The Gate (1987)

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About:

A couple of kids unwittingly perform a rite which opens a gate to a demonic underworld in their backyard.  The freed demons are now attempting to create Hell on Earth, and it’s up to the boys to stop them.

Review:

I had pretty high hopes for this movie.  Any film that casts kids as the main characters probably can’t be taken too seriously, but the preview made it look like a fun little spinoff of The Goonies with a horror twist.  Such was not the case.

The Gate wasn’t horrible.  It started out ok, with these two bozo kids just screwing around in the back yard and unknowingly performing a step-by-step ritual that opens up the gate to Hell.  Hey, it could happen to anybody.  But after a while the story plateaus when one of the kids just sort of freaks out in a quasi-reality mindfuck for a while before the plot finally gets back on the rails and everything is wrapped up.

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Mind = fucked

The movie stars a young Stephen Dorff, before his acting career devolved into playing bit parts in Aerosmith music videos.  One night lightning knocks down the tree in his backyard, blowing his tree fort to shit and leaving a giant hole in the ground.  He and his buddy snoop around the crater and pull out a big ol’ geode.  Incidentally, his buddy looks exactly like John Clayton.

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So these kids bust open the geode, which happens to be the first step in some mystical ritual to open up the gate to Demonland.  They then go on to do some other shit – bleed all over the hole, speak aloud the sacred text written on the back of a heavy metal record, and toss a dead dog in the hole – and the next thing you know they’ve got little demons running all over the place.  Nice going, twerps!

So metal!

A large portion of screen time is dedicated to the boys and Dorff’s sister running and hiding from the demons.  However, these little guys are each about the size of a football.  At one point one of the kids even falls in the hole in the back yard and is attacked by a group of them, but he comes out no worse for wear.  And yet it never occurs to the group to try and fight these little fuckers.

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Come get some!

Dorff’s buddy and his sister get captured by the demons and are supposedly sacrificed in order to complete the ritual.  Now that all the little peon demons did their job, it’s time for the head demon to come out and post up as the figure head of demonic intimidation.  This guy is a giant axolotl who comes crashing up through the floor of the house and is one demon you do not want to mess with.

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Raaaawwwrrr!!!

(SPOILERS AHEAD!) 

At this point things seem pretty hopeless for Dorff and the rest of humanity.  His dog is dead, his best friend and sister have being carried off by demons to be sacrificed, and there is a gigantic salamander coming up through his living room floor.  But if he’s going down, he’s going down swinging.  Our hero faces this menacing force and shoots a toy rocket literally into the belly of the beast.  And, wouldn’t you know, that was the chink in the armor all along.

Where are the neighbors during all of this?

Yayy! The demons are gone!  And guess what – Dorff’s buddy and his sister are back!  And not only that – that dead dog is back too!  Everything’s back to normal!  Well, not quite – they’ll still need to explain to their parents why there’s a giant hole in the living room floor.

Overall: 6

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After writing about The Gate I’m going to change my tune.  At first I said it wasn’t the great. And while it is pretty stupid, it still is a lot of fun.  Thus I compare this movie to an innocuous marshmallow roast: it may not be anything close to an all-out bonfire, but it is fun, sweet, and at times gooey.  I also have to tip my hat to the special effects – there was a lot of stop-motion animation which I love, especially when compared to all the CGI pollution we see today.

The Lost Boys (1987)

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About:

Brothers Michael and Sam have just moved to Santa Carla to live with their grandpa.  Sure, the girls are hot and the beach jams are tasty, but something seems a little off.  For one thing, Michael begins to stay out all night with his new biker gang friends, then sleeps all day.  Sam’s new buddies at the comic store seem convinced that his brother has fallen in with a group of vampires, and set out to prevent his full transformation to a blood sucking creature of the night.

Review:

What can one say about The Lost Boys that hasn’t already been said?  It showcases two of the worst things to ever come out of the 80’s in Corey Haim and Corey Feldman, is chalked full of some of the most horrendous dialogue ever written, and, the coup de grace, this oiled up rock n’ roll sax guy:

So this movie sucks, right? NO! In fact all these things that would normally sink a movie combine together in a way that actually makes it really good!  I guess it is so dumb and cheesy that it transcends any normal expectations you would have and right away you realize you’re watching something a little different.  Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t get to pick on all the goofy things that stick out in this movie.  For instance, what’s up with Corey Haim?

