Monday, January 31, 2011

Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers

 I never went to summer camp.  We were not that kind of family (rich.)  I have a feeling I would have hated it.  See, I was a socially awkward child and would have spent the entire summer in the cabin reading V.C. Andrews.  The only part I would have liked are the scary stories told round the campfire.  Considering that I grew up in Sonoma County, the scary stories were probably about people who didn't recycle. 

 But like any good horror geek I love movies set at a summer camp.  Think about the danger that summer camp poses to a kid.  You are on your own, away from your parents.  "Counselors" are watching over you, and we all know that counselors are just horny, stoned teens that listen to bad 80's metal (I love 80's metal.)  In what kind of world is this a safe situation?  You are in the woods, miles from nowhere, with pools and campfires and bears... camp is a death trap!!!  That is why horror films set at camp are so damn good.  Case in point: Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers.  SC2:UC is a sequel to the classic Sleepaway Camp.  Unlike the original, SC2:UC is played pretty much for laughs, although it has some pretty inventive death scenes.

Angela, the very, very, messed up "girl" from the original film is back.  After years in a mental institution and a sex change, she is released.  What state is this where you can kill like 20 people, including children, and get released in under 20 years?  I am sorry, but cutting off someones penis is not going reverse the homicidal urge. 

Anyway, Angela gets a job as a camp counselor.  Again, I don't want to live in this fucking state.  Angela is quite the prude who kills anyone that:
  1. Talks back
  2. Has sex
  3. Flashes boobs
  4. Gets stoned
  5. Listens to heavy metal
  6. Talks to much
  7. Figures out that "she" was once a "he"
  8. Participates in a panty raid
  9. Runs the camp
  10. Works at the camp
  11. Drives past the camp.
Angela is basically a class-A asshole.  She is played by Pamela Springsteen, who I thought played "Wendy" in the Porky's movies.  They look exactly alike.  This is not the case. Pamela is just the little sister of the Boss.  She is very good in this film, and she has a very pretty smile.  Her sweetness makes the kill scenes all the more effective.  She smiles as she is bashing someones head in.  She smiles as she is stuffing the whore cheerleader down the port-a-potty (best death scene in the film.)  Everyone one else in this film is terrible.  But that is part of its charm.

Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers is essentially a horror/comedy and as such it works.  I would rather watch this than AntiChrist any day.  In fact, I would rather watch my cat lick himself than watch AntiChrist, but that is neither here nor there.  This chick on the poster in NOT in the movie.  Just thought I would warn you.  I love movie posters that feature someone who is not in the movie.  There is this, and the original I spit on your grave (I don't remember that ass in the film), and another I am trying to rack my brain to remember.  I can't.  I will remember it at 3am this morning when I wake up screaming the name of the film.  This is not an unusual occurrence.  My husband is pretty used to it.

UPDATE: its Valley Girl.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Psycho (a Rare Book Review)

Hey I am back! Sorry it has been a while.  See, I watched The Last Exorcism and I was so disappointed and disgusted that I could not bring myself to think or write about horror for a whole week.  I kid.  I didn't HATE the movie, I just found it to be such a rip-off of other, better films that it left a bad taste in my mouth.  But, this post is not about that film.  Maybe I will write about it later, after I have had a drink or two and can think of something interesting to say about this Blair Witch/Exorcist/Commune/Wicker Man/Paranormal Activity/Cannibal Holocaust/King's Speech knock off.   I am being silly: The Last Exorcism doesn't resemble one of those films.  Can you guess which one?
While I was on vacation I finally read Robert Bloch's Psycho.  Love the film.  It is amazing.  No question.  But I had never read the source material. Last year was the 50th anniversary of the film and quite a lot got written about it.  Almost every article listed Bloch's book as a must-read.  I usually don't care for reading a book AFTER seeing the film: I prefer to do it the other way around.  But in this case I was glad I did.  Hitchcock followed Bloch's book very closely.  All the basics are the same.  The one big difference is Norman.  Anthony Perkin's Norman is a tall, skinny, bird like man who is socially awkward, young, and inexperienced.  Bloch's Norman could have been played by James Gandolfini.  He is older, in his forties, overweight, a heavy drinker, and quite the perv.  He is totally unlikable in every way, whereas you sort of feel sorry for Perkin's Norman.  I find it very interesting that Hitchcock made this change.  It was the right one.  First, it cemented Anthony Perkins as a horror icon and gave him the role of his career.  Two, it upped the ante: by making Norman more sympathetic and relate able Hitchcock really pulled the audience into his world, and famously made us identify with a killer.  Remember how you felt when you were with Norman, waiting for the car to sink?  That is what I am talking about. 

