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Brian Fowler

The 8th annual Halloween Havoc

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Truth. 

Incidentally I think the first Havoc I did I got Candyman. Seeing it in the theater is pretty awesome with those big, sweeping overhead shots of Chicago. 

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Obvious statement: I've completely dropped the ball this year, for all kinds of reasons. But I'm away from the device that I have everything stored on and will be until after Halloween.

So if you have your review saved and I haven't posted it, feel free in the next few days.

I'm really sorry guys, just stuff happened.

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Ok, here's my review for today.  No idea who picked this, maybe they can pipe up and let me know.

Human Lanterns

This is a Chinese kung fu movie from 1982, a Shaw Brothers production.  There are these two rival kung fu masters, Lung and Tan Fu.  There's some sort of lantern festival coming up, and to make sure he has better lanterns than Tan Fu, Lung gets this other guy Chun Fang to make some for him.  Chun Fang has a big scar on his face because Lung put it there in a swordfight some time ago, but apparently they're on good terms now.  Chun Fang says sure, he's up for making some lanterns.

Shortly thereafter this thing shows up with some wild hair and a skull for a face.  I was asking myself "Is this supposed to be a demon, or is it just a guy wearing a mask?"  Turns out that was actually an intelligent question, because one character asks it later on.  The movie lets us know pretty quickly that it actually is just a guy with a mask, and that guy is Chun Fang.  He's kidnapping women, taking them to his workshop, and skinning them alive so that he can make lanterns out of human skin!

I am very unfamiliar with kung fu movies in general, but research tells me this is a "wuxia" movie where people can jump super high and like float down from buildings and such.  Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon is perhaps the most famous example of this, and if it's not actually the most famous, well, it's the only one I've seen so that's my reference point.  In CTHD I remember people flying all over the place, however in Human Lanterns the crazy jumping is used much more sparingly.  This actually works much better as people will fight normally for 5 minutes, and then unexpectedly jump up to the top of a tree or something once you've forgotten that it's something they can do.  And wire effects aside, the fight choreography is much better than I would have expected for 1982.  There are flips and rolls that wouldn't look out of place in a PWG ring.

Wuxia and horror are an unusual combination, and the movie keeps them separate for the most part.  No one's getting their skin ripped off in the middle of a fight. I also noticed that the effects when someone's skin is ripped off are pretty good, but the blood makeup is pretty bad, which is sort of the opposite of what you might expect. Apart from a very slightly unsatisfying ending where we never fully see what ends up happening to Chun Fang, I thought this was pretty good as a bit of a glimpse into a world that I don't often frequent.

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here's my review:

The Neon Demon (2016)

first, let me start off with the positives.  It was strikingly shot, with great visuals that accentuated all the right things. My wife enjoyed the fashion makeup.
Also, i spent most of the day playing the Legend of Zelda, and a couple scenes randomly use a symbol that essentially is the triforce. This is never explained, so i'm going to call that a plus.

now, the negative: everything else.
I get that this film is a critique of the fashion industry and society's standards of beauty. That's not something that you need to read in to a bunch of subtext to decypher, as the film repeatedly clubs you over the head with that fact.
The characters are so one-dimensional to be almost non-existent. Multiple characters appear once or twice and then are never seen again. The main character, who i guess you're supposed to relate to or identify with, makes two heel turns out of the blue, but is back to being the whitemeat babyface in the next scene. The film teases hints of vampirism, voodoo, and psychological and/or drug induced fantasies, and then delivers on none of them, instead playing out the "horror" aspect in the most mundane way possible. Nothing is explained and you end up wondering what is happening and why for the entire movie.
oh, and then there's a random scene of three actresses bathing in blood. 

the plot must've been lost on the way from Denmark, as there's no trace of it in the film itself. Each scene has no consequence, no foreshadowing or follow-up. Our main character, Jessie, is a wannabe model that is brand new to L.A. She is so stunningly beautiful that she is immediately everyone's object of desire. Except for the other models, who hate her. That is literally the entire plot. The acting is fine, i guess, but every scene has these ridiculous pauses between lines that don't accomplish anything. Even William Shatner would roll his eyes at all the delayed deliveries in this.

