November 30, 2012

Hearts and Armour (1983)

"Bradamante, a woman wearing an invincible suit of armour, is travelling the countryside at the time of the Crusades. After ending up in the middle of a web of romantic and cultural tangles, she finds herself in love with a Moor prince, while one of the Christian knights has fallen in love with a Moor princess. Others, however, are against the cross-cultural romance, and Bradamante's love is soon forced into a duel to the death. Will she ever be with her true love?"

Do you remember "Hearts and Armour" from the '80s? No? Nor do I much except that it was the second VHS tape that I ever bought after "Flesh + Blood" (1985). I'd never heard of it before, but the original VHS artwork looked similar so that was enough for me. I practically threw my pocket money at the guy in Blockbuster and ran home thinking that I'd found treasure.

Of course, once I put in in my VCR, I was very disappointed. Although "Hearts and Armour" promised lots of former "Charlie's Angels" star Tanya Roberts (who shows more than she ought to if you watch carefully), I wasn't so keen on Barbara De Rossi, the terrible dubbing, or the really jarring editing. Allegedly, "Hearts and Armour" was cut down from an Italian miniseries, but I've found no real evidence of that. Basically, it was a cheap piece of trash designed to cash in on "Excalibur" (1981).

Nearly thirty years on, I can't say that I've grown to love "Hearts and Armour". It's still horrible, Bradamante (Barbara De Rossi) looks very uncomfortable in her suit of armour, and the fight scenes are ridiculous. There are some nice gory bits with dismembered limbs flying about in the battles, but this isn't really my kind of thing at all. As much as I can appreciate the work that went into making the costumes as historically (in)accurate as possible, I couldn't care less about the Crusades.

Barbara De Rossi also played Helietta Canins in "Vampire in Venice" (1988) which is the sequel to the terrible remake of "Nosferatu" starring Klaus Kinski. That's much more my cup of tea although I can't honestly say that she's any better in it than in this. Let's face it, she was cast in these movies because of how she looks rather than for any other reason. Strangely, I don't have any problem with that at all. Barbara De Rossi was quite the hottie back in the day.

Because I don't pay attention to crap, I can't tell you who played any of the knights in "Hearts and Armour" except by grabbing their names from the IMDb. Ronn Moss plays Ruggero (the pony-tailed object of Bradamante's affections), Rick Edwards is Orlando, and Maurizio Nichetti is the scruffy, little magician called Atalante. As for the others, who cares? It's not like they've ever been in anything else anyway.

The cinematography isn't bad despite attempts to ruin it with the panned-and-scanned VHS transfer (as yet there is no DVD available), but the acting is so dreadful and the pacing so slow that the overall atmosphere is one of boredom rather than excitement. I nodded off several times during the epic ordeal of trying to rewatch "Hearts and Armour" and even had to have a proper sleep before my numbed brain would allow me to complete it.

Unintentional laughs are created by the pompousness of the dialogue and the inclusion of a Samurai warrior for no good reason at all other than he's another kind of sword-fighter. Some of the action scenes do indeed liven things up for a few seconds, but "Hearts and Armour" even makes the "Deathstalker" sequels look good in comparison.

If you've never seen "Hearts and Armour", I'm not going to recommend it to you. Just knowing that something this awful exists should be enough to satisfy your curiosity.

November 29, 2012

How I Ended This Summer (2010)

(AKA Kak ya provel etim letom)

"A polar station on a desolate island in the Arctic Ocean. Sergei, a seasoned meteorologist, and Pavel, a recent college graduate, are spending months in complete isolation on the once strategic research base. Pavel receives an important radio message and is still trying to find the right moment to tell Sergei, when fear, lies and suspicions start poisoning the atmosphere..."

I thought that I'd already posted a review of this Russian psychological thriller which won the 2010 London film festival, but I was mistaken. As it's "Thriller Thursday", here's a quick review at last and my recommendation that you watch it.

Filmed in three months with a $2,500,000 budget, "How I Ended This Summer" is Aleksey Popogrebskiy's second full-length feature after "Roads to Koktebel" (2003). I can't say that I was as enamoured by "Koktebel" as many critics were back in the day, but Aleksey Popogrebskiy has excelled himself with "How I Ended This Summer". The cinematography is outstanding, and the acting (as far as any non-Russian can tell) is superb.

"How I Ended This Summer" is slowly paced, but the mounting tension which is caused by miscommunication and intentional non-communication makes this study of paranoia in an isolated environment even better than "The Thing" (1982) in places. With "The Thing" being my favourite horror movie of all time, I don't make such a bold claim lightly. There are occasions when the story lags, but "The Thing" isn't perfect either. "How I Ended This Summer" is extremely uncomfortable to watch and far more tragic.

The bad news is that it's a Russian movie with subtitles so, if you don't like reading, this might not be the right kind of movie for you. The alternative is to learn Russian, of course, but it would be overkill considering that there aren't that many lines of dialogue anyway. Laconic, uncommunicative characters may well be Aleksey Popogrebskiy's trademark based on the two movies of his which I've seen.

In "How I Ended This Summer", all the trouble is caused not only by lack of communication but by fear. Pavel (Grigoriy Dobrygin) is a young student who is so terrified of the stereotypically strict, gruff and physically powerful older man, Sergei (Sergey Puskepalis), that he daren't tell him some very important family news in case he goes crazy. The longer Pavel tries to cover up the secret, the more suspicious of each other the two men become until things can only end badly for at least one of them.

Some of Pavel's decisions make you want to shake some sense into him especially as Sergei doesn't really seem to be that potentially volatile. I'm sure it's possible to read more into the story as a clash of the old, stoic, Soviet way of life with the weaknesses of the capitalism which has replaced it. Capitalism certainly breeds deceit, and that message may well be the political subtext, but you don't need to analyse such things to appreciate "How I Ended the Summer" at all. There are moments which make you wonder if Pavel is justified, but others where it's clear that Sergei isn't a bad guy. There's no black and white but lots of grey. The bottom line is you have to ask yourself what you would do for the best in the same situation?

At first, it seems that Pavel is hiding the news from home to protect Sergei from doing harm to himself, but it becomes increasingly obvious that Pavel is too immature for such altruism and is all about his own self-preservation. As in many situation comedies, very bad decisions are compounded and escalate, but "How I Ended This Summer" has no comedy to it unless it's of the darkest kind. The result of this bleak "comedy of errors" is truly very sad.

I'm not going to go into any more more depth except to say that there are recognisable horror formulas in "How I Ended This Summer" which certainly bring it close to being included in our favourite genre. At one point, there's a tense game of hide and seek which reeks of similar moments between stalker and victim in "Halloween" or any other slasher.

Horror is pretty dead right now so it's the perfect opportunity to take in some related subgenres. For most people, "How I Ended This Summer" wouldn't be seen as a horror movie at all, but the more you think about it, the more it should be.

November 28, 2012

I've been in America for 5 years!

It just dawned on me as I was walking back through the snow from the 7/11 that I've now been in America for 5 years. I didn't really want to have to endure another Winter, but last year's was so mild that I've decided to take a chance with another one.

I know this has nothing to do with horror movies except that one of my main reasons for swapping countries was the cheapness of horror DVDs compared to the UK at the time, but I just thought I'd share anyway.

During the last 5 years, I've bought 1000s of DVDs, changed jobs half a dozen times, and had a thoroughly disappointing time food-wise. Of course, 99% of my successes and failures have all been because of the recession, but it doesn't change the fact that I miss fish and chips, doner kebabs, and real Indian curries.

Television-wise, I've watched "Eastenders" online, so I haven't missed anything there. With BBC America, I've seen "The Inbetweeners" come and go, gave up on "Doctor Who" once Matt Smith took over from David Tennant, and enjoyed "Mistresses", "Being Human", and not very much else really. I can't stand "Top Gear" or all the constant repeats of "Cash in the Attic", "How Clean Is Your House?", and "Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares".

American television has proven itself to be unwatchable with far too many commercial breaks, too much censorship, and any series which I've started to enjoy getting axed. I was really enjoying "The Gates" and "Fringe", but when the former got axed, I gave up on the latter myself. At least I saw the final death throes of "Nip/Tuck" as it happened. Years ago I couldn't comprehend the "I never watch TV" statements on so many MySpace profiles, but now I know why. I haven't watched any TV channel since 2010.

As far as the people who I've met in real life go, I've met a lot of idiots. I won't say that there aren't idiots in England too, but they are a whole new kind of stupid here. Pettiness and preciousness abounds; finicky eaters, ADD, OCD, dyslexia, imaginary ailments, allergies, and just about any other retarded thing someone can claim just to be a pain in the arse. I don't even know where to start with all people with entitlement issues who I've experienced. Suffice it to say that come the zombie apocalypse, they will have quite a shock coming to them. Justice will be served on all the backstabbers too.

I'm not saying that all Americans are bad. I've met one of two good ones. Yes, one or two from hundreds doesn't seem that great, but even the most normal ones can turn out to be complete assholes once you start digging. Only the other day, someone I knew suddenly turned into a gun freak overnight just because he could. On the other hand, I don't know any other Americans who own a gun or would even want to no matter what the constitution allows. It's not as if you can use a gun to defend your property without being charged for attempted or premeditated murder anyway.

The law is king in America. Not everyone wants to sue each other, but it's in the back of their minds that they might just get rich out of it if they are lucky enough to be able to play whatever card is flavour of the month. It's not like the movies though. Most lawsuits end up being a waste of time and money for the "get rich quick" schemers even though the whole process causes a lot of inconvenience for the innocent parties.

Indeed, America really is nothing like the movies. It's like a third-world country in most places. The divide between the very rich and the very poor is increasing every day. If you have a job, no matter how pitiful, you're one of the lucky few nowadays. Your employers will treat you like a slave and can legally fire you without warning if they simply don't like the colour of your socks one day which is a huge culture shock for Brits who get caught up in such foolishness.

Things we take for granted in England such as the human right to free speech are constitutional and conditional in America. You can't just say what you want because someone somewhere will be offended by it and make you out to be the bad guy even if you are telling the truth. You have to be a hypocrite to survive. Lies and liars are everywhere. For an honest person, America is like being in a hellish mental asylum where nobody plays by the rules.

There are some good things in America. Monster energy drinks are great, cigarettes are cheap (especially if you roll your own), and McDonald's is, of course, fantastic. Bread is horrible everywhere, but that doesn't matter if you only eat McNuggets and fries. If you are too poor to afford real food, Ramen Noodles and bananas are ridiculously inexpensive. Oh God, I love Ramen Noodles!

There's no class system in America. No airs and graces to put on. There aren't many educated people either because education means loans which will take you the rest of your life to pay back. The same thing has happened in Britain since the time when we all got free student grants, so there's no big difference now.

Another good thing is that no matter how poor you are, the chances are that you will still have TV, the internet, DVDs, and food (of some kind) in your belly. You could even buy your own house for $20,000 if you want a fixer-upper although it probably wouldn't be anywhere nice. Nobody will look down on you for being poor because everybody is only one paycheck away from welfare. You can cut your coat according to its cloth. Yard sales and pawn shops can provide you with more material possessions for next to nothing than in any other country in the world due to the oversaturated electronics market and wastefulness. If you don't mind last year's technology, you can easily live the American dream.

Bear in mind that you can never get sick in America. That's not because as a Brit you are legally obliged to get injected against every disease known to man before you are allowed a visa, but because America has no National Health Service unless you are on the poverty line. Dentists charge twice as much (or more) than Britain, and even a visit to the doctor will be half an average week's wages if you have to buy some pills as well. There are a lot of people who are financially crippled by medical debts which is an absolute abomination in the 21st century. On the plus side, you'll probably die of the medical profession's Victorian practices before you ever have to pay your bills anyway.

America is at least 100 years behind in its standard of healthcare so, if you are a Brit, it's best to take a flight home if you discover anything major going wrong inside you. If the thought of choosing which leg your can afford to have amputated or how many fingers you can afford to have sewn back on in case you get involved in an accident terrifies you, America can provide that nightmare.

I'm sure you'll get the impression that I hate America if I continue so I'll stop this ramble here. Truly, I wouldn't wish some aspects of this country on my worst enemy (actually, yes, I would and far more besides), but DVDs are cheap, some of the girls are better groomed, and there are lots of cats.

I haven't been a success in America. I've stayed here a lot longer than I intended to and frittered away the last 5 years on nothing worthwhile. Yeah, I fixed several computers, fed some people, and saved a few cats from death row, but nothing more. I probably entertained some people with my blog in this imaginary world of the internet, but even that's debatable.

November 27, 2012

Upcoming Horror Movie - The Collection (2012)

"A man who escapes from the vicious grips of the serial killer known as The Collector is blackmailed to rescue an innocent girl from the killer's booby-trapped warehouse."

I didn't like the "The Collector" all that much and have zero interest in seeing a movie from the writers of the worst of the "Saw" sequels.

When will the marketers learn that promoting a new movie by creditting ones which everybody despises is unlikely to have horror fans flocking to the cinema in droves?

