Sunday, May 5, 2019

Texas Frightmare Weekend- May 4, 2019

Here is a collection of the Horror Movie Celebrities I met at Texas Frightmare Weekend May 4, 2019

Tom Savini


Scott Ian of Anthrax

Meat Loaf

Barbara Hershey

Jeffrey Combs

Bruce Abbott

Barbara Crampton

Cassandra Peterson aka Elvira

Traci Lords

Stan Shaw

Amanda Wyss

Lance Henriksen

Rebekah McKendry, PhD

Carel Struycken

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Movies that are Disguised Remakes

The Faculty (Invasion of the Body Snatchers)

The 1998 Robert Rodriguez directed Sci-Fi Horror movie has a group of high school students with little in common working together after they notice odd behavior from the staff at their high school. The Faculty was a modest success with younger fans who may not have realized that the plot of the movie borrows from several sci-fi films. Screenwriter Kevin Williamson's script mixes Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Stepford Wives and even a bit of the Breakfast Club in a movie that works as a great homage to the sci-fi thrillers of the 1950's Cold War Era.

The Good Son (The Bad Seed)

Macaulay Culkin plays Henry Evans who displays a morbid fascination with death and soon has his cousin Mark worried he might hurt him and Henry's sister. When The Good Son was released in 1993, there was much discussion on the role that Culkin played as a psychologically disturbed child that differed from his role as Kevin McCallister in Home Alone. The reality is that The Good Soon is a vehicle for newcomer Elijah Wood playing Mark Evans who is sent to stay with relatives after the death of his mother. The plot of The Good Son seems to borrow elements 1956 thriller The Bad Seed, in both films you have a seemingly sweet child displaying psychotic tendencies and hurting those around them despite having parents who are unwilling to admit they have a troubled child.

Slither (Night of the Creeps)

A meteorite lands in a small town releasing a swarm of slug-like creatures that turn the citizens into zombies who are at the mercy of an infected master. When James Gunn's 2006 movie Slither was released, many people pointed out the preview trailer looked like a direct ripoff of Fred Dekker's 1986 cult classic Night of the Creeps. To be fair Slither is a fun black comedy that was influenced by David Cronenberg's Shivers and The Brood as well as 80's horror films. Although Slither was a box office failure, it has become a cult favorite with its excellent cast and would help Gunn pave the way for his successful Marvel movies a decade later. 

Carnosaur 2 (Aliens)

A team is flown into a secret facility and discover that dangerous creatures are loose in the facility and they are left trapped after their escape vehicle crashes. The plot of Carnosaur 2 not only seems derivative it is a complete and total ripoff of the 1986 action sci-fi film Aliens. Carsasuar 2 even has a sequence with the hero fighting a dinosaur with a forklift.

Wrong Turn (The Hills Have Eyes)

A group of college students is stranded in the deep woods and encounter a family of inbred cannibals who kidnap them and intend to make a meal out of them. In many ways, "Wrong Turn" is essentially The Hills Have Eyes just set in the mountains of West Virginia instead of Nevada with a bit of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre thrown in because why not. The Wrong Turn franchise has been followed by two sequels and three prequels with a rumored remake in the works.

Friday the 13th (Bay of Blood)

Summer Camp slashers were a staple in the 1980s, and it was no surprise that Friday the 13th was regarded as one of the most popular despite it being already derivative of Halloween and Black Christmas. Almost ten full years before Sean Cunnigham's slasher classic,  Mario Bava's Bay of Blood was released and criticized for the violence and gore that would become commonplace in the 1980s. Bay of Blood was one of the first slasher movies and inspired dozens of films including Friday the 13th, The Burning and Madman.  

Disturbing Behavior (The Stepford Wives) 

X Files Producer David Nutter directed this sci-fi thriller that has a group of rebellious teenagers seeing their outcast friends suddenly conforming to the Blue Ribbon group who are clean cut model students. Disturbing Behavior is pretty much a revamped version of the 1975 thriller The Stepford Wives with teenagers being the focus and as a result of the film does not have that much of an impact the Stepford Wives had when it was released. The cast is made up of popular young actors, but the script was too derivative to be anything more than a pale imitator of the vastly superior Stepford Wives.

The Hunger Games (Battle Royale)

Suzanne Collins popular book series The Hunger Games helped popularize dystopian teen novels and with a strong female protagonist Katniss Everdeen it was no surprise that a popular movie franchise would emerge with actress Jennifer Lawrence portraying the lead. Many critics of the book and film noted the story borrowed heavily from the Japanese book and film Battle Royale in that both movies had teenagers killing one another due to government directives. Collins stated her inspiration was the story of Theseus, reality television and attitude toward the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Critters (Gremlins)

Stephen Herek's movie Critters features two shape-shifting bounty hunters trying to capture dangerous furry aliens called Crites that escape and land on Earth. Once Earthbound a group of Kansas locals fight off the Critters with the help of the bounty hunters. When Critters was released, it was unfairly called a ripoff of Gremlins as both films featured mischievous little creatures. To be fair Director Herek wrote the screenplay before Gremlins was released and changes were made that helped the film stand on its own. Since its released Critters was followed by three sequels and 2019 series on Shudder.

