Monday, October 28, 2013

Check This Out! "Why Horror ?" Documentary Trailer

If you're a horror fan, you've probably asked yourself at one time or another just why you are so attracted to the genre. Maybe you've even felt bad about yourself because of it. I even wrote a college paper and later a blog post about the subject and that really helped me come to terms with it and be okay with my obsession. 

The filmmakers for this documentary "Why Horror?" are also looking to explore the subject and while they seem to have a great start so far based on this Kickstarter trailer, they still need some help getting the word out there! So check out this trailer and share it with every other horror fan you know. 

More information on the filmmakers and the docu itself can be found at the Kickstarter link HERE. This looks to me like it's going to be a very fun and informative docu and I can't wait to see how it turns out. They've already got interviews with such greats like George Romero, Don Coscarelli, Eli Roth, and Alexandre Aja, so you know how serious the filmmakers are about the project, and that's something I can really respect.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Franchise Review: Howling 6: The Freaks (1991)

In the palindrome year of 1991, somebody decided that after four bad Howling movies, they might be able do it right for once. And surprisingly, they kind of do. Don't get me wrong. I will probably never watch any of these movies willingly again (except maybe for Howling 2 because that one was a freaking hoot), but Howling 6: The Freaks is strangely okay, if your standards are fairly low like mine usually are.

Ian Richards is a quiet drifter who comes to the dying town of Canton Bluff looking for work. Local man Dewey man gives him a job helping to fix up the church, while Ian makes nice with the man's pretty daughter Lizzy, and tries to hide the fact that he is a werewolf. However, the owner of a traveling circus, Harker, learns Ian's secret and kidnaps him to make him a part of the rest of his freaks.

What's missing from Howling 6 - and not in a bad way - the comedic element that sometimes very prominent in the previous films. The sixth entry takes its idea very seriously with hardly a hint at anything funny, even when it comes to the freaks in Harker's World of Wonders. That doesn't mean that the movie is magically any better than first four sequels, but heck, I have to give them an A for effort for not making this a total shitfest like it very well could have become.

Speaking of Harker's World of Wonders... that was interesting. When Lizzy and Ian go through the unusually large space where the main freaks are held, Harker gives them a personal tour while they view the half man-half woman, the midget with a third arm, the newbie freak Alligator Boy, and a clown that... bites the head off a chicken? Whuh? How is that supposed to be an "oddity"? Well yes, it's odd and very disturbing, but not your normal freak fair at these things. Harker is very good at running the show. He is very creepy in his looks and demeanor, but also seems strangely respectful of all his freaks. So he can't be all bad, right? The Funhouse and now this movie keep making me wonder whether or not it would be cool if they still had shady sideshow circuses like this anymore. There would be outrage from the community, for sure, but who doesn't want to see a mutated pig fetus or something?

The special effects, while well done, are just not to my liking aesthetically for the particular monsters they are trying to portray. Ian's transformation into a werewolf is one of those typical, really painful-looking transformations where we see fingernails growing, feet lengthening, etc. until they do the full shot at the end. I hate the look of this werewolf, mostly because he has no snout and his face is mostly hairless. How can you call something that looks like that a "wolf" of any kind? The rest of the body is good (even if the hair on top of his head was way too long) but doesn't make up for that awful face. One of the worst werewolves out there. There's also a bit of a change with the werewolf lore in that not only can the full moon change Ian, but he can also transform by use of an amulet and certain magic words that Harker recites.

The big reveal - oh no! a spoiler! - near the conclusion of the film is that Harker is a vampire. Kind of. Actually, he's a bald, purple vampire with no nose and pointy, chewed-up ears. WTF. And the first thing that came to my mind when I saw him was that Buffy, the Vampire Slayer of all people ripped off his look for the ubervamps in season seven of that show.

The ubervamp look didn't bother me there, but the fact that Harker was a weird purplish, blue color really threw me off. I wouldn't have even known that Harker was supposed to be a vampire if it weren't for the coffin full of dirt (disguised as a couch) in his trailer or the fact that Ian staked him at the end and ultimately killed him by exposing him to sunlight.