At least it's not "From the producers of Paranormal Activity and Insidious" which we've seen at least five posters proclaim in the last year. I suppose the good thing about this stupidity is that it's easy to know what to avoid.

If you need to have your mind made up even further just watch the trailer. It looks like a load of arse, doesn't it? "Aliens" plot rip-off much?

Have you ever seen such an uninspired poster either?

I'll be continuing to plow through the Pendulum Pictures multipacks instead. I'm over half-way through "Tomb of Terrors" now in case you wondered what I've been doing. They may be awful, but they cost the same for 50 movies as a ticket to see only one piece of crap like this which I know I'll hate even more.

Are you going to see "The Collection" on Friday? If so, why?

November 17, 2012

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 (2012)

"After the birth of Renesmee, the Cullens gather other vampire clans in order to protect the child from a false allegation that puts the family in front of the Volturi."

I can't believe it!!! The final chapter of the series which polarised and ostracised me from every other horror fan is over!!! And guess what? They saved the best for last! Oh my God, "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2" rocks! I hate to say it, but I TOLD YOU SO!

Bella is now a beautiful vampire, her half-mortal child with Edward is growing fast, and Jacob takes his shirt off for the last time. For some of us, the latter is a relief. The romance is still there, but now it's more adult and complicated. Plus the Volturi are back with a vengeance!

The thing which everyone has been moaning and whining about since the very first "Twilight" movie has finally happened... this one is a HORROR movie! Yes, real horror! We're shown a full-on epic battle between Cullens, Quileutes and Volturi with decapitations, dismemberments, gore, and the cruel deaths of several main characters!!!

What will all the fairweather horror fans and douchebag movie reviewers have to complain about now even though they'll all be heading to their local cinemas to watch this film anyway? If any of those hypocrites dare to say that "Breaking Dawn - Part 2" is a pile of crap, they'll just be lying to save face.

Prepare to be shocked, horrified, and maybe even cry a little bit when it's all over. I won't give away what happens until after the next picture, but I found it all very emotional.

If you don't want spoilers, stop reading now!

Okay, so if you've read the books (or watched the trailer), you know what happens anyway. For those of us who haven't, here's a quick summary of the events.

Everything is fun and games for Edward, Bella and Renesmee (their stupidly named daughter). Bella and Edward are working their way through Alex Comfort's "The Joy of Sex" books, Jacob is happily imprinted with "Nessie" (he's nicknamed her after the Loch Ness monster!), and only Charlie Swan's life is in turmoil as he believes that Bella has died. But even Charlie's grief is short-lived after Jacob shows up in his backyard, turns wolfy in front of him, and reveals that Bella is still alive although changed.

Unfortunately, this status quo can't last or we'd have another film as boring as "New Moon". As much as I love "Twilight", I'm the first to admit that "New Moon" sucked. So, to put a spanner in the works, sexy Irina (Maggie Grace) just has to oversee Renesmee leaping high in the air to catch snowflakes. Without giving Bella the chance to explain, Irina runs off to the Volturi to tell them erroneously that the heinous crime of making an infant vampire has been committed.

And so it comes to pass that the Cullens have to assemble an army of witnesses to validate Renesmee's identity and true nature. They travel all over the world (or at least America) to bring their friends together in preparation for a confrontation with the Volturi. Fearing the Volturi's ulterior motives, Alice (Ashley Greene) and Jasper have their own agenda, and have apparently fled.

Thus, just after Christmas, the Cullens, aided by the Quileutes and their other interesting new allies, march out to meet the Volturi. Of course, the Volturi are barely able to accept the truth about Renesmee even when presented with her right in front of them. They want war and are looking for any excuse even when Alice returns and gives Aro (Michael Sheen) her vision as proof that Renesmee is no threat. Her vision half convinces him but then seems to inspire Aro to command a greater punishment. Without warning, Jasper gets his head pulled off and all Hell breaks loose!

It's now that "Breaking Dawn - part 2" stuns everybody and really tugs on the old heartstrings as Carlisle rushes across the snow-covered battlefield to save Alice and gets decapitated, magical powers are unleashed as weapons, and there's bloodshed aplenty!!! Various werewolves die screaming in acts of bravery and, even though we barely know them, the new vampire allies are decimated. It's horrible!!! The Volturi suffer too.

Dakota Fanning is beautifully made up and gives everyone a world of pain to go with her evil looks while Bella protects everyone the best she can with a forcefield. Right, left and centre, the werewolves maul the vampires, and the opposing vampires pull each other's heads off! Just a little drop more blood and this would have earned an R-rating for sure!

The action is top notch, exciting, and has some great choreography. Even the CGI is used well although, personally, I've always thought that the werewolves were a little bit too large to be believable. Jacob's werewolf form is the size of a horse which is taken advantage of by Renesmee as she rides him to safety.

Kristen Stewart finally proves she can change her expression from dour to fierce, and, even though she looks horrid in the process, she really kicks some ass in the battle. If only she'd been this good in "Snow White and the Huntsman" rather than cheating on Robert Pattinson maybe people would still like her. She's definitely got the moves and the looks though so I couldn't hate the Trampire for long.

With everyone dying, Alice wades through the mayhem to take out Jane (Dakota Fanning), and the combined efforts of Edward and Bella destroy Aro... but then there's a twist which is absolutely fantastic!

The battle NEVER HAPPENED! It's all part of Alice's vision! Oh, yes, there will be gasps and cheers from the audience!

Okay, it may be a bit of a cop-out ending - the shocked Aro decides that it's best if they just go home and leave the Cullens in peace - but it's done so beautifully! I didn't know whether to cheer or cry. I was so relieved that I was choked. I'm not ashamed to admit that as a fully grown man rather than a 13-year-old girl either.

The final minutes with Edward telling Bella that he'll love her forever wrap this romance up nicely, but I wish there was more. I want more adventures. I want to see Jacob and "Nessie" get together. I don't want it to end!

I've loved the "Twilight" franchise, looked forward to each new movie every year, and now I really don't know what to do with myself. It's a good job that I have a new blog to play with. The haters will just have to leech onto "The Hunger Games" and try to spoil the enjoyment of that franchise for everyone. I'm tempted to join them, but I probably won't. I've actually started to appreciate "The Hunger Games" too now.

Anyway, it's goodbye to Taylor Lautner, Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. Farewell to "Team Jacob" and "Team Edward" rivalry (I was always "Team Alice" myself). I've lusted over the pretty vampire girls for the last time and eaten twice my own weight in M&Ms in the process. I'm going to miss "Twilight".

November 15, 2012

My new 200 movie challenge!

