Tag Archives: horror

Disturbing Behaviour 


Everyone knows that high school teenagers are the most lawless, degenerate, ill adjusted scoundrels out there, but what to do about it? Radically unethical, mandatory brain modification of course, or at least that’s what mad scientist school principal Bruce Greenwood has in mind in Disturbing Behaviour, a Scream/Faculty esque 90’s shocker that didn’t get half the attention it deserved upon release. Shame because it’s a sleek, well oiled little horror outing. James Marsden and Katie Holmes are the new kids in town, siblings thrust into the savage Serengeti of high school and forced to jump through that fiery hoop of social interaction. Nick Stahl channels his inner awkwardness as the brooding outcast who befriends them, and the trio soon notice some weird activity from their peers. Behavioural patterns are erratic, robotic and vicious, their classmates seemingly not themselves anymore. A creepy local cop (always nice to see Steve Railsback) seems to know what’s up but eerily keeps it hush hush, and calmly maniacal Greenwood definitely has a few skeletons in a few closets. It’s up to them to figure out what’s going on, escape the cerebral rescanning net before they end up dead or worse. Assisting them is a scene stealing, nearly unrecognizable William Sadler as the school’s eccentric, hard-nosed janitor. Working from a script by word wizard Scott Rosenberg and beautifully spooky cinematography from John Bartley that captures the unsettling North Vancouver and Bowen Island coastlines, this flick has a lot going for it and should have gotten way more kudos. 

-Nate Hill

Advertisements

The Mummy review – Tom Cruise’s latest brings life to Dark Universe – by Josh Hains

By now you all know the score. Some clueless soul finds a tomb belonging to an ancient cursed monster, the titular Mummy, which they accidentally unleash upon the world, which they then spend the rest of the movie trying to kill. While it might be an overused formula, given the long history of mummy movies in American cinema, it’s a formula that still works today, and to good effect in this newest incarnation of the iconic Mummy tale.

In this modern reboot of the popular trilogy (starring Brendan Fraser) from a number of years ago, a female mummy (how cool!) is let loose when soldier of fortune Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) and his buddy Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) uncover her prison like tomb. They, along with Jennifer Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), are escorting said mummy’s sarcophagus via plane before a massive sandstorm makes flying impossible, before encountering unbelievable supernatural forces that cause the plane to crash killing everyone but Jennifer. Nick awakens in a morgue to find he’s become a vessel of some sort for the mummy Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), and with the aid of Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe; underused, but oh so very good), sets out to destroy Ahmanet.

And yes, Tom Cruise runs this movie (but not as much as you think he will!), and it bears the kind of big, ballsy stunts we now come to expect from him, but this ain’t your typical Tom Cruise performance or movie. He’s kind of a dick in this movie, and for the first time in his career we hear him scream. Cruise isn’t playing it safe, he’s trying something new and stretching himself as an actor, and that’s worth a good round of pride on its own.

Much has been made about reviews that came out over the last couple days that don’t paint the movie in the best light. If you’re one of those people prone to checking Rotten Tomatoes scores prior to seeing any given movie, don’t fret. Despite the current rating of 18% Rotten on the site, the movie truthfully isn’t all that bad. In fact, for the most part it’s actually quite good.

The performances, special effects, stunts, cinematography, they’re all really good stuff. The problems one could have with this movie are contained within the script and the execution of the movie itself. There are humourous moments that fall flat (and others that work just right), certain plot details toward the end of the movie (none of which will be spoiled here) are kind of formulaic, safe, and lack the punch needed to make them more impactful. The Jekyll character is underused, and given that Crowe makes such a strong first impression (he’s a wonderful Jekyll), one would assume there’d be more of him to enjoy. Perhaps another time. And Annabelle Wallis’ Jennifer is often nothing more than a damsel in distress, which us a shame given how good Wallis is in the role.

Regardless of how you might feel about this movie, whether you hate it with a vengeance or love it to pieces, you cannot deny for a single second that the plane crash sequence; which was filmed in what is known as “the vomit comet”, which is when a plane travels at the G’s of a rocket, then evens out and goes weightless while it free-falls for 22 seconds (this took 64 takes to crack); isn’t the most terrifying, realistic, and stunningly realized plane crash sequence you’ve ever seen in film. It’s a breathtaking, nail biting piece of filmmaking from the pelvis.

I went into The Mummy with the desire to see something fun, to lose myself in what I was hoping would be an enjoyable action horror romp. I watch movies to lose myself in their worlds, to forget the troubles of this odd, mad world in which we live, and enjoy myself free from these issues and distractions. For two hours (or more, or less), I’m free. The Mummy, warts and all, gave me that freedom, provided me with an intriguing, fantastical world for me to lose myself within, and entertained the hell out of me. The Mummy never needed to break the mould. It didn’t need to be some transcendent, life altering cinematic experience, and it didn’t need to be some flawless, Certified Fresh movie. It just needed to be a good time at the movies, which it is, if you allow it to be. I can’t wait to see what the Dark Universe has in store for us with The Bride Of Frankenstein.