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Aside from the erupting sex appeal, of course

Not really sure what’s going on with this guy.  He has an interesting wardrobe choice, even for an 80’s teenager.  He splits his time between pestering his taxidermist grandpa, cuddling with his pet husky, and flexing his brain muscles at the local comic shop.  In the clip above of the beach concert, his brother Michael is clearly into the hot gypsy chick, while Sam can’t take his eyes of the sexy sax man.  Ok, so maybe he’s just really into those kicking jams.  Can’t argue with that.  But what about that scene where he’s looking for a place to stash gandpa’s taxidermy owl and there’s a poster of an ab-bearing Rob Lowe closet door?

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In your dreams, Haimster

And last but not least, what the hell is up with the scene where this teenaged kid taking a bubble bath and singing into a brush?

It is unfortunate how many Gen-Y girls must have discovered their sexuality to this scene

The special features are a must see…sort of.  The special edition DVD release has an additional disc which is entirely special features, and contains a section titled, I shit you not, “Haimster and Feldog.”  It features the two Coreys – Feldman in his gothic, smug, completely delusional “I’m a Hollywood star” attitude we’re all too familiar with, and a pudgy, frosty-tipped Haim – basically chronicling their bromance and the artistic gift to the world their collaboration inspired.  In fact, the entire special features disc is pretty much just commentary from Haimster and Feldog, presumably because everyone else involved in the movie can still find work.  The only other people on there are director Joel Schumacher, who is practically wetting himself over his idea for a sequel titled The Lost Girls, and the guy who played Max wondering aloud how his character could be written into it, despite dying in the first one.

I gotta say, I really have a lot of disdain for modern Feldman.  Yes, he was a lot of fun as a child actor in the 1980s.  And sure, he’s still relevant in a ‘laughing at you, not with you’ sort of way.  But as an adult this chowderhead just refuses to exit the limelight, instead continuing to try and milk the success of his childhood self, even though that shriveled teet dried up a long time ago.  And the fact that Feldog blocked me on Twitter and told his followers to do the same after one harmless quip at his expense has absolutely nothing to do with my disdain for him.

So lets talk about these vampires.  It seems like in every vampire movie these undead drinkers of blood are always beautiful, noble, and just all around cool kids who you want to become.  But in The Lost Boys, Kiefer Sutherland and his bros are a bunch of dirty, unruly biker punks who spend their nights terrorizing the boardwalk.  “Sleep all day, party all night, never grow old.”  It’s a cool little twist on the typical vampire archetype.  And Kiefer really brings it in Lost Boys.  Watching the movie, he is clearly leaps and bounds above the next best actor in terms of ability and general bad-assery.  I also loved seeing Alex Winter of Bill and Ted fame in this.  The guy has played like two characters in his short acting career and they are both classics.

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Excellent! (air guitar riff)

The last thing I want to mention about this film is that, given the title, this is obviously a Peter Pan reference, where the lost boys in Neverland never grow old and are looking for a mother.  And yes, that comes into play in the movie, but only at the very end, and only for a a short moment. It’s during the climax of the movie and the reference comes out of left field and you’re like “oh yea, that makes sense,” but then the movie is over before you really had a chance to reflect on it.  The deleted scenes reveal this subplot in depth, where the main vampire Max attempt to turn Sam and Michael’s mother into a maternal figure for the vampire gang.  It is kind of goofy, and the scenes are terrible and were mercifully cut for that reason.  But it seems like this theme should have been explored a little more in the final cut, if for no other reason than to further justify the use of such a bitchin’ title.

Overall: 8

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This movie is as hot as, um…a burning vampire skull (that’s pretty hot, but not, like, the hottest possible)

The Lost Boys will always have a special place in my heart for giving me one of my favorite movie quotes of all time in, “Maggots, Michael; you’re eating maggots, how do they taste?”

