June 30, 2012

It's Caturday! Some celebrities and their cats

It's Caturday again! It's also 95 degrees outside, so don't expect to see much from me on here today apart from some even hotter pictures of celebrities and their cats. Yes, I know that's a crappy introduction, but I feel like I'm dying here. Where I come from even our cooked food doesn't reach this temperature.

I thought about doing a top ten of horror celebrities with cats, but that would be far too easy by just dipping into my screencaps folders and pulling out scenes from horror movies where someone is in the same shot as a cat. I also want to save that for another time when I can concentrate better.

I even thought about posting up some behind the scenes stills from older horror movies such as the one below from "Tales of Terror" (1962) with Peter Lorre, Vincent Price and a couple of black cats.

But that would be kind of boring really, especially if you don't know anything about the movie itself.

Instead, I trawled the internet in search of some famous celebrities who aren't nearly so famous for horror or their feline adoration. I actually found hundreds of them. I could even go through some back issues of "Cat Fancy" magazine (yes, I subscribe) and pull out a couple of dozen more.

I had to be selective though, and since I'm a rampant heterosexual, I decided to make the following list of twelve actresses and their cats. I may do another one for male celebrities next week, but we'll see how it goes.

These aren't in any particular order except, perhaps, for the cuteness of the cat involved. If you believe that then you'll also believe that if you say "gullible" really slowly, it sounds like "orange".

1. Zooey Deschanel

She was in "The Happening" (2008) which sort of counts as a horror film, but since I gave up on that idea, just look at the cute little kitten. Awww!

2. Penélope Cruz

She's also never been in a horror movie although she's been in some simply horrible ones. Doesn't Penélope look good with a cat on her shoulder? Nearly everyone looks good with a cat on their shoulder though, even pirates. Harrr!

3. Sherilyn Fenn

Most famous for "Twin Peaks" but a lot sexier in "Meridian" (1990), Sherilyn Fenn has a really grumpy looking puss in this picture. The Persian doesn't look too happy either.

4. Paris Hilton

The "House of Wax" (2005) star is obviously more famous for carrying nasty little yappy dogs around with her, but she also likes cats. I believe she has a "Munchkin" cat (one of those poor beasts which has been selectively bred with legs too short for its body) and several others.

5. Nicole Kidman

Ginger hair and a black cat? Obviously Nicole Kidman must be a witch! It's a good thing that we don't live in the 16th century anymore, isn't it?

6. Maggie Gyllenhaal

Currently most famous for being in "The Dark Knight" (2008), Maggie Gyllenhaal clearly loves her cat. That poor cat has a face that only a mother could love too.

7. Cameron Diaz

I watched Cameron Diaz in "The Box" (2009) recently, but I'm sure that isn't her only claim to fame apart from also being a nutter in "Vanilla Sky" (2001). Here she is with a vanilla cat though (a lot like my first white cat) which makes for a great picture. The cat's name is Little Man.

8. Drew Barrymore

It's nice to see an older Drew Barrymore clutching a kitten, especially after all those publicity shots with General for "Cat's Eye" (1985) when she was a child herself. Start them young and they'll always be cat lovers.

9. Christina Ricci

Either this is a still from "That Darned Cat" (1997) or Christina Ricci must have learned that she was going to be in that awful "Cursed" movie one day. I've seen this photograph credited as Christina and her very own cat so I'll go with that (especially as this is the scariest picture on the list!). I'm glad that Christina looks a lot better than this nowadays.

10. Madonna

Yes, she counts as an actress, sort of. She was good in "Die Another Day" (2002), wasn't she? There are other photos of Madonna with her cat, but I'm not sure about their legality. This one clearly came from Madonna.com so I'm making sure that I give both the credit and the link.

11. Katy Perry

Mainly a popstar but with aspirations to be an actress, Katy Perry is now known for her love of cats. Strangely, there aren't many pictures of her online with a feline companion. This seems to be an older photograph, and the cat doesn't look too comfortable. Katy has confessed that she wasn't a cat person until fairly recently and it shows. The cat's name is Kitty Purry, of course.

12. Audrey Hepburn

Okay, so this is a bit of a cop-out ending. I really wanted a picture of the late Audrey Hepburn with her own cat, but this on set shot of Audrey and "Cat" from "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (1961) will have to do. It's not the usual picture which a lot of these lists use anyway.

As much as I would like to sit here all day posting pictures while I dehydrate, that's all for now, folks.

If you are currently owned by a cat make sure that he or she has plenty of water today (and every day for that matter). Also, if you know that there are some strays where you live, stick some bowls of water outside for them too. You wouldn't want to be thirsty on a day like this, would you?

June 29, 2012

My Region 1 Horror DVDs - part 5

The Second Shelf - part B

I know this is probably even more boring than watching one of those YouTube videos where people go through their entire DVD collections one DVD at a time but I'm too hot and bothered to do anything else right now.

It's about 90 degrees inside my house and even worse outside with all the humidity so you'll just have to bear with me. I'm sitting here, still dripping from the tenth shower I've had today, with three fans blowing on me, and it's not getting any better. I really hate Summer.

Anyway, because I've become absolutely useless with a camera, this is what I have on the second half of my second R1 horror DVD shelf.

Frankenstein - The Legacy Collection
Much better than the "Dracula" legacy collection, this pack contains "Frankenstein", "Bride of Frankenstein", "Son of Frankenstein", "Ghost of Frankenstein" and "House of Frankenstein", plus a load of special features, documentaries and all the trailers. I highly recommend this if you love Universal's monster movies. I got this used from FYE for $9.99 so it was a real bargain.

Friday the 13th
One of the few American slasher movies from the '80s which I can actually stand. I liked the kills even though they were all borrowed from a certain Italian movie, and the twist set this apart from others of the same kind. The stupid ending (similar to the one which ruined "A Nightmare on Elm Street") almost killed this film for me but I decided to have a copy in my collection anyway. This was from FYE.

Friday the 13th Part 2
I used to have all the "Friday the 13th" movies on VHS but I gave them away. I'm just not into them that much and only have this sequel because it has a cat in it. If I was to ever buy another it would only be the one with John D. LeMay (also from the similarly titled "Friday the 13th" TV series, of course). I also have "Jason X" without a case and "Freddy vs. Jason", but that's it.

The Frighteners
Because I have no sense of humour whatsover, I only see this as a horror movie rather than a comedy. The "funny" ghosts in this actually irritate me a bit (although not as much as Dee Wallace), but it's a nicely done film overall. I'm pretty sure that this was from Big Lots for $3.

Freddy vs. Jason
Another one which is out of alphabetical order and which I've just mentioned anyway. I'm not really into either of the big '80s horror icons but this one has Monica Keena in it and I like her a lot. This is the two disc special edition which I got from FYE but I have absolutely no idea what is on the second disc.

Fright Night
I only have this because of Roddy McDowell's presence in the movie. I don't really like it all that much as it's one of the sillier '80s vampire movies which a lot of people view through the rose-tinted spectacles of nostalgia rather than seeing it as the comedic ripoff of "Salem's Lot" which it actually is. I think this must have come from FYE's used section back in 2008 when I couldn't find anything else to watch.

The Fog
A very flawed John Carpenter movie which promised so much as a ghost story and then ruined it all by becoming a slasher. Adrienne Barbeau was really good as DJ Stevie Wayne. I've seen the remake and it was terrible so I decided to keep this. I'm sure that it originally came from one of Hollywood Video's "sellthru" stands for $4.99 or thereabouts.

Just something from the pawn shop when I needed to complete a "4 for $10" deal. It's a bit slow and a bit of a "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" ripoff. Even though it's one of the weakest efforts from the French new wave of horror, it's still better than "Inside" so I'm keeping it.

The Devil's Rejects
I only got this a few weeks ago from the pawn shop and it turned out to be the full screen 2-disc version. I've never seen the widescreen version anywhere though. I'll probably play it on my laptop sometime when I'm bored anyway. It's got Sheri Moon Zombie in it so that's reason enough to keep it. Yes, I know it's out of alphabetical order.

From Beyond is in my R1 folder.

Full Eclipse
I really liked the idea of this werewolf film and remembered it as having a very powerful start. Having rewatched it, it's sort of lame but Patsy Kensit was really hot back then. It was another Big Lots $3 purchase with one of those terrible cardboard cases which have no right to exist.

Funny Games
Still sealed, still unwatched. I saw this remake on cable and hated it almost as much as I hated the original. I actually bought this as a present for someone and they didn't want it either so I'm now stuck with it.

Ghost Story
I know that there's a certain more popular horror blogger who really hates this movie but I've always liked it and really can't see the flaws which he's picked out in it. The book was really popular when I was younger but I never read it. I prefer movies to books anyway so I was quite pleased to get this for $2 recently.

The Gift
I think this was supposed to be Sam Raimi's "almost" return to the horror genre. It's a good film with Keanu Reeves playing a bad guy exceptionally well. I don't think it's really horror but it was only $2.50 from the pawn shop and has paranormal elements to it.

Ginger Snaps
Simply the best Canadian horror movie ever made and one of the best werewolf movies to boot. The first sequel is okay but I don't own a copy of it and the second sequel sucks. I had to buy this from eBay because I couldn't find it here. I have no idea how much I paid for it but I think it was under $5 including shipping.

The Glass House
This is an outstandingly good thriller which I got from Big Lots for $3. I saw it when it first came out and always wanted a copy of it. Leelee Sobieski is really good in this and, of course, looks just like a young version of Helen Hunt who was also popular at the time. The sequel (or remake with all the names changed) from 2006 was awful so I sold it.

Glass House: The Good Mother used to be here but I sold it.

Good Neighbors
I really liked everything about this but it's only a borderline horror movie. Yes, it has a serial killer in it, murders and a lot of Canadian weirdness, but it's not scary. I just like it and it fits into my collection for feline reasons. This was a very recent pawn shop purchase.

The Grudge
This is the "Unrated Extended Director's Cut" but, since I've never seen any other version of this remake, I can't tell you how that is anything special. I prefer this remake to the original Japanese version which looked cheap to me. Also because I loved "Buffy", it almost goes without saying that I had to get this because of Sarah Michelle Gellar. Big Lots had about 100 copies of this when I got it and they still seem to carry this horror movie more than any other.

The Grudge 2
Another "Unrated Director's Cut" and, once again, from Big Lots. It's not quite as memorable as the first one but it's a lot better than the third. I really need to watch them all back to back again one day. I have a screener version of the third one which was given to me but I keep those things in a special folder.

Half Light will go here when I find a copy.

This is the Anchor Bay restored version which I think is the most recent. I've got several other versions but this is the one I keep on display. I even have a R2 one which was free with a Sunday newspaper. This DVD came from my exchange deal and cost me $5 of my store credit.

Halloween II / Halloween III
A Wal-mart $5 bin double-feature which I got just for "Halloween III". Although I liked the first movie, the first sequel did nothing for me. I really liked that "Halloween III" went off in a completely different direction and I've always felt that it was a shame that "Halloween 4" returned the franchise to yet more of Michael "Boring" Myers stalking and slashing again.

Rob Zombie's Halloween is now a coaster.

Rob Zombie's Halloween II
I still haven't watched this. I've heard a lot of bad things about it so it may well end up as a coaster just like the remake. I got this from Wal-mart recently.

The Hand
Another from the "Twisted Terror Collection" as sold by Big Lots. This is a bit of psychological horror with a really nice performance by Michael Caine. I also bought "Eyes of a Stranger" from the same collection but I hated it and sold it.

Hannibal / Manhunter / The Silence of the Lambs
A horror movie, a "Miami Vice" wannabe, and an Oscar winning thriller all in one pack. I should really move this to the bottom of the shelves with all the other multi-packs but, if I ever get "Red Dragon", I want to keep the series together. This was purchased with $5 from my store credit after my DVD exchange.

Hannibal Rising
Hannibal Lecter becomes James Bond in this prequel to the other Hannibal films. I really liked it and liked it enough to buy it for $5.

Happy Birthday to Me
Purely bought because of nostalgia. I remember seeing the advert saying "John will never eat shish kebab again" in the newpapers at the time although I had no idea what those words meant or that this was a horror movie. I bought it from Wal-mart.

This was originally from Wal-mart but I got it from the pawn shop. It still has the Wal-mart stickers on the cardboard slipcase. Not the greatest horror film ever and I'm not sure that "Old School American Horror" is really supposed to be this crap. I only keep it because Mercedes McNab showed her boobies in it. I couldn't believe that Harmony from "Buffy" would do a thing like that but I'm glad she did.

The Haunting
Robert Wise's 1963 ghost story is still the the best of the subgenre. I've watched this movie dozens of times and never got bored with it. Some of the dialogue is a little bit dated now, as are the characters, but it's actually still scary even when you know what's coming up. I got this new from FYE but I can't remember how much it cost. I'd guess that it was $9.99 or thereabouts but it was well worth the money.

You'll be relieved to know that I have now reached the end of the second shelf. If you have any questions about how, why or where I get my DVDs, please leave them as a comment below. In fact, just leave a comment anyway even if it's only to show that you've seen this post and you're still alive.

My Region 1 Horror DVDs - part 4

The Second Shelf - part A

I'm not getting any better at photography, obviously, but if you want to see the first half of this second DVD shelf bigger, click on the picture below.

Just as before, I'll go through them from left to right.

Dead Silence
I think this was from Big Lots $3 sale about 3 years ago although it could have been from FYE. I'd heard a lot of good things about this film but was put off buying it because of the huge marketing campaign which spammed MySpace back in the day. It's an okay film but I've only watched it twice since I bought it and I would probably rate it as slightly below average.

Deadly Friend
This one definitely came from Big Lots along with a couple of others from the same "Twisted Terror Collection" series. I remembered this as being a lot better than it actually was when I first watched it back in the '80s. I was almost embarrassed to watch it again since it wasn't so hot even if Kristy Swanson was.

The Dead Zone
I really liked this enough to buy it from the pawn shop because I missed out on it at Big Lots. It's not really horror, the book is actually better, but I did like Christopher Walken being cast against type in it. I'm still not a big fan of Brooke Adams in anything though.

I'd never even heard of this before I bought it and its sequel from Big Lots at the height of their $3 DVD sales. It turned out to be pretty good for a humorous Canadian version of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers". Hardly original but I enjoyed it for all the good looking girls in it.

Decoys: The Second Seduction
More of the same as the original film only slightly less so. Even more good looking Canadian actresses are this movie's selling point but I really only bought it for completeness.

Demon Knight
The weaker of the two "Tales from the Crypt" movies but with a nice performance by Billy Zane. I wish I'd bought the double-feature version with "Bordello of Blood" rather than buying them individually but it's too late now.

The Descent
I'll be honest here, I don't really like this film even with the original UK ending rather than the American ending. I didn't like any of the characters, hated the CHUDs, and, pretty much loathe the entire movie. I got it from the pawn shop really cheap though.

Deep Blue Sea
Another Big Lots purchase which I haven't even opened due to having this on VHS as well. I like the film but kept confusing it with "Deep Rising" (which I still need to buy on DVD but, again, already have on VHS).

The Devil's Rejects
I only got this a few weeks ago from the pawn shop and it turned out to be the full screen 2-disc version. I've never seen the widescreen version anywhere though. I'll probably play it on my laptop sometime when I'm bored anyway. It's got Sheri Moon Zombie in it so that's reason enough to keep it. Yes, I know it's out of alphabetical order.

The Devil's Advocate
I haven't opened this one either and it's been so long since I last saw it on TV that it's due to be watched soon. I seem to remember the girl in it being kinda hot but really freckly so it might be something that I'll get rid of.

The Devil's Curse
I haven't watched it yet but I'm looking forward to doing so.

Dog Soldiers is in my R2 folder.

Dracula - The Legacy Collection
Far too much stuff in this pack to go through here but it has all five of the Universal Dracula movies ("Dracula", the Spanish version of "Dracula", "Dracula's Daughter", "Son of Dracula", and "House of Dracula"). It also has several documentaries and some other junk which isn't so interesting. I got it for $14.99 from FYE and I think it's still the same price. I grew up watching these old movies on BBC2 late at night but none of them were scary even when I was a child.

4 Film Favorites - Draculas
In my opinion, this is the only Hammer collection worth buying especially since it was only $9.99. The pack contains bare bones editions of "Horror of Dracula", "Dracula Has Risen from the Grave", "Taste the Blood of Dracula" and "Dracula A.D. 1972" (plus its trailer). It's a pity that there isn't a Frankenstein or Karnstein/Vampires pack like this but the copyrights are all over the place in America so it's never likely to happen.

Dracula A.D. 1972
This is my favourite Hammer Dracula movie and the one I saw first as a child. I bought this separately thinking that there might be some extras on the DVD which weren't in the 4 pack but it turned out to be exactly the same Warner Brothers release.

Drag Me to Hell
This has the unrated director's cut and theatrical cut on the same DVD. I didn't like the movie when it first came out (especially with all the loud noises), but it has grown on me since. I got it for $5 after my big DVD exchange.

Steven Spielberg's best film, more of a thriller than a horror, but well worth the $3 I paid for it. I may move it somewhere else because it doesn't really belong on my horror shelves.

The Dunwich Horror used to be here but I sold it.

The Entity will go here when I find a copy.

Event Horizon
Paul W.D. Anderson's sci-fi version of "Hellraiser in Space" is a very underrated movie especially if you like Lovecraftian creepiness. I got it from the pawn shop after several weeks of indecision since I already had it on VHS.

The Evil Dead is in my R2 folder.

The Eye
The first Asian horror remake I ever bought although the DVD inside is a replacement to the original. The first one came from a yard sale and was badly scratched. I tried all the techniques on YouTube to get the scratches out and ended up making it worse. Eventually, I took it into a store that had a DVD resurfacing machine but bought a new copy from them because it was cheaper.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose
I used to really hate this movie but, last year when I was really bored, I started watching it on TV and got hooked. I fell asleep before the end so I had to go out and buy it. Fortunately, my local pawn shop has about 50 copies of this DVD which all came from Big Lots originally. It's still a bit too talky for my taste but I have it now.

The Exorcist is in my R1 folder.

Exorcist II: The Heretic is in my R1 folder.

The Exorcist III
I have "The Exorcist", "The Exorcist: The Version You've Never Seen", and "Exorcist II: The Heretic" in a Case Logic folder. I've still never made it through this film because it bores me to tears so I've left it on the shelf for that one day when I'm desperate enough to give it another try.

The Fall of the House of Usher
Big Lots again. They had a lot of these "Midnite Movies" at one point and I was almost silly enough to start collecting them. I also bought "The Dunwich Horror" and "Killer Klowns from Outer Space" but sold them at a yard sale because they were crap. I kept this one and another with Vincent Price in it because, well, I like Vincent Price.

I also have this on a Denzel Washington "4 Film Favorites" pack so its days are numbered now especially as it's in a nasty cardboard DVD case. I really liked this film at the time but I've only watched it once since I bought it from Big Lots.

Feast II: Sloppy Seconds
An awful mistake. I should never have bought this piece of crap and the mistake is compounded by it not even being the unrated version. I'll reuse the case for something better and use the DVD as a coaster or something. It's absolute rubbish of the highest order.

Final Destination
I thought this movie was great at the time so bought all three from FYE. Unfortunately, only the first two were worth having.

Final Destination 2
Not quite as good as the first one but I was entertained. I really only bought it for completeness though.

Final Destination 3
Completely useless movie which I'm again tempted to just reuse the case from. It has some kind of "create your own ending" feature which I've never actually tried out though. I really must do that before I throw it out.

Since it's cut off in the photograph, I'll start with Frankenstein - The Legacy Collection when I go through the second half of this shelf.

June 28, 2012

My last pawn shop adventure?

I'm getting a bit bored with going to the pawn shops. It's probably because I go to the same one every week only to find that there's hardly anything new.

All the big boys are going to FYE now but that's miles away from me and they have such a bizarre pricing system there that I have no idea if I'm getting a bargain or being ripped-off half the time. For instance, I could buy "Teeth" there for $2.99 brand new from their bargain bin (which I still might) or I could buy it used for $5.99. How does that work exactly?

Another oddity about FYE's pricing system is how single movie DVDs can cost more than the multi-packs which include the same movie plus three more. An example of this, which I saw earlier in the week, was "Bride of Chucky" for $12.99 while right next to it was the four Chucky sequels pack (which doesn't have the original "Child's Play" in it for some bizarre reason) for $9.99. Don't they have someone to go through their stock who would think, "Hold on, this isn't going to sell when customers can get more movies for less money"? I would even pay $2.99 for each of the Chucky sequels individually just to avoid the first two crappy ones, but $12.99? No.

Anyway, since I like to pay even less than that usually, here are my latest and probably my last "4 for $10" finds.

I'd been leaving "Frozen" (2010) in the pawn shop for some poor soul who hasn't seen it to get a nice bargain for $2.50, but it had been there for 4 months with no takers so I got it myself. It's not really horror but it was very nicely done, at least technically. Even though the story was a bit far fetched and made me want to slap some sense into the characters, it's definitely Adam Green's best work as a director so far.

Also, as much as I moan about the hipstery faux-grindhouse movies of Tarantino and Rodriguez, getting the two-disc special edition of "Planet Terror" (2007) at a bargain price was worth it. I'm not going to say that I'll never buy the other one, "Death Proof", but I really didn't like it as much. If it does show up then I'll get it for completeness (although I can definitely live without it).

I now have my own copy of "P2" (2007). I'd been meaning to get this for the last five years but just didn't see it anywhere after I rented it from Netflix. I'd still say that it isn't really horror so much as a thriller, but I liked it.

Finally, and this really might be the last DVD I ever buy from my local pawn shop, "Theatre of Blood" (1973) completed my four. This particular DVD had been on the bottom shelf of that pawn shop for the last four years since I'd been going there. It was still shrink-wrapped (albeit torn and now removed entirely by me). If I hadn't seen the film on one of the satellite channels just before moving to America, I might have bought it sooner. It has taken me that long to be in the mood to watch it again, basically because I'm getting older and a bit nostalgic. I don't think it's a particularly rare DVD (apart from on eBay where there are some stupid prices being asked for it), and, obviously, the title is spelled incorrectly (unlike the $39.99 version!), but it'll do for a Sunday afternoon later in the year when I'm really bored or snowed-in.

So, that's it. My horror DVD shelves are now full of nearly everything I like and I will probably be switching my allegiance to FYE for any future individual and/or more specialised purchases.

I think that, over the last four years, I've spent slightly over $1000 on used R1 horror DVDs and acquired titles which would normally have cost at least five times that amount. With every day that passes, they are all worth even less though. If I was to sell them all back to the pawn shop, I expect I'd be lucky to get even $200 for the lot and then it would be as a store credit rather than cash.

One day, I'll either have to sell them all at a yard sale or throw them away as the "disc rot" kicks in, but, for now, with at least 100 movies in my collection which I have never played, I'm just going to work through them and continue to review them on this blog.

June 27, 2012

The House of the Devil (2009)

"In the 1980s, college student Samantha Hughes takes a strange babysitting job that coincides with a full lunar eclipse. She slowly realizes her clients harbour a terrifying secret; they plan to use her in a satanic ritual."

I don't know what it is about "The House of the Devil" which causes me to fall asleep every time I try to watch it but the same thing happened three times in a row last night. Eventually I gave up and went to bed. Not to be beaten by it, I watched the second half of the DVD as soon as I woke up this morning.

Having battled with this movie many times on Netflix, my only explanation for its soporific effect on me is that it's boring as can be. For at least the first hour, it's all very slow with no atmosphere. It could just be the story of any girl, past, present or future, who goes to a college in New York state and takes a babysitting job to pay her rent.

It's all talk with droning American voices plus lots of shots of old wooden sheds which upstate New Yorkers laughably refer to as houses. This is no different to what I wake up to every day. It's all blandness and drudgery, but it's not horror.

If I hadn't read the three paragraph introduction to "The House of the Devil" which flashed up on screen before the opening titles, I honestly wouldn't have known that it was supposed to be set in the 1980s. Nothing looks any different now in New York state (or even Connecticut which was where this was actually filmed) compared to 30 years ago. I would guess that most of it isn't much different to 50 or 60 years ago either especially when it comes to the cars, not having light switches beside the doors to rooms, or eating bad pizza. Ti West documented these things really well but disguised them as a horror movie.

Nothing really happens in "The House of the Devil" until, as the pretentious critics call it, "the third reel". Then it's just like every other "unwilling Satanic sacrifice" movie complete with an escape scene which, in fairness, is pretty well done and doesn't have as many stupid decisions made by the victim as some others.

I must admit that Jocelin Donahue is quite nice to look at and plays a good part. Her character, Samantha, just isn't very likeable but is certainly less irritating than her friend, Megan (played by Greta Gerwig). I wouldn't want either of them in my house though.

