my waste properly or else I’ll be directly responsible for mutating a guppy into a man eating river monster. Luckily, it was nothing more than a satirical interlude.

TheHost_SleepyGang-Doo  TheHost_ParkFamilyBawling

Instead the movie focus on a frumpy middle aged man named Park Gang-Doo, who never seemed to amount to very much in his family’s life. He struggles on near poverty as he runs a shabby food truck with his aging father, and his growing daughter Hyun-Seo. The cast of misfits grows as the movie progresses to include Song’s brother and sister. Nam-Joo, an Olympic grade archer, and Nam-il a drunken political advocate.

The plot starts rolling when the monster runs rampant, treating the viewers to some nice visuals of death and mayhem. The gore in this movie isn’t flaunted loudly, but there’s plenty of cringe worthy moments in this movie.

TheHost_Hyun-seo  TheHost_TheMonster

Hyun-Seo ultimately seems to be eaten alive before her father’s eyes, and it sends the entire family into a state of anger and mourning. But against all odds, the father ends up receiving a call from his thought-to-be-dead daughter and realizes she was still somehow alive. The family binds together to hunt down this monster, and fight to save their beloved Hyun-Seo.

What is truly amazing is that this movie plays heavily on your expectations, and it doesn’t take shortcuts. Characters you expect to die, live, and characters you expect to live, die. And it all weaves together into a bittersweet ending that somehow feels complete despite all the loss.

The movie’s true strengths is that while it does handle serious subject matter time to time, it never seems to take itself too seriously. You’ll find yourself laughing more often than you would expect yourself to, despite this movie not exactly being a comedy. The relationships between the characters are also truly touching and refreshingly realistic. The family fights with one another, but it’s never done in a hateful malicious manner. We’re simply being treated to seeing a dysfunctional family doing the best it can in sticking together through difficult times.

TheHost_Nam-Joo  TheHost_GasRelease

It is however not without its weaknesses. The movie as a whole does feel messy and unorganized with contrasting and conflicting methods of film and delivery. Are we in a monster flick, or watching a slice of life? Or, wait, is this a governmental action thriller? However, you could argue that this loose narrative actually is what gives this movie its charm.

A fine film that holds a stronger chance of making you feel rather than jump in your seats, The Host is certainly something worth checking out.

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Bare Hands, Crucifix, Holy Water

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Reviewed by: Pontifex Aureus

You can look at a starry sky and enjoy the pure sight of it; you can marvel at its dark beauty, its mystery, but what are you looking at really? Beyond the veil of sky lies infinite space and each point of twinkling light is really a blazing orb of fire. You can watch The Exorcist and simply enjoy the masochist pleasures of a masterfully crafted horror film, but what is the film really showing us? It won’t tell us, it only suggests; there’s no hand-holding here. Two different people can see the same film and arrive at two different conclusions. Or the same person can watch the film twice and arrive at different conclusions each time. For the careful viewer, The Exorcist is rich with meaning and delves deeper than a casual glance would suggest.

 

In the district of Georgetown, an evil entity slowly encroaches on the lives of the community members as it takes possession of a young girl named Reagan. Drawn into this supernatural conflict are the girl’s mother, a young priest suffering from a crisis of faith, and an elder priest experienced in the rites of exorcism. Together they must perform the dangerous exorcism ritual and directly engage evil face to face, in order to save the girl.

Reagan Possessed Ms MacNeil and the Cross

The Exorcist wrote the book on possession movies in a style that has since been imitated countless times. But beyond the rather straightforward plot, at its heart, The Exorcist is a solemn meditation on the battle between good and evil. This is made clear right away in the opening scene, as the elderly priest, Father Merrin, stands face to face with a statue of the demon Pazuzu, foreshadowing the battle to come—a battle with evil personified.

