Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Demons (1985)

With my evening winding down after working on some nonfiction writing samples, I decided that I needed a trip into something mindless to help keep myself focused. What did I watch to help keep me motivated, nothing other than the 1985 classic Demons?

Plot/ A group of people are trapped in a large movie theater in West Berlin that is infected by ravenous demons who proceed to kill and posses the humans one-by-one, thereby multiplying their numbers.

If you were around in the 1980s and a horror fan, you should definitely remember what real horror looks like. There was none of this watered-down PG-13 crap masquerading as horror flicks; there was blood, gore, violence, and nudity. Honestly, there was anything and everything, and personally, I long for those days of cinema. This movie captures all of the excess of that decade and creates a memorable trip into the horror realm. Yes, it makes little sense, but that was the point, it was just fun mindless horror in an era that needed it. Helped by Italian horror masters Dario Argento and Lamberto Bava, this one has blood, guts, gore, and the kitchen sink. Hell, it even featured an interesting soundtrack that is a perfect trip down memory lane. In the end, if you love 1980s horror, you have to watch this one if you haven’t seen it already. Yes, there may be some flaws and dated effects, but it is a mindless romp through a dark and twisted world.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Tombs of the Blind Dead (1972)

Shudder is such a great discovery. As a horror fan, I have no idea why I have not made it there before the past week. Next up for review is another great find from days gone by, the 1972 entryway to the Blind Dead franchise, Tombs of the Blind Dead (La niche del terror diego).

Plot/ In the 13th century there existed a legion of evil knights known as the Templars, who quested for eternal life by drinking human blood and committing sacrifices. Executed for their unholy deeds, the Templars bodies were left out for the crows to peck out their eyes. Now, in modern day Portugal, a group stumbles on the Templars abandoned monastery, reviving their rotting corpses to terrorize the land.

As with everything classic entries into Eurohorror can fall into the love/hate category, and this entry is no different. The first movie in the Blind Dead series, this one lays the groundwork for one of the great franchises in horror history. Honestly, who does not love the idea of the zombie Templars? Personally, the legend of the Knights Templar is one of the greatest mysteries of all time, and a story that definitely has something deeper going on. While this film is not a gorefest, there are some interesting kills, and it has a tremendous amount of atmosphere that works with the entirety of the storyline. Yes, the pacing is a touch slow (with focus on mood and atmosphere vice action), the performances are uneven, and the effects are not mind blowing, but those are somewhat expected from that era of cinema. In the end, this movie is definitely more cerebral than action and relies on storyline and atmosphere to achieve its potential. Not for everyone, this one will definitely appeal to fans of early European horror and early zombie flicks. Those fans should give it a shot if they have not seen it.  

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Evil Eye (1963)

Now that I finished my last movie from Family Video, it is time to dive back into some of the great films I have caught on Shudder. The next one in line from the string of flicks (now interrupted by a Supernatural marathon with Jillian), is the 1963 Mario Bava classic Evil Eye (AKA The Girl Who Knew too Much).

Plot/ Nora is a young tourist traveling through Rome which takes a sudden turn when she witnesses a murder by a serial killer that the police have sought for years for the so-called Alphabet Killings, and Nora soon finds herself in way-over-her-head trouble when the police want her cooperation to catch the killer while the mystery killer soon targets her for his next victim.

There is nothing like a classic Italian giallo, and in many ways, the origin of that horror subgenre can be traced to the Mario Bava standard. This one has every aspect one would look for in that movement. Full of atmosphere and tension, this is a great mixture of thriller and suspense that draws the viewer in and keeps them enthralled throughout. The performances are solid, the cinematography masterful, and every scene and set matches the anxiety that emanates from the storyline. Plus, with perfect black and white elements, this one definitely transports the viewer back to one of the greatest eras of horror cinema. Yes, it is quite tame and some gore fans will not like it, but for me, it is one of the best films of the genre. In the end, this one is definitely worth watching and is a must for fans of the giallo subgenre. If you have not seen it, what are you waiting for?

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Cherry Tree (2015)

While I have been spending a lot of time inside the world of Shudder recently, I still had one movie that I had to finish before completing my latest run through Family Video. What movie is that? It was the 2015 witchcraft themed entry Cherry Tree.

Plot/ Faith's world is turned upside down after she finds out that her beloved father is dying. When the mysteriously alluring Sissy Young becomes her field hockey coach, Faith finds a compassionate spirit and much-needed mother figure. Little does she know that Sissy is the head of a centuries-old witches' coven that uses the fruit of an ancient cherry tree in a secret ritual that restores life to the dead and dying.

When I picked this one out, I did not quite realize that I was in for a modernization (yet loose interpretation) of the classic Rosemary’s Baby. While it is not a quite a total copy of the classic, it definitely takes a large portion of the storyline from that source material. Unfortunately, it also does little to set it apart from many of the other witchcraft themed pieces that have come out in recent years. The story starts slow, picks up, and shows some potential before the problems start to cascade. More of an exploitation themed entry than anything scary, the scripting, and performances are uneven, and there is no atmosphere. Yes, there are some moments that could be shocking to some, but those are few and far between. In the end, this movie will likely fall into the love/hate category of films and will not be for everyone. Personally, I found it at least a little interesting, but then again, I am a sucker for witchcraft and the occult.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Sleepaway Camp (1983)

There is nothing like sitting back and catching a classic from my youth. Having grown up in the 1980s, there are plenty of movies and genres to choose from. Of course, nothing truly compares to the slasher film, and the way they made you think twice about camp. One of the most memorable films of that genre is the 1983 cult classic Sleepaway Camp.

Plot/ After a horrible boating accident kills her family, Angela, a shy and sullen young girl, moves in with her eccentric aunt Martha, alongside her protective cousin Ricky. One summer, Martha sends the kids to Camp Arawak. Soon after their arrival, a series of bizarre and increasingly violent accidents begins to claim the lives of various campers.

There is nothing like the slasher craze of the 1980s, and Sleepaway Camp is a must see for fans of the low budget 80s slasher. While not the best movie out there, it is a great example of what made the era of big boxes VHS so fun. This one offers very little gore, a somewhat predictable storyline, and a ton of dated costuming and dialog, but those flaws are easily forgettable with the twist ending that made this one a cult favorite. There are some interesting kills and although some of the performances are uneven, it does capture the 80s in all its glory (it definitely takes me back to my youth). In the end, this movie may not reach the level of the classics from the Friday the 13th franchise, but the ending alone makes it a film that should be listed in slasher canon. If you have not seen it, give it a shot!