July 31, 2013

The Conjuring (2013)

"Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren work to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse. Forced to confront a powerful entity, the Warrens find themselves caught in the most terrifying case of their lives."

I've finally done it! I may be two weeks behind everyone else in the world, but I've now seen "The Conjuring"! I even managed to avoid all the spoilers on Twitter and Facebook beforehand, which wasn't easy considering how overhyped this movie has been.

Supposedly based on a previously unpublished case file from paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, who I've never actually heard of before, "The Conjuring" starts off like an episode of "Friday the 13th: The Series", turns into a clone of "The Amityville Horror" for an hour, and ends up as a twenty minute version of "The Exorcist". As you can imagine, I was not impressed.

In fact, I was so disappointed with "The Conjuring" that I was tempted to only write the following for my review:


If someone perusing the aisles next to me in a DVD store were to ask me what I thought of "The Conjuring", those two words would be the most honest initial reaction I could come up with other than adding whichever choice expletive I might deem appropriate to the situation. I'm not saying that this has happened, although it certainly has done with other James Wan movies in the past, and the response of the person asking has also been equally negative. I'm sure that similar conversations have transpired between other people in various locations.

Maybe I live in my own sheltered little bubble where everyone shares the same good taste, but I've never known of a director other than James Wan whose movies are so consistently underwhelming apart from Christopher Nolan. Even Zack Snyder has double the amount of good movies on his résumé. I'm not going to acknowledge Dario Argento, Uwe Boll, Lloyd Kaufman, or Ulli Lommel because, let's face it, all their movies are guaranteed to be crap from the get-go.

A metaphor just waiting to happen.

The reasons why "The Conjuring" is such boring crap are very easy to list. For a start, the story is unoriginal and clichéd, and it's a messy fusion of far better films that came out over 30 to 40 years ago. We've seen it all before ad nauseum. "The Conjuring" brings nothing new to the table and doesn't even present what it has got in an entertaining manner for adults.

Thus, the second huge problem with "The Conjuring" is that it might as well be a PG-13. How and why it got an R-rating is beyond my comprehension. There's no nudity, no swearing, no sex scenes, no gore, and it's not scary in any way. So how the Hell did it get rated as an R? "R for Rubbish" is my assessment although I'm betting on failed bait and switch shenanigans behind the scenes with the MPAA just to get asses on seats in the movie theatres.

The big giveaway that the target audience was initially meant to be braindead teenagers is the amount of grammatical errors in the script. Both Lorraine and Ed get away with saying "hung" instead of "hanged" without anyone correcting them, and if that's not bad enough, there's Ed's immortal triple-negative, "We ain't never seen nothing like this!" which you can see in the trailer along with all the other "good bits". The terrible dialogue is almost as bad as the "I'm gonna do what I'm gonna do" line in the shitty "Evil Dead" remake. No wonder the mumble-mouthed younger generation are the way they are!

Thirdly, there's no characterisation whatsoever. I couldn't tell you the names of any of the characters even though they were given, what they might be interested in other than ghost hunting or being the victims of a demonic haunting, or any details that would make them more than two-dimensional. The best I can come up with is that "The Conjuring" stars Patrick Wilson with sideburns, Vera Farmiga looking far more beautiful than I've ever seen her look before, the Peter guy from "Office Space", the plain-looking girl who played Nell in "The Haunting" remake whose name I always forget, and a bunch of other people who I've never heard of poncing about in a badly maintained American house. If you think I'm joking, try telling me the names of the family members without looking them up on the IMDb. While you are at it, what are the names of the cop or the Warren's assistant? No idea? Case proven.

Without characterisation, what's the point of a horror movie? If you can't identify with the protagonists, empathising with their situation and feeling the catharsis when it's resolved is completely lost, isn't it? Or is this something that kids today just don't care about? As much as anyone born after 1989 is likely to be a complete moron in my estimation anyway, there are exceptions who must have left the cinema as disappointed as us older guys. Even the ones who only went to see some scary effects must have felt cheated of their $10.

Vera Farmiga is so hot in her granny clothes!

I wish I could find something good to say about "The Conjuring", but it's a typical James Wan movie. There are a couple of overloud jump scares which don't work, the usual creepy dolls which aren't creepy at all, some guy in a latex witch mask which is supposed to be scary, horrible shaky camerawork (but with lots of zooming this time just to be very '70s!), irritating child actors, poor CGI effects, plotholes everywhere, no atmosphere, no tension, total chaos at the end with a lame resolution, and nothing original whatsoever. The tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement of Blumhouse Productions' formulaic style of composition when the family mentions birds hitting their house (as in "Dark Skies") is realised when the birds repeat their kamikaze attack near the end, but you can't make in-jokes like that when you do the same damned thing yourself!!!

I suppose the period setting in 1970s America is well done, but that's not exactly a difficult thing to achieve. Apart from the cars, America looks much the same as it has done since the 1920s when it comes to the crappy wooden sheds which people jokingly refer to as houses. Every house in my town looks like the one in "The Conjuring" only in an even worse state of disrepair! Forget nostalgia, these firetraps need to be knocked down and replaced with some proper bricks and mortar! I'm sure that I've mentioned that several time before on this blog though.

I'm not happy about James Wan using a cover version of "Sleepwalk" with lyrics either. The original Santo & Johnny instrumental from 1959 which is such a signature feature of Stephen King's "Sleepwalkers" (1992) just doesn't belong anywhere else! The guitars in "Sleepwalk" even sound like cats meowing for God's sake! But, in spite of having a witch in the story, there are no cats in "The Conjuring"! There's a collie dog called Sadie who meets her maker off camera, but no cats! Oh, that makes me so angry!

The word on the street is that James Wan is giving up horror movies now to make the next homoerotic installment in "The Fast and the Furious" franchise. I wish him the best of luck, but after "The Conjuring", I can't say that he will be missed.

July 30, 2013

Painless (2012)

(AKA Insensibles)

"Set in Catalonia, Painless weaves two stories: in one, starting during the Spanish Civil War and running through to the '60s, an asylum attempts to rehabilitate children who feel no pain, by teaching them physical suffering. In the second, in the present time, a brilliant neurosurgeon who needs a bone marrow transplant, discovers this dark past when he searches for his biological parents."

Since American horror is as dead as a zombie that's just been shot in the head, incinerated, and ground-up into ink to be used to print more articles from Lianne Spiderbaby in Fangoria, I've decided to return my attention to the European offerings as I continue my quest to find something horrific again. Sadly, for all of its beautiful camerawork and moments of brilliance, "Painless" was not what I was looking for.

