kclipper

IMDb member since March 2007
    Highlights
    2016 Oscars
    Lifetime Total
    100+
    Lifetime Plot
    1+
    IMDb Member
    13 years

Reviews

The Outing
(1987)

Original Title "The Lamp" is typical 80s Cheese
Here's another unknown little horror gem from the glorious year of 1987 starring unknown actors and an unknown director whose contributions resulted in a messy but entertainingly campy film originally titled "The Lamp". For its U.K release in April 1987 during the peak of the worldwide VHS revolution, this received European distribution for six months until the U.S decided that the most popular films at that particular time dealt with horny teenagers meeting their grisly demises while sneaking off to overnight destinations, Therefore the title was changed to "The Outing" for its American video audience. This is the typical cheesy 80s slasher-type flick with amateurish acting, bad dialog and downright cheap special FX. Everything from red flashing jewelry, neon green eyes and blue lightning represent the strange paranormal activity that results from a monster-like "genie" that torments a sympathetic young heroine "Deborah Winters". Its your classic "Aladdin" story line combined with gory murders and annoying characters. The "genie" of the lamp eventually materializes into a terrible looking demonic creature obviously thrown together with cheap prosthetics and stalks the surviving cast through a museum after-hours. This movie falls into the "so bad its good" category, because there is a certain charming quality to it. The lead characters aren't unsympathetic, and the overall cheesiness, style of dress and weird aura has that 1980s ambiance that newer films lack. Fans of the 80's will love it, but modern era movie-goers would consider it boring and dated. Ultimately, its an unforgotten VHS cult-classic amongst the few and the proud.

Eaten Alive
(1976)

Ole' Judd makes Norman Bates look like Mr. Rogers.
Director, Tobe Hooper follows up on his "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" with this equally bizarre and maniacal exploitation film set in the deep south featuring a psycho scythe-wielding hotel owner who slices up his patrons and feeds them to an enormous crocodile that he keeps in the swamp beneath his property. Once again Tobe Hooper combines backwards redneck wacko realism with stark, gloomy terror to make his audience as uncomfortable as possible. Theatrically released in 1976 and subsequently distributed in 1977 under various titles like "Starlight Slaughter" and "Death Trap", this hidden gem was widespread across many drive-ins and Grindhouse movie houses everywhere and eventually made it to VHS with the rest of the "video-nasties" about nature's monsters run-amok. Similar to "Motel Hell", and "Mountaintop Motel Massacre" this also is heavily atmospheric with its piercingly loud synth-music and glowing-red ambient lighting, and is highlighted for some of its other attributes such as many zany characters, an attractive female cast, and Nevile Brand's eccentric performance as the mindlessly ranting and psychotic Judd. This was also one of the first performances of Robert Englund as the slimy redneck, Buck, who would eventually go on to portray the iconic Freddy Kruger in the popular "A Nightmare on Elm Street" series. Its considered a classic among gore and killer-crocodile movie fans. The high definition 2K restoration of this film is brilliant, and really brings it to life like never seen before by putting emphasis on lighting and color after years of washed-out looking VHS and DVD prints. It's truly remarkable, and earns the content of the film an extra star for the review! Its the only way to see this film, whether you are reliving it again or seeing it for the first time.

Blair Witch
(2016)

Crappy remake
Just to recap...Approximately 17 years ago, Creators, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez came up with a clever idea for a horror film that involved the power of suggestion alone to create a feeling of tension and fear in audiences that happened to be groundbreaking, trend-setting and effective. This cheap and artistic style involved simplistic home video and documentary camera techniques and an inexperienced cast of method actors to capture a never-before-seen horror film experience, and 1999 was a prominent year for this to take place. The mid-to-late 1990's was ultimately the death of the horror film with the end of the VHS movement and the DVD market pushing the genre into obscurity with cheap and contrived low budget films. Myrick and Sanchez seemed to be on to something new, and with an estimated budget of $60,000 launched a whole new perspective on the conceptual horror film. In 1999, The Sci-Fi channel premiered a documentary that consisted of found footage that presented evidence of supernatural occurrences resulting in the missing person cases of four college students that were making a film about the Blair Witch. The Blair Witch is a legend surrounding the countryside of Berkitsville, Maryland, and the "phony" documentary was effective in convincing audiences that the theatrical film actually featured the lost footage of the disappearances of these unfortunate students. These techniques of shaky video cameras and lost-in-the-woods scare tactics earned filmmakers and Hollywood an enormous payoff as well as sparking a whole new genre that was creepy and effective.

Unfortunately, films like "Paranormal Activity", "As Above, So Below" and many others would eventually use these techniques to dull and eradicate this new style into a boring and mundane series of cheap movies. The remake, "The Blair Witch" is no exception, and this 2016 Halloween revamping is such a hyped-up mess of a film, that I can't help but to be further convinced that the death of the horror film is on the brink once again. The weak premise of this film begins as your typical trendy group of young and good-looking students embark on a mission to find poor Heather who went missing in the woods years ago. Knowing of the consequences at hand, the group brings no weapons or provisions to help their eventual plight. Terrible camera work, cheap scares and modern technical ploys such as a digital camera mounted on an advanced toy helicopter that pairs to a visual cell phone app do not offset the shear crappiness of this re-hash. It completely resembles the same plot as the original movie, but its attempts to "jump scare" and tease the audience with failed editing and weak set design. The cast is above average, but nothing can save this flick, since the film-makers are evidently trying to cash in on something that has already been done, and they can't bring anything new to the table. Its a waste of time. If you want a Halloween scare, check out "The Conjuring 2" instead for 2016. I pass on this.

