June 29, 2013

Man of Steel (2013)

"A young itinerant worker is forced to confront his secret extraterrestrial heritage when Earth is invaded by members of his race."

Due to unforeseen circumstances yesterday with storms knocking out my internet connection, I couldn't post this review as a "Fantasy Friday" update where it belongs, but since it's more about aliens anyway, I now have the first "Sci-Fi Saturday" post in months. It's not that any superhero movie meant for 10-year-olds and 40-something comicbook nerds is a priority for me anyway, so who cares, right? I'm not a fan of Superman in the first place.

Back when I was the right age, I saw "Superman: The Movie", but I wasn't impressed. Out of all the superheroes, Superman always struck me as a bit of a wussypants, and Christopher Reeve only confirmed my prejudice. I mean, he has every superpower possible and could rule the Earth if he wanted to, yet he chooses to hide behind the bumbling façade of Clark Kent (as if people can't tell it's the same guy with glasses!), and just stops a few "bad guys" from time to time. It's pathetic! Superman and everything he stands for makes me want to puke.

I never watched more than one episode of the Dean Cain version because of his girlie voice and the fact that Teri Hatcher makes me cringe, and I certainly never watched "Smallville" either. I've seen parts of the other Christopher Reeve movies, but my interest came and went with Ursa (Sarah Douglas) in the first sequel. Thus, even though I'm not an authority on Superman, I've seen enough to know what it's all about, and I just don't care for it. As flawed as it is, I prefer "Hancock" (2008).

The trouble is that I sometimes have to watch other genres when the horror genre dries up just to keep abreast of who's who and what's popular. I'd be an even shittier reviewer if I only watched horror movies and nothing else. Thus, I gave "Man of Steel" a chance to change my mind about Superman.

Unfortunately, apart from Antje Traue looking hot as Faora-Ul (an updated version of Ursa), Zach Snyder's "Man of Steel" is easily the worst Superman movie ever made. While I can appreciate the darker tone and Michael Shannon's exceptional performance as General Zod, there's nothing here story-wise that I haven't seen before. As dated as they are, I would've been better off rewatching "Superman: The Movie" (1978) and "Superman II" (1980) instead of this "Transformers" wannabe.

"Man of Steel" features such things as disjointed storytelling which is ridiculously hard to follow, visuals which might look spectacular but make no sense, a script written by Christopher Nolan so you know it'll be crap, and lots of CGI buildings being demolished... but that's about it. With a running time of approximately three days, it's far too long and monotonous with it. It's all bang, bang, boom like a Michael Bay film with 90% of it made of swirling computer-generated battles, explosions, and gut-churning aerial shots of places which don't even exist.

It's not worth mentioning the big names who have small parts in "Man of Steel" because the only fun for anybody is spotting them and thinking, "Oh my God, so-and-so looks so old now!" I'm not going to take those suprises away from you. Just enjoy them for what they are, and savour the brief moments with Ayelet Zurer who plays Superman's real mother (Lara Lor-Van) at the start because she's really beautiful. She can't act, but she looks great.

I didn't think there could actually be a more disappointing superhero movie than "The Dark Knight Rises", but there is now.

June 26, 2013

The Purge (2013)

"A family is held hostage for harbouring the target of a murderous syndicate during the Purge, a 12-hour period in which any and all crime is legalized."

Full of so many tropes that it even has its own page on tvtropes.org, "The Purge" is yet another completely unoriginal home invasion story from Blumhouse Productions and Platinum Dunes designed to get as much money as quickly as possible out of teenagers who haven't seen many other movies. In case you haven't noticed, this is exactly what Blumhouse Productions and Platinum Dunes do, and they've been very successful at it.

I don't want to get into a big discussion of all the sources which "The Purge" rips off, but suffice it to say that its backstory borrows heavily from Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" (1948), The Twilight Zone's "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" (1960), Star Trek's "The Return of the Archons" (1967), and dozens of movies including "The Most Dangerous Game" (1932), "Rio Bravo" (1959), "A Clockwork Orange" (1971), "Battle Royale" (2000), and "Assault on Precinct 13" (1976/2005). The latter is the most obvious since the "Assault on Precinct 13" remake also stars Ethan Hawke and its screenplay was written by none other than James DeMonaco, the writer/director of "The Purge".

Despite its Bacchanalian inspirations and socio-political aspirations, "The Purge" still isn't anything more than a clone of all the home invasions such as "Funny Games" (1997), "Panic Room" (2002), "Them" (2006), and "The Strangers" (2008). Mix everything together with a swizzle stick made out of "Desperate Housewives" and you have your movie. If you want to be really cynical (and you should be), the futuristic setting is just a means to isolate the family. It's the dead cellphone trope without using a cellphone.

The thing is, "The Purge" isn't horrible to watch. It's shot using a handheld camera for some reason, but it's no more shaky than anything by Lars Von Trier or an episode of "This Life" so I can let that pass. Of course, it has to have a little bit of webcam/surveillance camera nonsense going on it too because it's a Blumhouse Production, and they never want to let you forget how they were also responsible for "Paranormal Activity" and "Sinister", but even that is acceptable within the film's internal logic. As far as Blumhouse/Platinum Dunes products go, "The Purge" is actually the best they've made so far.

Bring back "The Sarah Connor Chronicles"! And tripods!

Although "The Purge" isn't a horror movie, it does fit into "The Twilight Zone"-esque subgenre of dystopian futures which have been done to death in recent years almost as much as zombies and slashers, and it has a few moments of extreme violence which make it fairly entertaining. Unfortunately, even as an R-rated movie, it feels PG-13 due to the very obvious lack of sex, nudity or realistic profanities. It almost goes without saying that "The Purge" has very little gore and absolutely no scares or tension. With two hot chicks in the besieged family and no threat of rape at any point, it doesn't seem to be a movie meant for adults at all.

Part of the problem is that a bigger socio-political commentary on modern America with its layers of hypocrisy/double-standards and racism isn't fully realised. Do I really need to mention how the skin colour of the Target/Hostage (played by Edwin Hodge) shouldn't be an issue but clearly is? I think not. There's also so much that "The Purge" could've said about corporate brainwashing, capitalism, creepy American patriotism, gun control laws, crime, and the general selfish, jealous and violent nature of the first-world, but it's purely superficial. Even "Robocop" (1987) addressed those issues better nearly 30 years ago. If American society didn't learn about itself from Paul Verhoeven's satire then it's unlikely to do so from a half-arsed home invasion flick, so just shove another burger in your mouth and hide behind your smart phone because "The Purge" isn't meant to be anything other than low-brow entertainment either.

Acting-wise, "The Purge" is acceptable so I have no complaints there. Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey do particularly well although their rich, white, middle-class characters aren't likeable nor are they entirely meant to be. Every character in "The Purge" is mentally damaged by the futuristic government's brainwashing so what's to like? Rhys Wakefield as the "Polite Stranger" stands out the most as a hybrid of Patrick Bateman/Alex DeLarge, but even he makes as many stupid decisions as the rest of the characters in this "idiot play".

"Do you like Phil Collins?"

One thing which annoyed me slightly was Max Burkholder's hair which he really needs to get cut. What is it with Blumhouse Productions and little boys with girls' hairstyles? Michael Hall D'Addario from "Sinister" should accompany Max to the barbers. There are times when its hard to tell if it's Max's character or the hot sister (played by 23-year-old Adelaide Kane) who is in shot, but that's a minor quibble. It's also not his fault that the pussified character he played should have been one of the first ones purged. I spent more time wondering where the design for "Timmy", the remote-controlled webcam on a tank, came from than wishing any of the characters dead since most of them are underused anyway.