Ostensibly a drama about congenital analgesia, "Painless" has much the same look and atmosphere as "American Horror Story: Asylum" but without the silly bits. It's pretty dour stuff all the way through since that's exactly what anyone should expect from a story set mostly during the various civil wars in Spain. If you've ever seen "The Devil's Backbone" (2001) or "Pan's Labyrinth" (2006), they have a similar socio-political commentary in the background. You can tell that director Juan Carlos Medina (actually an American by birth) fancies himself as the new Guillermo del Toro, but employing Luis Berdejo Arribas, the weaker writer from the "[REC]" series, hasn't helped his cause.

While the acting is to the same high standard as any of the big name Spanish movies from the last 10 years, the script leaves the characters begging to be more than two-dimensional. The highlight is seeing a now totally unrecognisable Derek de Lint from "Poltergeist: The Legacy" playing a German doctor who speaks Spanish. Minor as it is, he's the only one allowed to have any development.

"Domi-nique -nique -nique s'en allait tout simplement, routier, pauvre et chantant."

Other than the modern half of the story being a lot less interesting than the first hour of period set scenes, "Painless" becomes very rushed and contrived in its last third. Even if I had a thorough knowledge of Spanish political history, I doubt that it would make a great deal of sense, plus there are enormous plotholes.

Yes, there are real, physical plotholes rather than continuity errors or small lapses in logic that can be reasoned away. For one thing, I would love to know what the inmates of the hospital, especially Berkano (Tómas Lemarquis), get to eat during their incarceration. I know the kids are supposed to have supernatural abilities along with their inability to feel pain, but a couple of spoonfuls of soup, in one important case, couldn't keep a mouse alive! Cannibalism is suggested later on, but for five years with only one rotting corpse to feed on? Not likely, is it?

"We wants it, we needs it. Must have the precious!"

For a reasonably well-funded movie, the production values are excellent. The cinematography is competent with only a few moments where things are too dark, the sound is good, and the location covers a multitude of sins. Unfortunately, "Painless" lacks spectacle after promising so much with its admittedly CGI-enhanced opening scene.

Plodding rather than thrilling, "Painless" is worth a rental, but it's visually better than the story it delivers.

July 29, 2013

My Top Ten Pizzas in Horror Films

Everybody loves pizza, right?

From the amount of Tweets that I've been making about pizza recently, I think I may have to check into rehab for my pepperoni and sausage addiction eventually. Thus, it's only logical that I now present you with a definitive list of "My Top Ten Pizzas in Horror Films". I hope you feel hungry!

1. The House of the Devil (2009)

I doubt that there will ever be another horror film which mentions pizza as much as "The House of the Devil". From bad pizza to good pizza, it has them all. I'd even eat this one whether it's drugged or not.

2. Halloween II (2009)

Sheriff Lee Brackett (Brad Douriff) is a wonderful man for providing for his daughter Annie (Danielle Harris) and her friend Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) with this beautiful pizza.

3. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)

Yes, the infamous "soul food" line accompanies this meaty feast. Looks good though, doesn't it?

4. The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)

It doesn't matter if the pizza delivery guy is stone cold dead, just as long as the pizza itself is still warm.

5. The First Power (1990)

Jack the cat gets more out of the pizza than Detective Russell Logan (Lou Diamond Phillips). Obviously the cat has better taste than his caregiver.

6. House IV (1992)

It's not anchovies that you need to be scared of when your pizza becomes possessed!

7. Don't Go to Sleep (1982)

I wouldn't want to eat this after a psychopathic 8 year old girl interfered with it. She didn't even wash her hands first!

8. Slumber Party Massacre III (1990)

These "Slumber Party Massacre" movies really have a thing against pizza delivery people. This poor girl might get $46 for the pizzas and her shirt, but she doesn't get long to enjoy it. The pizzas, on the other hand, seem to vanish into the stomachs of the party girls before you get to see what they look like! They must be good then.

9. Videodrome (1983)

Just a few leftover crusts for Max Renn (James Woods) to dunk into his morning coffee. We've all done worse things.

10. Bug (2006)

Peter (Michael Shannon) and Agnes (Ashley Judd) completely waste this pizza by pulling it apart rather than eating it. I suppose you can't blame them if they think it has bugs in it.

Bonus: Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)

I would be very annoyed if one of these guys was in my pizza box instead of what I'd ordered! That would be truly horrific... unlike this overrated comedy-horror movie.

If you've seen any more pizzas in horror films, leave me a comment about them below.

July 28, 2013

We Are the Night (2010)

(AKA "Wir sind die Nacht")

"In Berlin, a cop closes in on an all-female vampire trio who just took in a new member, Lena."

Actually, the synopis for this movie would be better written as: "A blonde MILF, a hot brunette, and a cute brunette who are all fauxminist German vampires adopt a much plainer ginger one. A cop who wants to arrest Ginger and her murderous new companions also wants to be her boyfriend. Blondie has an unrequited lesbian crush on Ginger. Much merriment ensues until each vampire dies."

In a nutshell, that's all there is to "We Are the Night". It's just like every other vampire movie ever made but with most of its inspiration coming from "Near Dark" (1987) and a couple of scenes from "Night of the Comet" (1984). Wags might refer to it as "The Lost Girls" one day, even though it doesn't homage "The Lost Boys" (1987) in any way except for being about vampires and being very '80s in all but setting. Some people might see a lick of "The Craft" (1996) about it too, but I didn't.

"We Are the Night" isn't a totally boring movie despite having hardly any kills or sexiness; it's just generic and horribly dubbed (if you only have that version). There are a lot of "Woohoo! Girl Power!" moments for the man-hating idiots out there who would be better off learning how to apply make-up or cook than wasting their time reviewing horror movies, but obviously none of these things did anything for me. I want horror from my horror movies!

"I'll tell you what I want, what I really, really want."

Jumping out of aeroplanea without a parachute, going to nightclubs, upsetting customers in posh restaurants, stealing high-end sports cars and driving them badly, doing late night shopping in closed department stores, or trespassing in other people's swimming pools might be fun to see in a movie if you're a teenager, but my list of what these vampire chicks do sounds a lot more exciting than what's shown on screen. It must be incredibly boring to be vampire, if that's all you can do. So says a man who spends his nights watching crappy horror movies like this and blogging about them. Oh my God, my life sucks as much as theirs!

The only part of this movie which I liked was the brunette who's supposed to have been a silent movie star before being turned. She's incredibly hot and vicious with it! I think her character is called Charlotte, although it could be different in the German language version for all I know. Obviously, I had to look up that she's played by Jennifer Ulrich because I've never seen of the actresses or actors in "We Are the Night" before and probably won't see them in anything else in the very near future either. Look, it's German, and I don't watch many German movies due to the fact that they hardly make horror movies anymore, okay?

As a vampire flick with four alternative endings and not one good one, give or take the opening scene, "We Are the Night" makes a far better poster than a movie.

Sleep all day. Dance and go shopping all night. It's fun to be a vampire.

July 27, 2013

Static (2012)

"A couple facing marital problems after losing their child finds their life together further complicated by a mysterious visitor."