Kinderman and the Stairs Pazuzu Pukes

It is this personification of evil that gives The Exorcist its power to scare. Everyday experience tells us that evil comes from within ourselves, by doing evil things, but The Exorcist shows us evil as a thing, as an elemental force of nature, divorced from human deeds. This evil is a concrete absolute, a concept that some people refer to as the Devil. The real genius of The Exorcist is that it is able to make that concept feel real by injecting it into a very realistic-feeling situation. The film carries itself with the sober matter-of-factness of a documentary and defies the conventional Hollywood formula. There is no one clear protagonist, there is no steady escalation of action (it’s rather slow actually), and even the climax is blasphemously anti-climactic as the titular exorcist dies quietly off-screen of natural causes, cheating the audience of the promised showdown. What kind of movie does that? It doesn’t conform to set patterns, it isn’t easily explained, and it delights in shattering your expectations. It feels more like real life, doesn’t it? That’s what makes the “Evil-with-a-capital-E” of this film so threatening, because it is intruding in what is otherwise a pretty mundane portrayal of what the real world looks and feels like, as if to say “this sort of thing really happens and it could happen again”.

Merrin Arrives Merrin and Karras

In fact, this Evil takes slow possession of the film itself in much the same way it takes possession of Reagan. At first it is only hinted at, heard, but not seen. Then, briefly, we begin to see images—a demonic face forcing its way into the narrative through dreams. By the third act, the evil force has seized total control of the story, forcing the narrative into Reagan’s room, where it remains for most of the rest of the film. This invasion is felt by the audience as well, as this alien Other forces its way into their viewing experience.

 

As sharply as evil is illuminated in this film, it takes a rather ambiguous look at the forces of good. The film seems to suggest that faith is the weapon of choice against evil, but then why does the tone of the film remain so relentlessly bleak? And though the forces of good ultimately win the day, the demon is never properly exorcised; it takes an act of self-sacrifice to finally get rid of the demon. Victory is achieved at such a steep price that it hardly feels like victory at all. And if Pazuzu and Father Merrin symbolize opposite extremes on the scale of good and evil, then why make Father Merrin so frail and old? It is my interpretation that the film’s message is that goodness, unlike evil, must be maintained through faith. Evil is an ocean wave crashing against the flood-wall of goodness. The waves are always strong and in endless supply, but the flood-wall will weather and break if it is not carefully maintained. Others have interpreted this differently however, seeing the priests’ Pyrrhic victory as evidence that faith does not work, but rather action, with the intervention of the younger priest, Father Karras, prevailing where Father Merrin’s prayers did not. It’s hard to tell exactly what The Exorcist is telling us, it remains as it has always been: a dark, enigmatic, poignant, and utterly compelling parable of unknowable mystery and ominous profundity.

 

 

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Flashlight, Bare Hands, Pestle, Acid, Paper Cutter, Cleats, Revolver, Shotgun

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Reviewed by: Jenicide

High school. Some students have it made throughout their four years, while others do not. For Vernon Potts, our central character in the 1974 film Horror High (aka Twisted Brain), he definitely falls into the latter category. This film is a typical example of the exploitative drive-in schlock pieces of the 1970s, full of cheesy special effects and bad music. While overall a pedestrian effort, it is an enjoyable revenge-driven film, hitting a nerve for every social outcast that survived high school.

Vernon Potts is a high school kid who can’t seem to get a break. When he’s not tormented by the football jocks, he’s constantly belittled by the school staff. His safe zone is in the school laboratory, where he works diligently on a genetic enhancement formula for his guinea pig, Mr. Mumps. After drinking the formula himself, Vernon physically transforms into a raging, killer monster. As Vernon starts losing control of his new personality, the police, led by Lieutenant Bozeman, start to close in on him.

HorrorHighVernonExperiment HorrorHighVernonTransformation

Horror High uses the “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” concept heavily. Vernon is a likeable guy; he excels in science and even attracts cute classmate, Robyn. Yet, he harbors rage towards his daily tormenters, such as bully Roger and the mean Mrs. Grindstaff. After drinking his formula, he can’t resist using his alter ego to get even with his enemies. The good versus bad inner-conflict in Vernon is the basis of his character and drives home the message of the movie: the further one allows oneself to go towards a dark path, the less self-control one has. Even so, it’s hard to feel any sympathy towards his victims and is actually satisfying to see Vernon get some vengeance.