Okay, so I couldn't leave Blogger alone for even a day. I've set up a new blog where I will be reviewing the absolute worst of the bargain DVD multipacks:

I think you can guess from the name of my new blog which multipacks I'm going to be watching for the next 5 months, but here they are:

As far as I know, nobody has ever been silly enough to have watched all these movies in their entirety and blogged about them. I can't imagine why.

Watch my descent into madness or my brain turn into mush as I boldly go where no-one with any taste or discernment has gone before!

November 14, 2012

Taking a break

Don't worry, I'm not giving up.

I've just reached another point where the sheer number of non-horror movies that I want to watch is outweighing my horror movie addiction. It happens from time to time. I need to throw some more ordinary dramas into my DVD player, stuff my face with fish and chips, and take a break from all this death.

I'll still be around on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and various other places, but I don't really have anything interesting to write about on here right now.

Let's be honest, it wouldn't matter if I was to review every horror movie under the sun for the rest of my life. My blog is never going to amount to anything, and I'm not going to become rich or famous from it. It's only one of my many online hobbies anyway.

Sometimes I wish that I'd chosen a different subject to write about. There are thousands of movie review sites which are all better written than mine, have more pictures for people to steal, and are promoted to the hilt by the cliques they have attracted. I don't have the time, inclination or financial resources to compete with any of them.

I've become very disillusioned by seeing all the self-deprecating skanks with no movie knowledge who get millions of followers just because they have a few nice photoshoots of themselves to repeatedly post ad nauseum, but such is life. The pretty girls (and boys) who have no need to try will have their couple of years in the limelight until their looks fade or their audience grows up while the "old men of horror" keep on flogging a dead horse. None of it matters in the great scheme of things. "All these moments will be lost in time... like tears in the rain," as Rutger Hauer once said.

The big question is whether or not I'll return to "Dr Blood's Video Vault" or start a new blog. I've just bought another 50 horror movies so the chances are good that I'll have to write about them eventually. It's what I do.

I'm hoping to be back with a review of "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2", but I can't say for sure. I might wait until the DVD comes out. If I'm not back sooner, I hope you have a great Turkey Day, a very merry Christmas, and a happy New Year.

2012 - The Year in Review

With only three movie releases left which I care about seeing, I've decided to do my "Year in Review" a month early and get it out of the way.

I have yet to see "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2", "The Collection" or "Silent Night", but none of them will change anything I have to say anyway. As much as "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2" is the movie which I'm most looking forward to, I highly doubt that it will be so innovative or groundbreaking that it will become my favourite of the year.

If I had to make a top ten list of the best films that I've seen this year, I don't actually think I could find ten of them to fill it with. Once again, we've only had a lot of mediocrity even though the remakes have virtually disappeared (until next year), and there weren't even that many sequels to moan about either.

The horror movies I enjoyed most were "Lovely Molly", "The Awakening", and "Perras". Each was actually made last year but took a while to come out so maybe it's a bit of a cheat on my part. I really didn't like anything that was made this year at all.

In fact, even though I didn't review it, "The Hunger Games" was the only truly 2012 movie which I almost liked. It may have been a PG-13 version of "Battle Royale", but the characters were nicely played and the ending left me wanting more. Surprisingly, I'm going to say that "The Hunger Games" was the best of yet another horrible year.

The movies I hated were "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter", "The Cabin in the Woods", "Paranormal Activity 4", "Sinister", "The Bay", and, of course, "[REC]³ Génesis". I haven't put them in any particular order since I hated them all almost equally, but "[REC]³ Génesis" was definitely the most disappointing. I half-expected the others to be crap beforehand so they didn't really have a chance to disappoint me more.

The rest of the theatrical releases were just good-looking but soulless things which I didn't feel anything for one way or another. "The Raven", "Prometheus", "Snow White and The Huntsman", "Dark Shadows", "The Possession", and "The Woman in Black" remake (which I refuse to review) were all instantly forgettable.

Although they weren't horror, "Underworld: Awakening", "The Avengers", "The Dark Knight Rises", "Resident Evil: Retribution", "Total Recall" and "Looper" were similarly all style over substance with no originality or rewatchability. I watched them all for free and enjoyed several bags of peanut M&Ms throughout their duration, but I feel sorry for anyone who paid for their own tickets.

As for the straight-to-DVD or VOD movies, there wasn't even one good one. "Absentia" and "Nailbiter" were horrid wastes of time while "Cassadaga", "Apartment 143", "The Innkeepers", "The Pact", "The Tall Man" and "Citadel" were all highly overrated by the bigger horror sites and several horror bloggers. It comes to something when the most entertaining were "ATM", The Asylum's "The Haunting of Whaley House" or the YouTube-endorsed "Smiley". In better years, I wouldn't have gone out of my way to watch any of them.

Even the foreign movies such as "Livide", "Behind the Walls" and "The Skin I Live In" got a resounding "Meh" from me. I couldn't even figure out what "Livide" was supposed to be anyway, "Behind the Walls" was just a mess, and "The Skin I Live In" was a curiously non-horrific horror.

The absolute worst films of 2012 were "The Bay" and "V/H/S" which I didn't even make it through. Whereas "The Bay" was simply too boring to endure, "V/H/S" was completely unwatchable. I can't say anything about "Silent Hill: Revelation 3D" because I haven't seen it and don't want to.

Hopefully, there'll be something decent next year, but it's unlikely. Having seen the list of upcoming remakes and sequels, I think I'll be sticking to my existing horror movie collection from now on.

November 13, 2012

When Animals Strike Back!

I went to Sam's Club this afternoon and saw these two volumes of "When Animals Strike Back" for only $7.99 each. That's half the Amazon price! I thought they were a good deal but didn't buy them... yet.

Volume 1 is the better of the two with "King Kong" (1976), "Orca" (1977), and "Congo" (1995). I can't justify rebuying the Stephen King films on Volume 2 especially as "Silver Bullet" (1985) doesn't really fit as an animal attack film. Werewolves aren't real animals, you know.

"Graveyard Shift" (1990), "Silver Bullet" (1985) and "Pet Sematary" (1989) are also available in a four movie pack along with "The Dead Zone" (1983) although not at Sam's Club, Wal-mart or Target. If you want to save yourself the space of one DVD on your shelves, it's the better (and more expensive) option.

Curiously, all the popular DVD stores are selling the "Pet Sematary" Special Collector's Edition separately even though the same version is included in the "When Animals Strike Back" set. Why would you pay $7.99 or more for one movie when you can have three for the same price? It makes no sense.

Both "When Animals Strike Back" volumes contain 3 separate discs (as far as I know) rather than being compressed or having two of the movies on a flipper. As usual with anything from Paramount, there aren't any special features (except those for "Pet Sematary"), but the movies are all widescreen and have subtitles available.