Very slow and filmed using a handheld camera by someone obviously afflicted with Parkinson's disease, "Static" is a predictable hybrid of "The Strangers" (2008) and "Voices" (1973).

Apart from Sarah Shahi being absolutely gorgeous, that's all you really need to know unless you want the twist spoiled. The clue is in the gas masks not actually being gas masks, but if you look closely at the DVD artwork, you'll probably realise that for yourself.

As you would expect from a cast including Milo Ventimiglia, Sarah Shahi, Sarah Paxton, and a cameo from William Mapother (aka Ethan from "Lost"), the acting is okay. It's TV movie quality acting, of course, but there's nothing wrong with that. It's competent enough for what it is. It's just a pity that the ending is so unoriginal, and there aren't any scares.

Worth a rental, I suppose.

July 26, 2013

Gallowwalkers (2012)

"A cursed gunman whose victims come back from the dead recruits a young warrior to help in the fight against a gang of zombies."

Made seven years ago but still not due to be released until August, "Gallowwalkers" stars Wesley Snipes in a comicbook-style fantasy which is more like "The Crow" being played out on the set of a Sergio Leone western than "Blade" no matter what the promotional posters and trailer might want you to believe.

Pirates have already uploaded this film to the usual sites out of spitefulness rather than helpfulness, but as I'm a huge Wesley Snipes mark and will be buying the DVD anyway, I feel no guilt about succumbing to the streaming temptation. I'm not in the loop of chosen people who was sent a screener copy anyway although I damned well should have been. It's not going to taint my honest review of "Gallowwalkers", but it does leave a nasty taste in my mouth that someone who the distributors did trust with a screener then uploaded it.

Rather than spoil the big surprises of "Gallowwalkers" with a synopsis of what little plot there is, especially as I could describe it in one or two sentences and know that I'd done a good job, I have to begin by correcting an error in the IMDb description which I've quoted above. "Gallowwalkers" is definitely not about zombies. Thank God for that! Instead, it's a $17,000.000 hybrid of spaghetti westerns and "Hellraiser"-style fantasy-horror with laconic Wesley Snipes making a lot of strong poses and looking surly while far less well-known performers attempt to act around him. While not exactly brilliant, it's a typical Wesley Snipes movie.

There are worse things out tonight than vampires.

I say "performers" rather than "actors" because there isn't a whole lot of acting to talk about. Apart from the action scenes, and a fantastic cameo by Patrick Bergin, "Gallowwalkers" is mostly (but not entirely) one of those movies where once everybody got dressed up, they thought it would be enough to carry them through rather than putting any more effort in. Since it was filmed in a desert in Namibia, I'm sure the heat could be blamed for the overall listlessness, but that's not a satisfactory excuse for having the atmosphere of a cheap SyFy channel movie rather than a product designed for theatrical release.

Long camera shots, barren sets, very little dynamism, and stylistic homages to "High Plains Drifter", "Hang 'Em High", and "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" show that director Andrew Goth loves his Clint Eastwood westerns, but none of it comes together in the "cultish" way that I'm sure he wanted it to. I don't know the full story of why "Gallowwalkers" sat on the shelf for so long, but I assume Wesley Snipes' incarceration for tax evasion may have caused so many rewrites and a such a nightmare for the editors that we're lucky to have this movie at all.

To be brutally honest, "Gallowwalkers" is a bit of a mess, and there are some very weird elements in it which aren't properly explained, but as a salvage job, it's actually not bad overall. There are a couple of plot holes and a few loose ends, but I've obviously seen far worse things which other reviewers rave about. The good news is that it's not as boring as "Jonah Hex" (2010).

One intentionally quirky thing which sticks out is that the major characters are never named except in the end credits. I'm not sure if they were named very quickly and I missed it, but I don't think so. I suppose it doesn't matter because, for all intents and purposes, Wesley Snipes is the black version of "the man with no name", and the gang he fights is another generic and instantly forgettable bunch of baddies anyway.

Nice coat, dude!

Kevin Howarth tries hard to inject some menace into his role as the boss of the bad guys, and Riley Smith is likeable as Wesley Snipes' recruit, but everyone else is barely more than eyecandy. Nobody has more than two or three lines each throughout the movie, and the beautiful girls are underused to say the least. Tanit Phoenix, Simona Brhlikova, and Alyssa Pridham all shine in their few minutes of screen time, but none of their characters go anywhere. Simona Brhlikova is the best as the bad girl member of the gang, but Tanit Phoenix's character has almost no purpose whatsoever. Alyssa Pridham only appears in flashbacks for obvious reasons.

Of interest to Brits of a certain age, former children's TV personality Derek Griffiths has a role in this as Mosca. Yes, he's one of the lucky few whose character actually gets a name. His prosthetic make-up stands out more than he does, but it's nice to know that he's still around.

Due to its nature, there's nothing scary about "Gallowwalkers", but the violence and gory set pieces are nicely done. Gunshots which smash large chunks out of their targets and bullet holes with blood spurting out of them are always enjoyable. Decapitations are simply a bonus! There may not be anything here that hasn't been seen before, but the effects are very good, and there aren't lots of quick cuts to ruin them.

If you're a Wesley Snipes fan and can appreciate a very flawed movie which is more style over substance, you'll probably enjoy "Gallowwalkers". You might even find yourself saying the word "Lush!" on more than one occasion. I did, and I'm not that easy to please.

July 24, 2013

Haters Gonna Hate: 2 New Interviews with Me

Oh, what it is to be internet famous! LOL I wouldn't know.

First, I was interviewed by Left Field Films:

An Interview with Dr Blood

And then I was interviewed by Horror Bob's Blog II:

Exclusive Interview: Dr Blood

Click the links to read the answers to everything you were afraid to ask!

Don't forget to subscribe to the blogs while you're there. There's bound to be some other good stuff to read on both.

Want to keep this interview meme going? Either contact me or one of the horror bloggers above.

July 23, 2013

Beneath (2013)

"Six high school seniors celebrating with day's excursion find themselves on rowboat attacked by man-eating fish and must decide who must be sacrificed as they fight their way back to shore."

As much as I would like to write "Beneath" off as nothing but a load of bickering teenagers who you've never heard of (plus Mark Margolis in a creepy cameo) being menaced by a more evil version of the big fish from "The Singing Ringing Tree" (1957), I really can't. For what it is, which is another highly sanitised Chiller TV movie, "Beneath" is far more entertaining than most of the sources it homages, but not in a good way.

Essentially, what director Larry Fessenden has done is rip-off the only good segment of "Creepshow 2", throw in a healthy dollop of "Lifeboat" (or "Lifepod"), and then stir-it all up with some pop culture references, a little bit of social commentary, and even some trendy GoPro camera product placement. All this without any nudity or swearing too! The guy is clearly a genius! Or not, as the case may be.