HorrorHighMrGriggsAcid HorrorHighDetective

What brings down Horror High is bad music and cheap special effects. Music is a key ingredient in a successful horror movie, meant to escalate the tension of a scene and draw in the audience. However, the music played while Vernon attacks sounds plain silly at times, where it cannot be completely taken seriously. Instead of making the scene frightening, it feels almost laughable. Likewise, the special effects are weak as well. Vernon’s transformation is hardly visible, and what is seen does not look much different from his normal appearance. The monster Vernon basically just walks with a limp and has a low growling voice. On the other hand, some of the kills are exceptional, for example, the scene where Vernon stomps his victim to death using cleats is original and satisfying.

HorrorHighDetective&Vernon HorrorHighMrsGrindstaffSlashed

Horror High offers a decent interpretation of the classic “Jekyll and Hyde” story, but overall, fails to impress due to corny music and special effects. Still, its charm makes the film enjoyable to watch. Despite its low points, Horror High is a “so bad it’s good” type of movie that every nerd that ever got picked on in high school can appreciate for its vicarious revenge thrills.

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Dagger, Switchblade, Butcher Knife, Revolver, Scalpel

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Reviewed by: Jenicide

The success of John Carpenter’s Halloween took the horror scene by storm, inspiring a host of copycats, among the first of which was He Knows You’re Alone. While thematically different, the film is so structurally similar to Halloween that making comparisons between the two is inevitable, and He Knows You’re Alone suffers because of it.

Amy Jenson is weeks away from her wedding, when she finds herself being stalked by a killer who targets young brides-to-be. Detective Gamble, whose own fiancée fell victim to the maniac, pursues him in a quest of revenge. Meanwhile, Amy tries unsuccessfully to convince her friends that the man following her is real, and not a result of pre-wedding jitters.

Amy & Marvin Killer Ray

While the killer does not use any sort of disguise, He Knows You’re Alone is clearly inspired by Halloween’s formula. His stand-and-stare stalking technique, as well as his knife-centric attacks are straight out of Michael Myers’ playbook. Moreover, the film features a heroine who is the only one aware that something is wrong and a man obsessed with stopping the killer. Yet, these similarities become overkill as homage descends into straight-up copying. Several scenes are almost the same as in Halloween, such as the chase between Amy and the killer, where he breaks a car window with his bare hands, or the confrontation between the killer and Gamble. Even the music is similar, attempting to replicate the stinging piano strikes of Halloween, with much less effectiveness.

Tom Hanks Yesssssssss Aquarium Head

On a positive note, the film’s opening scene should be commended for its movie-within-a-movie psych-out, which inspired imitators of its own with similar tricks being seen in films such as Blowout. Also featured in the opening scene is a cleverly executed kill set to the rhythm of a horror film so that the screams are synchronized and nobody realizes what has happened. The scene was memorable enough that it was practically recreated in Scream 2. Also worth mentioning is a young Tom Hanks in his debut performance, who stands out as the best character in the film, despite being in it for roughly five minutes. Perhaps it was his winning charm that earned him the best lines in the movie, a short speech on the nature of fear.

Gamble Killer Window Smash

He Knows You’re Alone is an okay film, but its weaknesses prevent it from being good. It tried desperately to be the next Halloween, but the film ultimately fails to match its quality in terms of writing, cinematography, and suspense. In the end, it’s worth watching once in a blue moon when nothing else is on.

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Bare Hands, Straight Razor, Tire, Barbell Weight, Garden Shears, Skewer, Fire Poker, Fillet Knife

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Reviewed by: Jenicide

Starting in the 1970s, with horror classics like Black Christmas and John Carpenter’s Halloween, holiday-themed slasher films became a big hit. While one’s birthday does not really qualify as a holiday, Happy Birthday to Me is definitely of this pedigree. Though this sub-genre is guilty of flooding the horror scene with a number of bad movies, this one stands out in terms of production values and in keeping the audience mystified, making it pretty decent overall, despite some shortcomings.

Virginia Wainwright is a content girl on the outside, among her friends, yet is troubled on the inside with a past she struggles to remember, due to a tragic car accident. As her birthday draws near, Virginia’s friends start disappearing, and she begins to regain memories of her accident, while suffering from increasingly frequent blackouts.