The book is very a very quick read- one or two days tops.  Yes, you know what is going to happen, but it is a very interesting journey to go on nonetheless.  Plus, Robert Bloch was the man and a FOL (Friend of Lovecraft.) 

Final thought: remember Gus Van Sant's ill advised shot by shot remake a few years back?  Wouldn't that have been interesting had he cast it to Bloch's book.  Just a thought.  Yes, it still would suck.  Why remake perfection? 

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Xavier Gen's Frontier(s) is the weakest entry in the "French New Wave Horror" cannon.  Essentially a remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre with a little of The Hills Have Eyes thrown in for good measure, it has all the hallmarks of "New French Extremity"-- brutality, gore, relentlessness.  It also has a very good performance by by Karina Testa as Yasmine, perhaps one of the toughest final girls in all of history.  What it lacks, unlike other French films such as Martyrs, Inside, and Irreversible, is originality. 

Riots have broken out all over Paris.  Young Yasmine and her friends decide to take advantage by doing some looting.  Unfortunately the cops are quick to catch on and Yasmine's brother is shot. Soon, the gang is on the run.  We learn that Yasmine is pregnant and she has no intention of keeping the child.  We also learn that the gang she runs with are just a bunch of dumb hooligans.  When the gang splits up, half head to the countryside with the other half to join later.  What awaits in the countryside is horror not seen since The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake.  The difference here is that the "family" are a bunch of inbreed neo-nazis who also happen to be cannibals.  They decide Yasmine will be the new "mother" of the master race.  Understandably, Yasmine is not having it.

I did not hate or even dislike Frontier(s).  I was just underwhelmed.  There are a few things I did like about the picture, one being the feral children that are abandoned in the old mine.  We only catch glimpses of them, and they are not really evil or bad.  They are just animals.  Another thing that the film did right was to give me the willies with all the graphic cannibalism. It is very brutal and the cooked meat looks like pork (delicious pork).  It just grosses me out.  I can handle a lot: hell, I sat through AntiChrist, but I hate seeing people cooked and eaten.  I also liked that one of the cannibals looked like a very skinny Pamela Anderson.  What the hell?  What kind of inbreeding produces someone like that? 

In conclusion, if you are having an inbred cannibal movie night, I would recommend adding Frontier(s) to your queue.  If you have having a French New Wave Horror night, skip it and watch Martyrs or Inside instead.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Body Snatcher 1945

The Body Snatcher from 1945 was directed by Robert Wise (The Haunting, West Side Story), produced and co-written by Val Lewton (The Cat People) and based on a short story by Robert Louis Stevenson.  It that wasn't pedigree enough, it also starred Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, in what would be their last film together.  The trailer, which I have included below, makes it seem like The Body Snatcher is a two man show, but this isn't really the case.  Lugosi maybe has 10 minutes of screen time, 5 of which are with Karloff. He was still a marquee name in 1945, and I found his performance quite good (no one agrees with me, but I thought he played a fearful, cowardly man quite well, who seems as surprised as the audience at his fate.).

Set in 1831 Edinburgh, the events of The Body Snatcher take place shortly after the real life horrors of Burke and Hare.  It is suggested that the two main characters, the cab man Gray (Karloff) and Dr. Wolfe "Toddy" Macfarlane (Henry Daniell) knew the infamous Dr. Knox, who paid Burke and Hare for bodies.  Gray and Macfarlane have a past which is never fully explained.  Macfarlane hates Gray.  He calls him a "cancer."  Yet, he employs him to procure bodies for his anatomy students.  Gray is obsessed with Macfarlane, taunting him with the nickname "Toddy" and showing up at inopportune times.  It is a very strange relationship.  They are both dependant on one another, and they have this love/hate relationship with each other. 