The biggest problem, other than the ridiculously ginormous piranha-style fish, is that the script isn't very good. The characters are so poorly written that even though you can see that everyone is trying their hardest to act and take it all seriously, there's nothing much for anyone to work with. As a result, there's not one likeable character, and the story becomes little more than a "slasher in water" as you just wait and hope for each annoying idiot to meet his or her demise.

All of them are toast fish food.

The great thing about "Beneath" is that it isn't a comedy. Of course the giant fish is one of the most poorly realised practical creature effects in any movie about giant fish since "Jaws", but as the story progresses, it becomes easier to accept its existence than to believe that the teenagers are really teenagers or were ever friends with each other. Their reactions are more wooden than the bored hosts who used to take the boats of tourists round the "Jaws" ride at Universal Studios, which, alas, is no longer a future employment option for anyone involved in this production.

The gore is surprisingly good for a hypocritical American TV movie with various cuts, bites, slashes, and dismembered limbs oozing blood all over the place. It's not to the same standard as "Piranha 3D", but "Beneath" obviously didn't have the same $24,000,000 budget to play with. I'd be amazed if this movie had even a third of the $1,000,000 budget that The Asylum sets as a maximum for each of their mockbusters.

As with every low-budget abomination nowadays, the camerawork isn't exactly brilliant, and the oh-so-important GoPro inserts make things look even worse. If you can get past that, there's barely any tension in the teenagers' predicament either. There is some, but it's mostly ruined by the stupidity of their childish behaviour. A different director might have got a better balance, but it is what it is. I've got a feeling that Larry Fessenden knew exactly what he was doing. I just can't prove it.

If you're a grumpy old misanthropist like me who is always on the look-out for something else to hate about people, "Beneath" has a lot to say about smartasses, snarkiness, white knighting, entitlement issues, relationships, cliques, and, basically, how disgustingly selfish today's teenagers are. It's almost as good as reading through the online dramas on horror message boards! The only difference is that everyone gets what they deserve this time! And it's glorious! Absolutely glorious!

"Das singende, klingende Bäumchen" has a lot to answer for!

July 22, 2013

Lost Lake (2012)

"A young couple travels to a deserted town to try and find their mysterious uncle, only to discover that ghosts are real and very dangerous."

I'm a little bit flummoxed about how to review "Lost Lake". It's not that I've forgotten how to review movies to the extent that I need to MacDougall one from somebody else, but I can barely scrape together enough enthusiasm to put one word after another after watching this turd.

If I had my druthers (as they say round here), I'd be writing a review of "The Conjuring" right now instead of this one. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances and the heat, I still haven't gone to the movie theatre since "The Conjuring" started playing, and it's starting to annoy me that I've fallen behind everyone else this time. The worst case scenario will be that I wait for the DVD to be released. I'm bound to buy it based on the very positive buzz that's already flying around the internet, so it's not as if you actually need a review of "The Conjuring" from me anyway.

Just to tide everyone over until I'm back on track, I was looking for other ghostie movies to watch yesterday and came across "Lost Lake" on Amazon. Although I'm sure a lot of people have watched it, nobody seems to have had very much to say about it online. Thus, to redress the balance, I thought I'd give it a try. I thought, "It's only 80 minutes long, it's about ghosties, so what could be the harm in watching it?" Little did I know that it was going to be one of the longest 80 minutes of my life.

For a low-budget movie, "Lost Lake" starts off extremely well. I have to admit that the first jump scare is so well-timed that it actually got me. That rarely happens nowadays so I thought I was really going to enjoy everything which followed. As I was watching the movie "cold" with only a vague awareness of the subject matter and no idea about who was in it, it was all a case of "Thrill me!" and "Let's see what you can do!" rather than the predominantly negative way that I've been approaching "indie" dreck recently. After all the multipack reviews I did a few weeks ago, you can't blame me for being jaded, but I honestly wanted to like this movie.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, everything went downhill from the moment I saw the lead characters. It's not that they are the typical pretty teens in trouble, but bald-chested John Shartzer (who plays Jeff) looks about 12 years old, and I initially thought that his character was incestuously in bed with his older sister or something. When the next scene had him playing on the floor with a toy robotic arm, it took a while for it to sink in that he was supposed to be a nerdy student rather than a mentally retarded pervert. It was only when I scrutinized Katie Keene (who plays Tricia) more closely that I realised she was equally young. I doubt that she is more than 18 or 19, and it kind of made me feel like a dirty old man for ogling her as the story progressed. Katie Keene is very photogenic though.

The next thing which gave me pause was the intentional misdirection about Uncle Vern's identity which could have been good if it hadn't caused me a moment of total confusion and an unresolved question which remained with me for a few minutes after the movie ended. I'm not going to spoil it for you, but once you've seen "Lost Lake" for yourself, feel free let me know in the comments section if you get what I'm talking about. The motivation for a lot of things which happen in this movie is so poorly explained that I don't think there even is a good answer. The realisation of whatever clever ideas evidently went into the script sucks, and it's very frustrating.

A more outstanding example of ineptitude is when what should be a scary supernatural scene just isn't. As the leads investigate an abandoned grocery store, it's a time when some imaginative jump scares could make a lasting impression. For whatever reason, possibly budgetary, the gags aren't even set-up enough to fall flat, so ultimately, this botched non-event adds nothing but a decoy for possessed Uncle Vern (Ezra Buzzington) to do something important which we don't find out about until later. It's a plot contrivance for sure, but it could have been handled so much better.

While the camerawork and acting are fairly decent, it's not only the plot but the lack of horror action which really lets "Lost Lake" down. Apart from a severed finger and some realistic reactions to it, nothing much happens at all gore-wise. When it does, the bits you want to see are either off camera or too dark.

Contrarily, an unneccessary bit of animal cruelty involving a white mouse and a snake is something that I didn't want to see. Yes, I know that there are weirdo reptile owners who have to feed their pets as nature intended, but this scene is both gratuitous and superfluous. I may understand what writer/director Marcus Nash was trying to do, but I don't approve of it.

Filmed in Trona, California, a desolate place which I was intigued enough by to look up on Wikipedia, "Lost Lake" is all about a location which struggles to lift everything a couple of notches higher than the horrible storytelling will allow. Apart from a few tell-tale signs which give away that it isn't really a ghost town, including the electricity still being connected and a physical sign for "Free Wi-Fi" on one of the buildings, I wanted to believe that the setting was real. Well, the town is real, obviously, but you know what I mean.

I suppose that's all I really want to say about "Lost Lake". It wasn't the ghost story that I expected it to be, and I found the ending very disappointing. Suffice it to say that there's something about witchcraft to "Lost Lake" as well, so it's probably best to classify the movie as a below average "possession from beyond the grave" with slasher clichés and leave it at that.

