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October Horror Day 3

Horror Journal

 

I’ve only got time for a double bill tonight so I decided on a little vampire special with two very different modern takes on vampires bother released in 1987. They do share another important theme and that is family but their tone is very different.

Near Dark

This film is a dark gritty take on vampires from Kathyrn Bigelow and there’s no glamour and not much magic about this itinerant “family” of bloodsuckers. Caleb Colton (Adrian Pasdar) is a country boy who meets a young woman called Mae (Jenny Wright) and they get talking but as they talk through the night Mae gets worried about getting home before sunrise. Caleb doesn’t take her concerns seriously and tries to get Mae to give him a kiss. Mae agrees and then bites him on the neck before running off down the road. Caleb is confused and feeling a bit strange. He’s been turned into vampire and he walks across a dusty field in the morning sun he starts burning badly. Mae is part of a small gang of vampires and they drive up in camper van and bundle Caleb inside. The plan is to kill him to stop him describing them to the authorities and Severen (Bill Paxton) is ready to that right away but Mae pleads for his life. Their leader Jesse Hooker (Lance Henriksen) agrees to give Caleb a week to adjust to being a vampire or they will kill him. At first Mae gets away with feeding Caleb herself but Jesse insist that Caleb has to cross the line and kill to feed himself or he’s dead. Meanwhile Caleb father’s Loy (Tim Thomerson) and younger sister Sarah are making their way across the country hunting for him

This film was so unique in many ways when it was made which takes a more realistic view of vampires and makes them more human but no less brutal. The scene in the bar where they kill off the patrons while laughing and dancing is tense and brutal. The shoot-out at the motel is another memorable scene with the vampires actually burning in the sun with flames coming from their bodies and not some sort of melting special effect. I admit I neglect this film a bit when it comes to re-watching films but then it really isn’t a feel-good film and I like being reminded how good this film is when I do get round to it

The Lost Boys

This is another one of my favourite films and every time I see it I just fall in love with the characters, the setting, the look the music all over again. Lucy (Dianne West) and her sons Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim) moves back to stay with her father (Barnard Hughes) in the town of Santa Carla on the Californian coast. Sam meets two boys Edgar (Corey Feldman) and Allen (Jamison Newlander) Frog who claim to be vampire hunters working in their parent’s comic book store. Sam doesn’t take them seriously at all until Michael comes down with a bad case of vampirism after hanging out with a group of vampire bikers led by David (Kiefer Sutherland). His only chance of rescuing Michel is to find the original vampire and kill him but that isn’t going to be easy, leading to a climactic showdown with the bloodsuckers.

This is much lighter in tone than Near Dark and it’s bright and full of humour. Though you don’t really see them doing it the vampires in this film can fly and they do it all the time. It’s just so full of what was good about 80s horror films and is an essential part of my Halloween viewing

 

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Posted by on October 3, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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October Horror Day 1

Horror Journal

This year rather than trying to do a full review every day I’m just going to post a diary with short summaries of the films I’m watching this October.

Frankensteins Army

There are some concepts that no matter how badly they are done I’m going to be watching them so I was eagerly anticipating the release of Frankensteins Army which promised to glory in the excesses of mad science. A group of Russian soldiers come across a German village where everyone is dead and underground they discover a mad scientist, a descendant of the famous Frankenstein, who is creating monsters out of fusions of machines and human flesh. The creatures are every bit as effective as the concept promises and Karl Roden is great as the titular Dr Frankenstein. The downside is that the film is more spectacle than story and the film is without a protagonist and feels bit aimless. It is shot in the found footage style and this leads to a lot of confusion during the action as the camera shakes around and it was only when thing quietened down that I could tell what had happened. Overall the film was fun and Frankenstein’s Army would be amazing in a computer game or as a theme for Halloween haunted house attraction, which nicely leads into the next film I watched

Jack’s Motel

On IMDb this film is called “Six Degrees of Hell” which has the benefit of being similar to a line in the dialogue. I mainly picked it up because Corey Feldman‘s name was across the top of the box but his part seems to be a later addition since he only interacts with one other cast member in a kind of wraparound story. This story is set around a Halloween haunted house attraction called Uncle Jack’s Hotel (not a motel like in UK DVD title). Jack gets some powerful magic relics from psychic to decorate the attraction but with these relics comes a supernatural force that brings the horror to life. This one is okay for low-budget horror and it makes great use of the haunted house setting and its cast of actors. I did get a bit confused because some the cast look quite similar which made it tricky to tell what was going on

The Last Exorcism Part II

This sequel continues the story of Nell, the girl who was possessed in the first film. She is determined to create a normal life for herself so she moves into a halfway house and gets a job but the past will not go away and she must face the demonic forces closing around her once more. It’s a very typical horror with nothing to really make it stand out from the crowd but the lead performance is very good.

