Thursday, July 23, 2009



Slime was one of the coolest things about growing up in the 80's. Sure, there was a plethora of terrible glam hair bands, heavy metal denim jackets, awful synth-pop music, and plenty of cocaine during this decade. But nothing represented the innocence and freedom of youth quite like slime! This entry is a tribute to the gooey sticky green stuff that made being a kid so much fun . . .

It all started for me sometime in the early part of the 80's when I religiously watched You Can't Do That On Television, and the kids got green slime dumped on their heads every time they said "I don't know." I used to cheer at the TV set every time it happened. While grocery shopping with my Mom it was always a treat to drop a quarter in the vending machine and leave the store with a plastic bubble full of slime, which I would then use to terrorize my little sister and pretend I was sneezing out a handful of bright green snot. Even more fun was throwing the glob up onto the ceiling and watching it drip down, ignoring my Mom's yelling from the next room.
They even had "sticky hands" that you could slap on a friend or nearby wall, providing endless hours of enjoyment. When Ghostbusters came out in 1984, slime was all the rage, thanks to Slimer and the infamous Bill Murray line "I've been slimed."

But nothing was more fun than the abundance of grossout toys. Toy companies like Arco and Mattel in the 80's were all about slime -- some of my favorites being the
Mad Scientist Dissect-An-Alien, Alien Blood, and Living Ice series, Masters of The Universe Slime Pit, and the Manglor Mountain Volcanic Playset.

The Dissect-An-Alien kit was the coolest fucking thing I've ever seen -- you got a plastic alien with a rubber chest that would open up, and you could remove his organs (and of course, slime) with a plastic scalpel and place them on their appropriate spots on a laboratory mat.
The slime glowed in the dark too! That was basically all the toy did, but what more do you really need when you're 7 years old?! I still have no idea to this day how I convinced my parents to buy me this ridiculous item . . .

The Alien Blood figures were soft rubbery characters that you would fill with "alien blood" and when you squeezed them, slime would ooze from their nose, eyes, and mouth. Characters named Sammy Sneeze, Billy Belcher, and Oscar I-Rot were disgusting, and I loved all 3 of them.

The Living Ice series took the idea a bit further, and although not technically "slime" but rather a sculptable form of "goo," it was still an awesome toy. The Living Ice playset came with a small container of "ice" which you would pack into a plastic mold, and when you squeezed the two molds together you had a tiny little monster. And what would you do with this little guy? Well, you could pull him apart and make another one, or splatter him against the wall, as the box so blatantly advertises. Just take a look at this cute little bastard named I-Chomp below . . .

Every boy growing up the 80's loved He-Man. If you didn't then you must have been a complete loser who got cheap thrills by pulling up the skirt on your little sister's Barbie doll. Everyone remembers Skunkor, who smelled like . . . yup, you guessed it . . . a rancid skunk. But how many people remember the Slime Pit? A torture device designed by Skeletor and his evil minions, the Slime Pit was a tower with a dinosaur skull at the top that you filled with slime. He-Man and the "good guys" would then get placed at the base in the grip of a skeleton hand and the skull would ooze slime down onto them. Pointless, yes, but more fun than leaving pennies on your Grandma's floor and then hiding under her kitchen table and watching her pick them all up like she just won the lottery.

And lastly, my favorite of the slime toys, was the Manglor Mountain Volcanic Playset. Similar in concept to the Slime Pit, this was a volcano with a gargoyle head. It came with a "manglord" (a figure much like Stretch Armstrong) who you could pull apart and stick back together. You would place the manglord into a plastic iron maiden-like coffin, drop him into the top of the volcano full of slime, and press a button in the gargoyles mouth. Then the coolest thing ever would happen -- the manglord would sink down into the slime! Once again, completely pointless.

