Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tuck Me In (2014)

So, if you don't already follow The Girl Who Loves Horror then you should do so now. I've spoken about her before - she's my fellow female horror movie blogger and she's bad ass.

In fact, she's so bad ass that she shared a bad ass horror movie short on her blog that I too must share. This is the kind of horror that creeps under your skin with kindness and gives you little snuggle nightmares to live on for days, years to come.

Directed by Ignacio F. Rodó and founded by every childhood+parent nightmare, I present to you: Tuck Me In. Enjoy!:

Tuck me in (short film 2014) from Ignacio F. Rodó on Vimeo.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Embryo aka Created to Kill (1976)

So there I was, wondering what to do with my lazy, quiet, rainy Sunday morning when I stumbled across another great film available through the Internet Archive: Embryo (also released as Created To Kill).

Now, with a movie titled "Embryo" coming out just three years after Roe v. Wade, and during the wake of Women's Liberation, I was pretty sure this one was going to be loaded with someone's strong opinions.

Sure enough it was and the opinions came out a little like this:

A medical doctor, still grieving over the death of his wife (that he feels responsible for), creates a serum to escalate the growth process. His goal is to preserve life at all costs and eliminate all future miscarriages (of which his wife had three). However, he inadvertently ends up creating a super smart killing machine serum, and playing God doesn't end up working out so well. 

It's made clear pretty early on that there is something terribly wrong with the serum when his first experiment (a dog), encounters another dog - a little yapper dog that is violently silenced by experiment #1. This scene is both hilarious and uncomfortable at the same time. It was then that I decided experiment #1 was the scariest creature in this film for me.

Experiment #2, a women he names Victoria, seems to come out a little better but not quite. For instance, she is super duper smart, sexy, and better than everyone else. However, after one night of sex, her brain snaps, and now she'll do anything to preserve her own life and that's when things get ugly for other people, fast. I'm not sure what exactly this message is trying to convey, but there is one there....

What is not made clear is: who is really the evil one here? The doctor who tried to help mankind (and his conscience)? The non-willing subject that is trying to preserve itself (at all costs)? God? Science? Who knows!! Well done, horror, well done on this Frankenstein story. It's a sad, horrifying little story that is made more horrifying the more you think about it.

This is a really neat film. really neat, and rather well done. It has a few cheesy moments, and the film quality is low, but overall it's a very quality horror film that I'm glad is available to the world. 

Recommended pairing: Friends - lots of serious friends who work in the social science or simply science world. Polyester. Tiny little meat platters with  cheese on the side. Some wine but mostly hard liquor mixed with strong opinions. 

Watch it now! Compliments of an old Betamax tape!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Haunting of Helena (2012)

Um. Let's see here, how should I say this... actually - well, I'm going to just come right out and say it:

I did not like the Haunting of Helena.

The story line has promise: single mother and young daughter move into a very creepy Italian apartment complex. Daughter looses her first tooth and then the deadly tooth fairy is out on the loose! I was like, Killer Tooth Fairy? Awesome. I'm down.

Although the first opening scenes are lovely, spooky, dramatic - overall well done, after that it quickly becomes apparent that this movie is not going to live up to my expectations. Here are some reasons why:

The dialog is meh. Really meh. Although I was willing to pass this off to poor writing translation, it simply went to far too many times and halfway though the movie I was chuckling whenever someone spoke... and I shouldn't have been chuckling.

  • The apparently soon-to-be-loosing-her-first-tooth, Helena, is too old to be loosing her first tooth. The character clearly has two fully grown adult front teeth already (and is very visible throughout the film) but, semantics. I was going to pass this off to the difficulty of actually finding a good child actor who hasn't already lost their two front teeth. No doubt casting this part could be very difficult. But the child (Helena) was a terrible actor and I simply couldn't take her seriously anymore. Additionally, little Helena appeared to change age all over the place. At the beginning she almost appeared in her early teens, by the middle of the film she appeared to be around 8 - it was odd and not a part of the story line.

  • Everyone's acting made me very sad.

  • There was too much going on with the back story. I like healthy back stories! In fact I'm not a huge fan of  'no reason for this madness' in movies unless it's done with a wonderful magical touch (see also Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds). But this movie went too far with the complexity. The catalyst(s) was vague, to the point that trying to the put the pieces of the story together sounded like as much fun as playing 52 Card Pick-Up. Italian malaria carrying mosquitoes, killer tooth fairy, crazy car accident that does and does not play a role in the film, Italian Fascist government, Killer Wolves, absentee father who is actually not absent, Ogres, Wardrobe versus the Mental Institution - which one is more dangerous in this story? What the Hell Is Going On Here? Too much, there was just too much. 

  • I simply could not take the husband's hat seriously...I just...no. No to that Hat!

That all said - there were some pretty neat things throughout the film:

Scenery was Lovely!
Cinematography was Very Well Done!
Special effects were quite impressive.
The 'Raining Teeth' scene is pretty bad-ass.