TL;DR: this movie is trash. to whoever selected it, i'm sorry if you like it, but it makes no sense and is only a "horror" movie because of the one aforementioned scene. I hope to never watch a movie this bad again.

i'm interested to see who chose this flick and why. Did i miss something?

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Ah, WTF, let's just drop 'em all. We only got til Tuesday anyway. Let me know who picked this one.

Curse of Chucky (2013)

When I got this as my pick I had completely forgotten it was even made. It was so off of my radar that I was like "hey, does Fowler mean Cult of Chucky? You mean they made one after Seed?" That was my honest reaction. And I was equally surprised to find that it was incredibly well made, had great cinematography, pacing, acting, and plot. 

So, here's the deal: Nica (played by Brad Dourif's daughter Fiona) is a wheelchair-bound paraplegic living in her mother's gothic-ass mansion with her mentally ill mother who dies out of nowhere, after a box with no explanation shows up holding Chucky (obviously, Chucky has staged a suicide). The family shows up for the funeral not long later, consisting of a horrible, horrible sister who is 1. wanting to send her sister into a care home even though disabled she is perfectly capable of caring for herself so she can sell the house because they're broke, even though she's rich and 2. has a slacker husband who knows she's fucking around with their au pair/nanny and spies on her by putting a nanny cam into Chucky. 

Yeah. 

So there's the awful wife/husband combo that shows up, a priest who the wife is clearly flirting with or fucking EVEN THOUGH she's already fucking around with the nanny and claiming the religious route, the nanny herself who is in-house with the wife and cheating on the husband with her, and the daughter that immediately gloms onto Chucky when presented by Nica as a gift. So, you've got a whole host of people that deserve to be offed, besides the girl and Nica. 

You can probably expect what ensues, but it takes a couple of neat twists that I won't reveal. The gore is surprisingly minimal but when it comes, it's pretty wild. Chucky is even more surprisingly not an active figure in most of the movie -- at least in an active sense; there's not a lot of puppetry and the wisecracks are minimal, and nasty. He kind of hangs out creepily through the movie, vanishing and showing up at random places through the creaky old house that looks like it was transported in from the '30s. They also throw a nod (among others) to the original by having an elevator just like the apartment building in the original film. There's some awesome camera shots in this one too that honestly could have been done by Argento, and I think I appreciate that as much as the build and logic. 

All told, this was very, surprisingly well done. It's a slasher sequel, and it's a Chucky movie (though I did love the previous two and we'll get into that later) so I didn't expect much, but what came out was waaaaaay above the bar for what was expected. For whoever proffered it, kudos! 

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That, obviously, was my choice.

I think it's neck and neck with Seed for best movie in the franchise, and easily the closest the series has ever gotten to being actually scary.

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I had an inkling it was you haha

I think the first was closer to being scary but take in mind I saw that when I was really young. The clips they showed on Entertainment Tonight of Chucky running in POV freaked me out when I was a kid. But yeah, this was second best in that regard. Everything else in the series is either black comedy or unintentional comedy. For those who've seen it, how was Cult in comparison?

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Cult is good, but it's a step down from the previous two. I put it right around the same level as Bride.

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Yep.  I knew OSJ would either pick either Human Lanterns or The Legend of The Seven Golden Vampires.

God, I love The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires...

And I can understand the hate for The Neon Demon.  It took me a couple of viewings to figure out what the fuck was going on. 

I think that the whole idea of the fashion industry literally and figuratively consuming the youth and health of young women is on point as far as the actual premise of the movie goes.