Nowadays these toys wouldn't last a week on the shelves at Toys R Us, which is a damn shame. Perhaps this is because kids today are all hopped up on behavorial control drugs and have the attention span of a gnat, which only XBox 360 seems to cure. Apparently some of the 80's slime toys were criticized and in some cases even banned -- I guess parents didn't watch the commercials before buying. I can only wonder how I spent most of my youth dissecting aliens, pulling apart monsters, drowning them in slime, and still ended up somewhat sane.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


REC (2007)
Directed by Jaume Balaguero & Paco Plaza

REC is the 2007 Spanish film which Quarantine, the 2008 American version, is based on. Surprisingly, both films are practically identical. REC follows suit with other first-person style horror films, like Blair Witch Project and Diary of the Dead -- shaky camerawork that makes you dizzy while you experience the horror first-hand. The film follows a TV reporter, Angela Vidal and her cameraman Pablo, who spend the night with a crew of firemen in their firehouse, hoping for a small emergency to make the documentary interesting. They get a little more than they bargained for when the call comes in.

They respond to a call regarding a screaming woman who is trapped in an apartment building. When they arrive, the woman is drenched in blood and attacks one of the firemen, biting him on the neck. The residents panic, and when they attempt to escape they are warned by the police to stay away from the windows. The authorities seal off the building with plastic sheets, trapping the people inside, informing them that they have been quarantined and will be sending in a health inspector. Once inside, the health inspector informs the residents that a dog from the building was brought to the vet a day earlier, and was infected with some sort of strange virus, which tipped off the local police that the building was contaminated.

One by one the residents fall victim to the virus after being bitten by the infected, leaving Angela and Pablo as the only survivors as the end of the film nears. When they reach the top floor of the building in an attempt to escape, they find themselves in an abandoned apartment filled with newspaper clippings, religious artifacts, and laboratory items. We quickly learn that the resident of the apartment was an agent of the Vatican, investigating the demonic possession of a young European girl. He brought her to the States and kept her locked in the apartment, performing experiments on her. Angela discovers a tape recorder documenting his studies, and soon realizes that her and Pablo are not alone in the apartment. Pablo puts the camera up into the attic, and a bloody infected boy jumps at the camera, destroying the spotlight. After putting the camera on night shot, the real terror finally begins. Angela and Pablo spot a figure moving inside the apartment, and once in full view we see an emaciated, lanky infected woman rummaging around the kitchen. It is an absolutely terrifying sight. The final few minutes of the film, where Pablo and Angela are trying to keep quiet and not be noticed by the woman, are the most horrific moments of the movie. I won't tell you what happens in that room, but let's just say there's no happy ending.

REC was a cool movie, but nothing too ground breaking here -- think 28 Days Later with a shaky camera, shot in an apartment building. The movie's plot grows increasingly chaotic with every moment, and the arguments among the characters I found to be very annoying. Screaming "what the hell is going on" over and over again did not evoke a feeling of terror, but rather frustration for the viewer. The horror takes the form of panic and chaos, with very little gore to back it up. The lack of music also makes the film anti-climactic, relying on quick scares and surprises around each corner instead of a haunting soundtrack. Essentially you could fast forward to the end of the film when the screen turns green and see the best part of the movie. But if you're in the mood for a bunch of people running up and down stairs screaming, the start from the beginning.

Check out the REC trailer here:

Monday, July 13, 2009



Directed by George Mihalka

First off I'd like to apologize for the lack of updates these past few weeks. I've been super busy and really haven't been taking advantage of my NetFlix account. So when it finally came time to update my queue I decided to check out the original My Bloody Valentine film from 1981, after having seen this year's remake and thoroughly enjoying it (see Movie Review #34, February 2009). Surprisingly I had never seen the original -- I was only 2 years old when it hit theaters. Now, your average horror fan will almost always stand by the claim that the original is always better than the remake, but in the case of MBV this couldn't be further from the truth. Each film does certain things well, pros and cons which I will touch on in this review.

