Archive for genre

Helldriver (I dig it I dig it!)

Posted in Horror Showcase, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2012 by splatterpictures

To think back on my life before Helldriver I have some hard realizations to come to terms with. For example, before Helldriver I’d never seen a woman use a zombie’s spine like a stripper poll.  I’d also never seen a car made entirely of zombies, be driven by another zombie but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Helldriver was released by the good folks at Sushi Typhoon and was directed by Yoshihiro Nishimura. Nishimura, of course a longstanding figure in Japanese splatter flicks having worked on The Machine Girl and Tokyo Gore Police to name a few.

The movie probably has one of the longest pre-titles I’ve ever seen. It felt like I was already twenty minutes into the thing before the title flashed across the screen but it does give the skinny on the plot.

Six million citizens in Japan have become infected with a mysterious alien ash. This ash causes them to look and behave much like zombies, except for some volatile tumour on their heads. In an attempt to save as many people as they can the Japanese government builds a wall separating the north and south of Japan. There are a great many normal citizens (including the Prime Minister) who believes that these zombies shouldn’t be killed but rather cured.

Kiko (Yumiko Hara) is a young girl who comes from a tragic family. Her mother and uncle are a pair of cannibalistic psychopaths while her father was unfortunately disabled and unable to protect her from them. During a bizarre altercation Kiko’s mother rips out her daughter’s heart after a small meteor blows through her body. Her mother becomes the “Zombie Queen” and Kiko gets picked up by authorities and has an outboard motor installed in her chest that activates a chainsaw sword when she pulls the rip-cord.  (yeah I’m not kidding)

She and a small group of others travel deep into the zombie’s territory to attempt to kill the queen and end the nightmare. Along the way they are barraged by hundreds of flying heads, a pregnant zombie that uses her zombie baby attached to an umbilical cord like some kind of medieval flail. The stuff they come up with is just a mind boggling.

Helldriver thankfully feels closer to Tokyo Gore Police than anything else and that’s a good thing. It does have the typical “Sushi Typhoon standbys” Lots of awkward dance scenes with some dodgy CGI and long close-ups of people jamming disgusting things in their mouths which at this point seems like they do it just because they feel they have to. Strangely all of my complaints about the film were before the main story kicks off. When it gets into the meat of the action the film really starts to work.

Special effects are what these movies are really all about and I can tell they really kicked it up a notch especially with the whole look of The Zombie Queen. Throughout the movie there are a lot of really nice looking effects but only when they stick to the practical stuff.  Nishimura has this obsession with wriggling tendons and merging body parts together so his monsters always resemble some horrific modern art piece.

The CGI is -and probably always will be -the biggest weakness for this production company. It has a lot to do with their limited budget and the fact that they keep coming up with crazier and crazier things. Helldriver is no exception, the CGI looks incredibly synthetic and I’ve always found that to be a personal pet peeve of mine in any movie.

To be honest I’ve not enjoyed a lot of the stuff that’s come out of Sushi Typhoon lately. The stuff they’ve released was alright but there was something about their earlier films that I just liked more. I was generally disappointed with films like Robo-Geisha. Mutant Girl Squad and Vampire Girl Vs. Frankenstein Girl. They were too silly and chaotic and I couldn’t really say they were worth the price of the DVD but I feel this is probably the best they’ve released in awhile and I did actually find myself really enjoying it by the end. If you get a chance I’d say check it out. It’s a non-stop gore fueled comedy that just begs to be watched with a group of people.

This is a horde of zombies in the shape of a plane holding two rockets.

The Woman In Black (1989) review

Posted in Updates with tags , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2012 by splatterpictures

I have this little obsession with making sure that I do a little research into upcoming horror that interests me. In this day and age unfortunately that usually means watching the original movie. I’ve written about haunting stories before but this time we’re going into the realm of a TV movie for The Woman In Black. The BBC has a long and proud history of quality productions that sadly not always the easiest to come by. Thankfully we have places like the internet to help us out until things can be released properly.  This isn’t the first time in recent history that a film based on a made for TV horror gets a big fancy Hollywood release. A few months ago Guillermo del Toro’s Don’t Be Afraid of The Dark hit theatres and that was a made for TV movie from the 70’s.

So before the new Woman In Black remake spooks its way to theatres I wanted to share this wonderful little gem with all of you. The film was released for the ITV Network in 1989. It was based of the 1983 novel of the same name written by Susan Hill. Herbert Wise would handle the directing duties and it starred Adrian Rawlins.

The woman in Black opens up to a young man named Arthur Kipps who is sent out as a solicitor to a small town to attend the Funeral of Mrs. Alice Drablow. Drablow was an elderly widow who lived in this creepy old house that sits alone in a marsh surrounded by mist. The narrow ways lack of visibility makes it a notoriously dangerous spot. It becomes known to Kipps that people have lost their lives there before. During his stay he begins to see images of a woman in black. He comes across Mrs. Drablows recorded Journal that confirms that she too was plagued by the images of a woman.  It doesn’t take long before other suspicious activity in the house and even from the locals begins to unravel the bizarre mystery surrounding the Eel Marsh House.

I will start off by saying the movie has a very slow beginning . It just follows Kipps around as he prepares to leave for the town. I don’t know if it was the mood I was in or just the movie itself but the first thirty minutes I was checking the time. Of course I had plans to stick with it and I’m glad I did. In the gothic style of haunting stories this one is nothing particularly different. Strange activity becomes more frequent over time and it serves to help unravel the mystery of the house itself. A lot of the tension comes from the wonderful musical score by Rachael Portman that really amplifies Kipps frantic nature. Seriously the guy could win an award for freaking out if they gave out awards for that sort of thing.

Although there are a lot of tense moments I would honestly say there is only one big scare. It relies on you getting accustom to how the movie presents the ghosts and supernatural activity and then throwing something totally different in your face. It was effective to be sure and that’s saying a lot coming from me.

The last part of the movie I will talk about is the ending. I really don’t want to give too much away but I thought it really was a high point that brought the whole story full circle.

I think a few of the things I didn’t like were a couple of things were handled off camera. I understand this had probably more to do with cost than anything else but it would have been interesting if they had the budget or time.

The Woman in Black is a subdued ghost story that people should go into with patience. The ending pays off nicely but will probably do nothing for people who like a little bit more bang.

There’s no telling how the new film will measure up to the old one. I can tell you that it’s a well known story in the UK having been turned into a stage production that has run for twenty years. In the modern age we can defiantly count on more special effects and more obvious scares, which admittedly wouldn’t hurt. I’ll stay optimistic until opening day.

I recommend that anyone who is interested in a good ghost story check this one out. Just a word of warning, although it was released on DVD it’s out of print now and very hard to come by. If there are some good spots to find it don’t forget to comment and let people know! Until next time, thanks for reading!

"I'm the ghost of Dame Maggie Smith"

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"