Phantasm II
(1988)

The Ball is back, and better than ever!
This is probably my favorite film in the "Phantasm" series, and not to mention one of my favorite films during the VHS revolution of the 1980's and early 90's. The sequel to the cult classic "Phantasm" contains all of the campy weirdness and comical elements that made that era so significant for true horror film fans. Taking place much later after the events of the first film, an already grown Mike (James Le Gros) is released from the Morningside psychiatric facility unconvinced that the "Tall Man" (Angus Scrimm) and his dwarf minions are products of his imagination. He must persuade his long-time friend and companion Reggie Bannister that the events from 8 years ago were in fact a reality. After Reggie's house explodes along with his entire family, its time to hit the road with the classic 1971 black HemiCuda 426 and shopping carts full of weapons to stop the Tall Man's quest to rob every grave and kill every person who inhabits the small towns of the North-western United States.

This is classic 80's action-horror-comedy film-making with Director, Don Coscarelli once again at the helm for what is a wild, twisted and bizarre journey into skewered reality and fantasy. Every device from the original Phantasm is back and better including the flying killer silver spheres which get much more screen time in this chapter. A likable cast is in top form including Mike's love interest (Paula Irvine) whom he as a psychic link with and the unfortunate Father Meyers (Kenneth Tigar). Reggie and Mike make a great team of hunters battling the forces of the undead with flamethrowers, chainsaws, modified shotguns and other various weapons. This has much more gore and bloodshed than the first film, and the relationships between the characters, (especially Mike and Liz) have good chemistry. There's never a dull moment, and plenty of comic relief make this a memorable addition to the ultra-weird world of Phantasm. Reggie and Angus return for Phantasm III in 1994.

Phantasm: Ravager
(2016)

17 year long-awaited final chapter
Cult classic film fans will appreciate the visionary elements of Director, David Hartman's glimpse into the bizarre and fantastical world of the "Phantasm" series in this disjointed but entertaining final chapter in a long-time saga of weirdness and mayhem. This is the first of the "Phantasm" films that is not directed by originator, Don Coscarelli and the final performance of the late and great Angus Scrimm as the "Tall Man" who passed away at age 89 in 2016. He returns along with much of the original cast of the "Phantasm" films including: Reggie Banister, Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury, Kelly Lester, Gloria Lynne Henry and the awesome '71 Cuda as they battle the evil army of graveroobbers that continue to populate the countryside with living-dead dwarfs, zombies and of course, the dreaded silver spheres. Its been 17 years since "Phantasm IV" and this picks up where that film left off, but with a significantly older Reggie Banister wandering the mid-west after his subsequent escape from the "Tall Man" and his minions. Don't fret since it has been a while since the film's opening quickly recaps the basic highlights of previous films including Phantasm IV's revealing of the identity and origins of the "Tall Man", Morningside Cemetery and the mystery of the flying spheres.

This falls short of everything you would expect from a continuation of the Phantasm saga, but as a long time fan its nice to hear that original Fred Myrow/Malcolm Seagrave musical score that once again sets the mood for this outstandingly strange world. Ultimately, this utilizes the fact that the original characters are at the mercy of old age and lost time, especially Reggie as he is diagnosed with dementia, institutionalized and cannot tell the difference between nightmare and reality and must reprise everything he already experienced and more. The final moments of Angus Scrimm combined with Reggie's journey into past reflections are handled quite well by director/writer, David Hartman whom you can tell is a devoted fan of the series. Presumably, this is on a modest budget, but that is no surprise, and it seems to contribute to the comic relief and overall ambiance of the film. The problems with this movie arise with Reggie's memories and whether or not they corroborate the events in the story, as this is the whole point and meaning of "Phantasm". What may be conceived of as real may not be, and what is remembered may just be a glimpse into an alternate reality. Are Reggie's memories just another attempt by the Tall Man to destroy him, or will he actually reunite with his friends Mike and Jody and defeat the Tall Man once and for all? Its inevitably a battle between Reggie's blurred fantasy of world domination as he struggles between dreams and reality. The film is definitely flawed, Dawn Cody is terrible as the female interest and Angus Scrimm's character is obviously transposed into many scenes from the older prints. Cheap CGI effects are evident and the last half hour is so confusing and pointless leaving no closure to the overall story except a messy and convoluted ending, but as a fan, its nice to see the cast reunited, and some fresh ideas. Its too bad it took so long to materialize this final chapter and why they couldn't perfect it due to so many production and writing difficulties which are obvious. Its not satisfying, but I had some fun with it for what it is.. I guess its up to the fans to decide after all these years whether or not it can hold a candle to its predecessors. Not great, but can't say I found it completely worthless. Think of it as a homage to an original and intriguing concept and a farewell to those who contributed to it.

Cell
(2016)

Stephen King's adaptation is a misfire.
Stephen King's 2006 novel "Cell" was clearly a statement on our generation's obsession with cellphones and the consequences of society's dependency on new technology, and it also could be considered his first and only spin-off of the "zombie" genre that has become ever so popular. The book is thought-provoking and engaging if not very coherent or conclusive, but this film adaptation is poorly executed in comparison. The audience is immediately hurled into the action as people turn stark-raving mad as a result of some unexplained cellphone signal. Scenes of people transforming into mindless vessels of destruction and violence are shocking and brutal, and might satisfy gore fans, but overall the film is quite disappointing. We have no character development, a screenplay by King that seems rushed and contrived and low-rate camera work and sound with special effects that seem to be on par with films like "Sharknado" John Cusack and Samuel Jackson don't have much to work with, and if you have already seen the "Dawn of the Dead" remake or "28 Days Later" you will not be surprised that they were just trying to copy the same trope with the exception of the originality and depth that those films had. This is the first major Stephen King adaptation since "The Mist" which was brilliant film-making to say the least, but its sad to say that Stephen King movies might be losing their impact. Read the book instead.

