Last year, between the two of us, we watched an average of 317 movies.
This year our goal is to top that by watching at least one a day.
And as an extra special torture, we've decided to write about all of them.

31 October 2008

Night of the Living Dead

Director: George A. Romero
Writers: John A. Russo, George A. Romero
Released: 1968
Cast: Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, Karl Hardman, Marilyn Eastman, Keith Wayne, Judith Ridley, Kyra Schon, Russell Streiner, Bill Hinzman

NIKKI says:
Moonlight movie on Halloween. It was very cool. And the darkness and the wind only added to the creepiness of the movie. I do have to say, though, I'm glad to see the back of horror month. I want some fun. I want some bright colours. I need to laugh.

What can you say about Night of the Living Dead? It sets the bar. It's still the best zombie movie of all time, still one of the smartest horror movies ever, and still fucking scary. I love it, and I enjoyed a lot the experience of watching it outside. Fulci, however, was "TOO SCARE" through the whole thing. Wind and zombies was too much!


30 October 2008

Dark Night of the Scarecrow

Director: Frank DeFelitta
Writer: JD Feigelson
Released: 1981
Cast: Charles Durning, Robert F. Lyons, Claude Earl Jones, Lane Smith, Tonya Crowe, Larry Drake, Jocelyn Brando, Tom Taylor

NIKKI says:
Wow, one of my all-time favourites. This is about as scary as movie get. Again, it's all to do with the atmosphere, the themes, the paranoia that comes with guilt and distrust. Of course, there's also a sackheaded scarecrow which is way fucking insanely creepy, but he's not the cause of all the creep. Not really.

It's really a horror movie fairytale, with poor Larry Drake attacked after saving the little girl from the scary dogs. So, on that other level, it's about love and understanding, unconditional friendship. Drake's revenge is very sweet, and I don't think I can think of a death scene more horrifying than the guy in the big silo. Ughghgh. It's horrible.

Good movie -- scary and beautiful.



Director: James Whale
Writers: Garrett Fort, Francis Edwards Faragoh
Released: 1931
Cast: Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles, Edward Van Sloan, Dwight Frye

29 October 2008


Director: Tod Browning
Writer: Garrett Fort
Released: 1931
Cast: Bela Lugosi, Helen Chandler, David Manners, Dwight Frye, Edward Van Sloane, Herbert Bunston, Frances Dade

28 October 2008


Director: Tobe Hooper
Writers: Dan O'Bannon, Don Jakoby
Released: 1985
Cast: Steve Railsback, Peter Firth, Mathilda May, Frank Finlay, Michael Gothard, Aubrey Morris, Patrick Stewart

27 October 2008

The Lottery

Director: Larry Yust
Writer: Larry Yust
Released: 1969
Cast: Olive Dunbar, William Benedict, William Fawcett, Joe Howarth

STEVE says: There's something to be said for a film that manages to be suspenseful and shocking, even though it has one of the most famous endings in literary history.

I tried to watch this as someone who wasn't familiar with the story, and it wasn't easy. Like the last ten minutes of The Wicker Man, where you just know Edward Woodward is going to be burned alive, but you're still waiting for someone to swoop in and rescue him - no matter how many times you've seen the movie. It was a lot like that. But I was able to appreciate the lead-up a lot more, knowing how it was going to turn out. Yust (and Shirley Jackson, it must be said) highlights the banality of evil before the audience is even aware that evil is in the picture. Genius.

After watching this short film, I'm reminded of the woman in Fahrenheit 9/11 who was pro-war until her son was killed. In The Lottery, Tessie Hutchinson - like everyone else in the town - is all for the lottery, until it affects her personally. Then, suddenly, "It isn't fair!" Considering "The Lottery" was published in 1948, this short was made in 1969, and the themes were still relevant in 2004... Well, "the more things change", I guess...


NIKKI says:
There's something about old farm-lookin' dudes from the backwoods that just creeps me out. And this has lots of 'em. But that's not the point of the story... so it is a famous story, and it's still as scary as it ever was. Amazing how after so many years and so many retellings you still sit there in shock that the townspeople are actually going to go through with the ritual. Maybe it's because after all those retellings, there's still no actual reason why they do it.

Steve and I decided the themes in the story have much to do with conscription and sending kids off to war. We openly and randomly choose names from a hat and send people to war to be killed. This is a simplified exploration of that very strange practice that, when laid out in this way, just seems insane. Like so many things, I guess.


26 October 2008

The Dark Half

Director: George A. Romero
Writer: George A. Romero
Released: 1993
Cast: Timothy Hutton, Amy Madigan, Michael Rooker, Julie Harris, Robert Joy

STEVE says: Not one of the best Stephen King adaptations, but surely one of the better ones. The fact that it's Romero gives it a bump, as well.


Burn After Reading

Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Writers: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Released: 2008
Cast: George Clooney, Francis McDormand, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins

STEVE says: I haven't seen a Coen Brothers movie in the theatre since O Brother, Where Art Thou? in 2000. Coincidentally, I haven't cared for much of their work since then, either. So the fact that Burn After Reading had me excited enough to get into the theatre seemed a good sign.

Now I'm wishing I'd waited for the DVD.

I didn't hate it as I did The Ladykillers, wasn't indifferent to it as I was to Intolerable Cruelty, and wasn't bored by it as I was to The Man Who Wasn't There. But I didn't love it. Better than Fargo, but it was no Miller's Crossing or Lebowski, films I can revisit again and again and never get bored with. Burn After Reading had its moments. They were just too few and far between.


NIKKI says:
Wow, about as MEH as you can get. Well, maybe it would have been less meh had it not been a Coen borthers movie of which I expect so much more. But, you know, maybe I shouldn't. The guys haven't really been all that impressive with their original stuff of late. (No Country, of course, was brilliant, even if it fucked the ending of the book.) I don't know -- everything I really don't like about the Coen brothers was all over this movie. I'm not into wide-eyed Fraces McDormand characters who are supposed to perhaps be lovably stupid, but come off as just stupid. I'm not really inot the whole Brad Pitt playing the fool thing. And I didn't really care for the intertwining stories rehash.

This was a failed attempt to pout every cool Coen trait inot one big star-filled movie as if the stars would detrct from the really kinda lame plot and poor execution. It was horrible or anything, but it wasn't anything special either. The guys, it would seem, are out of Lebowskis.


25 October 2008

Dawn of the Dead

Director: Zack Snyder
Writer: James Gunn
Released: 2004
Cast: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Mekhi Phifer, Ty Burrell, Michael Kelly, Kevin Zegers, Lindy Booth

STEVE says: It's like Remake Central here at Casa de Steve y Nikki. Either this says that there are more good horror remakes out there than we'd thought, or that we like crappy remakes more than we let on. You decide.

I think I'm in the minority on this, but I actually like the Dawn of the Dead remake, crappy or not. There are things about it that annoy me, to be sure - like its lacking the social commentary of the original - but overall it was fun and violent and gory, and that's pretty much all I was hoping for.


24 October 2008

The Fly

Director: David Cronenberg
Writers: Charles Edward Pogue, David Cronenberg
Released: 1986
Cast: Jeff Goldblum, Gina Davis, John Getz, Joy Boushel, Les Carlson

23 October 2008

They Live

Director: John Carpenter
Writer: John Carpenter (as Frank Armitage)
Released: 1988
Cast: Roddy Piper, Keith David, Meg Foster, Peter Jason, George "Buck" Flower

NIKKI says:
I'm loving this week. This is the coolest movie. So, maybe John Carpenter forgot how to direct after this one? And write, too, apparently, because this is such a good story. Could it be before it's time? Or at least aware of its time. This one is all about the media keeping us asleep with mind-crushing advertising and blinding pretty pictures making unfulfillable promises.