Piranha (Jaws)

Joe Dante's Piranha has the unique distinction of being one of the few horror movie ripoffs that are appreciated by the director of the film it borrowed from with the movie being the 1975 film Jaws. Piranha is about a government program that enhanced piranhas to make them more deadly only to see them accidentally released into popular tourist camps. Piranha was directed with satire on the 1975 summer blockbuster Jaws, and this helped Steven Speilberg to appreciate the film and not sue the studio as other knockoffs had been.

Alien (It! The Terror From Beyond Space)

One of the best horror and sci-fi films of the 1970s, Aliens was a huge success when it was released and has created one of the most successful horror movies franchise with its sequels, prequels and tie ins to the Predator franchise. However even a great film like Alien did borrow from a couple of films. The most obvious is the 1958 film. It! The Terror from Beyond Space that has a spaceship landing on Mars and leaving with a hostile alien intruder that stalks the crew. The other film that may have inspired Alien is the 1965 Mario Bava film Planet of the Vampires that would also inspire 2012 Prometheus.

Invasion (Invasion of the Body Snatchers)

The 2007 SciFi thriller Invasion starred Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig and started as a remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The movie had several changes made that made it different from the previous films and sourcebook enough that it be said to be an original work. Despite this, the film still carried the same premise of people being taken over by an extraterrestrial influence that changes peoples personalities and leaves a small group of unaffected people searching for help.

House of a Thousand Corpses (Tx Chainsaw Massacre)

Rob Zombie's first movie was a wild ride that felt very much like an exploitation movie of the 1970s. Four young people researching roadside attractions are drawn to the legend of Dr. Satan after they stop at a gas station run by a man dressed as a clown named Capt Spaulding. They then pick up a hitchhiker who takes them to her family home where their fate is in the hands of her crazy family. House of a Thousand Corpses was undoubtedly influenced by the Texas Chainsaw Massacre as well as The Hills Have Eyes. In many ways, the film would have been a better remake of TCM than the recent one released in 2003. The gritty feel and violence did not win critics over, but the film has gained a cult following and is followed by a sequel that was better received. 

Into the Storm (Twister)

The late nineties saw a slew of disaster films that made use of the advances in special effects and CGI with Twister being one of the most successful. The 2014 movie Into the Storm pretty much follows the same disaster script but tells it as Found Footage with several people using cellphones to record the events of the deadly storms. Although the movie tries to tell a story the special effects pretty much take over as most of the cast is forgettable save for two recurring idiots who act as comic relief.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Pet Sematary (2019) Sometimes Dead Is Better

Pet Sematary (2019)
Dir- Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer

Remakes are often met with mixed feelings as purists automatically reject any followup that they feel is unnecessary while others enjoy a fresh perspective on previous work. Stephen King's Pet Sematary was a big hit in 1989 despite mixed reviews; many thought it was too much a slasher while others enjoyed the shocking twists that made it a favorite film. The plot of 2019 adaptation directed by Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer has a family of four moving to a small town in Maine where Dr. Louis Creed takes a job as a physician at the local university. The home they move into has a forest surrounding it where the local children bury their deceased pets in a nearby pet graveyard. The daughter Ellie meets the elderly neighbor Jud who tells her father Louis about the darker history of his property after their cat is killed by a truck on the road bordering the house. It is this dangerous road that will lead the Creed family into turmoil and some bad decisions after a tragic accident occurs. The 2019 version of Pet Sematary deals with some intense family issues including losing a beloved member of the family and the guilt it may bring to the survivors. Whereas the first film relied on straight up scares, this version is more psychological exploring the evil forces within the forest manifesting the pain and suffering of the wife and husband as events from their past and present force them to confront their anxieties. As both films leave out some details from the book, this version has also been met with some concern over plot changes. Directors Kölsch and Widmyer make use of this change to help advance the story and to better explain some of the more darker aspects of the story. The new version of Pet Sematary may not please all, but it does offer a terrifying look at family loss and the mistakes made when someone tries to cheat death.  