Having never bought into the fanboy appreciation of "The House of the Devil" on the various forums, the only thing which I can think of which makes up for the dullness of the rest of it are that the kill scenes are rather satisfying. The tacked-on hospital scene epilogue should have been left off though. It should have ended with Tom Noonan's cries of "No, no, no!"

I don't really recommend "The House of the Devil" because it's sort of weird in a not very good way and fails in its attempt to be cleverer than it actually is. I haven't seen any of Ti West's other movies, "Cabin Fever 2", "The Innkeepers" or "V/H/S", and I really have no desire to now either.

June 26, 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)

"Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, discovers vampires are planning to take over the United States. He makes it his mission to eliminate them."

As most of us have learned from Timur Bekmambetov's famous Russian movies, just because there are vampires in them, it doesn't make them horror. Also, just as "Night Watch" and "Day Watch" were fantasies with some cool action scenes, it's no big surprise that Timur Bekmambetov (aided and abetted by producer Tim Burton) has done more of the same.

To bring in another of his films, "Wanted", for comparison, the action scenes in "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" are an identical mixture of slow-motion and ramping but with really annoying quick cuts this time just to spoil what little enjoyment there actually is.

In fact, the whole movie suffers from being far too quick over the ground. As amusing as the title may be just to poke a bit of fun at one of America's dead kings, you might at least still expect a decent amount of backstory and fleshing out of the character. There is some, but it's very rushed. Alas, the Abraham Lincoln in this story remains as one-dimensional as the one in the history books who nobody outside of the U.S.A. even cares about.

Although this was all based on a novel (for those strange people who can read such things), if the screenplay by the same writer is anything to go by then I'm glad that I didn't bother struggling through such antiquated papery crap. I know people are moaning that the film isn't as good as the book, but I simply don't believe them.

Of course, "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" is nothing more than a silly Summer movie for kids with too much money who want to leave their brains outside the cinema and chomp down as much stale popcorn as they can. Think in terms of "Van Helsing" or those horrible new "Sherlock Holmes" movies and you can guess the rest.

This isn't meant for hardcore horror fans or anybody outside of the same target audience as the one for "Twilight". No, the vampires don't sparkle in this but they do come out in daylight and aren't any scarier than the "bad vamps" from Stephanie Meyer's imagination. They are about as effective as those feeble offerings too.

Highlights are the special computerised effects which would be great if only things would move slowly enough to be able to get a good look at them. There's a scene with stampeding horses and another with a train which are more than a little confusing with who is doing what to who and why.

The much publicised axe-wielding, "axe-fu" or "axe-kata", is quite neat to watch but, again, it suffers from not really being able see anything gory. "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" feels like a PG-13 movie which accidentally got an R-rating for having a swear word and a flash of boobies.

There is blood in this but it's your typical vampire bite on the neck kind of blood. Everything else is CGI with very occasional practical effects. It all looks good. The make-up, costumes and period sets actually look great, but it's all "style over substance" anyway.

I'll give some credit to Benjamin Walker in that he looks the part in the make-up and uncomfortable clothes, but I wish somebody had let him do some acting. The same can be said of the rest of the cast who also seem to only be there to play dress-up.

Fans of Mary Elizabeth Winstead (from "The Thing" premake) will be pleased to see her again in a quite inconsistent role as Mary Todd Lincoln. I have no idea if Abraham Lincoln was married, but I assume he was and they had to fit this almost superfluous character in somewhere. She doesn't do a lot, but the one scene where she kills a vampiress isn't too bad.

Rufus Sewell plays the part of Adam, the head vampire, really well, but doesn't get enough time on screen to be memorable. He's also completely upstaged by a fellow Brit, Dominic Cooper playing Henry Sturgess, who, if there is ever a sequel, is bound to be in it.

Anyway, I don't want to give any more spoilers away since "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" is now showing at a movie theatre near you and, even though you will undoubtedly be disappointed, you'll probably still want to watch it.

June 25, 2012

The Dark Hours (2005)

"Dr. Samantha Goodman, an attractive psychiatrist in her thirties, joins her husband and sister for a weekend at a winter cottage when an unexpected guest arrives. Harlan Pyne, a violent sexual offender, is convinced that Samantha conducted unethical experiments on him while she was his doctor."

How I missed "The Dark Hours" when it first came out is a complete mystery to me, unless, of course, it never got distributed at that time in the UK. Mind you, it's quite possible that I saw the DVD sitting on the shelves in Blockbuster, and because of the artwork with the bloody axe on it, I dismissed it as yet another one of those handycam slashers which were even drifting into Britain like the slew of shit that they were and still are.

Nobody ever mentioned "The Dark Hours" on the message boards that I used to waste my time on, and it obviously wasn't getting any promotion from the right people. I only discovered this movie by taking a chance on it as a $2 DVD purchase from the pawn shop.

It's also quite possible that nobody liked "The Dark Hours" because, like all low-budget Canadian movies, it copied everything else which was popular in the horror genre while not adding a whole lot of its own. If you listen to the director's commentary, Paul Fox is proud to have taken so many ideas from other directors and very well known horror movies.

Although most horror geeks find a lot of amusement in these homages, there are many other reviewers who just notice the ripoffs. As much as I thoroughly enjoyed "The Dark Hours", I felt that I'd seen it all before, and I had. Not only were there a couple of similarities to "Funny Games", but not to put too fine a point on it, we've had so many movies with a similar twist ending over the years that "The Dark Hours" is somewhat predictable. If I only mention the names of two previous movies from 2003, "Identity" and "High Tension", I'm sure that you can work out the spoilers for yourself.

Where this is actually better than all those other movies is, of course, that it has phenomenal acting and a more cerebral script. It also looks and sounds like it had a much bigger budget. According to the IMDb, the budget was 500,000 Canadian dollars, but I'm sure that the director said it was only $50,000 on the commentary. He also explained how they achieved such great sets with the minimal resources available.

While not very gory, there are a couple of scenes which I can imagine that the truly timid would not want to watch. The effects are pretty good, and there is a lot more blood shed than I thought there would be. Dog lovers, in particular, will definitely not enjoy this film.

The lighting, camerawork and editing are really exceptional. I also didn't spot any continuity errors (apart from a mistaken one which was because I didn't quite get what was going on at the time), and I was very impressed by the overall production values. This is high-end Canadian stuff and not just another oddly paced, off-beat, and slightly out-of-sync product.

With a cast of mostly TV actors, some of whom are more famous than others (although probably a lot more so in Canada), there's nothing too unusual here. Where "The Dark Hours" ups its game beyond just settling for being good enough, however, is in the performances from everyone involved. Kate Greenhouse acts her heart out (not literally but nearly) and shows quite a range. Aidan Devine also really stands out as a psychopath who grows increasingly more likeable.

I even liked Iris Graham (who also played one of Emily's sisters in "The Exorcism of Emily Rose"). She's really hot when she isn't crying, and sometimes even when she is. I wish I could find a better picture of her, but I don't want to spoil her sexy scenes for you with a screencap.

Five days ago, Mister Exploit left me a comment, "Dr Blood you are going to love The Dark Hours if you are anything like me." Well, Mr Exploit, I've seen it now and can safely report that I did and I must be.

With this being a more adult and talky thriller than any of those lowbrow, teenage, slasher movies which there are far too many of, there really isn't anything for me to complain about at all. If I had only rented "The Dark Hours", I'd definitely be looking for a copy to buy right now.

June 24, 2012

I found treasure!

After a lot of sifting through their bargain bin, look what I found at Dollar General!

I had to buy "Triangle" (2009) to join the other movies in my growing Melissa George collection. As for "House of the Devil" (2009), well, it's something else to fall asleep to, and, of course, it's a bargain at $3. I could have had "Mega Piranha" (2010) as well but I don't think it's even worth $1.

Apart from the rental stickers in the centre of each DVD, they are immaculate. There are no scratches and nothing to even suggest that they were "pre-viewed". Of course, I'll need cases and sleeves if I want to display them but I'll sort that out eventually.

I was so proud of myself for not buying even more DVDs from Target last night. I was very tempted by the latest Melissa George ones - "A Lonely Place to Die" and "Bag of Bones" - though. I even had them in my hands at one point.

Honestly, I think I need some kind of therapy. I only went out to get cat food from the safest and most DVD free store in town and this happened.

I'll probably be heading back to Target later this week as well...

Oh, yes, Melissa George, soon every horror film you've ever starred in will be mine.

June 23, 2012

It's Caturday! The Black Cat (2007)

If you've never seen this episode from the "Masters of Horror" TV series, now is your chance to make up for it with Anchor Bay Entertainment's YouTube channel. In case you're wondering, this is a completely free service which they have been providing for almost four years now. There are quite a few good movies on there but, since it's Caturday, it's time to get stuck in to some Edgar Allan Poe.

"The Black Cat, set in 1840 Philadelphia, has the great writer Edgar Allan Poe, struggling with alcoholism, writers block, as well as being out of ideas, short on cash, and tormented by his wife Virginia's black cat that will either destroy his life or inspire him to write one of his most famous stories."

Starring Jeffrey Combs as Edgar Allan Poe, "The Black Cat" is simply the best adaptation of the story to date. Poor Pluto (the cat not the stupid Disney dog) really goes through some horrible things so, if you're at all squeamish, you'd be better off not watching those bits. Keep with it though because there's a twist at the end which makes it all better.

As you may know, I bought a copy of this on DVD from a pawn shop only recently. I don't make a habit of buying crappy movies so you can trust my judgement.

If you want to buy your own DVD, and I highly recommend that you do for all the special features (including an audio commentary, making of documentaries, and even the script), click the picture below.

Happy Caturday!

Two Years on Blogger!

I've been on Blogger for two years!!! I know I had a considerable break after last year's Hallowe'en, but, I needed it. Out of all the things which I ever had an interest in, horror movies have remained a constant in my life, so, even when I wasn't blogging, you can be sure that I was still watching 2 or 3 nasties every day, learning more about them, and, generally, just enjoying them for what they were without feeling the constant pressure to write something.

I've now got 323 subscribers, 190,649 pageviews, and I'm quite amazed that people are still reading my 707 (now 708) posts. I would like to say that all the numbers have doubled since this time last year, but I can't and I only have myself to blame for it.

When I look back at some of the posts I made on here, it's embarrassing. I wanted to do too much too quickly and I whizzed through everything superficially. I'm glad that I've decided to treat this as just a journal now rather than yet another poor man's version of the IMDb. Too many other people are writing horror blogs which set out to be the definitive guide to horror and have essay length posts written about each and every film. Good luck to them but that's not how I want to do things anymore.

Since my return earlier this year, I've just been writing what I've felt like writing about the horror movies which still interest me, the ones I've watched, and the ones I've collected. I'm done with trying to change anybody's perception about what makes a good horror movie because, as I've discovered, other people's tastes (especially those of anybody under 25) really suck nowadays. If they're not e-begging for money to make more of their homemade zombie crap, they're writing ungrammatical gibberish on their clicky little phones, drinking hand sanitizer or eating each other. The whole world is going to Hell in a handcart and there's nothing I can do to stop it. What I have to say about an almost extinct genre of movies isn't really that important.

One thing I've noticed is that my "articles" and "off topic" posts get a lot more responses than my movie reviews. I don't think I write particularly bad movie reviews (at least not as bad as that slimy little Bulgarian fellow who still reviews like he's writing the promotional blurb for the back of the sleeve), but I think people skip over them in the same way that I skip over theirs too. There's only so much you can say about a film and so many different ways to say it especially when it's some 30 or 40 year old piece of nonsense which is long since past its watch by date.

I'm still going to write horror reviews because there's always a chance that I can lead somebody to something good or away from something awful. That's why I do it. It's a free service, if you like. I know you didn't ask for it but you're getting it anyway.

Nobody on the planet has watched every horror movie ever made but we're all giving it a damn good try. Some horror movies never made it to VHS, less made it to DVD, and the percentage of horror on Blu-ray is still ridiculously small. I'm lucky that I was there as most of the horror movies which are still being raved about came out theatrically. I'm also unlucky that I've seen the awful crap which straight-to-video horror has become. Swings and roundabouts, my friends, swings and roundabouts.

I will shamelessly promote the fact that I know a lot more about horror movies than 90% of the other horror bloggers just because I've watched so many of them. It's not this blog which is the "ultimate guide" anymore (nor has it ever really been), it's me! Yes, I am a big-headed, arrogant bugger but you have to be to do this every day.

Over 100 horror bloggers which I used to follow in the beginning have given up. A lot of them are now wasting their time writing never ending documents on Twitter, Reddit or whatever other FaceySpace clone is flavour of the month. It takes stamina and dedication to continue to blog and there's nothing quite like this system to separate the poseurs and wannabes from those with a genuine passion for the genre and this medium. I've seen hundreds of new bloggers start up, write a bit, get disillusioned that they didn't instantly have thousands of followers just because they typed a few paragraphs or leeched some pictures, and disappear again.

Will I still be doing this in another year? Maybe. Probably. Will I still be doing it in another 5 years? I sincerely hope not. Most horror movies are for teenagers now and it's been a very long time since I was a teenager. I'm finding it increasingly difficult to relate to the same formulas over and over again, I'm barely keeping up with all the new actors and actresses who are famous for 5 minutes and then disappear into obscurity just as quickly, and, to cut a long story short, I don't even care if I'm out of touch with any of that showbusiness malarky.

So what does the future hold for "Dr Blood's Video Vault"? More of the same; more rants, more reviews, more stuff about cats, and my battles with the latest technology. Yeah, nothing is really going to change except, hopefully, it will be better written.

Thanks for reading.

June 22, 2012

Black Sunday (1960)

(AKA La maschera del demonio)

"A vengeful witch and her fiendish servant return from the grave and begin a bloody campaign to possess the body of the witch's beautiful look-alike descendant."

I remember when BBC2 first showed "Black Sunday" (or "The Mask of Satan" as it was known in Britain) back in the early '90s. I also remember how it was kind of a big deal for this film to actually be shown uncut on television since it had once been banned.

After the hyped-up introduction suggesting that this was the most terrifying movie ever made, I'm sure that I wasn't the only one who was a little bit disappointed by what really amounted to little more than a black and white Italian version of a Hammer horror.

I would like to say that my opinion of "Black Sunday" has changed over the years and through repeated viewings but, alas, it hasn't. As much as I can appreciate how controversial it must have been in 1960, it just doesn't have enough scares to satisfy me.

Also, as much as I've always wanted to find something attractive about Barbara Steele, I can't. Finding one still image where she looks pretty rather than harsh or intimidating seems to be impossible. The best I could come up with is the one below and, if you look at it long enough, she still looks as if she's crazy.

Of course, it was Barbara Steele's iconic looks which gave her such a successful career in Italian horror movies. She even proved that she could act in most of them although, outside of today's $1 bargain DVDs, none of the movies she starred in were ever as famous (or infamous) as "Black Sunday".

So what made "Black Sunday" so special? I'd guess that it was the level of violence in the opening scene which went way beyond what anyone was used to. Although people knew about all the horrific tortures and brutal deaths of witches in the history books, nobody until Mario Bava actually dared to show one in a theatrical experience that you could almost feel.

Possibly, it was a combination of the gruesome make-up effects and eroticism which also had the more timid audiences of the time complaining right, left and centre until some kind of action had to be taken. Seeing Christopher Lee bloodlessly biting pretty girls on the neck was one thing even in "technicolor" but letting re-animated female corpses do the same thing in monochrome was far too much.

Unfortunately, with the British laws about witchcraft having only been repealed in 1951, the overly moral "powers that were" must have found the rest of the film so Satanic and blasphemous that they banned it from cinemas until 1968. By this time, the make-up effects had become a little bit dated, and Hammer had beaten the vampire genre to death.

"Black Sunday" is a weird movie to place in a horror subgenre though because it's not a straightforward vampire story. To me, it's very much about the revenge of a witch, a family curse, and a lot of contrived coincidences designed to straddle as many other subgenres as possible. It has everything from gothic romance to zombies, and, to give it even more credit, it looks fantastic.

But, as I said at the beginning, where "Black Sunday" fails for a modern audience is that it just isn't scary anymore. In fact, it's so borderline "hammy" (because I loathe the word "cheesy") that it could almost be something that Elvira or the MST3K guys would have a great time tearing apart. I don't actually know if they did ever do a show about "Black Sunday", of course, because I've never had any interest in watching any of them.

For anyone watching the restored, uncut, super-duper, remastered DVD edition of "Black Sunday" alone in the dark with the wind and rain lashing at the windows, it might still have some life left in it. It doesn't work for me so I'm rating it as average.