Into this twisted relationship enters sweet, naive Donald Fettes (Russell Wade), one of Macfarlane's students.  A favorite of Macfarlane, Fettes gets promoted to assistant and learns where the bodies really come from.  Although he pretends to be shocked, he quickly accepts the arrangement.  When a young girl is in desperate need of spinal surgery, Fettes begs Macfarlane of operate.  Macfarlane refuses, claiming he needs a cadaver to practice on first.  Fettes visits Gray and begs him to get a body.  Gray does, and it sure is a fresh one!  In one of the best scenes in this highly atmospheric film, we see Gray calmly make the decision to free a beggar girl from the burden of living.  When Gray delivers the body, Fettes recognizes her and realizes what Gray had done.  Macfarlane talks him out of going to the police, pulling Fettes into their spiral of madness.

I love Karloff's performance in this film.  He is menacing, but only to Toddy, whom he hates.  He is sweet to the little girl and and a gentleman to everyone else (well, with the exception of Lugosi's character.)  He is really driven mad by his obsession with the Doctor.  Again, we never really find out what went on between these two but I bet it was juicy.

In the finale we learn that Gray isn't the only mad man in this scenario.  After all the carnage only Fettes walks away relatively unscathed.  But he has certainly lost his naivety and his desire to join the medical profession.  Enjoy the trailer!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Commune 2009

 After AntiChrist I should have watched a tried and true, like Halloween or Dawn of the Dead, just to get my horror bearings.  Instead I watched The Commune, written and directed by a pretty cool chick named Elisabeth Fies.  Seems like a few months ago every horror blogger was talking about this film like it was the second coming.  Being behind on the times as usual I did not see it until now.  Although many things about The Commune are impressive, especially the cinematography and the lead performance by Chauntal Lewis, on the whole the film was a big disappointment.  Fies has a lot of interesting ideas, and she had made a beautiful film, but the parts don't add up to a whole.  15 going on 16 Jenny (Lewis, way too old to play a 15 year old) is forced to spend the summer with her hippie father, who runs a Commune in Sonoma County.  Jenny is from San Jose, and she dislikes all things tofu and patchouli.  Yes, I live near San Jose and I am from Sonoma County, so my journey is like Jenny's in reverse, without all the rape and incest.  Yes, The Commune is one of those movies.

The actual Commune itself is not so bad.  It looks like a wine country spa.  I really wouldn't mind spending a few days there except for the fact that everyone at the Commune (there are like 10 people ) is a total asshole,  especially Jenny's father, who really likes to masturbate.  Jenny escapes to the local town where she meets Puck, a rocker guy who tries to help her escape.  The third act of this film is great.  The big shock and reveal I sort of saw coming, especially since Jenny's horrible fate is hinted at in the beginning of the film, but it still works.  Unfortunately acts one and two are real snooze fests.  I had to stop myself from fast forwarding, especially when someone else besides Lewis was trying to act.  I wanted to like The Commune.  I like the idea behind it, but the film just did not live up to expectations.  Still, it is better than AntiChrist. 

On another note, I read that actress Chauntal Lewis lost her left hand in an accident after this film was made.  Fies is already writing a role for her in her next film, as a kick ass spy.  That is something I can look forward to!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Trailer: The Resident

Looks like this one is going straight to video. Too bad. I would love to have Christopher Lee as a neighbor.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

AntiChrist: or why you should never marry a therapist, especially if he is Willem Dafoe

Alright, it has taken me 24 hours, one totally fucked up nightmare involving Willem Dafoe's pubic hair, and a bottle of wine to write about AntiChrist but I am finally ready.  Let me start by sharing one of my favorite quotes about this film, courtesy of Alonso Duralde from Movieline: The thought that anyone is dying to sit through Lars von Trier’s irritating art-wank Antichrist (now available from The Criterion Collection) for a second time, much less in Blu-Ray, frankly boggles the mind.

