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Evil Dead (2013) Review

Posted in Updates with tags , , , on April 6, 2013 by splatterpictures

evil-dead-poster-hi-resSPOILERS AHEAD

I can’t help but wonder what Fede Alverez was thinking when he got the call to do evil dead. Not just any evil dead; a remake. A parallel continuity or continuation or a rebirth, or however their spinning it is arguable. What is not arguable is that evil dead is a franchise coveted by horror fans. Yes, their have been bigger franchises that made more money and spawned more sequels and been far more critically acclaimed but one important thing to remember is evil dead is one of those franchises that hasn’t been touched in film since the early 90’s. There have been comics, games, and people tattooing that shit on their fucking bodies but no features. It has (putting it mildly) a ravenously loyal fanbase and starred an actor that is one of the biggest if not the biggest cult icon of modern times, Bruce Campbell.  So when Fede Alverez got that call that told him that for his first big studio movie he was doing is evil dead, and that it would be a remake and it wouldn’t have Bruce Campbell I’m sure he realized if not then but soon that he was going to have to do better than any horror remake in the last 10 years.

A group of young friends gather together in an old cabin that belonged to the siblings Mia (Jane Levy) and David (Shiloh Fernandez) The idea is to help Mia get off drugs. So while her friends try to detox her  and spit out some (awkward exposition dialogue) they discover a bloody mess in the basement of the cabin along with a mysterious book. Not content to leave well enough alone the words are spoken and what follows is a bloodbath to end all bloodbaths. Or maybe a blood shower?

The strongest points of this movie are the dedication spent to the gore effects. Even though they do use a lot of CGI in some shots it’s not too distracting and seems to be melded well with practical effects.  A lot of the damage the characters take is absolutely unreal. In particular, the character of Eric played by Lou Taylor Pucci, that guy just takes a beating throughout the entire film.

There are countless moments throughout the movie that are nods back to the original trilogy. Be it camera angles, lines of dialogue or the pacing of the film but at the same time it isn’t an hour and thirty minute inside joke that new comers to the series will be left out of.

There is a fine balancing act that Alverez performs by doing justice to the franchise but also making it his own. The third act is entirely new and feels unique and fresh, while the first two acts seem like a glowing tribute to the source material.

evildeadbloodyA few things I didn’t like was the stiff dialogue between a lot of the characters. Beyond the previously mentioned exposition scenes there is a point in the movie where I just don’t feel like these characters are really freaked out enough. It might have been a way to further desensitize the violence for the audience but I think it’s more of a case of the movie relying too much on its namesake and special effects while its actors are generic. Nobody stands out, and in a lot of cases aren’t even given much of a chance too. This is about the point where I was missing Bruce Campbell. His character of Ash stole the show and he as an actor oozed charisma that made the series what it was. It’s not as though anyone did a bad job it’s just that I felt nobody elevated the movie by being in it.

Another thing which was probably the biggest sin was showing what was chasing Levy’s character. They played tribute to the classic and extremely distinct POV chase scenes that dotted the original franchise but instead of leaving it to your imagination they decided we needed to see it. Also, every time somebody did something weird (weird means violent and gross) they felt the need to show us a page in the book that related to what was happening. It seemed unnecessary and I felt that it took away from those scenes. Then again I love when things aren’t explained.

It’s an insanely bold move of the studios to back a movie and push its production while at the same time taking their strongest muscles (Rami and Campbell) and regulating them to producers. (One with an extremely uneventful cameo after the credits.)

As I’ve said many times; remakes, sequels and prequels have been around for awhile but the internet hasn’t. These days it takes about two minutes to find someone online and send them a message, or publicly bash them or their product. The things I read coming from fans of the original while this movie was being made was ridiculous enough but I honestly believe they did something evil dead fans and the mainstream will be happy with.

This is easily the best horror remake (rebirth/sequel/whatever) I’ve ever seen but I can’t help but wonder how amazing if would be if Bruce had returned to play ash. Given the early buzz that this movie will well exceed its modest budget I guess we only need wait for the inevitable Evil Dead 2.

"Let me out! I was just doing my linda blair impression but I'm cool now"

“Let me out! I was just doing my linda blair impression but I’m cool now”

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!”.

Photo 1

 

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.

Photo 2

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.