The surprise twists which come from betrayals are more irksome and predictable clichés for most people although, as usual, I didn't see either of them coming. I'll be honest, I actually enjoyed "The Purge" until I started to think about it afterwards, and then it left a nasty taste in my mouth because of the punches which were pulled. A night where all crimes are allowable, but the best anyone could come up with is a lame home invasion? I could write something far more disturbing in five minutes simply because I'm a very sick puppy indeed.

It's not worth going into any greater depth about "The Purge" because it's not a movie which can stand up to any kind of critical deconstruction nor is it meant to. I know some people have moaned about the number of times characters are saved at the last second, but those contrivances aren't even that noticeable during the action unless you are looking for them. There are so many plot holes, unanswered questions, lapses in logic and wasted opportunities that "The Purge" is essentially just another "popcorn flick" for the Summer which I'll probably buy on DVD as a souvenir of how low the movie industry has sunk this year.

June 23, 2013

World War Z (2013)

"United Nations employee Gerry Lane traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments, and threatening to destroy humanity itself."

It's not often that a Summer movie is so boring that I can barely bring myself to write a review of it, but "World War Z" has easily earned that dubious honour for this year. I'm not so secretly still hoping that someone will announce how the movie is meant to be a high-brow meta-parody of the zombie subgenre just so that I can stop feeling disgusted with myself for wasting two hours on this utter shite. Given its lack of tension or scares, the unintentional laughs which certain scenes are likely to provoke suggest that has to be some multi-million dollar trolling, right?

Very loosely based on a novel by Max Brooks which I've never heard of and have no intention of reading, "World War Z" is little more than several CGI-fuelled action set pieces (which are given away in the trailer) padded out with a whole lot of nothing else. Fundamentally, it's a big-budget attempt to cash-in on the success of "The Walking Dead" and all the other apocalyptic-virus/zombie movies which sheep-like teenagers have ironically bought into.

The running zombies from "28 Days Later" (which I also loathe) are back again, but this time they have a hive-mind like ants or the numpties who waste all day posting on Reddit. That, in itself, should give "World War Z" a minor claim to originality except not really. If you ever watched a certain episode of "The Burning Zone" TV series back in the day, the concept of a sentient virus has been done before but better. It's not exactly a new idea. Philosophers have been speculating about this very thing, vis-à-vis mankind's relationship to the planet, for centuries.

The other big difference between "World War Z" and the thousands of zombie clones already in existence is that this movie is appropriately named as a cure for insomnia. I assume once again that the "Z" is meant to be some kind of in-joke about sending the audience to sleep rather than standing for "zombies" or Z-grade which it most certainly is.

Glasgow has become so Americanised!

Contrivances abound such as using the liability of an asthmatic kid to bring Brad Pitt's character into a direct, street level confrontation with the world gone mad, but the worst part of the "adventure" (for that is what it is) is the wild goose chase all over the world to find the answer to how the outbreak started. It serves no purpose other than to show zombies running amok in more countries.

As with every Summer movie, there's lots of gunfire, vertigo-inducing aerial shots, huge explosions (including the obligatory exploding helicopter and a plane crash), and it's all very loud. Unfortunately, even with the mid-range turned up to deafen everyone, Brad Pitt is still a mumbler, the African actor who plays his United Nations boss has an accent that's almost impenetrable, and the lack of characterisation means that nobody cares what anyone is saying anyway. Apparently, the actors were told to improvise their own dialogue, and it shows badly. Just a minor quibble, but isn't this why movies have writers?

With its predominantly blue, green and beige palette, and no bright red blood or gore to get excited about, "World War Z" is particularly bland visually. The camerawork is awful, some scenes are way too dark, and the quick cuts in the action scenes mean that its impossible to tell who is doing what to who. The fact that so little time is spent on characters who randomly appear only to disappear again just as quickly render the whole movie emotionally inert so why would you even care in the first place?

Characterisation is actually so flat that if you aren't looking out for it, you're unlikely to catch the name of Brad Pitt's character let alone anyone else's. It's Gerry, by the way, but I couldn't tell you the names of his wife or children despite the story pointlessly cutting back and forth to them onboard an aircraft carrier. Whoever his ginger-haired wife is, she doesn't do anything except look mopey and hug her greasy-haired brats so what's the point of her? Gingers have no souls anyway and neither does whoever made this horrible movie. Ah yes, it's Marc Forster, the same guy who made the equally unwatchable "Quantum of Solace". Case proven.

I could bitch about "World War Z" all day, but I'm not going to. Nine paragraphs is more than enough to critique a boring, PG-13 rated zombie movie which wouldn't even be worthy of the SyFy channel if Brad Pitt wasn't involved in it. Forget the 3D gimmick too, it's a waste of the extra $3 which you could use to buy a DVD of a real horror movie meant for adults instead.

Although I could have summed-up "World War Z" in one four-letter word with an optional seven-letter expletive preceding it, I'll leave it with an even better three-letter word:


June 22, 2013

De-hoarding My Horror DVD Multipacks: Part 1

As you can see, I've got quite a few of these Mill Creek Entertainment multipacks. In case you're wondering, there are nearly 700 movies in the picture above (give or take a few duplicated titles).

At first glance, they don't appear to take up that much space, but I have an idea about how to compact them even further. No, I'm not throwing any of them out even though most of the movies are crap and their transfers are terrible. Unfortunately, there are some movies which I haven't finished watching yet, and since I have no easy way of telling which discs they are on, I have to keep all of them until I'm done.

Of course, it'll be a red one!
What I intend to do is take out all the DVDs which are already in cardboard or paper envelopes and put them in one of those special DVD storage boxes from Target (AKA a shoebox).

I probably won't get into all the découpage and craftmaking that somebody who had the same idea before me did.

Having checked out the price of further Tyvek DVD sleeves ($5.99 for 100 on Amazon), I think this may be the ideal way to go with the rest of my collection.

Good idea? Bad idea? What do you think?

June 21, 2013

De-hoarding My Horror DVD Collection

After 5 years of actively collecting horror DVDs, the time has come to start getting rid of the ones which I'll never watch again before I end up on "Hoarders". It's a slippery slope, and I'm getting closer to sliding all the way down every time I come back from the pawn shop.

A few things have prompted my decision to do this which I'll present for you as a list. If you can identify with any of my reasons, it may be time for you to at least think about de-hoarding too.

1. I don't weigh 500 lbs so I'm not going to make "show and tell" YouTube videos of my collection.

I've never intended to create a background of shelves full of DVDs to make other people feel jealous or to compensate for the inadequacies of my own unhealthy lifestyle choices. I may eat total crap and drink far too many Monster energy drinks, but I only weigh 168 lbs (just so you know) and don't spend all day slumped in front of the television watching movies.

Owning thousands of DVDs doesn't make you a better movie fan or make you better than anyone else, it simply means that you've had more money than sense and bought more DVDs.

2. I only bought my DVDs for something to watch.

I haven't had cable or Netflix for years; I just bought DVDs to watch instead. Now that I've seen them, reviewed them, and discovered that most of them are easily available online anyway, they can go.

I don't suffer from nostalgia. My visual memory is too good. If it wasn't for this blog, I would probably never rewatch any movie.

3. A lot of horror movies are too childish.

I'm a fully grown man in my early 40s. What use are movies about American teenagers to me?

Since I'm English, I barely identified with the protagonists even when I was the same age. Americans in movies come across as coddled children compared to people from other countries, and they disgust me. To be honest, my entertainment pleasure has started to come from watching entitled idiots get hacked to death or eaten rather than enjoying the story. Unfortunately, that leaves me even more frustrated as such wish fulfillment never comes true.