I didn't love any of the actors, but I didn't hate any of them either. The girl playing Lizzy had a really annoying voice and no awareness of her physicality, and other than that, these guys did an okay job for the caliber of movie they were in. Nobody stands out except maybe for Bruce Payne as Harker, and that freak who played the half man-half woman. He/she could have had a real career at that. The lead actor playing Ian is easily forgettable, even after his semi-sweet moments of not eating the kitty and walking off into the sunset at the end with Alligator Boy (they became buds).

All in all, really not a bad flick. It's not blatantly retarded like some of the earlier Howling films were and that gives it some major points in my book. The plot could have used a bit more work and there could have been more character development - but then the film could have been a bit too serious for its own good. Strangely I didn't miss the lack of werewolf attacks in Howling 6. The fight scene at the end between Ian and Harker made up for it and then the movie ends quickly after that, as it should have.

Oh my gosh, you guys, I am so freaking close. Only two Howling movies left. I think I might actually make it through okay.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Franchise Review: Howling 5: The Rebirth (1989)

Aye-yi-yi. I keep torturing myself over and over again with these wacky Howling movies. So most of these are (loosely) based on The Howling series of books, right? My question is: Where is the connection? Are the books all this disjointed from each other, too, because it's really starting to annoy me a little bit. Aside from the first two movies, all of these Howling movies are just shitty 80s things that have werewolves in them sometimes. Howling 5: The Rebirth is no exception.

In Budapest, a group of people visit an old castle that no one has set foot in for the last 500 years. The castle has a bloody history, as the last people who lived there were massacred, and once members of the new group start disappearing - found later with their throats ripped out - some begin to wonder if they were brought there for a reason.

So I don't get to say this too often, but I love castles. Whenever I see an honest-to-goodness castle in a movie, I can't help but wonder how awesome it would be to live in one. Candlelight and torches, big doors, and maybe a secret passage or two. Love that shit. It was good for the Howling movies to make a leap like this and do things a little different, maybe attempting to go back to the werewolf origins or something. The castle set here is used fairly well, and the overall production value of the movie actually looks good and maybe a bit more professional than some of the other Howling films. The direction is merely average, with nothing all that inventive with camerawork or lighting.

A few nitpicks about the castle, though: Any outside shots of the castle in the blizzard just looks like very thick television snow (how appropriate) playing over a still shot of the building so we never really get that great a view of what this one looks like. On the inside, it seems to have aged well in 500 years, with hardly a cobweb to be seen, especially in the main areas - considering what we are told before that this is the first time the castle has ever been opened since the massacre in the 1400s.

One thing that becomes very fun to look forward to in Howling 5 is the song of death, as I came to call it. Whenever a character finds him or herself all alone in the castle, you know that a werewolf is going to come along soon to gobble them up or whatever. Once that happens, the scene cuts with the same repeated Omen-type scary religious music. The creepy chorus is shouting something like "SANCTUS!" and it made me laugh and sing along every single time it happened.

The characters are quite stupid. I mean, the whole setup for the movie is a little hard to swallow to begin with. All of these random people - a ditzy girl, a Scandinavian actress, a photographer, a tennis player, etc. - have all been invited to the same castle opening with no real reason as to why they were even picked in the first place, as far as I could tell. And they never question that until things start going bad. Then once they get there, the "opening" consists of all of them just sitting around drinking and eating.

The actors are not completely terrible, but they definitely could have done a better job. A lot of the dialogue is stilted and doesn't sound natural at all. Elizabeth She is of course the highlight of the piece, playing stupid and naive Marylou probably a little bit too well. Every word out of her mouth screams "Valley Girl." Such a hoot. She really should have just been running every scene to make it that much easier for the audience to watch this thing. The blonde actress says it best when she tells Marylou that she has a, uh, "way with words."

I'm actually not really saying that Howling 5: The Rebirth is a bad movie - it's not good, but it's not complete dreck, either - I think I'm just frustrated that they still hide the werewolves for so long. This is the fifth Howling movie. We know there are probably going to be werewolves in here at some point, and yet these movies and especially this one, make it seem like some big mystery ("Oh, maybe it's big dogs!") until the wolves are finally revealed in the last fifteen minutes or so. I'm also frustrated that all of the movies have been so boring so far. There's a fairly nice attempt at a whodunnit mystery with this one, but most of it is dull. I had it figured out who the werewolf would turn out to be early on, so the reveal is not as cool as it should have been. There isn't even a big reveal sequence, just that last shot of the movie. They could have made that a lot more interesting.

