Someone's in the house. He's watching. He's creeping round, only you can't see him. He's watching you from the walls. He's right behind you now. Looking over your shoulder. He wants the remote control. He's a bad boy. He wants to watch bad movies. Bad bad Ronald...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

REVIEW: How Sick Can Human Centipede Be?

I’m not the kind that gets easily shocked.   I’ve been around the block too many times.  I mean, I know what  shocking is when I see it.  I can identify it.  It just doesn’t get to me like it does others.  There’s been many a time when a friend would drop a fork, or set their pizza back down on the plate, with a queasy twist of the head once the conversation gets too detailed, or when the movie on the tube gets a tad graphic.  Never had that experience myself.  When the arm gets lopped off, I reach for another handful  of popcorn.  When the face gets split open, that’s a cue for me to make another plate of nachos.  It really does take a lot to put me off my food.  Come to think of it, the last time I can remember really cringing was when Ed Norton was playing that creepy nazi dude, and he made this other dude bite the cement curb before smashing his Doc Martins down the back of his head.  Shiiiiiivers!
That scene just hit a nerve, sort of on a visceral sense memory thing, like being in the dentist chair when the doc suddenly has a seizure while routing around your mouth.   I mean really, who likes to have their teeth fucked with! 
What usually gets to me is the stuff that kicks me poignantly in the balls.  I remember watching a VHS I got from opening a subscription to Film Threat, and on there was a clip of some politician who was holding a televised press conference.  He somehow got to feeling cornered and pulled out a handgun and blew the top of his head off through his mouth.  That DID put me off my food.  But it wasn’t the blood or the brains dripping from the wall or the sudden slump of the man’s body.  What really got to me was the sudden vision of his real life wife and kids watching the televised event.  The thought of their pain was what was sickening to me.  That’s what shocks me.  Not the gore, but the human condition turned sad.
 I’ve heard all the buzz around about The Human Centipede and, well,  it sounds up my alley.  I’ve seen a good dose of the new stuff coming out of Germany, and a story about a mad doctor who joins three people by their digestive tracks – anus to mouth, anus to mouth – so it just sounds too good to miss.  Maybe this will be the film that really shocks me!
In your standard horror setup, two American beauties get stranded on the backroads of Germany while tooling around looking for an exclusive party, only to find themselves strapped to hospital beds in the basement lab of a mad German doctor.  And just as promised, the two girls get sewn together with another hapless tourist (a dude from Japan).  But… before he does all that, the good doctor graphically explains the procedure to his victims in vivid detail, using an overhead projector, causing me to turn the volume down due to all the screaming and swearing (from my wife …. I kid).  The detailed synopsis would certainly make a few heads turn, but the real squeamish bit comes a while later.  It’s not the shots of the actual human centipede, but the moment that comes which answers the question:  What’s gonna happen to all that food that the German doctor is feeding the Japanese guy at the head of the human centipede?  Yeah, you know what’s gonna happen.  So, you better put down the popcorn and fizzy pop, because it’s pretty sick.
Like I said, it’s all pretty standard stuff – outside of the anus/mouth stuff.  The action is straight forward generic horror pacing: girls get lost/creep snatches ‘em up/cops happen by/victims attempt an escape.  There’s nothing new on that end, which isn’t a surprise.  What did surprise me is the lack of any imagination with the story or the characters.  Such a sick mind that would come up with a human centipede scenario couldn’t follow through with some new twist on the old mad doctor routine?  Dieter Laser is real creepy as the doctor (looking like a cross between Ichabod Crane and Udo Kier), but that’s only because he likes to do weird things to people in his lab.  Director Tom Six (who also wrote the script) missed out on an opportunity to create a unique character with Laser’s doctor, by not giving him some life beyond being the standard spooky guy.  The victims are fairly shallow, as well.  Like mice in a cage, they really didn’t need to name these characters, because one was no different from the other.
The one real saving grace of this film was Tom Six’ ability to keep the gimmick in check.  He could have easily gone overboard with some completely ridiculous gags (pardon the pun), but he shrewdly dodges the obvious, and keeps the horror of the situation, well…. horrible.
I was hoping for a little more out of this flick, but still Human Centipede succeeds at making you flinch.  You’ll never tour the backroads of Germany and get a flat tire the way you used to after you see this flick!! 