Pretty/stupid people who get everything handed to them on a plate will continue to dominate the planet for the rest of time. Bumping them off in horror movies only works for a short while before it becomes as irritating as real life itself.

4. I'm bored with horror movies anyway.

During my years of reviewing horror movies, I've seen the quality drop further and further every year. It's now got to the point where I could sum up any new horror movie with a couple of expletives rather than an erudite explanation. Although it's indicative of my far more realistic rental store conversations, it doesn't make very interesting reading.

"So what's this one like?"

"Complete and utter shit."

See what I mean?

It's not because of nostalgia or trying vainly to chase the fear buzz from my childhood, but simply because expectations have become lower right across the board. No effort goes into even trying to make anything original whether it be big-budget Hollywood blockbusters or low-budget, Wal-mart camcorder nasties. People have become so used to a diet of shit that new shit doesn't taste so bad to them anymore. It still does to me though.

Horror movies are nothing but formulas, clones, and remakes. Change the locations and the character names, and it's the same half-dozen stories over and over again with greater or lesser production values than before. It's product not art. It never really was art anyway.

5. I want the space back.

Having a lot of DVDs takes up too much room. I'd rather have the clean space to move in than rows and rows of dust catchers.

Being a "museum curator" of a load of old tat was never part of the plan.

6. One day I'll be going back to England.

Unless I have a huge yard sale, I've got to transport all these DVDs back home. It wasn't so bad bringing the ones I already had over, but now it's got silly. Even with lots more Case Logic folders, the excess baggage charges would be ridiculous.

Having moved four times since I've been living in America, I've had enough of packing and unpacking all these boxes of plastic and paper.

7. Horror DVDs are worthless.

If DVDs weren't worthless, I wouldn't have got them from the pawn shops, bargain bins, and yard sales. Even though I have great taste and discernment in all things, it doesn't make my DVDs worth any more second-hand. I'll be lucky to get $2 for each one at my own yard sale.

Even Blu-rays are worthless. From the moment you've bought them, you'll never get back what you paid for them even if you never open them (unless you have a valid reason for a refund). Everything is streaming or (illegally) downloadable from torrent sites so hardly anyone buys physical media.

8. I don't identify with the cliques.

I don't belong to any clubs, online forums (other than my own), or go to conventions so I'm not what you could ever call a "fan" as such. Apart from some aberrations in my past when I tried to force myself into fitting in, I never have done. In every case, it ended badly. I rub people up the wrong way because I speak my mind, don't support "hobby horror"... and I'm not social.

At the end of the day, I'm just some guy who watches a lot of movies and may have seen some that you have. I've never collected DVDs to be part of the gang.

9. I'm getting older and grumpier.

As I've got older, I've had less and less in common with other so-called "horror fans" to the point where I know how to work the system just enough to cause me to despise everyone else. For example, if I make a Facebook post or Tweet about "Girly", it'll go unnoticed, but if I post a picture of a Critter, a Jason mask or a Freddy glove, voila, all the "likes" and "retweets" bring the lowest common denominators out of the woodwork, and it sickens me. You bunch of easily-led plebs! You know who you are.

Even taking other people's ages into consideration is no excuse. There may well be new horror fans sprouting up every day who haven't seen certain movies and think that everything is cool, but the stuff that the gormless, hipster douchebags rave about is the only aspect which horrifies me. You can shove those generic Bumhole (Blumhouse) Productions, zombies, slashers, horror-comedies, and faux "found footage" movies where the sun doesn't shine!

Mid-life crisis? Maybe. But I think I had that when I was 33, briefly. It's taken a very long time, but I've been growing-up and further away from what used to interest me every day since. I never did like Critters, Jason or Freddy though.

10. I have nothing better to write about. Horror movie blogging is dead.

Unless you are a sell-out like the big name horror sites or you have a novelty gimmick like being morbidly obese or a girl (although there are far too many girl horror bloggers/vloggers for that to make as much difference as it used to), nobody other than the occasional nerdy "man-child" cares about horror blogs or movie reviewers. Too many people are doing it, and 99% of them just write out the stories in their own words and slap a couple of pictures up.

After becoming totally dissatisfied with the lack of discernment, ability, and journalistic integrity among "movie reviewers", I don't read anyone else's blogs nowadays. I've also just wiped the GFC widget (which Google/Blogger is phasing out in favour of Google+). Although I keep getting thousands of pageviews every day, nobody actually reads or comments my blog either so what's the point of writing it? Monetisation? Yeah, the 37¢ that I make each year through affiliate links makes so much difference.

Anyway, in the coming series of occasional posts which I'm writing for my own cathartic benefit, I'll be posting pictures of my de-hoarding process as and when it happens. If you still like to live vicariously through blogs, you might even find some amusement here... especially as I'm going to bitch like never before about the DVDs which I'm getting rid of.

June 14, 2013

Hatchet III (2013)

"A search and recovery team heads into the haunted swamp to pick up the pieces and Marybeth learns the secret to ending the voodoo curse that has left Victor Crowley haunting and terrorizing Honey Island Swamp for decades."

Gore, gore, gore, gore, gore, and even more gore! Yes, "Hatchet III" delivers what everyone has been craving for a very long time!

Three years after the instantly forgettable "Hatchet II", where Adam Green failed, BJ McDonnell's debut as a director breathes new life into a series which most of us had written off. Having said that, this is still Adam Green's baby and, unfortunately, there are places where it shows.

The thing is, you shouldn't be able to go wrong with a slasher film anyway. All you need is a group of people and a monster with supernatural strength to hack them to pieces in the most painful-looking and bloodiest ways possible. Who cares if "Hatchet III" has a thin and formulaic plot? The practical effects are absolutely lush with brutal dismemberments and blood gushing everywhere.

Where the previous "Hatchet" movies went wrong is that they had too much humour and none of it was funny. "Hatchet III" isn't perfect either although the balance is much better this time. It's still meant to be a "fun movie" rather than something to be taken seriously, but at least it is actually fun rather than a chore to sit through.

This is not a SyFy channel movie!

Not to spoil the big surprises for you, but all the usual convention circuit suspects apart from Tony Todd appear again. As Victor Crowley, Kane Hodder proves that he can still do a lot more than sign his autograph, which is nice.

Zach Galligan makes a decent attempt at playing a sheriff, Parry Shen turns up as a paramedic primarily to deliver an anti-racism jibe, and Derek Mears adds the visual in-joke of two former Jasons fighting it out for anyone who cares about remakes. The confrontation between Hodder and Mears could also be taken as "Victor Crowley is better than the new Jason" which, in this case, he really is. In many ways, "Hatchet III" is what the "Friday the 13th" remake should have been.

Even the acting is better this time although I doubt that the target audience of teenagers and "Friday the 13th" nostalgists will notice or care about such subleties. I noticed, particularly in the case of Danielle Harris whose scenes would lag if she wasn't so good in them, and I'm grateful for it.

Now approaching middle-age, Danielle Harris looks really good in this movie too apart from showing her huge, disfiguring tattoos in a hosing-down/shower scene which would be moderately erotic otherwise. At first, I thought she had some terrible wound inflicted on her by Victor Crowley, but then I realised what she'd done and it threw me right out of lust with her. What a shame. I'm sure she'll recover though.

Probably best if you keep your tracksuit on in future, babe.