If, like me, you don't already have these in your collection, they might be something to add to your Christmas list.

Danny meets the twins!

It's "Terror Tuesday" again already so what better way to make you soil yourself today than with one of the most terrifying scenes from "The Shining"?

Kids are horrible enough anyway, but putting a couple of freaky-looking ones in even uglier dresses and sticking them at the end of a corridor was a master stroke by Stanley Kubrick.

As if there isn't enough creepiness seeing little Danny Torrence (Danny Lloyd) trundling round The Overlook hotel on his tricycle, suddenly the Grady daughters are just standing there inviting him to play with them "forever and ever"! As some of my horror blogging brethren would say, "Pants will be shat!"

Lisa and Louise Burns are even scary in a still image without the intercuts of their characters' dead bodies and all the blood.

In case you are wondering whatever happened to them since "The Shining" (1980) was their first and last movie, Lisa went on to get a degree in Literature while Louise became a microbiologist. They also grew into their looks and turned out to be rather pretty.

November 12, 2012

Citadel (2012)

"An agoraphobic father teams up with a renegade priest to save his daughter from the clutches of a gang of twisted feral children."

Yes, I know I've been quiet for a couple of days, but I got addicted to "sword and sorcery" movies after my last review and completely lost track of time. I don't really know why I found them appealing so many years after they went out of style although the late Lana Clarkson may have had a lot to do with it.

Somehow, I also watched the notoriously filthy bits of "The Brown Bunny" (2003) just because Chloë Sevigny from "American Horror Story: Asylum" was the one being filthy, and then ended my weekend by having my childhood raped during "The Sweeney" (2012). After seeing Ray Winstone's fat belly and exceedingly large underpants, I decided that I ought to get back to watching real horror again.

Having heard great things about it, I gave "Citadel" a go. All I can say is, "What the hell were other people watching when they wrote their reviews?" For me, "Citadel" was one of the most boring films that I've ever forced myself to sit through.

I don't even have words to describe how generic, formulaic and dull "Citadel" is as a "horror" movie. You can't even call it a horror movie really unless a run-down Irish tower block or tripod-less camerawork gives you nightmares.

I will grudgingly say that the Welsh version of Frodo, Aneurin Barnard, does well in his role as an agoraphobic pussy, but that's about it. James Cosmo's priest character has a lot of potential which is wasted, and the little kids who are supposed to be so scary are just vile.

If you've already seen "Ils" (2006) or even "The Brood" (1979), this hybrid of the worst parts of both won't be any great surprise to you. "Citadel" is only a low-budget, handheld-camera version of the same thing, but without any scares at all. The majority of the story is given away in the trailer and makes about as much sense in that stripped-down version too.

Don't waste your time on this.

November 9, 2012

Deathstalker (1983)

"The warrior Deathstalker is tasked by an old witch lady to obtain and unite the three powers of creation - a chalice, an amulet, and a sword - lest the evil magician Munkar get them and use them for nefarious purposes."

Filled with a plethora of monsters, boobs, blood, decapitations, and no acting ability whatsoever, "Deathstalker" marks the beginning of my new "Fantasy Friday" series in a way that no other '80s sword and sorcery adventure ever could.

There's certainly no other which co-stars Richard Brooker, the third actor to play Jason Voorhees in the "Friday the 13th" series, and the first Jason actor to wear the hockey mask. Did you really think that I would choose a movie which had no association with horror on my blog? Shame on you. Richard Brooker is also very British so that's another good reason to mention him although it's Rick Hill who plays the lead role of Deathstalker.

I was never a huge fan of the "fantasy" genre, but there were some titles which had to be watched back in the day simply because they came from the same Roger Corman stable as a lot of horror flicks. The awesome "Deathstalker" poster was also so proudly displayed by my local video store that I just had to rent the VHS tape to see if anything on it remotely resembled what the artwork suggested. It didn't really, but I was too young to understand why. God help me, I even looked forward to the sequels as they came out over the years.

Obviously, "Deathstalker" is an even lower-budget clone of "Conan the Barbarian" with lots of manly posturing, surprisingly well-choreographed swordplay, and hardly enough plot to keep it going for an hour and a quarter, but what more do you expect from any B-movie apart from cheap entertainment? If you want gratuitous nudity, hot chicks, or just some weirdly homoerotic costumes and a bizarre, magical sex-change, "Deathstalker" has it all. There are some nice gory bits dotted around too.

I'm not going to go into any great detail about the story because it won't stand up to any serious critique. Instead, I've embedded the full movie at the top of this post for you to enjoy.

Let me know what you think of "Deathstalker" in the comments section below.

November 8, 2012

Sleep Tight (2011)

(AKA Mientras duermes)

"You wake day after day to the comfort and security of your home. But how safe is it really?"

Directed by Jaume Balagueró, the half of the "[REC]" creators who didn't ruin the franchise, "Sleep Tight" is a solid Spanish thriller along the lines of "Hider in the House" (1989) but with more sadism and set in an apartment building in Barcelona. Unlike "[REC]", there are no weird exorcisms or rabid zombies here, just a balding concierge named César who gets his jollies by making other people miserable.

The main focus of César's unwanted attention is Clara, a sexy thirty-something played by Marta Etura. Her character's nickname, "Mimi", is undoubtedly an homage to Mimi Rogers, but they don't really look or act the same. For all of its originality as a Spanish movie, "Sleep Tight" is knowingly derivative of its American predecessors, but it's actually considerably better than all of them.

Luis Tosar plays César, the aforementioned concierge, with such charisma that it's impossible not to root for him instead of the people whose lives he destroys with his spiteful pranks. César starts out as an antihero rather than an outright villain, but where one ends and the other begins is hard to say.

Tormented by his own inability to experience happiness, César is a morbidly fascinating character much like dour comedian Jack Dee without any witty jokes. As a Brit, I found myself reminded of Jack Dee's TV show where he tried various things to make himself happy and they all failed. Thus, there are comedic touches to "Sleep Tight", of course, but they are the very sick and twisted kind.

As you can see in the trailer (above), César's escapades include hiding under the bed of his uber hot victim then sliding out and chloroforming her into total unconsciousness while she sleeps. At first, it seems to be the desperate act of someone who is lonely and wants a cuddle-buddy, but César's darker motives are revealed as the story progresses.

I'm not going to give away anything more, but when César starts altering Clara's beauty creams to cause an allergy and wipes cockroach eggs everywhere, it becomes very obvious that this isn't about unrequited love or some predictable case of revenge.

