OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets


Splinter (2008)

A young couple, Seth Belzer and Polly Watt (played by Paulo Constanzo and Jill Wagner respectively) are celebrating their anniversary by going on a camping trip - to have cuddly sex underneath the stars. However, things don't turn out as they were supposed to - they get car-jacked by ex-convict Dennis Farell (a great performance from Shea Wigham) and his reluctant girlfriend Lacey (played by Rachel Kerbs) aka "Firecracker", who is on withdrawal from her drug addiction.

Whilst driving on, they manage to run over a small animal... which, interestingly, manages to kill one of the car's tyres. The dead creature has splinters growing out of its body, which explains why it devastated the car that much. Dennis, whilst helping to change the broken tyre, gets stabbed by one of the splinters, which are stuck in the object. He dismisses it, and the four people carry on driving. Which would be fine... if it wasn't for the broken radiator of the car (courtesy of small splintery animal on the road). When they arrive at a gas station, which is abandoned, the real terror starts.

Man. I don't know what to say. Oh, no, wait. I do know what to say.

I've read numerous reviews about why Alien was such a great and suspenseful movie. As I am a child of the eighties and never really got around watching Alien before I knew how the creatures looked like, I never was afraid of the movie (when I finally watched it, that is). And I think that Splinter has the potential to be something akin to Alien when it comes to the terror and jump-scares the monster/creature can inspire in the hapless audience watching this film.

Seriously... I wasn't expecting much. First of all, monster/creature flicks aren't exactly what I'd term my favourite sub-genre of horror. More often than not, they are completely disappointing and ridiculous (I apologise to all the fans of monster horror flicks out there... we just have to agree on disagreeing with each other). But Splinter... wow. I was literally on the edge of my seat for most of the movie's playing time.

The acting is not bad - although there are some instances of the characters not exactly behaving realistically (mostly in the first 20 minutes of the film), the acting and interacting between the characters was fluent, believable and realistic. The only point I'd have to criticise in regards to the acting would be the character of drug-addicted Lacey (Rachel Kerbs) - she was just way over the top to be taken seriously as a real character. Withdrawal or not, it was just... well. Overacting. But that problem solved itself nicely.

And the creature... oh my god. We never get to see it fully, but trust me when I tell you that it's one magnificent, garbled, distorted monstrosity. I mean... wow. The way its parts are moving... awesome. Just awesome. More than awesome, even.

A solid movie with a good script, good acting, an awesome antagonist (or should I make that plural?) and a really good idea when it comes to creating terror in the audience. I was hooked from the very first minute on. Everything just... fits. Perfectly so.

It's a rare movie that can keep me entirely focused and at times creeped out. Splinter managed to do all of that, and more. Recommended - definitely recommended!

9/10 freakishly rearranging limbs, hungry for blood.


Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

Man is omnipotent; nothing is impossible for him. What seemed unthinkable undertakings yesterday are history today. The conquest of the moon for example: who talks about it anymore? Today we are already on the threshold of conquering our galaxy, and in a not too distant tomorrow, we'll be considering the conquest of the universe - and yet man seems to ignore the fact that on this very planet there are still people living in the stone age and practicing cannibalism.

There is so much baggage and back story that goes with the movie that it is entirely impossible to simply write a review of Cannibal Holocaust without delving a bit into the reasons why this movie is as infamous as it is.

But first, I'll try to give you a short synopsis of what passes for a plot in this flick: Professor of anthropology Harold Monroe (Robert Kerman) travels to the Amazonas - the "Green Inferno" - in search for a team of four young people, who travelled there to film a documentary about cannibalism as practised by certain tribes living in that area. Together with Chaco Losojos, a man who knows the jungle like his, errr, pockets and what I can only surmise to be a half-native guide (and a native tribesman who is used like a dog) he embarks on a search that makes him experience for himself how cruel reality can be - and when he discovers the remains of the film the four missing (and dead) people left behind as their legacy to the world, he discovers that the cruelty of reality isn't just confined to "primitive" people, and leads him to wonder who the true cannibals are...

I have a few issues with this movie, to be honest. Let's start with the most obvious one:

Lack of cannibalism.

Yes, you read that correctly. Maybe my appetite for gore (no pun intended) is a bit too high for a movie from 1980, but considering that this movie is named Cannibal Holocaust and deals with, well, cannibalism, I was definitely expecting more. What we get are a few scenes of implied cannibalism, and the few shots of "actual" cannibalism just look fake. And not gross and disgusting at all. Or, you know, bloody and violent.

My favourite scene - a meouwser, only in big!

Which brings me to my second point: The blood and the gore effects. For Flying Spaghetti Monster's sake, can it be that hard to at least produce artificial blood that doesn't have that faint touch of pink? Considering that Ruggero Deodato had enough money to film on location in Colombia and New York, only filming the interior scenes in his native Italy, it sure as hell couldn't have been a question of money.

To all you ambitious film makers out there who want to avoid someone like me ranting about how the lack of quality-blood makes your movie terrible: Add a little bit of green to it. Make sure it has the right consistency. Make sure it's not too bright, or, gods forbid, pink. Trust me - a little effort with the blood makes up for a lot. Deodato or whoever was responsible for the creation/acquisition of the fake gore sure as hell didn't go for quality with the blood. Or quantity, if I might add that with a slightly nagging voice.

Third point: The portrayal of the Yanomamo and Shamatari tribes... I don't care that the film is presumably misogynistic, but damn, if that isn't exploitation at its core, I don't know what is. I seriously don't know how they got the natives to cooperate and play their assigned roles in Cannibal Holocaust, because man... demeaning. I was constantly reminded of animals - only that, in my experience and in this movie, animals actually are treated better. As long as they're inedible. Ehm.

Plus... careful with the word "primitive" and the use of the term "stone age" to indicate that something is "primitive". At least try to be careful with that around me, movie, because that happens to just include my archaeological field of study, and I'm easily offended when it comes to calling my chosen cultures "primitive". Or any other culture that is remotely linked to mine by the derogatery use of the term "stone age". Let me add that "stone age" is a bit of a vague term, because it encompasses quite a long time.

Then there's the sex scenes... or should I make that "rape scenes"? I have no problem with rape scenes in general, but watching one in particular, in which the documentarists are gang-raping a young native female, made me feel ashamed of being a member of the species homo sapiens.

Pwetty. Me like.

On to the strong points of Cannibal Holocaust.

The first thing that I noticed was the incredible soundtrack, created flawlessly by Riz Ortolani. It is atmospheric and incredibly well made - it adds a special quality to what may otherwise remain a more or less unspectacular exploitation flick from the very beginning of the eighties.

The gore and violence, whilst not exactly on a level which sits well with the gorehound in me (as the three people who read this blog of mine know, the more blood and guts and pointless violence I get to witness in a horror movie, the more happy I am), is at times beautifully executed, as with the skull in the screenshot above.

What I could have done without was the animal cruelty. 'Nuff said about that topic.

Stone peni:

I will never look at a vibrator with the same eyes after witnessing how the script of Cannibal Holocaust uses that stony, ehm, member.

The acting is actually good - not great, not wonderful, certainly not something that would win an award these days, but it is brutally realistic - partly due to the nature of the scenes the actors were forced through. If you're interested in reading more about the details of the tribulations the cast had to go through, check wikipedia - the whole story is way too long and detailed for me having the flu and still being up, freezing and hungry, at 7:15 AM on this beautiful Tuesday morning. Man... I need sleep badly. And something against the flu. Merf.

A surprisingly good movie, everything considered. Even with the amount of criticising on my part, I still find the movie to be entertaining and moving at the same time with its scenic, sweeping shots, its fast-paced and hectic certainty and bitter grimness. Truly, Cannibal Holocaust manages to do something which I noted with the French directors of The Hills Have Eyes, Inside and other recent awesome movies from that part of Europe: The merciless camera. The viewer becomes entangled in the movie, he is the voyeur for whom these scenes have been staged and created - and although we may flinch and shy away from the brutality, we still are captivated by what happens on the screen.

You certainly won't be bored with this example of cinematic voyeurism.

A moving and brutal criticism of our modern society and how it behaves when there is no law to keep the darkness of humanity in check.

7.75/10 ritualistic punishments for adultery.

Masters of Horror 02 - "H.P. Lovecraft's Dreams in the Witch House" (2005)

I admit it, this episode is my favourite of all the Masters of Horror episodes. It is directed by Stuart Gordon (a man I adore for his work), is a nifty and pretty faithful adaption of the original story by the Master of Horror himself*, AND features Ezra Godden. Yes, I admit it - I have the hots for Ezra Godden. There, I said it.

What instantly becomes available to everyone who has read Lovecraft's stories with the same obsessive eagerness than I have, is that this movie stays surprisingly close to the story. Over the years, I (and apparently other fans of HPL) have come to accept that there will never be a movie which stays faithful to its roots... then came Stuart Gordon's Dagon (one of my all-time favourites EVER), and now he surprises us with this neat little output.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the story... a young student of mathematics moves into a weirdly built room in an old house (why? He is a student! Don't you people know that my kind is continuously and eternally broke?). Rumour has it that a witch, responsible for the deaths of many children - babies, even! - used to live in there... and other tenants are reluctant to speak about the old hag and what happened. Being a student of maths and thereby crazy by definition**, he immediately spots the weird angles' similarity to what he is working on - a theory about how the use of certain angles could make it possible to twist the space-time-continuum and eventually allow travel to... other places. And then... then things start to get ...weird.

Besides of actually being able to keep up the suspense and tension throughout the whole episode, H.P. Lovecraft's Dreams in the Witch House is a very atmospheric little flick. And although there is no lack of tension and suspense (greatly helped to an unsettling degree by the creepy and tense soundtrack), I am glad that this wasn't a whole feature film.

...and then there's Ezra Godden as Walter Gilman (HAH! One of the Gilmans! *broad grin*). Besides for me having the hots for the guy (Attention, humans: The cyn is swooning! And a terrifying sight it is to behold!)), he really is a great actor who is just perfect for appearing in movies based on Lovecraft.
The other main character introduced to us is Frances Elwood, as played by a very convincing Chelah Horsdal. The interaction between the two actors slash characters is always believable and floats naturally. No overacting here - instead, the realistic portrayal of Walter and Frances.
Other than that, Campbell Lane portrays the crazed old fella Masurewicz who used to live in the same room as Paul is now inhabiting. Although only appearing a few times, he adds a genuine level of good creepiness to H.P. Lovecraft's Dreams in the Witch House.

This movie offers a lot to the discerning Lovecraft reader. The atmosphere is brooding and dark, with lighting and camera used to the definite advantage of the flick. It's not what I'd call a perfect piece of art (after all, I have The Living and The Dead as well as Aftermath to consider...), but it definitely is one of the better movies when it comes to the camerawork employed.

The pacing is perfect for this faithful adaption of a classic. Also, we get treated to a really awesome Necronomicon, creeping insanity, being enstranged from oneself and reality (always a bonus), more creeping insanity, rituals involving infanticide*** and Latin that is actually correct.

I personally adore this short, and have no trouble watching it for the xth time just to deliver screenshots.

Aaaand - let's not forget the Miskatonic University shirt. See for another one of those in my review of From Beyond... and trust me, I still want that thing badly.

9.5/10 really furious battles between a creepy witch and her intended victim, featuring eye-gouging. Man. I so approve.

* H.P. Lovecraft, of course!

** It happens to the best and brightest amongst them... I should know, I have a bunch of friends who study mathematics and theoretical physics.

** The killing of a child.


Masters of Horror Season 01 - "Incident On and Off a Mountain Road" (2005)

A young woman is driving through the night - her eyes are focused straight ahead, lost in thought, melancholic indie music is playing. She looks down at the radio in order to change the station...

...and crashes into another car.

I believe anything can happen to anyone - at any time.

Flashback - to happier times.

The young woman wakes up from her memories, dragged out of them by regaining her consciousness. Getting out of her car, she realises that the car she crashed into is empty, its doors opened - and blood is everywhere.

Someone tried to escape, obviously. Helplessly, she yells for the person who must have been in that car. And her phone doesn't work anymore either.

But it's not just the victim of the ...car accident who hears her.

You've always got to expect the unexpected... and do the unexpected.

Flashback - to happier times.

But were they really happy?

Our young woman is being hunted - hunted in a game of life and death. By ...something.

Or someone, maybe? And her past has all and nothing to do with it...

When everything else fails you... try everything.

A seriously engaging hunt. The lighting is atmospheric, the camerawork truly good for something that A) ran on TV, B) gets distributed in my video stores for more than double the money than a regular horror DVD. The whole hunt, the whole thing with the flashbacks, the whole thing with the captured guy... impressive. I could love this episode of Masters of Horror if it wasn't for the end.

Pornographic at times. At least for someone like me.

8/10 moments in which you would just love to have those damned torture tools...

Wicked Little Things aka Zombies (2006)

Prey for them.

That's what I get from thinking that a particularly campy zombie flick has made it into my collection... Because although it is a zombie flick, it's not a traditional zombie flick (if you'll excuse the overuse of the term "zombie flick" tonight, I'm working on getting drunk, without much of a success, it seems), and looks... beautiful.

The opening informs us that it's the year 1913 in Addytown, Penssylvania. The exact location? Why, the Carlton Mine, of course... and there's a problem - a problem that requires someone very small in order to handle it. Good thing that child labour was still in fashion back in those days - and a girl is selected. Selected to be crawl into a tunnel and place some TNT.

With the mine in danger of collapsing, the child - Mary - is being left behind in the tunnel, and the cage with the remaining children is caught in the explosive wave* of the TNT as well.

Fade to the black of death and the enclosing darkness of the collapsed mine...

Welcome to the present day.

A mother, Karen Tunny, and her two daughters Sarah and Emma are moving into a new place - Carlton, just right next to Addytown. On their way, their mother nearly runs over a mysterious person - who leaves traces of blood, but none other. Just... disappears. Or maybe not?

The first look at their new house.

Having arriven at their new home, they find out that it is creepy - no electricity, weird ...stuff (that may or may not look like blood) on the door, the emptiness... Honestly, if you ask me? I would love to live in that house. High, wide rooms, wooden panels, gritty walls, hardly any light coming in from the outside... perfect. Just perfect. Then again, I think living in run-down, gritty surroundings that reek of decay and old death is nifty anyways.

They spend their first night there, in what is to be the place they'll call home... but neither do they sleep in piece nor undisturbed. Dreams are interrupting the night's rest the mother had hoped for - or are these dreams reality? What is the stuff on their door - and who is that strange person who leaves through the woods at night?

Whilst supervising the repairs to her house, she finds pictures - pictures of children who worked at the mine. Something with that disaster we witnessed at the beginning of the story just didn't work out... and the dark wood with its impenetrable roof of green night is calling out to the youngest daughter, Emma, with beams of light...

...which does not bode well, for everyone tells them to stay out of the woods and inside the house - especially at night. And Sarah learns that there are zombies up in the hills... those very hills she and her penniless family are living in. And it has something to do with the mine... which Emma nearly entered. Speaking softly into the darkness towards the children's laughter, towards Mary - because she could hear...

Because of Mary... Mary lives in there.

Night falls. Cut... to a man saying an Ave Maria, bleeding...

...apparently to put it on his door. And that of the Tunny widow's house**.

Karen, who went to find Emma and found her daughter, is lost together with her child - and night is falling fast. They stumble across the shed of Aaron - who admits to have been the one who smeared the blood onto the Tunny's door, but insists that Karen doesn't thank him but instead that she come back during the day, so that they can talk.

And that's enough of the plot, at least from my side. I don't want to give away too much... and if you're up to watching a really atmospheric and interesting undead movie for a change to the typical stuff us fans who love flicks with the things that go bump in the night get thrown at... watch Wicked Little Things.

As you might already have inferred from the screenshots, the lighting is incredible. Less so when it comes to the indoor scenes - but the outdoor scenes are really awesome. They're beautiful. Maybe it's that whole "the cyn grew up around woods that are eerily similar to those in this movie"-thing going on again, and granted, this may play a part in my appreciation of the outdoor scenes. But I invite you to judge for yourself - J.S. Cardone, who produced this movie for the "8 Movies To Die For"-Collection (Useless Trivia of the Day: Originally, Tobe Hooper should have done this flick) really managed to make this into a beautiful and deeply atmospheric movie.

It just all works. The lighting, the camerawork, the props - the makeup of the children especially -, the music, the angles, the story. Granted, the story might not be the most original one that was ever written - but it sure as hell is better than that of a lot of other horror movies.

Special mention goes to the makeup of the children - despite my classification of it as a zombie movie, despite its German title (Zombies), and despite the fact that the children actually are zombies of some sort, the makeup is not what you'd expect from a zombie flick, whether traditional or not, whether it features child zombies or not, whether it's atmospheric or not. It's a very basic makeup, one that I particularly like to use as well when I get any chance to do someone's "undead"-makeup, and it's more creepy than any kind of latex-y excess could ever have been in Wicked Little Things.

Also, this movie delivers a few genuinely creepy scenes that created goosebumps on the back of my neck. Kudos for that, it rarely ever happens these days when I'm watching a movie.

I got this movie when I was browsing the local Rock'n'Roll vinyl store (I still need to go there and buy the nifty original copy of the first Stray Cats album... if it isn't gone already...), and the German DVD cover doesn't promise anything more than an at best mediocre zombie flick. But this is better - way better.

Prey... Prey for them.

8.5/10 pale, black-eyed children who enjoy meat as much as I do. And have a similar way of eating it as I do. Ah... joy.

* It's actually not the temperature that makes an explosion deadly, but the force of the particles and the heat extending with extremely high speed. Yes, I wrote a paper on explosives back in school.

** What a waste. What a terrible, terrible waste.