I'm not going to go into further detail because I know that you'll want to see "Hatchet III" for yourself. I highly recommend that you do so as soon as possible before the usual negativity hits whatever message boards and Facebook pages you're subscribed to. "Hatchet III" is easily this Summer's best horror movie no matter what the "negative Nancies" might have to say about it.

It's taken three attempts, but we finally have a "Hatchet" movie which lives up to the original's tagline of "Old School American Horror". The third time really is the charm.

June 13, 2013

Puppetmaster/Killjoy - 12 movies for $5!

I bought this multipack two weeks ago from Wal-mart for only $5, but I don't think that I posted anything about it except on Facebook and Twitter.

As you can see from the scan, I haven't even opened it yet so I can't tell you anything about the quality of the transfers or how the movies are arranged on the DVDs. I intended to have a marathon "Puppetmaster" day, but I fell asleep in a big furry heap with Willow (my cat not the kids' movie) instead. It's only the later movies that I haven't seen anyway.

Here are the synopses from the Echo Bridge Home Entertainment site where they are still selling this pack for $19.99:

A demonic crew of puppets unleash their murderous talents on psychics investigating their owner, Andre Toulon.

Toulon's army of assassin puppets exhume their beloved creator to gather the brain matter that keeps them alive, but the Puppet Master has a deadly plan of his own.

After Toulon escapes a kidnapping attempt that killed his wife, he exacts revenge with Six Shooter, Blade and Leech Woman, a new army of mini-murderers.

Blade, Tunneler, Pinhead and the newest head-swapping puppet, Decapitron, go toe-to-toe with their most menacing enemy yet—a team of terrifying gremlin-like creatures.

Caught between two foes, the half-pint heroes must preserve the magic formula which gives them life...while Puppet Master Rick's life hangs in the balance.

Toulon's puppets have a new master in backwoods scientist, Dr. Magrew, who has been desperately trying to duplicate the great Puppet Master's work.

Young Toulon is taught the secret of life by an Egyptian sorcerer, but then becomes the target of an evil god.

Toulon's reanimation formula is in jeopardy when a rogue agent threatens its protector.

A young man named Danny saves Toulon's puppets after his death and must now bring them to life to defeat the axis of evil.

When an outcast is bullied to death, a killer clown exacts revenge in his honor. His name is Killjoy and he thinks murder is a laughing matter.

On a wilderness rehabilitation trip, a group of at-risk youth find themselves in the home of a voodoo woman where Killjoy's spirit is summoned.

A group of unsuspecting college students accidentally open the portal to Killjoy's demon realm and get trapped in a strange funhouse world with the killer clown and his friends.

One thing to beware of if you go to Wal-mart is that they also have a pack of just the 9 "Puppetmaster" movies for the same price, and that's the one which is on the racks rather than in the $5 bin. It's still a good deal if you don't want the "Killjoy" movies, and the artwork is better anyway.

I found this pack in the bargain bin at the front of the store and saw that there was also one copy in the regular bargain bin next to the DVD section. I don't think that they are as rare as the Lionsgate multipacks which had everyone on a wild goose chase last year, but don't be surprised if your local Wal-mart doesn't have any left. From the sticker at the top right, it looks like they've had these since March.

If you can't find it or don't have a Wal-mart, you can also get this pack from Amazon for $4.99. The best price is coming up as $1.37 right now, but that's without the shipping.

June 12, 2013

Nazithon: Decadence and Destruction (2013)

If you're anything like me (and I sincerely hope that you aren't), your knowledge of Naziploitation probably begins and ends with "Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS" (1975). Give or take the sequels, there's not much in these movies for horror fans.

To say that Naziploitation has a niche audience of sado-masochists, perverts, and people who just like looking at sexy women dressed in Hugo Boss uniforms may be over-generalising, but there's definitely a stigma attached to this subgenre for all the right reasons. However, just out of curiosity, I decided to try out the new GrindhouseFlix site from Full Moon to see what this stuff was all about.

GrindhouseFlix is a nicely designed site with some truly weird and wonderful movies on it (with more due to be added every month). I found the navigation and sign-up process very easy indeed, but the best bit is that the video streaming software which they use behind the scenes works on Linux. Unlike Netflix (which is unusable on Ubuntu even though there's now an unofficial way of getting it to work using WINE), GrindhouseFlix works on any modern operating system.

I used a promo code to watch "Nazithon" for free so it would be churlish of me to look a gift horse in the mouth, but I have to say that the collection of trailers and clips is hardly an in-depth documentary. Basically, it's a collection of most of the nudie bits from the Naziploitation movies. There's nothing wrong with that at all, but I wish that I'd used my freebie on a full length movie instead.

Being my usual cynical self, I'd guess that "Nazithon" is really meant to be a taster (or teaser) for some of the movies which are eventually going to be available on the site, but I still got something out of it. I made a list of anything which looked interesting including "SS Hell Camp", "Salon Kitty", and "The Damned" so that I can watch them later. I'm sorry to say that clips of "Zombie Lake" didn't impress me, but that's because I've had a gutful of zombies anyway.

The hosts of this excursion into "Decadence and Destruction" aren't natural comperes, and I couldn't tell you who either of them are in the entertainment industry without looking them up. There's nothing she can do about it now, but Michelle McGee has far too much ink for an SS officer and looks a bit silly. The fact that the real SS had no female officers anyway (as far as I know) is neither here nor there. This is a Full Moon production after all.

A brief cameo by a certain female puppet from "Puppet Master: Axis of Evil" (2010) is a treat for fans of the series, but I haven't got that far through them yet and have no idea who she is either.

If you want to watch "Nazithon" for free, just click on the banner below, sign up, and use one of the promo codes from Full Moon's Facebook page. It's only 80 minutes long and you might enjoy some of it.

June 11, 2013

My Top Ten Masters of Horror

Although I tend to think of horror movie directors as little more than the hired helm of a short term business, there are a few whose names crop up so regularly that they must be doing something right. Of course, there are many "hacks" whose names crop up just as regularly, but I'm not even going to go there.

For the purpose of this list, I'm going to give credit where it's due for being the least annoying bosses in the history of bosses, and arrange these "Masters of Horror" by the quantity and quality of their products which have entertained me over the years. Very few could ever be classed as auteurs, but make of them what you will.

By necessity, and the fact that the word "Masters" is a masculine noun, I'm going to confine my top ten to men. If you have a problem with that, get back in the kitchen!

1. John Carpenter

Halloween (1978)
The Fog (1980)
The Thing (1982)
Christine (1983)
In the Mouth of Madness (1994)

2. Wes Craven

The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
The People Under the Stairs (1991)

3. Terence Fisher

The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
Horror of Dracula (1958)
Frankenstein Created Woman (1967)

4. George A. Romero

Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Monkey Shines (1988)

5. Jacques Tourneur

Cat People (1942)
The Leopard Man (1943)
Curse of the Demon (1957)

6. Tobe Hooper

Poltergeist (1982)
Lifeforce (1985)

7. Roger Corman

Tales of Terror (1962)
The Haunted Palace (1963)
The Tomb of Ligeia (1964)

8. Lucky McKee

May (2002)
The Woman (2011)

9. Rob Zombie

Halloween II (2009)

10. Clive Barker

Hellraiser (1987)

Agree? Disagree? I don't really care because these are my choices not yours.

Feel free to create your own "Top Ten Masters of Horror" on your own blog though.

June 10, 2013

Maniac (2012)

"The owner of a mannequin shop develops a dangerous obsession with a young artist."

I don't know why so many people revere William Lustig's "Maniac" (1980). For me, it's a below average slasher with one memorable Tom Savini effect and little else. Thus, I watched this remake with absolutely no feelings of nostalgia or any idea what it would be about. The truth is, I barely remember the original and have no desire to watch it ever again anyway. The time when a movie like that could be considered shocking is long since past for everybody.

Giving a remake a fair chance is, obviously, a lot easier in a case like this. There's no way that the original could ever be considered a classic of the horror genre, and there's no army of loyal fans who are going to be polarised. "Maniac" (1980) is still a rather obscure, cult movie especially if you aren't an American of a certain age, and so it wouldn't matter if this version was a scene by scene remake as far as I'm concerned. It isn't, but I'm sure you get my point.

Unfortunately, once you remove all the gimmicky killer's POV shots, and get over the fact that Frodo is now a serial murderer who collects scalps, there's very little to commend Franck Khalfoun's version of "Maniac" for. It's a little bit gory, but the kills are too samey and repetitive, there's no tension, and it's not scary. Despite featuring the Q. Lazzarus song "Good-bye Horses" which everyone knows from "The Silence of the Lambs", that's as far as the homage to any better horror movie goes. Everything else is just an updated rip-off of "Psycho" (1960) and its lesser sequels.

Wish you hadn't thrown the ring away now, dontcha?

It's not that Elijah Wood makes a bad serial killer. He did well enough in "Sin City" (2005) albeit as a comicbook villain, but a couple of gormless-looking reflections in the mirror don't provide much room for any depth of characterisation here. Given what he had to work with in this "Psycho"-clone, he's okay but a long way from the subtleties of Norman Bates.

America Olivo as Frank's mother provides some very nice eyecandy yet she's only in the movie long enough to provide us with the unrealistic motivation for Frank's psychosis. If every kid whose mother was some kind of prostitute whom he accidentally saw having sex, there'd be a lot more maniacs running around for sure. Mind you, they'd certainly have to look like America Olivo too for that to happen.

Instead, it's all down to French actress Nora Arnezeder, who plays Anna, to carry the majority of the story insomuch as there's anyone to care about. Even then, her character is flaky and easily dislikeable. Her performance is not outstanding either but simply the best of a bad lot.

Say "Fromage!"


The only things that I can really give "Maniac" credit for are the moments which seem intentionally designed to bring out the viewers' prejudices should they have any. The first may only be my own so I'm prepared for the backlash, but I saw Frank's online dating victim as being a huge disappointment to him in the flesh due to her tattoos and piercings. The fact that she's "easy" (plus sexually aggressive) and stupid with it is all part of the stereotype. With typical "horror movie morality", she kind of gets what she deserves.

The interracial couple comprised of blonde Anna and her black boyfriend will definitely annoy racists even though it's also only a trope. The fact that the boyfriend is a total asshole is the real issue rather than the colour of his skin especially as he escapes punishment. Contrarily, the old, drunken socialite and the obligatory gay character are merely cannon fodder despite being slightly more memorable in their roles than anyone else.

As ever, the KNB practical effects are the biggest stars. While mostly effective, they seem to be of the cheaper variety so gorehounds will be divided. I'm really desensitized and didn't think "Maniac" was gory enough, but a more squeamish (and younger) audience might still get a kick out of it.

I'm kind of on the fence about recommending "Maniac" since I don't see it as a horror movie. Psycho serial killers really belong to crime dramas, and "Maniac" is more likely to appeal to the "CSI" crowd rather than the "vampires, zombies, and ghosties" aficionados. Even though the weird ending includes all those supernatural elements for a few seconds, real horror fans (other than die-hard slasher fans) should probably avoid this movie.

June 9, 2013

Dr Blood's Big Day Out 2013

My "Big Day Out" for this year actually took place over Friday and Saturday, but what with one thing and another, I was too exhausted to write about it until today. I walked miles with the sweat pouring off me, got almost boiled alive by the humidity, and really had enough of going through rows and rows of dusty DVDs. There comes a point when you realise that you already have far too many DVDs and it's time to stop, especially when the pawn shops now have less horror DVDs than you do at home.

As you know, I used to love going round the pawn shops to see what I could find and usually tried to hit them whenever I had an abundance of "internet money" (from Amazon affiliate sales or whatever). Basically, it was like getting free DVDs so that I could do more blogging.

For those of you seeking online entertainment through my rants, you already know that I hate most of the DVDs I get. Somebody else hated them enough to flip them in the first place too. Unfortunately, with affiliate sales and blog traffic at an all time low right across the board, I haven't had one of these "Pawn Shop Adventures" for quite some time. I'm far from rich (at the moment) so most of my money goes on necessities such as Monster energy drinks, Funyuns, and cat food. Admittedly, I probably need to do something about my Monster addiction, but it stops my migraines. It's also a pity that cats can't eat Funyuns. At least we can share the tins of Friskies.

Anyway, here's what I got this time:

I know, I know... I said that I wasn't going to buy more "Midnight Horror" DVDs, but at $2.50 each (as part of a 4 for $10 deal) for another 16 movies, why not?

In the first pack, I have "Night of the Living Dead" (for the 15th time!), "Keepsake", "My Sweet Killer", "Interview with a Serial Killer", "Final Remains", "Dark Woods", and "Colour from the Dark". Other than "Night of the Living Dead", I have no idea what these will be like.

In the "Hatchets & Cleavers" pack, I have "Dirt Boy", "The Ridge", "Green River", "Animal Room", "Followed Home", "Loaded", "Hollywood Scarefest", and "The Killing Mind". The fact that I can't even find some of these titles on the IMDb doesn't bode well.

I've been intrigued by the Cutting Edge Cinema/Extreme collections from R Squared Films since they came out last year, but I have a feeling that they'll just be handycam crap. I wouldn't buy the one with zombies on it anyway. In this case, I now have "Extreme Monsters" which is made up of "Closet Space", "Dreams of the Dead", "Evil Offspring", "Little Red Devil", "Spirits of the Fall", "The Whistler", "Where the Dogs Divide Her" (I like the sound of this one!), and "They Must Eat". The DVD case was damaged (the clear plastic was completely gone), but the artwork is still perfect so I'll just put everything in a new double DVD case if the movies are any good... which I doubt.

I bought another Echo Bridge Home Entertainment 8 pack just to break up the monotony of horror even though three (maybe four) of the movies may be horror in this "Action Thrillers" set. Some of these I already have or have already seen: "The Faculty" (already have with "Phantoms"), "The Hole" (already seen), "Animal Room" (is on the other 8 pack above), "The Lookout", "Living in Peril", "The Road Killers" (really good Christopher Lambert movie), "Two Hands", and "The I Inside" (which sounds familiar to me for some reason).

From the more expensive "DVD and Games Exchange Store" next door, I found the newer "Special Collector's Edition" of "Pet Sematary" because I lost my older copy anyway. I wrote about how I lost it ages ago, and I still haven't found it. They also had the older version for the same $5 price, but I chose this one. The older version has the same artwork as the VHS but doesn't have Mary Lambert's commentary on it.

And finally, last and very least, I have a new double-pack of coasters to replace the "Halloween" coaster that I had to throw away after using it to scrape dried cat shit off the floor. Call me wasteful, but that's how I roll. I get used to things being a certain way, and using Rob Zombie's "Halloween" as a coaster for my cold Monster energy drinks is just one of the things that makes me special.

I finished my adventure off with a half-day at the local "Riverfest" where I ate a burger and three "Hello Kitty" ice lollies. I know you don't care about that (nor do I really), but here's the scan of two of the "Popsicle" wrappers because I'm a hoarder and they were still in my pocket when I got home.

Now it's time to start watching all these movies.

