Archive for Horror Comedy

Killer Klowns From Outer Space (Holy Sh**!)

Posted in Horror Showcase, Updates with tags , , , , , , , on April 3, 2012 by splatterpictures

The 1980’s has seen its fair share of ridiculous crap. I’ve spoke often about the horror boom of the 80’s and how it’s shaped how we look at horror nowadays. The interesting thing about Killer Klowns from Outer Space is not how 80’s it is but how 50’s.

Watching this movie I couldn’t help but notice how it felt as if I was watching a 50’s B movie in the drive in. Well not that I would even really know what that’s like since the drive-in went the way of the dodo before my time but I have seen a lot of films from that era and they all have the same “feel” to them.

Killer Klowns was written, directed, and produced by Chiodo brothers. Just three guys who loved science fiction and horror and wanted to make something that could be scary and silly at the same time. I think the final product was a lot sillier than anything else, but if you have a phobia of clowns or something this movie is probably your worst nightmare. The film stars Grant Cramer John Nelson and Suzanne Snyder. Snyder of course doing pretty well for horror in the 1980’s being in both Night of the Creeps and Return of the Living Dead II.

Well, I am not sure I’d even need to explain what this movie is about. It’s in the friggin’ title. There are space aliens that come to earth and kill people for food. They don’t just grab them and munch away; first they cocoon them in cotton candy which apparently makes them dissolve into a liquid that the alien clowns then drink. (with a silly straw)  The whole gimmick is of course that these aliens just so happen to look like clowns. Not only do they look like clowns but ever aspect of their technology is also circus themed. They have big top space-ships with pastel interior colour schemes. They have pop-corn guns, acidic pies, and giant wiffle-bats.

I remember wondering how much political debate would it have taken to get an entire society to stick to one theme like that. It probably took years of campaigns. I mean imagine if all of a sudden it became law for us to dress like clowns and then all of our technology would have to be changed to perpetuate the overall theme. I wonder if their home planet has outlaws that don’t dress like clowns…you know what? I’ve officially over analyzed this.

This is one of those movies that I’ve heard as many negative things about it as positive. I like to look at it from the perspective that it’s paying homage to a genre of films that in themselves weren’t exactly great. That being said a lot of its charm comes from the very fact that it doesn’t take itself seriously (honestly how could it?) Sure things are goofy but they’re supposed to be.

The special effects are pretty good all things considered. The clowns themselves look creepy as all hell. The entire time I was watching the movie I was wondering how anybody could be fooled into thinking they are actually people. Not only are they disproportioned they all have fucked up faces that would make me not want to go anywhere near them. A lot of the gags are based around killing unsuspecting people with clown-like shenanigans. My personal favourite was when they rolled up to a security guard in a clown car and then a bunch of them all get out one at a time, while the guard stands there completely confused about what he’s seeing they pelt the poor guy to death with pies. After the guy is a melted pile of ice-cream one of the little clowns puts a cherry on top. I was dying of laughter.

"Anyone who spells "Klown" with a "C" gets the pie!"

As I said before this is a tribute to 50’s movies and the one that it gets compared to a lot is the Blob. The only similarity really is the overall premise of teenagers running around while adults refuse to believe them. This is brought to outrageous proportions by the town’s police officer Curtis Mooney (played by the late John Vernon) he just crosses his arms and refuses to believe anyone even as the phones are ringing off the hook. He hates teenagers and is always just looking for excuses to arrest them. It’s pretty great.

Another similarity to The Blob I noticed was the inclusion of a theme song specifically for the movie.  (The Blob from 1958 had a catchy jingle aswell) Killer Klowns got the novelty song treatment courtesy of the punk group The Dickies (Later to be called Dill Pickles) The song “Killer Klowns” is fantastic and just sets the entire film up as the campy mess it ought to be. The rest of the music was scored by John Massari and every moment is just filled with slightly twisted and silly little circus jingles.

Early word has it that by next year the Chiodo brothers will be adding a long awaited sequel called The Return of The Killer Klowns From Outer Space. As much as I was amused by this film I’m not sure that a sequel should be made even with the best of intentions I like Killer Klowns as it is; a weird oddity that exists on its own.

Sadly, I don't think you can eat your way out of this one.

Tokyo Zombie

Posted in Horror Showcase, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2012 by splatterpictures

Sometimes when I grab something off the DVD shelf I never know what I’m going get. I had a feeling about Tokyo Zombie: A movie with Jiu-Jitsu, zombies and comedy? Sold!

While I’m the first to admit that with all of the over-saturation of the zombie genre in the last few years I tend to roll my eyes at every new title announced I do find it fun that some things get region one releases where they might never have if zombies weren’t hot right now.

Tokyo Zombie was released in 2005 in Japan, and was given a region one DVD release in 2009. It’s based off the popular 1999 Manga written by Yusaku Hanakuma. The films directing duties were handed to Sakichi Sato and it stars Tadanobu Asano and Show Aikawa.

The year is unknown, I guess modern times but in this version of Japan there is a massive garbage dump at the epicentre of Tokyo. It’s full of toxic waste, garbage and the discarded bodies of the dead. The people call it “Black Fuji” because of the black ash that surrounds the mountain. Death and murder are treated pretty differently. If you kill somebody you just dump the body and forget about it. It makes for a few hilarious situations.

The main characters are Fukio and Mitsuo, (Asano and Aikawa respectively) they are you typical idiot and straight man buddy picture duo. The fun thing is how the pair are obsessed with becoming Jiu-Jitsu champions. They train all day instead of focusing on their jobs at a fire extinguisher factory (where they seem to be the only ones who work there). Their boss shows up and after a brief argument they accidentally kill him. So off to Black Fuji they go to get rid of his body.

This is about where the zombies start popping up and then it’s their fight for survival as they make their way to Russia where apparently the manliest men live and they can perfect their fighting styles.

The films take an interesting turn about midway through and does a time skip. I’m certain that’s just how the Manga ended up but as a movie it’s pretty weird. A lot of zombie movies take place either at the initial outbreak or well after the fact in sort of a post apocalyptic scenario where humans are barely surviving. A good example of the two extremes would be if Night of the Living Dead and then Land of The Dead were one movie.

When it gets into this portion the whole buddy comedy thing is over and now it’s just Fujio fighting in arena style matches against the undead. There is a hilarious twist towards the end of the movie though that I thought was fantastic. I usually don’t like it when movies switch gears like this so dramatically but in this case I felt it worked.

The jokes are mostly physical comedy which is good. A lot of times when you’re watching a movie from Japan the jokes can be lost in translation but I found myself laughing out loud at more than a few scenes.

I wouldn’t say it’s very gory so people looking for that type thing will be disappointed. It’s also plagued by some pretty bad CGI but I think in this case they knew it looked ridiculous and in a lot of ways it serves to enhance the comedy. Check it out!

 

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.

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!"