It’s a great horror-comedy that is both fun and really refreshing in its simplicity.  You will laugh at the absurdity of some of the dialogue, but also enjoy the fast pace and general likability of the movie as a whole.  Chances are you’ve seen The Lost Boys.  If you haven’t, do yourself a solid and see it now.  If you have, treat yourself and watch it again!

 

From Beyond (1986)

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About:

Dr. Edward Pretorius has invented a machine that stimulates the human pineal gland, allowing anyone within range the ability to see the horrifying inter-dimensional creatures existing around us at all times.  When Pretorius loses his head to one of the monsters his assistant, Dr. Crawford Tillinghast, is presumed to be his killer.  Only by restoring the machine, and potentially opening a rift into a sinister world, can he prove his innocence.

Review:

Jeffrey Combs, who played Herbert West in Re-Animator, reprises his role as a budding mad scientist, based on an H.P. Lovecraft story, experimenting with taboo and wholly sinister subject matter.  How type-cast can you get?  Indeed, From Beyond, released a year after Re-Animator, is the second effort from the trio of Combs, Director Stuart Gordon, and screenplay writer Dennis Paoli to adapt a Lovecraft tale into a feature length movie.  Combs plays Crawford Tillinghast, the assistant to a scientist, Dr. Pretorius, who has invented a machine that would allow a person to fully experience each of their 5 senses to the extreme, as well as awaken a 6th sense that had become dormant in humans.  Specifically, the Pretorius Resonator establishes a series of mathematically precise vibrations to stimulate the human pineal gland.  This hyper-sensitivity allows the pineal gland to act as sort of a third eye, making it possible for humans to see all the creatures that inhabit the interdimensional space around us at all times.  Got it?

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So this guy is standing behind you right now – you just can’t see him

Tillinghast is actually the less-nutty of the two, and after getting bitten in the face by an interdimensional eel, tries to warn his mentor of the dangers his Resonator poses.  But of course Pretorius isn’t going to listen to his little bitch of an assistant, so he cranks the machine up to full blast and, well, gets his head bitten of by some unseen otherworldly monster.

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It grows back…sort of

Ok so all that stuff above takes place before the title card.  So now we have Tillinghast in a mental hospital as the presumed schizophrenic killer of Pretorius, babbling on about interdimensional monsters running around biting off people’s heads.  Enter Barbara Crampton (also of Re-Animator fame) as Dr. Katherine McMichaels, the District Attorney’s appointed psychologist sent to determine the mental state of Tillinghast.  When she remains unconvinced of his schizophrenia, the DA releases him into her care and they return to the lab to recreate the experiment in hopes of proving his innocence.

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Also to have one crazy-ass slumber party!

This is right about where the climax of the movie came for me, the point at which I was most excited to be watching it and convinced it was going to be a good one.  Alas, as these films are wont to do, the whole thing began unraveling shortly thereafter.  Frequent readers (hi, Dad) know that my main bugaboo is glaring plot holes.  The little inconsistencies don’t bother me – if someone is wearing a blue shirt in one cut and a red one in the next, I really don’t mind that because it doesn’t detract from the actual story.  What drives me crazy and ultimately ruins a movie for me is when the story comes to a screeching halt because we are supposed to jump over a giant gap in logic and just accept it for what it is.  I can’t do that.  I will become disengaged in what is currently going on in the story because I am still so hung up on that thing that didn’t make any sense that happened thirty minutes ago.  From Beyond did not have one such egregious plot hole, but several.  I was practically squirming in my seat as soon as the opening credits finished up.

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Although to be fair several factors contributed to my squeamishness

My favorite character in the film is the policeman, Bubba, who had been sent to accompany Tillinghast and McMichaels for security.  When everyone hauls their gear into the Pretorious house, he casually brings along a giant fucking ninja sword.  This is a small detail – no one even mentions it.  So the whole movie I’m waiting for this thing to come into play, and it never does!  What a tease!

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Get back here, you tease!