31
(2016)

A Halloween celebration of death...some things never change.
It's been four years since horror fans have had their taste of the depravity and lunacy that Director, Rob Zombie has been able to effectively serve up beginning with his directorial debut "House of 1000 Corpses". Followed by its shocking but enjoyable sequel "The Devils Rejects", Zombie has helped to usher in a new strain of twisted and ultra-violent horror films catering to a post-millennial, desensitized audience. Remarkably, Zombie has combined elements of old school classic 1970s and 80s grindhouse/exploitation cinema with nail-biting gore and slasher genres into a delicious brew of unique camera work and disturbing imagery. Together with a blend of over-the-top dialogue and morally repugnant antics delivered by a talented team of veteran genre actors hand-picked by Zombie himself, these films are designed to offend and disgust the light-hearted but entice and entertain the truly bold and devoted horror film addict.

Nevertheless, Zombie's "31" just in time for October 31 of course will either give fans more of a fresh dose of death or disappoint audiences that are looking for something new and refreshing. If you are the latter, you may be among the many to experience just more of the same Rob Zombie formula. It begins quite predictably with detestable characters, bloody brutality, and stark and dark set design all at the end of the road for foul-mouthed grimy hippie-like 1970s characters that end up at the wrong place at the wrong time. The standard deviation applies, as among the prey is Zombie's sexy wife, Sherri Moon Zombie, who basically reprises her scream queen hipster routine by flirtatiously strutting her stuff all the way to the dungeon. Now enters Malcolm McDowell donning renaissance era attire complete with powdered wig and make-up. He happens to be the father of a twisted family of murderous freaks that kidnap unfortunate travelers for the sole purpose of playing a sadistic cat & mouse game that ends in...you guessed it folks, torture and murder. Sound familiar. No surprises here as the "story" begins to resemble a demented version of "The Running Man" with the cast rambling on unintelligibly and veteran B-movie actress, Meg Foster looking like an extra from "The Walking Dead". She's probably the most terrifying thing about this flick, unless you think being stalked and taunted by an Adolf Hitler Nazi dwarf or attacked by chainsaw wielding psycho clowns is scary. It delivers the gore and is not short on bad humor and insanity (Richard Brake is hilarious), but the long awaited anticipation for a Rob Zombie feature with originality seems a bit of a let-down.

AVP: Alien vs. Predator
(2004)

Combining two classic movie monsters into one dynamic showdown!
25 years ago Ridley Scott scared us with his terror in space original "Alien" in which technically adept director, James Cameron elaborated on successfully in "Aliens". Then came the concept of an advanced race of aliens that hunt for sport using state-of-the-art technology in the box office smash, "Predator". The 1991 sequel, "Predator 2" featured an in-joke at the film's climax where Ridley Scott's "Alien" skull is observed as being a trophy inside the "Predator's" spaceship, and that idea launched the 1993 Super Nintendo video game, the Stephen Perry book and not to mention various graphic novels that pitted the two species against each-other in a mega-war between the races.

Now its 2004, and director, Paul W.S. Anderson (producer of Resident Evil) finally decides to bring the idea to the big screen in a slam-bang action showdown. Beautiful survivalist, Sanaa Lathan is recruited along with a group of scientists by Weyland Industries' Charles "Bishop" Weyland (Lance Henrickson) to journey to Antarctica where a satellite observed the ancient ruins of a pyramid under the ice that dates back before the Egyptians. It turns out the the "Predator" race designed the structure in order to breed the parasitic "Alien" creatures in order to hunt for sport, and human beings were the unfortunate hosts. Now as the body count piles up, resourceful female hero must combine wits with the hunters in order to defeat the enemy. Sound familiar? This is hardly new terrain, but the action is exciting enough, the special FX top notch, and fans of "Alien/Predator" films will appreciate the effort. Lance Henrickson is the perfect candidate for Weyland, and Lathan shines through as the tough but gorgeous female lead. This has plenty of thrills, homages to the original films and the combination of the treacherous Arctic landscape and Egyptian archetypal symbolism is very unique. The unrated version is the way to go of course, and provides a bit more action, but either way this is good stuff for fans of these films. Behold, the sequel, AVP: Requiem comes next!!

It Follows
(2014)

Original, creepy and worthy of modern cult-classic status
Here is an exercise in atmospheric creepiness, eerie repugnance and downright unsettlingly intensity. This Little horror film from genre newcomer David Robert Mitchell, who wrote and directed this dark and weird tale of the supernatural, conveys unexplained phenomena in a twisted display of disjointed storytelling. "Unexplained" is the best way of describing the action that takes place, but metaphorically this film stands alone in its attempt to recreate and pay homage to the 1980's horror films dealing with teenage sexuality and its repercussions. It seems that there is this entity, and I feel that that's the only appropriate way to define it, an "entity" that can take any human form it wants and mark its victims consecutively as they engage in sexual relations with each-other. It seems confusing, but quite simple in fact. This supernatural entity is somewhat of a sexually transmitted disease that is only visible to those that are marked. It has super-human strength and cunning will follow, track down and perversely destroy those that it targets without emotion, feeling or remorse.