Ugh, still three more Howling movies to go. Wish me luck.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Franchise Review: Howling 4: The Original Nightmare (1988)

Instead of getting better, these Howling films are getting just a little bit worse with each new one. Howling 4: The Original Nightmare is not nearly as terrible or schizophrenic as the previous two installments, so that means that it's also not as entertaining. Howling 4 is more of a retelling of the first film-slash-more faithful adaptation of the original book (or so I've read), and though it's not a bad film, it seriously lacks in the werewolf action and is more of a mystery tale that sorta has werewolves in it.

After having strange hallucinations, Marie Adams and her husband Richard decide to get away from the stresses of her life by renting a cottage for a few weeks in the small town of Drago. Once there, though, Marie's apparent overactive imagination causes her to hear howling in the woods at night and have visions of people who are dead. When a woman, Janice, comes by looking to find out what happened to her friend in Drago, she and Marie start to investigate just what is going on in the mysterious and secretive town.

While Howling 2 and 3 had almost no character development or setup and were mostly just a lot of werewolf nonsense, Howling 4 is pretty much the complete opposite. There is a much more involved storyline here, although some of it is not explained very well. The hallucinations that Marie has at the beginning of the movie - which in fact turn out to be premonitions of a sort - aren't explained at all. She's having some kind of nervous breakdown and seeing these things because of... I don't know. She keeps having these hallucinations after they get to the cabin and it only serves to move the plot along and give Marie and Janice more clues to the mystery of Drago.

The cast of characters is okay, although not really interesting. Marie's husband Richard is all rugged and handsome, but soon goes full douche when he gets sick of hearing Marie's crazy talk about howling in the night. Marie herself is pretty blah, Janice is not at all believable as a former nun, and the only cool people around here are the husband and wife who own the general store. Eleanor, the eccentric local artist with unnaturally pointy boobs, reminded me a bit too much of Gozer. Anybody else see a resemblance? Maybe it's just the 80s.

So there are eventually going to be some werewolves in this werewolf movie, right? Unfortunately you have to be patient here because none of the really good stuff that horror fans are expecting come until literally the last ten minutes. There are some mild werewolf attacks on a pair of hikers, but it it done in POV so you don't really get to see anything. The awesomeness is short-lived and only barely saves the movie from how boring it was in the first hour and twenty minutes. When we first actually see a werewolf it is when Richard goes out to meet Eleanor in the woods to get it on again, and she changes - only for a second, mind you, but it's there.

Even better than any of the werewolf shenanigans is the fact that this movie has one of those scenes that makes me want to vomit. Melting bodies. I have a love/hate relationship with any movie or scene that contains a prolonged shot of an entire human body or just a part of the body that is melting. After Richard has been bitten by Eleanor, on a night of a full moon, we see Richard running in the woods when he suddenly appears to be in pain. You think he is going to transform like any normal werewolf movie would do, but these sick fuckers here decide to show us a very long scene of Richard's body just melting into nasty goop that puddles around his feet. Absolutely vomit-inducing. Thank you for that. The effects are really amazing in this scene

In the end, Janice and Marie get rid of all the werewolves a little bit too easily and then it's all over. Again, Howling 4: The Original Nightmare is not a bad movie, but it's also one that's not very exciting until it's almost too late. The climax is fun, way more gory and disgusting than I expected from the rest of the movie, and since none of these Howling movies are even connected to each other in the first place, there's always room to grow! More werewolf fun to come!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Franchise Review: Howling 3: The Marsupials (1987)

What have I gotten myself into with these Howling sequels? So far, they are beyond words bad. All I can say is that Howling 2 is damn near Gone With the Wind next to this ungodly ridiculous sequel, Howling 3: The Marsupials. I'm actually quite flabbergasted at the suckiness of this movie, but it is most definitely one of those movies that if you're in the right mood when you watch it, you can have a most interesting time.