Bubba is also the only voice of reason throughout this whole thing, so naturally he’s the first to die.  I had to watch his death scene a few times because it made zero sense and even now I have no idea what went down.  While Tillinghast and McMichaels are getting swarmed by interdimensional bugs, Bubba discovers that shining a flashlight on them makes the bugs disperse.  He then looks like he has an idea, probs involving the ninja sword, but accidentally drops the flashlight like a total bozo.  It lands in such a way that the beam is now focused on him, and the bugs swarm all over his body.  But wait, I thought they didn’t like the light?  Yea, well, now they do.  Deal with it.  By the time the bugs are done with him  he is reduced to a justifiably confused head atop a completely skeletonized body.


musical emphasis added by YouTube user ‘CannibalCuisine27′

Definitely coming from out of left field is the spare bedroom / sex dungeon in Dr. Pretorius’s house.  I guess this has something to do with the good doctor’s mortal quest to stimulate the senses.  In the movie they find this room full of whips and chains and gimp suits, as well as some video of Dr. P doing some real nefarious acts with an unknown mistress.  The characters keep coming back to this room just to, y’know, convene and shit.  Only after Tillinghast gets all his body hair ripped out by a laundry room monster and is passed out in the sex dungeon’s guest bed does Dr. McMichaels find him desirable enough to strap one of said gimpsuits onto herself and straddle him.  I wasn’t really sure what this had to do with anything, but we do get to see some extra beefy ass cheeks in the scene, so I let it slide.

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some serious USDA Prime beef

By the end of the movie these guys are just shooting for broke.  Tillinghast’s pineal gland becomes so stimulated that forehead balloons to Rihanna size, until finally the thing just pokes itself out of his head for some fresh air.

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Too…many…dick jokes!

Yea the weirdness doesn’t stop there.  For no reason whatsoever Tillinghast’s newly acute senses are giving him a craving for human brains.  His preferred method of dining, sucking it through a person’s eye socket like he’s taking down a jell-o shot, makes for some great cinematic special effects but unfortunately does nothing to save this movie from absolutely imploding.


as rendered by Trent Shy (@TrentShy)

Overall: 5

Explode-01-june

This movie is not unlike an explosion – starts out exciting enough, but quickly subsides into a lingering sulfur stink.

After I saw this I had to read the story it was based on, just to see where these guys went wrong in transitioning it to the big screen.  Turns out Lovecraft’s story is only 4 fucking pages long! – meaning most of the shit in the movie was completely made up from scratch.  In the actual story Tillinghast is actually the evil genius, the he invites some skeptical friend over so he can simultaneously prove to him he was right all along and enact his revenge by feeding him to an ephemeral monster.  I guess that’s not surprising that everything bad about this movie didn’t actually come from the grandfather of horror stories.  Good thing he made Re-Animator much longer, otherwise Gordon and Paoli, left to fill in the gaps with their own imaginations, would have probably turned that into a total stinker as well.

 

Eaten Alive (1977)

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About:

Judd is a crazy old man who owns a run down motel in rural Texas.  His hobbies include babbling incoherently to himself, murdering his guests without cause, and finding new and inventive ways to keep his pet Nile crocodile fed.  Probably a step up from a Motel 8, but not quite the Ritz.

Review:

Eaten Alive, not to be confused with this similarly named mess, also goes by the alternate titles Death Trap, Starlight Slaughter, and Le Crocodile de la Mort.  This is Tobe Hooper’s first film after The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and the similarities are pretty evident, so much so that he even cast the same damsel in distress for the two films in Marylin Burns.  It’s pretty incredible that she agreed to work with Hooper on their second go-round since it has been documented that she went through physical and emotional hell filming the former.

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A small price to pay for the promotion of one’s art 

The look and feel of Eaten Alive is very Hooper-esque: the scenes are dusty and dirty, and a lot of detail is put into things like sweat and grime on the actors (although it’s probable that was achieved naturally).  Also the sound track sounds like someone stomping on a Moog synthesizer while banging pots and pans together.  The entire film definitely had that same bizarre, unnerving undertone we all know so well from TCM.

The movie starts out with, guess who? – Robert Englund, playing the town miscreant Buck, in a whore house trying to convince some young and innocent hooker to let him play the back nine.  His quest for backdoor action is actually a recurring theme in the film.

