Thursday, February 19, 2009


Directed by Jack Messitt

Here we go again folks! It's the return of the "one copy on the shelf at Blockbuster" horror movie review, courtesy of The Big Toe Blog! Every time I rent one of these I can't help but think I could make a horror film. All you need is a story, and apparently it doesn't have to be a very good one. Today's technology and cameras make even the lowest budget film seem larger than life. After seeing Midnight Movie, I am convinced that I need to make a movie . . . and make it good. Then maybe I can have the coveted reward of being the only copy on the new release shelf. If the Gingerdead Man can happen (and get sequel treatment), anything is possible . . .

Anyway Midnight Movie starts off with a hospital scene massacre that reminded me of the My Bloody Valentine remake opening scene, reviewed a few weeks back in the blog. An old looney gets put in a room to watch "his film," and be observed behind glass. The doctors leave him unattended (wow, big surprise) and he starts taking huge bites of flesh out of his arms while the movie plays, eventually sending him on a killing spree.

Fast forward 5 years to a small suburban town that is playing the cult classic in a local theater. We learn that the old loon was in fact the director and star of the film, and local police think he might show up for the viewing, even though he is rumored to be dead blah blah blah (the usual back from the dead story). Enter the teeny bopper theater employees - the young girl who is in charge, the bubble gum chewing slut, and the nerdy guy who just wants to run the show for awhile. Then of course we have the grey haired detective who is hoping the killer will show up, and my favorite character - the fat biker dude who gets head from his girlfriend while watching the movie and tells all the kids to shut up. And a group of friends double dating. No real surprises here as far as the cast goes - just a bunch of lifeless goons I didn't mind seeing slaughtered.

The real surprise is just how terrible the overall concept is. Now it might have been cool if the killer showed up and trapped everyone in the theater and picked them off one by one. But no, that would be too simple. Instead, the movie they are watching becomes "real life" and they are trapped inside it. Seriously. Someone actually thought this would be a good idea. One of the most comical moments is when everyone makes a run for the front doors, but can't get out because they are "locked." I guess throwing a chair through the glass to escape would have taken too much thought. Moments like these make the film very easy to pass off as another badly planned horror movie, but also serve to remind us that the director is just trying to have a good time. I can respect that. This is also evident in the bathroom scene when one of their friends has just been murdered, and there's nothing left but a pile of brains on the floor that they proceed to kick around like a hackey sack.

The blatant plot rip-off of classic films such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is hardly acceptable. A nod to your influences is always welcomed - after all, imitation is the best form of flattery, but when our characters get a flat tire on their VW van and discover a house in the middle of nowhere, the references are all too clear. I have an idea - when the leading female character runs from the killer she should trip and fall too - now THAT would be something! It's going to take a lot more than that for this film to live up to its tagline "The new face of horror."

Regardless, I'm a sucker for films that try to introduce a new slasher icon, something rarely done anymore because the reality is your villain has some big shoes to fill. After all, you can't top Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers, or Leatherface, yet filmmakers still try. Midnight Movie is leaps beyond Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, a pathetic attempt at creating a new horror icon, which I shut off after 20 minutes. At least the killer here has a cool weapon - a triangular metal knife that guts out your heart. I'm not going to spend any more time talking about this one or summing up the plot - you get the idea. All in all Midnight Movie is an entertaining film that goes good with popcorn and gets a few laughs. Check it out if you're bored and don't feel like renting Zach and Miri Make A Porno . . .

Midnight Movie website:

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Movie Review # 34: My Bloody Valentine 3D

Directed by Patrick Lussier

Remakes of classic horror films have become about as common as your first piss of the morning, and most of them are just that -- piss. Rather than reinventing the slasher genre, Hollywood has recycled it. But I don't care what anyone says, the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre (the first remake, not the mistake known as "The Beginning") was an excellent movie. Hollywood has cashed in on the remake craze these last few years and dished out dozens of awful reworks of cherished classics, much to the dismay of die-hard horror fanatics like myself. Needless to say when trailers for My Bloody Valentine started to surface, likely the only thing that got the attention of my fellow genre buffs was the fact that it was in 3D (apparently 2009 is slated for over 40 3D releases, most of which fall into the horror category). Now all we need is someone to open a drive thru . . .

