• Zombieland (2009)

    zombielandThis is what they mean when they say “new classic.” It’s equal parts hilarious and horrific as four zombie apocalypse survivors must come to terms with their total shitfest reality.

    What makes it work so well is the high octane pace and the spunk-filled wit. The characters have their quirks with Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) obsessed with his rules for survival and Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) on a perpetual search for Twinkies.

    This ain’t Night of the Living Dead or The Walking Dead. Comedy is king and the jokes don’t stop. The spirit of Shaun of the Deador Army of Darkness is alive and well in Zombieland.

    As close as the movie is to being perfect, the love story between Eisenberg and Emma Stone is not really necessary. Just because the characters are forced together due to unfortunate circumstances does not mean they need to get together.

    Did I mention that Jesse Eisenberg is a dipshit? I have nothing against him personally, but damn is that a punchable face. It’s OK, because it works here. The character of Columbus is annoying as Tallahassee points out regularly.

    The gore level is off the charts. Bloody zombie deaths at every turn. You will not be disappointed. It’s like a zombie wedding.

     

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  • Christine (1983)

    christineBased on a Stephen King novel and directed by John Carpenter, Christine is about a classic car with a mind of its own and a taste for blood. The story follows a high school nerd, Arnie, and his jock friend Dennis. Arnie buys the piece of crap car for $250 and restores it. Arnie becomes cool and spends so much time with the car that he drifts away from Dennis and his new girlfriend that he basically got because of the cool car.

    No matter how cool he gets, he’s still considered the school dweeb and the bullies won’t leave him alone. They vandalize Christine and that was a big mistake. Christine will make them pay.

    In true Stephen King fashion, the story and characters are most important. The car itself isn’t even that scary, the nerdy kid who becomes obsessed with his possessed car is much more frightening. The transformation from the nerdy kid to the cool kid to the psychopath who only cares about his car is delightful.

    As the car starts murdering the bullies, the detective on the case is convinced that Arnie has something to do with it. Meanwhile, Dennis and the love interest must come up with a plan to destroy Christine before Arnie goes too far to the deep end.

    I love the John Carpenter score. It also has great character development and a dark tone that Carpenter has mastered. As a horror car movie, this is so much better than the Stephen King directorial effort Maximum Overdrive. Even with the rounded characters, I didn’t really love the actors or their acting to feel like I was invested in any of them.

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  • 28 Days Later (2003)

    28-days-laterThis is a game changer right here. Danny Boyle knows how to rock the party.

    Animal rights activists unleash a terrible virus into the world after releasing some chimps from a testing facility. The virus turns the entire world into a rage zombie-infested wasteland. Damn hippies!

    Our hero Jim, played by Cillian Murphy, starts his journey in a deserted hospital with his wang out for the whole world to see. Having just woken from a coma, he spends the first bit walking around trying to figure out what is going on and where civilization has hidden itself.

    As he finds other survivors and rage zombies, both the hope and terror ramp up in equal proportions. In fact, the new suspense is often linked to emotional attachment to a survivor who must be let go after becoming infected.

    The acting is wonderful, the pacing superb, and the music is comprised of an amazing score and perfect song choices. Had the music been anything else, I’m fairy certain the movie would have lost two tacos from its rating.

    My only real beef is with the cinematography. It’s grotesquely digital. It looks like it was filmed with your mom’s shitty 2002 digital camera in video mode. The grittiness and washed-out colors/lighting add this very unique, very surreal feel to the movie. It’s hard to say it’s actually a bad thing, because it makes me want to vom as much as the bloody carnage.

    It’s very much an immersive, unparalleled zombie apocalypse experience. Every sigh of relief is followed by a gasp of new horror from both rage zombies and despicable survivors. Just strap in and see if you can make it to the end.

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  • Child’s Play 3 (1991)

    childs_play_threeHere we go again. People want more Chucky and so they keep finding ways to bring him back. The plastic from part 2 is remade into a new Good Guy doll complete with the soul of The Lakeshore Strangler. After he kills the CEO of the toy company, it’s time to find Andy Barclay.

    OK. Hold up for a second. If I were Chucky, I’d just kill myself. Or else, I would go find some secluded place to live the rest of my plastic life in peace. I wouldn’t give a shit about Andy Barclay. I wouldn’t be trying to move my soul to some other body.

    Anyway, Andy Barclay is now 16 years-old, played by Justin Whalin. He’s off to military school, because where else do you go when your life was destroyed by a demonic killer doll? He makes some friends early on, but it’s not long before the Chuck arrives and all hell breaks loose.

    There’s not really anything good about this sequel. It’s not scary or funny. I just found myself waiting for it to be over. Who will Chucky kill next? Don’t care. What new and inventive way will Chucky use to kill his next victim? Knife me, please.

    Rating:

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  • Wrong Turn (2003)

    wrong_turnI like to think of this as a distant cousin to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. You got your group of friends on a vacay road trip, you got inbred hillbilly cannibals, you got detours that lead to certain death. What this movie has that Texas Chainsaw doesn’t is The Dushku. That’s right, Eliza Dushku, better known as Faith from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

    Once the group gets stranded out in the middle of nowhere, the bodies begin to pile up as the hillbillies stalk their prey in search of their next meal. The surviving group members must do anything and everything to escape.

    What it does well is keep the peddle to the metal and the suspense at 11. The hillbillies aren’t fully revealed until about 30 minutes in and it’s pretty wonderful how it all plays out.