B Movie Glory: Progeny


What do you get if you cross Rosemary’s Baby with The X Files? 1998’s Progeny, or something like it anyway. Surprisingly thoughtful, restrained and adept for a B movie, it’s got a tightly wound little story about a human woman (Jillian McWhirter) who is impregnated by extraterrestrials that are tinkering around with our biology for who knows why. Her husband (Arnold ‘Imhotep’ Vosloo) is at a loss and doesn’t know where to turn as her condition gets progressively more… icky. Help comes in the form of two kindly doctors (Lindsay Crouse and Wilford ‘Diabeetus’ Brimley) and a UFO-ologist played by an unusually laid back Brad Dourif, but will their collective effort be enough to save her life, remove whatever being is in her womb and escape the attention of the aliens for good? Browsing the shelves this looks like a full on schlock-fest based on the cast and general vibe, but it’s something a bit more tasteful that takes itself just seriously enough to separate it from the mass of junk in this arena. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some slick scares and a few gooey wtf moments, but they’re used with a modicum of discretion and as such feel earned, always taking a backseat to the actors who give the human drama weight. Great little forgotten sci-if/horror. 

-Nate Hill

Stephen King’s Graveyard Shift


Stephen King’s Graveyard Shift is curiously one of my favourite adaptations of his work. I say curiously because it’s not a very tasteful film, let alone even a good one. It’s simple schlock and awe, goo and slime for 90 minutes straight, every human character either an unsettling nutcase or cardboard stock archetype. There’s just something so Midnite Movie-esque about it though, a sense of fun to its gigantic, hollowed out mess of a textile mill in which some kind of vile denizen stalks a night crew that pretty much deserves everything they get. People wander about, squabble and are picked off in ways that get steadily more gruesome until the final reveal of the monster in some overblown puss-palooza of a finale. What more do you need in your bottom feeder helping of horror? Steven Macht is the sleazebag who runs the mill at his tyrannical whim, while David Andrews is the closest thing you’ll find to a stoic protagonist. Andrew ‘Wishmaster’ Divoff shows up as a stock character, but it’s Brad Dourif who chews scenery and ends up the only memorable person as the world’s most simultaneously intense and incompetent exterminator, a bug eyed little weirdo who freaks people out with extended monologues about Viet Nam when he should be perusing corridors to find whatever’s lurking there. The monster itself, if I remember correctly, is one big pile of grossly misshappen, poopy prosthetic puppetry, as is often the case in early 90’s King fare. Would you want it any other way? Simple, efficient and impressively gory is what you’ll find on this shift. 

-Nate Hill

FearDotCom


FearDotCom is a thoroughly lazy, deeply awful hunk of excrement. What makes it so bad is the sheer potential of its concept, squandered on a brain-meltingly generic serial killer story that we’ve all seen hundreds of times. After a rainy prologue (the whole thing seems to take place in a perpetual monsoon) involving a short lived and painfully underused Udo Kier, we’re told that multiple victims have begun to disappear 48 hours after logging on to some freaky website called fear.com. The rest of the film could have gone a bunch of different cool and inspired ways, but nooo… instead it plods along with a Detective (Stephen Dorff) and a sanitation worker (Natasha McElhone should know better than to take a second look at scripts like this) as they hunt the proprietor of the web domain, a nasty yet ultimately boring murderer played by Neil Jordan’s thespian of choice, Stephen Rea, who also should know better than to wander into this mess. Now, all that could be forgiven, seeing as how potential is pissed away every hour in Hollywood, it’s just par for the course. But where the film really, truly shits the bed is it’s DVD art. I remember specifically avoiding the aisle that housed this flick back in the days of blockbuster, because the images on the cover were so uniquely scary. There’s a horrific looking mannequin girl, dead bodies arranged in a way that would give Dali nightmares and just a general uneasy look to the box. Thing is, none of that stuff actually shows up in the film anywhere. It’s either a con job, butchered editing or the industry’s hugest distribution error. For years I was petrified by those images, only to finally get a chance to see the thing, and go: “This?! This is the film that that wickedly memorable horror show of a cover advertised!? Weak…” All we get out of it is a dour, boring, barely conscious bottom of the barrel shocker outing that leaves no lasting impression whatsoever. You’re better off buying the DVD, whipping the disc off your balcony like a frisbee and framing the cover on the living room wall to freak your kids out. 

-Nate Hill

What David did next…

Alien-Covenant-9

When we last saw David he was pulling a Gwyneth Paltrow. He and Noomi Rapace were off to find answers ’cause The Engineers didn’t want to chat much about their deadly ink or their venomous space cobras.

But before we get to that, let’s go back in time to when people enjoyed the benefits of minimal furnishings and Guy Pearce had no need of old man make-up. We learn little in this austere setting, except for the fact that David is well versed in art and music, and, he has been cursed with the same disease that brought about the demise of the cat. Namely . . . curiosity.

And it would seem, after some reflection in the wake of Alien Covenant,  that curiosity isn’t only lethal to cats, but indeed any and all who go in search of the origins of deep space signals  and derelict spaceships. You could very well make the case that curiosity is the driving force in the Alien franchise, or at least, the main reason the cast members of these movies frequently end up in the shit.

First-Trailer-For-Alien-Covenant

After a little musical interlude featuring a familiar theme and an equally familiar main title sequence, just to remind us that Covenant is indeed and Alien picture, we quickly find ourselves with our most recent batch of disposable characters soon back up that famous creek, without a paddle.

We receive a brief audience with the dutiful brother of David, Walter, right before the solar sailor (on serious growth hormones) gets hit with a whammy; plunging our heroes into peril as James Franco is deep fried and committed to space before he even gets a chance to tread those sexy space corridors.

His wife and Ripley in residence, Katherine Waterston, is understandably pissed. They were set to build a log cabin by a lake on their new home world but . . . well . . . that aint what this movie is about. This movie is about the dangers of curiosity and how it bites you on the ass.

Alien-Covenant-Trailer-Breakdown-13

Getting back into a familiar turn of events, the crew of the good ship Covenant intercept a message from the cosmos, or more specifically, Danny McBride does. This guy after all has to have something to do other than wear the funny hat and keep the rest of the cast awake by making them say his name, occasionally making them chuckle and eventually getting to be what LL Cool J was to Deep Blue Sea.

Alien-Covenant-Danny-McBride-as-Tennessee

So they follow the signal to its source, stop me if you’ve heard this one before, and instead of the hostile world upon which we all first got our face-hugger on, this planet is stormy but beautiful. So they hit the ground running and that’s when all the fun starts. Walter ditches the hood he saved from Assassin’s Creed and puts on another hat as the gang grab some guns and go a hunting.

ENTER: THE DERELICT SPACECRAFT.

C58THTAU0AASGF7

Yep, just when you thought they’d found a happy place to situate a new colony they find old faithful, (space-jockey cruiser) crash-landed and oozing dark secrets. Rapace is gone but for her dog tags and family photos which tells us that this is the spot that is marked with an X.  Soon a couple of the expendables get infected by stirring up some bad pixie dust and we get the first glimpse of our alien, albeit a little pale. He busts a move and starts killing people like it’s nobody’s business.

Then a hooded man appears. He’s not the guy who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor, but a guy who’s looking to breed a master race with himself fixed at the center as God/Creator. It’s David. He might need a haircut and a real job, still he remembers his Lawrence of Arabia and, turns out, he’s laid some eggs. Yes – those eggs!

 

So David has been awaiting this ride, and after successfully breeding the Alien we know and love, some synthetic on synthetic action, pretending to be the only other guy in the cast who looks exactly like him (but with a different accent), we round out the festivities with a little power-loader . . . I’m sorry, crane action, we get back on board the mother-ship, watch and see how our favorite star beast reacts to sex in the shower til again the poor bastard gets blown out of yet another goddamn airlock.

Phew . . . it’s over. Well, not quite. See David is a little like Chucky . . . he aint that easy to get rid of. The story ends with David listening to the Wagner he opted for in the beginning before vomiting up a couple of fresh eggs to share with those friendly sleeping colonists in the next movie.

Prometheus 2 is not a bad flick. It’s just not really the Alien flicks we cherish. I get what Sir Scott is up to, and David Giler along with Walter Hill will be happily sipping their brandy-wine for a few more years as Scott continues to expand this prequel universe til eventually a de-aged Sigourney Weaver shows up and tells some screaming queen to get away from something . . . you bitch!

DAVID WILL RETURN . . . ?

Still, as ever, happy viewing

flat,550x550,075,f.u1

The Dude in the Audience

Alien-Covenant-Poster

B Movie Glory: Night Trap


Night Trap is so old, obscure and out of print that I had to order an Amazon copy just to make sure it was even real, and not some dream I had as a kid. It’s real enough, and a glorious helping of low budget supernatural tomfoolery at that, with two charismatic character actors headlining. Robert Davi, in a rare lead role, plays a headstrong New Orleans cop who is hunting down a serial killer (Michael Ironside) that appears to have sold his soul to the devil in exchange for invincibility and a host of freaky deaky evil superpowers. Davi’s father was also a cop who pursued Ironside, and the monster likes to taunt both of them, leaving a trail of bodies in the hectic celebration of Mardi Gras. There’s a million of these type of movies, and they’re all across the board in terms of quality. It comes down to script and actors, really, as there’s never enough money to make any real visual magic. This one has a mile wide mean streak though, Ironside’s villain is a full on moustache twirling, nightmarish fiend and the veteran tough guy plays him as such. Matched against Davi, another notorious badass, it’s a B movie royal rumble that hits high notes of intensity, schlock and pulpy, violent delirium in all the right cues. Fun stuff if you’re a fan of these actors, and can actually locate a copy. 

-Nate Hill