I still have rather lukewarm feelings about the movie itself, but I do admire it for carrying on the proud tradition of wrapping social criticism of indictments of institutions inside of horror films (Night of the Living Dead, Get Out!, The Stuff, The Stepford Wives, et. al.)

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Human Lanterns is a great pick. Haven't seen Candyman in ages. Sounds like a good one for tomorrow. The Neon Demon sounds....intriguing. But it will wait for another time. The last doll that filled me with dread was this guy.

 

trilogyterror-zuni.jpg 

Chucky can go fuck himself.

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9 minutes ago, Execproducer said:

Human Lanterns is a great pick. Haven't seen Candyman in ages. Sounds like a good one for tomorrow. The Neon Demon sounds....intriguing. But it will wait for another time. The last doll that filled me with dread was this guy.

 

trilogyterror-zuni.jpg 

Chucky can go fuck himself.

Yeah, my doll nightmares as a kid begin and end with the Zuni Fetish Doll and Fats, the scary ass ventriloquist's dummy from the movie, Magic.

 

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Nightmare Castle (1965)

I have had a copy of this forever, so this gave me a good reason to check it out.  My gratitude to the person who chose it, because it was a really good movie.  This was about as Bava as you can probably get without Bava involved.  This was like an Italian Corman Poe flick, as it incorporated minor elements of "The Tell-Tale Heart," but was far and away enough of it's own thing to be enjoyed away from those merits.  

The synopsis: Wife cheats on husband, husband exact lethal revenge, then marries the wife's mentally unhinged twin sister because he wants their family castle.  Husband and housekeeper (who goes from unconvincing aging makeup to sweet piece of femme fatale ass after the wife's death) collide to drive the twin wife insane ... but some eerie shit is going on in this castle.

But the storyline is straight up traditional Gothic fare, and all is well and good.  What really gets the asses in the seats is Barbara Steele.  She plays a dual role, the murdered wife and the twin sister, and her acting is pretty amazing.  As this film not only deals with a supernatural twin plot, but nightmare sequences as well, there are some demanding scenarios that Steele has to perform with precision, or the whole joint could be more hokey than haunting.  Some questionable dialogue aside, this film was about as note-perfect an Italian horror classic as you're likely to find.

I really, really liked this film.

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Yeah, Nightmare Castle is the shit. It's pretty lurid for the era IIRC. Barbara made a series of Italian flicks around that time but this is the only one I've seen.

BTW if you want to watch it I'm pretty sure its a public domain title since it's in all those cheapo DVD collections. Surely it's on Youtube

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It is also on Fandor. Barbara Steele is on my Mt. Rushmore of minor European actresses. Glad nate  liked the film.

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13 hours ago, J.T. said:

Yep.  I knew OSJ would either pick either Human Lanterns or The Legend of The Seven Golden Vampires.

God, I love The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires...

And I can understand the hate for The Neon Demon.  It took me a couple of viewings to figure out what the fuck was going on. 

 

I liked Neon Demon too. Looking at the Havoc review, almost all the same positives and negatives can be said about Argento and I'm willing to forgive him over and over for all of the negatives. I liked the idea that people born with that absurd level of beauty are drawn into this feeding ground almost by instinct, driven by some crazed appetite to be "in." And that it's all a self-perpetuating feeding process that generates and absorbs its own fuel kept going by the other people (like the dipshit photographer from Dexter at the end) who are utterly without taste or talent but thrive in this bizarre unreal industry because it is maintained by insane flesh gorgons.

It's not subtly, but then neither is the Three Mothers trilogy.

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Can i request a Piranesi review? Was just on TCM. 

 

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"He's ready to freak you out!" 

"and featuring STONEGROUND"

I might just have to drag that piece of shit out of the stacks; I dunno whether I ever finished watching it or not

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And featuring Stephanie Beacham of the Colbys.

now watching Taste the Blood of Dracula

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2 hours ago, odessasteps said:

Can i request a Piranesi review? Was just on TCM. 