I will just say that I was torn between fancying Marta Etura (even more that I fiend for Belén Rueda) and hating everything normal that her character represents. I don't think that I'm quite as disturbed as César, but the voyeuristic tendencies of the film certainly caused me to empathise with him.

Everyone in "Sleep Tight" gives a fantastic performance, the characterisation is almost perfect, and the wit of the story really highlights how lazy American movies have become in comparison. I shouldn't need to add that it's all beautifully filmed, but given Jaume Balagueró's previous movies and the resurgence of faux "found footage" crap once again this year, I don't want you to confuse this with more of the same. "Sleep Tight" is a real movie with a script, real actors, a decent pace, and none of that shakycam nonsense.

Since it's a Spanish movie, I have no idea what the background is of any of the actors (other than the information available on the IMDb), but when the little girl who attempts to blackmail César is as outstanding as the other leads, you know that you're watching something special and a little bit more classy than usual. With a very respectable (estimated) budget of $16,000,000, it damned well should be as good as it is too.

I never thought I'd ever call a story of this nature "classy", but it really is. "Sleep Tight" may be as twisted as they come, but it's up there with Roman Polanski's apartment trilogy as far as I'm concerned.

Happy Birthday, Bram Stoker!

According to today's Google Doodle, today is Bram Stoker's 165th birthday. Well, it would be if he hadn't died on April 20th, 1912 (aged 64), or if he had been bitten by his most famous creation and become an immortal vampire.

In other Google news, the only reason I saw this doodle was because Google have decided to remove the custom background images from the homepage of their famous search engine. As you can see below, I had a really nice one of a cat with its tongue out which a nagging pop-up message asked me to remove a couple of days ago.

Apparently, it's all part of Google's redesign to make it easier for people with smartphones rather than real computers to be online. Great! (Note the sarcasm.) Now pandering to all the braindead texters has made my logon a completely depersonalised experience and caused the Google image search to be as worthless as trying to find anything on YouTube.

I thought the new Blogger dashboard was bad, but they just have to keep on pushing until we all jump ship to Wordpress and DuckDuckGo instead of leaving well enough alone. When will this madness end?

November 7, 2012

Vamps (2012)

"Two female vampires in modern-day New York City are faced with daunting romantic possibilities."

Given the new format of my blog, I didn't know whether to post this review yesterday for those people who are absolutely terrified of watching romantic comedies meant for middle-aged women or wait until today due to how miserable "Vamps" turned out to be. Obviously, I decided that "Woeful Wednesday" was the best choice.

I should have realised that something was very wrong with a movie that had a very limited theatrical release only a few days before becoming available on DVD and Blu-ray. Call me cynical, but it reeks of the distributor realising beforehand that "Vamps" was going to bomb in the cinemas.

"Vamps" is certainly not in the same league as "Clueless" (1995) in spite of its cast, but it isn't actually that bad if you don't have a sense of humour. I'm lucky that way because I watched it as a straight vampire movie and used it merely as a means to ogle Krysten Ritter. For "normal" people who want something to laugh at other than pop culture references, "Vamps" will probably be a disappointment.

The story itself isn't so much a comedy in the strict sense of the word as it is a semi-tragedy. While there are enough contrived scenes of merriment to appease the casual (and extremely dumb) viewer, the more you think about the macabre existence of the lead vampiresses, Goody (Alicia Silverstone) and Stacy (Krysten Ritter), the worse it becomes.

Like everything Amy Heckerling has written, the dialogue in "Vamps" is clever and witty. Unfortunately, it would be better coming from the mouths of a bunch of desperate, old satchel-asses in a TV series rather than in a movie about vampires. Make up your own mind about which TV series I'm referring to as I'm sure you can think of three or four others off the top of your head.

Unless you are of a certain age, you probably won't understand all the cynical swipes at teenagers, the internet, the "must have gadgets", or the sad message of "Vamps" that eventually you simply have to stop pretending to be young. I get them, and they are kind of depressing especially as I agree with them all. I also despise texters, smartphones, reality television stars, and 99% of the "Sex and the City"-inspired generation that I'm forced to endure daily. Kudos to Amy Heckerling for lampooning today's society even though she's a bit late on the bandwagon this time.

However, as I said, I really only watched "Vamps" to lust over Krysten Ritter. As much as I worship Alicia Silverstone like the crazy goddess she is, a vampiric Audrey Hepburn lookalike really does it for me. Although Alicia is good, Krysten steals the show in every scene they share. I'm not familiar with her work and have never seen her in anything else so presumably she's a known comedy actress. Based on how sexy she looks with fangs, I hope she does some hardcore horror movies in the future.

The other cast members are also culled from the TV comedy genre apart from Dan Stevens who plays Lord Arthur Holmwood in the 2006 TV version of "Dracula" (which I have yet to see), and the once "big name" actors such as Sigourney Weaver and Malcolm McDowell who appear to be slumming it. I can't say that any of them give a bad performance, but it's surprising to see them in something like this.

A precedent for vampire comedies starring actors who should know better goes way back to "The Fearless Vampire Killers" (1967) so "Vamps" isn't entirely out of place among such titles as "Love at First Bite" (1979), "Once Bitten" (1985), "Vampire's Kiss" (1989), "Love Bites" (1993), "Dracula: Dead and Loving It" (1995), and "Vampire in Brooklyn" (1995). I have no idea why anyone would think that vampires and comedy go together as none of these movies really have enough horror to be classed as true horror-comedies. None have enough comedy to be funny either.

"Vamps" does quite well with its plethora of amiable yet slightly odd characters despite them all being inconsistent and woefully underused. In several cases, they aren't much more than extended cameos which is a shame considering the heart that must have been put into creating them. Even in such a throwaway comedy, they deserve better.

Some of the computer effects are horrendous although I have to give credit where it's due for the make-up which is mostly excellent (and also a little bit silly looking on the older "Stem" vampires). Someone did a great job on Sigourney Weaver who doesn't look her age at all. Her Cisserus character is a mixed bag, but it hammers home an excellent jibe at certain TV show cougars.

I wish I had more to say about Alicia Silverstone, but she gets eclipsed by everything else which is going on including a whole world in the background which is more interesting. Basically, Goody isn't ditzy enough or a strong enough character to carry the film on her own. Lovely and talented as she is, Alicia also looks too old for the part. Not that she tries, but she can't get away with being Cher anymore. Lamentably, this is hardly another "Clueless".

With the best lines and scenes already given away in the trailer, I can't recommend that you rush to see "Vamps" if you expect it to contain any more of the same. I'm not saying that it's full of padding because there is more than enough material forced into this to make a decent 92 minute long feature. I just don't think it's put together in the best way possible, and it might have been better as a pilot for a TV series.