July 20, 2013

My Top Ten French Horror Films

Sometimes I get asked why I hate French horror films so much. It's not that I hate them though, it's just that I find them severely overrated.

Thus, I now present you with my definitive list of the best French horror films ever made!

1. Martyrs (2008)

"A young woman's quest for revenge against the people who kidnapped and tormented her as a child leads her and a friend, who is also a victim of child abuse, on a terrifying journey into a living hell of depravity."

Ignore the intentionally vague ending which tries to be too clever for its own good, and this is top notch gore!

2. Ils (aka Them) (2006)

"Lucas and Clementine live peacefully in their isolated country house, but one night they wake up to strange noise... they're not alone... and a group of hooded assailants begin to terrorize them throughout the night."

One of the most realistic home invasion movies before "The Strangers" totally ripped it off, Americanised it, and replaced the scares with boredom.

3. Eyes Without a Face (1960)

"A brilliant surgeon, Dr. Génessier, helped by his assistant Louise, kidnaps nice young women. He removes their faces and tries to graft them onto the head on his beloved daughter Christiane, whose face has been entirely spoiled in a car crash."

A classic of French horror cinema which is only available in America as an overpriced Criterion DVD that I can't afford.

4. High Tension (2003)

"Two college friends, Marie and Alexa, encounter loads of trouble (and blood) while on vacation at Alexa's parents' country home when a mysterious killer invades their quiet getaway."

Alexandre Aja's gory ripoff of a Dean R. Koontz novel called "Intensity" but with a stupid ending tacked on.

5. Er... yeah...

Regardez le tumbleweed!

So much for the French "new wave" of horror movies, eh?

July 19, 2013

Should I start doing interviews again?

I'm not sure if I ever posted a link to DrunkethWizerd's interview with me over at "Horror Movies and Beer" last year, but if I did and you missed it, here's the URL again:


As you will see, it was just a bit of fun from December, 2012, when none of us had anything better to write about, and pretty much cemented my position as one of the grumpiest horror bloggers in the world. Meh. I have discernment. I am what I am.

Over half a year on, none of my opinions have changed although I have been getting more introspective lately. As my Twitter followers already know, I'm constantly torn about packing-up the whole "blogging thing" and moving on. I've had more backlashes than Spartacus from things I've written including threats, jealousy, stalkers, and more insults than most human beings ever encounter in a lifetime. Behind the scenes of the comments approval list is a daily shitstorm of hate (and spam) which makes me despair of humankind. Thus, when I say "moving on", I actually mean deleting everything and never looking back, but for some reason I feel that would be rather wasteful. So what if people don't like me? I don't like most people, so it's just tit-for-tat.

I've written some good stuff over the years, and a lot of atrocious stuff with commas and tenses scattered so randomly that you'd never believe I spent the best part of my life at University, but that's just what happens when you treat Blogger as a MySpace replacement. I'm not the best writer in the world, but I never tried to be. I was taught one way of doing things in school only to find that a lot of the rules have changed from one English language speaking country to another, and I now spend more time second-guessing myself grammatically than saying things how I want to. If people realised how much time could be wasted on chopping and changing a blog post, they'd never do this as a hobby, and certainly wouldn't do it as a business venture. I swear I don't know why I still do this other than being a glutton for punishment.

The thing is, even though it would be hilarious for me to be interviewed by you to give you something else to post, I'm not famous in any way nor do I have any desire to be. Like everyone, I wouldn't mind having more money, but fame isn't something that I'm chasing. I'm not yearning to write for one of the big name horror sites or a horror magazine, to write a book, or to do anything with my writing at all except just to do it for the sake of doing something other than collecting my own toenail clippings in a jar. I've already done three out of the achievements that I've listed anyway (for no pay whatsoever!), and I'm already on my fourth jar.

Interviews are all well and good as long as the interviewee gives you some promotion for your own site on their blog and vice versa. More traffic is always nice no matter what causes it. In many ways, interviews with other bloggers are little more than a banner exchange-style "shout out". Unless you have a current product or service to promote, it's mostly redundant, but I've noticed that a lot more people are doing it again now. It's trendy, so I kind of want in on the action.

Maybe it's because a certain blogger who shall remain nameless (but I can barely read because of his constantly centred text and childish appreciation of little toys) announced on one his "How to be a Blogger" posts that "movie reviews are boring". The "Horror Lamers" clique then took that great authoritarian on all things "Blogger" to heart and started writing anything but movie reviews. As you may have guessed, that lost them my subscriptions immediately. I may not read many reviews, but I have absolutely no interest in cupcakes made to look like zombies or how to knit your own fangs on a supposedly "horror" blog. As for crappy cartoons about "The Addams Family" or Winona Ryder's wardrobe in "Beetlejuice", well, I think there may be something a teeny bit wrong with you upstairs if that floats your boat or it's all you've ever had to offer other people to read about.

I actually wrote a sarcastic "How to be a Successful Horror Blogger" guide myself which, considering the nature of last week's inter-species drama, turned out to be quite prophetic. I never imagined that anyone would have the balls (metaphorically speaking) to really do such a thing, but she did. I scare myself sometimes with my qualities as a visionary!

Getting back to the subject, on the flip-side of the interview thing, does anyone want me to interview them? I'll gladly do it. Truly successful blogging is all about the content, and lately, there's been precious little of it written by me or anyone else.

If you're interested, I'm offering you a chance for five minutes of "fame" on my blog. Bear in mind that you must be reasonably interesting to my other readers, not be trying to promote some lame hobby horror movie that you made yourself, nor tailor your answers into a socio-political rant which will get us both dragged off to Federal ass-pounding jail. Apart from those rules (and my hypocritically enforced PG-13 language rating to attract more pageviews), anything goes.

I've interviewed some "celebrities" in the past which a few people liked, but it's been years since I last did one. It's just like riding a bicycle (so I'm told), so don't be put off. Let's face it, writing questions and answers is easy. Transcribing audio is much worse, but I can't be bothered to do that. If I wanted to go that route I'd work out how to record Skype for yet another podcast which nobody ever listens to. There are only about a million of those to compete with.

Since I subscribe to a more global version of Alfred Hitchcock's controversial view that "all actors are cattle", I've never cared unduly about film credits or who does what behind the scenes. I'm all about the story being told and how well it's being told rather than anyone being famous for being in that story. Other than knowing the names of the most obvious talents and mechanics, it may disappoint you that I don't have an up-to-date encyclopedic knowledge of all members of the horror genre. I wouldn't know who to contact or who really falls into the "horror celebrity" category now that so many lines have been blurred by age, careers ending, and social networking. We all go to the toilet, so nobody is that special just because they have more money or fame than someone else. I'll talk to anyone no matter how big or small they think they are.