Roddy Piper get s pair of shades that allow him to see through the advertising to the real, black and white world underneath. He's suddenly exposed to everything and must fight those crazy aliens keeping us all down. Someone once described Roddy's journey as a "battle of self-awareness", and I really like that desciption. It's something we all fight every day; the constant search for truth amid the bullshit. It's a great representation of that battle. I love it, even despite the ten minute fight scene. It's a ten-minute battle or self-awareness, Steve!! Get into it!!


22 October 2008

The Thing from Another World

Director: Christian Nyby
Writer: Charles Lederer
Released: 1951
Cast: Kenneth Tobey, Margaret Sheridan, Robert Cornthwaite, Douglas Spencer, James R. Young, Dewey Martin, Robert Nichols, William Self, Eduard Franz, Sally Creighton, James Arness

STEVE says: Watching the original again, I'm thinking it's unfair to call Carpenter's version a remake, as the two share very little in the way of similarity. Sure, they both take place in the arctic, and they both have an alien antagonist, but that's really where the similarities end. Carpenter's movie (and, indeed, the original story it's based on) deals with a creature that consumes and imitates whatever life it finds here on Earth, and Nyby's creature is just James Arness with a prosthetic forehead, hiding in the snow and occasionally smashing through a door.

It's a classic, yes, and I enjoy watching it - I'm just not sure it earns the "based on a story by John W. Campbell, Jr." credit.


Harold and Maude

Director: Hal Ashby
Writer: Colin Higgins
Released: 1971
Cast: Bud Cort, Ruth Gordon, Vivian Pickles, Charles Tyner

21 October 2008


Director: Stuart Gordon
Writers: Dennis Paoli, Stuart Gordon
Released: 1985
Cast: Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Barbara Crampton, David Gale, Robert Sampson

20 October 2008

John Carpenter's The Thing

Director: John Carpenter
Writer: Bill Lancaster
Released: 1982
Cast: Kurt Russell, Keith David, Wilford Brimley, TK Carter, David Clennon, Richard Dysart, Charles Hallahan, Peter Maloney, Richard Masur, Donald Moffat, Joel Polis, Thomas G. Waites

STEVE says: John Carpenter could live to be 2000 years old and direct every movie made in that time, and still never come close to making anything as good as The Thing.


NIKKI says:
Man, the '80s was a good time for campy, awesome horror. This is another movie filled with crazy looking monsters that the cast plays entirely seriously. It really works. I like this movie a lot. It speaks to all my scare-points -- isolation, paranoia, darkness. It groups those things in a really cool way so that you feel just what the characters feel. The tension is quite real throughout, and it all feels so authentic that when the big spider thing jumps out, you're not going "oh whatever!" but "oh my holy fuck look at THAT?!!"

Movies like Waz could take a lesson in what it is that makes an out of this world horror feel real -- atmosphere, development, and timing.

What happened to John Carpenter? It's like he made this and then forgot how to direct. Sad.


19 October 2008


Director: Douglas Cheek
Writer: Parnell Hall
Released: 1984
Cast: John Heard, Daniel Stern, Christopher Curry, Kim Greist

STEVE says: So many good things to say about C.H.U.D. - but I'm not going to go into them. The New York Times review from 1984 pretty much nailed it, so check that out if you want a critical analysis. Me, I'm using a different cultural yardstick to measure the film's awesomeness: The Simpsons.

  • In the September 21, 1997 episode of The Simpsons, "The City of New York Vs. Homer Simpson", Homer's recollection of his first trip to New York City ended with his falling in the sewer and quoting, "...and that's when the C.H.U.D.s came at me." Marge responds: "Of course you'll have a bad impression of New York if you only focus on the pimps and the C.H.U.D.s."
  • In another episode of The Simpsons, "Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder", Homer — when falling from a building with Otto on a bungee cord — goes down into an open manhole and sees various underground creatures, including Morlocks (from H.G. Wells "The Time Machine"), C.H.U.D.s and Molemen (with Hans Moleman as their leader).
  • In yet another Simpsons episode, "Crook and Ladder", a videocassette of the film is seen at the beginning of a chain of videocassette boxes used as dominoes.
  • Also when Homer takes Bart to see the Itchy and Scratchy Movie, Air Chud can be seen on the marquee. In fact, several variations of C.H.U.D. related titles are seen at the Springfield Multiplex throughout the series.
A mention on The Simpsons is a sort of validation of pop-culture worth, an initiation into the cultural zeitgeist and C.H.U.D. has been referenced nearly as many times as sci-fi icons Planet of the Apes and Soylent Green. It probably also has something to do with the fact that the Simpsons writers are big nerds, but we'll table that argument for the time being.

is the perfect B-movie, from its roots in 50s paranoia flicks right down to the silly rubber monsters with their phosphorescent eyes. The inevitable remake will no doubt use CGI C.H.U.D.s and ruin the whole effect. That's what let the Chainsaw remake down: Too Much Money. Some things were meant to be made on a shoestring, yeah?


NIKKI says:
Ahh, now that's better: an '80s horror movie I'm allowed to still love. Man, CHUD is the best movie ever. It looks, on the surface, like a cheeseball horror flick with silly looking demons under the bitumen. But it's really a dramatic, genuine picture about the state of the homeless. It's smart, it's funny, and it's got some great scares if you know where to look.

It's one of those B-movies where no one in it realises it's a B-movie and all play their parts like David Lean is behind the camera. Daniel Stern and John Heard just rock all the way through the movie, remaining utterly serious for the duration. They're CHUDs, you know? And yet these guys never for a second let you think the threat they pose is anything but realistic and catastrophic.

I love this movie for many reasons, but that's a big one -- the earnestness with which it's all carried out. This is a first-rate horror classic.


18 October 2008


Director: Victor Salva
Writer: Victor Salva
Released: 1989
Cast: Nathan Forrest Winters, Brian McHugh, Sam Rockwell, Tree

NIKKI says:
I knew the whole Victor Salva/paedophile thing from the time Powder came out, but for some reason, I held onto this movie. He did this one a fair while before Powder, and I'm sure the reason it remained in my collection was the whole clown thing. Scary carnivals are my thing, and this has a damn creepy one.

I didn't know, however, until after this viewing that the boy Salva was charged with molesting was the little boy from the movie. We decided after reading that to get rid of the movie. It's just kind of undiginifed to have it in our collection with such horrible things affiliated with it. Poor kid. And he was the one out protesting Powder, and somehow Salva is still allowed to make movies with young shirtless boys running all over the place. Crazy.

As far as Clownhouse, I used to think it was a cheesy Z-grade horror film with some mad clown visuals. Now, I just think it's icky.


17 October 2008

W Delta Z (aka The Killing Gene)

Director: Tom Shankland
Writer: Clive Bradley
Released: 2007
Cast: Stellan Skarsgård, Selma Blair, Melissa George

NIKKI says:
You know, WAZ started off okay. I thought the banter between Melissa George and Stellan Skarsgaard was geniune and effective. I also thought the Se7en-like energy the film had meant it might be a cut above your standard psychological slasher. Sadly, as the film went on, it lost much of its inital smart, low-key appeal. Which is to say, it went all torture-porn-y and showed way more than it needed to and just moved to extremes I really don't think it needed to go to. I don't think the story needed much alteration, just the depication of the sadist undertakings within it.

In a movie like this, I want to feel haunted by the things we do to each other, by the levels we'll go to when exacting revenge. Stepping away from a film like Se7ev, you certainly feel the grime on you, but that film didn't show us in ultra-graphic detail every cut and kill. Here, we see it all, and we're horribly desesnsitised to the Hostel way of vieweing horror effects in films that the atmosphere of terror is replaced by blatant gore which really isn't that shocking. It's like a movie pissing contest to see who can make the best looking snapping back fingernails. Boring.

Annoying really, because this had potential to be a really classy thriller. They just pushed it all too far and I didn't really care one way of the other in the end. I just wanted it all to stop.