Friday, May 21, 2010

POTA Fans Rejoice!

Here's some news I can enjoy.  As a big POTA fan, I'm hoping that this new Ape flick will be a whole lot better than Tim Burpon's lousy re-imagination.

From Mr. Disgusting over at Bloody Disgusting:
James Franco (Spider-Man) has signed on to star in 20th Century Fox's Planet of the Apes prequel Rise of the Apes. Described as an origin story, Apes is set in present day San Francisco and deals with the aftermath of man's experiments with genetic engineering that lead to the development of intelligence in apes and the onset of a war for supremacy. Franco will play a driven scientist who becomes a crucial figure in the war between humans and apes. Visual effects house WETA Digital -- which will employ some of the groundbreaking technologies developed for Avatar -- will render, for the first time ever in the film series, photo-realistic apes rather than costumed actors. The film, which starts lensing July 5, will bow June 24, 2011.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Famous Monsters to Bring Back Some Famous Monsters to the Screen

Word from Bloody Disgusting says:

"A very brief piece of news here that we were tipped off about from a friend over at Cannes. Apparently the newly launched Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine is already working on creating feature films to go alongside their print mag. While nothing is set in stone, they hope to make a slate of five films that would include: Dracula: Reborn, Mummy: Resurrected, Frankenstein: Regenerated, Werewolf: Reloaded and Creature: Returns. Sounds damn cheesy to me. Direct-to-DVD anyone?"

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Kim Bassinger channels Red Ridning Hood and Bob Villa

What do Christmas Eve and tool boxes have in common?  Usually, it means another gift for the handy poppa.  But on this occasion it means Kim Bassinger going nuts as a vengence hungry housewife in While She Was Out (2007 Anchor Bay)
Christmas Eve is hectic enough for a mother or two, with all the last minute preparations and shopping and spousal abuse – but the day that Della Myers (a wispy-haired exhausted Kim Bassinger) is just miserable. The story follows Della (with two L’s, she has to remind people), an upper-class mother of two, who is saddled with the holiday blues.  Her aggravated husband (Craig Scheffer) can’t seem to wake her up from her depressed daze.  He’s tired of coming home from the office to trip over toys and stacks of laundry.  He figures that if he yells and screams, and punches a hole in the wall, that might wake her up.  Doesn’t work.  Instead, the kids are terrified, and Della flakes out. 
Della ends up at the mall, searching for a last minute present for the kids.  The mall is, of course, busy, and the parking is horrible.  She has to park in the way back lot, because some idiot took up a couple prime spots, just before she gets to them.  Not content to have the entire world shit on her, like her husband does, Della leaves a scathing note on the parking hog’s windshield.  This comes back to haunt her when she runs into the kids who own the car.  Della does her best to stand up for herself, but her newfound strength only makes matters worse for her.  Before she knows it, gunshots are fired, a person lay dead, and Della is on the run… with only a tool box in her hand (what she does with the tool box isn’t as prevalent as the press releases would make it seem).
While She Was Out may have been conceived as some kind of cautionary feminist play, and it does have its moments, like when Della finally draws the courage to stand up for herself in the mall parking lot, and is knocked right back into place – a quick allusion to the war of the sexes that have been going on for decades.  But mostly, the movie comes off more as a post girl-power revenge flick, sort of like I Spit on Your Grave meets Desperate Housewives, with loads of clichés winning out over cleverness.  There are endless scenes of Della narrowly escaping the clutches of the boys, by flipping a tree branch, or sliding a rock.  Yes, escapes can be set upon some plain good luck, but for Pete’s sake, how many times can a 50something gal escape a gang of viral young lads so inadvertently?  And when Della finally does get caught (in a very awkwardly played cat and mouse sequence)by the gang leader (played rather blandly by Lukas Haas), she uses her womanly ways to seduce him in a manner that will make you groan with embarrassment (talk about method acting!).  All of this works its way up to a twist ending (that you see coming a mile away) that makes you wonder – what’s the real point here?
The performances are fine, however writer/director Susan Montford (basing her film on a short story by Edward Bryant) loses a lot of the power in the finer moments of the story while trying to beat the formula.  When Della finally takes charge, she does so with stingily excessive violence, becoming much too ecstatic with her role as slayer, so much so that she shows little regard for humanity, losing that motherly edge which helped her survive her own family troubles. The idea of the victim becoming the hunter is not an new one, and it’s good to see the twists become more twisted, but when the filmmaker looks to justify these excesses, it can get real dicey.   Is Della a hero at the end of the movie?  Or has she become a villain herself?  It’s a quandary which should’ve been explored more within the frame of the movie.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lucky McKee and Angela Bettis to Team Up Again for Jack Ketchum Sequel

