Archive for December, 2011

Top Five Horror movies of 2011

Posted in Updates with tags , , on December 24, 2011 by splatterpictures

It’s the end of the year and that means that I’m supposed to put my chips in about the top 10 horror movies of the year. This is a pretty daunting task when I look back at all of the horror that came out. It’s just totally unrealistic to have seen them all with any reliability. So my list is going to be composed of the five that stuck out that I did actually see. I am certain that I’m missing a real gem out there somewhere. I’ve also tried to mix it up a little and include different kinds of horror at the same time. Let’s do this.

5 – The Woman

When your girlfriend starts looking at you like this you might want to start working out an appology

A girl being picked out of the wild and “trained” to be civilized by a typical family; sounds like a pretty a good romp and it is. It was pretty obvious where a movie like this was heading but I just pure enjoyed it. If you guys haven’t seen it yet I obviously recommend that you do!

4 – Troll Hunter

Make my monster...GROOOOOOOW

This movie got a lot of coverage in the horror scene as it was coming out. I loved the concept and it was something I can honestly say I hadn’t really seen before. (Not the way it was shot but that it was about troll hunters) I think a lot in the community really paid attention to this because of that fact.

3 – The Innkeepers

"So that lady said to stay out of the basement?" "Right" "Okay let's go in the basement!"

I love ghost stories and while Innkeepers doesn’t really do anything original, it tells a satisfying little story of a haunted hotel. It was kinda a toss up between this and Grave Encounters, but I wanted a good mix of horror movies in here.

2 – Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2

My reaction to every bit of remake news in the last two months.

I know this wasn’t everyone’s favourite movie but anyone who knows me knows I go to the slashers first and everything else second. I did a full review for this when it came out and have since watched it a couple times again and I just like it more and more. It did everything a sequel should. Up the body count, and fixed some of the off-beat moments in the first film. An all around great slasher.

1 – I saw the Devil

"the blood on your face really brings out the evil in your eyes"

I came across this movie quite by accident, this past Halloween, while it played on my cable packages movie network. (and I’ve seen it four times since then) I was just enthralled by the story. I saw the Devil, really went into some dark places but at no point was it gratuitous or exploitative. It’s a fantastic revenge story that really goes to show how bitter-sweet it can be.  Plus there is one sequence in a cab that is probably the most badass fight scene I saw in a movie all year. This has made it in a lot of the top spots and for good reason, honestly when I started putting this together I knew without a doubt in my mind this was going to be my number one.

Well that’s it. I wanted to post this on Horror-Movies.ca exclusively but they are slow to upload (probably has a lot to do with the season). I can’t wait to see what 2012 brings the world of horror!

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The Nightmare Before Christmas (…and they call him Sandy Claws)

Posted in Horror Showcase, Updates with tags , , , , , on December 22, 2011 by splatterpictures

Oh ho? What’s this? Another bonus post just for you guys? That’s because I like yah. I also consider splatterpictures to be my warm and safe spot where I can be a little freer with my thoughts and opinions and I really wanted to share my thoughts on The Nightmare Before Christmas.

I will start off by saying I’m not the biggest Tim Burton fan. I think like a lot of people I really liked his early stuff, with Edward Scissorhands but beyond that he never really made something that I really enjoyed. I was aware of The Nightmare Before Christmas for years before I actually bothered to watch it. I think it took me so long because when I was younger I would often just thumb my nose at something popular rather than watching it myself.  Then one day I managed to catch it on TV.

The Nightmare Before Christmas was released in 1993, and was based on a poem that Tim Burton had written years ago. He had wanted to produce the movie but didn’t have the clout in Hollywood just yet to do so. Some of the casual fans might not know that Tim Burton didn’t actually direct it. At the time Burton was knee deep in ruining Batman for everyone and couldn’t take on the director’s duties. That went over to Henry Selick. Although, Burton wasn’t the director, he was very hands on, and oversaw nearly every aspect of the movie and took a producers create. It was said that he was there almost every day to make sure everything was up to his creative vision.

The story is about Jack Skellington the pumpkin king. He is a celebrity like figure in the strange world of Halloween Town. Everything in Halloween town is all about the holiday that it gets its name from. We find them all in the middle of their celebration, for Halloween and Jack is front and center. After all is said and done it becomes obvious (through song no less) that he is bored with life and wants something new and exciting to happen.

He wonders all night and finds a series of doors to other holiday worlds and jumps into Christmas Town, he loves everything so much that he wants to take it back to his hometown and make Christmas his own. Of course, everything ends up with a distinct macabre twist to it and in the end he learns some kinda lesson I’m sure.

The movie is a musical, and the songs are great. Catchy with a lot going on in them. Danny Elfman did the music (big surprise) but also lended vocal talents to Jack’s singing voice aswell as a few other characters.  A lot of the more upbeat songs are pretty infectious but I did find myself disliking some of the ballads.