I'm therefore leaving this offer open to ANYONE (apart from my boggle-eyed, goggle-eyed stalker) who wishes to be either an interviewer or an interviewee. Of course, because no payment is being asked for or offered, this may not come to anything at all. It all depends on you. The ball, as they say, is in in your court. Leave a comment below or feel free to talk to me about it on Twitter.

July 18, 2013

A Week Without Horror

I haven't watched any horror movies for almost a week now.

For one thing, it's been too hot to concentrate, and for another, there's been loads of "horror community" drama going on which is far more interesting than a bunch of silly movies. I am, of course, referring to the latest plagiarism scandal.

Considering how I've already talked about it on social networking sites, I'm not going to get into another huge discussion of that foolishness on my blog. Lianne Spiderbaby won't be the first or last to plagiarise movie reviews from other bloggers, and just from knowing who she's associated with in the past, it didn't surprise me in the least that she turned out to be a fake. As far as I know, she didn't steal any of my stuff, so I don't really care, but I still found it absolutely hilarious to watch "the mighty" fall. Seeing a certain gender-based clique trying to promote their other half-arsed movie reviewers throughout the fallout straddled the line between irritating and desperate. Thus, I've also had a great time pointing a finger at them like Nelson Muntz from "The Simpsons" and laughing.

Suffice it to say that Lianne Spiderbaby's plagiarism highlighted a lot of hypocrisy from people who should know better, especially in the cases of anyone who tried to defend her actions because of her gender or (allegedly) because she's pretty. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and she does nothing for me, but this kind of "white knighting" nonsense is the bane of the internet (and real life). Many people stuck their feet in their mouths and lost all respect among their peers, friendships which spanned decades went down the drain, and insults were hurled at innocent bystanders who did nothing but see Lianne Spiderbaby's fraud for the crime it was.

The result of this is that I'm probably not the only person who is never going to buy another copy of Fangoria, Rue Morgue, or Video Watchdog again. But since I rarely buy obsolete papery media anyway, my attitude to those magazines is kind of redundant. All of them had their heyday before you could look up whatever you wanted on the internet instantly and for free. With the importance of the news aspect gone, these low-brow rags aren't much more than advertisements strung together with badly written fanboy articles which barely interest anyone. Hell, people aren't even reading blogs anymore, so what chance do niche magazines have in the foreseeable future?

In more important news, I've finally started watching the Drive-in Classics 32 Movie Collection which I bought last Summer. Some of the movies are pretty good although they aren't much of a step-up from softcore porn in most cases. I find nothing wrong with that whatsoever though, and I love Mill Creek's Crown International acquisitions for that very reason.

I briefly thought about starting up another blog just to review "drive-in movies", but I can't really compete with an excellent site like "The Deuce". I've found all kinds of interesting movies listed there which I didn't know even existed before. I always give credit where it's due, and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed browsing through their database. Check it out if you have the time.

Since I've been sacrificing quite a few of my social networking followers to the horror DVD gods in the hope of something good turning up to write about (although, in reality, it's also because they've bored me to tears with kiddified nerd-crap which I have no interest in such as San Diego Comic Con), I'll probably be back with more articles and reviews next week. It all depends on if the weather cools down enough to not have to sit in a room full of fans and an ancient air conditioner which barely redresses the balance between being boiled alive in the humidity or deafened, but we'll see what happens.

July 14, 2013

Sharknado (2013)

"A freak hurricane hits Los Angeles, causing man-eating sharks to be scooped up in tornadoes and flooding the city with shark-infested seawater."

Since I mentioned it in my last post, I suppose I ought to say something about "Sharknado". What better movie to review for "Surprise Sunday" especially as the biggest surprise is that I actually liked it?

Yes, I can find very little wrong with "Sharknado" other than the obviously awful effects and scientific impossibilities. It's very nicely paced, has some amusing gore, lots of action, and even a couple of decent moments of suspense. As far as disaster movies go, "Sharknado" is as exciting as any of the Summer blockbusters. In particular, there's a sequence with a Ferris wheel which is really outstanding considering the low-budget.

I didn't get bored, although I nearly did during the school bus rescue scene and a bit of superfluous family drama near the end, so I'm going to rate "Sharknado" as one of the best movies from The Asylum that I've ever seen. Take that with a huge pinch of salt though because I've only seen half a dozen of their products anyway. Clearly some talent was accidentally allowed to sneak in which I doubt will ever happen again. The Asylum have been trying for years to make an intentionally "so bad it's good" cult movie, but more through luck than judgement, they got the balance right this time.

Enough said!

Having got the praise out of the way, it's time to look at the more negative aspects.

"Sharknado" is, of course, a "B movie". Worse than that, it's more like a C, D, E or F movie, but it's certainly not "Z grade" like most of the theatrical films that I've reviewed recently. There's entertainment to be had here if you are in the right frame of mind, or even if you aren't. A lot of message board snobs have said that they'll only watch "Sharknado" with a load of beer on board, but there's no need for that unless you want to make a party out of it.

The acting is TV quality which is in keeping with this being a TV movie, but some of it is uncommonly bad. The biggest name in the film is John Heard, and he's beyond awful. Maybe it's his age or the fact that he just didn't care that much, but his performance is painfully embarrassing to watch.

Ian Ziering does a fairly decent job as the annoying lead character named Fin (geddit?) who doesn't realise the "no good deed goes unpunished" rule no matter how many times it slaps him in the face. That surprised me because I absolutely loathed him when he used to play Steve in "Beverly Hills 90210". What a difference almost a quarter of a century makes! Mind you, I only used to watch that show for Shannen Doherty so I barely registered Ian Ziering and didn't ever know his real name.

I still don't really know who Tara Reid is. I know she's in a couple of movies which I have on DVD ("The Big Lebowski" and "Urban Legend"), but I can't say that I recognised the name or was able to put a face to it even with that information. Apparently she plays Fin's equally irksome ex-wife, but if you'd told me that she was the daughter I wouldn't have been any wiser. Neither of them do much in this movie so Tara Reid's status in my mind isn't going to change.

You're going to need a bigger bookcase!

Cassie Scerbo, the pretty, shotgun-toting brunette with a slightly wonky nose, steals every scene she's in, so if anyone will be remembered from "Sharknado" in a 100% positive way, it'll be her. She alternates from cute to sexy in a heartbeat and may be someone to look out for in the future. It seems that she was in "Bring It On: In It to Win It" (2007), but I don't remember too much about that or if I ever watched it. She'd probably be great as a final girl in a real horror movie.

There's not much else to say about "Sharknado" as it's just a bit of fun. Apart from a couple of stunts, all the action was done with CGI and green screens, plus some models and a couple of latex mock-ups, so make of it what you will.

I think there was more talent shown with this computer generated silliness than in movies with a far bigger budget so I'll not-so-grudgingly give out praise where it's due. The stars of the show are the often incongruous effects, but getting the movie to look half as good as it does with the budgetary contraints and schedule must have taken some doing. Realistically, I can imagine that it was a lot less fun for everybody behind the scenes. Whoever did the post-production editing had such a great sense of timing that they also deserve some kind of award.

