October Horrorshow: The Pyramid

Sometimes I curse The Blair Witch Project for loosing found footage horror flicks upon the movie-watching public. And I curse Rec, as well, for its creepy night-vision climax that has been used over and over again in just about every one of these ripoffs. There is now a whole pile of these films, and it’s hard to find one that doesn’t default to the techniques and gimmicks of these two films.

The Pyramid, from 2014, saves all of its originality for setting and place, while delivering a film identical in tone to any number of horror flicks where a group of people find themselves lost underground and are being stalked by…something. In fact, this is the fourth such film to be featured in this year’s Horrorshow, after Gonjiam, Derelict, and Creep. It’s a cheap way for filmmakers to use the same darkened hallway or tunnel set in many different shots and scenes, creating the illusion of a vast maze. The only problem with this is, these films very clearly use a small set, so it’s left up to the viewer to pretend that the filmmakers aren’t trying to fool us. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Pyramid”

It Came from the ’50s: The Tingler

Gimmicks present unique problems when it comes to film, or art, or anything. Gimmicks may be useful for an initial draw, but people tire of them. Gimmicks are also used to disguise, or make up for, a lack of funds or competence. That is why William Castle, despite throwing some interesting gimmicks into his films, is remembered for being a shitty movie director as much as an innovator.

The Tingler, from 1959, was Castle’s most ambitious foray into gimmickry. Besides producing, Castle directed, from a screenplay by Robb White. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: The Tingler”

It Came from the ’50s: Monster from Green Hell, or, Deus Ex Mons Igneus

Beware a promising title, especially when it comes to shitty movies. There’s a good chance that a shitty movie won’t live up to its title, and could even be a bait-and-switch. Monster from Green Hell, from 1957, isn’t that most egregious of shitty filmmaking sins, but it is not nearly as good as the title.

The Green Hell of the title is a stretch of African jungle surrounding a volcano. The Monster which emerges from the Green Hell is a gigantic wasp, mutated by space radiation. It all began back in the states, in an isolated rocket science lab in the west. Dr. Quent Brady (Jim Davis, of Dallas fame), and Dan Morgan (Robert Griffin) are conducting experiments to determine the effects that exposure to space will have on future human space travelers. They do this by sending just about every animal they can find into space aboard rockets, then studying the animals after the rocket returns to Earth. There is a concern that all that radiation shooting around up in space will mutate those who are exposed to it. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: Monster from Green Hell, or, Deus Ex Mons Igneus”

It Came from the ’50s: The Creature Walks Among Us

Universal had a hot property in The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and they understandably wanted to cash in on it some more. That led to a lazy sequel in Revenge of the Creature, and a silly mess in today’s ’50s flick, The Creature Walks Among Us.

Coming along a year after Revenge, in 1956, The Creature Walks Among Us is the first film in the series not to be directed by Jack Arnold. He had ambitions beyond directing b-flicks, if the internet is to be believed, so bowed out of the project. Directing duties were handled by John Sherwood, from a screenplay by Arthur A. Ross. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: The Creature Walks Among Us”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Independence Day: Resurgence, or, Who Are the People on the Boat?

This fucking movie, I swear to God. More than once while I was watching Independence Day: Resurgence did I utter that profaneness. It’s just such a silly movie. It’s also breathtaking in scale, as evidenced by a moment when the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, which also happens to normally be in Dubai, is dropped on London. This is a movie whose aspirations for an international audience are plain to see. There’s the requisite inclusion of token Chinese characters, and even a scene where a Chinese city is sucked up into the sky. That’s how one can know the Chinese have arrived as a world power. We are now destroying their cities in apocalyptic movies. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Independence Day: Resurgence, or, Who Are the People on the Boat?”

October Horrorshow: Return of the Living Dead Part II

The Return of the Living Dead, the Dan O’Bannon film from 1985, is my favorite zombie flick. It was the product of a messy divorce between George Romero and screenwriter John A. Russo. Their creative split meant Romero went one way with his Dead films, and Russo, another. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Return of the Living Dead Part II”

Schwarzenegger Month: Junior

Sometimes, being typecast isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It was typecasting that brought audiences a decade of classic action films from Arnold Schwarzenegger. Breaking out of that mold brought more financial success, to be sure, but crossover Arnold never felt like the real thing. He felt sanitized for mass consumption. This is an oversimplification, of course, but the Arnold that was in Junior, the anonymous and final film he worked on with director Ivan Reitman, could not have been more out of place. Continue readingSchwarzenegger Month: Junior”

October Horrorshow: Pitch Black

I’m a sucker for Alien ripoffs. Really, I am. Something about the shared stories (monsters whittling down hapless cast members) strikes something elemental in my brain. The formula for films like Alien seems so fundamentally sound to modern storytelling that I bet, had he been alive in the era of science fiction, the Bard himself would have come up with it. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Pitch Black”

The Empty Balcony: Total Recall (2012)

It’s no secret. Hollywood loves remakes. They love squeezing new cash out of old ideas. And why not? We’re a country that embraces the familiar. We find comfort in it. It’s this tendency of the public to seek out what it already knows that makes Applebee’s and the Olive Garden successful properties in Times Square. Who the hell would come all the way to New York City only to eat the same food they can get in Boise? Americans, that’s who. Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: Total Recall (2012)”