Andrew Van Den Houten gave me a heads up that he and Jack Ketchum are teaming up to do a sequel to The Offspring.  The Women is set to film in August 2010.

Here's the official announcement fro Peace Arch:
Peace Arch Adopts 'Offspring'
Article by: Staff of
Peace Arch Logo
Peace Arch® Entertainment Group Inc. announced today that it has acquired all distribution rights outside North America to MODERNCINÉ’s new feature film Offspring: The Woman, based on the novel by Jack Ketchum and Lucky McKee.

Offspring: The Woman is currently in pre-production with principal photography scheduled to begin in Michigan in late June.

Dubbed the “scariest guy in America” by Stephen King, American horror author Jack Ketchum is the winner of multiple Bram Stoker Awards. Offspring: The Woman, to be published later this year by Leisure Books, will be the fifth novel by Ketchum to be adapted into a feature film. Most recently Offspring, based on Ketchum’s novel of the same name, was distributed on DVD in the U.S. by Ghosthouse Underground through Lionsgate in 2009.

In addition to co-authoring the novel, McKee is attached to direct. McKee has established a broad following in the horror genre with films such as the award winning May (starring Angela Bettis, Jeremy Sisto and Anna Faris, released theatrically by Lionsgate in 2003) and Sundance favorite Red (starring Brian Cox, Tom Sizemore and Kyle Gallner, released theatrically by Magnolia Pictures in 2008), which was also based on the novel of the same name by Jack Ketchum. McKee also served as a producer on Jack Ketchum’s The Lost and was the youngest director to make an episode for the first season of the acclaimed Showtime anthology series Masters of Horror.

Current cast attachments include Angela Bettis (Girl, Interrupted, May) and Pollyanna McIntosh (John Landis’ upcoming Burke and Hare). McIntosh will be reprising her role as The Woman, a character who first appeared in Offspring.

The film will be produced by Andrew van den Houten’s MODERNCINÉ, whose previous titles include cult-hit Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door, Headspace, Home Movie, Made for Each Other and Offspring. For additional information, please visit

Julie Sultan, President of International Sales and Distribution for Peace Arch, said, “We are very pleased to be bringing this spine-tingling new film to the international marketplace. Lucky McKee has already demonstrated his ability to create terrific films based on Jack Ketchum’s works, and the same rabid fans who buy his books see his films. The Woman will strike a powerful chord with both horror enthusiasts and movie lovers everywhere.”

Van den Houten added, “The Offspring franchise couldn’t be in better hands than with helmer Lucky McKee and Mr. Ketchum. We are thrilled that Peace Arch shares our vision in making groundbreaking films that push the envelope. The Woman will take horror fans to an unprecedented level of terror.”

Julie Sultan and Paul Gardner of Peace Arch and Andrew van den Houten of MODERNCINÉ negotiated the deal.

Monday, May 10, 2010

First Looks at Ti West's INNKEEPERS

Here are some set photos released to BadRonald from the set of Ti West's latest flick THE INNKEEPERS, his follow up to the fantastically retro horror flick THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Return to the Haunted Drive-In

I honestly don't remember the last time I went to the drive-in.  It's been a couple decades, at least.  Funny thing is, for close to 15 years I lived in the home of drive-in movies -- New Jersey!  Sad thing is,  the state where the Drive-In was born now has only ONE remaining Drive-In.  The good thing is, I now live right down the road from a fully operating, two screen Drive-In movie theater.  Even gooder news is that this past weekend, they ran a horror double-feature.  Bad news is, one of the movies was  A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET.  The other was THE CRAZIES.