This atmospheric film, although quite incoherent and strange at times incorporates a ambiance that is obviously influenced by 1980's films by John Carpenter, and it achieves his approach towards mood and tension over character development and story. In other words, its a horror film for horror fans, and that's all. There is no explanation for the "Hows" or "Whys". It just is what it is, and the plot devices and suspenseful set-ups are on par with those great films of the 80's that got under our skin for no definable reason other than its sheer weirdness and paranoia. Maybe future sequels will build up towards a more precise explanation, but in the meantime, audiences will be enthralled by its mystery. Its a film that poses many questions, but continues to surprise and shock. That's all I can say without completely spoiling the fun, but I will say this much...The performances are believable, the music and mood are unbearably tense, and it has a psychological effect that is inexplicable. Look out for those most disturbing scenes...The swimming pool scene, and creepy next door neighbor standing naked on the roof of the house is a hoot. Remember, Be careful who you sleep with and always watch your back.

Swamp Thing
(1982)

DC comic's swampy superhero comes alive thanks to imaginative Wes Craven!
Scientists say that the human eye can see more shades of green than any other color within the observable light spectrum. With that being said, this is probably the most wonderfully "green" movie that sci-fi/action film fans will ever see, and director, Wes Craven departs from his normally shock/horror nature into the lively world of beauty and love, tragedy and redemption.

Its an 80's cult classic along with practically every Wes Craven film, but stands alone as a representation of the classic archetypal super-hero as well. Adrienne Barbeau is a tech. wiz that takes a job as an assistant to brilliant organic chemistry genius, Dr. Alec Holland (Ray Wise) who eventually falls victim to the diabolical Arcane (Louis Jourdan) who is after Holland's breakthrough secrets in plant/animal regeneration formula. After Holland is burned and exposed to the new serum, He ultimately becomes the super-human monstrosity, and still retains human emotion and feelings, especially for his newfound love, Barbeau.

This makes for a touching and exciting movie experience featuring ambitious performances by the whole cast, including Dick Durock as Swamp Thing, David Hess in his typical scumbag role, Nicholas Worth taking one for the team and talented French actor Louis Jourdan as the arch nemesis. This fantastic little film contains all of the ingredients of a comic book fantasy adventure portraying the classic hero mythology with style and wit. Craven's use of color, lighting and sound illustrates his love for making movies, and the cast is excellent. It's modest budget shows through the costume design and layout, but the end result is a spectacularly profound love story ending in an exciting climax and statement on technology and its probability to fall into the wrong hands. Its definitely one of Craven's underrated best.

Fear Clinic
(2014)

Average shocker
Photo-realistic creature FX wizard, Robert Hall directs this direct-to-video fear flick starring The one and only Freddy Kruger, actor Robert Englund as a brilliant doctor who finds a way to cure his patients' extreme phobias through a makeshift sensory deprivation chamber that creates hallucinations that eventually eradicate that area of the brain that controls fear. Unfortuanately "fear" is actually a demon incarnate, (or something) and wants retribution against the clinic's inhabitants for trying to defeat it in the first place.

Some may find this to be a clever concept with a modest budget controlled very well with production value and efforts from the cast. Others, including myself find it to be a convoluted, CGI ridden mess with most of the action incoherent and a premise that fails to justify an extremely bizarre and confusing climax. The performances of the cast are quite impressive. Englund is convincing as the conflicted doctor and Fred Dekker (The Sarah Conner Chronicles) is very good as a cripple who's brain begins to regenerate after the treatment. The strangeness really kicks into gear when people begin to die after their treatments are rather successful, and for some reason or another the doctor is possessed by the "fear" entity in an onslaught of nightmarish special FX. Its induced with lots of panic and emotional drama from the female cast as well as male cast behaving like typical douchebags. Other performances include Fiona Dourif, the daughter of veteran genre actor and voice of Chucky the killer doll, Brad Dourif and the acting debut of talented heavy metal front-man, Corey Taylor of bands, "Slipknot" and "Stone Sour" as a clinic orderly. With that in mind, this fulfills most of the clichés with teen screams, big-boobed sex scene, a little bit of gore but not much to expect from what resembles an intensely atmospheric music video much of the time. Its not bad if you don't have anything else to watch.

American Psycho
(2000)

A statement on narcissism and high society with Bale in top form
Christian Bale is top notch in this dark comedy that compares serial killer-like sociopathic traits to the drives and ambitions of the opportunists of the New York stock exchange. The setting is the trendy night clubs and big city environment of the 1980's, and Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is an executive investment banker who just so happens to have a psychopathic personality that lacks emotion and lusts after torture, murder, greed and social status. His mask of sanity is so well portrayed that eventually when his alter ego gets the best of him, his colleagues and associates do not believe that he is able to commit the crimes he is confessing to.

This is a well thought out production by Director, Mary Harron who's screenplay is based on a Bret Easton Ellis novel. Bale plays the ego-maniacal Patrick to sheer perfection. His character, although extremely narcissistic and murderous in nature, displays a guilty conscious that inevitably results in a complete breakdown. The content of the film is dementedly hilarious, as Bateman amorally murders the homeless, mutilates prostitutes, and kills his fellow colleagues over things as simple as business cards and professional status. Bale is excellent at playing a fictional but very complex character, and the film captures the predatory aspects of the big city executive hierarchy. Director, Harron seems to present a statement on the hjman ego and how destructive and desensitized it can be. Comedic touches include Bale chasing a prostitute with a chainsaw through the stairwell of an apartment building completely naked and screaming, and staring himself in a mirror while having sex with prostitutes revealing his complete obsession with his own self image. Its a psychological thriller combined with a twisted sense of humor and appreciation of the musical culture of the 1980's. It features music by Huey Lewis and the News, Genesis, and Robert Palmer, and it all centers on Bateman's ability to irrationally justify his destructive tendencies and descend into a world of madness and depravity. Willem Defoe is a detective hot on his trail and Reese Witherspoon is his self-absorbed, unknowing girlfriend. Audiences will laugh and bewilder over this structurally complicated, satirical character study. Its a story about climbing the ladder of success while disintegrating morally and leaving behind a spiritless, empty shell, but it never ceases to be entertaining.

Haute tension
(2003)

Torture-porn with a twist
Alexandra Aja (The Hills Have Eyes 2006) directs this French-made gore-fest combining atmospheric tension with an excellent twist that will satisfy the torture porn audiences that loved films such as "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 20003" and "Hostel" that earmarked horror of the new millennium. This intense film follows the relationship of two females, Marie and Alexa, who decide to take a vacation at Alexa's parents country house which is eventually invaded by a big stomping weirdo in coveralls that seems to effortlessly slash everyone he comes across with no remorse. One of the girls is taken hostage in a really creepy old truck and the body count rises as the girls must play hide and seek in the traditional slasher film style. I do not want to give away the twist-ending, but its worth the trouble for gore and blood fans.

This is the typical horror/gore movie. It includes graphically violent murder scenes, really bad French/English dubbing throughout at least half the film, and panic-induced girls running through the woods and hiding under the bed being chased by what seems to be the run-of-the-mills blood-soaked serial killer in overalls. Its illogical and goes against all laws of physics, but the direction is above average, and the tension is high (hence the title). Its a sick and twisted ride through the bizarre and impossible, but audiences of shock value flicks will appreciate its stimulation. You have been warned. Take it or leave it.

Evil Dead II
(1987)

A horror/comedy classic that made the 80's great!
Bruce Campbell etches himself into history as a physically comedic icon in horror movie history with this gruesome but hilarious sequel to Sam Raimi's 1981 low budget gore-fest, "The Evil Dead". This is a stand-alone film that has no connection to the original. Actually it is a sort of remake that has been improved upon with a more slapstick approach to the genre. H.P. Lovecraft's infamous Book Of The Dead is utilized once more, with an archaeologist stumbling upon its deadly passages and foolishly reciting them within the confines of a remote cabin in the woods. The demonic forces are once again unleashed, and Ash (Bruce Campbell) and girlfriend fall victim to the unseen demonic forces while attempting a quiet vacation.

This crazy movie has it all. The action starts right away, and its a onslaught of bloody mayhem as Ash has to chop up his possessed girlfriend, battle his own possessed hand in a scene that defined Bruce Campbell as a dynamic actor. Super-fast camera shots panning through walls, busting down doors and hurling poor Ash through trees and car windshields. The on-going antics in this film resemble a sort of demented "Looney Tunes" like cartoon element, and when the rest of the cast, including the archaeologists daughter, and a couple of redneck locals, the hilarity really kicks into gear. The special effects are the classic stop-motion combined with make up and prosthetics that made the 80's great. Its Sam Raimi's finest hour as gallons of blood are sprayed, eyeballs pop out and fly across the room and there is mutilation galore, and its all done with a comic-book like style and glory. You'll love it! Raimi goes on to finish the Ash saga with "Army of Darkness" just before he hits the box office mainstream with big budget films. This was history in the making indeed.

Something Wicked This Way Comes
(1983)

A lost 80's classic that captures the magic and sentiment of Bradbury
I grew up with this classic Ray Bradbury adaptation (who also wrote the wonderful screenplay), and to this day am astounded by its beauty, darkness and wonder. Very few films can capture the language and the look of the mystery shrouded within the small American town and the desperation of its people in the early 1900's. The town is Green Town, Illinois. A storm is on the way, and so is a sinister carnival and its diabolical proprietor named Mr. Dark (Jonathan Pryce). They have something wicked in store for the unsuspecting citizens by seducing their deepest desires for youth and greed. Only young Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade realize the dangerous secrets held by the carnival when they witness strange events at night. The boys must convince Will's father (Jason Robards) the town librarian that Mr. Dark has evil powers, and the carnival's intentions of stealing souls and destroying Green Town in its wake.

This is brilliantly directed by Jack Clayton (The Great Gatsby) with all of the charms of the forgotten American small town considered. Bradbury's screenplay shines with every nuance and detail. Jason Robards is excellent as the regretfully aging town librarian with a bad heart, and so is Royal Dano as a mysterious traveling seller of lightning rods. The two little boys embark on an adventure full of suspense, darkness and wonder, and the townspeople each fall victim to temptation and evil. This captures the creepiness of the early 1900's carnivals during the depression era and the human need to redeem that which is lost through age and the hopelessness of mundane routine. James Horner's score is well-fitting, and nice touches include hundreds of tarantulas and a backwards carousel that makes people age in reverse. The walk and talk of this movie are as timeless as the novel. Also look for Diane Ladd and Pam Grier as a creepy witch.

Troll
(1986)

The origins of Harry Potter...whether you like it or not
This is one of the best of the 1980's Empire Pictures movies by Charles Band to grace the VHS and cable TV generation of that time. As campy, goofy and downright fantastical as that era has to offer, this combines elements of witches, magicians and mystical forests with the eccentricities of a downtown New York apartment and its out-of-the-ordinary tenants.

Harry Potter Jr. (obviously an inspiration for J.K Rowling's groundbreaking novels) is a young boy that just moved into said apartment building with dad (Michael Moriarty in his usual crazy role). Apparently, Potter's younger sister is possessed by the "Troll", Torok, who is actually a cursed warlock that is trying to create a fantasy garden environment of elves and creatures out of the apartment and its tenants, all with the power of a magical ring. As the disappearances of the occupants grows, Harry befriends Eunice St. Claire, who is actually an ex-princess turned good witch that was once acquainted with the evil Torok. Now, young Harry Potter must team up with St. Claire to save his sister and the world as we know it from Torok and his sinister plan.

