Masters of Horror: The Black Cat

Masters of Horror is a 2000s television series with a different director for each of the thirteen episodes in the season, running about an hour long.

Directed by: Stuart Gordon (Re-animator, From Beyond, Dolls)

Evil Category: an aggrevated, alcoholic author

Score: one out of five broken, black ink pens

You’d think this would be about a cat who witnesses something horrible, or a bunch of stories that merge together with the cat appearing in each one, or even just a killer-cat. But no, it’s about Edgar Allen Poe going insane and attacking a cat for little reason. He wants to write poe-try, and his wife is coughing up blood all over the place. The story isn’t too bad, but man, the acting is so painful. I’d be just as well off watching an episode of Days of our Lives. The constant coughing alone is enough to drive anyone to madness, but the cruelty to animals does not in the least get me routing for Poe. That bird clearly just had a smear of ketchup on it and the cat eyeball scene… Jesus. I skipped a lot of it, and I was glad it was finally done watching it in the end. I would have rather watched Secret Window.

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Tenebre (1982)

Score: 6/10

Length: 101

Rating: X

Language: English, Italian, most likely

Categories: 80s, murderer, foreign

This film set in Rome features all the top B’s: brown nipples, bad teeth, bralessness, and bright red blood. It starts and ends with some sweet disco pop dance music, helping us to realize early on that this isn’t going to be your typical slasher or jump-scare horror, and I’ve yet to see a Dario movie that is more thriller than it is (murder) mystery. His movies often feel like books brought to life. This gem, that I had the pleasure of seeing on 35mm at a midnight screening, is about a stalker-killer who murders everyone who has any relation whatsoever to a well-known author. The author has recently written and sold a book called Tenebre (I still don’t really understand that it means), about a psychotic killer. The ending reveals a few welcome twists and everything is explained honestly and eagerly. The film is just entertaining enough to keep you engaged in the theatre, though I’d suspect it’d be easy to nod off while watching this at home. I appreciated the constant killings, the acrobatic dog situation, and the little jabs here and there at misogyny. Would definitely include this in a Dario-a-thon. A nice little film full of characters, but obviously not better than Suspiria.

The Shining (1980)

Score: 8/10*

Length: 146 (as per most King movies)

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 80s, recommended, ghost, haunted house, murderer, psychologial, Stephen King-y, hotel

There are some movies that are just good, and this is an iconic gem. Even though it’s one of the most over-parodied horror movies ever, there’s a reason for it. The location, the characters, the acting, the atmosphere, the effects- all done incredibly well. There’s nothing to really fault about this film unless you are too used to the fast-paced movies of the future to enjoy this slower, building, 70’s movie adaptation. I think the real trick is taking the imagination of Stephen King, and combining it with the psychotic genius of Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick is the expert on how to make the audience uncomfortable. It really plays on all of the fears- being trapped in a snowstorm, psychosis, hunted by your own father/husband, lost in a giant maze of a house as well as the house’s maze, and to top it all off, ghosts, skeletons, blood, etc. Usually a film with so many scare tactics going on ends up in a mess, but somehow all of the high-quality ingredients make it work. A forever-classic, ruined by The Simpsons, considering I refer to it now as “The Shin-ning”. If you’ve never seen this film and are a little uncertain, try recording it off TV. The commercial breaks will help to release a little of the tension and fear.

* I mean, this movie is freaking fantastic, but it’s quite long, and an abrupt ending with frozen Nicholson makes it a little cheesy.

 

photo credit: http://gamesradar.com/

The Midnight Meat Train (2008)

Score: 7/10

Length: 100

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, SPOILERS, gore porn, monster, murderer, book, recommended

I first heard of this movie when it came out at film festival, but I assumed it was a zombie flick and I also wasn’t to familiar with Clive Barker at the time. But recently, I decided to read all three of Barker’s Books of Blood, and I couldn’t get enough of this tragic tale.  It’s about a butcher-killer who finds his victims on the late train and the innocent man who accidentally stumbles upon the phenomena. The movie starts off with some bloody fun and took me back to exactly what I envisioned while reading the book. Then, all of a sudden I was watching Limitless, and Bradley Cooper is taking photos of me up close and personal. There are some great, gory bludgeoning scenes where the effects might be a little outdated and cheesy, but they’re still highly creative and I loved all the blood. There’s lots of tension in the chase and being caught and although they could have cut some of the girlfriend mush, I thought the length and pace of the film was designed well. The big-name actors help this horror movie, but Vinnie Jones as Mahogany was enjoyed most of all. Guy knows how to get his glare on. I’m not sure if this is Leslie Bibb’s trademark- trying to sway the hero to stop their passionate search and then taking on the story herself. I know they needed a well-rounded movie to flesh out the short story, but I found her unnecessary altogether. A lot of people are going to be annoyed by the supernatural twist the movie takes, but Clive Barker is all about the supernatural, and I thought they did a really great job of keeping the monsters subtle and not a riddled with CGI. The film follows the story very well, and although it’s not perfect, I was satisfied with the film adaptation.