I had many reasons to look forward to watching AntiChrist.  Alright, I had two reasons.  One, I adore Charlotte Gainsbourg.  I think she is the absolute bee's knees.  Two, I had heard it was absolutely crazy and fucked up and no one loves crazy and fucked up more than me (hence my obsession with Toddlers and Tiaras.)  What I was not prepared for was a Woody Allen film from hell and 100% more Willem Dafoe pubic hair than I had signed up for.  I am finding it difficult to review this film in a normal fashion, so I am going to review it through numbered bullet points.  Trust me, this will probably make more sense than the film.
  1. Willem Dafoe's Pubic Hair:   I am a Willem Dafoe fan, despite the dumb spelling of his name.  I like his work, and between you and me, I have always found him oddly attractive.  But we see WAY TOO MUCH of him in this film.  I realize that the full frontal penetration scene in the beginning was filmed with porn stars, and the dick bashing scene at the end was a wax model, but I am pretty damn sure that when he wakes up with a dumbell through his leg and his pants down that it is 100% Dafoe pubic hair.  It was the second most disturbing thing to me in this film
  2. The Genital Mutilation Scene: The most disturbing thing to me in this film.  I had heard about this, but I had no idea it was SO GRAPHIC.  I couldn't watch it and my screams of "no fucking way" sent my husband running into my room.  I had to scream at him "Go Away!!  This is not for you!"  Apparently Charlotte Gainsbourg lobbied hard for this role.  Was it because of this scene? How many actresses get to say "I rape a man and then cut off my clit."?  Take than Natalie Portman.
  3. The Sex: There is a whole lot of graphic sex in this film, and it is totally unsexy.  Sex equals pain in this film.  Sex equals death and destruction.  This is not a film to see on a first date.

4. Women are Evil or Lars von Trier is an asshole: I do not believe this film is misogynistic.  I am taking an intellectual stand so brace yourself. I think to call it misogynistic is to miss the point.  I think it is an honest portrayal of a woman who felt undervalued and disrespected and who subsequently went bat shit crazy.  In many ways this film is similar to Black Swan.  It is an honest and frighteningly perceptive insight into a particular woman's neurosis's by a manA PARTICULAR woman, not all women.  Get a grip.

5. Intellectuals are assholes:  I subtitled this "never marry a Therapist."  And this film is proof why.  The characters played by Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourgh are over educated assholes.  I thinks this is the real point of von Trier's film.   Instead of letting his poor wife grieve over the death of their child by drinking too much and popping pills like any good American, Dafoe, the Therapist, makes her go through "fear therapy."  They fucking talk and talk and talk and then he gets his dick bashed in.  He deserved it.

6. Writing a Thesis is hard:  I pretty much lost my shit while writing my Master's Thesis much like "She" does in the film.  Luckily I did not have a boyfriend or a child while writing about 1930s Political Murals in the Bay Area.   "She" is writing about gynocide.  I wrote about American Communists. Yes, I have a Master's Degree.  Unlike most people with a Master's Degree, I am still sort of an idiot.  OK, a total idiot.  But I have yet to bash any one's dick in.

7.  Similarities with Martyrs:  AntiChrist reminded me a lot of Martyrs, in that both films are about women and women's suffering.  One film positions women as a channel to heaven while another positions women as a embodiment of hell.  Martyrs is a superior film in every regard, one that I would recommend to anyone that could stomach it.  AntiChrist, not so much.

8: AntiChrist is a comedy: And a fucking funny one at that.  Really-- a fox talks and we see Willem Dafoe's pubic hair.  As John Water's said:

"If Ingmar Bergman had committed suicide, gone to hell, and come back to earth to direct an exploitation/art film for drive-ins, [Antichrist] is the movie he would have made."

