May 29, 2012

Livide (2011)

"Learning by accident that Mrs Jessel, a former dance teacher of repute, supposedly possesses a treasure somewhere in the house, Lucy and friends William and Ben decide to search the house in the hope of finding it."

Ok, now that the Eurovision is over for another year. it's time to get back to the horror movies. But, since I'm still in a European frame of mind, I decided to watch a little French vampire movie called "Livide".

Directed by Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury, who were responsible for one of my most hated horror movies (or rather "idiot plays") of all time, "À l'intérieur" (2007), I wasn't expecting a lot of "Livide". It turned out that my gut feeling was right about this too.

First, the good bits. The two Chloés, Chloé Coulloud (as Lucie) and Chloé Marcq (as Anna), were mostly lovely to look at and could even act a bit. Alternatively, Marie-Claude Pietragalla (as Jessel) was terrifying to look at and was almost as iconic as the black-dressed Béatrice Dalle who you all remember from that other piece of crap (and briefly appeared in this too).

Everything about the setting was very creepy, the designers obviously put a lot of thought into that part, and the make-up was really good. I also liked the naming homages to "The Innocents" (1961) and "An American Werewolf in London" (1981).

Unfortunately, after the start which seemed to be setting things up for a French version of "The Collector" (2009), things started to go downhill rather quickly.

Basically, it was like four or five different stories (which have already worked on their own) were squashed into one film. This wasn't quite as bad as Neil Marshall's "Doomsday" (2008), but it wasn't far off.

The pacing of the film was very uneven, everything was more than a little bit confused, and, for, someone like me who likes to take regular toilet breaks, it took a few rewinds and a second watch to work out what was going on.

There were a couple of gory moments which were nicely done but "Livide" didn't turn into the over-the-top bloodbath of "À l'intérieur". It had a better atmosphere and was about a hundred times scarier than "À l'intérieur" too but that's not saying much since "À l'intérieur" wasn't scary at all.

I think the biggest problem was that "Livide" tried to be more of a fantasy than a real horror movie but, due to the vampire element and homaging at least one very famous Asian horror movie (and an even more famous Italian one), the directors couldn't help themselves from using many tropes which didn't really fit in. I'm not going to spoil it for you by telling you where and what they were but you'll spot them easily enough should you decide to watch this anyway.

I don't recommend "Livide" because it was too flawed and the ending was too ridiculous to leave me feeling satisfied with what I had just seen. I didn't completely hate it but it's not something I would rush out to buy.

May 27, 2012

Ivi Adamou won the Eurovision Song Contest!

Actually, she didn't but she should have. Cyprus came joint sixteenth with Ukraine. Either the votes were rigged or people were stupid and voted for the scruffy Swedish baglady trying to swat invisible flies in a wind storm instead.

Here are the results of the top four and their points:

3Serbia 214

Disgusting, wasn't it? It's not that I've got anything against Sweden but they had far from the best song in the competition. The other acts might as well have not turned up especially the predictably depressing dirge from Serbia or the Albanian girl with the acne scars and ball of rope on her head who screamed for most of her three minutes.

When a joke entry like the old Russian grannies (who presumably have all been stacked inside each other now that the show is over) gets almost four times the points of a catchy pop song such as "La La Love", it's time to never watch that Eurovision crap again.

I've been watching the show every year since I was a small child but it pissed me off way too much this time. Even Mr Lordi turning up in his full monster costume and make-up to slowly give the results of the Finnish voting couldn't redeem things.

So, you'll be glad to read that I will never waste another week of my blog on this musical horror. Normal service, including horror movie reviews, will recommence in a few days (once I adjust to the unbearable heat and humidity).

For now, I will leave you with a beautiful picture of Ivi Adamou who, unlike the "winner" of the Eurovision Song Contest who we'll never hear of again, is still thanking all her supporters and fans on Facebook and Twitter.

She's a classic beauty and pure class all the way.

May 25, 2012

Eurovision Song Contest 2012 - Grand Final

The results of the second semi-final are now in so, coupled with the winners of the first semi-final, here is the line up for the not-so-grand final on Saturday.

I've highlighted the ones I like in red. We will see if I managed to predict the top four.

01United KingdomEngelbert HumperdinckLove Will Set You Free
02HungaryCompact DiscoSound Of Our Hearts
03AlbaniaRona Nishliu Suus
04LithuaniaDonny MontellLove Is Blind
05Bosnia & HerzegovinaMaya SarKorake Ti Znam
06RussiaBuranovskiye BabushkiParty For Everybody
07IcelandGreta Salóme & JónsiNever Forget
08CyprusIvi AdamouLa La Love
09FranceAnggunEcho (You And I)
10ItalyNina ZillL'Amore È Femmina (Out Of Love)
11EstoniaOtt LeplandKuula
13AzerbaijanSabina BabayevaWhen The Music Dies
15DenmarkSoluna SamayShould've Known Better
16GreeceEleftheria EleftheriouAphrodisiac
18TurkeyCan BonomoLove Me Back
19SpainPastora SolerQuédate Conmigo (Stay With Me)
20GermanyRoman LobStanding Still
21MaltaKurt CallejaThis Is The Night
22F.Y.R. MacedoniaKaliopiCrno I Belo
24SerbiaŽeljko JoksimovićNije Ljubav Stvar
25UkraineGaitanaBe My Guest
26MoldovaPasha ParfenyLăutar

Unfortunately, the results of the Eurovision Song Contest are never based on the quality of the music. It will be the usual shenanigans with all the European countries voting for their political allies and neighbours so absolutely anything could happen.

The Grand Final starts on Saturday, May 26th at 8pm (GMT) and ends around 11.15pm. If you don't have access to the BBC, you can watch the whole thing live online at the Eurovision website (presumably by using the Octoshape plugin yet again) or on the official YouTube channel later on.

Of course, if you have no desire to make this your appointment television for the weekend, you can always watch the playlist of all 42 contestants (below) and save yourself from having to listen to Graham Norton babbling and cackling.

They didn't think it through really, did they? Now that we all have the internet, there's no reason to watch what was once Europe's most highly viewed show on TV ever again.

Who do you think will win? More to the point, do you even care?

May 24, 2012

Eurovision Song Contest 2012 Semi-Final (2)

As you may have guessed, there will be no horror reviews this week due to my annual Eurovision Song Contest fandom. I love this stuff and tonight (or this afternoon if you are watching it in the USA) is the night of the second semi-final.

My favourite to win this round of musical nastiness is Gaitana (representing the Ukraine). Although it uses the trumpet blasts of fellow Ukrainian Ruslana's "Wild Dances" (which won in 2004), the song has been criticized for sounding too "African". I like it but, just as the critics say, it's not European enough. I still loathe Paul Simon's "Graceland" album though.