 

 

photo credit: https://childrenoftheburningfist.files.wordpress.com

 

Goosebumps (2015)

Score: 5/10

Length: 103

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, 3D, recent, almost-horror, horror comedy, zombie, ghost, clown, monster, vampire, werewolf, animal, Stephen Kingy

I went to see this reincarnation of a gem of sorts from my childhood, expecting a cheesy, pun-filled, Jumanji-esque feature. I wasn’t so looking forward to Jack Black, but he did a pretty great job of toning himself down. The only thing I didn’t find amusing was his slight cartoony voice. Though, as Slappy he was dead-on. I recognized the other characters from The Haunting Hour and The Giver, and they all did and okay job. Packed with monsters from Goosebumps books you’ll remember: The Blob That Ate Everyone, killer bees, a vampire dog, The Shocker on Shock Street‘s praying mantis, the ghost from Ghost Beach, the aliens with their freeze-ray guns, the werewolf from Fever Swamp, and a whole bunch more. It even has some folks you might not quite remember, such as the zombies and the horrific clown. Either way, it left out two of my favorites. Monster Blood would have been overkill with the blob already a main character, but I really missed seeing the sponge from It Came Beneath the Sink. Seeing the pointed-toothed dish scrubber would have been a hilarious twist ending. The story- (a few friends and R. L. Stine try to save the town from the monsters in his books that have come to life)- isn’t too overdone nor too inventive. I know it’s a kids movie and you don’t have to try hard when overcoming the plot holes, but there were so many and they were incredibly easy to find story fixes for. An example: the kids open a book and unleash a snowy monster. When they leave the room, we see another book’s lock snap open (although it was untouched). Later, the teens come back to find the book on the floor, where it opens and Slappy emerges. Now, if the book had just been shown knocked down on the floor, that would have made more sense, as at any time, if any of the books could just open and caused havoc… wouldn’t they!? Or the dummy in the bus scenario. There’s no way that they had the time to make a dummy, put it in the bus, and then the dummy drives the bus?! They could have easily asked someone- anyone- to drive the bus. I loved the teeny cameo of R. L. as the drama teacher, and surprisingly, the nostalgic end credits scene was my favorite part of the movie. It was totally unnecessary for this to be in 3D, as it was just what I like to call “3D effects” and not really 3D with shit flying in your face. Overall, it’s nice to see my favorite retro things come back all fresh and new, but I had low expectations and it didn’t exceed them.

photo credit: http://cdn.hitfix.com

Top Ten Goosebumps Episodes/ Books

In anticipation for the upcoming Goosebumps movie (or the film of the summer as I like to call it), I will be reviewing the most memorable Goosebumps books (and accompanying television episodes).

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Night of the Living Dummy, Night of the Living Dummy 2, Night of the Living Dummy 3, Bride of the Living Dummy, Slappy’s Nightmare, Revenge of the Living Dummy

Slappy is by far the most famous character from the Goosebumps book, which spawned a slew of sequels that were each magnificent in their own horrific way.

Most memorable: Every time Slappy gets “angry eyebrows”.

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Be Careful What You Wish For

A nerdy girl called Byrd meets a strange woman who gives her three wishes, which, of course, all go badly. Not original in the least, but a really fun episode when you’re a kid.

Most memorable: When the most popular girl in school becomes an obsessive stalker.

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The Haunted Mask

The duck costume, Mary-Beth’s annoying whiny innocence, and the mask you were just dying to have for Halloween but which probably would have cost about $200 makes this episode one of the best.

Most memorable: When Mary-Beth gets her own human-looking mask.

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Say Cheese and Die

Kids missing from pictures go missing in real life. The lasting image is the skeletons at the family barbecue (from the book cover).

Most memorable: When you watch this ten years later and see the camera like it’s the first time.

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Stay Out of the Basement

You better listen to plant-dad and stay the hell out of the basement. Kids, they never listen.

Most memorable: The typical “which one is the real one” scene where one dad has to be hosed.

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Welcome to Camp Nightmare

A two-parter with lots of page-turning suspense and a fun, supernatural twist on the last day of camp.

Most memorable: There aren’t any super memorable scenes but you tend to remember the ending and Larry’s teeth.

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More Monster Blood, Monster Blood, Monster Blood II, Monster Blood III

When I think about Goosebumps, I immediately picture lime green slime… turning into a giant blob monster… on a plane.. trying to get a kid with a mushroom cut.

Most memorable: The throbbing, growing, green blob of goop.

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It Came From Under the Sink

The classic tale of an evil kitchen sponge with teeth. Bonus! An evil potato with teeth.

Most memorable: I think it’s pretty obvious.

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Piano Lessons Can Be Murder

A kid doesn’t want to go to his piano lessons. It’s easy to see why as everyone in the piano business is insane.

Most memorable: The scene with all of the unattached floating hands playing the pianos are what nightmares are made of.

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One Day in Horrorland

A family accidentally ends up in Horrorland on the way to their family vacation. They go on the rides which turn out to be too scary for their liking and soon meet the amusement park’s employees- a bunch of monsters who run a horrible game show where humans are the victims.

Most memorable: The monsters.

photo credits:

http://www.cinemablend.com

http://www.teenidols4you.com

http://www.geeksohard.com

http://images.tvrage.com

http://bummertimes.com

http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net

https://spongey444.files.wordpress.com

http://i.ytimg.com

http://41.media.tumblr.com

https://bloggiusmaximus.files.wordpress.com

http://80sand90srevival.weebly.com/