June 21, 2012

My Region 1 Horror DVDs - part 3

The First Shelf - part B

Yeah, this top shelf is definitely cursed. I thought that I had the second half photographed really nicely but I ended up with some blur again. I'll just have to do it when I have more time and it isn't 95 degrees outside.

Here are the worst offenders again. It looks like I'll never get a job as a cameraman in Hollywood at this rate. Mind you, I didn't ever want a job as a cameraman anyway.

Once again, I'll go through them from left to right.

Cabin Fever
I watched this when it first came out due to a recommendation from a former workmate. I liked some of it but it failed to satisfy me in a lot of other ways. I really didn't think that I'd ever buy a copy of it but it was $2 from the pawn shop recently so now I have it. I definitely need to watch it again sometime soon.

Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh
I have the other two "Candyman" movies as well but without cases. As far as rewatchability goes, I prefer this one to the original. The less said about the third one, the better. This was another $3 bargain from Big Lots. I would have bought a new copy of "Candyman" from there too if it hadn't been $5. I have my spending limits as ridiculous as that may seem.

Candy Stripers
I got laughed at on a podcast for buying this but it isn't a bad film at all. It's sort of like "Decoys", "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" and "Faculty" but with Playboy playmates. I enjoyed it. There were a lot of Sony DVDs like this in Big Lots at one time and I bought them all. I only kept a couple of them though.

Carrie used to be here but I sold it.

Cat's Eye
This was from FYE's used section and I just had to get the one with the cardboard case. I didn't realise that I could have bought it in a multipack with a normal plastic DVD case so I will be upgrading this eventually.

Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter
I'd always wanted this when I was in England but never saw it available either as a VHS or DVD. When it turned up in Big Lots, I grabbed it straight away. If you think I only bought it to ogle Caroline Munro, you'd be right.

The Cavern
Another Sony distribution and probably not to everyone's tastes. It's a bit like "The Descent" but I prefer this story (and backstory). Apparently, this won a couple of festival awards, and I recommend it too.

This came from the same yard sale as "28 Weeks Later". It was another immaculate ex-rental and I got it for $1. The weird thing was that I bought it at the same time that "Cloverfield" was popular on message boards. I found lots in it to ridicule, but it's grown on me since.

The Changeling
Simply one of the best ghost stories ever made. This is the HBO Home Video release in the cardboard case which, yes, you know came from Big Lots for $3. I've never seen a different version available anywhere, but the artwork isn't all that inspiring to justify a plastic cased version anyway.

Children of the Corn II / Children of the Corn III
No, I haven't missed out on the original "Children of the Corn". I have a special Region 2 version which I'll do a post about another time. I believe that this was an Echo Bridge $2.99 double-feature from Kmart, but I got it cheaper than that from the pawn shop.

Cold Prey
I think I paid a reduced price for this from Wal-mart for some reason which I can't remember. Maybe it had just been placed in the bargain bin but I do know that I didn't pay the $13.99 which is still on its price sticker. It's a good Norwegian slasher but not that good. I rented the sequel but didn't buy it, and I still haven't seen the third one.

I have to replace this DVD one day because it's all scratched up. I bought it from a second-hand bookshop for $2 because the case was immaculate. The owner tapes all the boxes closed so I couldn't believe it when I opened it up later to find it was covered in scratches. To be fair, it was the only one I've ever had from there which wasn't immaculate, but I'll never buy another DVD from that shop again.

I have the superior UK version of "Creepshow" but I bought this old version anyway just to put on my shelves. I'm sure that this is the widescreen version which most Americans have.

Creepshow 2 used to be here but I sold it.

The Craft
Although this DVD's days are numbered in my collection, I got it in my "exchange" deal and I've watched it a couple of times. It's a bit girlie and the more I look at Fairuza Balk, the uglier and pimplier she gets. She did a really good job in it though, and Neve Campbell looks a lot nicer with long hair.

The Crazies
Wal-mart's bargain bin strikes again! I didn't really like this film because the way the scenes were edited together was very bad in places. It's a lot better than the original though which I find too slow and unwatchable.

The Dark
Given the choice between this or "Half Light", I would rather have "Half Light" but every copy that I've found of it round here has been ex-rental with stickers on or other damage. I got this from Big Lots and enjoyed it, but it got silly at the end.

Dark Floors
My first "Ghost House" DVD which I got at the same time as "Trackman" from the swap shop. It was Norway's most expensive movie ever but it's still a bit average. If I ever wanted to watch a double-feature with "Silent Hill", this would be the second (and better) film.

The Dark Half
One of the Stephen King books which I never finished reading got turned into a movie. I'm not sure if this was a TV movie or a real movie because I watched it on Sky TV one night and have still never played this DVD. I think it came from Big Lots, but I may have got it from FYE who were selling it at the same price.

Dark Water
I had such a huge store credit from my 75 DVD exchange that I struggled to find anything to spend it on. This was one of the titles I just had because it was there. I still haven't made it all the way through this DVD in one sitting yet either.

This was still shrink-wrapped in my local pawn shop so I had it. I've only played it to take some screencaps as I watched all three movies back to back on a movie channel one night. I do like this film a lot, but it's only borderline horror.

Darkness Falls
I really liked this at the time but the coverart leaves a lot to be desired. It says "Sci-fi Essentials" on it but this is a horror movie, isn't it? I have no idea about the history of this movie and now wonder if it was made for the Sci-fi Channel. I watched it in England on television and have, again, never played this DVD which I got from the pawn shop.

Daughters of Darkness will go here when I find a copy.

Dawn of the Dead (remake)
This was given to me because it's the full screen version. I have a special UK version of the original "Dawn of the Dead", but if I ever see the fabled old version/new version double-feature, I will upgrade this.

Another from my "exchange" deal. I couldn't believe that they had this within days of the movie hitting Wal-mart. Somebody watched this and flipped it that fast so I grabbed it for $5.

Dead Calm
Yes, I only bought this to see Nicole Kidman's bottom. It's a good film though. Billy Zane was a little bit miscast (but decent) and the ending surprised me. I got this from Big Lots for $3 even though it was the flipper edition in a cardboard case.

Well, that's the top shelf done. I may write a movie review or two before I do the next shelf otherwise my blog is going to get even more boring than usual.

In defence of Jim Wynorski

As much as I don't really want to get involved with the childish argument which is still raging on possibly my least favourite horror blog, the whole situation brought the works of Jim Wynorski back to my attention more than his latest movie, "Piranhaconda" (2011), was ever likely to.

I don't have cable or the SyFy channel, so, basically, I'm never likely to see this movie until it hits the DVD shelves in Wal-mart anyway and then it will depend on the price that it is being sold for.

It also almost goes without saying that I may never actually buy a copy of "Piranhaconda" or any of Jim Wynorski's other amusingly titled straight-to-video releases from this century unless they are in a bumper multi-pack of some kind. That's how I like to buy my movies nowadays irrespective of their quality.

Jim Wynorski's movies are, of course, B movies. Some might say that they are C, D or even Z movies but I'd very much disagree with them. While they may not have the biggest budget in the world, there aren't any Jim Wynorski movies which I know of which look as if he just bought a handycam that morning and decided to film his drunken friends. There are some good production values here and there, but never the greatest scripts or actors, mind you. As for special effects, you get what you pay for, or, rather, what the production company was prepared to pay for.

Back in the mid-1980s and early 1990s, things were a little bit different. I doubt that there was anyone of my generation who didn't watch "Chopping Mall" when it came out in 1986. I also enjoyed "Deathstalker II" (1987), and was at least entertained by "Sorority House Massacre II" (1990).

Things started going downhill with some of the more dubious sequels such as "Ghoulies IV" (1994) which, even as a fan of the series, I couldn't actually praise due to there hardly being any Ghoulies in it, In fairness, "The Haunting of Morella" (1990) wasn't at all what I expected either so it obviously had more to do with the type of project Jim Wynorski was being paid to direct rather than his ability to do the job.

In the 21st century, however, Jim Wynorski finally found his niche by directing movies which delivered exactly what their titles promised. If you were to rent "The Bare Wench Project", "The Witches of Breastwick", "House on Hooter Hill" or (my favourites) the "Busty Cops" series, you could be sure that a good time was there to be had by all. Let's be honest here, this stuff was never designed to be nominated for an Academy Award.

So, here's the thing, now that he's making ridiculous B movie horrors again with big breasted women in them, why is everybody turning heel on the guy? He's not doing anything all that different to what he's done for the last 30 years and nobody complained before.