I don't even know how to synopsize the movie like I usually try to do. Let me give it a go: Okay, there's a professor named Beckmeyer whose grandfather got footage of apparently a real werewolf being killed in Australia in 1905. Wanting real proof, Beckmeyer travels to Australia and it surprisingly doesn't take him that long to find a bunch of werewolves just all over the fucking place. He studies them with some other eggheads. We also meet the young, beautiful werewolf Jerboa, who escapes her werewolf tribe and falls in love with an American, and they have a little marsupial rat baby together. A lot of other insane stuff happens too but I don't have the brain power to work it all out right now.

Similar to its predecessor, Howling 3 is a movie that makes no sense from one scene to the next, and instead of having an actual, you know, plot or something insane like that, the "filmmakers" instead choose to just throw into the movie every bad or crazy idea they could come up with. Then they apparently just edited the scenes together - probably while drunk - hoping that everything turns out all right in the end. It doesn't. There are a lot of different subplots going on and they never mesh together right. There is a serious lack of exposition for pretty much all of these subplots, and instead the audience is expected to just jump right in and immediately know what the hell is going on and who these characters are. In a way, the movie at times does seem to take itself rather seriously, and other times it seems to revel in its own absurdity. So many things are going on with Howling 3: confusion, hilarity, bewilderment. I was laughing hysterically by the end credits making me wonder if I was going crazy or not.

Again, I'm stuck on where to begin with the specifics. The dialogue? The schizophrenic plot? The three werewolf chicks dressed as nuns? Let's start with a few things that weren't all that terrible. I liked the actress playing Jerboa, even though she was really bad at playing an actress for the "Shape Shifters Part 8" movie within the movie. I loved the little clips of the movie that Jerboa and Donny go to see at the theater because that was HILARIOUS. I kind of loved all the cheesy camera angles they used where the people's faces were too close to the camera because you don't see that very often. For good reason, too, it looks really amateur. The movie also did actually have one good action scene when the military guys (that came from... somewhere? to hunt down... someone?) are attacked by a werewolf in the woods. Another good thing? The ending! Yes, the ending to Howling 3 comes completely out of nowhere from where the movie started out, and yet it still manages to be strangely satisfying, at least it was for me.

The werewolf related stuff is surprisingly not that bad, though definitely not the best either. With the exception of the weird, hairless little things that the nuns turn into, many of the special effects are well done. Jerboa's birthing scene when she has her little rat baby thing is incredibly strange and made me feel a little bit sleazy, but the effects don't suck that much. Jerboa's got a nice... pouch. Gosh, that's so weird. It's weird for me to think of a werewolf having a freaking pouch, being a freaking marsupial, when I thought those were completely different things! They might have explained the whole reasoning behind that hogwash somewhere in the movie but I must have gotten lost in the sea of the choppy plot. It was also very unbelievable when Jerboa shows the father Donny the baby thing in her pouch. Donny is not the least bit freaked out by the fact that a) he has a baby with someone he just had sex with a couple of days ago or something, b) the baby is barely humanoid, or c) that the mother is carrying the baby around in a POUCH.

Again, there are almost too many bad things about this movie to talk about them all in one review. All the crap with Beckmeyer and his experiments. Thylo. My goodness, I could write a novel about Thylo, my pervy little bald-headed werewolf. So Howling 3: The Marsupials is a bad movie. There is almost nothing remotely redeemable about it except for the fact that it is so shitty. And if you're in the kind of slap-happy mood I was in when I watched it (after being awake for nearly 20 hours), you can appreciate the hilarity of the badness. Can't wait to see what Howling 4 has in store for me, although now I am more than a little worried...

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Franchise Review: Howling 2: Your Sister is a Werewolf (1986)

I wanted to do this little Howling marathon by including all of the movies of course, but short of buying it, it doesn't look like I'll be able to watch the first Howling just now. It's definitely unfortunate because I have only seen that one once, many years ago, and I barely remember it. Surely, however, it couldn't have been more entertaining than Howling 2: Your Sister is a Werewolf was.

The movie begins at the funeral of Karen White from the first movie, where Christopher Lee, playing occult investigator Stefan, informs her brother Ben that - you guessed it - "your sister is a werewolf." Karen's colleague Jenny also gets involved as the three travel to Transylvania to put an end to the one who started it all, the queen of the werewolves, Stirba.