A pretty terrifying proposition

It’s unclear what the relationship between Buck and Judd is, but a couple times in the film Buck rolls up to the motel just to start shit with the old man, who stomps up and down and yells something about being owed money.  Judd is certainly an odd bird, and at risk of beating the TCM comparison into the ground, acts almost exactly like the hitchhiker from the former.  This seems to be a staple of these early Hooper movies – the inclusion of some crazy character who is very edgy, talking to himself, and hopping up and down with gleeful curiosity at the sight of gruesome death.  It’s actually quite brilliant, I think, as method of revealing the uniquely demented and equally horrifying characteristics of someone who, if you saw walking around outside, would definitely cross the street to avoid.  The late Neville Brand, playing Judd, delivers an especially convincing performance as this troubled hermit who is clearly living in a world of his own, his grasp on reality hanging by a thread.

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But boy does he wear that mop top well

As you might have guessed, at some point weary travelers set up shop in the motel looking a place to rest, only to receive the exact opposite of that.  A large portion of the movie is dedicated to Judd chasing around half naked girls with a scythe, and tumbling down his own flight of stairs.  I really couldn’t tell you why he’s so intent on killing his paying customers, but he seems to be pretty freaked out and offended by hot women in his presence.

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It’s just his special way of showing affection

Unfortunately the movie continues like this without much rhyme or reason.  After half way through a father and his daughter rent a room while looking for a family member who had run away from home, incidentally the same girl Judd sliced up and fed to the croc earlier that day.  This would have made for a good overarching plot line, but it was introduced so late that it didn’t have much impact on creating an actual story.  It’s disappointing that more time wasn’t spent into developing an actual story for this movie, because it certainly had the look and feel of a classic.

Along with well-known B actors Burns and Englund, the cast also includes William Finley from The Phantom of the Paradise, and Carolyn Jones, who played Morticia in the original Addams Family television series.

Overall: 5

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The is the kind of back yard fire you have to constantly feed with cardboard just to keep from going out completely; the kind you had such high hopes for only to die out too soon, leaving you disappointed and stinking like smoke

Again, Eaten Alive doesn’t really have much of a plot to it.  Like TCM, it seems to exist just to showcase some gore and scary scenes, without really trying to tell much of a story.  That worked out just fine for TCM, but Eaten Alive is neither shocking nor gory enough to get by on that dubious merit alone.  I liked it well enough, but it seems that, like its antagonist, the film is a few cards short of a full deck.

 

Basket Case (1982)

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About:

Duane Bradley has just moved to New York City with his brother to meet some old friends. Except his brother is a deformed malicious blob who he carries around in a whicker basket, and their old friends are the cruel doctors who cut them apart when they were kids.

Review:

I had actually never even heard of Basket Case until I saw it referenced in a Trent Shy claymation video at the Crimson Screen Horror Film Festival in Charleston, SC:

How have I never seen this?  Basket Case was really good.  It was super gory and campy as all hell.  When your monster is a foot-tall blob of deformed flesh the campiness sort of comes naturally, but it’s especially charming in this case.  From what I could tell the monster, little Bilal, was portrayed by rubber gloves, a mask, and a puppet.  These were all done really well.  However there were one or two scenes where he was shown through some truly horrible stop motion animation.  The only example I could find of this online is a hilarious mashup of ABBA’s Dancing Queen set to Bilal going full Rolling Stones mode on a hotel room:

Having the time of his liiiife…

It is revealed in a flashback scene that the boys’ asshole father blames Bilal for their mother’s death during birth.  No respectable physicians will agree to separate the two, so the dad brings in three quacks to perform the operation in their dining room.  Amazingly Bilal survives and years later the two set out to exact revenge on the doctors who cut them apart.

Perhaps the freakiest part of this movie was the noise track – Bilal is often shrieking like a banshee getting bludgeoned by an alley cat, and the kill scenes are to the tunes of atonal Moog sounds mixed with various animal noises and loud sirens.

Basket Case was bordering on greatness until the ending, which was so hilarious that it still makes this a must-see.  As it turns out, this whole movie really boils down to just a couple of horny bros looking for some action.  You can imagine having to bend to every whim of your psychopathic deformed twin might make having a love life a little difficult.  So when Duane meets a total babe from the city, Bilal gets jealous that he’s not getting any hanky-panky.  Being the man of action that he is, he sets out to show this girl that it’s he who is the more charming of the two. And while I’m reluctant to publish any adult content on this site, I did feel it was necessary to share a certain visual from the film, which I do so now without comment:

bilal humps

The craziness doesn’t end there.  The final 10 minutes of the movie are perhaps the best, if only because they are completely outrageous and totally out of character with everything that came before it.  As close as they are, the movie ends with yet another pair of victims who failed to adhere to that sacred adage, “bros before hoes.”

