Another Year … Another MonsterFest!

The ending of October means that another MonsterFest in the wilds of North Florida has come and gone. Dr. Phibes and Co. hosted an excellent few days away … as always. We seem to be getting lazier and lazier about getting out of their house … but that’s fine by me. Beer + Horror Movies + Good Friends = Happy Chas.

Here’s what we watched …
“The Silent Scream” (Hammer House of Horror)
“Island of Lost Souls”
“Cabin in the Woods”
“Final Destination 5”
“Vampire Circus”
“Trick ‘R Treat”
“The Fog” (1980)
“The Mask of Fu Manchu”
“Murders in the Zoo”
“The Walking Dead” Season Three, Episode Three
“Le Strega” (Thriller)
“King Nine Will Not Return” (The Twilight Zone)
“The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires”
“The Old Dark House” (1932)
“The Zanti Misfits” (The Outer Limits)
“What’s the Matter with Helen”
“The Children of the Full Moon” (Hammer House of Horror)

I gotta say I was totally taken with “Grizzly.” It’s a total “Jaws” rip off but had enough cheese factor going on to make it tons of fun. And I am totally jealous of Dr. Phibes copy of the “Universal Cult Horror Collection” that we watched “Murders in the Zoo” out of. It’s OOP and costs a pretty penny now. Bummer!

Another Year … Another MonsterFest!

MonsterFest ’11 Wrap-Up

The laziness continues! I am now finally getting around to posting about MonsterFest 2011 which happened in the wilds of North Florida with Dr. Phibes and Co. over the days of October 20th – 24th.

Last year, I stated that it was the laziest MonsterFest ever … and I must say that this year probably rivaled that. That’s not a bad thing either. Vacations are for laziness. But, we weren’t lazy on that Sunday and rode down to St. Augustine for a look around (pictures to follow sometime soon).

Past that we relaxed, ate junk food, drank beer, napped, ate junk food, drank beer and (most importantly) watched horror movies!

Here’s a list of what we watched:
“House of Wax” (2005)
“Satan’s Slave”
“Red State” (which isn’t really a horror movie)
Elvira’s Movie Macabre “The Werewolf of Washington”
“El Orfanato”
“The Ghoul”
“I Spit On Your Grave” (1978)
“The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue”
“Piranha” (2010)
“The House by the Cemetery”
“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2”
MST3K “The Touch of Satan”
“Just Before Dawn”
“Revenge of the Creature”
“Night Gallery” (Pilot Episode)
Episodes 1 & 2 of “The Walking Dead” Season Two

As always, big-ups to Dr. Phibes and Co. for a great time.

MonsterFest ’11 Wrap-Up

“American Horror Story” Thoughts

So, yeah. I was pretty excited when the preview for FX’s new series “American Horror Story” hit a few months ago. How quickly that excitement waned when the pilot episode finally aired at the beginning of October. Within that one hour, there were so many genre elements and plot devices. I wondered if the “everything but the kitchen sink” approach was a way to hook viewers and that subsequent episodes would be more focused. Sadly, after four more more episodes, it’s pretty obvious that’s not the case.

I am not sure if the creators/writers think that piling on so much actually makes for a good show. It doesn’t. Not only do we have the (crappy) extra marital affair family drama going on … we have an emo/suicidal daughter, a creepy neighbor that pops up at any given opportunity (apparently none of the doors have locks that can keep this woman out), a monster in the basement, a potential demon baby AND there are ghosts running around of just about everyone that has set foot in house before the previous owners did.

How about our family? Honestly, these are really characters you could care less about. The wife, Vivien (played by Connie Britton), is unemotional and just plain dull. The husband, Benjamin (played by Dylan McDermott), is either yelling or crying or yelling AND crying his problems (he cheated on the wife) to complete strangers. The daughter, Violet (played by Taissa Farmiga), is just emo for no real reason other than her character needs some sort of hook. And it doesn’t help that all our lead characters behave irrationally and there are HUGE jumps in logic in their thinking and actions at just about every turn.

Even the secondary characters are pretty bad. Jessica Lange does all she can but she can’t save every episode single handed. And poor Dennis O’Hare is just … [Chas. shakes head because Mr. O’Hare so underused with such a dumb character.]

I find the way the ghosts are treated to be questionable. Apparently, these ghosts can roam all over the city, be seen by everyone and interact with everyday objects. How would you like to have a ghost maid that can sweep and dust your house AND make you lunch? Could be pretty sweet because you wouldn’t have to pay her! And I won’t even get started on (what I found to be) the super offensively stereotypical gay couple that owned the house previously. There’s nothing quite like have a gay ghost running around your house shrieking about how badly you have decorated the place. Seriously.

The music the show uses is also a big problem. The creative team has apparently felt that it was wise to license a bunch of Bernard Herrmann‘s music. So, far they have cribbed from “Psycho,” “Vertigo” and “Twisted Nerve.” It’s a shame really. When you hear music from famous movies playing over scenes, it just serves to remind you of those better movies that the music came from. Maybe they are doing this to pay homage? Whatever the reason though, it just doesn’t work.