Cast Pic Head on a Tray

While Happy Birthday to Me comes off looking derivative of Friday the 13th, the film was in the works at the same time, but was released a year later. And while, like Friday the 13th, it follows the now-classic formula of “mystery killer stalks a group of teenagers”, it features a much higher gore factor and better production values than some of its cheaper peers. The special effects are creative with such memorable moments as the character Steve’s death by shish kabob (as depicted on the original film poster). Another standout is the bloody birthday party scene, where the killer is revealed; the typical “discovering of the dead bodies” that we see toward the end of many slasher movies is here done with exceptional style.

Weird Glasses Guy Bloody Poker

The whodunit appeal is the most noteworthy quality of the movie. It tosses red herring after red herring at the audience, as just about every character becomes a suspect. When this is done right, it’s great; when it’s done wrong, it really stretches believability. The impact of this type of movie hinges heavily on the effectiveness of the ending, when the killer is revealed. It eventually seems obvious who is responsible for the murders, but then the film offers up a surprising revelation, that though startling, hurts the plausibility of the entire story with a killer whose methods and motives are ridiculous. The twist of the movie just seems out of the blue, with no logical connection to the progression of events we’ve just seen.

Corpse in Chair Birthday Macabre

Despite the weak ending, the effective mystery and gore of the movie makes for an overall enjoyable experience.  Still, the twist was memorable enough that it seems to have inspired a host of other surprise endings in slasher movies like The Initiation and Sleepaway Camp. Happy Birthday to Me is by no means a masterpiece, but it is one of the more polished specimens among the glut of slasher films to come out of the early 1980s.

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Razor Glove, Bed Sheet, Coffee Pot, Sledgehammer Booby-Trap, Light-Bulb Explosive, Jar of Gasoline, Fire

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Reviewed by: Pontifex Aureus

A boogeyman that haunts your dreams, the sound of blades scraping stone, flickering shadow, fire, smoke—this is the stuff of childhood nightmares. This is why this film hit me so close, too close, as a child, because it deals with something that I (and all people) know something about: nightmares. As adults, our boogeymen tend to be real-world characters like home-invaders and psychopaths, but as children, our first boogeymen hid in the shadows of our bedroom closet, or under the bed, and made creaks and bumps in the night. You imagined something was there, watching, and you hid under the covers waiting for sleep to save you, but the terrors would follow you into your dreams and become more real than ever. This is the sense of primal fear that A Nightmare on Elm Street captures so well, the fear that comes from within your own mind.

In an archetypal American suburb, the kids of Elm Street dream of violent death at the hands of a razor-fingered man with burnt flesh named Fred Krueger. When people start dying in real life, teenager Nancy Thompson becomes determined to uncover the truth behind Krueger’s past in order to find some way to combat this deadly menace that exists only in her mind.

Freddy's Boiler Room This is God

Much has been said about A Nightmare on Elm Street’s ability to toy with the audience’s perception of reality; with its mind-bending dream-within-a-dream sequences, you’re never quite sure of what’s real and what isn’t. But this is only part of what the film accomplishes as a whole: it captures the look, sound, and feel of a nightmare and, in so doing, creates one of the best representations of nightmares committed to film.

Freddy in the Tub Johnny Depp Hero in a Half Shirt

The ambiguity and strangeness of the narrative makes you feel disoriented and wary, as it should, since this is just the feeling we would expect of a nightmare. But this alone wouldn’t be enough, not without the chaotic, disturbing imagery brought to us by the boogeyman himself, Fred Krueger. He shape-shifts, his arms become impossibly long, he gleefully mutilates himself just to see the look on your face—this is a villain that is not bound by the laws of physical possibility and that makes him truly unpredictable in a way that other movie-monsters seldom achieve. And perhaps the most overlooked aspect of director Wes Craven’s nightmare-world is the sound. The soundtrack ranges from ominous to campy in an interestingly disjointed fashion, but when I talk about the sound of A Nightmare on Elm Street, I refer specifically to the subtle sound effects and strange inflections of speech. One of my favorite parts is a classroom scene where Nancy slips into sleep while listening to a recitation of Hamlet: “…were it not that I have bad dreams…” that voice—a hoary, unreal whisper hits especially close to the truth of dream-experience. Perfection.