If Jedward hadn't already found the most garish motorcycle gear, Litesound (representing Belarus) would have been notable for their spectacularly hot (and sweaty) leather outfits. Even though they sing, "We are the winners", it ain't gonna happen. They'll probably go through to the final anyway.

Joan (representing the Netherlands) is the novelty act which will go through just to rival Engelbert Humperdinck's retro British entry. This is like a horrible fusion of Nicole (from 1982), Brotherhood of Man (from 1976), The Cranberries, and The Village People. It'll definitely go through because she's pretty.

Of course, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and Azerbaijan, have already qualified due to putting up most of the money for the contest. It isn't fair but nothing ever is. Ironically, all their songs are awful (apart from a passable entry by France) and none of them will win unless the voting is rigged.

May 23, 2012

Linux MintPPC on an Apple iBook M7698LL/A

With May being the 11th birthday of my ancient Apple iBook from 2001, I wondered if it was possible to get it running a lot faster with something other than the originally installed OSX Tiger 10.4.11 operating system.

I'd never tried the various Ubuntu PPC distributions which came out over the years as I'd heard bad things about them. People were always reporting that the battery didn't charge or suspend malfunctioned. As for using the AirPort card to connect to the internet, you might as well forget that you even have one.

But then I found out about MintPPC 9 and, for a number of reasons (including the fact that I can't leave well enough alone), I downloaded and installed it on my iBook.

The installation took just over an hour and I was quite surprised that I didn't even need to add the Xorg.conf update which the MintPPC website recommends. I did it anyway just to be on the safe side although everything looked and sounded right straight away.

Unfortunately, that's where my joy ended.

MintPPC, even though it uses the LXDE desktop environment, was painfully slow to the point of being unusable. I only have 320mb of RAM in my iBook but I doubt that another 256mb would make any difference. I have the original 500mhz PowerPC G3 "Icebook" with 64mb of 66mhz RAM soldered to the board (not the later 128mb version) so it's never going to reach the dizzy heights of 640mb with only one extra memory slot available anyway.

Since owning my iBook (which I got from eBay for $40), I've upgraded the hard drive to 40gb instead of the original 10gb one, changed the CD drive to a DVD drive, and replaced the cable to the LCD (which, infamously, was one of the causes for a lot of product returns and a class action lawsuit for Apple due to the design flaw which pinched the wires in the hinge and made the display fail to light up). I've had this iBook apart several times and it was the worst computer for upgrading that I've ever had the misfortune to work on. But that's another story.

All the things which I took for granted with Tiger were impossible to get working with MintPPC. I had no wireless connection, no DVD playback, and, although I got used to VLC player crashing when playing flv videos on Tiger, it was set as the default for mp3 playback on MintPPC which was absolutely stupid because it crashed with those too.

AbiWord opened slower than MS Word and the same with Gnumeric compared to Excel. Even if it had been available, I don't think I would have had the patience to wait for LibreOffice.

I then started to get random freezes and couldn't even log out or shutdown properly. After several reboots things settled down more but this was a couple of hours in and I'd had enough. I also really hated the cheap and nasty look of LXDE.

So, without further ado, I reinstalled Tiger. It took about an hour to install and probably four more to do all the software and security updates. Putting all the software back on and adding my iTunes library took the rest of the day.

After all this, some good came of it. Tiger now runs a lot faster than it did before. I've deleted a lot of junk (especially music which I was bored with), and I probably won't ever bother putting VLC player or MacTubes back on because neither worked properly anyway.

My Apple iBook is now almost 100% functional. I can play DVDs easily, listen to music with iTunes 8.2.1, and surf the internet with Safari 4 or Camino 2.1. I discovered that using the "mobile" versions of the Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube websites made things even faster (although it's still impossible to play any YouTube videos which are converted to 3gp with my version of QuickTime).

If you are thinking of "upgrading" your iBook to MintPPC, don't! MintPPC is a nice idea and skillfully put together to get as far as it has, but unless you have a top of the range G4 iBook, it'll probably be useless to you.

May 22, 2012

Ivi Adamou is through to the Eurovision final!

Ivi Adamou flew through the semi-final (as I knew she would), but she still has to go on and win the Eurovision Song Contest to make me truly happy for five minutes.

Hopefully, once she becomes world famous, she can give up singing and replace her lookalike, Liv Tyler, in movies. She already has more facial expressions.

May 21, 2012

Eurovision Song Contest 2012 Semi-Final (1)

The first semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest is tomorrow night. As usual, it's mostly a load of crap.

I've already written about her on here but Ivi Adamou (representing Cyprus) is the clear winner of not only this semi-final but the entire Eurovision Song Contest itself. She has to be. I've decided. It must be so.

Obviously, Russia don't want to win. I wouldn't be suprised if one of their old grandmothers drops dead on stage. It would be hilariously tragic though.

Thus, even Jedward (representing Ireland) might stand a chance this year. At least they look the part.

It's going to be interesting to see what other musical dreck goes through to the final just for padding.

May 20, 2012

Ubuntu 12.04 on an Acer Aspire AM1100-B1410A

I did something else this weekend which I swore I'd never do. No, I didn't watch "Puss in Boots" because I've already done that and thoroughly enjoyed it. I downloaded and installed the latest version of Ubuntu.

Called "Precise Pangolin" for those who care about the stupid animal codenames (I have no idea what a pangolin is, by the way), Ubuntu 12.04 is the latest LTS (Long Term Support) version of Canonical's Linux operating system. This means that it will continue to get upgrades and security patches for the next three years (which is more than the life expectancy of my already four year old desktop computer).

Of course, all did not go completely smoothly for me. The installation itself only took half an hour and was fine, but it was all the tweaking that I had to do afterwards which was annoying.

As you can see from the picture above, I'm using Unity 2D because, although I can use the normal version of Unity, the "3D" version was too bloated, used too many resources and, most importantly for me, caused DVD playback to skip frames. I used my "American Psycho" DVD to test the playback using VLC player. It was too jerky to watch on Unity but perfect again on Unity 2D so I've stuck with that for now.

I also had to use Unity 2D to install my email account on Thunderbird. For some reason, it just would not automatically configure the settings for Gmail under the normal Unity but it worked fine in 2D. I think Unity is still pretty buggy so I've also installed the various Gnome desktops and Xubuntu/Xfce although I probably won't use them unless I start having major problems and can't log in.

Gnome 3 is horrible to use but there's a "fallback" version which looks and works a lot like Gnome 2. I'm glad that the developers had the sense to include it as this was one of the things which drove me to Linux Mint 11. The recycle bin on the bottom panel was bizarrely missing but I've used a program called MyUnity to put it back on the Unity desktop.

I couldn't switch the positions of the icons on the "Dash" dock thing on the left either without doing it under normal Unity and then returning to Unity 2D (but it won't leave them resized). Canonical really need to fix this with Unity 2D.

