Friday, August 28, 2009

MOVIE REVIEW: Cold Prey

This is the first movie with subtitles I've ever seen. Usually I avoid movies with subtitles, but my mom picked this out to rent and I didn't realize it had them. Having to read subtitles wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be, but I really had to pay attention. I turned my computer off because I didn't want to miss anything. But Cold Prey was worth having to read subtitles.

When five young adults go snowboarding on a remote mountain, a member of the group breaks his leg, prompting them to seek refuge in an abandoned cabin. But they don't know that there's a killer lurking in the mountains.

One of the blurbs on the back of the DVD claimed that Cold Prey is one of the most original slasher movies in years. I don't know what that person was thinking. It follows every single slasher movie rule, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Except for the fact that you can tell which order the friends will die in immediately, which kind of sucks.

The part of Cold Prey which sets it apart from other slashers is the characters. They're not stereotypes, they're actually realistic. I cared about them all and didn't want any of them to die (except for the jerk who freaked out when his new girlfriend wouldn't put out and wanted to leave the friend with the broken leg to die). And they're smarter than the average slasher characters. When they couldn't find anything to stitch their friend's leg together, they used superglue. A bit strange, but it worked.

There wasn't a lot of gore, but the film didn't need it because it was very suspenseful. My eyes were glued to the screen to see how they would outsmart the killer.

Although Cold Prey was predictable, it was still a fun slasher. A sequel was released last year, picking up where the first film left off.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, August 27, 2009

MOVIE REVIEW: Devil's Diary

Today when I turned on the TV, I noticed a movie called Devil's Diary. I could tell it was a Canadian movie because it starred Alexz Johnson (from Canadian teen TV show Instant Star), Miriam McDonald (Emma from Degrassi: The Next Generation) and Deanna Casaluce (Alex on Degrassi). I'm obsessed with Degrassi, so I thought I would give it a chance. It turned out to be pretty good.

Ursula and Dominique, two high school outcasts and best friends, find a blank diary in a graveyard. Ursula takes it home and writes about how much she hates the head cheerleader and wishes she would break both her legs. The next day she actually does break both her legs, making Ursula realize that whatever evil things she writes in the diary will come true. So she uses the diary to get revenge on all her popular classmates. But the cheerleaders find out and steal the diary to use it to get back at them.

The plot reminded me a lot of The Craft because the outcast teens used the book to get back at the popular girls, like the witches in The Craft. And a bit of Mean Girls because once the popular girls got the diary, one of them used it to get rid of the head cheerleader and become the "Queen Bee." I didn't mind those similarities because I like both of those movies. If you don't enjoy teen dramas you might not like Devil's Diary because it's half teen drama, half horror movie.

One part of the plot I didn't enjoy was when Dominique went to priests for help. First of all, no teenager would go straight to a priest for help with the devil's diary. In general, a priest would be the last person a teen would go to for help. A normal person would've just thrown it in a fire or buried it, something along those lines. Secondly, of course the priest would be evil and waiting his whole life to get his hands on this book. That part of movie was so cliched. I guess you can't really have a movie about the devil without mentioning God, but I still think it was unnecessary.

The characters are the usual high school cliches: the clique of popular cheerleaders and jocks and the group of misfits, with Ursula resembling Avril Lavigne. But I did like the main character Dominique.

There's not much gore, but it's a TV movie so you can't really expect much. There were a couple scenes that grossed me out, but for the most part, the deaths take place off-screen.

Overall, Devil's Diary is an entertaining movie, especially if you're into teenybopper movies. I was going to give it a 4, but I hated the storyline with the priests too much. If you want to see some other teenage revenge flicks, check out Tamara and The Rage: Carrie 2. Oh, and if you're interested in seeing Devil's Diary, it's on youtube. I'll post the first part below, but there are nine other parts, which you can watch here.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sale at Rogers Video


Right now Rogers Video is having a sale on previously viewed DVDs. Buy 4 or more DVDs at $9.99 or less, save 40%, buy 3, save 30%, buy 2, save 20%.

I bought a few DVDs. I got Poultrygeist: Night of the Living Chicken, Dead Alive, Dance of the Dead, Trailer Park of Terror and the April Fool's Day remake for $6 each and Death Tunnel for $3. I watched Poultrygeist as soon as I got home and thought it was hilarious (review to come). And I thought Dance of the Dead was amazing. I have yet to watch the others, but hopefully they'll be good as well.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New Acquisitions

I'm on vacation again, going camping tomorrow. Right now I'm at my parents' house. Today I went to the Keady Market, which is a flea/produce/livestock market, 20 minutes from my parents' house. They had at least five different used movie vendors, so I ended up buying a bunch of movies. Mostly VHS because they were only $1.00 each. One of them is still in its packaging and still has the price sticker on it: $13.99. I can barely remember when VHS movies cost that much. Here's what I got:

Clownhouse

This is one of the only two DVDs I bought today. It was only $4.00. Clownhouse is the infamous movie directed by Victor Salva (Jeepers Creepers). It's infamous because Salva was convicted for molesting the 12-year-old lead in the film. But I've heard such good things about this film and I'm going to put all the scandal aside and try to enjoy it. This DVD is on eBay for $70, so I'm pretty psyched I got it for $4.

Santa's Slay

This is the other DVD I bought. It was $6.99. My brother pointed it out to me because he knows I like horror and it has Bill Goldberg in it and he used to be really into wrestling. I saw part of this on T.V and thought it was pretty funny. And I love humourous horror - and holiday horror. The rest of the movies I got on VHS for $1.00.


Jason Goes to Hell

I think this is the only Friday the 13th movie I don't already have.

Campfire Tales

I rented this ages ago when I was camping and remember liking it. I can't wait to watch it again when I go camping this week. It has a lot of people in it before they became famous like Amy Smart and James Marsden.


Witchboard 2

I have the first one and the third one and now I'll finally get to see the second one.

Ghoulies III & Ghoulies IV

I just bought the first and second ones last week and now I'll have them all.

Sometimes They Come Back For More

I have the first two, but I haven't seen this one yet. Sometimes They Come Back is one of my favourite Stephen King adaptions, so hopefully this one will be good as well.

The Evil Dead 2

I've been looking for this movie on VHS since I already have The Evil Dead and Army of Darkness on VHS also. I try to have all of one series on either DVD or VHS, but that rarely happens. For example, I have all of the Halloween series on VHS, except for Halloween: H20. It kind of sucks because I have a separate shelf for VHS and DVDs, so I can't put them all together.

The Clown Murders

A horror movie with John Candy!

The Hitcher

I've only seen the crap remake of this, but I still want to see the original.

Honeymoon

I couldn't find a picture of this and forgot the cord for my camera at home. The tagline is what intrigued me about this movie: This year in New York, 76,336 women will get married...282 will be murdered.

I think this post is getting too long so I'll just list the rest:

Pumpkinhead

Poltergeist II

Poltergeist III

Demons 2

Return to Horror High

Slaughter High

Nightbreed

Thursday, August 13, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill

As you all know, Joe Hill is actually Joe Hillstrom King, Stephen King's son. He chose to publish his work without his famous last name to see if he could make it on his own. And he did. Heart-Shaped Box won the 2007 Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel. And his short story collection, 20th Century Ghosts, won the 2005 Bram Stoker Award for Best Fiction Collection.

I just bought 20th Century Ghosts today, so I will be reviewing that soon. As for Heart-Shaped Box, it didn't amaze me, but it didn't disappoint me either.

Heart-Shaped Box is about Jude Coyne, an aging rock star who collects macabre stuff (a picture drawn by John Wayne Gacy, a snuff film, etc.). When he sees a ghost for sale online he can't resist buying it. The dead man's suit is sent to Jude, since the owner believes his spirit is connected to the suit. What Jude doesn't know is that the person who sent the suit isn't exactly a stranger....

I guess everyone wants to know how Hill compares to his dad, so I'll get right down to it. I actually preferred Hill's writing style over his fathers'. He doesn't dedicate pages and pages of the book to description. Sometimes King can be quite wordy and it bogs down the story, but Hill just gets right to the action. But Hill's characters left a little to be desired and I didn't care much about them, whereas I always fall in love with King's characters. While they both have some similarities, they're both two different writers.

What drew me to this book, rather than the fact that Joe Hill is Stephen King's son, was the intriguing plot. Buying a ghost off eBay? I wish I'd thought of that brilliant idea. And the way he describes the ghost with black marks in front of his eyes was creepy.

The pace was incredibly fast. Jude buys the ghost in Chapter One, receives it in Chapter Two and the first ghost sighting is in Chapter Six. The chapters are short, making it easy for you to say "Just one more chapter..." and read late into the night. The first 1/4 of the novel was one of the creepiest ghost stories I've ever read. It even gave me goosebumps. But about 3/4 through the novel loses steam and the ghost and his attempts at getting Jude become less creepy and more monotonous and dull.

But the part of the book most lacking was the most important part: the characters. The main character, Jude, was kind of a jerk. Well, at least when it comes to women. For example, he calls his goth girlfriend Georgia, after the state she's from, just like he did with all his past girlfriends. He did change as the novel progressed, but by that point it was too late for me to start caring about him. The character I cared the most about was Jude's ex-girlfriend who is only shown in flashbacks.

Heart-Shaped Box was an O.K. start for Hill, evidently he's learned a thing or two from his father. The first 1/4 was pretty creepy and it's worth reading just for that. Oh, and check out Hill's website. He recommends books, movies and music on it. And there's a pretty cool game based on one of his short stories.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

MOVIE REVIEW: Splinter

I've been wanting to see this movie for a long time and finally just got around to renting it.

A couple goes on a camping trip to celebrate their anniversary. When they break one of the tent poles, they decide to check into a motel instead. On the way, a girl flags down their car. But she's not in trouble; she and her boyfriend take the couple hostage. When they pull over at a gas station that is deserted, they find the attendant covered in blood and porcupine quills. He attempts to attack them, so they barricade themselves in the gas station. While trying to think of a way to their car, the monster comes out....

Splinter never explains what the monster is and only shows vague glimpses of it. All you know about it is that it infects humans with porcupine-like needles, turning them into crazed zombies after they're dead. I would've liked to know what it is and actually see it by the end of the film. But it was still one of the most original movie monsters I've seen (or not seen).

Even though there aren't many death scenes or much gore (there aren't enough characters to kill many off), the film was very suspenseful. The monster and its zombies try desperately to get into the gas station. I jumped a few times when they tried to break the door down.

The characters were all interesting and smart, for a change. They realize that the monster senses you through body heat, so they cover a guy with ice until his temperature is low enough to not be detected. I would've never thought of that. And I was surprised that the criminal turned out to be a nice guy who realizes that he's made some mistakes in the past.

Despite the fact that the monster in Splinter is barely shown and never really explained, it's still very original. And the interesting characters make it worth watching.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

MOVIE NEWS: Offspring

Oh. My. God. I have never been so excited for a movie in my life. They have finally made Jack Ketchum's Offspring into a film. I don't know why they chose Offspring, which is a sequel, instead of the first book Off Season, but it was a good book as well. If I could pick one book to make into a movie it would be Off Season or Offspring by Jack Ketchum. And now it's actually happening! It will be released on DVD on October 6. I can't wait! Here's what it's about:

Survivors of a feral flesh-eating clan are chowing their way through the locals. Amy Halbard and Claire Carey strive to survive their abduction by the cannibals and save their children. A subplot involving Claire's despicable husband, Steven, gives an opportunity to cleverly compare predatory civilized folk to the appetite-driven primitives.

Here's the trailer:

BOOK REVIEW: Creepshows: The Illustrated Stephen King Movie Guide

Stephen King movies have a pretty bad reputation (just watch Maximum Overdrive or the dozen Children of the Corn movies and see what everyone is complaining about). But I like Stephen King movies, for the most part. Some of my personal favourites are: Storm of the Century (a mini-series written by King), Sometimes They Come Back (a film based on his short story of the same name) and Creepshow (anthology film with a screenplay written by King based on his own short stories). And of course there are the classics like Carrie, The Shining and The Shawshank Redemption.

I don't really understand when people complain that King movie adaptions "ruin" the book because movies are never as good as the book anyway. Here's what King has to say about that:

"They may not be good movies but they haven't ruined the books. Look here they are, lined up on the bookshelf."

Creepshows: The Illustrated Stephen King Movie Guide is a thorough handbook for all films based on King's work. Some of the films I haven't even heard of before. And it's fairly recent; the last movie featured is Rose Red, which came out in 2002. The book also includes short films, forthcoming projects (so far only two of them have been produced), unproduced projects, associational titles, King cameos, television episodes, other media (i.e. plays), recurring talent in his films and an interview with King.

The write-up about each film includes the tagline, a listing of the cast, a description of the film, how they made the film, a brief background on the book/short story it's based on and various quotes from reviews, King, and people who worked on each film. Each write-up is incredibly thorough and it's interesting to see what King thinks of the movies based on his work. But the films are listed in chronological order rather than alphabetical, making it annoying to find a particular movie without looking it up in the index, unless you know the year it was released.

Creepshows also features a lot of nice illustrations, such as movie stills, film posters and book covers.

This is an interesting book and I would recommend it if you're a fan of Stephen King or just a fan of horror movies.

Rating: 4/5

Sunday, August 9, 2009

MOVIE NEWS: Horror Classics Coming to DVD

Three awesome horror classics are finally going to be released on DVD, Night of the Creeps, The Stepfather and Happy Birthday to Me.

Night of the Creeps

This is one of my favourite horror movies of all time and I can't wait to get it on DVD. I have a crappy copy of it that I taped off of T.V years ago and now I'll finally get to watch it without having to fast forward through commercials. It will be released October 20.

In this campy chiller, a college couple, in 1959, see an object plummet to Earth like a meteor. The boy accidentally swallows a space-slug that shoots out. In 1986, two freshmen roam the campus and stumble across the corpse of the boy who swallowed the space-slug. Once thawed out, the corpse comes to life.


The Stepfather

With the remake opening on October 16, the original is being released on DVD a few days before, on October 13. The special features on the DVD include a commentary with director Joseph Ruben and The Stepfather Chronicles, a retrospective featuring interviews with people involved in the making of the film.

Jerry Blake (Terry O Quinn, Lost) is a man obsessed with having the perfect American Dream life: including the house with the white picket fence in the suburbs, an adoring wife and loving children. He believes he has found it when he marries Susan Maine and becomes the stepfather to her 16-year-old daughter, Stephanie. But Stephanie gets an uneasy feeling when she is around Jerry with his Father Knows Best attitude: she can see that there is a darker side behind his cheerful exterior. Could she just be going through the typical teenager rebellion against her new stepfather, or is he actually the same man who brutally murdered his family just one year earlier?


Happy Birthday to Me

This slasher is already on DVD, but they changed the soundtrack for it. Now it's going to be released on October 13 with the original soundtrack. I reviewed this a few weeks back and thought it was one of the most original slashers I've ever seen.

Happy Birthday to Me stars my namesake Melissa Sue Anderson (my parents liked Little House on the Prairie) as a young woman who finally fits in at her snotty school, Crawford Academy, gaining acceptance into the most exclusive clique the "Top 10." But being in the group isn't all it's cracked up to be since someone is offing them, one by one.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

MOVIE REVIEW: Rogue

I've been wanting to see Rogue for awhile and I finally got to when my mom bought it for $4.99 while I was camping. It was directed by Greg Mclean, who also directed Wolf Creek. I thought Wolf Creek was pretty good and I like killer crocodile movies so I was expecting this to be good as well. And it was.

An American travel writer (Michael Vartan) goes on a river tour while on assignment in Australia. When the boat is sunk by a gigantic crocodile, the passengers are trapped on a small island soon to be enveloped by the tide. The group desperately tries to get off the island, while the crocodile picks them off one by one.

The plot is pretty much the same as all killer croc movies, but Rogue takes place in the middle of nowhere, making it creepier than say Lake Placid. And the whole idea of the island being slowly swallowed as the tide rises adds to the creepiness.

The atmosphere was eerie. When the crocodile picks off a victim, it does it so quietly and quickly that they don't even have time to scream. And most of the film takes place after the sun goes down, so the only light comes from flashlights.

The action doesn't really start until about 20 minutes in, but once it does it doesn't stop. The crocodile keeps grabbing people off the island, making you wonder who will be next.

Not all of the characters are likeable, but they're all realistic. Some are dumb and some are smart. For instance they come up with a plan to tie a rope to a tree on the other side of the river and climb across it. But of course one guy can't wait for his turn and jumps on the rope when there's already a few people on it. And the woman in the front freezes while the other people on the line wait for her.

Rogue was a pretty creepy film and I would recommend it to all horror/ killer animal movie enthusiasts. It made me never want to go on a river tour, that's for sure.

Rating:
4/5

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: The B List

"There are so many bad horror movies. A good one is incredibly hard to make. It has to feel a fundamental sympathy for its monster, as movies as different as Frankenstein, Carrie and The Silence of the Lambs do. It has to see that they suffer, too. The crimes of too many horror monsters seem to be for their own entertainment, or ours. In the best horror movies, the crimes are inescapable, and the monsters are driven toward them by the merciless urgency of their natures." - Roger Ebert

This is a quote from Roger Ebert's essay on May in The B List: The National Society of Film Critics on the Low-Budget Beauties, Genre-Bending Mavericks, and Cult Classics We Love edited by David Sterrit & John Anderson.

The B List is comprised of several short essays (and I mean really short, most are only two pages long) by film critics about a variety of B movies. In each essay the critics talk about what makes each film great.

There's a huge variety of the types of films featured. For example, here are the sections in the book:

Out of the Shadows - Film Noir
Nightmares in Technicolour - Neo-Noir
From Grindhouse to Art House - Madness and Melodrama
The Allure of the Unknown - Science Fictions
Dark and Disturbing Dreams - Films of Horror and Terror
Burning up the Blacktop - Road Movies
Gunfighter Nation - The Wild Western
Up Against the Wall! - Political Pictures
Whole Lotta Shakin' - Rock, Pop and Beyond
Provocation and Perversity - Cult Classics
Transgressive Chic - The World of Midnight Movies

The movies featured in the horror section are Tales From the Crypt, The Fly, The Rage: Carrie 2, The Son of Kong, I Walked With a Zombie and May. And there are a few horror titles among the other sections such as The Stepfather, Night of the Living Dead and Peeping Tom.

Finally someone recognizes how great The Rage: Carrie 2 is. I kind of like it even more than Carrie. I saw it before I saw Carrie, and for some reason if I see a sequel before the original, I like it more. Anyway, the essay about it pretty much sums up why I love it so much.

It's fun to read what the critics think make all of these films great. It reminds me of why I love them and makes me want to watch them again.

There are 58 movies in the novel, but it's only 215 pages long. I wish each essay had been longer. Two pages just barely scratches the surface of what makes each movie awesome. Not all of the essays were that short. Some were about five pages long and I enjoyed reading those the most. The length of those was just right.

Although it may be short, I would recommend The B List to all B-movie lovers. It will make you want to re-watch all your favourite B-movies.

Rating: 4/5