I don't like giving unhappy reviews about movies. I try to see the awesome in all films - but this one pushed my limits. The Haunting of Helena had the makings of a really scary movie but I don't think it quite made it, which is really too bad.

That all said, I can see where some people could enjoy this film.  There is some fun here, some good stories and general entertainment. But I'm picky and don't have much spare time to spend watching both good and bad movies without throwing a bit of a fit.

Suggested pairing: a tart olive plate, a very young bottle of wine, lots of stinky cheese with day old bread.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Spider Baby (1967)



Because ...thank you! Thank you for this beautiful mess that is Spider Baby.

This movie is like a cream pie in your face, a jump into ice water after 15 minutes in the sauna, tripping up the stairs in front of your high school crush, falling down the stairs in drunken stupor at your work holiday party, getting hit by a car and then laughing about it later because you're totally okay, stepping in dog poop while wearing someone else's shoes, eating a bug on a dare, taking a nap in your car and waking up in the middle of of an impound lot, ordering the local delicacy and then finding out what it actually is - This Movie Is An: ADVENTURE!

This movie will and won't make sense. It crosses boundaries, treads in mosquito infested waters, and it will keep you on your toes like your omnipresent and hilarious older brother who is always threatening to fart on your head.

I speak metaphorically, but I do so to help get you in the head space you need to enjoy this film thoroughly.

Spider Baby is very fun, very silly, very dark, and just what you need. Watch it here now, compliments of the Internet Archive. If you've never thanked me before, you can do so now:

PS: Recommended food and beverage pairing? Well, I've been struggling with this for a day now and I don't have much except try one or all of the following:

Fruit that is just about to go bad - in like, hours; steak tartare; anything from the raw food diet, lots of bad wine, or just set a 12 pack of Miller Lite and some FunYuns or super puff Cheetos knock-offs on your stomach while reclining and you should be good.

Watch It Now!

Good news, everyone! I discovered the Internet Archive today! They have so much great stuff I can hardly contain myself.

They are a fantastic little non-profit, full of videos, archived web pages, music, podcasts, etc., and it is doing the Internets a lot of good - although I can't say the same for my plans this afternoon...

In any case, I went through their movies and embedded those that were available to my blog posts. For instance, want to to see a review of Attack of the Giant Leeches or Cathy's Curse? Well now you can here AND watch the entire movie! We all win at Awesome today!

Just look for the "Watch It Now!" tag on the left, beneath the Blog Archive - you might find something that will both surprise and delight you.

Happy day everyone!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Sandcastle Pictures' Feature Debut!

You guys you guys you guys! Hey you guys!

Let's step away from horror movie watching for a moment and talk a little bit about horror movie making. 

So, Vancouver, BC based Sandcastle Pictures hit me up on Twitter today, asking me to spread the word on the creation of their first feature film! I must say, they've created a very clever and compelling campaign. 

Their IndieGoGo page is informative, fun, full of excitement, and I'm rooting for them all the way. They won me over immediately with the following statement: 

"We also know horror fans are some of the most passionate people in the world, and it is our hope to rally you to our cause, which is to make a kick ass movie that promises to terrorize, while telling a good story with important themes!"

Oh hell yeah I'm passionate! Promises to terrorize while telling a good story with important themes? Get out of my head, Sandcastle Pictures! Just kidding. You can stay there with the rest of my treasured and well labeled What I Love About A Horror Movie files.

Seriously people, you can be a part of this movie - just check out their fundraising page and see for yourself:

I've already started poking my movie making brother (and fellow blog contributor, Matthew Bergman) with a digital stick this morning about the campaign. He's probably not up yet, but continue poking I shall because that's what siblings who are passionate about movies do to each other.

So check this endeavor out, everyone! Be a part of it, watch it grow. Good luck Sandcastle Pictures and I'll be seeing you soon!


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Oddities Museum (A Personal Experience)

Folks, although this is a horror movie review blog, I need to share a personal experience that I had during my 4th of July holiday vacation.

I drove back to my family home in South Dakota from Seattle with my husband Michael and one of my brothers, fellow blog contributor, Matthew. Despite the two day drive (one way) and 16 family members being crowded together in one house for four days, we all had a great time and I loved being there with everyone. On July 3rd we decided to visit the carnival in town. It's been several years since I went to a carnival and I really wanted to ride the Tilt-A-Whirl with my nieces so I jumped right on that band wagon.

This traveling show comes to our hometown every year for the 4th of July, so I expected to see the same rides and not be blown away by anything new. This year the carnival surprised me with a massive "Oddities Museum" tent, complete with painted banners advertising sword swallowers and freaks of nature.

Right On! I thought to myself - I've always wanted to see one of these shows. What could possibly go wrong?

I surveyed the crowd to see who would join me in this excursion and only my two eldest nieces and my brother, Matthew were willing to join me. My youngest niece, seven years old, informed me that the tent was "inappropriate", my husband said I would regret it, and the other family members conveniently didn't hear me and complained of sunburns and heat stroke.