Texas Chainsaw 

Another sequel, this time to the Tobe Hooper`s classic Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I was fully expecting this film to be dreadful and while it never approaches the fever-induced nightmare of the original, the story was okay. Apparently after the first film a group of locals laid siege to Leatherface’s family home and killed everyone except a baby and Leatherface . Two decades later and the grown up baby Heather learns she has inherited what looks like a massive plantation house in Texas from her grandmother. Heather goes there to check it out with her boyfriend and a couple of friends and soon the chainsaw engine is roaring again. There is certainly plenty of gore buthat doesn’t substitute for pervasive atmosphere of horror that he original did so well. At least they seemed to mainly use physical effects but it’s a bit vanilla compared to the original and won’t change the genre. It has mainly left me with a desire to see the original again.
 
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Posted by on October 1, 2013 in Film

 

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Review : The Lost Boys

Corey Haim.

Corey Haim

The Lost Boys is a classic 80s vampire film that it is always a real pleasure to watch. It is funny and scary and has a really excellent soundtrack. This film takes the vampire myths and drags them into the 80s and it fully embraces and celebrates the 80s culture that birthed it with music and clothing that gives a great sense of a film set in a real time in real place.

The film opens at night with a POV vamp-cam flying across the sea down to a boardwalk fairground. It’s all bright lights and people having fun but there a lot of punks hanging out. Two different groups start having at go at each other. One group is a bunch of surf nazi all tattoos and shaven head. The other group are all like member of an 80s metal band with long dark coats and big hair. These are our antagonists we see much more of them later but they are led by David (Kiefer Sutherland). A security guard breaks them up before the trouble escalates. Later we see the security guard making his way across an empty car-park to his car but were seeing it from the vamp-cam and a snatch of theme music is playing. The guard look up at the sky and  he is scared by what he sees. He runs for his car but doesn’t make it

Next day Lucy Emerson (Dianne West) is arriving in Santa Carla with her two teenage sons Sam (Corey Haim who tragically died last year. That really came a total shock to me) and Michael (Jason Patric). Santa Carla is is a Californian beach resort town whose glory days are long past. It is busting with the remnants of decades of counterculture,  hippies, punks and surf nazis crowding the streets as Echo and the Bunnymen sing People are Strange. They pass and old tatty “Welcome to Santa Carla” sign and on the back is graffiti  that says “Murder Capital of the World”

Sam is not happy about the move to Santa Carla and the sign is not very reassuring, but clearly Lucy has no choice. They arrive at her father’s house to find him lying his porch looking dead. Sam asks “If he’s dead, can we go back to Phoenix?” at which point Grandpa (Barnard Hughes) gets up, laughing at his own joke. Grandpa is an eccentric character and he’s sporting a Willlie Nelson look. The house is packed with deer antlers and stuffed animals. After Sam has a quick look around he is horrified to find no sign of a TV. While Grandpa is laying down his house rules he says no-one is touch his TV guide when its delivered. Sam ask hopefully if Grandpa has TV and is shattered when Grandpa says “Read the TV guide you don’t need a TV”

That night Sam and Michael go to the board-walk in town. There’s a band playing there, with a big muscular saxophone player Tom Capello singing I Still Believe. Michael catches sight of an attractive young woman Star (Jami Gertz) who is watching him. She leaves and gives Michael a little glance back to see if he is following. Michael does and Sam complains about being at the mercy of his sex glands and goes off to do is his own thing.

Lucy is also on the boardwalk we see there are lots of notices for missing people plastered all over the place, many of them fresh, including one for the security guard from the start of the film. The sheer number is a bit unsettling. Lucy sees a young boy on his own outside a video store and finds he is lost. She takes him into the store and asks the owner Max (Edward Herrman) for helping in finding the boy’s mother. The mother appears seconds later happy to find her son safe and takes him away. Lucy reveal she is looking for a job and indicate Max’s “help wanted” sign in the window.

Sam has spotted a comic book store and despite his way-out trendy clothing  he is a major comic book nerd. Sam really does stand out amongst the freaks, hippies and punks of Santa Carla.and this gets a comment from one the two boys who are working in the store. Sam demonstrates his nerd credentials by criticising the placement of various comic books. The boys introduces themselves as Edgar and Alan Frogg (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander) That is just a fantastic pair of the names and Edgar delivers it so straight and its always followed by the unspoken thought “seriously?”  by whoever he’s talking to as they mentally adjust their reality accommodate the Frogg Brothers. The brothers both talk with put-on deep voices under the very mistaken impression that it makes them sound tough so when Edgar presses a vampire comic into his hands and warns him it may save his life he really doesn’t take them seriously.

Michael is still following Star but is disappointed when he finally catches up with her and she leaves with David and his gang on the back of David’s motorcycle. As they drive off she looks regretfully back at Michael. Later we see a couple punks reading comics they stole from the Froggs’ store. Without warning the roof of their car is ripped off and they get dragged off into the air.

Next day Grandpa winds Sam up again by asking if he wants to go to town. In the garage he has a mint condition classic car and Sam is impressed and eager for the run into town, but Grandpa just turns the engine over for a minute then turns it off again “That’s about as close as I like to get to town” and gets out again. Sam burned again.

That night at the board-walk. Sam goes to talk to the Frogg brothers again and they try and convince him that they are vampire hunters and that Santa Carla is a haven for the undead. Once more they press a vampire comic into his hand Edgar shows him their number on the back  Edgar says “pray you never need to call us,” and Sam replies sincerely “I pray I never need to call you” with a brilliant expression on his face

Michael has met up with Star and again she’s about to leave with David and the gang. This time David invites Michael to follow on his bike to the bluff. They race along the beach in the dark and it is very misty all of a sudden. At last minute on instinct Micheal swerves to stop just in time to stop going over a cliff. He’s not happy but David and friends are laughing about it and they invite Michael down to their hideout. They are in an old hotel that fell intoa fault during the large San Francisco earthquake and is now a well furnished cave.

David’s gang are Marko (Alex Winter), Paul (Brooke McCarter),  Dwayne (Billy Wirth), a nine-year-old boy called Laddie for some reason and of course Star. David Gives Michael rice from takeaway someone has brought tin. He starts to eat when David ask how he likes his maggots. David looks down to see the container crawling with maggots and he spits out what he ate. Moments later the container is just full of rice again. David also seems to make Michael see a tub of noodles as a tub of worms.

Now that Michael has been softened up David offers him a drink from an ornate bottle. The atmosphere has changed and now instead of laughing they are hungrily willing Michael on to accept the drink, all except for Star who tries to warn that the drink is blood, but thinks it is another trick and takes a drink and feels a rush going through him s he is changed.

They all ride out to a railway bridge and cross over to the middle. Michael is shocked when each of the gang seems to just leap off to their deaths until he hears them call him from under the bridge where they are hanging. Michael joins them and then a train comes over the bridge shaking it. One by one the gang lose their grip on the bridge and fall off in the misty valley below. Soon Michael is hanging there alone and just before he loses his grip he once more hears the voices of the gang below him. He falls too and lands back in his own bed.

Next day Sam wakes Michael with call from their mother. She wants to Michael stay home and take care of Sam while she goes out for dinner with Max. Michael is looking really rough. Later on in the evening Grandpa is heading out on a date himself and douses himself in window cleaner as a substitute for cologne.

Not long after Grandpa  leaves there there are sounds and lights like a bunch of motorcycles are driving round the house. When Michael opens the door the noises stop and there is no sign of anyone there. Sam goes upstairs and has a bath. He has it full of foam and is listening to music, some old blues duet and he’s singing along to both parts while playing with the suds. His dog /wolf Nanook is sitting at the side of the bath. Downstairs Michael takes a drink of milk from the carton and has a violent vamp-spasm. He looks up and his eyes are glowing yellow instead of bright blue. Hungry for blood he goes up to the bathroom and as he opens the door Sam ducks under the water to rinse himself off and Nanook sees the danger and attacks Michael.

Later Sam comes out of the bathroom confused looking for Micheal and finds him downstairs bleeding from a vicious bite on his hand from Nanook. He tells Sam Nanook was just trying to protect Sam from Michael. Sam then sees Michael’s reflection in a mirror and it is faded and ghostly. Sam freaks, runs upstairs and locks himself in his room. He calls the Froggs and Edgar confirms that is looks like his brother is vampire. His only advice “Kill your brother, you’ll feel better,”  is just not something Sam is ready to do

Michael is having trouble lying down to sleep. His problem is not the sleeping part, but he can’t stop floating off his bed and it gets so bad he ends up floating out of his window. Next door Sam answers a call from Lucy and is reassuring her that everything is fine when suddenly he sees Michael floating outside his window and he just freaks out screaming for help. Michael tries to reassure her on the other extension but she leaves for home right away.

After Sam calms down he lets Michael in and they promise to tell Lucy nothing and try to sort it out together. Sam tries to claim he was just having a nightmare after reading a scary comic and Lucy is exasperated because she knows it’s BS and no-one is telling her anything. Michael goes out to the bluff to see Star who confirms that he is a vampire and that drink really was blood just like she said. The scene turns to sex fairly quickly.

Next day Lucy tries to get some information from Michael but he just slips off to bed. She takes Sam along to Max’s while she drops of a bottle wine to apologise for leaving dinner early. She goes in the gate to leave it on the doorstep and sees Max’s dog Thornn who turns savage and chases her off. Thornn was previously a normal friendly dog that Lucy had already met. Sam connects the dog’s behaviour to hell-hounds used by vampires to protect them in the daytime and calls the Froggs. Sam finds out from Edgar that Michael may still be saved. If he hasn’t killed anyone he is only half-vampire and if the head vampire whose blood he drank is killed then he’ll recover and be human again.

Lucy tells the boys that Max is coming over for dinner to make up for the previous night. Michael is of course going out. Sam sees his chance and calls the Froggs to help him test Max to see if he is the head vampire. Michael is just leaving as Max arrives and Max makes of point of being invited in by David (vamp-alarm beeping). Then Sam shows up with his guests for dinner, the Frogg brothers. Dinner is disaster thanks to the boys attempts to test Max, first with raw garlic instead of parmesan. This merely serves to upset Lucy and leaves them thinking that Max is a normal human.

Michael is gone down at the beach with David and the gang  sitting in a tree. nearby a group of surf nazi are having a beach party drinking and dancing around a bonfire. David has brought Michael here to show him what he is. The gang all fly out of the tree and attack the party group slaughtering them all and tossing their bodies on the fire. Michael is disgusted and successfully battles his own blood-lust. David says to him “You’ll never grow old, never die but you must feed,” and they leave him.

Michael goes back home and ask for Sam’s help. Star appears floating outside Sam’s window and Sam dives under his blanket in fear. Star asks for Michael’s help for herself and Laddie who are also both half vampires. David had in fact intended Michael to be Star’s first kill but clearly that plan was changed when she didn’t do it. Sam tells them he has contacts and as Star flies off again Sam tells her to make sure she doesn’t kill anyone.

Sam calls the Frogg brothers to come round and they all head for the vampire nest in Grandpa’s classic car. Michael takes care of getting Laddie and Star out to car. Sam and the Froggs head off to hunt for the sleeping vampires. When they find them they are shocked to find that they sleep while hanging by their big ugly demon feet from the roof of their cave. They don’t know which one is the head vampire. Edgar suggests killing them all smallest one first. He climbs up a stakes Marko right through the chest. Marko dies but it is a noisy bloody mess and the other vampires all wake up. “You’re dead meat,” David growls at them and chases after them as they run for the exit. He manages to grab Sam but the Froggs pull Sam out into the daylight which burns David and he has to let them go for now.

They race home to get ready David’s retribution that night. Grandpa watches carrying Star and Laddie into the house but he merely asks if they knew the rule about filling the car with gas when they take it without permission. Lucy is going on another date with Max which gets her out of the way. Sam tells Grandpa about widow Johnston expecting him that night. I think you can see Grandpa is just pretending to believe Sam, just like he pretended he didn’t notice them carrying sleeping vampires into the house.

The vampires attack and Nanook kills one in a bath of holy water, saving the Frogg brothers. Sam shoots another one with an arrow right into the stereo system. That leaves David who goes into a flying hand to hand battle with Michael. Michael defeats David but he’s still a vampire because David was not the head vampire.

Lucy returns home with Max and is looking over the mess and trying to understand it. Sam and the Froggs try to explain but then Max takes over because he is really the head vampire. Their tests were useless because Max was invited in by Michael. Max wanted them to all be vampires and be one big happy family to which Edgar quips ” Great, The bloodsucking Brady Bunch,”

Max seizes Sam and threaten to kill him if Lucy does not agree to join him. Just then Grandpa’s truck horn sounds and it crashes through the wall staking Max with a big fence post and killing him.  Michael, Star and Laddie are human again. Grandpa gets out of the truck and just says “One thing about living in Santa Carla I never could stomach, all the damn vampires.”

Rating 9/10

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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