I'm Your Boyfriend Now Nancy and John Saxon

By its very abstract nature, A Nightmare on Elm Street is greatly open to interpretation. Legions of horror fans have put forth dozens of theories, dealing variously with the sexual subtext of the film or the coming of age of Nancy into the bleak adult world inhabited by her mother and father. While arguably true, I feel these theories are subservient to a greater theme; I believe this film is above all, an examination of the enemy within ourselves. We are the victims of our own fears—fear of death, fear of sex, fear of growing up and though we wish salvation were as easy as wishing those fears away, they lurk within us always, ready to sneak up from behind and grab us by the throat. Watching the movie as a child, I felt this fear without understanding it. As an adult, lying in bed, watching the shadows on the ceiling, hearing the house creak, I know that something is watching. It watches from within. If you’ve never seen this movie, get to it. If you have, see it again; you’ll find new treasure every time you do.

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Kicks, Bare Hands, Cane, Knife, Teeth, Towel Rod

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Reviewed by: Pontifex Aureus

In essence, Cronos is a vampire movie. It’s a very different kind of vampire movie, but a vampire movie nonetheless, and while it can be considered a horror movie, I prefer to think of it as a dark fantasy movie. That’s because Cronos is not scary—not one little bit. But don’t let that bother you, because while it may not be scary, it is original, it is highly imaginative, it is rich with devilish imagery and possesses a thoroughly human character. These characteristics are hallmarks of all high-quality dark fantasy.

In Veracruz, Mexico, an elderly antiques dealer, Jesus Gris, and his granddaughter stumble upon a strange and ancient artifact created by a 16th century alchemist. The artifact, the Cronos Device, grants the user eternal life, as Jesus soon finds out upon accidentally triggering the insect-like machine. The price for eternity is steep however, as Jesus begins to develop a terrible craving for blood and draws the attention of an evil man who would claim the device for himself.

Jesus and Aurora Cronos Close-Up

You have to admire a vampire movie that never once uses the word “vampire”. Cronos is a wonderfully understated movie, never clobbering you over the head with its themes. It’s just as well that the film doesn’t mention vampires, since the movie is more about humans than vampires. We have three central characters: Jesus Gris, a kindly grandfather and respectable shop owner who becomes so addicted to the vitality offered by the Cronos Device that he winds up licking blood off a men’s room floor. We have Dieter de la Guardia, a ruthless businessman so against the idea of natural death that he spends his life in a germ-free room with a cabinet full of his own body parts. And lastly, there’s Angel de la Guardia, the bootlicking nephew to Dieter, who wants nothing more than for his uncle to die and leave behind a fat inheritance.

Jesus Using Cronos Nose Bleed for Dinner

In much the same way that a vampire is motivated by its desire for blood, these people are motivated by their desire for power. Each is ruled by their desire—the desire for youth and vigor, as in the case of Jesus and Dieter, or desire for wealth, as in Angel’s case. Each is a kind of power. They live wretched lives and all but Jesus are willing to kill to fulfill their desire. It’s this complex interplay of human frailty that makes Cronos such a sly winner. Keep this in mind while watching and you’ll find a rich layer of symbolism throughout the film (lots of religious subtext—Jesus Gris is phonetically similar to Jesus Cristo, the Cronos Device is concealed in an angel statue, Angel de la Guardia means literally “guardian angel”, and so on).

Perlman Broken Nose Jesus Vampire

Aside from all these subtle qualities, Cronos has several other things going for it as well. Being a Guillermo del Toro movie, it carries his visual flair for dark fantasy. The Cronos Device itself is a work of art, looking like a golden clockwork scarab, it is suitably creepy and evil-looking. There’s also the wonderfully muted performances by the whole cast, but especially by Federico Luppi in the role of Jesus Gris, as he transforms from twinkly-eyed grandpa to skin-peeling vampire without ever feeling over-the-top.

Cronos is a sumptuously dark fairy tale brought to you by the modern-day master of dark fantasy; if you’re a del Toro fan, you should find plenty to like here. Incidentally, this film also marks the first collaboration between del Toro and Ron Perlman, for you Hellboy fans out there. So if you’re looking for scares, look elsewhere, but if you’re looking for a visually striking, stylish, thought-provoking vampire movie, then look no further than Cronos.