Director Patrick Lussier claimed in a recent issue of Rue Morgue that his writers "stayed true to the story" as much as possible, which should be refreshing to fans of the 1981 Canadian original. Most directors claim to do this but very few actually succeed. So the story goes, a small mining town called Harmony is in chaos over an underground killing spree in Tunnel #5, where several miners died by the hands of a psychopath named Harry Warden who is left in a coma after the incident. The film opens in a hospital one year later, when Warden awakes from his coma and one of the best bloodbaths I've seen on screen ensues (the film crew admits to applying the blood to the set using buckets). Police arrive on the scene and are greeted by severed heads and mutilated bodies, with Warden leaving behind his trademark souvenir -- a human heart in a box of Valentine chocolates. Lussier claims the hospital scene is his homage to the original, a fitting intro to his version of the script.

Ten years later, main character Tom Hanniger (played by Jensen Ackles, whose bland and unintelligent delivery painfully resembles Keanu Reeves) returns to Harmony to negotiate the sale of the mine after his father's death. Too much time is spent developing this part of the story, because the audience really doesn't care about the mine being the locals' bread & butter - we just want to see some blood. MBV3D definitely delivers in this department. Warden's weapon of choice, the pickaxe, makes for some interesting kills that are further enhanced by the 3D, especially when the audience almost gets "hit" with a flying jawbone. In one scene a girl takes a shovel to the face, splitting her head in half at the mouth. Creative use of gore is the saving grace of this film, so much so that I'm willing to overlook the awful plot and poor choice of casting.

Unfortunately the film felt very long and drawn out, but just when boredom started to set in our masked miner appears for another murder. The gore factor is the strength of the film and holds our interest throughout. Messages like "Be Mine Forever" splattered in blood on the walls keep the Valentine theme going, and what is a horror film without some good old fashioned nudity? There's a great motel scene where blonde bombshell Irene (played by Betsy Rue) chases after her trucker boyfriend completely nude, wearing nothing but heels and carrying a pistol. This movie really has it all -- blood, violence, nudity, and even a midget, making it well worth the extra $2.50 for 3D glasses at the theater. I give it 5 toes and recommend it to anyone in the mood for a non-stop gore rollercoaster.

Check out the My Bloody Valentine 3D website over at:

Movie Review # 33: Cannibal

Directed by Marian Dora

I can't help myself -- I have to see every horror movie about cannibals and clowns. Such characters can yield the most entertaining horror flicks and in some cases, the most shocking. Afterall - clowns are the scariest people on earth and cannibals - well, they eat human flesh for dinner. In brief, Cannibal is about a deranged individual who seeks his victims (or "volunteers") on the internet for sex followed by a hot meal. The entire film, based on a true story about real-life murderer Armin Meiwes, is silent (except for a handful of dialogue) which leaves interpretation up to the viewer. After meeting a few men who reject him, our main character finds a man online who actually wants to be eaten. Meiwes brings the man home and we are exposed to an abundance of man-ass and endless amounts of gay sex that I had to fast-forward through to get to the gore. When the blood finally spills, Cannibal made my skin crawl worse than the pregnant woman being gutted in the closing scene of Inside (2007). I'll try to summarize what happened without being too disgusting:

Meiwes tries to bite off the man's penis but cannot bring himself to do it. Then he takes an ordinary kitchen knife, sawing and cutting through it in a long, drawn-out realistic scene that will give any man chills down his spine. Meiwes leaves a bucket between his legs to bleed into between cries of pain and horror. Our cannibal then turns up the stove and grills the penis, feeding each other. Check, please.

The effects are so real we begin to question whether or not it is actually happening. This is perhaps every man's worst nightmare -- the film really hits us where it hurts. I was about to shut the movie off at this point and wish I did. Meiwes brings the naked man into another room, hangs him upside down by his feet, and slices his stomach open. He then reaches inside with his bare hands and removes the steaming hot intestines & guts. If that wasn't enough to make you reach for a barf bag, Meiwes smothers the innards all over his face and body while vomiting. This is where I shut it off.

Cannibal succeeds in only one area: totally grossing out the audience on a very low-budget. The lack of dialogue affects the character devlopment, but perhaps Dora did this to emphasize the underlying theme of extreme need -- both the need of Meiwes and his victim, which doesn't require dialogue to get across. The victim seems to have more control over the situation then Meiwes himself, considering the sex and cannibalism is consensual. However, if you're in the mood to witness some of the most disturbing gore effects ever seen on screen, then this is the movie for you. I would suggest keeping a barf bag close by and the TV remote if you just can't stand it . . .

Cannibal on IMDB: