Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Shockumentary: The Latest Face of Horror

This year, horror has been turning over a new leaf, and I think it's for the better. Films such as the low-budget "Paranormal Activity" which was made for $15,000, was very successful at the box office. When I had heard about this, I was curious of what all the fuss was about, so I eventually checked out "Paranormal."

After I had experienced the supernatural thriller, I realized that horror is changing these days. Gone are the cartoony and over-the-top humor and in its place comes utterly terrifying images and situations. Our culture has become comfortable with Freddy Kreuger, Jason, and even watching people being tortured. Films like "Paranormal Activity" dive straight to the root of what scares us, 1. What happens when we sleep 2. Ghosts and evil spirits (the supernatural). "Paranormal" is effective and really surprised me.

Secondly, the torture porn film is being renovated as well. Instead of having half a dozen characters strapped into a torture device and watching them get diced one by one, audiences can just sit through spliced scenes of gruesome killings. A good example of this is "The Poughkeepsie Tapes." I'm not entirely sure if this film was even released, due to its disturbing content (the clip in the link is DISTURBING), but I have stumbled upon some videos of it on YouTube. Needless to say, I got freaked out.

"Poughkeepsie" is about a serial killer who videotaped his victims, as he was stalking them, capturing them, and torturing/killing them. The cops find the tapes (which number to at least 800) and sift through them looking for clues of the killer's identity. This concept seems really wrong to me, but that's where horror is going, and humans being human, we're drawn to that kind of stuff! I have not watched the film, but from what the videos I've seen... it's genuinely creepy.

If these kind of shockumentary films keep being made in 2010 that will be a sure sign that horror is evolving into something that is much more real and terrifying. Let's just hope people don't start copying what they see on the screen... even though that's been done before already, I'm sure.

Thanks for reading.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

"I Can't Come Up With a Story... Oh, I Know! Let's Put a Killer Fish In Our Movie!"

The sub-genre of horror film known as the "creature feature" has had a good run in the history of film making. "Creature feature"s were really the first horror movies ("Them!", "The Creature from the Black Lagoon," and one could argue that the old Universal horror flicks such as "Wolfman" and "Frankenstein" could be categorized as "creature features").

When Hollywood decides to go back to the humble beginnings of horror, they usually choose to revive the "creature feature." Consequently, this means that audiences will have to sit through an hour and a half of giant mosquitoes sucking the life out of victims or a giant alligator eating hobos in the sewer. Hollywood loves "creature features" because it banks on the viewer's lust of blood and awkward-looking puppet trying to be a scary monster (I admit, I do enjoy these movies).

Most "creature features" follow the same story line: There is a signal coming from outer space, a couple of people go around telling the authorities, but no one believes them, and then the creatures attack. It's either that or some random animal has been mutated by some ooze in the swamp. They don't veer too far from those lines.

You're probably wondering what my point is, well, has mentioned that there is a remake of "Piranha" happening... yes... "Piranha" (in 3-D I might add). "PIRANHA"!!! IN 3-D!!! Are you kidding? You might as well make a movie called "Guppy" and have it eat peoples' faces off while it flops around gasping for air, at least it would be funny. Of course Hollywood's going to try to make "Piranha" a serious horror film, and that's just WRONG!

Why does Hollywood always choose to sacrifice plot for silly and odd rubber puppets that do a horrible "acting" job? Don't get me wrong, funny-looking rubber puppets trying to be a dinosaur that flails intestines around definitely has its place--but it doesn't deserve a big budget. Keep the blood-soaked, wacky B movie antics in the "low budget box" where they belong ("Carnosaur," and "Mosquito"). These movies have a charm all their own, and I actually suggest you check them out if you're into cheesy B horror.

Check out the articles about the "Piranha" remake.
For a good time, watch this clip from Roger Corman's "Carnosaur 2"... enjoy!


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Would You Like a Side of Laughs with Your Torture Scene?

I watched Eli Roth's "Hostel pt. II" last night on and it inspired me to draw some comparisons between the realistic "torture porn" horror flick and the cheesy 80s B movie horror flick. I feel like this is a relevant topic in the horror genre and it is definitely one that has heroes on both sides. Who is right and who is wrong on this debate? Well, much like anything else, it's all a matter of opinion.

Allow me to draw some lines, the more recent horror films (Saw, Hostel, [the new] Texas Chainsaw Massacre) all fall into a newly created sub-genre known as "torture porn." These films--according to mostly non-horror fans-- are void of plot lines, structure and character development entirely. The "torture porn" horror flick focuses mostly on shocking the audience and finding new and gruesome ways to kill characters.

This is really nothing new, there has always been a genre for gorehounds, but most of those movies are hardly worth mentioning because they're so low budget (Toxic Avenger). What films like "Saw," and "Hostel" have done is infused the gory and gruesome aspects of horror movies with smart and interesting plots. Unfortunately, this is something that non-horror fans don't notice because they don't watch horror films!

On the contrary, 80s cheese-ball horror flicks like "Return of the Living Dead," "Evil Dead" and "Terrorvision" throw out intelligence in favor of slap-happy humor. Instead of deep themes of betrayal and evil scheming, 80s horror films had wacky monsters and bizarre sound effects. These cheesy horror films didn't skimp out on the gore though-- most of them were quite extreme when it came to depicting death scenes. The difference in the scenes is that they were too far-fetched and weird to be realistic.

Personally, I tend to enjoy the more funny horror flicks with crazy monsters and villains. For instance my favorite is "A Nightmare on Elm Street" and its sequels because Freddy can be both sinister and funny at the same time.

I am not opposed to the "torture porn" genre, but I feel like I have a little more to grasp onto with the off-the-wall humor and comic relief of the cheesy horror flicks. I mentioned at the beginning of my post, I watched "Hostel pt. II," and wasn't too impressed. I'm not a big fan of Eli Roth, mostly because of it seems like he's trying too hard to shock people. I must say that some of the "Saw" movies are well done and smart.

Choosing sides is definitely tough, but if I had to pick, I would side with the 80s slashers/comedy films. If you can laugh, scream and hide while watching a horror flick... that's a good one!


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Be Afraid... Be Very Afraid

I may be behind in my news, but I must recommend a great horror movie site to everyone reading this. Check out Not only does it provide some great news on what's going on in the horror film arena, but you can always watch free flicks right on the site! I have yet to try it out, but I do remember when my cable service had free horror movies from on demand (If gets 50,000 friends on Facebook, Time Warner Cable will add the free movies to it's "On Demand" programming), so DO IT. has been around for a while but it is still one of the best places to go for a gore/scare fix. Some of the free movies featured on the site right now include: "Nine Lives," with uh... Paris Hilton, Rob Zombie's "House of 1000 Corpses," and the cult classic "Killer Clowns from Outer Space" (I may have to check that one out). If you like more gore than jumpy scares in your horror flick, I suggest checking out "Wishmaster," the special effects are great--also featured in the "free movies" section.

There's a lot of really cool stuff that you can do on You can even get involved in the community, post your opinion up on the message boards, create a profile and even write your own blog.

Oh! If you're a Robert Englund fan (as I am) you should check out the original series "Fear Clinic," starring Fred Krueger himself!

This site is a lot of fun! So check it out!

Friday, October 23, 2009

I Watched "Saw VI"... So Sue Me...

Yeah I know... I went against my principles and checked out the latest "Saw" film. The film industry and the producers of this franchise always have a way of getting me to sit through the latest installment, and I'm still not sure how I feel about it.

"Saw VI" picks up where the last movie left off, Agent Hoffman has escaped after killing Agent Strahm and he thinks he is safe from the police and whatnot. What he figures out is that the police (his colleagues) are actually on to him, and this ques him to set up another game with even more victims.

Unlike the pile of garbage that is "Saw V," the sixth installment actually has some redeeming parts in it. For one, there is a lot of tension and nail-biting moments. The traps are elaborate and sinister (the carousel is probably the most nuts), and the opening sequence actually had me squirming in my seat. Although "Saw" fans have come to expect that, this one may have "Saw" veterans' stomachs churning.