9: Damn Nature: You Scary!:  Did I like or dislike AntiChrist?  Well, in general I don't like the work of Lars von Trier.  Yet I found this film interesting and disturbing. While I was watching it I kept being reminded of my College Art History professor who was a radical Feminist that believed that Dan Brown stole the plot of the Da Vinci Code from her.  I bet her damn head would explode if she watched AntiChrist.  For that reason alone I kind of love this film.  It is such a big pretentious "Fuck You!"  It doesn't mean a thing yet it pissed a bunch of people off.  Bet you are proud von Trier.  By the way: this is a horror film: don't let anyone tell you different.  Now, enjoy this 30 seconds of Family Guy which will make a whole lot more sense once you see the film.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

What did the cat see?

Thanks to Perez Hilton.

Friday, January 7, 2011

New Obsession: Clark Ashton Smith

I swear this is not becoming a literary blog- but I have been reading a whole lot lately.  I am afraid of the netflix movies I have at home.  Anyway, I am having my yearly read of At the Mountains of Madness and I got sidetracked by a Clark Ashton Smith reference.  Which led me to this really cool site:  And I killed a few hours there.  Smith was an artist, poet, and friend of Lovecraft, although the two never met. 

Here is a nice piece of his art and a poem entitled Afterwards:

There is a silence in the world
Since we have said farewell;
And beauty with an alien speech
An alien tale would tell.

There is a silence in the world,
Which is not peace nor quiet:
Ever I seek to flee therefrom,
And walk the ways of riot.

But when I hear the music moan
In rooms of thronging laughter,
A tongueless demon drives me forth,
And silence follows after.

And now I know what my nightmares are going to be about tonight.

Post 666: The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

Hey-we have arrived at post 666!!  I would like to thank the dark lord Satan and Netflix.  Seriously, I can't believe I have written (don't laugh- this qualifies as writing) 666 posts! 

So what do I write for post 666?  A plea for you all to read The Lottery by Shirley Jackson.  Again, I managed to wait 36 years to read this story.  I know, bad horror girl.  If you haven't read The Lottery please go do it now.  I will wait.   Here is a link:

Awesome wasn't it?  The older I get the more obsessed I become with the short story form, most likely because of my reduced attention span and inability to remember things I did 10 minutes ago.  The Lottery may be the most perfect short story I have ever read.  In less than 4000 words Jackson creates a realistic and terrifying world.  I am not going to say much about the story, in case you couldn't spare the time to read it now (it took me 10 minutes).  Written for The New Yorker in 1948, The Lottery created quite the commotion.  People canceled their subscriptions and wrote hate mail, all of which was forwarded to Jackson.  It seems that this short little fable that she wrote in one 2 hour sitting was more powerful than she could of imagined.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Thief of Always (rare book review)

The Thief of Always is not a rare book, the fact that I am writing a book review is rare.  But since my last got such an overwhelming response (3 comments!) I figured I would do it again.  Anyone who knows me knows that I love horror written for children.  I also love the show Toddlers & Tiaras.  Anyway, two of my favorite "horror" books of all time were written for the young and young at heart: The Graveyard Book and Coraline.  Both of those books were written by Neil Gaiman.  The Thief of Always is written by Clive Barker.  Yes, the creator of the Books of Blood and The Hellbound Heart wrote a book for children.  I love this on so many levels.

The Thief of Always was really terrifying.  If I were a 10 or 12 year old reading it I would wet my pants.  When I was 10 or 12 I was reading shit like Flowers in the Attic and Sweet Valley High, which actually explains a lot about me.  The Thief of Always tells the story of 10 year old Harvey Swick, a bored boy who is sick of winter, sick of school, sick of his family, sick of everything.  He wants some excitement.  He wants to relive the happy times like spring and summer, Halloween and Christmas.  I am right there with you Harvey. 

One night a mysterious man named Rictus flies into Harvey's room.  He offers to take Harvey to a place where it is always fun, and where all his wishes will come true.  After some soul searching (I would have been like "take me!") Harvey decides to go.  Rictus assures him that his parents are fine with him going, and that he can leave anytime he wants.  Rictus takes him to "The Holiday House," a place where all four seasons come and go in one day, and everyday is Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  All he has to do is wish for something and it appears.  At the house he meets Wendell, a boy about his age who had been at the house for some time, and Lulu, a mysterious girl who likes to hang out by the lake.  It doesn't take long for Harvey to figure out that everything is not what is seems at the Holiday House, and that the host, the unseen Mr. Hood, may have bad things in store for the children. 

