19 October 2010

October 19th

The Stepfather (2009) directed by Nelson McCormick
Dylan Walsh makes for a really bland Terry O'Quinn.  You never get a sense that he's as insane as O'Quinn.  Sure, he does the thing where he paces the floor and mutters to himself when he's upset -- my favorite from the original -- but he does it so quietly and with such reserve, it really doesn't look that crazy.  The entire movie is similarly bland.  There's a lot of swimming in the pool and dropping the kids off and speeches about family.  The director also seems to take great interest in Amber Heard's bikini-clad body and inserts her into every scene he can.  It's a long, 100-minute wait for the eldest stepson to put the puzzle together in order to have an inevitable battle with the stepfather.

And, like Stepfather II, the killer isn't even a stepfather.  The entire movie takes place before the wedding.  What a rip. (4/10)

Just Take One (2010)
United Monster Talent Agency (2010)

Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film (2006)
Great documentary covering the slasher era from 1978 to the late '80s.  Many major -- and some minor -- figures are interviewed.  I discovered that Betty Palmer is an absolute treasure.  I remember hearing that she was embarrassed by her F13 roots, but she must've gotten over it.  She's a hoot in this documentary.  Felissa Rose and Amy Holden Jones are similarly great in their interviews.  And, I can always listen to the scholarly Wes Craven talk about horror.  Carpenter, too.

The end of the documentary implies that films like Hostel and Saw are taking the mantle of the slasher film in this era.  This is something I've been pondering, myself.  Is this true?  Is the so-called torture porn genre the successor to the slasher genre?  While I might agree that we're in the middle of a torture porn cycle right now -- similar to how we were in a slasher cycle in the '80s -- I don't really think the two sub-genres share very much in common. At its base level, the evil captures people in torture porn and slowly harms them.  The captured only escape the evil through great personal (normally physical) sacrifice.  In a slasher film, the evil chases and kills a group of people until their pluckiest (normally female) member defeats it.  Maybe even more generally, it's mean-spirited torture vs. just-for-fun inventive murders by people in silly masks.  Could be a generational thing, but give me a slasher over some torture any day. (7/10)

Dark Floors (2008) directed by Pete Riski
Here I was, expecting a complete crapstorm for the remaining six Ghost House Underground movies I need to watch and this one reminds me never to take reviews too seriously.  I liked it.  I thought it was cool.  The 4.6 rating on IMDb seems ridiculously low to me.  Perhaps the IMDb raters are upset that nothing is ever explained by the end of the movie.  And that the reset button is pushed so that nearly everything we've seen doesn't really matter.  I suppose those are valid reasons to hate on it, though they don't bother me so much.

The movie takes place in a hospital, when a group of folks step off an elevator and discover it deserted.  There are causality loops and banshees and heavy metal album cover monsters and zombies and a really Scandinavian-looking Satan.  And, hey, it's William Hope!  I haven't seen him in since he was pathetically killed by Julia in Hellraiser II twenty-two years ago.  Dude needs more work.  He's great in the Walter Peck/Carter Burke/Craig Toomey asshole role.  Anyway, I enjoyed the heck out of the movie, even if I'm not sure what was really going on. (7/10)

The Last House in the Woods (2006) directed by Gabriele Albanesi
Speaking of crapstorms, here's a real brown one.  Everyone seems to think they can make their own Texas Chain Saw Massacre.  They can't.  Italians, if this movie is any indication, are particularly bad at the redneck cannibal family sub-genre.  It's not even worth writing about.  The movie's a mass of bad acting, badly aped moments from TCM and characters making dumb choices. (3/10)


  1. Horror moves in really quick cycles these days. J-Horror was hot for a few years, then torture horror, gritty/glossy remakes of 70s/80s films, and now it looks like found footage films are the next big thing.

    Torture horror has run its course. It was a pretty short lived fad, honestly. If it wasn't for the Saw franchise still sticking around, I don't even think we'd still be talking about. And that franchise is on its last leg.

    And even the remakes are petering out, thank god. I blame Platinum Dunes for this.

    I really don't think any subgenre has inherited the mantle of the slasher film. Pure slashers are still around, albeit as more fan-driven, independent efforts, like the "Hatchet" movies and their brethren. If anything I'd say the "Final Destination" movies are closer in spirit to 80s slashers then anything else around at the moment. If "Scream 4" next year is a hit, it might even bring straight-up slashers back to the mainstream.

  2. If it's all done, torture horror had a half decade run, which is about equal to the mid-90s self-aware slasher wave, I figure. Even gone, I think they'll have a lasting impact on the genre. Even modern slasher movies are meaner and gorier, I think, due to the influence of the torture movies.

    As for remakes, I present 50 Upcoming Remakes. They're here for a while. The kids must have their horror movies updated to have cellphones and the Internet in them, after all.