Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Zone Horror; or The Cheesy Horror Movie Channel (as I like to call it)

One of the thing I miss about England when I'm not there is the Zone Horror channel. I've always had a soft spot for cheesy horror movies, especially those made before the 90's (modern horror movies just don't have the same charm). So a channel which shows practically nothing but cheesy horror movies is genius. Here're brief reviews of some of the "classics" I've watched on that channel:

Bad Dreams
- A Nightmare on Elm Street style chiller about the lone survivor of a mass suicide cult being haunted by the dead leader, though disappointingly at the end it turns out there was nothing supernatural behind the whole thing.

Children of the Corn II
, Children of the Corn III - The original film has long been a guilty pleasure of mine and the sequels offer more of the same. In the third one we even get to see the creepy kids hit the big city.

Class of Nuke 'Em High Trilogy - One of the finest examples of the Troma brand of trash, though the original is the best, of course.

Deadly Blessing - Not bad Amish horror movie from Wes Craven, with a young Sharon Stone among the cast.

The Hills Have Eyes Part II - Wes Craven again, with a group of bikers facing off against everyone's favourite homicidal mutant family.

Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf - Hilariously bad sequel that has no connection to the first film apart from an amateurish recreation of the climatic scene from the original. What it does have is Christopher Lee and Sybil Danning ripping her top off around a million times in the end credits.

Mother's Day - Rather distasteful exploitation film about group of girls being terrorised by two psychotic brothers and their equally insane mother. Worth watching for a truly bizarre "shock" ending, though.

Nude for Satan - Italian horror film that, as the title implies, contains lots of nudity. Not much Satan, though.

Saturday the 14th - Not, as the title suggests, a spoof of slasher films like Friday the 13th but rather a horror comedy about a family almost scared out of their home by a variety of monsters. Not very funny, but the scene where a monster attacks the daughter of the family in the bathtub is memorable (and predates a similar scene in A Nightmare on Elm Street).

Slumber Party Massacre - Girls get murdered at a slumber party in cheesy 80's style. What's not to like?

Sorority House Massacre - Perfect double bill with the above film.

Swamp Thing - Wes Craven yet again, with a fun adaptation of the DC Comic.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Sci-fi is dead?

Found this interesting article on Times Online about Ridley Scott where he says sci-fi is as dead a genre as westerns. While I agree that intelligent sci-fi films are few and far between these days, I still think that there's lots of life left in the genre. Sci-fi movies continue to be extremely popular (just look at Transformers) and it's a genre with endless possibilities, since the future is always, well, in the future! If anything, that article only makes me wish Scott would make another sci-fi film, since his last two (Alien and Blade Runner) are still influential to this day.

Speaking of which, there are a ridiculous number of Blade Runner DVDs coming out this year for the 25th anniversary. There's the two disc Final Cut edition, then for more die hard fans there's a four disc version with four different versions of the film. Finally, for complete monster raving loony completists, there's a five disc version in a briefcase! Now I just need to decide which version to get . . .

Monday, September 03, 2007

1408


I finally got to see 1408 (I was out of the country when it was released in the U.S. earlier this year) and it's definitely one of the better Stephen King adaptations. From what I remember, it sticks pretty close to the original story apart from adding more action and a subplot with the writer's wife. There's even a scene where the protagonist attempts to escape the room by going out the window that recalls "The Ledge" story from King's own Cat's Eye movie.

The film builds the suspense slowly before unleashing some pretty unsettling imagery. It's refreshing, in this age of unnecessary remakes designed for audiences too young to remember the original (I'm looking in your direction, Rob Zombie) and "torture porn", to see a film that recalls the old school thrills of classics like The Shining and Jacob's Ladder.

1408 is also aided by a small but talented cast, which includes John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson. Cusack in particular does a really good job holding the film together during the long part of the film where it's just him talking (or shouting) to an empty room.

At one point I feared the filmmakers were going to use the dreaded "it was all a dream" ending, but luckily it twists that around and opts for a more dramatic conclusion. However, without going into spoilers, I will say that the final scene is left open for a number of different interpretations about the true fate of Cusack's character.

The direction is stylish and the scares are efficiently handled. On the Stephen King adaptation quality-o-meter it ranks well above films like Firestarter and Needful Things and almost as high as The Shining and Stand By Me. I highly recommend it, though it may make you think twice about staying in a hotel room again, at least on your own.