I have no hesitation in recommending "Sharknado" as the "must see" SyFy channel movie of 2013. Since I'm an "elitist prick" rather than a hipster, I'm definitely not saying that to be ironic. I couldn't care less if it makes me look like a hypocrite either. There's an exception to every rule and liking "Sharknado" serves me right for making rules for myself in the first place.

"Sharknado" isn't something that I'm ever going to buy on DVD (unless it's in a multipack), but it's certainly worth a rental once it comes to Redbox in September. I'm sure it'll be reshown ad nauseum before then though.

July 13, 2013

Pacific Rim (2013)

"As a war between humankind and monstrous sea creatures wages on, a former pilot and a trainee are paired up to drive a seemingly obsolete special weapon in a desperate effort to save the world from the apocalypse."

Do you want to know what irritates me beyond belief? Films like this and the fanboys who overpraise them.

For a start, "Pacific Rim" is a kids' Summer movie meant for little ADHD kids who like lots of robots, whirling things and huge explosions. It's not meant for adults even though there's a growing subculture of "weeaboo", "otaku" (Japanese for "idiots"), games console loving, overweight, comicbook convention nerds who all live in their parents' basements, grow neckbeards, and refer to the big robots as "Mecha" for some reason that I don't fully understand.

"Pacific Rim" is clearly not a movie meant for anyone of my generation (or the one below) except that a few sad acts who think it's hilariously ironic to praise utter shite have bought into it. It's those same hipsters who think that "Sharknado" is "kewl" and spend their entire lives collecting other ironically named movies and little dollies of Japanese cartoon characters. I despise them all.

So guess what I thought of the film after having been duped into watching it by Cosplaying internet friends who need to stop playing dress-up and grow up instead? Yes, that's right, I HATED IT!

Having never been a fan of Billy the Bull (Guillermo del Toro) or Michael Bay's "Transformers" movies, and being a hater of 99% of sci-fi movies anyway, there's nothing in "Pacific Rim" for me other than a lot of boredom.

I tweeted my displeasure throughout the movie, but I'm not going to repost all my Tweets this time. I may have only done that twice before, but the novelty has worn off. However, because it's Saturday, it's hotter than balls again, my neighbours' noisy brats are screaming outside my window, and I can't be bothered to dissect a movie from a genre that I have no interest in, I'm going to give you a list of bullet points of everything wrong with "Pacific Rim" instead of writing a real review.


Everything I hated about Pacific Rim.

I have no idea who any of these people are.

  • Rated PG-13. Gah!
  • Pathetic faux Jap-comicbook crap turned into live action for little kids and weeaboos.
  • The rift in time and space which aliens pop through sounds just like "Torchwood" 6 years ago.
  • Naming the robots after an alcoholic beverage was a smart move, but even if I was drunk, I still wouldn't enjoy this movie.
  • The alien monsters look stupid and are named after turds.
  • 75% of the film is all "yak yak yak" with no action.
  • Unrealistic, clichéd dialogue.
  • It's 4 days too long! Actually, it's only 2 hours, but it feels like more.
  • Gormless-looking Owen from "Torchwood" is in it... as a German.
  • Psycho Sean Slater from "Eastenders" is in it... and he clearly still has anger issues.
  • Basically, Billy the Bull got the cheapest actors possible and spent the majority of the budget on computer game effects.
  • Ron Perlman got millions of dollars for showing his big hairy face for all of 5 minutes.
  • It's a sausagefest! No eyecandy for heterosexual men.
  • Memento Mori (or whatever her name is) isn't bad looking if you like that kind of thing, but I don't.
  • No sexy fun time or other nudity.
  • The acting is horrible. The accents are all over the place.
  • Americans playing Brits, Brits playing Australians, Brits playing Americans, Australians playing Americans... and they have Asian surnames because presumably there weren't any male Asian actors available at the time.
  • In the fight between Psycho Sean Slater and the other guy who looks just like him, you can't tell who is who.
  • It's "Starship Troopers" but without the humour or exciting action.
  • The scientist isn't Doogie Howser but he still mindmelds with an alien.
  • No characters worth caring about.
  • Psycho Sean Slater kisses a dog. Typecast much?
  • No originality whatsoever. The plot is much the same as "Oblivion" but without Tom Cruise or the twist.
  • The action is like watching the cutscenes from a computer game which somebody else is playing.
  • Big robots that weigh more than several skyscrapers are (and have to be) carried into position by little tiny helicopters which could never support their weight in real life.
  • Making tunnels under the city for people to hide in saves a fortune on CGI-ing little people.
  • Watching two guys wearing spacesuits play Dance Dance Revolution inside a giant robot while fighting the "Cloverfield" monster is not fun.
  • Almost as many buildings get destroyed as in "Man of Steel".
  • Too many quick cuts, too much confusion, and it's hard to tell who is doing what to who or why.
  • No one cares about who is doing what to who or why anyway.
  • The cooler robots get destroyed before they have chance to do anything.
  • It's all very, very loud just to keep you awake.
  • 100% predictable and instantly forgettable.
  • I would rather watch WWF/WWE with two fat dudes in Godzilla suits fighting each other than this crap. Same result too. Dull and fake.
  • The Asylum could make a better movie. Oh wait, they already have: "Atlantic Rim".
  • "Pacific Rim" is more boring than "World War Zzzzzzz".
  • Even "Iron Man 3" is better than this!
  • Inevitably, there will be a porn parody and a sequel.

I could go on, but you get the idea. I don't have anything good to say about "Pacific Rim" whatsoever.

Transformers + Torchwood + Cloverfield + Starship Troopers + Oblivion + cheap TV actors (and a couple of former Eastenders) + CGI robots fighting CGI monsters = Pacific Rim.

Don't waste your money!

July 12, 2013

Dracula 3D (2012)

I've been in two minds about writing anything about Dario Argento's "Dracula 3D" not because I'm a known hater of everything Dario Argento has ever produced apart from "Mother of Tears" (and Asia) but because everyone else in the horror movie reviewing universe has already been as negative as humanly possible about this film before me.

It's not that I usually care about being late in the game when it comes to movie reviews—I'm known for writing about what I want when I want—but this time it's annoyed me even more than having to put a lazy emdash parenthesis in the middle of my sentence. Really, what's left to say about "Dracula 3D" that hasn't been said hundreds of times before? Nothing. We all know that "Dracula 3D" is a terrible movie with mostly horrible performances, bad dubbing, cheap CGI, rushed action scenes, and no originality whatsoever other than a "WTF" moment caused by a giant praying mantis.

What makes everything worse is that every review reads like a carbon copy of the same thing. It's as if someone gave out a press pack before "Dracula 3D" was even released and said, "There ya go, have at it! Hate away!" Judging by the number of reviews which came out before any normal person had access to the movie, I wouldn't be surprised if that very thing happened either.

