Sunday, April 18, 2021

Ceno-Bite Me

Film: Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth
Format: DVD from Cortland Public Library on rockin’ flatscreen.

There are ten movies in the Hellraiser franchise. Arguably, that’s about eight too many. Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth is the third in the franchise and probably the first one that didn’t need to be made. There are certainly plenty of places that the Hellraiser film series could have gone. A trashy nightclub and a collection of very disappointing Cenobites wasn’t the right choice.

At the end of the previous movie, main Cenobite bad guy Pinhead (Doug Bradley) was split into two beings—Pinhead, which represents all of the evil impulses and cruelty of the Cenobites and his former human identity, Elliot Spencer. Spencer is trapped in a sort of Limbo while this new version of Pinhead, completely devoid of any humanity, is trapped in a warped statue called the Pillar of Souls.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Why Was the Amish Girl Disfellowshipped?

Film: Deadly Blessing
Format: Streaming video from Tubi TV on basement television.

There are three great horror directors whose last names starts with “C”: John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, and Wes Craven. Of the three, Carpenter, thanks to Halloween and The Thing, has the highest points on his filmography. Cronenberg, by virtue of his filmography, is almost certainly the most consistent, and also has the added gravitas of expanding his filmography away from the horror genre. But it’s Craven who will always be my favorite of the three. Perhaps no one has created more iconic horror films and series than Craven, who is responsible for The Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes, The Serpent and the Rainbow, and of course both the Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream franchises. Fun fact—Craven graduated from the ultra-conservative religious college in the town where I grew up.

Deadly Blessing is one of Craven’s sequel-less films, and, honestly, that’s probably a good thing. There’s some interesting possibilities here, but not really anything that’s worthy of a sequel. This is still pretty early in his career, so the fact that there are things only partially set up and not fully developed is perhaps expected. Deadly Blessing has some really good ideas without really managing to get many of them to pay off.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

On the Road

Film: Dead End
Format: Streaming video from Tubi TV on the new internet machine.

I’m going to spoil Dead End because it’s a movie that desperately needs to be spoiled. It’s a film that desperately wants to be edgy and original and it really, really isn’t. In fact, it goes somewhere that you’ve certainly been before in a movie like this. There aren’t a lot of surprises in Dead End. As a movie, it’s really not that interesting. It purports itself to be at least kind of a gore film, but there’s really only one gore moment in it. It wants to be a horror movie desperately, but aside from an attempt to go somewhere kind of dark, it’s really just some jump scares. But where it succeeds is in giving us a really believable family.

I’m going to give you the very basics of the plot in the next paragraph. I’m going to spoil the movie at the end of this review, or close to the end of this review. However, I’m going to guess that not a single person is going to be surprised by the ending. In fact, if you read the next paragraph I’ll lay better than even money that you can guess the ending long before you get to it here.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Alan Tudyk Should've Played the Pants

Film: Onward
Format: Streaming video from Disney on bedroom television.

I knew from the first moment I saw the first trailer for Onward that it was going to be nominated for Best Animated Feature. Most Pixar movies get a nomination even if they don’t win. 2020 was screwed up enough that it almost makes sense that Pixar snagged two of the five nominations. My gut tells me that Soul is probably going to be the winner, but of the two Pixars, I like Onward a lot more.

Onward takes place in a fantasy realm, kind of. This is a world of elves and monsters and fantasy creatures, but it’s also fallen into the mundane. Years before, it was a world of magic, where the very forces of nature were harnessed for the good of others. But magic was hard, and technology was easy, and so magic slowly gave way to electricity, gas power, internal combustion, and the like.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

I Hate Eli Roth

Film: Cabin Fever
Format: DVD from Cortland Public Library on the new portable.

I don’t swing the word “hate” around that often, but I hate Eli Roth. Of all of the films I have seen and all of the various directors whose work I have dealt with, none have made me want to punch someone more than Eli Roth. I’m constantly and consistently disappointed in Rob Zombie, Tarantino’s self-indulgence bothers me, and Zack Snyder doesn’t deserve what reputation he seems to have earned, but none of them make me go into full-on punching mode like Eli Roth. I’ve put off watching Cabin Fever for as long as I felt I legitimately could. I just wanted it in the rearview mirror. So here we are.

This is going to end up being a short review, because Cabin Fever doesn’t deserve more than that, and neither does Eli Roth. This is the story of five people who, despite the fact that two of them are women, are the most frat brother assholes you have ever encountered. They all go to a (sigh) cabin in the woods for a week-long getaway where they all contract a horrible flesh-rotting disease and die terribly. The end.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Vampires, Ho!

Film: Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter
Format: Streaming video from Hulu Plus on laptop.

When a particular monster or monster sub-type has had a lot of play in books, television, and movies, it gets harder and harder to do anything really new with them. It does happen, though. 28 Days Later, while not technically being a zombie movie, certainly took the concept of zombie-like creatures in a new direction. Return of the Living Dead was so different from the Romero zombies that the whole “brains” narrative comes from those films, not Romero’s originals. When it comes to vampires, the differences between one version and another tend to be a lot more subtle. Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter goes for a version of vampires that evoke the classic tales but have some significant differences as well.

It’s probably first worth noting that Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter was intended as the first film in a proposed series of films featuring at least the two main characters. It failed in part because of the overt sexual content and in part because Hammer Studios was very much starting to falter.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Traveler, Indeed

Film: Sputnik
Format: Streaming video from Hulu Plus on laptop.

One of the classic tropes of science fiction is the idea of people going into space and coming back with something from out there. It’s a minor variation of the more prevalent trope of something from out there coming here. Sputnik puts us in the early ‘80s with a pair of cosmonauts circling the globe. To set the stage, our cosmonauts, while on the mission, experience something moving outside their capsule. Things malfunction on re-entry, and of the two, only Konstantin (Pyotr Fyodorov) survives. But, let’s put it this way—there are still two living things coming off that ship.

Tatyana Yuryevna Klimova (Oksana Akinshina) is a neurophysiologist who is somewhat controversial in her methods. In the middle of a scandal, she is pulled away and taken to the steppes of Kazakhstan, where Konstantin is being held. Her job is to investigate what is happening to him, including his partial amnesia as well as his surprisingly rapid recovery from the accident of his landing in the damaged capsule. She is given the run of most of the facility (which turns out to be a prison) by Colonel Semiradov (Fyodor Bondarchuk), and works at least in part (and often in opposition to) Yan Rigel (Anton Vasiliev).