Sunday, March 31, 2019

We Are Our Own Worst Enemy

Us (2019)
Dir- Jordan Peele

Jordan Peele has made a career with his work in TV comedy alongside Keegan-Michael Key that his venture into horror movies was seen with skepticism until "Get Out" showed he has a real flair for horror. His follow-up film "Us" follows a family of four enjoying time in their vacation home when they find four strangers trying to break in. Once they confront these home invaders, they are shocked to learn that they are near identical doppelgangers of them. Whatever their purpose will be explained as the movie unfolds and thankfully the audience was left in the dark thanks to the skillful editing of the preview. "Us" is a dark comedy that uses elements of horror to tell a surprisingly original story while throwing in clues to the outcome of the film with cultural references and historical events. In many respects, this film could easily have been an episode of Black Mirror or the Twilight Zone especially considering that director Jordan Peele will be hosting the updated Twilight Zones series in 2019. "Us" is winning praise for the cast including Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke and the unique take on the home invasion trope, critic reaction is positive, and many have praised Peele's efforts as proof he is no one hit wonder. Fans of horror will appreciate the twists and references to cult horror films of the '80s as well as some carefully planted Easter eggs.   

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Radio DJ's in Horror Movies

Here is a collection of notable DJ's featured in horror films over the past 50 years.  

Lords of Salem- Heidi La Rock/Adelaide Hawthorne

Sheri Moon Zombie stars as Heidi, a recovering drug addict who co-hosts a radio show with two other DJ's. Trouble begins when she receives an album from a band called The Lords that when played has a bizarre effect on women that leads her to look into the history of Salem and the witch hunts that occurred. 

The Pontypool- Grant Mazzy

Small town shock jock Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) reports on a series of events that are occurring while he is doing his evening show. Amid the confusing reports from outside reporters, it appears that a virus outbreak is occurring but how its spread and the effects of the illness are shown in real time as Grant and his coworkers try to figure out what's going on and how to survive. 

The Fog- Stevie Wayne

Screen horror legend Adrienne Barbeau portrays Stevie Wayne, the DJ of a small coastal town that is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its founding. That evening a mysterious fog comes into town, and a series of murders occur that Stevie and other locals find out is a part of a dark secret involving the town's forefathers.

Play Misty For Me- Dave Garver

Clint Eastwood stars as DJ Dave Garver who meets a woman who is a massive fan of his, and after a brief affair he breaks it off when she shows obsessive behavior. Not too keen on rejection, she becomes murderous as she pursues him and his new girlfriend. 

Texas Chainsaw Massacre II- Stretch

Texas-born Screen Queen Caroline Williams appears as Radio DJ Vanita Brock aka Stretch who during a broadcast before the big Texas/OU football takes a call from a pair of rowdy fans who are then killed by Leatherface and company. Afterward, she is kidnapped and held by the Sawyer family while a Texas sheriff named Lefty attempts to rescue Stretch and take down the cannibal clan.

A Christmas Horror Story- Dangerous Dan

William Shatner plays DJ Dangerous Dan in this 2015 Christmas themed horror anthology, Dangerous Dan acts as a bridge between the four-story segments as he plays music and reports on a disturbance at the local mall. As the movie progresses, the stories will all tie together as DJ Dan continues to play music and learn more about the events in the mall. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

20 Years in the making, here is 21st Century Terror

For the first time in over twenty years, I have created an original section for my website to represent movies made after 2001. I will link to my Letterboxd lists for great movies on topics to include found footage, new slashers films, and other hot horror films in recent years. Check it out and pass the word

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Horror Movies for Mardi Gras

Hatchet (2006)
Two friends partying on Mardi Gras decide to take a haunted boat ride through a Lousiana swamp with a group of tourists as they learn about the legend of  Victor Crowley. After the group gets stuck, they find themselves being murdered and ripped apart by the monstrous Crowley who is then confronted by a mysterious girl named Marybeth who has a vendetta with the swamp killer.

Candy Man: Farewell to the Flesh (1995)
A young art teacher finds herself immersed in the Candyman legend when her brother is arrested for a brutal crime; we then discover that her father was mysteriously murdered in a vicious manner similar to the style as her brother. She is then shocked to find a student of hers sketching a creepy character named Candyman. From there she decides to do the deed and say his name in New Orleans on the eve of Mardi Gras where we get more murders and a full origin story of Candyman.

Mardi Gras Massacre (1978)
A man in New Orleans hires prostitutes and sacrifices them to an Aztec goddess. Police begin to search for the killer as he prepares for a big Mardi Gras sacrifice with three women he is holding hostage.

Autopsy (2008)
After attending Mardi Gras, a group of friends get into a car accident but are surprised by an ambulance that arrives without anyone calling for one. They arrive at a strange hospital where they individually become victims of the deranged staff who are working to save their bosses wife, even if it means having their bodies ripped apart for her medical needs.

Dracula 2000 (2000)
Thieves break into a store owned by the descendant of Dr. Van Helsing and steal a coffin they think contains valuables, but instead has the body of Dracula. The plane carrying the coffin crashes in Louisiana where Dracula proceeds to find new brides and victims with Van Helsing having to hunt him down yet again.