Yes, I know that the big name horror sites often get advance screenings and a ton of promotional goodies that the independent bloggers are unlikely to see, but even the little guys were hating "Dracula 3D" before it was available to the general public. That tells me two things: 1. They didn't even watch the film, and 2. They lazily copied what the "big names" had to say. While a few may have bothered to watch the trailer, the whole thing reeks of "Rex Reed Syndrome".

So just to be different and a total contrarian, I'm going to tell you what I liked about "Dracula 3D" based on watching it half a dozen times in its entirety. It will surprise you to know that, yes, I liked it. I don't think it's the greatest version of "Dracula" ever made or anything ridiculous like that, but it's not as bad as the "critics" would have you believe. Well, except for the giant praying mantis and other CGI of course.

The first thing that I noticed was how minimalist the set decoration was. While not exactly "Dogville", there's very little in the way of props which aren't necessary to the action. Now, while some people would blame that on the budget, it's clearly intentional. With a budget of over $5,000,000, it's not as if Dario Argento couldn't afford furniture or ornaments, he just decided not to clutter up the scenes with them.

I never thought I'd ever defend a Dario Argento movie, but stuff like this goes back to the "Chekhov's Gun" rule and shows that the director actually knows what he's doing. You can't write Dario Argento off as some hack who hastily threw everything together with the intention of making a bad movie. If you watch closely, you'll even see that more props and set dressing are added as the film progresses. Sometimes the reverse is true too. The effect is like a line drawing being filled in with more details the more you look at it or having unnecessary bits rubbed out. I'd say that was pretty damned clever.

Another criticism is that Dario Argento has too much nudity in this movie compared to his others, but I fail to see how that is a problem especially given that the source material is supposed to a analogous to sexual promiscuity in the first place. Although that oversimplifies the themes used in Bram Stoker's novel, the sexual and erotic nature of the story is one thing which every filmmaker has picked up on over the years. So what's the problem? Did people not find Miriam Giovanelli arousing as Tania? Or was it just that Dario filmed his daughter Asia naked in some perceived to be pervy way? We're talking about professionals here making a professional movie. In the case of Asia being filmed by her father, who's to say that he was even on set at the time? Let's face it, as someone who changed Asia's diapers when she was a baby, it's not as if Dario hasn't seen his own daughter nude before. There's no perversion here, just European arty types who aren't ashamed of their own bodies. Why should they be? It's how God created us! Anything else that you read into those few seconds of film are just your own sick fantasies.

The thing is, I thoroughly appreciate both Miriam Giovanelli and Asia Argento getting naked in "Dracula 3D". Both are incredibly gorgeous women although Asia does sometimes look a lot like her dad facially and it's slightly off-putting. The tease of nudity was always in the Hammer movies which "Dracula 3D" liberally homages, but it's well and truly realised here.

Yes, that's a segue (as I continue to write in a self-conscious and self-referential way just because I can) to all the other homages in "Dracula 3D". Of course the new Dracula (Thomas Kretschmann) dresses like Max Schreck in "Nosferatu" (1922), spouts the "Listen to the children of the night..." line from the 1931 adaptation, and crawls up the wall like Christopher Lee in "Scars of Dracula" (1970), so what? It's all inspired by Stoker. How is that anything to get bent out of shape over? Thomas Kretschmann's acting isn't exactly lousy, and the big action scene where he takes out a room full of peasants is absolutely fantastic. Even the hypocritical, prudish Americans should be appeased by the violence and gore which they find more acceptable than the horror of seeing a nipple or two.

People really don't like the love story aspect of "Dracula 3D", which is a shame since Francis Ford Coppola did well out of it. Again, Dario Argento is merely homaging all the other movie versions of "Dracula" which incorporated the same un-Stokerish plot. Thus, while not being the "definitive version" of Bram Stoker's "Dracula", "Dracula 3D" certainly ties up all the movie adaptations well enough.

Dracula fans have always hoped that someone will make a mini-series several days long which really puts the novel to bed once and for all, but it's not likely to happen any time soon. I can't fault Dario Argento for not overreaching himself here either. He's just not the right kind of director for an intrically detailed adaptation of a Victorian novel which nobody reads anymore. But why then choose to remake "Dracula" which is already the most remade horror story of all time? The answer is complicated, but I'll try to explain my theory at the end of this post.

What I enjoyed most about "Dracula 3D" was the languid pace which is so European and perfect for a vampire movie. I felt pleasantly relaxed and was able to get immersed in what little atmosphere there was. The lack of atmosphere is possibly my main criticism of the movie since it's neither Hammer-esque nor typically Argento. The CGI is weird and jarring although it fits as a new level of Dario Argento "surrealism". The correct interpretion of the giant praying mantis is to see it as an extension of Dario Argento's nightmare style. Imagine, if you will, that "Dracula 3D" is a cheese-induced dream of all the Dracula movies you've ever seen, and you can't dismiss it so easily.

The bad performances including Unax Ugalde's and Marta Gastini's woodenness, Rutger Hauer only stopping short of doing his trademark rolling of his eyes almost out of his head and back in again, every bit of bad dubbing, cheap CGI, the 3D gimmick, and fight scenes over before they properly begin, all point to Dario Argento making an intentional metamovie of a Dracula movie fuelled nightmare in the mind of one of today's typical 12-year-olds rather than the 12-year-old that the director once was himself. Dario Argento uses "Dracula 3D" to criticise contemporary horror movies. This is beyond Wes Craven's dated "meta" abominations for trendy teenagers by miles.

It didn't quite work, but I got what Dario Argento was trying to do here. I enjoyed it. I don't think it was an entirely sensible decision to get so radically experimental again at the end of his career or to alienate his dopey fantards who are still stuck in the '70s and '80s, but Dario has earned a lot more of my respect for doing this (and for making "Mother of Tears") than I ever would have given him before. I probably can't explain why as well as I could because there's always the danger of reading too much into a movie which was never intended, and I'm holding some things back in case I end up looking like a total fool when Dario Argento reveals that he just made a bad film because he couldn't be bothered to make a good one, yet the evidence of the movie makes me willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

If you have time, I suggest you all watch "Dracula 3D" again and think about what you're seeing. This isn't a product to be dismissed like the hobby horror DVD-Rs which get shoved in your faces at conventions. Like it or not, Dario Argento doesn't make "products"; he's an auteur. Should you choose to accept it, there's a message here about the nature of horror movies, remakes, and the state of the younger generation's levels of artistic appreciation from an old man's perspective.

"Dracula 3D" is the quintessential metamovie of every Dracula movie that you've ever seen before and is meant to be viewed as a half-remembered nightmare of a dissatisfied modern horror fan. To see it as anything else completely misses the point.