June 8, 2013

V/H/S/2 (2013)

"Searching for a missing student, two private investigators break into his house and find collection of VHS tapes. Viewing the horrific contents of each cassette, they realize there may be dark motives behind the student's disappearance."

I wasn't going to watch this after how much I hated the first "V/H/S", but faced with the choice between "V/H/S/2" or "The Purge" (aka "The Strangers 2022"), I decided against the PG-13 claptrap.

Yes, I know that choosing between "V/H/S/2" or "The Purge" is like choosing whether to eat warm vomit or cold vomit, and normally I'd pass on both, but there's nothing else new to watch. One thing is for certain though, it doesn't matter how many good reviews "The Purge" gets about its alleged "social commentary", I'm done with Bumhole Productions. I won't be watching "InSHITious 2" either.

As far as sequels go, "V/H/S/2" is technically better than the original. Even though it's only more faux "found footage" with shakycams aplenty, extra cameras where there shouldn't be cameras, and no explanation or logic behind why any of these movies would be on obsolete VHS tapes in the first place, the excessive gore makes up for it.

Unfortunately, the stories are just as weak as before with lots of bad acting and "WTF" moments which give away its amateurish composition. 13-year-olds or any of the ADHD, games console generation will undoubtedly love it. Giving credit where it's due, the pacing is a hell of a lot better this time though.

I was pleasantly surprised that "V/H/S/2" didn't make me want to toss my cookies within the first five minutes. There's never a good reason why anyone should need to take Dramamine before watching a movie in the comfort of his own home. It's always nice to be able to finish a movie that you've paid to see online (or anywhere else for that matter).

Numerically, I rate "V/H/S/2 as a 3 out of 10, but as it's a new movie which most of you haven't seen yet, I'm not going to go into depth about the reasons why.

Instead, I'll post my Twitter feed (edited into the correct chronological order) so you can read my reactions as they happened. Some people got a kick out of when I did this for the "Evil Dead" remake although I actually put more effort into those.

Do not read any further if you want to watch "V/H/S/2" on your own.

No idea what her name is, but she's very pretty.

I didn't put any timings before each Tweet this time because I couldn't be bothered. You can easily match them up to each segment though.

I'm watching V/H/S/2 (57 others are watching) http://bit.ly/ZBrKvD #GetGlue #VHS2

Nice boobs. It'll be all downhill from here. #vhs2

Eeek! A penis! #vhs2

If another penis shows up, I won't be watching any more of it. :( #vhs2

No acting ability or camerawork ability whatsoever. #vhs2

Apple product placement. ::yawn:: #vhs2

Why is it that the 5 people in the world who use Macbooks all have to be in horror movies? #vhs2

A bionic eye? Really? OMG This sucks. #vhs2

If they can't hold a camera steady, what's the point? This isn't film, it's YouTube. :( #vhs2

This is the worst POV I've ever seen. Where's the camera? On top of his head? Supposed to be in his eye. :( #vhs2

So if you get a bionic eye, you can see ghosts with it? Somebody should have told Steve Austin that. :( #vhs2

This bionic eye guy has a really big house. Probably a rent boy. #vhs2

He lives in a great big house like that but he wears a plastic Casio watch? You have to be kidding me. #vhs2

Oh, God! The girl was born deaf? So she's Jaime Sommers now? Drinks beer too? Low-class skank. #vhs2

Tits ahoy! #vhs2

Scientists capable of creating a bionic eye transfer the data from it to low-tech VHS tape? Yeah, right. #vhs2

I just knew it would have an "If thyne eye offends thee, pluck it out" ending. Gah! Seen it all before in "Body Bags". #vhs2

So who's the meth lab chav in the Macbook video? Probably has an ASBO. #vhs2

iPhone placement. ::yawn:: #vhs2

I think we can see where the camera was mounted on the first dude now that we have the mountain bike nerd. #vhs2

Wait. He has a camera on his handlebars looking at him too? What a whore! Must be a YouTuber. #vhs2

"I've got a big fucking stick!" Really? Am I bothered? Face. Bothered. Face. Bothered. I'm not even bothered. Zombies? Gah. :( #vhs2

Give a film school student a camera and what do they do? Make a zombie film. Shove it up your arse! #vhs2

"He's like covered in blood." LIKE covered in blood? How LIKE covered in blood is that? Ketchup maybe? That's LIKE blood. #vhs2

Self-aware zombie? Fail. #vhs2

Bored with the third story already. No idea what language the guy is speaking. Korean maybe? #vhs2

Translator chick is hot. #vhs2

Blair Witch stick figures? Really? #vhs2

Who put the subtitles in when they transferred it to VHS tape? #vhs2

Who is filming what? Seems to be a lot of extra cameras in the third story. #vhs2

Did they leave a camera filming from the boot of their car? Why? #vhs2

I've eaten a whole bag of Bugles (Nacho Cheese flavour) watching this. #vhs2

Ok, I admit that Stanley knife to the throat was good. #vhs2

Nice bit of splatter in the third story. #vhs2

But now it's turned into Quake. :( #vhs2

Baphomet wants his daddy! "Papa!" LOL #vhs2

Lots of snot. LOL #vhs2

They are making a movie with a dog-cam? 'Murica. :( #vhs2

Bah. Aliens? Aliens don't exist. What utter horseshit. #vhs2

I think they killed the cute little dog. Fuck the makers of this film. #vhs2

The chav shot himself. Flinched. Missed. Blew his face off. Most common accident for potential suicides. Now he's Zoidberg. #vhs2

The wraparound story made no sense. Ah well, another one for the video game generation. :( Crap. #vhs2

It was easier to watch than V/H/S, but... meh. Some nice gore effects, but why all the extra cameras, and who put the films onto VHS? #vhs2

My rating for V/H/S/2 = 3 out of 10. Not scary. Not shocking enough. Seen it all before but filmed with steadier cameras. #vhs2

I'm not sure what the names of each segment in this anthology are, and I don't really care that much to look them up either. The third segment with the cult is easily the best, but the second with the zombies is kind of okay too. In both cases, there are too many extra cameras floating about which makes a mockery of the "found footage" gimmick. The wraparound story is just a waste of time.

My biggest criticism of "V/H/S/2" is that there are too many zombies in it. Two segments and the wraparound story are full of zombies, and like most people, I've already seen enough zombie movies to last me a lifetime.

June 6, 2013

The Midnight Horror Collection: Bloody Slashers

Moving on to yet another Echo Bridge Home Entertainment four movie pack, I find that I'm now in a world of "Bloody Slashers", i.e. the least interesting and most formulaic horror subgenre.

Originally released in October 2010, I actually bought my copy from the pawn shop almost a year ago to this day. It's scary how time flies, and it's even scarier that I've only just got round to watching all these movies.

Room 33 (2009)

"Hidden in the woods is an abandoned institution where many suffered horrible deaths. It is also where a group of road trippers are forced to settle for the night, and where someone is waiting for them—Roxy, a deranged, abused girl with a deadly secret. As the institution takes on a life of its own and mutilated bodies are discovered, the group races to learn Roxy's story and uncover a savage killer in their midst."

The girls are nice looking, the Roller Derby team makes an unusual set of victims, but everything becomes very generic once the cell phone tropes and discovery contrivances start appearing.

I really wanted to like "Room 33". Everything was in place for it to be very entertaining: good production values, decent camerawork, great acting, and a superb location to do it all in. Unfortunately, the story itself is a load of crap, and this below average, supernatural slasher certainly drags its feet telling it.