Overall: 9

Hell Fire!!!!

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Basket Case is a legitimately good movie.  It made sense (which always earns major bonus points for movies like these), was very campy, and also quite creepy.  The idea for this film was really original and has obviously been the inspiration of several works which have followed it.  And you know what? I’m not even going to bother with the physics of a little blob of flesh being able to manhandle full grown men.  Little Bilal is all upper-body strength and that’s just that.

Dead Alive (1992)

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About:

Lionel Cosgrove lives with his domineering mother in a small town in New Zealand.  When she dies after being bitten by a rare monkey, she comes back to life as a voracious zombie, infecting other townsfolk as Lionel frantically tries to clean up her mess.

Review:

Do you know what Peter Jackson was doing before he cashed in on the Lord of the Rings movies?  He was making ultra gory B horror movies like Dead Alive.  Released as Braindead in New Zealand, the title was changed for the US release because we already a movie called Brain Dead (which had Bill Paxton AND Bill Pullman in it!)

Dead Alive is a horror-comedy, the purpose of which is not so much to tell a story or inspire fear, but to showcase a flood of home-made special effects and over-the-top, never-ending gore.  I tried eating a plate of spaghetti while watching this, and trust me –  that was a big mistake.  But the while the movie is visceral, it is also very well-done and extremely creative.  If there had merely been a high body count with buckets of blood then that’d be one thing.  Yet Dead Alive puts so much detail into every death, inventing new ways to shock, sicken, and delight us with its quirky special effects as the movie goes on.

The movie opens in 1957 on Skull Island, where a New Zealand explorer has captured a Sumatran rat monkey, which according to legend was bred when plagued rats scurried off of slaves ships and raped all the native tree monkeys.  In an homage to Raiders of the Lost Ark he is pursued by angry natives and finally bests the savages by jumping into the back of a vehicle to leave them hopping up and down, angrily shaking sticks.

The Sumatran rat monkey ends up in a zoo and is a real piece of shit.  First this little rat bastard is beating up on all the other fun-loving monkeys, then it finally passes its zombifying plague onto Lionel’s mother.

He got what was coming to him

The absurd grossness begins there and doesn’t stop until the ending credits.  After Lionel’s mom is bitten she dies and comes back to life a flesh-craving zombie.  Being the loving and oedipal son that he is, he can’t bring himself to bury her reanimated corpse in the cold ground, so instead keeps her locked up in the basement with the rest of her zombie buddies, sedating them every so often with massive amounts of animal tranquilizer.  Occasionally one of them would wander off, but overall Lionel has the situation pretty much under control.

Shit really hits the fan once Lionel’s slimeball Uncle Les discovers all the tranquilized stiffs in the basement and threatens to call the police unless Lionel gives him his mother’s inheritance, including the house.  And what better way is there to celebrate inheriting a buttload of cash and a mansion from your dead sister than inviting the whole town over for a giant party?  Of course the zomboners in the basement get loose and the next 45 minutes or so is a fantastic expose of blood and guts.

There are really far too many great scenes from the movie to post here so I just encourage you to find a copy and watch it.  If nothing else, Dead Alive is 100% pure entertainment.

Overall: 8.5

HOT HOT HOT

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Dead Alive is a must see.  Billed as the goriest movie ever made, it does not disappoint.  And unlike setting all this disgusting gore to a serious and disturbing plot that might actually make you lose sleep and question your moral principles, the movie is hilarious so it’s all in great fun.  Plus, who doesn’t New Zealanders?

Fright Night (1985)

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About:

Charlie Brewster has reason to believe that his mysterious new neighbor is actually a murderous vampire.  After his worst fears are confirmed he sets out to slay the monster before it kills him and everyone he loves.

