HHMC, PART III

13. I Spit On Your Grave When Roger Ebert gave this movie zero stars and declared it a “vile bag of garbage“, I wonder if he realized how much he was inadvertently promoting it. Easily the most offensive of the “rape-revenge” subgenre of horror movies (yes, that is an actual subgenre and yes, that is saying something), I Spit On Your Grave is about a young woman from the city, who drives out to a lake house in the countryside to write her first novel. She soon attracts the attention of four local scumbags, who stalk, terrorize and eventually rape her – not once, not twice, but three times (a ladyyy…). And just in case that’s not offensive enough, one of these guys is mentally retarded. Seriously. The final act of this wholesome film finds the woman exacting her revenge. Lucky for her, these guys are as stupid as they are savage, so when she lures each of them by method of seduction, they somehow believe that this woman they recently beat and raped wants them for real this time. Two of the kills are pretty standard fare (a hanging and an axe to the back) while the other two are a bit more inventive (a guy gets chopped up with a boat motor and the other – more infamously – is castrated in a bathtub). Pass the popcorn! On a side note, I found it hilarious that I had to sit through two lengthy Dolby Digital and THX logos before this piece of crap started. It warmed my heart to know that the series of gang rapes and murders I was about to watch were “digitally mastered for optimal audio and video performance”.  1.5/5

14. The Monster Squad is sorta like the cult version of The Goonies. When it was released in theaters in 1987, its distributor fumbled the ball since they had no clue how to promote it, and it was unceremoniously dumped onto home video. It wasn’t until then that it found an audience (though forgotten once again when the DVD era began), but it was finally released in a rather lavish two-disc 20th anniversary edition in 2007, as well as Blu-ray in 2009. As for the movie itself, it’s every bit as entertaining as The Goonies (okay, minus the Cyndi Lauper soundtrack). Instead of finding buried treasure, our foul-mouthed (more on that later) heroes have to defend their little town against Dracula, The Wolf Man, and a couple of other Universal knockoffs. As far as Dracula himself is concerned, this movie actually contains what I consider to be one of the best portrayals of the character. Part of the reason, I think, is because I’ve never seen the actor who plays him (Duncan Rehehr) in anything else, so it’s a lot easier to buy that he’s Dracula, compared to seeing a relatively well-known actor (like Gary Oldman) in the role. Most importantly though, this Dracula comes with none of the Gothic vampire-romance bullshit that other movies insist on giving the character. This Dracula has no time for seducing women; he’s a nasty asshole in a cape who kills cops, blows shit up with dynamite, and wants to see these kids dead, all so he can have this ancient amulet that’ll presumably let him keep fucking shit up with more power. Another one of the movie’s charms is how decidedly un-PC it is. Director Fred Dekker explained that he wanted these kids to talk like most 12 year-olds do when their parents aren’t around. Therefore, words like “shit”, “goddamn”, “faggot”, “homo”, “chickenshit”, and other assorted goodies regularly come out of these kids’ mouths, which you can bet probably won’t happen if and when the remake arrives.  4/5

15. The Descent is awesome every time I watch it (I believe this was my third time), and it’s the type of movie where repeated viewings do not diminish enjoyment, but rather bring out small details you never noticed before. It was released in August of 2005 along with the similarly themed The Cave, but comparing The Descent to The Cave is like comparing Brooke Shields to Susan Boyle. It’s about a group of longtime friends who reconvene at a secluded cabin in North Carolina to go caving. Unbeknownst to all but one of them, the cave system they’re exploring is off the beaten path and largely uncharted. They soon become trapped after a cave-in, where they find that the cave is populated by a bunch of human-like creatures that look like something from a Tool music video crossed with the sewer monster from that episode of the X-Files. What makes The Descent something more than your average creature feature is that there are other horrific elements at play long before these Tool rejects show up. Director Neil Marshall wrings every bit of tension out of the cave setting itself before finally introducing the monsters; though they don’t show up until roughly an hour into the movie, the darkness, claustrophobia, and physical dangers of navigating a cave keep you thoroughly engrossed until then. There’s also psychological elements to it as well, as these supposed lifelong friends (one of whom is recovering from a recent tragedy, while another is harboring a nasty secret) aren’t averse to abandoning or turning on each other in the name of survival. Of course it also helps that we like most of these characters, mostly because we actually get to know them for a while before the script drops them into the meat grinder. The score, which is reminiscent at times of John Carpenter’s score from The Thing, is also noteworthy. Is The Descent one of the best horror films of the past decade? For sho.  4.5/5

16. Sitting through The Descent: Part 2, however, was a bit of a chore. Twenty minutes into the movie, it was clear that very little of the stylish flair that Neil Marshall brought to the original would be present this time around (though he’s listed as one of the “executive producers” here, I somehow doubt he had a whole lot to do with it beyond cashing a check). Although it was made four years later, Part 2 picks up immediately where the last one left off. Sarah is the only one to have made it out of the caves, and when initial search efforts fail to locate the other missing women, she is forced to accompany a new team down. Because no one in their right mind would go down there a second time, Sarah conveniently has a bad case of amnesia, and has no recollection of the horrors that took place. I suppose this annoying plot device was a necessary evil in order to get things rolling, but thankfully it’s dispensed with as soon as the shit starts to hit the fan again. The team Sarah is paired with this time, comprised of three rescue workers plus the Sheriff and his deputy, aren’t nearly as fleshed out or memorable as the team of women from the original, and it’s clear most of them are there primarily to have their throats ripped apart. The Sheriff is especially annoying; he’s that type of character that seems to exist solely to make things more difficult for everyone else along the way. The movie is also unfortunately saddled with the type of baggage that befalls other similar horror sequels, in that since this is largely a new group of people, we have to sit and watch them make all the same mistakes that the characters from the first movie did. We know going in that these monsters are blind as fuck and thus rely on a heightened sense of hearing to hunt, yet we have to watch a new group of assholes walk around screaming and hollering and drawing attention to themselves. It shouldn’t be any surprise, then, that the best parts of this sequel are the little callbacks to the original. Aside from a surprise return of a certain character in the final act, the mangled corpses of some of the other women are discovered, and one of the best (and most disgusting) scenes involves using one of them as a means of escape. However everything ends on a sour note, in a short final scene that makes little sense except to potentially set up another sequel.  2.5/5

17. A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010) When I saw this in theaters, I thought it was a pretty typical Platinum Dunes remake, i.e. fairly competent but unremarkable and too slick looking (right down to the 25-yr-old models they try to pass off as everyday high school kids – clearly Michael Bay has a hand in casting these movies). However, watching this a second time has revealed that it’s even worse than my initial thoughts suggested. Casting Jackie Earle Haley seemed like the next best thing to Robert Englund, but in trying to bring Freddy back to his less-campy origins, the script doesn’t give him a whole lot of dialogue to work with, and he only gets in a few wisecracks towards the end. Even worse however is his look; they tried to make him more closely resemble an actual burn victim this time, but he looks more like an aborted fetus to me. Besides, this guy exists only in people’s dreams – who gives a shit about being realistic? They also toyed with his voice, figuring that adding loads of bass to it will somehow make it scarier, but really it just sounds like God is booming down over Elm street. The story this time around plays up the fact that he was a child molester, whereas in the original there was more emphasis on the fact that he was a child murderer. (Sadly there’s no mention of what candy he used to lure the kiddies into his secret man-cave, so it appears the filmmakers missed out on a Reese’s Pieces/E.T. type of product placement opportunity.) Another new aspect is the introduction of “micro-naps”, which are explained as short and sudden bouts of sleep caused by the brain shutting down due to exhaustion. This admittedly sounded intriguing, until it quickly became evident that it’s just an excuse for Freddy to pop up out of fucking nowhere a lot of the time, usually accompanied by an obnoxiously loud audio sting that all but screams “BOO!” Also, this movie reveals that it’s possible to fall asleep while swimming laps in a pool. You learn something new every day!  1.5/5

18. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers isn’t the worst entry in the series. That title is split between Halloween 5 and Halloween: Resurrection (to say nothing of Rob Zombie’s twin trainwrecks). If these movies were STDs, Curse would probably be the chlamydia to Halloween 5‘s herpes and Resurrection‘s AIDS (okay, so Resurrection is probably the worst). This one is still a piece of shit, but what makes it a less-smelly piece of shit are its little rectifications after part 5 dropped a steaming load on every Halloween fan’s head. For one thing, Michael no longer looks retarded, so there’s that. The Myers house is a regular house again, after inexplicably being  a mansion in the last one. And bringing the Tommy Doyle character back was a nice touch, as played by “Paul Stephen Rudd”, in on of his first roles. There’s also some random bits like the “It’s raining blood!” girl and the crazy-ass nanny that I enjoyed. As for the bad stuff? Well, EVERYTHING ELSE. For starters, the plot doesn’t make any sense; this movie is the pinnacle of the “Thorn” bullshit where Michael is suddenly a cult member under the control of the mysterious Man in Black (who popped up at the end of 5 for the biggest WTF ending ever). At the end of this one you find out who he really is, like anybody gave a fuck to begin with. There’s also another Strode family apparently, and coincidentally they’re living in the Myers house. Michael does all sorts of random shit, like electrocuting a guy until his head explodes. Still trying to figure that one out. Yet the movie’s biggest tragedy is probably Donald Pleasance, who died shortly before it was finished. He looks old and tired and isn’t given much to do, and because of his sudden death he’s hastily written out in the final scene. What a way to go.  2/5

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