Surprisingly, the gore isn't that extreme (aside from the opening), and I was happy that "Saw VI" actually continued the story for the audience. This is what we really want because "Saw V" dropped the ball BIG TIME!

Anyway, we finally learn "what's in the box," and we get to see some of the loose ends of Jigsaw's scheme come to pass. The film plays out nicely as a new installment, but it never really offers anything new.

"Saw VI" is for the fans. I'm not sure I'm one of them anymore... I just want to know how it ends DANG IT!

Newbies to the franchise, stay away from this one, and go watch the first installment. "Saw" fanatics will eat this one up indefinitely. I have to warn you though, it's nothing new, but it has a few exciting moments.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Drag Me to Hell and Suck My Blood Out While You're At It!

There's some good news for horror fans today, because Sam Raimi's "back to basics" fright-fest "Drag Me to Hell" is being released on DVD today.

I wanted to see this movie in the normal theater, but I never had the chance to, instead I went to the dollar theater... but I still had a good time!

"Drag Me to Hell" was a fast and fun horror flick that never took itself seriously (in true Raimi fashion), but scared the crap out of you at the same time. Alison Lohman and Justin Long did pretty well in the film, and their characters were enjoyable. There was a lot of physical action in "Drag Me" for a horror movie, but to Raimi fans, that sort of thing is commonplace. Overall, the film is a lot of fun and it's sure to get newcomers to the genre squirming, screaming and laughing as they watch. Horror fans need to seriously check it out!

Secondly, there's going to be a new vampire film released in January of 2010 called "Daybreakers." The fi
lm stars Ethan Hawke, Sam Neil and the creepster himself, Willam Dafoe. The basic synopsis is this: Mankind has been inflicted with a disease that has changed everyone into vampires. Now that the blood supply is running low, they become more frantic in developing a plan to survive. In the meantime, the humans work secretly with vampires to save the human race... a bit confusing...

"Daybreakers" looks like a pretty cool movie, but I wouldn't say that it's a straight horror flick. Judging by a recent poster, it seems to that it's going to have a more sci-fi flavor (pun intended) than a "blood and guts" feel. Then again, I could be wrong. The trailer does look exciting though, and the cast should be able to hold the script together well enough. So yeah, I'm looking forward to "Daybreakers," it should be interesting to see.

Here's the HD trailer for "Daybreakers."

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Check Your Candy

Since I'm probably not going to see "Saw VI," this Halloween, I'm happy that there is another option for me. There's an independently made horror movie entitled "Trick 'r Treat" which is directed by Michael Dougherty. The film was supposed to be released in October of 2007, but it was pushed back until now. I'm pretty speculative about straight-to-DVD movies (because they're mostly LAME), but I'm excited to see this!

The film adopts the tablet of "Tales from the Hood" (that's the only thing I can compare it to, sorry), but from what I hear, it actually has a decent presentation to it.

"Trick 'r Treat" features four separate stories all taking place on Halloween night; the thing tying them together is a trick-or-treater who shows up in each episode. Each story addresses what happens to those who do not follow the traditions of Halloween.

I've viewed the trailer for this film and I must say that it looks very well done. "Trick 'r Treat" seems to effectively apply the atmosphere of the Halloween season to film (it's reminiscent of Goosebump's "The Haunted Mask," only better)-- there's a lot of creepy imagery, and of course werewolves and vampires. The movie looks like it will meet the expectations of any true horror fan.

I'm not sure, but I don't think there's ever been a film that pays homage to the old traditions of Halloween, and what happens if you don't follow them. Some of the traditions include: "Wear a costume," "hand out candy," and of... "check your candy," and it'll be fun to watch the ugly consequences play out, I'm sure.

Check out the HD trailer for yourself and be the judge!

This movie looks intense, and I will definitely have to check it out... I may even have to buy it!


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

If It's Halloween, It Must be "Sigh"

I logged into my YouTube account this afternoon and they were advertising the new "Saw" movie coming out this October. Before I start ranting about how they've screwed up the series, I want you to know that I was once a supporter of the franchise, and 1 through 4 were admittedly good horror flicks. Each sequel delved deeper into the characters involved in the previous films, and they kept you intrigued.

