The Blob


Viewed – 06 February 2018  Blu-ray

You have to love the 80s.  It was a golden era for horror, and a time when horror could be fun as well as horrifying. Today a lot of horror movies go straight for the jugular and can be way too nasty   They’re almost a test of endurance.  That can’t be said for this rather under-appreciated 1988 remake of a 50’s b-movie of the same name.

the_blob

When a meteor crashes near a small town, biker rebel Kevin Dillon (The Rescue) finds himself thrown into a battle for survival alongside high school cheerleader Shawnee Smith (Saw).  Even as authority figures and adults dismiss the disappearances along with sightings of a weird goo … of course it’s up to the kids to find a way to stop what’s happening.  Yeah, there’s nothing all that clever here, but it retains that b-movie tongue-in-cheek tone that perfectly suits such a silly concept, with cast all doing a great job of going along for the ride.  Director Chuck Russell (A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors) piles on some effective gore with still great practical effects and a couple of genuine shocks (the kid in the sewer).  Also I’d forgotten how likable Shawnee Smith is, and well Kevin Dillon’s always been a great bad-boy (where’s he gone?).

It reminded me at times of John Carpenter’s seminal The Thing remake but fares poorly in comparison due to clichéd characters and only passable acting, and that silly tone stops it from being scary even for a second.  Yet as it stands this is still a great deal of fun and is certainly worth your time.

The Blu-ray is rather a pleasant surprise … image quality may seem a bit soft but colours are vibrant and overall the picture is clean, and free of any print damage.  The sound gets the lossless 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio treatment, but seems to lack a bit of ‘punch’ overall.  Extras feature a trailer and a director interview, but that’s it.  Considering the movie at time of writing still lacks a UK Blu-ray release this Region B Australian release is a godsend.

Verdict:

(the movie)  3.5 /5

(the Blu-ray)  3 /5

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Baskin


Viewed – 27 August 2016  Online rental

Every now and then I feel up for a nasty little horror movie and have a pretty strong threshold of what I can endure with movies like Hostel and Saw standing out as good examples of the more extreme side of horror.  However it’s often the case that horror from foreign countries can push that envelope further as witnessed in the disturbing classic Martyrs.  So sitting down to this Turkish entry I was both excited and a little nervous.

baskin

A group of cops, hanging out at a late night restaurant, are called to an emergency at an old, abandoned police station in the middle of nowhere.  So sets up a night of terror, hallucinations and a descent into hell as the cops try to make sense of an increasingly bizarre and freaky situation.  Director Can Evrenol has gone on record as saying he was influenced by the movies of such Italian horror auteurs as Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento, and if like me you’re at all familiar with either director, it’s in full force here; Argento’s decidedly weird colour palettes of blues & reds (and great use of music) … Fulci’s dream-logic narrative and revelling in gore etc.  This is less a movie about story, traditional structure and more about atmosphere, style and freaking out (or repulsing) the viewer.  In such respect it works wonders and jumps in time, dreams and reality whilst at first jarring, soon created a personality all it’s own, and I began to just go with it, awaiting the next nutty development.

This is pretty messed up stuff; satanism, lashings of blood, graphic throat slits, and at the centre of it all the horribly disturbing looking ‘Father’.  I won’t go into any more of what happens but rest assured this one is not for the easily offended or squemish (and it gets pretty sick) but definitely a movie for gore-hounds and those that like their horror to punch them in the face until they can’t take no more.  Yet it could have been scarier, and as there is little reason or logic to anything, I was left not really caring about any of the characters.  With that said, I still applaud the director for nailing a very effective style and delivering an ‘experience’ not easily forgotten.

Verdict:  3.5 /5

Zombeavers


Viewed – 29 April 2016  Blu-ray

Yes I watched this and yes I’m on a bit of a horror binge of late.  This decidedly silly concept movie has been getting a bit of buzz on the ‘horror scene’.  Three girls decide to get away from it all and head off to a secluded cabin near a lake.  However following the accidental spillage of some toxic chemicals into said lake, a group of resident beavers start to take on ravenous, zombie characteristics.

zombeavers

It’s a seriously daft idea for a movie but done tongue planted firmly in cheek and jam-packed with an infectious sense of humour and a love for genre horror.  We get horny teens, boobs, blood and carnage and a few clichés like the bitch, the nerd and the girl getting over her boyfriend cheating.  Effects are passable, with the animatronic / stop-motion beavers themselves proving effective, but with a low budget the lack of invention to the kills is jarring and some mutant zombie / human / beaver hybrid action only just makes up for this.  The script does however have some good one-liners and a few decent pay-offs and it’s all done with plenty of enthusiasm.  Acting is serviceable at best, and I’d have liked a bit more character to the girls and their horny boyfriends … but in the end you’re just waiting to see who gets killed next and in what way.

Yet this still manages to be a lot of fun.  It knows what it is and doesn’t try to be anything else.  A bit more money thrown at the effects would have given this more of a status to stand alongside say, Evil Dead 2 or Piranha 3D.  Yet for what it is, this still deserves to be seen – just bring plenty of beer, popcorn and friends and you’ll have a blast.

Verdict:  3 /5

Bride of Re-Animator


Viewed – 16 April 2016  Blu-ray

Unrated version

MSDBROF EC057Yes I got myself both movies this weekened and thought I’d give them a critical look as they’ve both had the lavish restoration treatment.  However I recall only ever seeing this sequel once and couldn’t remember much about it.  Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) and his assistant, now Doctor Dan Caine (Bruce Abbott) return from a medical assignment in some war torn part of the world and find themselves piecing together body parts to create a woman, ala Bride of Frankenstein.  If ever parallels between the two concepts were just, then they are ever more so here.  With a new love interest on the scene, Dan feels reluctant to continue helping West who grows increasingly unhinged … yet finds himself pulled back when West comes up with the idea of using Dan’s former girlfriend Meg’s heart in the new body.

Like the movie that proceeded it, its decidedly low budget and a bit silly, but unlike that movie ramps up the freak-o-metre with some bizarre creations (a finger spider, a dog with a human arm), but the dark sense of humour is mostly missing.  Here it seems we have several plot threads going on at the same time with not enough to them to really get one’s teeth into.  We have the unfathomable return of ‘talking-head’ Dr Hill, a vengeful Police Detective investigating the aftermath of the last movie, and at the same time the gradual creation of the Bride.  It feels unfocused and not helped by a plodding pace and amateurish acting from anyone not in the previous movie.  Combs gives it his all and still makes for a memorable mad scientist, whilst Abbott is a bit buffed up and comes across all smouldering, which doesn’t exactly suit the character.  Gore hounds will be both rejoicing and disappointed by the all too brief effects (especially the wonderfully freaky Bride) but there’s still fun to be had here.  It’s just overall the movie fails to build on or capture the perverse energy that made Re-Animator such a classic in the first place.

Bride Limited Edition

The Blu-ray from Arrow Video is impressive, with the limited edition I picked up really wowing – housing two cuts of the movie, a DVD version and a graphic novel along with a detailed booklet.  On an image front we get a clean and mostly detailed picture that really shows off the movie’s often garish colour palette.  Sound-wise it’s serviceable with just a stereo channel on offer, but it does the job.  The score which was a highlight in the last movie seemed dialled back however and not as enjoyable this time.

Extras consist of three audio commentaries, one from director Brian Yuzna, another with cast and crew, and a final one with stars Jeffrey Combs and Bruce Abbott.  Add to this detailed featurettes and behind the scenes footage detailing the making of and the special effects, and … considering the movie itself is fairly forgettable, this is amazing treatment if a little unwarranted.  I think collectors will get more out of the extras here than the movie, so excuse me whilst I dive into them to make up for my disappointment.

Verdict:

(the movie)  2.5 /5

(the Blu-ray)  5 /5

Re-Animator


Viewed – 16 April 2016  Blu-ray

Unrated version

Re-Animator Blu-rayHalf the reason I started this blog many years ago was to write about some of my favourite genre movies, this being one of them.  Based on a series of 1930’s horror tales by renowned writer H.P. Lovecraft and brought to the screen by a collaboration between Stuart Gordon (Castle Freak) and Brian Yuzna (Society) … this remains a classic.

Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) is a brilliant if somewhat deranged medical student who sneers at the teachings of respected Doctor Hill (David Gale) whose theories on brain function he feels are out-dated.  It’s not long however that we discover West has ideas of his own and embroils a naive fellow student (Bruce Abbott) to help him with his experiments – to bring the dead back to life via a glowing green formula he’s invented.  Call it a modern take on Frankenstein and you’d be half way there in getting the intent of this crazy but very entertaining horror.  It’s got several stand out performances, especially the brilliant Jeffrey Combs whose every line hints at manic craziness, and beautiful genre favourite Barbara Crampton (From Beyond) as a perfect scream queen.  Yet the movie is stolen by the late David Gale as the psychotic and hypnotic Dr Carl Hill – surely one of the genres nuttiest villains.

Re-Animator

Stuart Gordon fills the movie with a dark sense of humour, decent if low budget production values and even 30 years later, excellent practical effects that still pack a punch.  The movie’s long history with the censors is easy to understand as it holds nothing back – it’s violent, gory as hell and rather sexual with that notorious ‘head giving head’ sequence.  Yet it’s the movie’s spirit that has to be applauded and you get the impression this was a riot to make both on and off screen.  Its fast, energetic, has a wonderfully-perverse atmosphere and never out stays its welcome … like all good horrors.  The story is very silly in places and some bits just don’t make sense.  Also characterisation is simplistic at best, especially with Herbert West who we learn very little about … but that’s over-analysing a movie that doesn’t want to be anything more than 90 minutes of pure gory fun.

The Blu-ray I picked up from second sight is very pleasing.  Firstly the image is in great shape and very sharp and detailed – coming off a restored 4k transfer no less.  Add to this efficient sound with a choice of the original stereo or remastered 5.1 DTS Master Audio – and it’s here where that Bernard Herman-inspired score works a treat.  Extras are exhaustive and well worth dipping into with two commentaries, one from the director and producer, another from the cast and we also get photo galleries, extended scenes and a very good documentary called ‘re-animator ressurectus’.  Also on offer are two cuts of the movie itself, the uncensored ‘unrated version’ and the slightly extended ‘integral version’.  An impressive treatment then for one of horror’s freakiest but most memorable entries.

Verdict:

(the movie)  4 /5

(the Blu-ray)  5 /5