Okay, some of us complained from time to time, but now it seems like Jim Wynorski is being hated on by keyboard warriors from around the globe just because certain members of a website which I have no respect for anyway have chosen him as their target of the month.

Of course, they are going to say that Jim Wynorski started the trouble by posting some Facebook comments about their review of "Piranhaconda", but doesn't he have the right to do precisely that since it's his film?

Directors and actors have commented on my blog before now and I value their feedback. Unlike some reviewers though, I don't set out to be mean and try to be as objective as possible. I subjectively want to like every horror film otherwise I wouldn't keep on buying them! I just can't like everything. Even in the best films with the biggest budgets and resources, there are still flaws.

If I wrote something nasty about one of Jim Wynorski's movies (and I have done, believe me) then I would accept his criticism of my criticism in the spirit in which it was intended. I wouldn't then pick further fights and start calling the man names just because I was expecting something to happen in a movie and it didn't.

I've fallen foul of that creepy little clique of forum-lurking backstabbers before now too so I am very much on Jim Wynorski's side in this case. It's not that he needs my support though as he's a grown man and can obviously fight his own battles.

I just felt like saying something since, as a movie reviewer, I too am just another leech who provides second-hand entertainment on the back of the work of filmmakers. I've never made a film and I never intend to. I've never baked a cake in my life either, but I know the principles behind it and when a cake tastes good to me.

In the case of Jim Wynorski's movies, some of them have entertained me, some of them didn't. I knew what I was getting into as soon as I saw his name on the VHS box or DVD sleeve so I have nobody else to blame but myself for choosing to watch them. I'm certainly not going to blame Jim Wynorski for making them in the first place.

If anything good comes out of this, it should be that movie reviewers need to concentrate on the objective qualities and quantities of what they watch. Insulting somebody just to make the movie review wittier, having vendettas against certain directors, actors, actresses, or other members of the crew, is just rather petty and doesn't do anyone any good, least of all the reviewer.

June 20, 2012

My Region 1 Horror DVDs - part 2

The First Shelf - part A

I have no idea why this shelf is so difficult to photograph but the same section of DVDs keeps reflecting a light source other than the flash on the camera no matter what I do or how I position either myself or the shelves. Maybe they are cursed. Woo-oooh, spooky!

Anyway, here's the first half of the first shelf. Click the picture to see it bigger.

I'll now go through them from left to right just in case there's anything I can tell you about them other than the obvious.

28 Days Later
I have no idea why I bought this because, to me, it's just a ripoff of the BBC's version of "Day of the Triffids" but with Rage-victims/running-zombies instead of killer plants. I would hazard a guess that I picked it up because it was cheap or I needed something to complete a "3 for $10" deal in the swap shop. I know it was one of the first DVDs that I bought when I arrived in America but, other than that, I have no clue about where it came from.

28 Weeks Later
Surprisingly, I also have the sequel to "28 Days Later" even though it was absolutely awful after the really exciting first ten minutes. I got this from a yard sale for $1 as the original purchaser didn't think much of it either. It's an ex-rental copy but in immaculate condition which suggests that nobody felt like hiring it.

30 Days of Night
There are two reasons why I bought this: vampires and Melissa George. That's it really. I thought it was an ex-rental copy because I remember going into Hollywood Video every week to see if the price would drop on it. It seems like a long time ago now but I must have given up on waiting for their $14.99 deal to go to $7.99 and bought it new from FYE. This was, of course, when I first arrived in America and had more money than sense due to the exchange rate. Some tiny scratches ended up on this DVD from putting it into a folder at one point (which still annoys me) but it's not as if I can't buy another any time now for $2. The endorsement from Dreadcentral on the front of the sleeve says, "The most terrifying vampire movie ever made." Well, it isn't and their opinion (not just about this but about everything) is now invalid.

This was a recent pawn shop find but it's a "Blockbuster Exclusive" edition. I have no idea if it was an ex-rental or a sell-through. Either way, I liked the first 40 minutes or so enough to add it to my collection.

I bought this fairly recently from the pawn shop too to replace my Region 2 version which has errors on it. I still haven't played it so I can't tell you anything about it, if it's the director's cut or if it's standard. I think it came from Wal-mart originally.

Alone in the Dark used to be here but I sold it.

American Psycho
I traded in 75 DVDs at a local "DVD and Games Exchange" (not the actual name of the store, by the way) roughly two years ago and, because I chose to have the store credit rather than cash, one of the DVDs I later purchased from them was this "Killer Collector's Edition" (aka "Uncut Version") of "American Psycho". I thoroughly enjoyed it and the director's commentary. I also had the sequel for a little while but it was crap and I traded it back in.

An American Werewolf in London
This came from Big Lots about two months before the total madness of bargain $3 DVDs kicked off in there. I was amazed to see this for $3 especially as I only ever had it on a "4 Front Deletions" VHS tape back in the UK. Needless to say, I carried this all round the store as if it was gold before buying it. Oh, the naivity.

An American Werewolf in London - Full Moon Edition
You probably know that I recently upgraded to this version for the documentary. I still haven't watched it all but I think "Tall Paul" did a pretty good job with it.

The Amityville Horror (remake)
Guess why I bought this? That's right, Melissa George again. It's an okay film, not quite as good as the original but it still stands up for itself in its own way. I got it from Big Lots for $3.

The Amityville Horror
If you've read my review of this, you'll know that I actually have two copies of this movie. This is the one with the documentary on it. The older version is in my "cat room" along with my miscellaneous DVDs and "action movie" shelves. I have a lot of action movies which I watch with my cats but I keep a copy of Amityville in there too because walking ten feet is such a chore. Yeah, I'm lazy. I'm not sure which one came from where but one came from FYE and one came from Big Lots.

Amityville II: The Possession
Again from Big Lots. It's not the greatest movie in the world but I always thought the sister was really hot and I enjoy the erotic pervy scene. You know what I'm talking about.

Amityville III: The Demon
Just for completeness, I got this at the same time as the second one. I had a choice of titles but took this over the "3D" labelled one. It doesn't matter because they are both the same version, the 3D doesn't work, and the movie itself is awful.

Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes
Even though this is the officially released DVD, it's such a poor transfer that I wasn't entirely sure that it wasn't a bootleg version. I used to have this as a big box ex-rental VHS tape back in the UK and remembered it fondly. I never realised that it was a made-for-TV movie until I got to America though. I got this using $5 of my store credit at the "exchange".

Angel Heart will go here when I find a copy.

My Bloody Valentine / April Fools Day
I hate the first movie and so this is in alphabetical order because of the second one on this double-feature from Wal-mart. Again, "April Fool's Day" was something I used to own on VHS before moving and remembered it with rose-tinted glasses. It's way better than the remake but it's very '80s and not something that I've watched more than once since.

Basket Case used to be here but I sold it.

Bay Cove
I just bought this one for $2. I watched it years ago on ITV when they used to put on movies which broke for the "News at Ten" in the middle. I really liked it so I hope that I'm not too disappointed when I eventually get to watch it again.

The Black Cat (Masters of Horror)
Without doubt, this was the best episode of "Masters of Horror". Although I also liked "Jenifer" and the actress who was in "Deer Woman", I was very disappointed by most of the series when it was on TV and never really wanted to own any of it. Of course, when a $2 deal came up, I thought, "Why not?" I have a feeling that I'm going to end up with a few more episodes eventually now though.

Black Xmas used to be here but I sold it.

Blade II
Why no "Blade"? Well, I have the Region 2 version in a folder and don't have a Region 1 case to put it on the shelf. I also don't want to mix the regions because some of my DVD players are multiregion and some aren't. It gets annoying when you put the wrong region DVD into the wrong DVD player and, because I've swapped them around (and moved) so much, I can't remember which ones I've unlocked and which I haven't anymore. I got this sequel from Big Lots but I hadn't even thought about owning a copy until it was $3. It's not as good as the first one.

Blade Trinity
I was in "TJ Maxx" (or is it "TK Maxx"? I can't remember which country has which initials anymore) when I bought this for $3.99. It's the unrated version so it has Ryan Reynold's excellent insult in it which almost made up for Wesley Snipes' performance. I also have the TV series in a box set which I won from a horror website who were promoting it. It wasn't very good so it's on another bookcase.

Yes, I have them.

I haven't even opened this. From the price label, I know it was from Big Lots. I think what happened was that it was shown on TV around the same time as I bought it. It's an older film and, of course, I've already seen it. One day, I'll watch it again because Madeleine Stowe was kinda hot back in the day.

The Blob will go here when I find a copy.

Blood & Chocolate
If you like "Twilight", you'd probably like this. It was from the producers of "Underworld" but it's all about werewolves. I think it's based on a book but I don't read and don't know for sure. I have a bit of a pervy thing for Agnes Bruckner (from "The Woods" and "Vacancy 2") so you'll see a few more titles starring her among my collection for sure. This was from the pawn shop.

Guilty pleasure time. From how immaculate the box is on this one, I'm sure that I paid full price for this from somewhere. It was probably Wal-mart or Target and certainly within the last two years. There's one really hot scene in it and, to be honest, I only have it to look at Kristanna Loken.

The Boogeyman / The Return of Boogeyman used to be here but I sold it.

Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2
I almost loathe "The Blair Witch Project" (although I have it on VHS which is the format it belongs on) but like this a lot more. It has better production values for one thing and is a real film not that "faux found footage" nonsense. This was another one from Big Lots for $3. I've watched it once and enjoyed it especially as the Goth chick was really hot.

Bordello of Blood
It's a little bit more light-hearted than most of my horror movies and kind of in the same vein (no pun intended) as "Fright Night". I got it in Big Lots during the highest point of their DVD sales along with the other "Tales from the Crypt" movie - "Demon Knight". A couple of weeks later, Big Lots were selling a double-feature version which I would have preferred just to free a DVD space on my shelves.

Brainscan used to be here but I sold it.

The Bride
Jennifer Beals nude. Enough said? Actually, I really like the interactions between the monster and the dwarf in this and it looks great. Having a mainly British cast helps to give this a neo-Hammer atmosphere although Sting isn't very good in it. This was from FYE's bargain bin.

The Brood
From the pawn shop but originally from Big Lots when they had all those dodgy MGM titles. I've seen the film many years ago on Channel Four and more recently on Zone Horror. I'm undecided about it because I'm not a David Cronenberg fan. I find his stuff (apart from "The Fly") to be too alienating and weird.

Bubba Ho-Tep used to be here but I sold it.

People really moaned about this not being a real horror movie but it is. It's also very much a drama about madness and a little bit more cerebral than a lot of the keyboard warriors on certain forums would give it credit for. If that fails to satisfy you, Ashley Judd gets her boobs out. That's the only reason I bought it too.

Burnt Offerings
Allegedly, Stephen King had this in mind when he wrote "The Shining" and it's not too hard to see the influence. I bought this in Big Lots because I'd never seen it or even heard of it before. I have a feeling that this movie had a much bigger following in America than it ever did in Britain so it deserves its place in my Region 1 collection.

I won't say anything about The Butterfly Effect Collection as not only is it cut off in the picture but I haven't even watched it yet. I've only seen the third one on the "After Dark Horrorfest" 8 movie pack and that sort of sucked.

Tomorrow, I'll do the other half of this shelf.

My Region 1 Horror DVDs - part 1

I'm sure you've wanted to see my horror DVD collection for some time.

As much as I would love to be able to show it all to you, it would actually be pretty boring to look at. 75% of my DVDs no longer have their cases or artwork anymore and most of my collection now lives in various Case Logic (and Case Logic style) folders. That's what happens when you move from one country to another.

But, because I mistakenly thought it would be an easy series of photo posts to make, I have decided to show you my collection of Region 1 horror DVDs which I have accumulated in the last three years (and possibly some of the other genres and regions I have eventually too).

I have over 3000 movies in total (although not on 3000 separate discs and not all of them are horror). This series of blog posts will probably only cover a tenth of my entire DVD collection but that is more than enough work in itself. Also, since this is a horror blog, it's really only the horror DVDs which you should be interested in anyway.

If you ever wondered how difficult it could be to photograph just one set of DVD shelves, well, after over 40 attempts, this was the best I could come up with.

Click on the pictures to see them bigger but, be warned, they still didn't turn out well enough to read all the titles.

In further posts, I will go through the shelves one by one and tell you more about the DVDs, where I got them, and why I got them. I'll also try to make it as informative and as entertaining as possible.

I'm hoping that you will be surprised by what I've bought and even more surprised by what I didn't buy.

June 19, 2012

Dr Blood's Giant Pawn Shop Adventure

Yes, it's that time of the month again! I held out against the sickness for as long as I could, but, yesterday, I just had to go back to the pawn shop in search of more horror DVDs.

As you can see, the two "Ghost House Underground" titles were still there (no big surprise) so I decided to put them out of their misery and bring them home with me. Since I'm still getting hundreds of hits every day on my Eurovision Song Contest posts, I thought it would be amusing to finally have a copy of the Lordi movie.

Once I'd found "The Devil's Curse" (or "Credo" as most Brits know it), I had to hunt for something else to complete the "4 for $10" deal but all I could come up with was a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie. Who am I kidding? I love JCVD movies and I know this is one of his better ones.

But that really was it. After those DVDs, there was nothing left whatsoever in the pawn shop which I wanted. I would even go so far as to say that I would need to have a lobotomy before I'd ever buy any of the dozens of Disney movies, crappy American comedies, or anything starring puppies. To be fair, the DVD section has always been a bit of an afterthought in my local pawn shop. It's not as if they are worth as much as gold, silver or Playstation games and I know for a fact that the owner only pays 50c each for them.

So with much sadness... and then renewed joy... I went to the BIG pawn shop on the other side of town. Oh yes, an adventure!

With all their DVDs being in alphabetical order (floor to ceiling around the whole store), it was a lot easier to go through what they had. Of course, I had most of the titles already, but when I found that these DVDs were "5 for $10", as much as I wanted to stay selective, I didn't care what I grabbed.

Known as "Bay Coven" in the UK, which gives away the plot considerably (like a flaming pentagram on the artwork doesn't!), I'd been looking for this for a while. It has the actress who played Nancy Drew in it (not that I'd every admit to watching that series). I also grabbed "The Black Cat" because, well, I didn't have that either.

Things then started to get a bit silly because I bought two films which I don't like. I hate anything by David Cronenberg or Eli Roth but I missed these in the Big Lots $3 DVD madness a couple of years ago.

I've never heard of "The Dark Hours" before but the artwork looked interesting. As long as it isn't as crap as "Frailty", I will be happy. I'd seen "Alice Creed" on Netflix and since this was originally a $17.95 DVD from somewhere, it was a bargain at $2.

I was very pleased to find "Good Neighbours" even though it's spelled wrong. It's a Canadian movie so it should be o-u-r-s not o-r-s just as I would spell it. I've seen it already, but you know my thing about cats. "Laid to Rest" was a replacement for my other copy which freezes at the end.

And then I saw them! Yes, THEM! Twilight two-disc editions!!! The "originally $24.99 from Best Buy" editions! I had to have them. You can't even call yourself a real horror fan if you don't have these in your collection.

But wait, there's more! "Eclipse", oh yes! For $2, of course I don't care that it's a "Single Disc Edition". "Blood and Chocolate", well, that's just "Twilight" before "Twilight" existed or something. I don't care what you think, I like these films.

Finally, even though they are only $2.99 anyway in Kmart, I didn't have these Echo Bridge packs but I do now! "Bachelor Party in the Bungalow of the Damned" is the movie where Zoe Hunter shows her boobies (unlike in "Witchcraft 13") and "Curtains" in the other set isn't a bad film even though it's dated.

I looked for more horror DVDs but most of the weirdly titles ones with lurid covers were single disc editions of public domain movies. There were also a lot of handycam "no budget and no entertainment value" movies which can rot in their cases for all I care.

After two hours, and not very much money spent at all, I got some pretty nice bargains. I doubt that you are jealous. I know my taste probably isn't the same as yours. I'd like to think it is but, unfortunately, the reality is far different.

There were definitely a lot of movies there which some of you would have wet yourselves over but I couldn't care less about. I saw a "T2" steelbook for $2 but I hate that film and find Edward Furlong's interactions with Arnold Schwarzenegger cringeworthy. There were loads of Criterions too which, again, I have no interest in nor, apparently, does the pawn shop owner.

I've noticed that both pawn shops have increased their blu-ray sections considerably, have phased out their VHS entirely, and aren't paying "top dollar" for DVDs anymore. It's a shame in some ways that DVDs seem to be almost worthless now but they are still my main source of horror pleasure and I am reaping the benefits as other people with more money than sense upgrade.