It was agreed upon that we should ride the Tilt-A-Whirl first and then see the show. I didn't see a problem with this until we got on the ride, started twirling around (laughing, screaming) and then something broke. We came to a sudden stop and the machine operator ordered us off right away, claiming a belt snapped but that we could come back in about 30 minutes and ride for free. This shook me up pretty good. It actually left me more worried about what we'd see in the Oddities tent and with a vow that I would not be returning for my free ride. Figured I just got a second chance at life and wouldn't risk another more dangerous break in the machine that could hurtle me into a crowd of cotton candy stuffed people like a bowling ball plowing through pins.

But on to the Oddities Tent we went! We gave our tickets to the carnival barker - who was not actually barking - just standing behind the podium and adjusting the volume of this barking boom box that proclaimed I'd see wonders that will blow my mind.

The four of us began our tour with seeing supposed mummies, mermaids, and monsters. No big deal, I've seen the same things in touristy curiosity shops but I quickly surmised that all these exhibits were found in a taxidermist's musty basement where they were created 50+ years ago with a little needle, thread, and imagination. But it was when we encountered the live exhibits that the sadness kicked in. A duck with a little webbed foot on it's head, two headed turtles, a dog with five legs, etc. these did not blew my mind - they just made me sad. Especially seeing the condition of their homes which was not okay with me, and  my sad quickly turned into mad.

By this time I want to advise my nieces not to touch anything and ask if they were up-to-date on their hepatitis shots, but then the leopard lady showed up...

She was on a stage, behind us and she bellowed into the microphone: "Hi, hi there! Come on up to the stage now." We turned around reluctantly and walked up to the stage. Think Dorothy and team approaching the great wizard for the first time. Now, the only audience in this tent were me, my two nieces, my brother, and some other preteen girl who was likely only there because an older brother double dog dared her to. She seemed rather afraid of the leopard lady and stood close to us. Although the audience scene was bad, I thought perhaps the leopard lady would show us a trick or two to make this $2.00 ticket experience worth it. I then noticed that her "leopard prints" were smugging around the knees and accepted the fact that I just spent $8.00 to be disappointed.

As the North Dakotan accented leopard lady showed us stabbing herself with sharp objects, and sword and fire swallowing with the enthusiasm of a banana slug, I had a vision of her taking shots of Wild Turkey between each show, crying a little more each time. I felt sorry for her in-between thoughts of: "Why is that typical North Dakota license plate just sitting there, propped up on the stage...?" and "Did you just seriously request that we not take up sword swallowing because there were too many people already doing it?" and "Please make this ride stop, depression is kicking in."

However, it was when she began asking for a participant from the audience that I wanted to grab the kids and run. Instead, my nieces ran and hid behind us. Smart girls. Unfortunately for the double dog dare taker, she then became the target for the leopard lady.

Here's how it went down:

Leopard Lady: "Come on up! I'll put you in this box and run these blades through."
Double Dog Dare Taker: Shakes head violently.
LL: "Oh come on. It won't hurt, I promise. It'll be quick."
DDDT: Shakes head violently.
LL: "Please, see you'll just go in this box and I'll show you where to hide."
DDDT: Shakes head violently.
LL: "Oh I get it. Your parents probably told you not to crawl into strangers boxes at the carnival."
DDDT: Just stands there, on the verge of tears.
LL: "Oh well, alright. On to plan B which is never as good as plan A. Does anyone have a dollar they want to make disappear?"
Me: Everyone is looking at me. "I don't have any cash..." which was not true...
LL: "Come on - a dollar, anyone?"
Me: Fishes into my change container, trying to hide my dollar bills, "...I got...let's see here...sixty five cents?"
LL: "That'll work."
Me: gives change to Matthew who then gives it to the leopard lady.
LL: "Okay, we don't normally accept change but this should work. See this normal piece of fabric? [displays a piece of blue velvet] I will now make this money disappear [continues to display a piece of blue velvet, turns it a couple times] Ta-Da! [displays the same piece of blue velvet, then tosses it over her shoulder. It flies to the stage and you can clearly hear the change when it hits. Matthew and I nearly loose it in laughter at this point]. Okay - here you go young lady, [eldest niece accepts .65 cent gift] a picture of me swallowing a sword!"

We all sad clapped, thanked her for her time and ran out of the tent. The rest of the family was waiting for us right outside and excitedly asked us about the experience. I went up to my Husband and asked him to hold me, Matthew was silent for a long while, and the nieces politely said, "It was interesting."

In all, this little excursion to the Oddities Museum was a bad idea, however if it's not a good time then it's a good story ... and I really needed to talk about this experience to the interwebs. You Are All Welcome! Also, this little adventure was a horror show on a whole different level so I think it will still fit nicely on this blog.

Good luck out there everyone.