I have some friends who have been watching this show and think that it’s great and that it’s super scary. I just don’t get that. It’s an annoyingly bland mix of generic horror genre elements that relies on a too many cheap scares. Really, it’s more laughable than anything else … and that makes me sad. I was looking forward to another good “horror” television show. I guess I will just have to stick with “The Walking Dead.”

Because the only thing horrifying about “American Horror Story” is just how really bad it is.

“American Horror Story” Thoughts

Let Me In (2010): Some Thoughts

So, critics and horror fans seem to love “Let Me In,” the Americanization of the Swedish film (and novel of the same name) “Let The Right One In.”

Me? Not so much. Maybe if I hadn’t seen the Swedish version first, I would be all up with love for “Let Me In.” But, that’s not the case.

Some things that I really liked in the Swedish version are gone … like the subplot involving neighbors in the apartment complex. That’s replaced but a subplot involved a cop that just really didn’t work for me. Also a major problem for me was the staging of the iconic scene in the swimming pool towards the end of the movie. For some reason the director thought it would be a great idea to stage this in the dark which muddies down seeing all the violence from the cool perspective of being underwater. Dr. Phibes will be happy that the bad CGI cat attack didn’t make it state side. But, alas, it’s been replaced with quite a few badly done CGI shots in other parts of the movie.

Ultimately, what makes “Let Me In” so lackluster is it slavish devotion to the original foreign version. If you’ve seen that, then there is nothing here that’s going to really wind your crank. You’re basically seeing the same movie … just in an American setting with different actors and some very minor plot changes. This was the big problem with “Quarantine” (the almost shot-for-shot remake of the Spanish film “REC“).

All this makes me wonder what the big Hollywood remake of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is going to be like. Will it be a bold reinvention or a “been there, seen that” affair like “Let Me In?”

Let Me In (2010): Some Thoughts

“The House of the Devil”

The House of the Devil” kicks it back to 1978 … old school horror! There’s none of that cheeky oh-look-at-how-clever we are satire that is the mainstay of “throwback” horror. This movie literally could have come out when the likes of “Halloween” ruled the screen. Everything in the movie works to make you think you are really watching an old-style horror movie (even the movie poster harkens back to the good old days). The story relies more on creepy atmosphere than in your face gore (don’t expect a fast moving story). The soundtrack (composed by Jeff Grace) is pitch perfect homage to the great horror scores of the late 70’s/early 80’s. My major complaint about the movie would be that the resolution feels kinda rushed … but all that comes it before is my kinda scary! I am thinking that Ti West might be my new hero.

And speaking of new heroes … here’s A.J. Bowen who is in “The House of the Devil.” He’s 12 shades of handsome!

“The House of the Devil”

The Last House on the Left (2009)

Finally … a remake that actually works!

I have a love/hate relationship with the Wes Craven original. It has some brilliant moments of terror but is also filled with a lot of silliness that ultimately deadens the movie’s impact.

That stuff is gone from the remake. “The Last House on the Left” is now a lean, mean revenge thriller machine. There are solid performances. There’s damn fine gore. All-in-all, it’s a much better film than I ever expected it to be.

Plus, “Last House” gets bonus points for having Garret Dillahunt go shirtless through the last quarter of the movie.

The Last House on the Left (2009)

Viva La France!

I will say that I find the “torture porn” sub-genre of horror to be quite low class and without much merit … but if more of said films were made some intelligence and flair then I could easily change my mind.

Martyrs” (France, 2008) knocked my socks of. I didn’t know much about the premise of the film other than a wee bit of the blurb on Netflix.

“Years after she escaped from an icy torture chamber in an abandoned slaughterhouse, Lucie enlists the help of her closest friend, Anna, to track down the family who tormented her and exact her revenge.”

Sounds like a pretty simple revenge film, doesn’t it? But, what you get is a tale that mixes several horror genre elements into one very brutal and very bloody cocktail. “Martyrs” does take an unexpected detour about 3/4 of the way through. Honestly, the less you know going in, the better. I was totally unprepared for the final act of the movie.

“Martyrs” follows on the heels of other envelope pushing French films such as “Haute Tension,” “À l’intérieur” and “Frontière(s).”  If this tend continues, I could become a total convert!

Because, it certainly appears that France is the current king of splatter.

Viva La France!

Other Weekend Weekendiness

So … some other things happened this weekend!

I saw The Faint and Ladytron at The Orange Peel on Friday night! The show was pretty awesome even if the opening act (Crocodiles) was kinda crappy. The dynamics of the bands was kinda fun to see. The Faint was totally frenetic and all over the stage … whereas Ladytron was very subdued in their presentation.

And … this Thursday I get to see Mogwai at The Peel!!!

A couple of movies got viewed off Netflix as well. And both were better than I thought they would be.

Quarantine” is soooooooo much better than the trailer or advertising would lead you to believe. I must confess that I was curled up in a fetal position on the couch for much of the end of the movie. Now I really want to see “REC,” the Spanish movie on which “Quarantine” is based.

Vacancy,” while not the greatest movie ever made, was fun and entertaining. A nice “put your brain on hold” kinda movie with a few nice scares.

In other news …
I was a total bad boy and ordered too much Dr. Who on DVD today!

Other Weekend Weekendiness