This is your typical 80's cheesy movie weirdness from Empire Pictures who's rubbery creature effects mimic the "Ghoulies" films, but is on a completely different level, incorporating many comedic elements along with charming, funny characters, fairy-like worlds and an exciting climax involving the young Harry Potter Jr., the fair-haired maiden and the Princess. This little movie embedded itself into history not only with the "Harry Potter" aspect, but its delightfully energetic performances from June Lockhart (Lost In Space), Julia-Louis Dreyfuss (Seinfeld), Moriarty, and not to mention Sonny Bono's transformation into a giant green sprouting turd. Enjoy it for what it is, a mixture of Tolken-like themes and the type fantasy-adventure cheesiness that put film-making of the 1980's in a class by itself.

Halloween
(2007)

Unbelievably disturbing remake.
Rob Zombie, like myself is a die-hard old school horror/exploitation fan of all the original horror films that paved the way to today's disturbing and desensitized Internet and television generation. This remake of John Carpenter's landmark achievement in horror film history is Rob Zombie's best work after "The Devil's Rejects". Zombie goes for stark reality and exposes a statement on the worst of our twisted society, merging that concept with Carpenter's original tale of "pure" evil incarnate about a little boy transformed into a mindless but calculated killing machine without motive or purpose. A frightening concept indeed, and its handled by a cast of genre veterans as well as talented newcomers in a modern day exercise of murder and mayhem.

This film is divided into two parts in which the audience is free to judge which part is best. Zombie decides to juxtapose a story about a young Michael Myers, who undergoes child abuse and neglect by bullies, a vicious step-dad (portrayed to the extreme by talented genre actor, William Forsythe) and a self-absorbed older sister in which he relentlessly slaughters on Halloween night circa 1970's and fast-forwards it to later day as psychologist, (perfectly played by Malcolm McDowell) retires and alters a now older and powerful Michael into a soulless killer. Michael disposes anyone who gets in his way in order to seek out his baby sister and return to Haddonfield for an onslaught of murder and revenge.

French child actor, Daeg Faerch is excellent as the 10 yr. old victimized Michael as well as poor, distraught Mom (finely played by Zombie's wife, Sherri Moon Zombie) and this first part of the movie is triumphant in displaying a complicated and surreal backdrop to second half of the story that John Carpenter defined as "The Shape" and not a human being anymore, but a ruthless entity that kills without passion. Its ultimately up to the audience to decide whether Zombie's new-school revamping can live up to original classic, but overall, I believe it to be a compelling masterpiece that takes an already classic concept and transposes it to a tragic and hopeless post-millennial era in which people fail to embrace what's truly substantial and altruistic. I truly think that's what Zombie is hinting at with this remarkable film. Other old-school genre stars include, Ken Foree, Brad Dourif, Clint Howard, Danny Trejo, Tom Towles, Bill Moseley, Danielle Harris, Dee Wallace, Sybil Danning, and Sid Haig, and more! Its truly sick and demented stuff from a director/writer that understands the darkest depths of our world's most nihilistic intentions dealing with revenge and retribution. Plenty of homages, plenty of sick dialog, I loved this movie! Followed by "Haloween II" and "The Lords of Salem".

Re-Animator
(1985)

The H.P. Lovecraft adaptation that defined horror/comedy.
Writer/Director, Stuart Gordon along with Producer, Brian Yuzna and the perfect cast including Bruce Abbott, Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton collaborate on what is probably the most dementedly hilarious horror/comedy of the 1980's. Based on H.P. Lovecraft's ahead-of-its-time six-part novelette, "Herbert West - Re-animator", this is an example of the kind of movie that made the mid-1980's such landmark time for this type of genre. Its gory to the extreme, and provides more comic relief for fans of morbid humor than any other film of its peculiar stature.

Stuart Gordon keeps true to Lovecraft's unique style and locations, including the fictionally infamous, Miskatonic Medical School in Arkham, Massachusetts, where this crazy film takes place. Herbert West, perfectly portrayed by Jeffrey Combs invents a serum that can resurrect organisms after subsequent brain death, but the effects are catastrophic for med student Bruce Abbott and pretty girlfriend, Barbara Crampton as the bodies turn out to be mindless, violent zombies. Stuart Gordon adds plenty of excellent additives to Lovecraft's original story including a sub-plot with actor, David Gale as an acclaimed professor who steals West's ideas on reanimation.

This is Lovecraft's already twisted story adapted into a non-stop display of madness and gore with great performances from a cast that clearly appreciates the subject matter. Jeffrey Combs is to Herbert West such as Anthony Hopkins is to Hannibal Lecter in one of the best character performances in horror movie history. Its zany, horrific and downright entertaining especially for fans of Lovecraft's bizarre cosmic science fiction. Great dialog, gallons of blood, intestines attacking like a hungry python and a talking severed head going down on poor Crampton while she's immobilized are just of the few hilarious highlights of this uproarious film. Followed by "Bride of Re-animator" and the equally effective "Beyond Re-animator". This is an absolute classic.

Annabelle
(2014)

Prequel to "The Conjuring" 's creepy doll makes for an O.K. Halloween treat.
This is the supposed story behind the creepy doll within the glass case featured in last Halloween's superior haunted house thriller, "The Conjuring". Demonology experts, Ed and Lorraine Warren collect the cursed objects that inhabit or potentially exert demonic forces on their owners creating everything from hauntings to demonic possession. This film is its worthy prequel but lacks the overall intensity and coherency of its predecessor as well as any appearances from Ed or Lorraine Warren themselves.