November 6, 2012

The terror of Salem's Lot - Ralphie Glick

Whether the scene was inspired by Cathy's ghost from Emily Brontë's "Wuthering Heights" (1847) or the little girl in "Kill, Baby, Kill" (1966), Ralphie Glick (Ronnie Scribner) returning to his brother in "Salem's Lot" (1979) is still one of the most terrifying vampire attacks ever filmed.

To this day, I can't watch the scene without covering my eyes with my hands and peeking through my fingers at it. I'm not sure how exactly that is meant to protect me, but it's just something I do. I've also never been able to sleep in any bed that faces a window especially if the curtains are open.

Some might say that "Salem's Lot" traumatised me as a child, but I prefer to think of the experience as a valuable lesson about letting vampires in. Thanks to Stephen King and Tobe Hooper, I have yet to be bitten by a floating vampire child so the cautionary tale worked.

According to the Wikipedia article (which cites Cinefantastique magazine vol. 9 #2 as the source):
The vampire levitations were accomplished by placing the actors on a boom crane instead of traditional wires, "We didn't fly our vampires in on wires, because even in the best of films you can see them," producer Richard Korbitz explained. "We wanted to get a feeling of floating. And the effect is horrific, because you know there are no wires. It has a very spooky, eerie quality to it." The levitation sequences were also shot-in-reverse to make the scenes more eerie.

As much as I would like to embed the scene from YouTube, I really can't bear to look at it or the later one with Danny Glick (Brad Savage). I know it's on YouTube somewhere so you will just have to find it for yourself.

Instead, here's a video of Kate Bush singing "Wuthering Heights" in 1978. She's still ghostly but kind of hot too. Actually, I probably would let her in my window, but that's another story.

"Heathcliff, it's me, Cathy, I've come home. I'm so cold, let me in your window."

Okay, Kate, just let me change my underwear, and I'll be right with you. Please be gentle with me.

The scariest part of Hellraiser!

The Engineer!

I don't know about you, but this monster (whatever it is) scares the piss out of me. It's like a newborn rat which has inherited some horrible physical deformities and yet still lives. Ugh!

Whoever thought this thing up must have some terrible nightmares. By deciding to have it chase people along corridors, they caused several nightmares for me too.

Kill it with fire!

November 5, 2012

It's just another Murder Monday! Snowtown and Killer Joe

As promised, I've now started doing my reviews according to a daily theme. I've added some new tabs to the navigation bar above so you can follow my progress and find the posts easier should you have any desire to ever revisit them.

Today, of course, is Monday so it's the beginning of my "Murder Monday" series. I was going to call it "Macabre Monday" until it dawned on me that there were really only two or three truly "macabre" movies in existence. Pardon the pun, but I didn't want this series of posts to be that short-lived.

Anyway, the two titles which I've chosen to review today are "Snowtown" and "Killer Joe". They may not appear to have much in common apart from being made in 2011, but bear with me because they do.

Snowtown (2011)

"Snowtown" is an Australian movie based on the true story of "The Snowtown Murders" which happened between 1992-1999. You can tell it's the '90s because they have a Sega Megadrive in it.

Although a great deal of artistic licence is used to make some characters more sympathetic than others, make no mistake about it, these are all bad people. There's not one character in the whole thing who is likeable although Daniel Henshall, who plays John Bunting, is certainly outstanding in the role of a very charismatic psychopath. Lucas Pittaway, on the other hand, who plays Jamie Vlassakis, doesn't really do a lot apart from stare and act like he has Asperger's syndrome. I still have no idea if it's intentional.

As you know, I'm a horror guy not a true crime aficionado. I find most films which deal with real serial killers to be very boring indeed, but "Snowtown" hooked me because I didn't know anything about it. In fact, if it hadn't been for a "horror reviewer" (and I use that term loosely) on YouTube who was overpraising the disturbing aspects of the movie, I probably wouldn't have watched it at all.

Suffice it to say that there are a couple of ridiculously nasty moments of torture and murder which might be quite harrowing for most people to watch. For me, I'm tempted to say, "Meh, I've seen worse." It's not that I didn't enjoy "Snowtown", but the good stuff such as garrotting and toenails being ripped out is sparse amidst all the somewhat confusing drama.

Even for anyone familiar with the story beforehand, the conflation of certain events makes it hard to tell what's going on and in what order. I watched "Snowtown" cold, read up on it, and then watched it again to see if it made any difference. Unfortunately, it made things more confusing as I tried to associate the real victims with their dramatised equivalents.

"Snowtown" is clearly a low-budget, gritty piece of filmmaking, but it could be taken as a really black comedy if you didn't know any better. I had the same problem with "Chopper" (2000) so it must be an Australian thing which I'm just not getting. In both "Chopper" and "Snowtown", the awkward and uncomfortable way that characters speak to each other is all rather deadpan and far more amusing to my British ears than it's probably meant to be.

The ending sort of fizzles out which, depending on your taste, may not be very satisfying. If there is ever an American movie of the same subject matter, it will probably concentrate on a trial and throw all the gruesome story elements in as flashbacks so it's all down to how much you prefer more linear Aussie storytelling without any dramatic onscreen resolution. Personally, I would have liked to have seen how the killers were caught.

Killer Joe (2011)

Moving right along to "Killer Joe", this is another very linear story which uses its "in medias res" elements so sparingly that the exposition is organic rather than forced. In an age where characterisation has become contrived padding for set pieces of action, I appreciate such old school subtleties.

Unlike "Snowtown", "Killer Joe" is a pretty straightforward piece of fiction based on a stage play of the same name. It's still about murder, a very charismatic and undoubtedly psychotic killer, and has another bad ending so it makes the perfect double feature for anyone who wants to be left hanging twice in a row.

All staginess aside, William Friedkin really knows his stuff with these white trash dramas. I enjoyed "Bug" (2006) although I know most horror fans didn't, and so I'm obviously the right kind of audience for this. "Killer Joe" had twice the budget of "Bug" yet still feels like a low-budget but classy production in the same vein. Not to be too much of a fanboy here, but William Friedkin, as a director, certainly knows how to bring out the best of the entire cast.

Matthew McConaughey, channelling Paul Newman, gives the best performance of his entire career as the titular "Killer Joe" Cooper. He's definitely come a long way since "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation" (1994) although I did think he was pretty good in "Reign of Fire" (2002). What can I say? I like dragons and Christian Bale too.

