Sunday, May 1, 2011

Anthology of Aneurysms: First Collectible Edition. In Full Color (except where Black and White)

So I realized that I have watched a few bad seeds lately (not to be confused with the 1956 classic). I like to review just about every movie I see. Consider it my online journal and benchmark confessional. You’ll know just about everything I have to say about the creepy world out there out there, like it or not. You’ll know that I’ve seen it, that I waited to see it, that I have a horrible review of your favorite movie. I’m not afraid to write bad reviews. Bad reviews are a writer’s chance to get creative. Maybe the simple fact that I can try and use creative insults to attack movies that lack heart or substance gives me the practice for when I get a really great film to review. It can feel more like I’m practicing a stand up routine that reviewing a movie at times, but that’s not all my fault. Sometimes it’s because the movies simply aren’t helping to help themselves.

The reviews I have for you tonight will be abrupt. They will not be in depth pieces about the potential value of sage horror films of the past. These reviews will be as slap dash as the pictures that I am reviewing. The only exception will be the final one in these series of four. Maybe you can call this my Anthology of Aneurysms. The good, the bad and the unreviewable. Horror specializes in the short story and, in turn, the anthology. Collections of good spook stories are priceless i.e. Creepshow, Trick R’ Treat, House that Dripped Blood, Dr. Terror’s House of… well you know that one.

Without further delay I present to you the first installment in a series that will run throughout this Terror-Blog. I bring you the Anthology … of Aneurysms (organ music please).

Open House

You’ve just made yourself a genre icon. You are king of the world (or queen in this case). You’re Anna Paquin, and you’re the fairy princess admired by the fang-atics of True Blood because you are on the arm of every Tom, Werewolf and Vampire that crosses your path. You’re engaged to be married to one of your co-stars and suddenly it hits you. You absolutely must make your very own murder mystery, creep picture. Even better, you’re going to direct, write and star in this picture just like Orson Welles and Ed Wood before you. The magic of Hollywood and stardom and …
Here’s a little picture about a couple selling their home as they fight their way out of marriage. One of the perspective buyers stays behind after an… open house (spooky?) and kidnaps or kills the homeowners. A couple of psychopaths take turns playing house in a house they have absolutely no desire to purchase.
It sounds great, right? How could this fail. Take two well known actors, throw them in a fairly entertaining plot device with a bunch of oversexed rabble and remove their clothes. This movie more than fails. To get an F in school you still have to show up and do your very worst. This movie gets an incomplete for simply failing to show up. There’s obviously a reason Anna Paquin isn’t writing True Blood episodes, and there’s a reason she’s playing a character written by a genuine genre fan.

Oh, and for the record… no one has a hot tub like that. Nobody. The hot tub may be the biggest reason this fails. The murder scene by the hot tub. Stephen Moyer looks like he’s posing for the cover of a harlequin romance novel. He probably is (hey, why you’ve got that nifty house for that movie set sweetie, can I do the artist proofs for the watercolor guy for Spa Boy Comes Clean? Bite you later?) Ridiculous.
Are You Scared?

I had my first sick day in quite some time. Achy. Fever. Can’t really move. All I want is some soup and a couple of entertaining, non-cerebral films.

Are You Scared?

Seems like a great choice because… that’s right kiddies, it has a sequel. How bad could it be if someone decided to make a second one, right? It must have made money or kept the audience in their seat.

Several youths wake to find themselves in a strange sort of lock down setting. When the eye in the sky, camera in the corner of every room tells them that they are on the latest, hot reality show, the youths accept the half assed explanation without another thought. With that, they begin to participate in a series of challenges that ultimately results in each contestant’s death.

Let me first stress that I will not make this mistake again. I’m sure plenty of terrible movies have sequels and probably because the original did in fact make money. Second, the reason this probably has a sequel at all is either that it’s playing off the success of the never-ending saga of Saw, puzzle kills or it’s taking advantage of the endless sequels of reality television’s greatest successes such as Big Brother or Survivor.

I strongly encourage you to watch this picture in fast forward. Just once. Just to see what you’re not missing and maybe establish some credibility to my opinions. Please don’t waste your time on this one. Don’t think the kills will be worth the wait or that some plot twist will get you ready for a series of sequels. Are You Scared? Only of another sequel. Only of being forced to watch this at normal speed. Only that someone is reviewing this movie positively or reviewing this review of this horrible picture negatively.

Fourth Kind

Half way through our anthology of the baddies. Has it become clear as to the kind of movie I’m reviewing here, and perhaps why I’m reviewing them so smugly?
Moving on we have the Fourth Kind. Recently, I began to express my displeasure with this film to a good friend of mine. I told him that the damn film was trying to use split screen the way DePalma used it only instead of maximizing the cause and effect relationship by showing the antagonist and the object of antagonism, real footage is juxtaposed with Milla Jovovich dramatizing the real footage. He said that it spooked him a bit… ya know, just the ideas behind the picture. Not the actual picture itself. Yes, aliens and abductions by aliens are both scary. This movie… tedious.

Close one eye. Watch the actual footage and listen to what’s happening. Does what you see/hear shock or scare you? No, I thought not. It doesn’t scare you because it’s not scary. It’s not all that realistic and even if the real footage really is real the poor dramatization certainly ruins any sense of realism in the real footage. You’re left with a bunch of jump scares in the guise of an extraterrestrial thriller turned Freudian psychodrama. Close the other eye. Listen. Still not scary but you get the same jump scares. Open the eye you previously had closed. Anything different? Any reason for the god damn split screen and the bastardization of one of DePalma’s great devices? No.

So by playing actual footage of an event next to a dramatization of an event should we be more scared of the actual footage? Only if there are real live aliens in both pieces of footage would this even be remotely scary. Only if there’s a decent actor in the house. Somehow this one got a few good reviews. No horror fan can truly enjoy this. It’s not real. You gain nothing by watching the picture as opposed to reading the synopsis, and I’m not sure you gain anything by actually reading the synopsis either.

Tell you what I recommend (since I’m in the recommending chair), go watch the Third Kind, as in Close Encounters of the… and enjoy Richard Dreyfus and the fun tones and colors and the Spielberg. Don’t fall for the gimmicks on this particular picture. If you have a thing for your dearest Milla, go watch The Fifth Element or Resident Evil again. There’s nothing to see here folks. Everyone keep moving.

Manos: The Hands of Fate

Dearest readers… we have come to the end of our four part foray into the worst that horror can offer. I’m not saying that these movies have been the absolute end all be all baddies. I’m sure we’ll find more as we go through this series, but sometimes… just sometimes a movie is bad, and it’s worth the watch. Sometimes a movie is labeled the worst or makes it into the great top ten bad movies list.

Manos: The Hands of Fate requires no review. You’ve seen it as a part of a collection of B films from the 60’s. You’ve seen it on Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (and you better have laughed because that was super de duper funny). I have nothing new to add to the mythos that surrounds Manos except to say that I find this picture to be actually worse than Plan 9 from Outer Space. Hands down worse. Hell, I like Plan 9. I know it’s a bad movie, but I still enjoy it for Bela’s movie from beyond the grave, for Vampira and her micro waist, Thor Johnson and the mask that would make him immortal and because Ed Wood tried so gosh darn hard.

Manos does not offer you historical perspective on much. It’s a bet. The movie was made on the bet that a movie simply wasn’t that hard to create. Not love. Not even stupidity. Manos is funny because it doesn’t know any better as if it were a newborn kitten with its sharp claws stuck in a cardboard box hanging a foot off the floor wondering how it will get down.

I don’t especially think that Harold P. Warren cares if you like The Hands of Fate or not. Just like Anna Paquin before he has written, directed and starred in his own picture (just like Ed Wood and Orson Welles). He produced it himself as well and therein lies the rub. “Take a mortal man. And put him in control. Watch him become a God. Watch bad film a roll” – Megadeth with liberties taken quite freely. Is there a silver lining to this mushroom cloud? Yes, the music isn’t half bad and kind eerie.

One last note on this horrible, funny-as-a-kitten-on-cardboard film… TORGO LIVES!

-Dr. Terror does not enough Pepto to keep these movies down, period.

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