Night Trap (1993)
A series of vicious homicides have police chasing a serial killer who is on a killing spree during Mardi Gras. This movie was featured on Joe Bob Brigg's show where he gave it a colorful review despite the otherwise wasted effort.

Zombie! vs. Mardi Gras (1999)
An indie horror parody that follows a deranged occultist who summons "Zombie!" to seek revenge on Mardi Gras partiers for injuries he suffered during the drunken street parties. The film includes unrelated sketches and shots of women flashing their breasts during the Marti Gras celebration but otherwise is rather uneventful.   

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Twisted Couples for Valentines Day

Life After Beth (2014)
Zach's girlfriend Beth dies, and he finds comfort talking to her folks but is surprised when they stop reaching out to him and is shocked to see Beth has returned. When he meets an old friend named Erica his life will get even more complicated as Beth shows a much more angry and hungrier side. 

Warm Bodies (2013)
A zombie who is somewhat self-aware begins to feel more alive when he munches the brain of a living human and starts to feel affection the girlfriend of his recent meal. He soon bonds with her and protects her from the more dangerous boney zombie leaders. One of the more original zombie movies in past years, Warm Bodies takes the perspective of the undead and injects some romantic sentiments into a genre not known for such ideas.

Burying the Ex (2014)
Max is a horror loving fanatic with a controlling girlfriend named Evelyn who shows little interest in his hobbies. Intent on breaking up with her Evelyn is killed in an accident but returns to harass him and his new love interest, Olivia. This zombie comedy shares much in common with Life After Beth but is not as well known.

Nina Forever (2015)
After the death of his long-term girlfriend Nina, a suicidally depressed Rob begins to date a much younger co-worker named Holly and things are going well until the night they have sex and Nina returns to torment them as a bloody revenant. A dark comedy that is played relatively straight while it focuses on serious issues like loss of a loved one and closure

Bride of Chucky (1998)
Tiffany Valentine who was Charles Lee Ray's former girlfriend puts Chucky back to together and revives him yet their love doesn't fully blossom until he kills her and she is resurrected as a female doll. From there the two killer dolls try to steal the bodies of a couple they encounter in one of the funnier segments of the Chucky franchise.

Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
The monster having survived the fire in the mill that had supposedly killed him is taken in by a blind hermit.  He teaches him to speak and then falls under the evil influence of another scientist who presses him to demand a mate from Dr. Frankenstein. A rare sequel that is better than its predecessor, the film marks the reappearance of Boris Karloff as the monster and Elsa Lanchester as both Mary Shelley and the classic bride we all remember.

Let the Right One In (2008)
Oskar is a preteen boy bullied by his classmates who befriends a young girl named Eli who has a secret she shares when they bond as friends. This new friendship gives him the confidence to face his bullies and to learn what love can mean despite her secret. Based on a novel, the film would be remade in the US and is one of the few remakes that stands on its own.

Corpse Bride (2005)
Victor is a shy man who is in an arranged marriage for financial and social reasons. He accidentally marries a deceased woman named Emily after placing a ring on her finger and now must determine how to resolve this issue and return to the land of the living. Tim Burton directed and produced this stop motion animated film with Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Emily Watson providing the voices.

Nekromantik (1987)
Rob and Betty are an unusual couple who decide to spice up their sex life with a corpse that Rob "borrows" from his job as a road accident cleaner. Problems emerge when Betty shows much more affection to the corpse then with her boyfriend. Nekromantik is a film that tackles taboo areas using black comedy and exploitation making it one of the vilest and disgusting movies ever made. One of the top films on my Disturbing Movies collection.

Audition (1999)
A lonely widower takes the advice of his children and seeks a new wife. He holds a fake movie audition so he can interview beautiful women to find the perfect match. When he meets Asami, she seems to be the perfect women for him until she reveals some very dark aspects of her life. Directed by Takashi Miike, Audition is one of the best Japanese horror films in recent years and is a disturbing film in many ways.

The Vampire Lovers (1970)
Ingrid Pitt plays a young vampire who seduces and kills the daughters of some wealthy families in this Hammer movie that paved the way for a series of similar sexually themed vampire movies that became popular due to their lesbian content and beautiful cast of alluring and buxom women.

Hellbound: Hell Raiser II (1988)
That bitch Julia is back and with the help of a psychiatric ward doctor the two team together to conquer Leviathan, defeat the Cenobites and her stepdaughter Kirsty. This ambitious and very bloody sequel picks up after the first film and doesn't stop with the blood and guts.

Spring (2014)
After losing his mother to Cancer and his job after a fight, Evan a young American takes a trip to Italy where he meets a beautiful, flirtatious woman named Louise. Evan is not aware that she is not what she seems and her secret may keep her from accepting Evan's romantic intentions. Spring was directed by Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson and was well received for its romantic tale and Lovecraftian twist.