Harvey escapes the house with Wendell but the world he returns to is not the one he left.  Mad that time was "stole" from him, Harvey returns to the house to confront Mr. Hood.  What ensues is a battle of wits, magic, and thievery.  Plus, some children get turned into fish.

The Thief of Always

The Thief of Always has plenty to appeal to adults and children alike.  For kids, it is about being careful what you wish for.  For adults, it is a reminder of the pleasures and the all to quick passing of childhood.  And although no one shows up to scream "I am going to tear your soul apart!!!" you can imagine it happening.  I didn't love this as much as I love Neil Gaiman's stories for children, but it was enjoyable. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

"Happy Birthday to Me"

 What an auspicious start to the New Year! (This is something my husband, who is Buddhist, says a lot.  I am not sure what it means but I think it means good.)  My first horror film of 2011 is Happy Birthday to Me from 1981. (My first actual film of 2011 is Tron: Legacy which I like very much, especially when Daft Punk showed up.)  How have I lived 36 years without seeing this? (I once forgot how old I was.  I may be 35 or 37-- I am not very good at math.)  Anyway, I have lots to say about Happy Birthday to Me, unlike Black Swan, which was too psychologically scarring and deep for me to deal with on this blog.  Let's just say Black Swan fucked me up (in a good way) and Happy Birthday to Me just made me happy to be alive and in love with horror films.

Happy Birthday to Me was directed by J.Lee Thompson, who directed Cape Fear.  It stars blue eyed beauty Melissa Sue Anderson as Ginny.  MSA always kind of creeped me out on Little House with her bright blue eyes.  She may be the reason I have such a strong aversion to people with blue eyes.  I still can't explain my aversion to men in turtlenecks, but perhaps some other 80's horror film can explain that.  Ginny is a Senior at the prestigious "Crawford Academy."  Crawford Academy is kind of like Hogwarts in that all the students wear really cool striped scarves.  Ginny belongs to the "Top Ten," a group of popular and rich students that can buy beer at the local pub.  The Top Ten like to play pranks and play chicken on the local bridge.  Among their group is a sexy French guy named Etienne and a total dork who likes taxidermy and carries around a pet rat.  Why this dork is part of this group is never explained.  He must be rich, as all the members are, but I don't see how that automatically makes you part of the group, especially when you are so obviously a serial killer.  At least, that is what we are lead to believe...

Members of the Top Ten are getting killed off in highly original ways.  One guy gets a shish kabob through the mouth (hence the iconic poster) and one guy gets killed by dumbbell.  My favorite death is poor Etienne, who bites it ala Isadora Duncan.  Is the dork with the mouse the killer?  Or is it Ginny, who, as it turns out, was in a really bad car accident a few years ago and had experimental surgery to fix her brain.  Ginny blacks out a lot, and she begins to think that she is responsible for the murders.  It doesn't help that her shrink is played by Glenn Ford, yes, that Glenn Ford, and he wears cardigans and gold chains.  At first I thought Glenn Ford was drunk the whole time, but my research did not support that hypothesis.  It is just a really strange and somewhat pervy performance.

I had read a lot about this film over the years but I could not remember what the twist was at the end.  In short, the film kept me totally involved throughout, and I was sure I knew who the killer was.  Then we arrive at the fucked up ending.  Ginny is at her 18th birthday party, surrounded by all of her friends, dead and alive.  The twist literally makes no sense, and it almost made me hate the movie.  But then I decided that it did not matter that the ending made no sense.  This is a beautiful, bloody, totally stupid 80's slasher and I loved it!!  It was also filmed in Canada, so I have to give it extra points for that.  I love Happy Birthday to Me.  The only thing it could have used is a totally radical disco scene. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Years!

Happy New Year everyone!!  I wish everyone a wonderful yet kind of scary 2011!  My resolution this year is to post more and use even more swear words if possible.  I have never seen New Year's Evil but doesn't this guy kind of look like Bill Pullman?