Other bugs I found were that the Thunar file manager took ages to start on Xubuntu (which was something to do with gfvs not mounting properly, and there was a cosmetic "Could not write bytes: Broken pipe" message when logging out which is some bug in the Plymouth system). I solved the former by Googling for a solution and the latter by running a disk check on startup (which opened the GRUB bootloader at one point before restarting). Both problems have now disappeared.

Rhythmbox has replaced Banshee as the music player. It crashed on me when I first imported my music library but appears to be working properly now. Again, I think it was a Unity problem and I probably should have used Unity 2D when I first set it up. I prefer to use Audacious to play back music anyway.

One thing which is still annoying me after trying out the Guest Session is that occasionally I will get asked to re-enter my keychain password if I log out or shut down as soon as I've logged in. This must be something to do with the speed at which the keychain information is loaded. It didn't do it before I tried out the Guest Session (which froze the computer the first time and caused me to have to shut down incorrectly by holding in the power button) but I'll just have to live with it until someone else posts a solution. The Guest Session works now but it's unnecessary on my or any other home user's computer anyway.

Anyway, I suppose this is sort of a review of Ubuntu 12.04 so I'll just wrap it up by saying that Unity isn't as bad as a lot of people would have you believe. With 12.04, Canonical have really polished the turd and actually made it usable.

Aesthetically, Unity really only replaces the "Quick Launch" icons and the "Open Windows" applet from the bottom panel of Gnome 2. There's a lot more behind the scenes, of course, including an Apple-like way of finding files and applications which is still slower to me than the previous three-part menu but it's all very smooth, it's free, and it works.

For most people, Ubuntu 12.04 will be the best version of Linux until Mint 13 gets an official release.

May 17, 2012

Time Magazine's 100 Best Movies List

Somebody recently drew my attention to Time magazine's list of the 100 "best movies" since Time's inception in 1923. It's not all that recent and has been kicking around the internet since 2005 as far as I can tell.

As I expected, not many horror movies made the list; "Bride of Frankenstein" (1935), "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1956), "King Kong" (1933), "The Fly" (1986), and "Psycho" (1960) are on there.

Only 5% of their top films come from the horror genre although, really, two of those are more sci-fi than horror, one is an adventure story, and one is a thriller

Whenever I see something like this, it really brings home the fact that my favourite genre is such a niche product and so despised by many.

Even though I disagree with nearly everything on this list, I've highlighted (in bold) all the movies which I've seen as an example of how their critics' piss poor taste in movies has no effect on what I choose to watch.

Time Magazine's 100 Best Movies
Aguirre: the Wrath of God (1972)
The Apu Trilogy (1955, 1956, 1959)
The Awful Truth (1937)
Baby Face (1933)
Bande à part (1964)
Barry Lyndon (1975)
Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980)
Blade Runner (1982)
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Brazil (1985)
Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Camille (1936)
Casablanca (1942)
Charade (1963)
Children of Paradise (1945)
Chinatown (1974)
Chungking Express (1994)
Citizen Kane (1941)
City Lights (1931)
City of God (2002)
Closely Watched Trains (1966)
The Crime of Monsieur Lange (1936)
The Crowd (1928)
Day for Night (1973)
The Decalogue (1989)
Detour (1945)
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)
Dodsworth (1936)
Double Indemnity (1944)
Dr. Strangelove (1964)
Drunken Master II (1994)
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
8 1/2 (1963)
The 400 Blows (1959)
Farewell My Concubine (1993)
Finding Nemo (2003)
The Fly (1986)
The Godfather, Parts I and II (1972, 1974)
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966)
Goodfellas (1990)
A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
His Girl Friday (1940)
Ikiru (1952)
In a Lonely Place (1950)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
It’s a Gift (1934)
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Kandahar (2001)
Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
King Kong (1933)
The Lady Eve (1941)
The Last Command (1928)
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Léolo (1992)
The Lord of the Rings (2001-03)
The Man With a Camera (1929)
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
Metropolis (1927)
Miller’s Crossing (1990)
Mon oncle d’Amérique (1980)
Mouchette (1967)
Nayakan (1987)
Ninotchka (1939)
Notorious (1946)
Olympia, Parts 1 and 2 (1938)
On the Waterfront (1954)
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
Out of the Past (1947)
Persona (1966)
Pinocchio (1940)
Psycho (1960)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)
Pyaasa (1957)
Raging Bull (1980)
Schindler’s List (1993)
The Searchers (1956)
Sherlock, Jr. (1924)
The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
The Singing Detective (1986)
Smiles of a Summer Night (1955)
Some Like It Hot (1959)
Star Wars (1977)
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
Sunrise (1927)
Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
Swing Time (1936)
Talk to Her (2002)
Taxi Driver (1976)
Tokyo Story (1953)
A Touch of Zen (1971)
Ugetsu (1953)
Ulysses’ Gaze (1995)
Umberto D (1952)
Unforgiven (1992)
White Heat (1949)
Wings of Desire (1987)
Yojimbo (1961)

I've only watched 33 of these movies (34 if you include "The Singing Detective" which was actually a BBC TV series) or, in other words, a third of them. I have no interest in all those boring old black and white movies, comedies, or artsy-fartsy foreign rubbish.

I've honestly never even heard of 50% of these movies in the first place and only know anything about them now because I looked them up.

How many have you watched?

May 16, 2012

Yes, I went to the Pawn Shop again!

Don't judge me! I know I'm addicted. It's 79 degrees outside and a thunderstorm is ready to break any second so I thought I'd show you what I picked up a couple of hours ago from the pawn shop.

She may not be the greatest actress in the world but Elizabeth Hurley is uber hot. I was hot too (and sweating my ass off) when I arrived at the pawn shop especially when this was staring me in the face. I have no idea if "Method" is any good or not. I expect it's horrible but it's about a serial killing actress from what I read on the sleeve so it might be alright. Even if it turns out to be complete and utter crap, I'll still keep it for the picture.

Moving on to the real horror finds, I finally bought "The Butterfly Effect" collection. I watched the third (extremely crappy) film on that "After Dark Horrorfest III" set which I got earlier and was disappointed, but I've heard good things about the first film in the series and I don't find as much wrong with Ashton Kutcher as other people do. Alright, so he married one of my celebrity crushes but that doesn't make him a bad guy. Whether he can act or not is another matter.

The "Children of the Corn" double feature had been haunting me for some time because I used to have all the sequels on VHS. There's not much left in the horror section now so it was worth it for $1.25 per movie.

To complete the "4 for $10" deal, I became "Mr Hypocrite" and got a copy of "The Strangers". It says that it's "Unrated" so, presumably, one of the major differences will be that Liv Tyler changes her expression from constipated to almost constipated more often in this one. I saw the movie theatrically and vowed never to buy it but you should never say "never" when pawn shop bargains abound. Why did I buy it? Because it was there. Yes, I do know what I did there and it was intentional.

I went over the $10 budget this time to buy "Witchcraft 13". Years ago, I interviewed Zoe Hunter, my MySpace friend, who acted in this terrible thing. I've only ever seen the first two "Witchcraft" movies on VHS back in the early '90s so I have no idea what this will be like, but, judging from the sleeve, it's also going to be low-budget, handycam crap of the highest order.

Did I stop there? No, of course not. Once I'd broken into the second $10 batch, I also picked up a copy of "Alien" to replace the UK one which was the first DVD I ever bought (and is famous for the errors on it due to a manufacturing defect). You don't need a picture of it, it's just the same green alien pod on a black background as every other "Alien" DVD in existence.

Finally, I bought "The Gift" (which is actually going to be a gift for someone), and "The Rock". I don't just collect horror movies and Sean Connery is awesome.

Apart from dozens of copies of the "Saw" movies, there are now only two horror DVDs left in my local pawn shop, "Trackman" and "Dark Floors" from the "Ghost House Underground" collection. I've seen both and didn't really like them (or any of the "Ghost House" movies) so I won't bother going back for a little while now.

I've left horror DVDs behind many times before (including anything by Eli Roth) and nobody has bought them for months. There's a damned good reason why certain titles end up in the pawn shop in the first place. I've never had a scratched up or faulty DVD from the place but I've bought some truly terrible movies.

Have you got anything good lately? How is your own collection coming along? Is DVD collecting a harmless hobby or a sickness? Leave me your comments below.

Horror bloggers who have disappeared

A small annoyance of mine is that the blogroll widget only allows me to display 300 of the 1000 or so blogs which I follow so sometimes a horror blogger quits the scene for months before I notice it.

I've often been criticised for following over 1000 blogs (and for writing half a dozen of them myself), but if I didn't do so then I wouldn't be able to write this post about them. The only drawback (even for someone as internet addicted as myself) is commenting everybody, but since I've lost another two followers this month because of the things I say online, perhaps that's a good thing.

Anyway, without further ado, here's a list of what appear to be dead horror blogs. What happened to these guys and ghouls?

80's Horror Movies
After Midnight, Behind the Closet Door
Deathtouch Horrors
Paracinematic Cinephile
Who Wants Taters???
Fright Club
Fan Fatales
Lavender Lair Of Horror
The Paradise of Horror
Deadly Serious
Pixie's Horror Galore
Ballistic Blood Bullets
Chicago Ghouls
Aditya's Movie Blog
Fears and Frights
Jonathan's Haunted House of Horror
Brutally Violent & Wonderful
The Haunted Drive-in
Sean Thomas Fisher's Blogwash
The Midnight Brood
Dead Of Night Radio
Scare Sarah
I Will Devour Your Content
Dr. Algernon Blacksteed's Good Times With Bad Movies
Monster Chiller Horror Theatre
DRACULAND: The Dracula´s Blog
Gore Gore Dancer Movie Reviews
Toolshed of Horror!
This girl digs horror
Horror Stuff Hunter
Horror Snark
Because I Saw The Film
Careful With That Blog, Eugene
Doctor Cyclops Horror
Found Horror
His Eyes Were Watching Movies
The Bleaux Leaux Reveaux
Ghouls Just Wanna Have Fun!
A Gory Place
Forgotten Horror Cinema
Grave of Horror Movies
The Universal Horror Archive
Killer Kittens From Beyond The Grave
The Angry Movie Lurker
Dr. Goremans Nightmare Emporium
Fetid Press
Zombie University
The Zombie Review
The House that Dripped Blog
B-Movie Holocaust!
The Last Site On The Left
Ghouls on Film
Chronicles of a Rambling Mind
Horror in Retrospect
Confessions of a Gore whore
Dead Derrick's Reviews
Bearded Weirdo Reviews
The Vault of Horror
I Spit on Your Gaze
Paracinema...The Blog
Horror is as Horror does...
Jesse's Little Shop of Horrors
Horror Magazines Hunter
Hack and Slash Horror Blog.
The Blood Shed

I don't know if, like me, they just had enough after Hallowe'en last year and the dearth of new horror movies which followed, if the writers themselves physically died, had their internet connection shut off, or if they've simply moved on to Facebook, Twitter or Wordpress (as Blogger tried to force a new dashboard interface onto us all).

I do know that blogging isn't for everyone and I also know how difficult it is to make a comeback after being away from it for a while, but even the worst of these bloggers had something to offer which will be missed.

I already miss their comments even though I've never had all that many from anybody. Sometimes there simply isn't a comment possible depending on what you write about.

If you wrote one of these blogs and you are still reading mine, let me know the reasons why you gave up.

May 15, 2012

Vacancy 2: The First Cut (2008)

"Three young people check into the Meadow View Inn for a night's rest, fully unaware of the inn's sick-minded employees and their nefarious intentions."

Well, after four attempts to make it through this below average prequel to a slightly more than average original, I finally watched "Vacancy 2".

I'm not sure why I kept falling asleep to this movie other than it obviously being quite boring and routine after the 40 minute mark, but I'd also blame the fact that it wasn't really anything more than yet another slasher with all the usual tropes.

Although it started off quite well, had a good setting, and even the acting was pretty decent for something put out by Sony Entertainment, it all felt like a made-for-cable movie rather than even a straight-to-DVD release.

There weren't any scares (or shocks even though there was plenty of blood everywhere rather than gore) and that was probably the deciding factor for my brain to switch off. Some of the effects were good although completely unoriginal. The suspense scenes, however, were handled very poorly which was a shame.

I'm not going to pretend that I know who anyone was in this since I barely even recognised Agnes Bruckner from "The Woods". I sort of wish that she'd taken her clothes off properly (and that the potential shower scene hadn't been completely wasted) but another part of me is glad that she didn't. As an aside, she is now in the allegedly much better film, "The Pact" (2012) which I still have to pick up.

If the characters had been more likeable or attractive then I probably could have coped with all the close-up shots right on their skin pores and moles, but they weren't. I also found the "shakycam" nonsense to be annoying considering that the rest of the film had mostly quite high production values.

The bad guys in this film were slightly more interesting than their victims but not by much. Nobody went for well-rounded here especially not the script writers. It was all somewhat superficial with the stupidest financial motivation for the motel owners and no explained motivation at all for the main killer apart from him being a psychopath.

Everybody and everything was just disposable in this film and it makes me wonder why crap like this is made at all. They must have had some idea that it wasn't going to be all that great going in to the project as I know that I did before even putting the DVD in the player.

At least I had pizza before Suzi got to it which kept me going during the badly filmed chase through the woods scene. I'm still wondering why the killer's camera was obviously so crappy though as even the $20 Jazz cam which I own takes better shots (as you can see above).

The ending of "Vacancy 2" wasn't completely predictable but it was still awful and the spinning camerawork of the final minutes almost made me throw my dinner back up. Fortunately, now that I've completed my review, I will never have to watch any of it ever again.

Tuesday Tiredness

Like most movie bloggers, I have a big stack of DVDs which I keep intending to review but, owing to one thing or another, by the time I get to them, I'm often too tired to concentrate.

In the last week, I have fallen asleep to "Vacancy 2" three times because, even though it started off okay, it just turned into yet another slasher. That's also how bored I am with slashers now.

I also fell asleep to most of the "After Dark Horrorfest III" movies (no great surprise there, of course), and every single film in the latest Echo Bridge packs which I bought (including "The Prophecy" collection).

In fact, just thinking about watching anything else from Echo Bridge makes me feel tired so I think I'll go back to watching real horror movies again rather than the "entertainment alternative to what anyone really wants to see".

I'm so tired right now that I can't even find an amusing picture to satisfy the LinkWithin widget (which will just throw up a text link if it doesn't get a thumbnail image of something to cache). Instead, I'll give you what I woke up to yesterday:

Willow and Suzi were waiting for me to assume the movie watching position between them in the "cat room". It never happened.

May 14, 2012

Music Monday? I bring you "Dr Blood's Audio Vault"

I've often wanted to include something about music on my blog but, due to the nature of what I usually write about, it just wouldn't work here. Also my eclectic musical taste is so hugely different from the stereotypical "heavy metal" that American horror fans (in particular) like to listen to that it would really seem really out of place to most people.

Another problem I discovered with having a "Music Monday" (such as several other bloggers have done) is that I am in no way a "music journalist". I don't know all the ins and outs of the music industry, the various labels, the names of the band members or anything about music at all other than what I like.

Actually, that's not completely true. When I was eleven, I had piano lessons and, I suppose, if really pushed, I could call myself a keyboardist even though I haven't played in public for over 20 years. Other than being a human musical box who just plays back the music from the sheet in front of him, I am in no way musically gifted and have realised that I have no talent in that area whatsoever.

Thus, I have created "Dr Blood's Audio Vault" as a sister site to this one. It's really only a playlist of music which I like and which has a decent enough video with it. I'm more of a visual person than an audiophile.

I'm not completely sure what I'm going to do on that blog apart from populating it with YouTube videos of hot (mostly female) singers as I really know very little about the artists I like, but, if you ever wanted an insight into my musical taste, there it is.

If you want the occasional random music video to pop up in your Google Reader or Blogroll then please follow "Dr Blood's Audio Vault".

Who knows? You might even discover something new there which you like.

May 12, 2012

It's Caturday! Cat's Eye (1985)

"A stray cat is the linking element of three tales of suspense and horror."

Willow highly recommends this movie!

For more horror cats, please check out

The Horror Cats

May 11, 2012

Tattoos have nothing to do with horror knowledge

I know that this is outside the scope of my normal blogging, but having just been "called out" on my attitude to tattoos on someone else's blog comments. let me just state again the reasons why I am against them and their validity in the alleged horror community.

It seems that there is a certain clique of tattooed convention goers who think that a horror fan is only worthy if they "look the part". That means that if you aren't one of their low-class, hoi polloi (yes, I'm using that term ironically) then you don't have any right to be in their air space.

These people assert that to be a horror fan you have to wear a disease-spreading disfigurement which was traced on by one of their dirty biker/ex-jailbird "tattoo artist" friends to show the knowledge which should be inside your brain on the outside of your body instead. These same people are presumably the ones who have the names of their children and other loved ones tattoed on them because it's likely that they will forget who they are otherwise. Yes, these mouth-breathers really are so stupid that I'm surprised that they don't just have an "If lost please return to..." address label inked onto their foreheads.

I don't have any tattoos, and I've been a horror fan twice as long as most of these horror convention idiots have been alive. I don't know everything about every horror movie ever made, but I'm pretty sure that I know a hell-of-a-lot more than they do. They might say that I wasn't a horror fan because I don't look or dress like them, but from my side, it's pretty damned obvious that I'm not a horror poseur who would even need to.

The whole tattoo "scene" is fairly recent and just another way for stupid people to get ripped off by others who have nothing more to offer the world than trace a picture onto somebody else, disfigure them, infect them, and take their money for the privilege. Before the early 2000s, it was generally only the military, bikers, construction workers, prisoners, and other plebs who either through drinking, boredom, or a tribal mentality wanted to be branded into a certain group.

When I see a so-called "horror fan" covered from head to toe in tats, all I think is "idiot", "sheep", and "moron". It's so "peer", un-individual, and kind of pathetic really. I also really do think, in this age of HIV, Hepatitis C, and MRSA, they are full of disease (both physically and mentally) and steer well clear of them.

Don't believe me about the mental illness part? Think about it. Anybody who pays another person to inflict pain on them, leaving them with an ugly scar which will last for life, and who (especially in the case of women who tend to get addicted to tattoos and piercings for some reason) would return for more of the same clearly has some kind of insanity. Isn't one of the reasons why we all watch horror movies in a safe environment simply because we would rather see painful things happen to other people rather than to ourselves?

Of course, it's all peer pressure and the desire to fit in with "the crowd", even if that crowd is looked down on by the rest of society. Horror fans exist on the edge of society most of the time anyway because the stuff we watch isn't what society believes that any decent human being should be exposed to in the first place. In fairness, if horror movies were real life and not escapism or fantasy then I would be forced to agree with the "nanny state" ideology.

The truth is you don't have to dress a certain way or have a certain look to be a horror fan, but there are some people who make me ashamed to like the genre. They are the unemployable, inked-up, bone-through-nosed, earlobes-round-their-knees mental cases who, for some inexplicable reason, want to look like Pinhead from "Hellraiser". They may be a whole lot of fun during the two days of a horror convention, but it won't do anybody much good in the real world.

Have fun trying to find a job if you look like Sideshow Bob or Popeye the Sailor. It's hard enough for normal looking people or even the cookie-cutter beauties who usually get everything handed to them on a silver platter and never had to try before. I wish anyone with a sleeve of Regan from "The Exorcist" deflowering herself with a crucifix the best of luck trying to find employment in catering, retail, or any other service industry where they have to deal with the general public. It's not going to happen. The stakes are too high nowadays, and nobody wants to see something like that in their face every day.

I don't get it and I never will. Most sane people try to make the best of themselves no matter how hard or in vain it may be and don't want to look as if they belong in a freakshow. Personally, I would do anything and pay any price to increase my own symmetry and be beautiful rather than look like the scruffy deadbeat which I usually do.

There are, obviously, some people who think that girls or guys all inked up, pierced in every orifice, and made as ugly as a "Suicide Girl" are "hot", but that's their problem not mine. That look is not to my taste and, as a rampant heterosexual, any moderately pretty girl who does that nastiness to herself (for whatever attention seeking reasons float her boat) instantly drops from whatever "out of 10" score I would give her to a zero. It puts me off and, to be blunt, if it came to sex with them, I wouldn't be able to perform with a tattoo of the deformed version of Jason Voorhees staring at me.

Yes, it's all to do with taste. I have it, and those high-street skanks with their beaus who surround them due to "Tiffany Syndrome" (an "Eastenders" reference for a girl who has enough flaws that even an ugly bloke might stand a chance with her if she gets drunk enough) don't. I don't like condiments on anything either, but some people who want to ruin the flavour of their food do. It's that black and white really.

As for the horror knowledge, that's all about time spent reading books and watching films. You have to invest the time and maybe even study a bit if you aren't actually in the horror industry itself or are new to the genre. You won't get it from having somebody trace a picture of Robert Englund on your tits for $60, by wearing a "Motel Hell" or hipstery "Manos Hands of Fate" t-shirt, or by hanging out at those timewasting, rip-off horror fleamarkets called conventions.

Make no mistake about it, these "Horror and Tattoo" conventions are just out to get your money. They don't care what they do to you, how you will look, or how you will feel about it immediately afterwards or in five years time. All they want is your hard-earned cash which you could have spent more wisely on DVDs, posters, or $25 autographs from "celebrities" which no Hollywood studio will ever employ again.

That is all.

May 10, 2012

A trip to Wal-mart, double-dips and upgrades

I just did my monthly trip to Wally World to see what was new, what I could afford and what was overpriced.

Starting with the scary "new release" shelves which I'm not going to pay full price for, I saw "The Innkeepers", "The Darkest Hour", "The Divide" and "Underworld Awakening". There were also a couple of horror movies which I've never heard of, don't know the names of any of the actors in, can't remember the titles of and which I assume are handycam crap.

Moving on to the $10 shelves, I only noticed that "Jennifer's Body" was still hanging onto the $9.98 price tag while "Orphan" has disappeared into the bargain bin. A double-feature of "Alien" and "Aliens" was also there. A few others which I have no interest in such as the "Nightmare on Elm Street", "Final Destination" and "Critters" 4 packs were on the other side although I think they are due to be moved into the $7.50 section soon.

Of course, I was straight into the $5 bargain bin as usual and, from all the other Echo Bridge horror packs, I decided to get another "Midnight Horror" pack (above). Obviously I really needed yet another copy of "Night of the Living Dead" (not!) but the collection I chose had more movies on it which I haven't seen than any other.

I also decided to get the "After Dark Horrorfest III" pack because it's the best out of all of the After Dark festival years (although that's not exactly a compliment). The movies are barebones and come on two DVD discs with four on one side rather than two on each side which you have to flip. I've only watched the first DVD before writing this post and it was okay. "Slaughter" was the best of a bad lot although "Autopsy" was pretty gory. For $5, I'm not going to complain too much.

Being a big Antonio Baderas fan has its drawbacks because I then spent more money than I wanted to by buying "The 13th Warrior" from the $5 section as well. It's not a very good film but there's a little bit of gore in it and enough ludicrous moments to keep my overly critical self amused for a while. Muslims and Vikings versus cannibals? Yeah, I think you can all work out the historical inaccuracies in this one.

Finally, while I was out and about, I also paid a visit to my other favourite DVD exchange store where I double-dipped "An American Werewolf in London" with the "Full Moon Edition". I'm still keeping the older version though.

In a further moment of weakness, I upgraded my VHS copy of "The Shining" to the identical DVD version even though it had one of those crappy cardboard cases that sticks too far out of the shelf and catches on the DVD next to it.

I've spent far too much money this week.

May 9, 2012

More crappy movies from the Pawn Shop

It was raining yesterday so I was in the mood to visit my local pawn shop again. I don't know what it is about rain and my desire to buy other people's discarded crap but it just goes together in my own mind.

Anyway, here's what I bought.

Again, because they were 4 for $10, I started off with a "Blockbuster Exclusive" version of "1408". I have no idea what makes it such an exclusive and I probably wouldn't have bought it if it hadn't been cheap. I saw the spine first and didn't know that the artwork was going to be all messed up with Blockbuster logos and other nonsense until I pulled it off the shelf.

I also decided to get "The Devil's Rejects" even though it was a full screen version because it's the only copy of it that I have ever seen in the flesh. I don't really like the film all that much but I do like Sheri Moon Zombie so it was a done deal.

Next, I saw the first two "Resident Evil" movies in a double feature pack so I had to get it. I like "Resident Evil: Extinction" anyway, and, having watched the first one again, it wasn't as bad as I thought it was. Getting what used to be a $13 double feature for $2.50 seemed worth it.

Finally, to complete the "4", I went for "Vacancy 2". The first one was good but I have a feeling that this one won't be. I've never seen it so it was a choice between this or "Creepshow III" which I watched ages ago and didn't like apart from the bit with the blonde prostitute. I'll probably review "Vacancy 2" later this week.

Do you like the pawn shops? How about the thrift stores and yard sales? What bargains have you found recently?

May 7, 2012

Doctor Blood's Coffin (1961)

"People are mysteriously disappearing near a remote Cornish village, where a scientist is experimenting with reviving the dead."

Since it was 18 years ago today that I first named my video review column in "The Demeter" magazine after a movie which I had never actually seen at the time, I decided to watch a remastered version of "Doctor Blood's Coffin".

There are two things which I have to get out of the way before I begin my review. The most important of these is to tell you that, in spite of the name, "Doctor Blood's Coffin" isn't a vampire movie. Yes, I did feel rather silly when I found out. I was writing my first published reviews for a Dracula magazine back in the day but nobody else realised my mistake either.

The second thing is that when I first watched "Doctor Blood's Coffin" on television in the late '90s, I thought it was horribly dated and boring. I didn't even make it to the end. Like a lot of younger reviewers nowadays, I only wanted the latest thing and had yet to develop any real taste or discernment.

"Doctor Blood's Coffin" has one of those somewhat embarrassing titles which would make you believe that it was yet another of those "cheesy" (I loathe the use of that word, by the way), over-the-top, campy horrors which today's hipsters like to get off on because they think it's "so bad, it's good". Fortunately, for me, although some of the acting is a little bit clumsy, the film is way more intelligent than the crapfest which it could have been.

The big draw here for movie lovers of the time is Kieron Moore who plays one of the two "Dr Blood" characters in the story. As Peter Blood, he is the younger, handsome, research scientist son of Ian Hunter's Robert Blood.

Kieron Moore was a very recognisable face during the '50s and '60s although his acting style was always rather more shouty than subdued. If you think of him as a constantly smoking prototype of Brian Blessed but without the beard and with an Irish accent which sounds German then you won't go far wrong.

The other even bigger draw for horror fans in particular is the late Hazel Court who plays Nurse Linda Parker. Hazel Court was one of the most beautiful of Hammer's horror actresses and was previously known for her role alongside Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee in "The Curse of Frankenstein" (1957). It's ironic (and probably no coincidence) that "Doctor Blood's Coffin" is, basically, another Frankenstein subgenre story.

One thing which I find fascinating (and here I'm going to get a bit spoilery even though the trailer gives it away) is how "Doctor Blood's Coffin" deals with the subject of human heart transplants six years before the first successful one was achieved by Christiaan Barnard in 1967.

There's a lot of outright moral condemnation of the whole organ donor thing here especially as Peter Blood comes across as quite a psychopathic bad guy and none of the donors are willing. There's even a big argument between Dr Blood and his nurse later in the film which doesn't present his case in a very good light at all although both sides of the case are treated somewhat childishly and it's hard to tell who was more insane.

The style of the film is very Hammer-esque but is nothing to do with them. The location filming really was done in Cornwall rather than the Bray Studios version as in "The Reptile" (1966). What horror directors had against Cornwall, I have no idea. It's hardly the most desolate place on the planet. The trope goes back to "The Uninvited" (1944) and is a bit like how New York city people think that anything upstate is all farms.

Another thing which stands out for me is the love the cameraman must have had for the old cars. I'm not entirely sure but I think at least one of them is a Hilman. There's definitely a Wolseley and a Ford Zodiac in here too. You can see them on the IMCDb (yes, an "Internet Movie Cars Database" really exists). As I grew up in the '70s and most of these cars were still going strong back then, it's a nice nostalgic moment.

Of course, what you really want to know about is whether or not "Doctor Blood's Coffin" is gory or scary. Well, it's definitely gory in a couple of places and, if you are the right age, the last ten minutes could be quite scary. I think it's more of an intriguing serial killer kind of thriller until the story really jumps the shark at the end. It would probably have been a minor classic if it hadn't gone so bizarrely into the absurd.

I don't want to give a major spoiler about the ending, but I will say that it isn't how anyone with a brain would expect this film to end. Of course, the producers were counting on that shock factor to get bums on seats in the cinema, but it's too unrealistic and doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

If it wasn't for the last ten minutes, "Doctor Blood's Coffin" would get at least a 7 out of 10 rating. The trouble is that those last ten minutes put the movie in a whole other category, and so it only gets a 6 out of 10 from me.

My Asian Horror Remake Collection

Here are the American remakes of Asian horror movies which I've bought so far. I'm not a big fan of Asian horror or remakes, but I got them cheap.

One day, I might review some more of these, but, every time I look at the growing number of remakes on my list, I just can't find it within myself to actually bother. I've only reviewed "Shutter" and "The Uninvited" on this blog.

Suffice it to say that I do like most of these films with the exceptions of "Dark Water", "The Ring Two", and "Mirrors". I think the remakes of "The Grudge" are just as good if not better than the originals and "The Uninvited" was simply a lot easier to understand than "A Tale of Two Sisters".

Which do you prefer? The remakes or the originals?

May 6, 2012

Asian Horror Playlist

While I was browsing YouTube for something to watch, I started finding lots of full Asian horror movies with English subtitles and decided to make a playlist out of them.

Even though every Asian horror movie that I've ever watched seems to be exactly the same with long-haired ghosts and schoolgirls in uniform, I've still watched quite a few of them either on YouTube or Netflix when I had it.

I still don't own any Asian horror movies on DVD apart from "Ringu" (1998) and "The Host" (2006). I've never even opened "Ringu" and you can see that it's still shrink-wrapped. I know it's a bit crass but I actually prefer the American remakes. I also have "The Vengeance Trilogy" but I don't count any of those as horror.

If I was to start collecting them, I'd probably also buy "Dear Friend" (2004) which is much the same as "Forget Me Not" (2009), the original version of "Shutter" (2004), "Dream Home" (2010), and, of course, "The Cat" (2011).

Anyway, if you like Asian horror then you might find something new to enjoy on my playlist. If you have any other recommendations for me, please leave them as a comment below.

May 5, 2012

My latest Pawn Shop finds

Sometimes people ask me where I get all my DVDs from. Since I'm not rich or silly enough to afford the brand, spanking new releases from FYE or Best Buy, and I'm certainly not in the loop for screeners from any decent source, I usually get DVDs from my local pawn shop. At 4 for $10, it's almost like getting them for free anyway. That's the same amount as a Monster energy drink and a big bag of gummy worms (both of which I also purchased earlier).

Anyway, as you can see from today's purchases, there isn't much left for me to buy anymore. I've already had all the really good titles so now I'm just grazing through the movies which I never intended to buy in the first place.

"The Last House on the Left" isn't the new one, it's the old version with David Hess which is more my thing anyway. I'm slightly annoyed that it came in one of those "eco friendly" cases which means that the sleeve inside is dented (just above the "H") but it's still better than paying full price for it.

I also got "The Last Exorcism" which some poor soul must have paid $14.99 for from Blockbuster at some point. I'm leaving the stickers on it so that people will think that it was me.

The trouble is that when it's a "4 for $10" deal, as opposed to $3 each, the little greedy demon inside me causes me to have to actually save that extra $2 by buying something which I didn't really want at the end. This time, once I'd reached the "3" with "The Prophecy" (5 movies on 2 DVDs set), I had to buy an "After Dark Horrorfest" piece of crap as well.

So there you have it. Another $10 sort of wasted and yet sort of not. I'll watch all these several times over to see if I can find anything good in them to write about although I've already seen them all apart from the later "Prophecy" movies.

If you have a local pawn shop (or "Swap Shop" as they tend to be called round here), I advise you to check it out regularly. Take lots of cash with you as they usually don't accept debit/credit cards and see what you can find.

May 4, 2012

The Avengers (2012)

It appears that all the movie review bloggers are nerding out over this but I really don't understand the attraction.

For a start, it has nothing to do with John Steed and Emma Peel.

It has even less to do with Gambit and Purdey.

I don't really care about the 1998 version of "The Avengers" and neither did anyone else at the time, but I thought I'd mention it anyway.

"The Avengers" is obviously something to do with comic book characters which I have no interest in.

It would be like comparing apples to oranges.

I won't be watching it because I'm not 12.

It also doesn't have Spider-Man in it.

May 3, 2012

ATM (2012)

"On a late night visit to an ATM, three co-workers end up in a desperate fight for their lives when they become trapped by an unknown man."

I put off watching "ATM" until now because of all the negativity surrounding it. I wanted to watch the film with all the opinions of the nobodies who bash everything on the internet far from being foremost in my mind so that I could give it a fair chance. I'm pleased to say that I was absolutely right in my decision and I actually really enjoyed "ATM" even though it's derivative of at least six other movies.

Let's get all the similarities out of the way to begin with. "ATM" is a bit like "Wind Chill", a little like "Phone Booth", sort of like "Judgment Night" and "Final Jeopardy", and a LOT like "Body Bags", "Urban Legend", "P2", "Cujo" and "Frozen". In fact, if you've seen any one of these movies then there won't be any great surprises for you.

Sometimes, however, you don't really need a lot of surprises or innovation to keep you entertained. Well, I know I don't. Think of all the people who watch the same formulaic slasher movies over and over again even though it's only the names of the characters and the locations which are different. I think we all know a recent meta-horror movie which explained why that works.

"ATM", in spite of not being the same kind of "ATM" as depicted in "The Human Centipede", is still a very enjoyable hour of horror goodness with 15 minutes tacked on as padding to the beginning and another 15 minutes added to spoil everything at the end.

Where it excels is in the acting and casting choices. While none of the characters are all that likeable initially, they all work within the logic of the story. Brian Geraghty's character, David, reminded me a lot of Tim from the original British version of "The Office" and I'm sure that Josh Peck's character, Corey, was modelled on just about anyone from the American version. I wouldn't know for sure because I don't watch that lacklustre crap.

Of course, the big draw for me was seeing Eddie Shoestring's daughter, Alice Eve. I didn't even know he had a daughter or that she was an actress. I also didn't realise that she was 30 years old and playing a twenty-something in the style of Reese Witherspoon until "ATM" either.

Don't get me wrong, I thought the characters worked well together. None of the actors gave a bad performance. The faults were purely with the script, the ludicrous situation and the characters' complete lack of balls to do anything about it, but, of course, it wouldn't have been much of a film if they had all just walked out together, got in their car and gone home.

As far as suspense goes, it really isn't a bad movie at all. There are some nicely done set pieces, but it isn't overly scary or gory unfortunately. At least it was R-rated and felt like a horror film for adults. Just like "The Strangers", it's all about what could happen at any time just because some psycho feels like ruining your day. Although I hated "The Strangers", I'll just emphasise again that I really liked "ATM".

What I liked most was the social commentary about the pussification of America. The characters are all so reliant on the laws of society, thinking they can appeal to the civilised part of a killer's nature, or, more simply, expecting some kind of automated help all the time instead of helping themselves, that they increase their chances of being victims with every action they take.

Something like this could and would only happen in America. You wouldn't find any Brits or Europeans getting trapped in a "Cash Point" lobby overnight because they would just run out, kick the would-be serial killer in the nuts, and laugh about it all the way back to the pub. "ATM" is blatantly aimed at paranoid, scared Americans who don't know what to do without their cars, cellphones and other technology, and pulls no punches in condemning them for it.

Maybe I'm just a cynical old Brit who, as an outsider, reads a lot more into crybaby, weakling, coddled American society than most people. I love it when a film like this comes along which so obviously hurls insults at the intended audience who are too dumb to pick up on it. When Alice/Reese/Emily put her own coat on David, I realised exactly what was going on.

I absolutely recommend "ATM" not as a horror movie per se but as a question for you to ask yourselves, "What would I do in this situation?"

May 1, 2012

Abby (1974)

"When a minister's wife becomes posessed by Eshu, the Nigerian god of sexuality, an exorcist is called in to drive the evil spirit away."

"Abby" was one of the first horror movies which I learned about from reading an old copy of "Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide", obviously, because of its position in the alphabet. I'd never actually seen the film and had always assumed that it had been banned due to its similarities to "The Exorcist".

Of course, "Abby" wasn't really banned, and it has been circulating on various bootleg VHS tapes and DVDs for years. The whole myth about Warner Bros. winning a court case and getting the movie pulled from cinemas has a grain of truth to it, but in fact, nobody ordered all copies of it to be destroyed. It's just that AIP, who owned the rights, never bothered to put out a decent copy of the film and figured quite correctly that the whole exorcism fad of the early '70s was well and truly over anyway.

Basically, "Abby" was a low-budget blaxploitation version of "The Exorcist" with several similar scenes to the latter. Carol Speed played a possessed adult which was a lot different to the child possession of "The Exorcist", so I have no idea how Warner Bros. got any part of their lawsuit to stick. Imagine if one studio tried to sue another over slasher or zombie clones nowadays, it would be laughed out of court.

Having finally watched "Abby" on YouTube just because I was intrigued to see more of William Marshall who played "Blacula", it was a serious case of "What the Hell did I just watch?" for me. Marshall was completely out of place and the whole film was horrible in every way possible.

Now I know that the budget was limited but $200,000 was a lot of money back in 1974 even so. There was really no excuse for the acting to be quite as bad as it was, for the poor cinematography, the crappy effects, or the horrendously bad edits.

In fact, the only part of "Abby" which wasn't terrible was the "Starsky and Hutch" style music, but even that was also incongruous in what was supposed to be a horror movie. Because there was no atmosphere, nothing apart from a brief scene in the basement even attempted to be scary in any way, shape or form.

Abby's possessed voice sounded like a rather lewd cartoon character (which makes a lot of sense considering the credentials of Bob Holt who provided it), and her transformations from "good Abby" to "possessed Abby" were largely based on the use of some badly applied grey make-up and some fake bushy eyebrows. Carol Speed wasn't all that hot anyway, so, to me, she looked as if she was trying to be scary all the time. Joan Ray who played Sue Preston, the wife in the couple who got a shocking piece of marriage counselling, was far hotter.

One thing I noticed earlier on was that there was a lot of food in "Abby". The family started off by chowing down on an obvious bucket of KFC, then, following what looked like a dinner of pork ribs and collard greens, the next scene had the women preparing even more chicken in the kitchen. Unfortunately, that scene ended with a nasty flesh wound for Abby before I could find out what they were making.

As you can tell, I wasn't overly interested in much to do with the story itself, especially as it kept on lagging. It really ran out of steam for me at the 40 minute mark when Abby escaped from hospital and went on a drinking and sexing rampage across Louisville. A smoking hearse was a real WTF moment at one point which made absolutely no sense at all.

Worse was to come when Abby's brother, a detective, fired his gun twice in a bar to clear it. I may be wrong about police procedure from the 1970s, but I'm sure that act would have had the whole place swarming with dozens more cops and the loss of a certain black detective's badge. Cops in horror movies are always stupid anyway and I mentally switch off whenever the action changes to anything to do with them.

And so, when the final exorcism happened, I couldn't make head nor tail out of what they were all talking about. It was hardly the Rituale Romanum which we all know from "The Exorcist" and was some kind of African thing which was, I'm sure, just complete and utter bullshit.

Anyway, despite its considerable flaws, I did manage to get all the way though "Abby" in one sitting (with a few toilet breaks). I'd class it as an "interesting" movie for anyone who is really into the "Blaxploitation" genre, but it isn't much good if you are looking for scares.