Last October I remember surrendering to the hype of "Saw V," and I ended up purchasing a ticket to see it (bad decision). The decision to have David Hackl, who was the production designer for "Saw" 2 through 4, was a direct misfire. It seemed that everything I loved about the franchise had been replaced by stale acting, an empty plot, and a plodding pace. Watching "Saw V" reminded me of my experience with "Starship Troopers 2," it was a shameful attempt at furthering a once exciting story-- and it was absolutely pointless. I could almost hear the "Saw" producers laughing at me as I sat through that piece of junk.

After I viewed the newest trailer on the official "Saw VI" website, I was surprised when a feeling of anticipation came over me (the promoters really know how to get you excited for the next installment). Everything was in place: the choppy glimpses of the new traps, some screaming like "I'm not going to do it!" and "No please! Don't kill me!" and the obligatory "I'd like to play a game..."

I was semi-excited, I'm not going to lie, so I decided to view the restricted clip from the film on the website. What I viewed felt rather familiar, a group of people were strapped into a trap pleading for the lone "player" to save them. As I continued watching the clip, my excitement started to dwindle. 30 seconds into it, I was greeted by cardboard acting! If you can't act like someone who is fighting for their life, then why are you acting?! That's the most basic human instinct... you shouldn't even have to act!

If you're at all curious, check out the restricted clip at the "Saw VI" official website.

A part of me wants to watch the new "Saw" flick just so I can say that I've seen them all, but it's honestly a dead horse. Come up with a new gimmick please! Give me a compelling reason to watch this film!

Don't believe the hype!


Monday, October 5, 2009

Never Sleep Again--"A Nightmare on Elm Street"

In 1984, Hollywood was making some big bucks off ridiculous copy-cats of John Carpenter's "Halloween" (Friday the 13th) and scraping the bottom of the barrel by recruiting sub-par acting talent (Corey Feldman, Corey Haim, and so on).
Horror movie enthusiasts were ready for something refreshing and new, and low budget director Wes Craven was in the right state of mind to deliver.

The main idea behind Craven's horror classic was based on articles in an LA Times newspaper. The stories focused on a group of Cambodian refugees whose children were having extremely crazy nightmares when they'd try to sleep. When their parents sought after medical help, the children died while they were having the nightmares.

Creating a horror film that revolves around a killer that murders you while you sleep had never been done before, and I think that's why "Nightmare" is such a potent thriller.

Instead of scrounging up A List Hollywood actors, "Nightmare" featured Heather Langenkamp (Nancy), a then unknown Johnny Depp (Glen), and Amanda Wyss (Tina). Although each actor was very young at the time, Craven's writing breathed a lot of life into the characters. Nancy was a really strong person, and I'm a lot of girls looked up to her (if teenager girls actually went to see the film).

Above all else, "Nightmare" featured the most fearsome villain in horror movie history, Freddy Krueger. Portrayed by classically trained actor Robert Englund, Freddy shined in every scene he was in. Be it cutting off his own fingers or tearing through the bedspread with his trademark claws, Englund's performance was timeless and memorable.

Out of all the 80s horror flicks, "A Nightmare on Elm Street" stands out to me the most. The content and themes in the film are what make it so scary. Sure, Freddy's straight up scary as frik (and ugly for that matter), but once you really think about what you're watching, "Nightmare" is much more a psychological thriller. It plays with a fear that's inside of all of us: the fear of the unknown. That is why Craven's movie is such a classic, he tapped into a concept that other directors waddled around in their rehashed summer camp slashers. It's a shame that other horror directors don't look for the intrinsic fears that we all possess, if they did, we'd have a whole slew of great horror flicks coming out these days!

On a side note, the trailer for the reinterpretation of "A Nightmare on Elm Street" looks pretty good. I'm not against remakes entirely, but this does not look like a remake to me. I just hope that they treat Craven's vision with respect and don't rush through scenes with crappy editing before the scares actually sink in.

View the new "Nightmare" trailer here.

Thanks for reading!