 

It goes wildly back and forth between terrible and awesome.  The opening is so great. Why is there not yet a video game where Dracula and Van Helsing race carriages across Hyde Park? The transition from 1872 to 1972 is well done too. Nice touches like three crosses appearing in the modern world (an airplane in the sky, a construction crane, a window truck)

But then the mods show up and it just dreadful. At least in the American Beach party movies they played this schtick for laughs. The opening where the hippies are partying in the house is like a Cheech and Chong movie but with only white people. Personally I was rooting for the police. These Brit hippies are the Isis of partying.

But then the satanic ritual and resurrection was fucking boss when that bubbly blood started frothing all over that lady and she started screaming. Lee's appearance in all the smoke filmed from below as the hippie douche grovels was amazing. his voice has a staggering effect here and he speaks only one line.

Stephanie Beacham is endlessly hot. Can you imagine Stephanie Beacham with Peter Cushing as her grandpa living in a Posh Victorian house? Is there any better catch in the history of the world than that? like, "Hey, Stephanie Beacham, I can't make out with you just yet, I'm having a brandy with your grandpa, Peter Cushing, while we play chess and talk about occultism. What's that you say, Stephanie Beacham? You're going to play some old 78s of Viennese Waltzes on that vintage Victrola while your grandpa Peter Cushing shows me his 15th century print of Carpathian blood cult rituals? Yes, yes, i think I will stay the night, Stephanie Beacham. yes, I think one of Peter Cushings silk sleeping gowns will fit me just perfectly!" I'm not going to be able to stop thinking about this scenario and I may end up doing some single-player role playing based on it later.

I love that after a half hour of trying to appeal to the youth crowd by building up the mods as some sort of badass Clockwork Orange dummies, the coolest motherfucker in this is wearing five layers of sweater and fleece softly stirring his teacup and telling everyone they should listen to the police and warning his grand-daughter about the dangers of hash.

There is a great scene where Peter Cushing gently strokes Stephanie Beacham's forehead after she's had a nightmare and I'm not sure which one I'm more jealous of. I am not going to be able to ever feel like I've truly slept until Peter Cushing puts me to sleep by running his awesome bony fingers across my brow. "What's that Stephanie Beacham? Blood sausages and biscuits would be lovely! I'll be down in a moment. Your grandpa, Peter Cushing and I are enjoying the morning reading the TLS and listening to a round of I'm Sorry I haven't a Clue on BBC 4."

I'm sorry I feel I've strayed a bit from what you wanted, but I need some alone time right now.

 

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And the girl who gets sacrificed is noted B Queen Caroline Munro, she of the Sinbad movie with Tom Baker and sacrifical bond girl in The Spy Who Loved Me. 

(And uncredited appearances in Casino Royale and both Phibes movies as the deceased Mrs. P.)

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I also like that this is one where Lee's Dracula is a very limited creature.  Yes, he has Lee's face and posture so he seems like an elegant figure, but there is so little to him. He speaks almost nothing because he has nothing to say. He has no interests or real understanding of anything outside his hungers and fears. He is truly empty as a being and no reason to want to be "made" into what he is.  he's no Jerry Dandridge. He's basically Nosferatu with better cheek bones.

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5 hours ago, odessasteps said:

And the girl who gets sacrificed is noted B Queen Caroline Munro, she of the Sinbad movie with Tom Baker and sacrifical bond girl in The Spy Who Loved Me. 

(And uncredited appearances in Casino Royale and both Phibes movies as the deceased Mrs. P.)

How could you forget Starcrash?

starcrash_japanese_blu-ray.jpg?w=862

Caroline Munro had a record breaking fifteen changes of wardrobe in that movie.

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Neon Demon was my pick. My daughter who didn’t see it but listened to me describe it to her suggested it that she was cloned on the runway. That’s why she turned into a b for no reason, and after they killed her and ate her and bathed in her blood, she could still be alive for the Sia video at the end credits. Makes sense.

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