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Viewed – 30 October 2016  Online-rental

I like Rob Zombie, at least as far as his intentions are concerned.  The execution, not so much but for me he has still delivered some effective movies with a grindhouse, video-nasty feel many horrors ignore in place of glossy production values and pretty actors.   As fairly typical for a Rob Zombie movie a group of travelling carnival-types (included Mrs Zombie herself, Sheri Moon Zombie as well as a few other Zombie regulars), find themselves kidnapped by a mysterious organization and thrown into a deadly game, involving an increasingly psychotic bunch of killers and a cat and mouse night of survival.

Doom-Head

The poster art and the trailer promised so much, with some freaky, stand-out images and what appeared to be Rob Zombie back on gruesome form after a poorly realised Halloween sequel and a diversion into the supernatural with the (rather good) Lords of Salem.  So let the red stuff flow!   Yes we get some inspired creations, from a Nazi midget, a Harlequin knock-off and well, Zombie’s version of The Joker in the shape of Doom Head (Richard Brake) – easily the star of the show.  Acting is passable and how things play out fairly predictable, but still fun if you’re into unlikable idiots getting bumped off one by one in increasingly gory ways.  Zombie doesn’t hold back in such regard and we get beheadings, a graphic throat slit and some fun with chainsaws!  However, the editing is so crazy at times that it’s occasionally difficult to tell what’s going on  … but with a good feeling of unease and tension throughout … I was still glued.

Sad then that the movie lacks anything resembling a new idea … even for Zombie (we saw very similar fair in House of 1000 Corpses).  Yet it all looks good, Zombie certainly proving he has an eye for iconic imagery and can shoot a scene with genuine skill – but when what’s happening is simply rinse and repeat violence with little creativity, it all starts to get a bit boring.  That ending also was begging for a twist – but no, we don’t even get that, finishing everything on a whimper rather than a scream.

Verdict:  2.5 /5

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The Lords of Salem


Viewed – 03 October 2013  DVD

I have been a casual admirer of the horror movie output of rocker turned director Rob Zombie over the years, especially liking his masterful ‘The Devil’s Rejects’ and even bizarre freakishness like ‘House of 1000 Corpses’.  His style, skill and taste for disturbing violence and hallucinogenic imagery struck a cord with this horror junkie.  Even his ill-advised but interesting remake of Halloween didn’t put me off (less said about the awful follow up, the better).  But now we come to his latest and strangest effort, showcasing the obvious screen presence of Goth muse (and wife) Sherry Moon Zombie.

lords-of-salem

Sherry plays Heidi, a radio DJ living in Salem who rents a room at a hotel run by three slightly odd elderly women.  When a mysterious record is delivered to her personally at the radio station, on playing it she begins to experience disturbing visions, apparently relating to a witches coven back in the sixteen hundreds.  Is Heidi going crazy, or are The Lords Of Salem back?

A slightly different style for Zombie this, less violent slasher, more freaky supernatural fantasy with echoes of The Shining, Rosemary’s Baby, and even his own House of 1000 Corpses.  Sherry is both likable and quite sexy as the main star and carries the movie well, and although this isn’t about performances, all cast members help create a foreboding and eerie atmosphere.  The devil-worship themes are very under your skin stuff and although fairly tame for Zombie standards, when the claret flies its quite nasty.  Mostly though this is a movie about style, and weird shit going down, goats, mutant babies (!), demonic women and biblical & satanic imagery.  It all gets a bit nuts towards the end and the conclusion is underwhelming … but overall I had a good time, and yes it’s far better than Halloween 2 (damn I thought I wasn’t going to say anything about that!).

Verdict:  3 /5

Update


Just a short post trying out the Windows Writer software available in Windows Essentials that’s meant to make blogging easier.  Also using this opportunity to update my readers on a few things I am looking forward to and doing at the moment.  Been reading the rather enjoyable book ‘A Step Too Far’ by Tina Seskis.  Proving an easy read and as someone who isn’t an avid reader … it’s not too long at three hundred and odd pages, compared to the tomes of say, Stephen King clocking in at an intimidating one thousand plus!  I am also using reading again as a segway into perhaps writing, a hobby of mine I would love to start doing again, and have found a way by putting my hand to short story writing, some of which I might publish on here one day.

Other than that I have been enjoying Breaking Bad (currently on season 3) and Ray Donovan.  Both proving very enjoyable and come highly recommended.  I am also currently watching the final season of Dexter, one of my all time favourite shows, but this season sadly is leaving me rather cold so far.  Last night I watched (not exactly) classic 1982 horror The Entity, that I think is probably way too obscure to grant a review on here, but proved kind of interesting, and the based of an apparent true story aspect kept me focused, even if the badly acted and poorly framed experience got me yearning for something more modern, high def and wide screen (!).

I am not that interested in gaming right now but have pre-ordered the way too good looking Grand Theft Auto V for XBOX 360, and am looking forward to it, despite failing to complete (at least so far) games such as Hitman Absolution, Dead Space 3 and to a lesser extent the mostly ‘meh’ Remember Me. 

Movies on the horizon I plan on reviewing though, include: James Macevoy gangster thriller Welcome To The Punch, Elijah Wood serial killer remake Maniac, Rob Zombie horror-fest Lords Of Salem and also attempt to review classics newly coming to Blu-ray such as Edward Woodwood chiller The Wicker Man and Tobe Hooper sci-fi gore / nudity classic Life Force.   Oh, and also don’t judge me for wanting the Blu-ray set pictured below, even if the latest Studio Ghibli release it houses (From Up On Poppy Hill) isn’t exactly on my must see list:

Along with work, life and other things that crop up, plenty to keep me busy and some interesting stuff on the horizon I’ll no doubt enjoy blogging about. 

Craig.  Winking smile

The problem with remakes


Not all horror remakes are bad, and some can bring a lot to an old concept, ultimately improving upon it … yet last night I sat down and watched on television the remake of Japanese cult horror The Ring.  Ok, it starred Naomi Watts, had a decent director (Gore Verbinski) and was fairly well put together on a technical basis.  Much like the original too, the use of a creepy videotape and hallucinations helped build an unnerving atmosphere.  Yet then the movie does the unthinkable, and humanizes the character of the evil girl, this time named Samara, by showing footage of her time in a psychiatric hospital, and instead of the horrible vision of a small figure with hair over their face, we see it’s actually just a very troubled child.  Naomi Watts over-acts somewhat from the very beginning and frankly her young son is creepier than Samara, which just baffles me.  Now looking back at the original ‘Ring’, I recall only glimpses of the girl, Sadako, a flash of a hand with no fingernails, the same creepy atmosphere, but very little humanization – and you never saw her face.  This then makes the ending something of horror legend, copied in the remake, much more terrifying as what crawls out of that TV and stands up to scare its victim to death, is not human, but pure evil – and just a close up of a blood-shot eyeball is all the viewer gets.  In the remake we see the girl, albiet zombiefied, but still a girl, with a stern pissed off look, and guess what – it’s not scary.  Well done remake.  You just killed the money shot! Continue reading

Halloween 2


Viewed – 13 October 2009  Cinema

Halloween, the 1978 version is a masterpiece.  It’s tense, dripping with atmosphere, genuinely scary and expertly put together.  John Carpenter knew how to get under a viewer’s skin.  Now fast-forward to the remake, an admittedly brutally violent but somewhat interesting re-tread of the original, shedding new light on the masked killer’s childhood and family background, before sadly stumbling in the final act by copying and pasting the events of the old movie, but presenting them as if directed by an idiot.

Now don’t get me wrong, Rob Zombie is not an idiot.  He understands what is needed to create that 80’s video nasty vibe.  He showcased this wonderfully in the down right bizarre House of 1000 Corpses and the brilliantly inventive The Devil’s Rejects.  Yet there he was dealing with the off spring of his own warped imagination.  Here though, he’s bastardizing someone elses characters, and spreading them liberally with more gore and violence than was ever strictly necessary.  Laurie Strode is a bit messed up after surviving her ordeal on Halloween night one year previous, and is haunted by nightmares of the masked killer Michael Myers, who everyone believes is dead, but guess what?  No body was ever recovered.  Wait, I know, you’ve heard this one before … but stick with me.  Well as expected said deranged nutcase returns, this time haunted himself by the ghostly apparition of his mother (Sheri Moon Zombie) and his younger self, which I admit is an interesting spin, yet what isn’t at all interesting is the shockingly predictable slayings, which are overly nasty, and the frantic, head-ache inducing editing, where the camera is more often than not so close and epileptic you CAN’T TELL WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING AT.  Scout Taylor-Compton as Laurie is (once again) no Jamie Lee Curtis, says ‘f***’ a lot, and warbles in hysterics so you CAN’T UNDERSTAND WHAT SHE IS SAYING.  What ideas this sequel has it never fully develops, the reveal of Laurie Strode being Michael Myer’s sister is both pointless and completely unexplored, and even genre stalwarts such as Malcolm McDowell and Brad Dourif  lend nothing to proceedings making their presence insulting when you consider what gems they have been in previously. 

A terrible horror movie, and contender for worst movie of the year.

Verdict:  1 /5