• Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

    invasion-posterAn alien organism arrives on earth and starts taking over the human race by duplicating people while they sleep. The clones are identical in appearance but are usually missing their personality or well known character traits. By the time anyone figures it out, it’s almost too late. Almost.

    Donald Sutherland plays health inspector Matthew, the one who puts together what is going on. We also get Jeff Goldblum, Leonard Nimoy, and Veronica Cartwright. They all act the shit out of their parts, whether they are human or alien pod people.

    The movie is still pretty good for how old it is. It really nails the isolated, desperate tone. The survivors who haven’t been body snatched are on the run, out of options, and generally going from one tense moment to the next.

    I also like the special FX, which are mostly convincing throughout. The growing pod people are unnerving, and there are some gruesome parts.

    It’s good fun and terrifying that everyone is out to get you. I’d love to see an update/sequel involving a random guy who has somehow managed to be away from civilization when the alien takeover occurs. What exactly is the alien’s next step after they takeover? Just hang out and be pod people?

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  • Night of the Creeps (1986)

    nightofthecreepsAn alien canister crash lands in the 50s and releases a zombie virus. The first infected person is put on ice only to be thawed 30 years later by some punk kids trying to steal a cadaver for a frat pledge prank. 80s TEEN COMEDY HORROR TIME!!!!!!!!

    It’s mostly slow going as the infection starts to spread in the form of fast-moving slug creatures (here we go again) and create more alien zombies. As the action ramps up, the only hope for saving the sorority girls is the idiot pledges who brought about the zombie apocalypse in the first place. Our heroes! One is played by Rusty from European Vacation and the other gets killed on the crapper.

    Zombie cat was awesome. The one-liners are awesome. The death by lawnmower is always fun. I also really enjoyed the shotgun to the head followed by flamethrower scorcher double-tap.

    If this had been what Slugs was like, it might have been good. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it also doesn’t treat the viewer like a dumbass. If anything, my complaint is that the movie is over too quickly.

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  • From Beyond (1986)

    frombeyondA mad scientist and his assistant (Jeffrey Combs) create a device called The Resonator that allows them to see things beyond reality. Unspeakable, horrible things, which cause the mad scientist to be decapitated and his assistant put in a nuthouse for the murder.

    The doctor who treats the assistant gets him out of the nuthouse and they, along with a detective (Ken Foree from Dawn of the Dead)  head back to the research house to restart The Resonator. Things get cray-cray.

    As in Re-Animator, Jeffrey Combs is great as usual. Ken Foree is fun to see outside of Dawn of the Dead. The rest of the cast is pretty forgettable.

    The story is fairly bland, but the visuals are appropriately extreme. I like all the gruesome body configurations or fleshy flesh weirdness. I don’t even know how to describe it. The “beyond” stuff is all mangled. The mad scientist comes back as a flesh creature with a little head dingleberry. I feel like I’m not doing a very good job of explaining this.

    Anyway, it’s pretty out there and mostly fun to watch. It has echoes of Re-Animator, since it’s directed by the same guy.

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  • Slugs (1988)

    slugsI’ve seen some animal-based horror movies but this one takes the taco. Slugs? Really? They don’t move fast enough. How could they possibly kill anyone? Who is going to be afraid of them?

    A health inspector in a small town uncovers the toxic waste-modified slug takeover. From the opening death, it takes a incredible amount of time before another death happens and it comes from a slug getting into a guy’s gardening glove. That seems pretty lame, but it escalates quickly into the guy chopping his hand off with a hatchet and the greenhouse blowing up from an open gas container.

    The slugs have little mouths and are kind of cute when they bite at people. That’s not really what you want to hear about your monster in your monster movie.

    The health inspector hero guy, Mike, is such a crappy character and isn’t even in that many scenes. Or at least, if he was, I didn’t notice. That’s how forgettable this guy was.

    The terrible acting is made worse by the ADR that seems just slightly off. Not that the sound is out of alignment or anything, just that the voices sound unnaturally crisp. Actually, some of it is kind of out of sync.

    The slugs’ strength is in their numbers and once they get a taste of the meat, they dive in head first. And they devour. It’s pretty hardcore, but not really.

    I don’t think the movie could ever have been something amazing, because the premise is so outrageous. If I were the hero, I’d just get a flamethrower and fry all the little slug bastards. Problem solved. Movie would have been over in 15 minutes.

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  • 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.

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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.

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