    For all the intensity, there are just too many horror clichés and not enough attempts at going beyond what has come before. The characters are all dumb as dogshit and really shouldn’t survive as long as they do.

    Still, it’s a wicked good time and will scare the living crap out of you.

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  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

    texaschainsawSupposedly based on a true story (not going to fact check), the horrific tale follows a group of young folk on a road trip in Texas back country. They manage to find hell in the form of a cannibalistic family that’s looking for a tasty meal.

    It has a gritty realism and a timeless feel even though it was made in the mid-70s. The tone is extremely dark with themes of kidnapping, torture, and psychological unrest. The hillbilly family that does all the killing is batshit crazy with Leatherface being the worst. The character of Leatherface is supposed to be modeled after Ed Gein, a serial killer who wore the skin of his victims.

    At no point do you expect any of the group to survive this murderous family. They got chainsaws and a willingness to kill for fun, it won’t end well.

    If there is one thing this movie teaches us, it’s: don’t mess with Texas.

    Rating:

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  • Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead (1994)

    phantasmiiiWill the Tall Man ever stay dead? Part 3 in the Phantasm series starts immediately after the second movie. Reggie and Mike had just killed the Tall Man and torched his house. As they escaped in the hearse, Reggie’s girlfriend turned out to be evil. Not long after, Mike gets kidnapped by the Tall Man and Reggie must find him back. Somehow.

    Along the way, Reggie takes on a kid named Tim as his sidekick. Initially, I thought this was a misstep, but the kid turned out to be pretty cool with his frisbee slicer and Magnum .357. Don’t mess with the kid.

    Then there was another new character named Rocky, a female badass with nunchucks. I also liked the constant Reggie advances getting shot down by her.

    This one didn’t suffer from the same problems of the previous movie. There was much more tongue-in-cheek action and I think that’s definitely where it needed to go. You want Reggie, Tim, and Rocky to survive. They are fun characters.

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  • Child’s Play 2 (1990)

    childsplay2Two years after little Andy Barclay and his mom were terrorized by the possessed Chucky doll, Andy is living with foster parents, because his mom is locked up in a psychiatric facility. The charred remains of Chucky are reconditioned by the Good Guy doll company to verify that the doll wasn’t defective.

    It doesn’t take long before Chucky is back to killing on his way to reunite with Andy. His goal is still the same from the first movie: he wants to move his soul to Andy’s body or else he will be stuck in the Chucky doll forever. As the movie progresses, people die and Andy blames Chucky, which no one believes.

    As a sequel, it doesn’t do much to expand on the first movie. It’s really just more of the same. I did like all of the methods used to make Chucky come to life. None of it was particularly realistic-looking, but that’s part of the fun. I think the more Chucky moves unnaturally, the scarier it is.

    Most of the characters are not likeable, and so it’s hard to feel engaged as things go south. You just start to think that maybe Chucky deserves to move his soul over to Andy’s body and maybe that would be a more intriguing evolution to this story.

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  • Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)


    freddys_dead
    The series had grown stale and it was time to lay it to rest with one last outing. Here we go again with the “it’s over” treatment.

    The last remaining teenager from Springwood is used by Freddy as bait to lure more children into his jurisdiction. Apparently, he can’t kill kids in their dreams outside of Springwood. Those pesky supernatural rules.

    I had no idea that Breckin Myer played a pony tailed stoner kid. Overall, the acting is not so bad. There are far too many cameos, though, as if everyone wanted to be a part of the historical final Nightmare movie. We’ve got Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold, Alice Cooper, and even Johnny Depp.

    It has a bit of back story interspersed and helps to flesh out the Freddy character a little further. By the end, the main characters (still alive) must pull Freddy out of the dream and into the real world to finish him off. The climactic last 10 minutes employ 3-D (the red and blue kind) FX to make stuff pop out from the screen. It’s about the lamest 3-D you’ll ever see. The Nightmare on Elm Street DVD box set included 2 pairs of the 3-D glasses and I remember feeling like such an assclown wearing them.

    I liked this “final” entry better than the Friday the 13th one. It was certainly a more entertaining package to sit through, but it’s nothing to write home about. The deadly dream sequences were both inventive and ridiculously campy, which the Nightmare series manages to do so well. If nothing else, they were totally right about it being time to close up the Elm street shop.

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  • Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)

    finalfridayIt’s hard to take any of these movies seriously with “final” in the title. You’re going to make more. Don’t even try to act like you’re done.

    This Friday the 13th sequel is a bit of a departure from the previous movies. After an elaborate FBI trap, Jason Voorhees’ body is blown to pieces. That’s at the beginning. The rest of the movie is Jason continuing his murder spree by way of his spirit possessing other people. The flaw in this strategy is that it eliminates the notorious title character in favor of this idiotic plot device to keep the franchise going. Also, the premise rips off The Hidden.

    Then we have a bounty hunter guy who believes Jason is still “alive” and intends to kill him once and for all. Finally? He could have been a cool main character, but he’s barely in it.

    Even with minimal hockey-masked Jason appearances, the movie does manage to stay somewhat true to the previous entries in the series. There are fornicating campers, gory deaths, stalking, shitty music, and a few bare breasteses. There are some fun horror homages as well, like the Necronomicon.

    It’s mostly forgettable, because there is no real protagonist and Jason is nowhere near as menacing when he’s in a different body every 15 minutes. I liked the nice little ending scene that sets up Freddy vs. Jason. It’s kind of the consolation prize for having endured a 90-minute turd sandwich.

    Rating:

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