Hoboken Hollow (2006)

"Kidnapping. Slavery. Torture. Murder... For decades the Broderick family built their brutal dominion with the sweat and blood of their captives. Lured with promises of work and shelter, drifters, hobos and migrants found themselves captive at a modern-day slave ranch instead. Inspired by true, horrific crime stories from Texas and beyond, Hoboken Hollow spins a dark tale of violence, terror and slaughter on the farm."

Here's another one that I've already reviewed. 'Hoboken Hollow" is just a poor man's version of every "Ed Gein" inspired story out there, but full of usually good actors who should've known better.

Curtains (1983)

"The stage is finally set for 'Audra,' Jonathan Stryker's latest movie, to begin filming. As six candidates arrive at Stryker's mansion to audition, a deranged murderer stalks to kill them, one by one. Just who is behind the mask, and just how far will they go to make sure the role is theirs?"

Many people suffering from nostalgia on message boards rave about this film. A couple of the kills are gory, but "Curtains" is more of a throwback to '70s giallo than a typical '80s slasher flick.

"Curtains" takes a long time to get warmed up, and I found myself getting bored intermittently even though I watched it all the way through without needing to fast-forward it. The mystery of the killer's identity has a nice twist to it which I didn't see coming.

The transfer isn't that great so a lot of scenes are too dark to see what's going on properly.

Secrets of the Clown (2007)

"After the brutal murder of his best friend Jim, Bobbie is haunted by visions of his mutilated body, sinister clowns and graphic nightmares of a murder in progress. As Bobbie begins to question his own sanity and the strange clues behind his friend's death, he summons a psychic to contact Jim. And when secrets are revealed, Bobbie learns the hard way that some are never meant to be discovered..."

Despite opening well with the gory deaths of a Muscle Mary and his silicon-enhanced girlfriend, "Secrets of the Clown" lost me when it started to look like a camcorder movie.

The heroine wasn't attractive enough to draw me in, and I'm not scared of clowns anyway, so "Secrets of the Clown" was nothing but a waste of 1 hour and 40 minutes for me. The acting is the most horrible part of this movie.

Having endured rather than enjoyed "Secrets of the Clown", I know that I'll never watch it again either.

If you like slasher movies, this isn't a bad multipack, but I really don't like slashers very much and didn't get much out of it. I'm glad that I got "Bloody Slashers" cheap because I would have felt ripped-off if I'd paid $5 for it.

As ever, the Amazon link is to the left (which I have to tell you because I know everyone is using AdBlock and can't see it anyway). The best price for "Bloody Slashers" is less than a dollar which doesn't doesn't surprise me in the least. My copy will either be tossed into an upcoming yard sale or traded-in at the pawn shop. I've got a feeling that a lot of these packs end up being used as replacement cases for better movies or given to thrift shops though.

Having now watched two of the four movie "Midnight Horror Collection" packs, it's highly likely that I won't like the third one which I own a copy of either. I'll probably go through it next week then take a break before reviewing my final, still unopened "8 Movie Pack".

June 5, 2013

The Horror Collector's Set Series (2009 - 2010)

Beginning in June 2009, although the artwork looked a bit dated and the second volume was a reissue from the "Horror Classics" series, Echo Bridge Home Entertainment provided some much needed budget horror packs with a $5 price which appealed to casual shoppers and horror movie collectors alike.

But, in September 2009, they started getting tricky with it. Note the way that "Salvage" has been replaced by "Wages of Sin" and its position on the coverart moved around to make another pack.

March 2010 was a busy month for Echo Bridge Home Entertainment as they released four new horror collector's sets. Note that "Skeleton Man" has been repeated from the first volume and has been joined by "Wages of Sin" from the previous one. The "Surf 'n' Turf" sea monsters and werewolves set is comprised of two existing double-features.

"Night of the Living Dead" from the second volume shows up again while "Nadja" makes an appearance in the spin-off "Vampire Collector's Set" (which Amazon backdates to September 2009).

Curiously, in a pack which Amazon dates to February 2010 but calls "Vol. 6" (it can't be both!), the remaining titles from volume one, "Prom Night" and "The Nurse", are now joined by "Descendant" and "The Dead One" in a restyled pack. "Mortuary" and "Memory" from the third volume are then added to create the first 6 pack.

The range of "Horror Collector's Sets" ended in June 2010 with a final burst of trickiness. Why Echo Bridge Home Entertainment thought that anyone would choose to buy "Skeleton Man" again instead of "Lost Souls" is mind-boggling.

Of course, we haven't heard the last of these titles anyway as Echo Bridge Home Entertainment reissued them again in the "Midnight Horror Collection".

These older multipacks are still available from most retailers including Amazon. If you would like to support this blog, you can buy them from "The Bloody Horror Store" (which is also Amazon) instead.

June 4, 2013

4 Films Horror Collector's Set: 5

I don't have a copy of this "Horror Collector's Set", but I do have all the movies from it in other Echo Bridge Home Entertainment packs due to repetition.

After changing the artwork to a '50s diner/motorcycle theme in February 2010 for what the online retailers call "Vol. 6" (featuring "Prom Night", "Descendant", "The Nurse" and "The Dead One"), Echo Bridge Home Entertainment reverted back to their older design in June 2010 for presumably what should really be called "Vol. 7". I'd lost all interest in buying multipacks at this point, so I'm still missing a few titles which I know have been reused again in "The Midnight Horror Collection" 8 packs and 20 pack.

More shenanigans!
Just to complicate things further for the collector, a second version of this set was released with "Skeleton Man" instead of "Lost Souls". Whether it's a regional variation, a mistake made during the manufacture of the DVDs, or Echo Bridge Home Entertainment intentionally trying to get people to buy another set just for one different movie, I have no idea. I'd hazard a guess that it's a combination of all three with a tendency towards the latter based on my experience with the first of these packs.

I'd warn you against buying the "Vol. 8" variant because "Skeleton Man" is an absolute piece of crap, but owing to the nature of these packs anyway, that's kind of a moot point. Some people with more money than sense love collecting crappy movies, so it's as valid as any "Horror Collector's Set" especially if you haven't already bought others in the series.

I must admit that if I had a load of money to waste on these things, I'd buy all the Echo Bridge Home Entertainment horror packs just to go through them, line them up on my shelves, and marvel at how one movie was taken from somewhere else and another was randomly added to make so many sets. With pawn shop prices continuing to drop and DVDs becoming cheaper than candy bars, I might do that one day for the fun of it.

For now though. I'll quickly go through this final "4 Films Horror Collector's Set".

The Fear Chamber (2009)

"A detective is on the verge of capturing a serial killer, but nightmarish visions thwart his efforts."

I've already written about "The Fear Chamber". It has some gore, but it's not a very good movie.

Passed the Door of Darkness (2008)

"Two detectives try to track a serial killer but end up becoming the murderer's next target."

Another "Night Light Films" production which tries to be a low-budget clone of "Se7en" to start with, turns into a soap opera, and then throws in a twist which you've seen dozens of times before. "Human Behavior" (2005) in Mill Creek Entertainment's "Tomb of Terrors" multipack does this better.

Being full of clichéd lines, horrible characterisation, and overlong at 100 minutes, "Passed the Door of Darkness" is even worse than "The Fear Chamber".

There's some okay gore, and a couple of supernatural red herrings are thrown in, but it's not really a horror movie. Despite that minor detail, it's also in the "10 Movie Horror Pack" and "20 Film Horror Set Vol. 1".

Marked (2007)

"A group of Ghost Hunters discover a powerful force that puts one of their members in great danger."