What. The hell. I'm no stranger to flat out odd and ridiculous movies, let me tell you. The thing about Howling 2 that makes it so odd and ridiculous (and therefore highly entertaining), however, is just how freaking random everything is. The whole movie is a random mishmash of funky weird shit that has no flow whatsoever. After watching it for a while, you find yourself saying, "Oh, we're... we're going here now? Okay, sure, just transition without making any sense, yeah. That'll be fun." There's a bare minimum of a story here, and the movie just jumps right into it all with pretty much no set up. By the conclusion, I completely lost sight of where we all were and how we got there in the first place.

Oh, there is plenty of crazy to talk about here, but where does one begin? First of all, ditch any ideas you might have had about character, plot, good special effects - the stuff all those other "serious" movies rely way too much on. That doesn't happen here. Like I said, the movie dives right into the craziness with Ben and Jenny having almost no problem with the existence of werewolves and then deciding out of the blue to go to Transylvania with this weird guy where they do... kinda nothing. There was no reason for them to go to Transylvania. Anyway.

The actors playing werewolves here... give those people a gold star. They had to do the most stupid, embarrassing shit in Howling 2, but I'll be damned if they didn't seem totally committed! The hot black werewolf chick Mariana seemed to have the most fun, constantly growling and acting all werewolf-y even when she wasn't transformed into a werewolf. All of the werewolves do that, actually, and it's soooo dumb and hilarious. I'm pretty sure no one can talk about this movie without mentioning one particular scene: the werewolf threesome. Stirba, Vlad, and Mariana gettin' it on in the most sloppy and unsexy way possible. Wow.

Saying that this movie is very 80s is a major understatement. There's shitty music blaring everywhere and some serious rock 'n' roll and punk-related costuming. Stirba wears the best one, which I cannot describe but only show:

Rock it, girlfriend. The werewolf party scenes were reminiscent of the beginning of The Lost Boys - minus awesome saxophone man, but plus an equally hilarious punk band - and did nothing to help me take this movie the least bit seriously. Cocaine was pretty big in the 80s, yes? Okay, I think I understand the movie a bit more now.

The editing. Oh my goodness, the editing. It made the movie all the more fun. If there is one thing I love, it is a movie that has the sense of humor to use one of my favorite editing techniques - amateur screen wipes! Diagonal wipe. Diamond wipe. SPIRAL wipe. This movie uses a freaking spiral wipe and it was glorious. It also likes to cut to random statues or whatever on buildings, the people at the fair in Vlkava (the town in Transylvania that is the apparent epicenter for werewolves), and they also cut back several times to previous scenes in the movie. Maybe just to fill time or because they didn't know what the hell else to do. 

The best scene of the entire movie, however, is what plays over the credits. I've never seen a movie do anything like this before. It's pretty much like a music video for the punk band featured in the movie where they use all the good stuff that you've seen previously - most specifically focusing on the part where Stirba rips her top off to expose her boobies. I could not stop laughing. This part was edited beautifully for their purposes of yet again making Howling 2 as ridiculous as it possibly can.

Oh, so much more to talk about here. So little space on the internet. With horrible fight sequences, gunshots only seen in close-up, werewolf three-ways, and werewolves who can shoot red lightening out of their fingertips and pop a dwarf's eyeballs, Howling 2: Your Sister is a Werewolf is immensely successful at being so random, so stupid, and so freaking awesome at the same time. Big time kudos for all that. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


I know my favorite month of the year has only just begun, but I'm a little disappointed that it doesn't quite feel like October yet. Today it was in the mid-80s and a bit muggy - totally not fall weather. I want to be chilly and wear hoodies and flannel pajama pants. We've been having the foggy mornings but not the crispy evenings.

Despite that, it's still October! Best month ever that leads up to the greatest holiday ever. But once I again, I suck big time and have nothing blog-related planned. The reason I haven't been blogging lately is partly because of Breaking Bad (which I just started watching) and partly because I haven't watched anything all that blog-worthy lately. Or I've just run out of things to say, which I never thought would happen.

Have no fear, whatever blog buddies I may have left. I do have at least one series of reviews planned: THE HOWLING SEQUELS MARATHON. Oh, yes. I'm skipping over the first movie and planning on just plowing through all the sequels - and I've never seen any of them before. I hear I'm in for a treat with the third one. 

So have fun this October, bloggers! Let's celebrate like only horror fans know how to!