I can understand why they wanted to remake A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET.  The original wasn't really so great, so sure, give it a try.  Try and make it work.  Yeah yeah, I know -- it's a modern genre classic and all that iconic shit.  But honestly, the production was laughably sloppy (for a studio release), the acting was about as wooden as Pinocchio off of his strings, and Freddy was just not funny, at all.  For the remake, not much changed except for the production quality.  The budget was obviously stepped up with piled-on CG FX and Michael Bay's paycheck, but the acting was (GASP!) even more dismal!  This was possibly thee goomiest movie I've ever seen outside of an Art House theater.  And I'm not talking gloomy as in oh, I feel so sad and effected.  No, I'm talking moaning and groaning at every overwrought cliche and boomingly forcasted foreshadowing -- I mean, c'mon!  We already know that the parents played let's-chase-the-pervert-to-the-wharehouse-and-burn-him-like-Frankenstein, so why all the dopey knowing glances, stuttered explanations and furrowed brows?  As for the kids -- take the Debby-downers from the FINAL DESTINATION and make them more morose, and you're getting close to how mopey these kids of ELM STREET are.  No, I'm not expecting levity or lightheartedness from a horror movie, but the ostentatious fog of doom and gloom is so thick it chokes off all the excitement that should accompany a slasher flick.

The worst part of this glum gore fest is Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy Kreuger.  Not to take anything away from Haley as an actor -- he's done brilliant work in the past -- but director Sam Bayer gave him nothing to chew on.  It's as if the filmmakers made a collective decision to steer as far away from the hammy, sideshow comic schtick of Robert Englund's version of Freddy, that they ended up with the most dry, mono-toned monster in moviedome.  A more seasoned director than Bayer could've figured out a way to make Freddy dastardly and sinister, without all the bad puns.  But clearly, when you hire a well known music video director, you're looking more for the dazzling FX rather than performances.

Part two of the double feature was THE CRAZIES, a remake of one of George Romero's lesser known works. It's a well worn chestnut about small town folk being effected by yet another military FUBAR.  This time, a military plane carrying a volatile cache of chemical weaponry goes down in the marshes of an Iowan farm community, releasing the toxins into the drinking water supply.  The effect on the townspeople is bizarre and violent, turning them into crazed killers. 

The remake is helmed by Breck Eisner, son of uber-boss Michael Eisner.  But the Eisner offspring doesn't let the silver spoon in his mouth get in the way of his directing.  Taking a page from the original director's notebook, Eisner does well at keeping the share of the focus on the townspeople and their plight.  The performances are riveting, from the bit parts up to the leads -- especially from Timothy Olyphant, as the town's well-intentioned sheriff, and Joe Anderson, as Olyphant's off the cuff deputy.  They're like a modern day, dry-humored version of Andy Taylor and Barney Fife -- only this Deputy Fife has more than one bullet at his diposal. 

The only problem with this flick is that it lacks the visceral paranoia that filled the original movie.  There was something in the air throughout the 60s and 70s that infiltrated the films.  It smelled a lot like Viet Nam, the Generation Gap, the Civil Rights movement, and the underlying rebellion against The Man.  The cultural climate was surely reflected in many films of the era, both out of Hollywood and from the smaller independent studios, and it gave the films some weight and social awareness.  They weren't message movies, but the filmmakers were skilled at making a story work without beating the audience over the head, and by keeping the politics in the cogs of the plot, instead of as a subplot.  It's a shame that Eisner didn't pick up on this tip, seeing that our own present social climate is ripe with the oder of unrest.  Instead of delving into the dissimulation and hypocrisy surrounding the political arena and of our own evolving morality, Eisner and the writers kept safely to the standard fear-of-authority routine.  It certainly wasn't the dismal mess that ELM STREET was, but THE CRAZIES was still a great Drive-In choice.