Archive for movie review

Dead Air Ep 37 – Burnt Offerings

Posted in Dead Air Podcast, Updates with tags , , , , , , on December 11, 2015 by splatterpictures

Don’t look now but you’re aging before our eyes! On episode 37 of the Dead Air Podcast Wes and Lydia talk about the 1970’s supernatural horror Burnt Offerings. An all star cast head to a stately home for the summer but beware! This house has a voracious appetite and the only thing on the menu is your youth!

Dead Air Ep 35 – Thirteen Ghosts (2001)

Posted in Dead Air Podcast, Updates with tags , , , , , , , on November 20, 2015 by splatterpictures

 

Better late than never, some procrastinators say. In this episode of Dead Air we hit every month of the Black Zodiac as we talk about the imperfect but highly underrated remake; thirteen Ghosts. We also touch on which remakes are our favorites and how easily Wes can become derailed while talking about the directors cut of Aliens.

Freaks (Scott’s Horror Corner)

Posted in Scott's Horror Corner, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2013 by splatterpictures

Can a full grown woman truly love a midget?

 

FreaksPosterThis is the question posed by the 1932 movie ‘Freaks’. The movie is about a young trapeze artist named Cleopatra who, upon learning of the sizable inheritance he posesses, seduces a sideshow midget named Hans to marry her. In reality, she’s infatuated with the strong man, Hercules. Hercules and Cleopatra are the normal folks in this carnival. Hans leaves his also-tiny current love interest to date someone outside of the ‘freaks’ he associates with.

 

It tends to be classified as a horror movie, though I believe that’s a debatable fact. There’s a lot to discuss here regarding the morals and ethics of what’s going on in this movie, but not a lot of horror to be found. That said, it is considered a cult classic in the genre. Cult classics generally become cult because their audience is low and they are weird. Well, the latter speaks for itself and the former means this movie bombed where it wasn’t banned. In fact, it bombed so hard that director Tod Browning, who directed Bela Lugosi in Dracula, effectively had his career ended by this movie. The movie was banned for 30 years in the United Kingdom. It wasn’t until the 1960’s and 70’s when it was rediscovered and received some success at midnight showings . Nowadays, it still pops up on the more eclectic movie channels.

 

So what was so horrible about it? Truly, it was just the fact that they used real sideshow performers as their actors. Characters like the Human Torso (a man with no limbs), the pinheads (people who suffer from a disease called microcephaley), and conjoined twins were simply too weird for audiences. Perhaps society felt bad staring, or maybe they rejected the idea of a movie that exploited them. The movie itself paints a really sweet picture of these ‘freaks’ as it were….casting aside the ending, of course.

 

‘Freaks’ has a lot of small side stories alongside Cleopatra’s conniving ways. We get to see the bearded lady have a baby, for example. The pinheads frolic in a field along with a midget and a man with no legs. Typing it out makes it sound a little weirder than the actual experience I received watching it, on second thought. The conjoined twins find love with two different men. As the second man announces his engagement to the other soon-to-be-husband he quips “You’ll have to come visit us sometime!”.

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There are many memorable scenes in the movie, if only for the spectacle of what the body can adapt to. The aforementioned Human Torso lights a cigarette using only his mouth, for example. Then there are the iconic (maybe that’s not the right word) scenes which stick with you for horrific reasons or

otherwise. The scene that’s often quoted from this movie takes place before the wedding of Cleopatra to Hans. All of the freaks gather together and have a huge party with lots of drinking. Midway through the festivities, one of the midgets jumps up on the table and pours some liquor into a huge glass. He beings to chant:

“We accept her, we accept her, one of us, one of us, gooble gobble, gooble gobble!”

The rest of the freaks join in, as he gleefully moves from freak to freak, offering them a drink from this glass. Of course, when he finally gets to Cleopatra, she goes crazy, cursing them, calling them terrible names and then throwing the drink at them. It doesn’t endear her anymore that she had poisoned poor Hans earlier in the night.

 

The freaks find out about her treachery in the creepiest way possible, namely staring at her from under wagons. The climax comes in the middle of a thunderstorm and has some pretty creepy imagery which probably was what earned it the horror genre tag. I’ll save her comeuppance for your own viewing pleasure.

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Sideshows barely exist anymore. A lot of the acts from the old sideshows would probably be getting special care in homes or at institutions today. So, is it ok to watch this movie? Knowing that these people were being exploited? Or, in the case of this movie, is it ok because these people were not portrayed as anything but a well-knit family? Granted, a well-knit, vindictive family, but still.

 

For some, such as Schlitze, one of the pinheads, the spotlight was what kept them happy. He (despite wearing dresses, Schlitze was a he) was institutionalized after his caretaker died. The hospital deemed the best care for him would be to stay in the sideshow as it was the only thing that kept him happy. When he died, he was interred in an unmarked grave in California. In recent years, a message board took up funds and had a small marker placed with her name, date of birth and death. I won’t say much about whether the movie is right or wrong, but if it weren’t for ‘Freaks’, no one would know Schlitze was buried there.

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Sinister (Review time!)

Posted in Updates with tags , , , , , on October 13, 2012 by splatterpictures

I remember first watching the trailer for the new Film Sinister a few months back and I joked about how it seemed similar in title and theme as 2011’s horror hit Insidious. We got demons we got ghost children, we got moving to a house and the titles are nearly identical. Now that I’ve finally watched Sinister I can safely say that they are indeed different films.

Sinister is directed by Scott Derrickson who’s no stranger to the genre having dipped his pen and sat in the director’s chair for a couple of horror films already. Starring in the movie is Ethan Hawke who’s had a lengthy and critically acclaimed career already.

Hawke plays a true crime writer Ellison Oswalt. Ellison experienced a major hit 10 years ago when he wrote a book called Kentucky Blood. The fame afforded him money, countless interviews; the story was made all the more remarkable because in that case he stumbled upon something the police had missed. Sadly all things come to an end and with two failed books behind him Ellison is desperate for one more hit so he can have financial and personal stability. He brings his family to a house in a small town where a grizzly murder occurred in which a family was hung to death from a tree. (We’re treated to said hanging in glorious 8mm at the beginning of the film).

At this point in the story we watch as Ellison’s wife Tracy (Juliet Rylance) and two young children basically adjust to having their lives uprooted again. Tracy is probably the least likable character. I get that she was supposed to be tired of the true crime business and didn’t want her husband writing another – especially since his books tend to make him notorious among the local police community- but she was flipping out about everything. Nag nag nag…anyways.

The scares happen when Ellison discovers a strange box of old 8mm film and projector in the attic. He watches them and quickly realizes they are home movies that always end with a family’s death. The families seem to have no relation other than; everyone is killed except for one child who goes missing. At this point the film plays out a lot like a totally different kind of horror where somebody is tracking down what seems to be a serial killer.

“I notice you, noticing me”

With every new bit of evidence Ellison discovers he becomes more and more obsessed with how these killings are connected; strange demonic symbols and person referred to as “Mr. Boogie” that is in a few frames of every killing dating back to the 1960’s. Ellison learns through a convenient connection through a local cop that these symbols are of Bagul: the eater of children. He lives in the images and once you’ve seen them it’s already too late. Ellison has to uncover the mystery of Bagul and the murders but the creeping dread that surrounds him is getting worse every day and the real question is he able to hold on to his sanity and forget his desire for literary fame long enough to save his family?

This film has a lot going for it in terms of premise and style. I liked the use of the 8mm film in a lot of places because it gives a gritty and raw feel to an otherwise slick Hollywood production. A lot of the film also hinges on Ethan Hawke’s performance while watching the grotesque images on the film which he does admirably.

The scares come frequently but people who are not fans of cheap-shot jumps will probably become frustrated as the film relies heavily on “loud noises” to create the startling effects. The most disturbing scenes come from the films themselves which are silent and the audience only has the rhythmic flicker of the tapes to accompany the grizzly murders and in this sense there is nothing supernatural about it.

An amazingly effective scene has Ethan Hawke slowly walking his house with a baseball bat while creepy ghost children keep rather skilfully out of his peripheral is in my opinion the highlight of the film.

The film falls short in several key areas. I felt a lot of the scares were predictable in that nothing really startled me at all. Also, like my complaints with another recent film The Possession” It felt all too familiar in certain key areas. Demon, obsession, angry police, occult expert shows up, inner family turmoil and things of that ilk.

Another thing I thought could have been done better was the overall look of Bagul. He looked like some Slipknot reject and while scenes with him actually in it are few I was waiting for him to just bust out a face melting guitar solo.

Sinister overall gets a passing grade from me. Even though the film has its fair share of clichés- It’s a solid movie to help you enjoy your Halloween season with. It cleverly does a balancing act between a true crime horror and a haunted house movie with a little dash of Asian horror.  Hawke’s performance as I mentioned is excellent and I felt sympathetic to him in the end. (spoiler alert) no happy endings here which is something that always gets extra points from me.