The stage is well set for a horror film as this takes place in the 1970's during the infamous Tate/LaBianca cult killings by the Charles Manson family which prompted homeowners to begin locking their doors at night due to the horrific crimes committed by satanic hippie cults in that time. Likable couple, Mia and John Gordon are expecting their newborn baby any day when a frightening experience stirs their happy home. Cult members attack them in their house, but are eventually brought down by police, and one of the cult members holds Mia's new doll in her arms. As time goes on the normal haunted house movie clichés and disturbances ensue, and sympathetic mother, Mia must battle the demonic forces at hand.

This is ultimately a horror film depicting a poor new mother who seems to deal with a terrifying entity all on her own. Picture perfect husband is so positive, that he is oblivious to the problem that plagues his wife and newborn baby. Obviously the doll is a conduit for the evil presence that is after Mommy's soul and uses her love for her child to get it. Its a solid premise that is muddled and overachieved by inconsistencies and strange decision-making. Mia decides to get rid of the doll for its sheer creepiness, and after the doll mysteriously returns, she decides out of the blue that she wants to keep it? Actions like these are never fully explained, and a likable bookstore owner, Alfre Woodard, although an excellent character, she provides the final answer that makes the ending seem rushed and pretentious. Overall, after forgiving this film for its obvious flaws, on a good note, the doll is extremely creepy, the movie is packed to the brim with startling moments, a scary, black demon creature and good performances that create genuine tension and paranoia make this an average Halloween flick for 2014. You be the judge.

The Curse
(1987)

Another lost 80's VHS gem, disturbing and atmospheric.
H.P. Lovecraft's "The Colour Out of Space" was the direct influence for this 1980's science fiction/horror creepy classic. Wil Wheaton (Stand By Me) is a young boy who lives on a farm with his mother and bible-thumping, patriarchal stepfather, Claude Akins and his family, when a sinister meteor falls from the sky which seems to infect the water supply, causing vegetables, cattle and victims to rot from the inside out. Meanwhile, greedy developer, John Schneider wants to buy up the property in order to construct a new dam.

This is 1987, the classic year for 80's horror, and this little film is no exception. It harbors a real deviant and nihilistic quality that makes it disturbing to watch. Icky, gooey slime oozes from vegetables, animals and human beings suggesting the worst effects of a diseased and tragic aftermath of cosmic proportions in the typical Lovecraftian sense. Wil Wheaton portrays the sympathetic protagonist as he must not only confront the terror at hand, but deal with being alienated by his step-family's cruelty and oppression. With everyone against him and time running out, poor Wil, being the only one intelligent enough not to drink the water or eat the food must convince authorities that something extremely weird is going on. A gloomy ambiance looms over the mood of this lost 80's gem thanks to Director/Actor, David Keith. Nothing about this film is comforting or reassuring. Spielberg look out!

Amityville II: The Possession
(1982)

Inaccurate, but intense and disturbing prequel to "The Amityville Horror"
This is loosely based on the 1979 book "Murder In Amityville" by Hans Holzer, and centers on the Ronald Defeo Jr. Murders that took place on 112 Ocean Ave, Amityville New York in 1974 in which Defeo allegedly shot is entire family and pleaded everything from insanity to demonic possession. Defeo was found guilty and sent to prison, but the events that unfolded that November inspired the entire saga behind what is now known as "The Amityville Horror". Technically this film is the prequel to the subsequent occupation of the house by George and Kathy Lutz depicted in the first film, and comes off quite disturbing until its uneven climax.

Its a perfect example of how Hollywood exploits and the how the media can take a factually tragic event in history and completely blow it out of proportion in order to entertain and amuse the masses. The facts behind the Defeo Murders and Lutz family's claims have been a controversial subject for over 30 years now, and the mystery behind the films and books continue to entice haunted house fans and skeptics alike. Nevertheless, this movie utilizes many of the same demonic, anti-Christian symbolism and clichés that can be seen in "The Exorcist", and some of them are quite effective. Point of view, swooping camera shots, creepy music and voices, bleeding cellar walls, and unsettling atmosphere are just to name a few as evil forces wreck havoc on an already unstable family of six fathered by closed-minded brute, Burt Young. Although the film falls painfully flat on its face after the actual murders take place, and becomes an awkward and overzealous attempt at making another "Exorcist" ripoff with the battle between a misunderstood priest, James Olson and the demonic entity. The final climax is convoluted and distorted, but the disturbing events leading up to it are definitely worth checking out. Followed by "Amityville 3D", When will Hollywood give up?

Poltergeist
(1982)

haunted house thrills combined with Spielberg fantasy charm
The 1980's was such a significant time for what set the stage for the horror genre. That combined with the sentimental elements of Steven Spielberg's wonderful and exciting films land-marked during that time, this is one of the most memorable fantasy/adventure movies up there with "Back To The Future", "The Goonies" and "Close Encounters of The Third Kind" Spielberg is Executive Producer and Tobe Hooper, Director of The original "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" work together in a perfect collaboration that is equally disturbing as it is charming and thought-provoking.

Ex-hippies, Craig T. Nelson (Coach) and Jobeth Williams and Their three children live in the picture perfect American suburban home, but ultimately undergo disturbances and paranormal activity due to the neighborhood plan being erected on a sacred burial ground. It seems that poltergeist activity is directly linked to the essence of their little daughter, Carol Anne and the presence will stop at nothing to capture her spirit and in the meantime wreck havoc on the family's happy home life. Introducing 4'3" character actress, Zelda Rubinstein as the psychic medium, Tangina in a role that defines quirkiness.