Review:

I first saw this a few years ago and thought, “Wow, what a fun horror movie.  This is truly a classic.”  A couple of years later I saw the remake and thought it was also good, but nowhere near as great as the irreplaceable original I saw first.  Then last night I watched the original again for the purpose of writing this review, and, well, I just didn’t know what to believe anymore.  It was ok – I liked it.  But it wasn’t the same movie I remember being better than the remake.  As blasphemous as it sounds, it was actually much worse.

First of all, the leading lady in the remake is played by the adorable albeit unfortunately named Imogen Poots, whereas her character in the original is played by some chick who looked like Blanche from Golden Girls.

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Not even close

And yea, I get it – a lot of people didn’t like the remake because everyone’s least favorite actor Colin Farrell got to star in it.  Now I don’t know what he ever did to deserve this shit storm of malice people seem to have for him, but remember that man was the balls in Minority Report, so lets all cut him a little slack.

I had to watch the remake again to confirm that I liked it better.  I knew they had it at the public library here because that’s where I got it five years ago when it first came out.  Sure enough they still had like 10 copies sitting there, but because I had racked up such an intimidating amount of overdue fees on Twilight books over the years I was not allowed to rent it until I paid that tab back down to 0. This now makes three libraries where my hefty fines prevent me from taking anything out.

After a couple of unsuccessful stops at RedBoxes, I decided that the purpose of this blog isn’t to compare original films to their remakes anyways, or at least not until I can get my hands on the newer Fright Night.

Back to the original: I loved the special effects in this.  There were three vampire deaths, which doesn’t seem like much, until you consider that the way each died was more fantastic and horrifying that the last.  I don’t know who decided CGI looked better, but nothing compares to the creative SFX that go into animating a vampire turning into skeleton soup.

Charlie Brewster is the main character in this movie, but we don’t know anything about him other than he lives next door to a vampire and goes out with a girl who looks like his mom.  What’s his story?  How do I know I don’t want this guy getting gobbled up by a vampire?  His little buddy Evil Ed, on the other hand, is quite the character, and I can’t quite determine if his shrill portrayal is tantamount to idiocy or brilliance.

When he realizes he is living next to a vampire Charlie enlists the help of TV star Peter Vincent the Vampire Killer, host of the show Fright Night, who luckily happens to live in town.  At this point Vincent is on his ass and out of a job, but he cleans up nicely and puts together with a cubic briefcase crammed with vampire killing accoutrements to help Charlie do the deed.

vincent
Unfortunately he left it in the car

The main vampire is Jerry Dandridge, which is perhaps the least intimidating Vampire name ever thought up.  Don’t let the name fool you though – this guy is one smooth operator.  Guy has a killer hair cut and an equally cool duster jacket to match.  All told, he’s not too far off from Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt on the vampire coolness scale.  Although it is a little concerning that he lives with a hetero life mate/man-servant.

bros
Bro-ing out hard

Jerry is pissed at Charlie because he keeps hassling him for being a vampire, and their feuding evolves when Jerry realizes that Charlie’s girlfriend Amy looks just like his old vampire girlfriend.  Thankfully this never goes beyond that to the Maury Povich level, but it does kind of teeter on the brink when Amy gets bitten and turns into evil Steven Tyler.

amy2
Eh…still not doing anything for me

Overall: 6

Campfire_2
a reliable flame, good for marshmallows and telling ghost stories, but nothing that gonna singe your eyebrows off

So I’ve been thinking that ranking these movies solely on a 1-10 scale is pretty boring.  In going with the theme of this blog, (in which Camp is a double entendre for both the style of these movies and also the setting for a great deal of them – get it??) I’ve decided to accompany the traditional numeric ranking with a strength of campfire – or at least something camp-related.

I was a little disappointed in Fright Night, to be honest, because I remembered it being so much better.  Don’t get me wrong – it was the cheesy kind of horror movie I like, the kind that doesn’t take itself to seriously but also has a plot that is easy to follow and isn’t confounded by glaring holes.  It did seem to drag at times, though; the movie is an hour and a half and Charlie first voices his fears over his neighbor in the very first scene.  I don’t know why it took another 90 minutes for him to gather his buddies up for the final showdown.  Maybe when I finally see the remake again it will be so much worse than I remember that it’ll make the original a lot better.