Unfortunately, the original doesn't kick off with the same violent, shocking intro as the remake -- instead we witness two masked miners wandering through a mine, and then, for no reason at all and with no explanation, one miner removes her mask and clothing, revealing long waves of blond hair and a heart tattoo on her left breast. She seduces the other miner, stroking his oxygen tube. He suddenly has a "change of heart" and impales her on his pickaxe. Roll intro credits. The 2009 remake takes hold of the audience within the first 5 minutes, opening with a brutal scene at Mercy Hospital where our killer Harry Warden has just awoken from a coma, and mutilated everyone in his path. Blood drips from the walls and fresh corpses litter the hallways. Take your "pick!"

Of course the plot development differs in both films -- every director interprets a script differently. In the original, local legend tells us that Harry Warden escaped from a mental hospital, returning to Valentine Bluffs to kill residents on the night of the Valentine Dance, a tradition he warns the townies to cancel every year . . . or die. The "kids" ignore the town bartender's warning and a bunch of candy boxes housing human hearts, and have a Valentines party at (you guessed it) the Hanniger Mine, where the first set of murders took place years ago. One by one they are killed off, in typical slasher fashion, with a "twist" of an ending that is all too predictable. The remake takes a different approach, following the individual lives of each character and focusing on their interaction while trying to determine who the killer is. The characters have a history, and feel much more real. Throughout the storyline we are treated to gory high-tech death scenes that are further enhanced by the 3-D technology.

The original is a low budget Canadian slasher film that echoed the genre stereotypes of its predecessors, Halloween (1978) and Friday the 13th (1980). One obvious difference between the two films is the usage of CGI, 3-D, and special gore effects in the remake, technology that was unavailable at the time of the original. However, the 1981 version was way ahead of its time in that it shocked the viewer with realistic gore effects and fantastic on-location camerawork inside a real mine, a difficult feat even for modern film, due to the lighting and camera challenges filmmakers are faced with when shooting underground in a mine rather than inside a man-made studio setting. The first-person point of view of Harry Warden is the most terrifying aspect of the original (especially when we hear his breathing through the mask and witness the murders through his own eyes), a concept that was regrettably missing from the remake. Why the 2009 director (Patrick Lussier) decided to omit this POV is beyond me, considering how effective it was in both Halloween and Friday, when Michael Myers' and Jason's breathing made the very hairs on the back of our necks stand up straight.

Another notable comparison is the character development in both films. The actors in the original are too old for their roles (and terrible actors at that), so we sympathize with them much less, whereas in the remake the character development is much stronger. We get a real sense of their history & friendship -- growing up in a small town I could relate to their feelings of discomfort and terror when their innocent home turf is turned upside down by a series of grisly murders. Our murderer Harry Warden doesn't change much -- the miner mask and pick axe are the tools of a memorable 1980's slasher icon, putting him right at the head of the class with Jason, Freddy, Leatherface, and Myers -- changing his appearance would have been simply disastrous for the remake.

While vastly different in terms of plot, characterization, and cinematography, both films shine in their use of creative kills. Most notably for the original is the old woman's melted corpse in the dryer at the local laundromat. In the remake the sheriff's jaw is torn off by Harry's pickaxe and flies off the screen in all its 3-D glory. Gaping chest cavities with missing hearts are trademark effects in each film, but today's modern film magic makes My Bloody Valentine 3-D a more rewarding experience. Make sure you check out the DVD extras for some cool insight into the special effects used in the film . . .

Speaking of the DVD, it is important to note that the original film fell victim to a great deal of censorship in the 80's, and until the 2009 Lionsgate release the film had not been seen in its original format.
Cuts were requested to every death sequence in the movie. Even after cutting the movie to match the requirements made by the MPAA, the film was returned with an X-rating and more cuts were demanded. But if you grab this year's release you can see it all!

Check out My Bloody Valentine on IMDB and be sure to grab a copy of the 2009 Lionsgate release to witness a true classic of the 1980's slasher genre: