OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets


Ravenous (1999)

 You are what you eat.

This has long been due and awaited by a select* few, and tonight I am ready once again: Whilst wallowing in footnotes of a scientific nature and working my pretty ass off about topics no single remotely sane and especially 'normal'** person is interested in, I needed to occupy my creative multitasking with some visual input in order to actually concentrate on being a frelling out-of-work penniless genius who is being thought of as a weird, nerdy retard. Pardon my French. So the search for DVDs working on this glorious excuse for a laptop*** led to 'not-really-anything-working-besides-for-a-handful-that-I-have-already-watched-extensively' - as a result, thinning out the collection to what is available on one backup drive. This is a sore topic for me, as most of my DVDs are not working anymore, and most of my backups are A)**** on non-working peripheral drives, or B) dead internal drives in inaccessible impossible casings. Add C) non-accessible drives in dead motherboards and D) non-working broken DVDs as your personal level of Schadenfreude demands. It's easily possible to add E) non-working DVD-player to that - but as of recently, I can say 'thank you' to Maynard of horrormoviediary.net, who volunteered to send me a working external DVD-player. Thank you.

Still, the final solution in this case having been the handful of movies of which I have several backups - having been blessed with technological paranoia from an early involvement with it on -, I chose Ravenous to be the movie of the... day? Weekend? Don't know, don't care, but what counts is that Ravenous is one of those movies I can actually watch, so there we go - praise Dame Necessity.

First of all:
Robert J. Carlyle. OMG. Robert J. Carlyle.
Your hostess has to admit to going all fan-girl-y over that Scottish guy. His characters are always memorable - Colqhoun / Colonel Ives in this wonderful movie, the father in 28 Weeks Later (Hallêlu:-Fresnadillo/Boyle!), Dr. Rush in SGU (only thing saving that series, besides for the distinctly Farscape-esque touch of the story and the ship Destiny... srsly), .... and most recently, effing Rumplestiltskin in faerytale-smooch-drama-series Once Upon A Time (again, only saving grace of that thing - I do see a pattern here).

So. Ravenous. *toothy grin*

This is the story of a young man of the American military, Captain John Boyd (Guy Pearce), who has been sent to Fort Spencer, located in what has to count as pretty much the remotest areas of the Sierra Nevadas, for a reason made very clear at the very start of the narrative; there, he encounters a very archaic concept coming to life, threatening all - an archaic concept made manifest as a ravenous hunger... for human flesh.

(cue in cheering, applause and enthusiastic hooting of the doubtlessly huge crowd here for effect)

Captain John Boyd is a coward at heart. He managed to take an enemy post in a battle once (ah, yes: The movie is set during the time of the Mexican-American war - complete with in-period garb, which of course impressed me positively A LOT, being the historical-accuracy-nerd that I am), but that was under ...special circumstances. That was ...different. *grins toothily*
You see, he let himself be captured by the enemy (= evil Mexicans in this case) by 'playing dead' - he could not bear witnessing the deaths of all his men, and so he thought it would be a good idea to fake being dead. Wise choice indeed, considering that he found himself on a wagon loaded with the corpses of his fellow soldiers, buried underneath them. Getting their, ehm, inside-stuff into his mouth. Heh.

When a mysterious stranger who calls himself Colqhoun arrives at Ford Spencer shortly after Boyd has, our soldier does not know yet that his life will change completely under the influence of the remnants of his own past and the needs of the present. A horror movie with engaging and truly memorable, well-crafted characters! [rasping-hissing-guttural-reptilian noises] Happy squeal.

Without going too much into the background-end of movie-narratives, Ravenous manages to make every single character in this movie into a well-defined semiotic entity - stereotyped just enough to provide a starting point, but crafted into veritable personalities from quite early on (well... needs to be from quite early on, as some people kind of die. No, not peacefully, rest assured). There is simply no possibility to mistake one character for another, as it so often happens with modern horror flicks; in case you don't know what I mean, think back to the last movie you watched involving some person killing teenagers and/or young adults appearing in friend-circle-sized groups, maybe even one in which this happens outdoors, preferrably in some woodland area. If you should suddenly find yourself thinking about, I don't know, Friday the 13th or any other slasher movie from the past decades in which you find yourself mixing up the victims because they are simply flesh to be killed off, then you got the point I was trying to make. However - this movie. Oh my gods. This movie. Oh my gods.***** The characters are awesome. All of them.

  • The Stoner: Private Cleaves, an awesome performance by David Arquette. David Arquette! I really had not expected that.
  • The Native (I - Stoner): George, convincingly played by Joseph Running Fox. The scene which touches upon catholicism is BRILLIANT.
  • The Native (II - Female): Sheila Tousey plays Martha, sister to George the Stoner. Silent, tough.
  • The Bookish Boss: Colonel Hart - Jeffrey Jones! His performance in this flick is just all-around nifteh. Like, seriously.
  • The Aryan Übersoldier: Private Reich (lol), hilariously played by Neil McDonough. You can feel the aryan hardcore-ness emanating from the screen. Well played, Mr. McDonough, well played.
  • The Religious Shy Nutter: Private Toffler, charmingly played by Jeremy Davies.
  • The Alcoholic Doctor: Knox, portrayed by Stephen Spinella. Convincing. *nods* Convincing and funny, actually - but in this movie, the 'funny' (or should I make that 'amusing'?) kind of comes with the territory... which I fully approve of.
  • The Naive Coward: Captain John Boyd, our very own lead.
...as I said. No single fucking way to confuse these characters with one another - visuals and voice are particular to each person. This is a good thing. Whilst I dislike the overuse of stereotyping in general, I welcome it as a device for storytelling - and let's face it, movies are narratives, therefore the rules of storytelling apply in a kind of way. Mhkay? Mhkay.

All of the characters are loveable in their own way, and you will no doubt have your favourite (and one you like the least...) - mine is, as readers familiar with my rantings and ...delicate distinctions on decadence, death and dismemberment as well as desiccating husks of dead things might already have guessed, the cannibalistic character, as played by - remember the elegies at the beginning of this review? x-actly - ROBERT CARLYLE (*swoons*). No one, I swear, no one plays the calculating wendigo beyond human behavioural patterns - and yet using these to his advantage by impersonating them to those who still suffer from them - like him: The original nightmare from which the variety of anthropomorphic monsters we have in our world's myths, sagas, stories, tales and bedtime whispers have spawned, the original dread to which all these pay witness.

It's one of us. 


As for anthropomorphic monsters of movie-land - I don't know how my esteemed readers feel about this, but I personally think that there's something archaic about a human eating another human. Satisfying. Basic. Or maybe it's that 'non-monstrous-looking people doing monstrous things to one another'-theme I have going on (-- my favourite topos, really)... anyways!

[I did want to add in some deeply philosophical stuff about why the stuff witnessed in this movie can be classified as cannibalism, followed by a deeply philosophical view on why most of the stuff can't be cannibalism for purely semantic reasons; let's just state that cannibalism would be the eating of one's own kind (as Cannibal Flesh Riot! taught us so well)... and the change from human to wendigo seems to be pretty straight and without any turns back to the olden road of not eating people. There, long philosophical point made.]

When looking at the atmospheric pictures Ravenous provides the viewer with, you have to figure in the soundtrack to delve into the whole movie-experience. I'd recommend a relaxing intoxicant of your personal choice if I ever did such things or would, indeed, even assume in my child-like naiveté that this would be something people would or could do without repercussion from the righteous, just and holy Law(s) [insert the Law(s) appropriate for your geographical area, religious persuasion, social stratum, education, gender, musical taste, movie preference, political persuasion(s), favourite drink, age range and relationship to cats here] for such a heinous act of malice, evil and brooding terror.
*nods sagely*

...feel free to crack open a cold one, though.

Enjoy *grins*

So... Soundtrack. Damon Albarn and Michael Nyman truly are AMAZING composers. I was a bit disoriented the first time I heard Nyman being mentioned on the cultural radio channel over here - Ö1 for those of you who keep track******, but quickly connected the name with this movie. Seriously - the man is brilliant. Together, these two men are more than brilliant. Ravenous' soundtrack is exactly the sound you'd like to have running whilst merrily hunting down your human prey, preferrably in the mountainous and wood-covered ranges of something with only thin air left. Tenderness******* and all that.

Pacing: Comes with the soundtrack - or rather, the existence of this brilliant musical accompaniment to the narrative told here proves that the pacing is here - and it is indeed. It runs. It floats. It's natural. Sometimes, it speeds up a bit to let us cherish the rest of the story as well instead of dwelling too long on one point (as I would be wont to do, just so that you unnecessarily are aware of that); it generally can be said that the movement is fluid and follows from what has already happened how (and how fast). Natural pacing. It's rare to see that in a movie - especially in a movie about cannibalism!

By the way: Why is it that when a woman produces and directs a movie that is witty, gory, entertaining and full of suspense throughout gets called weird, but when guys do the same thing, no one says that? Oh, wait. 21st century, I nearly forgot.

Anyways! I am not writing as much and as lengthily as I would actually want to (...there's A LOT of stuff about this movie in my brain that wants to jump out at unsuspecting strangers, trust me...); this is due to me sitting here in front of the craptop, trying to go through my list of movie-reviews I have jotted down under the heading of 'to write' in order to do at least a bit of stuff that is actually really important to the world at large******** instead of just sitting around and worrying about stuff bothering me. So I ask you to forgive me this insanely short review of a movie that would deserve 30+ screens of analysis and love and hugs and kisses and kinky sex.

Hence: This movie is going to be one of the best you've ever watched, unless you seriously dislike character development, in-period-garb for actors, great and difficile acting, wonderful stereotypes used as they should be used, cognizant pacing, a beautiful soundtrack that makes you want to hunt people********* and twists and turns most people cannot foresee. I enjoy this movie immensely, whenever I have the chance to watch it. Some day, I shall make this review longer and more tedious and awesome to read...

11 / 10 holes in the ground. Like... holes. In the ground.

* Read: mad and obsessive.
** CSICON: Committee for Surrealist Investigation of Claims of the Normal: 'Finnegan's paper began with the electrifying sentence, "The average Canadian has one testicle, just like Adolph Hitler -- or, more precisely, the average Canadian has 0.96 testicles, an even sadder plight than Hitler's, if the average Anything actually existed." He then went on to demonstrate that the normal or average human lives in substandard housing in Asia, has 1.04 vaginas, cannot read or write, suffers from malnutrition and never heard of Silken Thomas Fitzgerald or Brian Boru. "The normal," he concluded "consists of a null set which nobody and nothing really fits."' 
*** Destrøyer øv t3k-N0-10gY
**** I officially and psychologically hate yellow. Hence the colour. Now delve into your Schadenfreude! 
***** Eh? Eh? EH?
****** Yes. I listen to Ö1 and love horror movies, nothing wrong with those two usually mutually exclusive things being combined into one happy package in me. :D
******* Possibly not the tenderness most people are thinking of when hearing or reading that word. Just to make this clear: There is no cuddling involved. 
******** The snark comes from realising that nothing I do is actually really important to the world at large. 
********* I don't know about you guys, but I feel like doing a Ravenous impromptu-show whenever I hear the soundtrack... *grins*

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010)

Sheesh. A person turns their back onto modern horror in order to descend into madness for a career in stuff no one's interested in besides for the occasional madman or creep, only to return and see that they fucking missed a lot of cool stuff in the two years they were busy. Jeez. Give a body some rest.
Then again, I distinctly remember seeing the DVDs in a friend's preferred video store, thinking something along the lines of "this is so not going to be funny". And now, roughly 2 years later, I can come here and say 'dude, I was wrong. SO WRONG', because this, ladies and gentlemen, ghosts and ghouls, zombeasts and vamplings, is frelling hilarious. And I mean HILARIOUS.

So... let's start with WEST VIRGINIAAAAAAAA!!! Not just the home of my favourite band Blitzkid - who are going to finally split up after this tour, and damn, I shall have to run amok if I cannot manage to get to their final gig in Köln on Halloween - but also the trusty location where all horror movie nerds from around the world* know to find the evil woods that house, well, hillbillies. Murderous hillbillies. Madness, murder, slaughter, violence, death! Not necessarily in this order, though.

So yeah, the second we move into West Virginia, we know we're in for... well. A ride. I would totally offer you screenshots of the West Virginia woods scene in Tucker & Dale vs Evil and drag up my old West Virginia woods screen from Wrong Turn now, but alas, this laptop is not able to do that.

Our two heroes are Tucker and Dale. Tucker (Alan Tudyk) is one of the nifteh guys from Firefly in case you think you remember that face; in this movie, the eponymous Tucker is one of two 'hillbillies' on their way to their vacation in their dilapidated cabin in the woods; he is a simple yet philosophically skilled man who understands the truths of the world as it presents itself to us (and, according to Dale, also quite the man with the ladies, which I feel compelled to believe him). Dale - played by Tyler Labine - is the sweet-natured, slightly bigger guy. To be honest, I felt eerily reminded of Cannibal Flesh Riot! and the comedic trope of the tall, thin, clever guy teamed up with the beer-belly, bigger, less clever guy; the slight Cannibal Flesh Riot! - feeling probably comes from the fact that both movies subvert the trope successfully.

Tucker & Dale vs Evil is something that will probably be funny to most people, but only hilariously funny to those of us who have watched a few too many horror flicks. Every single stereotype is there, magnificently enhanced by the movie's joy to take the genre-specifics that all make us groan and just run with them; there's no need to pretend that the victims are not picked out for our viewing pleasure, that what happens is actually happening due to circumstances and not because it's what happens in horror flicks, that people get hilariously killed in extremely funny ways not because this is a horror flick but because this is, you know, serious business.

Generally speaking, this movie did everything right.

I particularly want to praise how writer** and director Eli Craig made it really easy for the viewer to see the two sides of the story - the hapless Dale and the a-bit-less-hapless Tucker (reminding at least me not just a little of his Firefly-character Wash) with all the weird stuff that happens around them, seriously confused by what they experience: perfectly contrasted with the young college people (I freely assume they are being young college people as actors of that age and dressed like that in such movies are always college people) and their preconceptions about what kind of people Tucker and Dale might possibly be.
As someone who is fascinated with the differences that make up each of our realities due to inferring that the world is the way we see it, I find this movie to be simply AWESOME - funny and awesome. It is hilarious, but at the same time, I could easily make a comparison between our college youths and Nazi Germany - but alas, I will refrain from doing that***.

The faithful horror fan will enjoy the scenes presented in Tucker & Dale vs Evil so much more than a non-horror viewer - although I have to admit I do not think too many people without at least a slight penchant for horror would watch it. Then again, I have no idea what normal people who are not into horror actually watch...

Old horror movie key-scenes and tropes have been used in such a fucking ingenious way that I feel it would be unfair to rob you of them by talking about them. Let's just say that the scenes are nearly flawless.

Oh, and I want to state that the free use of beer is awesome in this movie. Beer is an important part of civilisation, and these two proud men know it. Tucker and Dale are on the case!

Seriously though: Serious message (do not assume that people are what you think they are just because of their looks and your preconceived notions of stereotypes), hilarious flick. Along with the fun, the brain-stuff, the subtle social undertones we also get some really heart-warming scenes about friendship and acceptance (and cute romance). As I said, in my opinion, this has pretty much everything and has been done very, very, very very well. :D

The acting is pretty solid throughout - our two male leads and the female lead (Katrina Bowden as Allison) are obvious in this regard, but the college kids are also... more believable than their non-funny-horror-flick-with-hillbillies-counterparts on which they have been modelled. Then again, overacting such a part is way easier than trying to act believably - I mean come on. Would you be able to act in a believable way if you were to be cannon fodder for a woods-slasher-movie? I know I probably wouldn't.

The dialogue, too, is one of the most hilarious things ever, especially if you're watching this with the horror stereotypes we all know and love in mind. To be honest: Writing a review for this is a bit weird for me because I am giggling most of the time if not laughing out loud due to the hilarity of it all.


Highly recommended to everyone!

9.5 / 10 creepy college kids hurling themselves to their premature death ("...Grab a leg!")

* Including females with hardly any idea about the geography of the world today who are nonetheless still able to split hairs about how much distance can be calculated to be lying between two ancient sites that have been ancient and dead for more than 4,000 years, obviously.
** Together with Morgan Jurgenson.
*** Take the superstitions the college kids have towards our friendly heroes and how that enrages them to act further and further, drowning down the spiral of pointless violence, under the aegis of a leader, and simply compare mentally with how the Germans and Austrians had these weird superstitions towards the Jewish people and how that enraged them to act further and further, drowning down the spiral of pointless violence under the aegis of a Führer... damn, I did it! ><


Necronomicon (1993)


Holy fucking shit. Of course this trainwreck is a Brian Yuzna production.

So...  Necronomicon (1993*). I wanted to do this for a while.

This, ladies and gentlemen, ghosts and ghouls, vamplings, zombesquities etc., is what scientists watch whilst typing away fanatically at long-winded papers about the development of hypostases of ancient Sumerian deities which could be linked conceptually with Yog-Sothoth**
I don't know about you, but my own brand of horror education has made me aware of the fact that people dealing with things like this are usually prone to visits from terrifying abominations lurking beyond the frail borders of mortal perception, elder things that have lurked beyond the dim echo of the line dividing life and death, immanent in the horrifying splendour and awe-inspiring terrors of the universe, waiting and spawning at the gateways. So there you go, my eventual fate is probably to die screaming in an asylum after attempting to summon the monstrous horrors of the void and emptiness between the stars.***

Necronomicon (1993) consists of three shorts - 'The Drowned', 'Cold Air' and 'Whispers' - embedded into a frame-story (0, also known as 'The Library' and directed by our collective favourite, Brian Yuzna), which, amazingly, gives us Jeffrey Combs as the man himself, Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Within said frame-story, he (...or should that be He?) is visiting a library to research the hidden secrets of blasphemous monstrosities from beyond, so naturally, things become interesting as he stumbles across that most evil of all books: The Necronomicon! Lovecraft starts to read - and the stories we are shown are right from the pages of that terrifying tome penned by the mad Arab, Abdul Alhazred.
'The Drowned' (I) - The last of the lines of the Delapores (well, de la Poers actually if we're really going by canon here) returns to his ancestral manor... and we all know that ancestral manors are usually a beacon for evil forces that cast their demented shadow over such places, attracting all kinds of abominations from the lonely places beyond.
The first minutes are more or less setting up the story of the de la Poers - but just as the esteemed Lovecraft-fan is getting comfortable and begins to identify the story used as 'The Rats in the Walls' (one of HPL's masterpieces - if you feel like, enjoy), gleefully waiting for the ancestral cannibalistic terror to be involved, atavistically driving our protagonist to madness, the story kind of... switches around in the middle of establishing itself and adds weird story elements not really congruent with what we know the mentioned story at all.
The ancestral manor - sitting upon a cliff that is honeycombed with ancient caves, which any faithful reader of the master of weird fiction knows to house a terrible, terrible secret - is situated near the sea. This apparently made it a favourite with suicides of the de la Poer family... and whoosh, suddenly the story completely switches, and we're suddenly right in something that... is not a Lovecraft story I recognise. A ship runs aground in a terrible storm (one feels slightly reminded of The Call of Cthulhu, but that's wrong alarm... or maybe this potpourri is intentional? Who knows...), and a character's wife and child die in the process; said character, now lacking said wife and child, burns the Hol(e)y Bible out of a theatrical display of anger aimed at the Most High and kind of renounces god (that YHVH-guy). What follows is the most logical conclusion - he gets a nightly visit from a fish-/crab-/thingie-creature threateningly telling him that he is not alone, and as such, he suddenly finds the (you guessed it) Necronomicon (dun - DUN - DUNNNNNNNNN!!!!) underneath a pile of sea-ish stuff with which probably would have disgusted Lovecraft to no end****. As the book (or should that be 'tome'?) is friendly, it opens to a ritual called "Towards the Remedie of Untimely Loss". This includes chanting the famous lines we all know and love - that is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons even death may die as well as the line about 'in his house in R'lyeh, dead Cthulhu lies dreaming' (or something like that, I'm reciting from memory here).
As this is a Lovecraftian story nonetheless, no matter on what story or story elements it is based on or not based on, the ritual succeeds and the guy's two loved ones, wife and son, are indeed resurrected - AS TENTACLED MONSTROSITIES! *mad laughter*
...suicide ensues.

... ...AAAAAAAND we're out of that story segment (let's call it I.1) and back in the frame-short of Mr. Delapore/de la Poer in his ancestral manor. In the library, no less, frantically researching hidden knowledge that man was never meant to know. As he falls asleep in exhaustion, the story suddenly makes a violent turn and rapes your Lovecraft-mind: Bony things appear from underneath Delapore's bed amidst a green glow (of the black magick / black science-persuasion of colour), whispering something.
Naturally, the last scion of the line of those degenerated de la Poers finds the - you guessed it! - Necronomicon (I begin to see a pattern here) and immediately starts ritualising around, calling upon Elder Forces from beyond.
For some reason, hot undead chick ensues (yepp, another relationship-y resurrection), and we nearly get some action - this being a Lovecraft flick by Brian Yuzna, we know that not all is well, though. The moment the female begins to develop quite the tentacles-from-various-orifices-theme, we know that we're back in "we're doing Lovecraft not for the cosmic terror and creeping fear, we do it for the octopoid abominations and possibilities to use great slimy masses of stuff to make our point about otheworldly terrors"-land. Which is so charming that you can't not like it... (unfortunately, no screen shot. Craptop doth not want to take screenshots - 't'would be too much, running two applications at the same time!)

...And we're back in the movie's frame-story (0) about Jeffrey Combs as Howard Phillips, reading the Necronomicon...
...and the story that unfolds right before our eyes is 'The Cold' (II), obviously based on the original story 'Cool Air'. This one's been produced by Shûsuke Kaneko, whose other works I have not been privy to.

Interestingly enough, the first time I saw this outside of my <3 suhrkamp editions of actually rather good German translations of Lovecraft's stories or in lovingly made .txt-files on the net, it was in a zombie-anthology ('The Dead that Walk'). I had never seen it under that premise of an idea.
This version of the story involves a young woman being extraordinarily sensitive to heat, living in a suspiciously cool flat. A reporter visits her and asks her about the doctor used to live there - and his alleged connection to 11 dead people. After clumsily threatening the woman, she starts with her story...

The Past:
Young woman (with no particular sensitivity to heat - HINT HINT HINT) moves into the house, the other people living there being the woman who owns it and a mysterious tenant (which we could foresee to be the mysterious doctor) who is not to be disturbed. In her apartment, however, young woman notices ammonia accumulating on the ceiling, dropping onto her musical notes.
Cue in abusive stepfather, crude sexual innuendos and attempted rape - in the end being heroically forestalled by mysterious tenant with a scalpel. Yes, meet David Warner as Dr. Madden. He's awesome in that role. Seriously awesome - but maybe that's because I'm kind of a fan of the guy, so there is a distinct possibility of bias.
The good doctor explains the frigid temperature to young woman by his skin disease, which requires an unusually cold room temperature, and after noncomittally having accepted that matter-of-factly, they part ways. Blood dripping down from the ceiling at night is the logical next step in this story's development.
We also find out that the doctor is probably more than 100 years old, and that he bleeds transparent ick instead of blood.
The story proceeds predictably from there if one is aware of the story by HPL, with only minor variations. Okay, we get a pretty kitschy romantic scene (which is surprisingly awesome considering the participants) complete with a bit of romantic love-making (...yaayy(?)!)... complete with a love-plot of the respected "Oh noes! I cannot stay away from this elderly mad undead scientist!"-variety + a kind of love-triangle. Followed by graphic melting of the good undead elderly mad scientist. We love you, Brian Yuzna. We do. So very very much.

Back to young woman and reporter. Reporter is drunk and suspects young-woman-talking-to-him and young-woman-from-the-story-about-the-goodly-doctor to be the same person. Oh noes. We totally didn't see that coming. Blah blah spinal fluid blah blah.

After that:
Back to Jeffrey Combs... eh, I mean Howard Phillips in 'The Library' (0), reading the Necronomicon. Another story - the third in this collection, again arising mystically from the pages of that evil book! (*grins*) ---

--- cut away to short number III, 'Whispers'. This one's also directed by Brian Yuzna, so you can freely assume to be in for some fleshy ride. And you would be right! 

It's the most ridiculous thing EVAR.

I love it dearly.

You will, too, if you can appreciate Yuzna-stamped fleshy things man was never meant to see and a campy plot:
Two policemen (one guy, one gal) have a car accident. Waking up, the female finds herself alone, her partner taken. As she's a cop and he's her partner and this is a predictable movie, she goes off to find him. Doing this, she demonstrates a great ability to pick out the worst situations to be in as she follows the trail of his blood...
The male disappears, whereas she ends up in some sort of subterranean hall and is found by a harmless and polite-appearing elderly man. Still underneath the earth, his bizarre wife appears, and it turns out they know about The Butcher - the (ghastly, terrifying, terrible, horrifying, astoundingly evil, bad, monstrous etc. etc. pp. ad nauseam) criminal that the policefemale and her partner have been hunting together! What a coincidence!
So they (the elderly couple) take her to their home, having a bit of small-talk and such things (...one would expect tea and biscuits!), and inform her that The Butcher is an alien that has been here since before the time of the dinosaurs - or is he the servant of an alien? Who knows...
In order to achieve police-y stuff,  female cop is being taken downwards...  farther down into the depth of the earth - to a tunnel, decorated with odd wallcarvings and stuff like that (presumably, this is supposed to be a 'Lovecraftian' design), where the elderly male shows her a deep hole in the ground, fully hidden by a malevolent mist and surrounded by more eldritch (kind of Aztec-looking) carvings. How did he come by this knowledge, we all wonder? So finally it turns out at this point that the elderly couple is a team of obscene cultists of the Great Old Ones. Female cop is thrown into a surreal, slime-filled, squicky underworld, where she finds her partner undergoing a horrible transformation.

It is the most ridiculous thing I have ever fucking seen. I mean... OMG. Flappy flapping things. Seriously, this beats a lot of crappy animatronics, and ZOMG -- this is perfect. Hilarious.

In the end, the cultists turn out to be pro-life AND marrow-sucking aliens. This is indeed worth a satisfied nod - predictable, yes, but awesome. It's far too random and awesome and cool to give away the 'plot', for lack of a better worth, - well, give away more than I already did, but hey, I did slap a spoiler warning on top of this - but... man.
Flappy things.
They make me giggle every time I see them.


...rest assured that madness ensues.

Cut to frame-story (0) of Jeffrey Combs in the library with the Necronomicon. Something tentacled attacks him, and an awesome bald priest - who is seriously cool, I like the character a lot -, has, after warning Lovecraft cryptically of evil things, most of his face pulled off by our soft-spoken Providence scholar. Then a terrible evil from the other end of a colourful tunnel connecting the Necronomicon to worlds beyond eats his skull out of his skin.

Forces have been unleashed that should never have been stirred from their uneasy, merciful sleep...

A remarkably funny way of butchering Lovecraft. I am often lenient with the truly trashy terrible transmutations being marketed as 'based on a story by H.P. Lovecraft', especially if they have this ...special charm. Yes, I'm an addict. However, this flick is thoroughly enjoyable and will guarantee giggles galore. The FX alone are enjoyable - handiwork one recognises and appreciates. There should be more movies like that.

6.75 / 10 flappy flapping things wildly flapping around in a completely non-menacing way (yes, it's that good).

* There seems to be some kind of disagreement on the year; my copy says 1994, and I've originally seen this aired on TV ages ago as a 1994 movie. IMDB says 1993. I am obviously going with IMDB here.
** Spelling disputed.
*** Knowledge of obscure dead languages - check. Researches ancient religions - check. Trained in archaeology / anthopology - check. Reads old books - check. Pale and thin - check. Indulges in the occasional mad giggling - check. Watches horror movies - check. Reads HPL - check. 
...Holy fuck, I am a manifestation of a cliché!
**** Lovecraft didn't like seafood or general fishy stuff. Like... really didn't like it. Never wondered why most of his grand, icky stuff comes from the watery abyssal depths?


The Hamiltons (2006)

What does it mean to be happy? To be content in the world around you?

*...I don't know why I continue to see the Butcher Brothers' feature The Hamiltons as a short - I have watched it often enough to be familiar with and aware of the 86:35 playing length, so it can't be that. I am not usually stoned and/or drunk when watching it, and have not experienced intoxicant-induced blackouts recently, so it can't be that either. I know the story, the structure, the characters. But it still remains a short in my mind - short movie as well as short story.

It is a good story, though - perfect material for a short story. A novella if you really want to dig into the material, but being one of the creatures with a penchant for stringing words together so that they may look pretty, shiny and appetising, I'd spontaneously go with the short story-format.
Take care: A teenager is rebelling against his family whilst slipping into puberty. Twist: He's from a family of (...) monsters (?).
Essentially, this is the plot. And I can see how you can work a solid story around this, how to use the particularities of a teenager trying to figure out where he fits into the world in the case of a family without parents trying to figure out their place in the world. The isolation, the problems. Seriously - I would like to write something like this if I would be more inclined to A) take up the pen again, B) had any sort of connection to that concept - besides for having been a teenager once myself, as I suppose most of us have. But the thing I would not be able to do is wring more than is in the story out of it. And I think that this is what The Hamiltons is attempting. It does not fail - it works commendably considering what it has to work with. However: Do not make full-length movies (or stories!) out of short-story-material.

That said:

I have a soft spot in my heart for anthropomorphic non-traditional monster portrayals in which the monsters can also be, you know, 'normal' and stuff like that. Considering that, I really should appreciate the new millennium, as the fad of using outsiders and monster-like creatures as protagonists doesn't seem to stop anytime soon, but I am admittedly not the biggest fan of those ...thing-ies. Do remember, however, that Cannibal Flesh Riot! is the best movie in the whole world evar.

So... monstrous humanoid family. I guess it's not a big secret that the actual kind of monstrous humanoid being under consideration here are vampires (and yes, I dread vampire flicks these days...).
I imagine that people who perceive human blood on a superficial level (smell through skin, aroma on sweat, see the subcutan veins and capillaries, are aware of the pulse and/or heartbeat, can see the minute movements of skin spread out over the pathways of blood...) all.the.effing.time appear to be spaced out a bit when they are caught up in someone's blood's perception. An I imagine near-perfect portrayal by young actor Cory Knauf - so yeah, in order to check the acting we'd need to observe a starved blood-drinker in its natural surroundings, and I somehow doubt that this will happen anytime soon. As long as monsters are not being revealed to mankind as real, we have to take this performance as the best we can get at the moment (not counting TV-appearances by self-proclaimed 'real vampires' - more power to those of my awesome readers who happen to be of that persuasion, but: srsly?).

Staying with that topic for a moment, I shall rant: Amazingly, this movie is not on the hot-list of real vampires all over the world, or at least so I gather from the occasional mention of 'real vampires' disapproving of this movie on the various online media which cater to movie-lovers and other creatures of the horror movie world, under which I freely subsume those who need to proclaim that they are licking other irresponsible people's blood off the tiny wounds they inflicted with diabetics' tools. *shakes head* Srsly. People who want to be taken seriously should attempt to stay away from clichés like having a fake European accent, being all pale and clad in black, wallowing in self-pity - in general: Try not to be V:tM. Even if it goes against even your most uninhibited animalistic instincts to throw yourself at the mercy of the media and rational people waiting to point their fingers at you mockingly.

Enough of subtly insulting minorities, on with the review in question.

How would you feel if you knew you were suffering from a rare disease of unknown origin - one that made you need human blood, one that made you need to drink it (-- fresh --) regularly? In large doses? A disease for which there was no cure, which wasn't even acknowledged by the medical sciences or even within the emerging fields of new medical research? Something apparently genetic, which has already changed you, made you different from other people - and you know that you'll need to drink at some point, else your health and sanity fail.
What would you do?

The Hamiltons tries to tell this story from the POV of a teenager (Francis, played by aforementioned Cory Knauf) born into a family of blood-drinkers. 'real vampires', if you will. They're apparently not immortal, nor immune to diseases, aging, wounds etc. - or the effects from lack of food. They love, hate; they feel passion (mostly for one another, but who would blame then - if you'd be part of a family of monsters that eats humans, you wouldn't exactly want to be with a human being unless you truly enjoy making yourself suffer mental and psychological agonies like straight from the abyss, or at least that's my guess). They try to live a normal life in a world that doesn't really offer up a place for them, stuck in a society in which they're not really able to 'be normal' at all; and the need to take in human blood as per survival makes normalcy within a human society very, very complicated... especially for teenagers of a rebellious age. And a family this volatile.

So... the family:
- David (odd but good performance by Samuel Child), the oldest of the siblings: Working as a butcher, he remains the one attempting to make their lives as normal as possible. Under 'normal', David understands 'banal', 'trifling' and 'American', judging from the things he enacts in order to introduce normalcy to their lives. He is also a quiet homosexual and raging with suppressed anger, which comes out pretty clearly in how Child chooses to depict the 'nice elder brother[-thing-from-the-beyond]'. 
- The twins, Wendell and Darlene (Joseph McKelheer and Mackenzie Firgens respectively). They are the ones who don't care for normalcy or 'fitting in' with the crowd - after all, the crowd consists of food. Point. The incestuous couple seems to follow a hedonistic life principle, where enjoying yourself and feeding, using, abusing and playing with people is one of the more fun things to do. Add sex and slight bi-polar tendencies in both, and you got yourself an explosive mix.
- Francis - teenager. 'nuff said.

Teenager Francis' plight is actually understandable in hindsight: Watching the movie for the first time, statements like "But I really don't fit in there!" in regards to school, just to state one example, just seemed eternally, abysmally bad. After the ending, re-watching the flick to see how I responded to the movie after knowing the story, I found the stereotyped scenes to be amusing and a kind of an inside nod to the viewers in the know rather than a mistake of the script / movie's conceptualisation. It's things like this that make up for the lack of the story's potential outside a short. It would be my guess that the Butcher Brothers are quite intentionally portraying ironically heightened stereotypes of certain rôles within society these days - a pointed and realistic portrayal of people in need of portraying people due to not-really-being-people. Gods, this is complicated at times like this...!

Talking to an acquaintance about this movie, I realised that the plot's elements actually correspond quite perfectly to van Gennep's theory of rites de passage - in this particular case, the class of initiation rites. What Francis is going through symbolises the classical transition from child to adult, the coming-of-age as it is more commonly known - within the universe and mythology the Butcher Brothers established in this movie. The focus of the movie on transitions is palpable throughout, as well as a focus on boundaries and the transgression of them. I don't want to accuse the movie of having been structured after ritual theory and/or other anthropological/sociological/psychological etc. concepts, but if you're taking those into consideration, it helps to enrich an otherwise pretty (low-)standard flick. And make me wax philosophically about fucking ritual theory... I really should get a grip on myself.

Speaking of people not-really-being-people: Why, do these vampiric types always decide to dutifully eat food that they know they cannot stomach properly, leading to the inevitable throwing up after eating? Why? I mean... WHY?! What could it possibly be that makes people eat things that make them throw up violently? A kind of weird, pseudo-humanistic insistence on being like everybody else, only not in the sense that solid food makes you vomit (...then again, I am the last person that should talk when it comes to throwing up 'normal food' and living with an unusual diet...)? What kind of twisted world view is this?
...I am baffled. Simply baffled.

Besides for this complex topic: David actually is merely keeping up a rational and sane persona all the time - which breaks at around the hour mark, when he starts exsanguinating a blonde twat and rants to her about random things - I would be more specific here, but alas, I don't want to watch the movie again for merely this quote. 
Admittedly, this is exactly the point where I would suspect someone who has kept a mask of sanity all the time around others and who gets triggered by the scent and/or sight of blood to break out of the persona and fall right into the pit of self.
As for being a stickler for details:
During the exsanguination, David uses some sort of... I don't know, a mix between a dialysis-machine, those things used for washing plasma and simple bags and tubes.
I cannot see the pumping equipment; also, as far as I am aware of, you need thicker plastic tubes to transfer blood effectively from the human body to some receptable (like a blood bag, as used in this movie). However, I shall believe the pwetty pictures, so I'll let these things slide. For nao.

6.2 / 10 memories slipping away in blood. And family.

"We live with a disease.
And everything you thought you knew about us is wrong.
We live in the houses next to you; we work in the stores you shop at; our kids play with your kids. We're just trying to be an ordinary family trying to figure out where we fit in in the world.
But we do need blood. And we need a lot of it.
Preferrably fresh, and not frozen."

* No screenshots for the time being; the laptop I am using is not able to handle that much stress. 


Fright Night (1985)

Tom Holland! I simply love the guy - we share a thing for historical stuff.
So... fond memories are washing over me. Verily.

It's actually been ages since I watched this movie for the last time - I don't even remember how long it was. I have to admit that I am much more fond of the second movie in the franchise (amongst other things because of that one having been one of the first non-Hammer vampire flicks I watched and actually enjoyed - yes, I saw Fright Night after Fright Night II, blame the TV stations back then), I still like this movie a lot. There's something fundamentally different between old-fashioned, awesome, cool and fun horror flicks and those that come out these days. Compare Fright Night with, I don't know, some random nameless vampire flick of the last decade. Nah, make that two decades and exclude Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula and... uhm... okay, let's count Interview With the Vampire as a horror movie for a second (*cries inside*). Also, it speaks to us children of the 80s' night and horror afficionados.

I mean, seriously: Who can not emphasize with this movie's plot? 'Random men carrying a coffin at night' understandably intrigues Charlie Brewster (as portrayed by William Ragsdale), young male of the movie - I would be intrigued as well. Coffins. Night. Possibly vampires or other fiendish creatures dwelling in darkness or something similar.
And damn, it's - of course! - 80s' flair all around: The clothes (by all Gods and Monsters, how on earth could people have actually worn these things?!) - terrifying as ever. The cars - full of win and awesome. Heck, even maths for school looks more interesting and fun than the one I had to do in these modern nights. I mean, yes: Who expected something different from a movie from '85? It's awesome, in an 80s kind of way. However, it also holds its share of "IT'S THE 80s!!!"-terror - you will doubtlessly see what I mean when (if) you should decide to watch this flick. Which you should. Especially because that is an excuse to watch David Tennant shirtless in the remake. But I digress.

So: Plot.
Charlie Brewster is something akin to what we'd term a geek these days. He has a very... 80s looking girlfriend with whom he doesn't have teh_sexxx, he watches 'Fright Night' religiously. So much for characterisation. Oh, yes: Fright Night. It's a TV-show with a presenter who presents horror movies. Like Elvira, only different. His name is Peter Vincent, by the way. I hope to hear at least some Hammer-horror fans howl with laughter now, otherwise I am seriously disappointed. I mean, especially if you look at the getup the character employs to play the character of Peter Vincent you should be shaken with recognition.
*raises her right eyebrow expectantly*


Charlie notices during one nice evening he spends with his girlfriend Amy, watching 'Fright Night', that the new neighbour moving in next door has a fucking coffin being moved into the house ...remember the beginning of this review? Here you are). His attention is instantly captured, and he focuses onto that - one may guess it also is caused by a bit of nervous behaviour, as Amy offered him the possibility to have a go at sexuality in the proper sense with her. Under the sheets. And OMG, the guy actually starts spying on the coffin-carrying people moving into the neighbour's house instead of ravaging her. Dude. I can so understand that... and at the same time not. Call me torn. I'm like Jekyll and Hyde in that regard.

Anyways, he comes to the conclusion that the neighbour is a vampire. A fucking vampire. So naturally, he feels threatened and tries to kill the abomination - to which said abomination, a quite cultured, suave and stereotypically gay-looking guy, in those 80s aesthetics with their focus on men, takes a bit of an exception. With Charlie trying to kill the vampire, enlisting the help of his girl, his best friend Evil Ed, and even 'Fright Night''s Peter Vincent, Fearless Vampire Killer (heh), and the vampire in turn trying to wreak havoc upon the life of the Brewster, we're in for a very 80s-like ride. From the 80s. With 80s vampires. w00t!

So much for the plot.

So it really is no wonder that teh_sex is not coming along as we would expect in the exalted year of 2012 with non-kinkster-kitten Amy running around in human form, and it really is no wonder either that our horror-fan is busy with avidly spying on the new neighbour when not watching 'Fright Night' on TV (I am sure most of us can emphasise. About the TV-show, I mean... *coughs and hides goggles and selection of air-borne poisons*).

It's not that he's bi-curious or anything: It's that the Brewster suspects him (the neighbour) to be some kind of night-creature - and alas, he is completely right. The vampire next door may look incredibly gay to viewers from this day and age, but A) he is apparently not gay (although I suspect that living through centuries, millennia even, would lead to a person appreciating the sexual fun one can have with all kinds of people, not limited in one's choice to one gender), B) vampires are usually a bit sexually ambiguous in the mind's eye of the public. Well, vampires of the Twilight-persuasion aside - I cannot for the life of me imagine these... 'characters' to be sexually adventurous. Matrimony, for fuck's sake. Anyways: Nearly forgot C): He's Chris Sarandon.


Charlie's ideas about his neighbour being a vampire don't go over too well - neither with the local police officer, who starts to think that the Brewster is an unhinged teen (an assessment with which he is not entirely off the mark), nor with his girl (who thinks he is kind of weird), or the vampire (who definitely notices that ...incident).

A commendable appearance that annoys the ever living shit out of me every time I watch this movie is the one by Stephen Geoffreys who plays the Brewster's friend Evil Ed (or 'Evil' for short). He advises Charlie on the details of vampire lore - crosses, garlic, sunlight, not being able to enter unless asked to do so by the owner; all the basics that we know and cherish.

However, things advance with the speed we're used to from the Bloodsucking Evils of Darkness: Before Charlie can come up with a plan what to do about the vampire infesting his neighbourhood, the suave guy has already established a firm footing in the area (geographically as well as interpersonally).

The movie is very strong when it comes to establishing a creepy atmosphere - then again, the terrible sound (80s. what else...) that cues in whenever the vampire appears is... messing with my joy a little bit; however, things like these have to be accepted when watching a movie from 1985. Being pissed off at the movie because it actually works as a historical document would be stupid - especially when identifying as a horror movie addict and a historian. So I'll just stand by my assessment that modern viewers might possibly be turned off if they are not open minded in that regard... and do not have a particular tolerance for the different kinds of societal stratification throughout the past decades... *whistles*

Things do not go well when it comes to Charlie's plans concerning the vampire. He learns that the vampire learned about his interest in him; the vampire's attempt to kill Charlie fails - being forestalled by the mother, and as most of us know, mothers are indeed a terrible, unpredictable force of nature that should be banished by all means -, but the young man is scared of the supernatural invading his life and the potential threat of being killed by a vampire. He decides on the most natural course of action: He tries to attempt contacting The Great Vampire Killer, Peter Vincent played convincingly by Roddy McDowall.

This does not go as planned. No wonder, even the Great Vampire Killer does not believe a ranting teen talking about vampires out to kill him, thrashing cars etc.; speaking of that idea, there is a hilarious scene when Charlie confronts Mr. Vincent about vampire flicks being less trendy than slashers. I had to laugh, considering especially today's situation. 

The reactions of the people remaining 'normal', in the world without vampires, are quite believable. No one actually believes Charlie (with a very moving scene about belief and love), but they're supportive nonetheless. Well... 'supportive'. As Evil and Amy figure out, Charlie is so obsessed with killing the vampire that he'll actually go through with it against all sanity or laws against trying to drive a stake through the heart of your creepy neighbour; so they decide to ask Mr. Peter Vincent for help: He may be able to cure the poor bloke of his 'vampiric' delusions by faking his (Vincent's) vampire-expert-sk1llZ in order to assure the poor deluded (?) boy that his neighbour is not a blood drinking monstrosity of the primordial night.

It is hilarious (and, interesting enough, also moving to a degree in a weird way). Charlie's despair to be believed and taken seriously, Vincent's attempts at stopping his delusions, the vampire eating apples (of all things!) and falling for Charlie's girl - at times, the scenes seem like straight out of Stoker's Dracula.

Effectively, we have two conceptions of reality clashing with one another: World without vampires, world with vampires. Both are real (respectively) - the world with vampires in the way that Charlie's reality has changed forever due to the incursion of these creatures into the otherwise normal world, coupled with the fact that the rest of the world does not really believe in vampires roaming the world; coupled with the normal consensus reality we all agree u
This does not go as planned. No wonder, even the Great Vampire Killer does not believe a ranting teen talking about vampires out to kill him, thrashing cars etc.; speaking of that idea, there is a hilarious scene when Charlie confronts Mr. Vincent about vampire flicks being less trendy than slashers. I had to laugh, considering especially today's situation. 

The reactions of the people remaining 'normal', in the world without vampires, are quite believable. No one actually believes Charlie (with a very moving scene about belief and love), but they're supportive nonetheless. Well... 'supportive'. As Evil and Amy figure out, Charlie is so obsessed with killing the vampire that he'll actually go through with it against all sanity or laws against trying to drive a stake through the heart of your creepy neighbour; so they decide to ask Mr. Peter Vincent for help: He may be able to cure the poor bloke of his 'vampiric' delusions by faking his (Vincent's) vampire-expert-sk1llZ in order to assure the poor deluded (?) boy that his neighbour is not a blood drinking monstrosity of the primordial night.

It is hilarious (and, interesting enough, also moving to a degree in a weird way). Charlie's despair to be believed and taken seriously, Vincent's attempts at stopping his delusions, the vampire eating apples (of all things!) and falling for Charlie's girl - at times, the scenes seem like straight out of Stoker's Dracula.

Effectively, we have two conceptions of reality clashing with one another: World without vampires, world with vampires. Both are real (respectively) - the world with vampires in the way that Charlie's reality has changed forever due to the incursion of these creatures into the otherwise normal world, coupled with the fact that the rest of the world does not really believe in vampires roaming the world; coupled with the normal consensus reality we all agree upon that there are no bloodsucking creatures of the night, this kind of clashes. In an interesting way.

The deception to cure Charlie of his delusions actually goes wrong (in a way) when Peter Vincent realises that the vampire does not have a reflection. This kickstarts what I like to call the movie proper. Fright Night has quite a
pon that there are no bloodsucking creatures of the night, this kind of clashes. In an interesting way.

The deception to cure Charlie of his delusions actually goes wrong (in a way) when Peter Vincent realises that the vampire does not have a reflection. This kickstarts what I like to call the movie proper. Fright Night has quite a setup that establishes itself before they start to delve into the ...'actual' movie. This may sound as if I was complaining, and I want to clarify that I'm not. I thoroughly enjoy this kind of stuff.

Note to self: Maybe it's my dislike for whining guitars singing their way through unnecessary solos that makes the vampire scenes in this movie so 'meh' for me; I am nearly 100% sure that it is the music associated with the appearance of a bloodsucker doing vampiric things that causes my not-really-there-appreciation for Sarandon as the vampire. Or possibly the 80s look.
Who the hell knows.

As for the vampires - this is not a movie that will make females swoon for the undead: Our main vampire looks... well, gay (I mean this as an insult, but not against homosexual people. thank you for your understanding) when in human form and like a mishappen werewolf when in vampire form; Evil as a vampire has the most ridiculous teeth ever (they look cool, though); Amy looks okay (until she goes into full-blown vampire-mode, as noted before), but then again: Females undergoing vampirisation always seem to become better looking, more elegant and filled with grace; unless their teeth are out, though - that makes for awesome horrifying, a bit ridiculous but still exceptional vampire-monster depictions. But yeah, there's no 'Edward'-type here who may enchant and ensnare the hormonally challenged twats so happy with and about vampires ever since the tragedy that is Twilight struck - although there is indeed vampiric seduction in this movie. Granted, it's not really possible to have a traditional vampire movie and concept without the erotic intruding onto the horror, as vampires have come to be associated with sexuality and eroticism ever since Bram Stoker insisted on writing his seminal Dracula.; and ever since Bela Lugosi donned the black cape as the public vampire #1, eros and thanatos have been closely intertwined when it comes to vampires on screen.  Cue in terrible 80s music with a howling/whining guitar, an erotic scene involving what I can only assume to be a minor, biting-made-for-screen, and lo and behold - voilá!, we got us a veritable Dracula-moment here (as there seem to be quite a few nods to that seminal work in general).

Speaking of Evil as a vampire - he becomes even more annoying after his transformation. However, this movie shines when it comes to animatronics. I am not the biggest fan of CGI, to be honest - maybe that is something unnatural these days, but still: Good old-fashioned animatronics are waaaaay better and cooler and more awesome than CGI. The scene during which Evil switches to wolf-form followed by the drawn-out transformation back is amazing and really manages to perk up my interest every time I see it. I have this fondness for wolf-man-transformations, I admit it freely.

Oh, something to remember: In this movie, some creatures melt when staked. Melt. It's like, I don't know, watching something in which Brian Yuzna has been involved: Green, vile liquid, melting flesh - I stand in awe. Couldn't even remember that scene.Reminds me of Re-Animator.


Ends on a happy note - which of course means that the monster is being killed and no one who has been infected with monstrousness remains a monster. Yay. Woohoo.
Nonetheless: Solid flick.

On to the remake.

7/10 lithe creatures of the night transformed into grinning, ridiculously funny vampire-monsters