This isn't very good. It looks cheap, the pacing is all over the place, and the plot is confused. It ranges from nothing going on to too much being forced in too quickly, and it doesn't make a whole lot of sense anyway.

The acting isn't too bad, the girls in the movie are pretty, but nobody really stands out either. With no atmosphere, no genuinely creepy scenes, and nothing scary for anyone, "Marked" misses the mark completely.

At least it's a supernatural horror movie after the two "crime" films on the other side of the DVD, but it's still a low-budget nasty that's more of an endurance test than entertainment.

Lost Souls (1998)

"A move into a new house takes a chilling turn when a family realizes the spirits of two murdered children are communicating through eight-year-old Megan."

Not to be confused with the Winona Ryder film from 2000, this is a decent made-for-TV movie which originally aired on the UPN network for the "Thursday Night at the Movies" series in 1998. It's full title is "Nightworld: Lost Souls".

Although the use of a Thomas Edison "frequency harmonizer" machine in the movie had me thinking about "The Brink" (2006), the story is completely different. Apparently, it's very similar to Orson Scott Card's "Lost Boys" novel. Having never read it, I'd say that this is more of a precursor to "The Orphanage" (2007). I can also see a few similarities to Stephen King's "The Green Mile" and Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird".

Essentially, "Lost Souls" is a formulaic ghost story/murder mystery with several red herrings and a "Scooby Doo" villain, but it's very well done. John Savage does a good job while his onscreen wife is played by MILFy German actress Barbara Sukowa. Even the kids aren't annoying in this one.

For some bizarre reason known only to Echo Bridge Home Entertainment, there is no single-feature DVD of "Lost Souls". You can only get it as part of this 4 pack, as a double-feature with "Marked" (which does have its own DVD!), or as the bonus movie with the boring Miramax Anna Paquin movie "Darkness" (2002).

Sadly, this is a very weak ending to the "4 Films Horror Collector's Set" range with only one good TV movie and three really bad, low-budget "indie" ones.

Basically, this is a collection of Night Light Films with "Lost Souls" added to it instead of their "Battle Planet" (2008). "Battle Planet" has a single DVD release, comes as a double-feature with "Riddler's Moon" (1998), and is part of a "4 Films Sci-Fi Collector's Set", just in case anyone is a big fan of Night Light Films and wants all four of their movies.

I can't, in good conscience, recommend this collection to anyone because of the two extremely boring serial killer thrillers. Instead, the "Lost Souls/Marked" double-feature offers much better value at $2.99 in K-mart's bargain bin or wherever else you may find it.

June 3, 2013

4 Films Horror Collector's Set: 4

This is the last of the "4 Films Horror Collector's Sets" which I own a copy of. Only one more set followed although Echo Bridge Home Entertainment changed one movie on it (just as they've done before) to make two versions. I'll post something about it next time even though I didn't buy it.

I was haunted by this movie collection in nearly every store that I went in from T.J. Maxx through to K-mart until I finally gave-in just to get "The Howling IV". It isn't that "The Howling IV" is a great movie or anything, but it was one of the titles that I'd left in Big Lots back when they had lots of horror movies for $3 each, and I stupidly still wanted it.

Suffice it to say that I really didn't have a lot of interest in anything else here or in any more Echo Bridge Home Entertainment multipacks which followed. I've bought several of their Miramax and Full Moon collections since but only two more of "The Midnight Horror Collection" packs (one of which I still haven't even opened).

Thus, because I don't particularly like these movies, I'm now going to rush through these capsule reviews just to get them out of the way.

Raging Sharks (2003)

"When the crew of an underwater lab discovers an unearthly sunken object that's mysteriously attracting hundreds of sharks, they become a security risk... and a target."

I've been told that this is a really bad movie, but I'll never know because I switched it off soon after the Nu Image and Tosca Films logos were replaced by a giant spaceship crashing into another one above a red planet. Ugh! Then I did my usual trick of fast-forwarding to see if there was any nudity or anything else interesting. Apart from lots of stock footage of sharks, I didn't see anything worth stopping for.

"Raging Sharks" is a Sci-Fi channel movie from the days when they still at least attempted to put vaguely science-fiction movies on instead of wrestling or "Ghost Hunters". Unfortunately, it was years before this point that all their movies sucked anyway.

It's got Corbin Bernsen in it and nobody else that I've ever heard of. They all look very worried, wave their hands about, and fire guns at something, then the credits roll featuring lots of Bulgarian names.

My life isn't long enough to watch crap like this.

Kraken: Tentacles of the Deep (2006)

"Thirty years ago, Ray Reiter witnessed the brutal death of his parents at sea by a strange, octopus-like creature. Now determined to avenge the murders, he joins a perilous high-seas expedition that brings him face to face with the killer Kraken—guardian of the coveted Greek Opal—and a ruthless crime lord who wants the treasure for himself."

Another horrible Sci-Fi channel movie made by Nu Image which shouldn't be in a horror pack. This is an adventure movie for little kids who like CGI monsters.

Too much talk, not enough action, but the pretty (mostly Canadian) actors and actresses do a fairly decent job in spite of the script.

Again, I watched this mostly on fast-forward, but I saw cleavage a few times and had to find out who owned it.

Howling IV: The Original Nightmare (1988)

"At the direction of her doctor, Marie and her husband plan a restful getaway to the picturesque town of Drago. Marie knows that something sinister is going down in the town, but what she doesn't know is that it has razor sharp claws, an insatiable lust for blood, and it kills by the cold light of a full moon..."

A lot of people hate this movie for being little more than a low-budget remake of "The Howling" (1981), but it's actually closer to Gary Brandner's novel than the original. It doesn't have Dee Wallace in it either which is another point in its favour as far as my viewing pleasure is concerned.

"Howling IV" is slow to the point of frustration, the audio sounds redubbed like a foreign movie, the werewolf transformation scenes near the end obviously aren't as good as Rick Baker's, and, basically, it's all because the financial backers pulled out a couple of days into shooting. You therefore have to commend everyone involved for still making a watchable movie even though it isn't a particularly good one. Or not, as the case may be.

I appreciate this film because it's serious in tone rather than continuing the silliness of "The Howling III: The Marsupials" (1987) which I loathe with a passion. It's easily the best of the "Howling" sequels, but I don't overrate it and would never recommend it as a full price purchase.

Night Shadow (1989)

"Alex, an up-and-coming TV journalist, returns to her hometown of Danford as local poilice attempt to cope with a series of brutal murders. The small town plunges into a state of panic and the murders—clearly the work of a monster, more beast than man—continue... until Alex comes face to face withe evil itself."

I reviewed "Night Shadow" back when it was shown on Zone Horror in the UK. I barely made it through once so I'm certainly not going to torture myself with it again.

I really didn't like it, but the director (or someone claiming to be the director) said that I made some fair points. Unfortunately, I deleted that comment along with everyone else's when I added the Disqus widget. Never mind.

Amazon no longer sells this pack although Wal-mart and many other online retailers still do. I think they refer to it as "Horror Collector's Set Vol. 6" even though it's really number 8 or 9 in the series.

I don't understand why anybody would want these 4 movies in the first place, but the easiest (and cheapest) way to get them is by buying "The Midnight Horror Collection: 8 Pack Vol. 4" (left) instead.

I haven't bought this volume so I can't tell you a thing about the 4 vampire movies which it also contains. The first "Subspecies" might be good through the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia, but I watched all the "Subspecies" movies so long ago that I can barely remember anything about them now.

Tomorrow (or the day after), I'll post a quick recap of the Echo Bridge Home Entertainment packs so far followed by a comparison of the new packs to the old ones to make things easier for collectors.