Not only is Elfman front and center every other aspect of a Burton film is also present. So everything has that sorta greyscale colouring. Long exaggerated designs and stripes. Ever notice all the stripes that Burton puts on everything? For me the most interesting portions visually were when Jack was in Christmas Town because it looks like a totally different creative team handled it. Very-non-Burton. Bright colours, cheerful etc…

It can’t be over-emphasised the technical achievements that this movie has. A lot of the more modern stop animations that have come out, in recent years such as Corpse Bride (another Burton flick) and Coraline (Actually also directed by Henry Selick) use stop motion but they combine it with CGI. This was bare bones stop animation. Some of the puppets even show a little wear in the clay but I find it to be part of its charm.

I’ve talked to a few people recently and we actually got into the real debate of whether or not it’s a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie. Well my attitude is Christmas is in the fucking title so there. I think if you take the time to sit down and watch it, it’s a worthy addition to the family Christmas movie run-through. It’s got the spooky twists of Halloween but ultimately is a fun take on the Christmas season. To anyone out there who has young children, I say make it part of the tradition if you haven’t already!

This will probably be me last post until after Christmas so I just wanted to take the opportunity to tell you all to have a happy and safe Holiday. I have some more stuff leading up to new years and then I have big plans for 2012.

"Listen Jack, in ten years you'll be on more T-shirts than me."

Black Christmas

Posted in Horror Showcase, Ode to the Unsung Slasher with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2011 by splatterpictures

When I talk to a certain generation, usually the 40 -60 crowds I am always, interested in asking them when movie scared them as a child. Horror has changed a lot over the years and it’s pretty clear when you look back on certain films. We’ve all had these moments. The first time I ever saw the Exorcist I remember thinking “I don’t really see what the big deal was” As I got older I started to learn how to put things in perspective. I started to understand the generations in which these movies came out in and most importantly what came before.

The movie that comes up more often than not for this particular crowd is Black Christmas. I’ve actually mentioned this film a few times on my site before and the reason for that is the historical significance of it. As funny as that sounds Black Christmas is an important movie. And best of all? It’s Canadian.

The film was released in 1974 and was directed by Bob Clark. A common bit of trivia is that Clark also directed the classic Christmas movie “A Christmas Story”. The Film stars Olivia Hussey and a very foul mouthed Margot Kidder. It also has John Saxon who seemed to make a good career out of being “the cop” in horror.

(Spoilers ahead)

The basic premise is this. A stranger stalks and kills sorority girls on Christmas Eve. That’s it. It’s so simple but these words can’t really emphasis how unnerving this movie can be if you let yourself get really in to it. For one, you never know who the killer is. Most of the shots of him are POV or you just get a glimpse of an arm or an eye. In the end he gets away leaving everyone baffled to who it could be.

Now for why this film is important. It’s widely considered to be the very first slasher movie ever made. (Beating out Texas Chainsaw Massacre by a mere 10 days) It takes a whole bunch of horror elements and mixes them together and that formula would be what every single slasher movie would copy from that point on. Or more accurately, what John Carpenter copied and created from Halloween and everyone copied from him. There was a Q&A on the Black Christmas DVD where Clark talks about a conversation he had with Carpenter who expressed being a great fan of the film, and wondered if Clark was going to do a sequel. Clark said if he ever would it would take place the following year and that it would be on Halloween. Clark was of course quick to emphasis that Carpenter didn’t rip off his movie and that Halloween is totally his own creation. Which is nice of him to say but looking at the both films it’s pretty obvious that it isn’t.

Familiar themes that would be used, like POV shots, body counts, foul language and teenagers doing what they aren’t supposed to be doing are all mixed together. The most interesting thing to me is that it never got a sequel. It stands alone as a single story about a psycho killer that is never caught or discovered. That is easily the scariest element of the entire movie. Every slasher to come after would make their killer the star and you’d see them as often as possible. The mystery as to who the killer is is usually solved by a mask. Even when they have a mask, by the end of the movie, we know who it was. Although it is a unique aspect that really sets Black Christmas apart it also hurts the movie because they don’t make up for the loss of an iconic killer with interesting victims. They are all just your typical bunch of sorority girls. Totally disposable.

I recommend anyone who’s interested, check this out. Not only is it one of the best holiday themed horror films it’s also an important film in the history of horror in general. Have a great Christmas and as always thanks for reading!

"Superman Ain't Savin' Shit"

Christmas Evil (You’d Better Watch out!)

Posted in Horror Showcase, Ode to the Unsung Slasher, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2011 by splatterpictures

Time to jump into the Holiday season with a properly themed horror review. Christmas has always been a fun time of year, for horror. Everyone sort of gets off on the Macabre concept of this special time of year being ruined by killer Santas or evil snowmen. A lot of the time it’s just utterly ridiculous. Sometimes though, it can be a pretty effective and chilling tale of home invasion during a time when we would hope that kind of evil would take a holiday with everyone else. Somewhere in between the super serious and utterly ridiculous there is Christmas Evil.

Christmas Evil was released in 1980, by good old Pan American Pictures, it was written directed by Lewis Jackson, it tells the story of a lonely man (Brandon Maggart) obsessed with Christmas and the concept of Santa Claus.

The movie starts off with a family watching Santa delivering presents to their home, of course this is just the father of the family pretending. It’s a cute little holiday memory that I don’t actually know for sure happens in real life. It certainly happens a lot in movies and television though.

I remember reading about this film before I saw it and it was said that the main character experiences a traumatic event as a child regarding Santa and it grows up all twisted. Well, the trauma in question is when he comes back downstairs later and sees his father (dressed as Santa) have some PG-13 sexy time with his mother. It’s honestly a pretty weird thing to be traumatized over. He runs up stars and smashes a snow globe then proceeds to cut himself deliberately with a piece of glass. That’s pretty much it.

It cuts to him as a grown man. He isn’t married and has no kids of his own; he lives in a small house by himself and works at the Jolly Dream toy factory. He gets pushed around and talked down too by his co-workers even though he technically has a higher position than they do.

It starts off quickly letting you know that Harry isn’t quite right. He watches the children in his neighbourhood and decides who is naughty and nice, he then writes it down. In books marked rather professionally as Good Boys and Girls 1980 and Bad Boys and Girls 1980. (I really want to know how he found those books or got them made.) You can see how important he considers this “work” and how frantically he makes sure it’s up to date.

As it gets closer to Christmas Harry starts making himself a Santa Suit and getting ready for something. What I like is that he never tells anyone what he’s doing and as an audience you’re not even sure yourself. I knew I was watching a horror movie but aside from a few musical cues here and there you never get a sense that Harry really wants to do anything “wrong”.

It becomes obvious that Harry really just wants to be the Santa Claus he always wished was real. He wants children to believe and know that if they are good, good things will happen to them but, if they are bad, bad things will happen. This in itself is pretty deranged and after he starts breaking into peoples houses you wonder just how far he’s going to take it.

As a horror movie some people might find this one a little slow, but I feel it’s effective.

There are great moments where you see the intensity behind Harry’s eyes and actions the character has moments where he looks like he is just about to snap, but then gets into his Santa character and seems completely harmless. These moments work fantastically because as an audience we know that these people mocking him or being greedy on Christmas are going to get it. There is one scene where he is talking to a group of kids at a Christmas party and telling them to be good. Nothing he’s saying is bad but since you know how screwed up he is, it just made my skin crawl.

I found myself rooting for Harry, I wanted him to get revenge on his bosses who were more concerned about their pockets than children in need. Or his co-worker that was trying to just take advantage of him. Even his brother who was hard on Harry because in his opinion he was a loser. In the end I wanted him to get away with it.

The deaths aren’t that numerous but they are well done with great use of the “holiday themes” A guy getting his throat sliced open with a Christmas star is just damn good film-making if you ask me. There isn’t a huge body count and it isn’t really gory but the deaths have resonance.

There is also the matter of this being considered somewhat of a comedy. I think the moments that are funny are actually some of the more realistic aspects of it. Harry isn’t a smooth, cold calculating killer who has it all worked out. He seems like a man who has been thinking about this for awhile but this is his first outing as old Saint Nick and he’s bound to make a few mistakes. A long scene of him trying to go down the chimney is a good example. As well as struggling to kill someone not realizing how difficult it might actually be. He’s defiantly doing a lot of this on the fly. He stumbles and falls and goes the wrong way, just like any killer getting his feet wet I guess.

The parts that didn’t work for me were mostly around the end, when the parents of the neighbourhood are chasing him around. They had actual torches. Really? It’s like something out of a Universal horror, which isn’t a bad thing but kinda hard to believe modern people (in this case the modern age of 1980) would actually go and cobble together torches.  The other thing that I think could have been worked out better was the reasoning for Harry’s bizarre fascination with Christmas and his desire to –be- Santa Claus. When he goes on to blame his younger brother for never believing in Santa, it seemed way too trivial to explain his mental state. Now that I am writing this though, I do admit that it goes along well with Harry’s delusions that he would take a single incident that his brother did when he was 6 as justification for robbery, breaking and entering and murder. His own brother screams about how ridiculous it is.

The ending is also a little off-beat but overall I think it was a fine farewell to one of the more complicated characters I’ve ever seen in a horror movie.

This is regarded as one of the best Christmas horror movies ever made. That is a pretty bold statement considering how varied peoples tastes are. I think this is a very good character piece that defiantly deserves to be viewed at least once. Brandon Maggart’s acting goes a long way to help this film, that otherwise might be pretty forgettable. He gives us a character that is selfish and selfless at the same time. A character who garners a lot more sympathy than the people he is killing. I say check it out!

"On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a much needed tracheotomy!"