This is the film that earmarked the combination of classic haunted house thriller with the fantasy/family fun and scary sentiment that will later on bring us the 1980's box office hits such as E.T., Gremlins, and Indiana Jones. This is one of the classic films that paved the way, and there's no denying its originality, great storyline, effective Jerry Goldsmith music and breakthrough special effects that defined a special era in film-making history. The talented cast together with ahead-of-its-time supernatural elements and entertaining fast-paced humor and eccentrics make this a tour-De force of all our suburban childhood traumas, including a ghostly tree, thunderstorm paranoia, a creepy clown-doll, and other various toy artifacts that are embedded into our psyches and plague our fears of the unknown and overall uneasiness with innocent curiosities. Tobe Hooper, Steven Spielberg and producers seem to know what touches our deepest fears as well as our insight into life-after-death, and they translate it onto the big screen into what is a non-stop action-adventure horror/fantasy for an audience that can appreciate the American dream and the American nightmare of what might be in the closet or under the bed. Highly recommended for all generations.

Creepshow
(1982)

One of the best anathology horror films ever!
Here's to writers, George Romero and Stephen King, producer, Richard Rubenstein and a talented cast for collaborating on this 1980's classic illumination of the popularly demented comic books of the 1950's inspired by the weird works of H.P. Lovecraft and bringing it to colorful life. This features five stories. "Fathers Day", your typical "vengeance from the grave" tale, "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill" in which Stephen King himself is turned into a mutated plant after a meteorite crashes on his farm, "Something To Tide You Over" with Leslie Neilson involved in a twisted revenge scheme that comes back to haunt him, "The Crate" has a prehistoric creature and a plan to get rid of a bitchy wife, and last but not least a million cockroaches terrorize a heartless businessman in "They're Creeping Up On You".

This combines excellent performances from a versatile group of genre actors with a brilliant use of color and dynamics to bring the campy and gory feel of the horror comics alive. The great cast includes, Adrienne Barbeau, Fritz Weaver, Ted Danson, Ed Harris, E.G. Marshall, Hal Holbrook, Tom Atkins, Viveca Lindfors and more. The stories are told with a witty and coherent script and lively pace, a perfectly fitting electronic musical score and a great wrap-around story brings it to a satisfying close. Tom Savini's talents go into the creature FX, and he has a cameo at the end... and hooray for scenes of this being filmed in my home town of Monroeville!! Enjoy!

Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III
(1990)

"Look what your brother did to the door!"...again
Its 1990, and the VHS horror sequel craze continues on with major studios such as "New Line Cinema" and "Paramount" satisfying our appetites for violence and demented humor by releasing modern versions of classic 1970's terror tales such as the original "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" that in comparison with today's extreme horror, seems quite watered down and grainy. It required tremendous effort on the part of director, Jeff Burr (who brought us the creepy anthology, "Offspring" and "Stepfather 2") to get the studio to release "Leatherface" in a very stripped-down and incoherent theatrical R-rated version who's cuts are overwhelmingly noticeable.

Thanks to the DVD revolution for restoring it back to a better but still incomplete edition with most of its nihilistic content in tact. The story's the same, but the departure from the original includes many unique touches and a whole new "family" of cannibalistic psychopaths including... Viggo Mortenson, Joe Unger and R.A. Mihailoff as Leatherface. Kate Hodge and William Butler are the hapless victims and Ken Foree is a survivalist in on the action. Excellent set pieces including a sledgehammer head-shot concoction with a rope trigger, a shiny, custom-made chrome chainsaw with "The Saw is Family" engraved on the blade and various traps and gags add to the originality. (The family's last name is "Sawyer") A cute but sadistic little girl, a mama that speaks through a hole in her throat and other various twisted characters contribute to the insanity as this family that slays together exhibits a strange and dualistic comradery. Viggo Mortenson is great in his early role as Eddie "I told you to call me Tex", Ken Foree is in top form and the script is comedic and witty. Some inconsistencies remain. The Alternate ending is much better since the re-appearance of Foree's character after getting a chainsaw to the head makes no sense. Look for Caroline Williams "Stretch" from "Texas Chainsaw 2" in a brief cameo, and just sit back and have fun with this twisted little flick for what it is, and to whom it may concern... The rough print Director's Cut before post-production does exist, and is the most complete version of the film to date if you're lucky enough to find it.

The Amityville Horror
(1979)

The original controversial haunted house movie
Based on the book depicting events that took place following the actual case of the 1974 Ronald Defeo murders of the New York suburban town of Amityville. George and Kathy Lutz and family move into their dream home and subsequently fall victim to paranormal forces that seem to be demonic in nature, and aggressive and violent incidents plague the poor family and their psychological well-being. Fans and skeptics doubt the credulity of the Lutz family's claims, but this film sparked an interest in the paranormal that is historically relevant.

This was a time (1979) when haunted house films of this nature had a substantial impact on our culture due to a fear of the unknown that has not quite developed into what it is today with countless paranormal reality T.V. shows like "Ghost Hunters" and "The Haunted". Margot Kidder and James Brolin are sympathetic as the unbeknownst couple who must struggle with the past experiences of their home's previous occupants and the angry forces that may continue too inhabit it. Most of the plot devices seem quite clichéd for today's audiences, including bleeding walls, demonic voices crying "get out!!", and an unforgettable scene with priest, Rod Steiger attacked by flies and forced out of the home by the malevolent presence.

With all inconsistencies and haunted house clichés aside, this is late 70's horror at its hammy best, with a very creepy musical score and overall unsettling ambient feel that continues to entertain paranormal and demonology enthusiasts to this day. The history of the "true" story behind the Defeo murders is undeniably scary, and the performances are convincing enough. The house with its second story windows looking like animalistic eyes is creepy in itself, and its' suspense is overwhelming. Fans of old school haunted house films will consider this a classic, newer generation ghost story seekers may find it boring and dated. Nevertheless, its a historical film-making experience with a solid cast and a thought-provoking argument between parapsychology, religion and reality.

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