I'm not going to name everyone, but for a movie where every character is intentionally horrible in their own way, Emile Hirsch from "The Darkest Hour" (2011) is surprisingly sympathetic, and Gina Gershon, give or take a Kentucky Fried Chicken drumstick, is still as hot as when she was in "Bound" (1996).

Basically, the story is all about hiring a hitman to do away with Emile Hirsch's character's mother for financial gain. There's an insurance policy which will give everyone a nice little payout, settle some gambling debts, and, obviously, it becomes the source of even more trouble as the plot progresses.

While there isn't much gore, there's certainly some quite bloody and violent moments which are very well done. I could almost feel the final one with a can of pumpkin pie filling, but I'll say no more than that.

"Killer Joe" is definitely a black comedy with offbeat acting, some absolutely bizarre scenes, and, in a similar way to "Snowtown", a lot of extremely awkward dialogue which wouldn't be out of place in either film. Juno Temple plays Dottie Smith in such an autistic manner that she could almost be the sister of Lucas Pittaway.

The ending is rather abrupt, but you have to blame the writer for that rather than William Friedkin. On the plus side, you can make up your own mind about how things would play out which I know some people like to do.

Not to spoil it for you, but I think that one more gunshot during the fade-to-black before the final credits would have worked well. That would still leave things open to interpretation, but I don't make films, I just watch them. Less is more, as they say, even though I prefer it when a movie has a more substantial conclusion.

So that's my first "Murder Monday" over. Let me know if you like the new format or if I should go back to the old way of doing things with individual reviews.

November 4, 2012

The Bay (2012)

"Chaos breaks out in a small Maryland town after an ecological disaster occurs."

I didn't even manage to get through ten minutes of "The Bay" so you can make of that what you will. Just know that I've watched some truly terrible movies in my time and made it through to the end of all of them, but this was beyond my tolerance levels.

Cheap and nasty faux found footage movies are one of my least favourite parts of the horror genre so, in fairness to anyone who can make it through this, "The Bay" was never going to get much of a rating. Even if I'd had the patience to endure the horrible shakycams, the monotonous, nasal, whining voice of the girl narrating the story, the pathetic, low-budget effects and make-up, and the obvious lack of acting ability shown by anyone involved, I still would have written it off as crap.

The fact that it's another "From the producers of Paranormal Activity and Insidious" product designed to make a quick buck (from a subgenre that wore out its welcome back in 1999) should tell you all you really need to know. I've hated everything they've done so far and despised every "found footage" movie including "The Blair Witch Project". Apart from "Trollhunter", which was more of a parody, I've never understood the appeal or alleged popularity of this style of filmmaking.

Based on under ten minutes of this awfulness, I can't tell you if there's even a story to "The Bay" other than a bunch of non-actors eating contaminated fish and dying, who the characters are (or who plays them), or if it's worth investing the time to watch the rest of it. It just wasn't for me.

November 3, 2012

Dr Blood's November Pawn Shop Adventure

It's been quite a long time since I last went to the pawn shop. Actually, according to my blog, it was September 22nd, and I had trouble finding any horror movies to spend my money on.

I think people just aren't buying as many horror DVDs as before despite Wal-mart's Hallowe'en endcaps or Dollar General's fine selection of Echo Bridge multipacks. Most of the bargain titles are a load of crap, and Wal-mart's $5 bin is always so overloaded that it's irritating to rummage through without grabbing a shopping cart to heave all the westerns and lame teenage comedies into. Contrary to what some sites would have you believe, Blu-ray has made absolutely no difference to DVD sales. I've asked the managers of various stores and it seems that people aren't buying much on the HD format either.

I blame Netflix, Vudu, Hulu, and YouTube. There probably won't be any DVDs produced in a few years' time due to all this streaming. I'm not sure how I feel about that. As much as I like having a physical copy of my movies, if I wasn't blogging about them then I highly doubt that I'd ever rewatch 99% of them again.

Anyway, before I end up writing an article about how collecting movies is dying out or start ranting about how my favourite pawn shops aren't even carrying VHS anymore, I'll tell you about my latest purchases.

The first DVD I picked out was "Dark Ride" from the original 2006 Afterdark Horrorfest. For some reason, this was the only one which I didn't watch when it came out so I have no idea if it's any good or not. It still had its cardboard slipcase with a Wal-mart sticker on it (impossible to remove without wrecking it) and the insert which lists all the other Afterdark Horrorfest movies.

Sometimes, in moments of madness, I want to collect all the Afterdark Horrorfest DVDs even though I know that they range from mediocre to appalling. I wouldn't have any problem there as they keep on turning up in the pawn shops, but I just can't bring myself to do it. I still have a couple on the Afterdark Horrorfest III 8 pack which I haven't managed to get through, and I gave up on the final Horrorfest after "Lake Mungo". Life is too short for bad movies.

My second purchase was "The Faculty" and "Phantoms" double feature which I've picked up and put back again several times before. I've already seen both films, but I only like "Phantoms". "The Faculty" is just too much of "trendy teen horror" for my taste.

"Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers" is a replacement for my VHS copy which I enjoyed watching again fairly recently. I could have got this as a double feature DVD with "Halloween 5" for $2 more, but I hate the latter too much to even buy it for completeness.

Finally, to complete the "4 for $10" deal, I got a still sealed copy of "Se7en" (or "Seven" if you don't like the stupid way the IMDb lists it). I can barely remember a thing about it apart from the torture scenes having most of their punches pulled for the R-rating so I'm hardly in any hurry to watch it again. I just thought that I'd better have it because it was there.

In other news, the 7/11 which replaced my local Wilson Farms has won me over with its selection of fine dining. I was quite depressed when Wilson Farms was replaced because it meant my source of "2 for $3" pizza slices had come to an end. Fortunately, the 7/11 is now doing $1 pizza slices (which are admittedly a little bit smaller so I have to get three of them each time) so I have nothing to moan about now. Their hot taco things which look like a crunchy hotdog have also become a nice treat. I've yet to buy one of their "cheeseburger rollerbites" because I ate far too many of those when I was selling them in my restaurant five years ago. Maybe I'll get one later today.

As you can see by the new daily tabs on the menu at the top of this blog, things are going to change on here next week with more articles themed to each day rather than individual movie reviews. I'm still going to be reviewing but in a slightly different way. With only 80 movies left in "The Vault" to rewatch and write about, I'd end up with a dead blog (and bored out of my mind) in a couple of months so, hopefully, I can resuscitate things even though everyone is burnt out after Hallowe'en.

How do you feel about the horror genre right now? Is it completely dead? Are you buying as many DVDs as you used to? Are you bored with mediocre movies? Is horror blogging as dead as a dodo now too? Let me know in the comments section below.