Photo 3

Dark Night of the ScareCrow (Scott’s Horror Corner)

Posted in Scott's Horror Corner, Updates with tags , , on January 22, 2013 by splatterpictures

MV5BMTY2ODE4MTE1NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDA4OTk2Mw@@._V1._SY317_CR5,0,214,317_Not to be confused with its sequel Dark Knight and the Scarecrow….okay that’s a lie, I’m just trying to keep your attention, because honestly, I saw this movie as a kid and I thought “What a terrifying movie!” and subsequently “This would be great for SplatterPictures” and now, I say “Well, it is probably good for the site in its own special way…”

vlcsnap-2013-01-17-15h59m08s22

Speaking of special, the basic plot of this movie is that there is a mentally handicapped man who makes friends with a young girl. They sit in fields and sing songs, all the while the mailman watches menacingly through binoculars. Kinda weird, but it’s understandable since apparently they routinely beat the hell out of him, per his conversation with a flannel wearing companion. One day, the girl sneaks through a hole in a fence and gets massacred by a guard dog. Of course, in lieu of actual action or reactions, we get GNOME REACTIONS.

The Horror...The Horror.

The Horror…The Horror.

He drops off the girls’ body to her Mom, saying his catchphrase “Bubba didn’t do it!” to less than warm fanfare, then takes off running. The two man gang is now a small militia chasing after him. His kindly mom has him play ‘the hiding game’ which is, she puts him up on a scarecrow stake dressed as a scarecrow. They find him, light him up, and ol’ flannel has a victory beer.

About that time, the CB Radio informs us that they called off the search because the girl is fine and Bubba saved her life. WHOOPS! The mailman puts a pitchfork in the dead Bubba’s arm and hey, nobody is the wiser. At the trial, they get off free, and leave the courtroom to throngs of well wishers! You’ve never seen a happier bunch of murderers in your life!

His young friend climbs out her window and goes looking for him, Bubba’s mom tries to inform her that he’s died but she insists he’s still playing ‘the hiding game’. Meanwhile, our motley crew of pro killers is back to everyday life. Mailman is peeking at the mail, mechanic guy is injuring himself working on cars, and flannel is placing his hands in a woodchipper. You might be thinking “ohhh man, he’s going in the woodchipper!” but instead it turns out there’s a SCARECROW IN HIS FIELD! HE DIDN’T PUT UP ANY SCARECROW!

Flannel’s having himself a midnight beer, coping with unexplained scarecrows when his threshing machine is turned on! He climbs up into the hayloft to look for the culprit and of course, he gets ghost pushed into the thresher. In lieu of blood we get HARD CUT to ketchup on the mailman’s plate.

Whoever decided on the implication of violence via cuts is a true genius. Truly. As you can tell by now, this is sort of like Final Destination if death was a handicapped 30 year old man. Murder Inc. decides to check out the thresher and figure out that someone did this to their flannel wearing buddy. Mailman has a package for Bubba’s mom, they quote some scripture back and forth before she I believe calls him a pedophile. It would certainly explain the binoculars.

I find that constantly repeating “I’m not going to hurt you” isn’t as effective as the person saying it might hope. The mailman does not, as he confronts the girl who says Bubba is still alive. Likely story!

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Turns out hat guy did not die from a heart attack, but later in the night, he gets spooked on his farm and hides himself in a grain silo. Of course, the door gets locked on him and he gets buried alive. I suppose he died the way he lived. Covered in corn.

Mailman and the mechanic dig up Bubba’s body and well, there it is. Go figure. Mailman quickly figures it out..it’s the 8 year old girl scaring these men and pushing them around. As mechanic guy closes the casket on Bubba, Mailman also decides it’s probably easier to just hit his friend with the shovel and bury him alive so that….uh…I’m really not sure why he decided to kill him. I guess killing is sort of like Lay’s potato chips.

Mailman decides it’s time to do some drunk driving and nearly runs over the young girl who’s walking in the middle of the road. She runs off and he decides it would be far more effective to chase after her in his mail jeep, which he promptly crashes off-road. He finds her next to a tractor, which turns on and chases him. Much like the tractor, he has no real movement ability beyond straight ahead and manages barely to stay ahead of this machine traveling at its lowest speed. He ends up running head-on into a pitchfork held by, you guessed it, a scarecrow.

In all honesty, the movie is not so bad, it just has one of those scripts that is limiting. It’s hard to be taken too seriously when you write Gomer Pyle in as every bad guy. It’s quite well acted and lemme tell you, the ending is STILL creepy.

Un-debatable: Handicapped ghost-haunted scarecrows are the SCARIEST scarecrows.

UN-debatable: Handicapped ghost-haunted scarecrows are the SCARIEST scarecrows.

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.