16 October 2008

The Devils

Director: Ken Russell
Writer: Ken Russell
Released: 1971
Cast: Oliver Reed, Vanessa Redgrave, Dudley Sutton, Michael Gothard

NIKKI says:
Yeah, this was just about the creepiest thing ever. Steve's been at me to watch it for a long time, but I'm just not the biggest Ken Russell fan. I think he's cool, I just don't really like his movies. I can't pinpoint why except to say they're so very 1970s-BRITISH. I know that's totally inappropriate and the wrong way to describe what I think when I think about movies like this. I get a sense of Fahrenheit 451 and Blow Up. and I just can't do it.

Even so, I did like this one. It had all those elements that bother me, but I was compelled, at last by scary Oliver Reed to put my unfounded and silly prejudices aside and enjoy. It is, though, a hard movie to enjoy. It's creepy and in your face and full of meaning and metaphor. Instead of trying to outline the complex plot, I'll let "Nizz" do it, courtesy of the Internet Movie Database:

Cardinal Richelieu and his power-hungry entourage seek to take control of seventeenth-century France, but need to destroy Father Grandier - the priest who runs the fortified town that prevents them from exerting total control. So they seek to destroy him by setting him up as a warlock in control of a devil-possessed nunnery, the mother superior of which is sexually obsessed by him. A mad witch-hunter is brought in to gather evidence against the priest, ready for the big trial

Couldn't have said it better myself. And there's a big scene with nuns having an exorcism-slash-orgy, and Oliver Reed goes around saying extremely profound things, and at the end I pretty much needed a shower. A religious experience, to say the least. And while I didn't entirely understand it, I certainly recognise its power. I think...


15 October 2008

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Director: Marcus Nispel
Writer: Scott Kosar
Released: 2003
Cast: Jessica Biel, Eric Balfour, Jonathan Tucker, Erica Leerhsen, Mike Vogel, Andrew Bryniarski, R. Lee Ermey

NIKKI says: It's probably the best of the Next Generation Remakes, but it still has it's issues. We realised last night that it really does drag in the end, as Jessica Biel runs and hides from each and every character in the thing. And there's another issue -- there are too many damn characters. But, even so, it's frightening, it's got some good horror, it's teen victims aren't complete dunces you just wish someone would cut up. All in all, it's a good modern horror film.

I have a hard time watching the original Chain Saw, only because I find its horror so completely visceral and realistic. As soon as we put this one on, I remembered how well it also does its slimy, gruesome horror. There's something about both of these films that makes me forget they're just movies and gives me the absolute squeals. It all starts after the girl shoots herself in their van. GROSS. And then they go to the gas stations that's not really a gas station and there are all these flies on pig heads and it's gross. Then they find some teeth, then R. Lee Ermey wraps the girl in plastic, then Jessica has to help the old guy with the catheter, then the hot one gets hooked, then Eric Balfour gets his face cut off. Grossness everywhere. But effective grossness, and grossness that seems to fit the story being told. So, it works.

Yeah, so much as we love this movie, we had some problems with it last night. We realised that the remake perhaps tries to do too much. The old movie just had the three members of the family, and this one has mothers, fathers, sisters, grandparents, little kids... it's not good, and it overdoes the creepy. And the old movie really kept the action focused inside the house and with the family, which was really the main purpose of the film, to look at this strange group. The new movie takes the action outside and makes it a real can and mouse chase, and that can get tedious. I believe the political undertones of the first film are also removed. This one had a theme more like Friday the 13th, with Leatherface's mum pissed off at kids for tormenting her boy. Which is a bit boring, and kind of silly for a film set in the charged early 1970s.

I really didn't like, either, the final shot of Leatherface as Jessica gets away. He looks like as evil monster. In the original, he flails about on the road and looks like what he is, a confused stray.

Still, I enjoy the remake. I like the kids, it's absolutely beautiful to look at, and I scream at the gross stuff. Success.


14 October 2008

Just Desserts: The Making of 'Creepshow

Director: Michael Felsher
George A. Romero, Richard Rubinstein, Tom Savini, John Harrison, Nick Tallo, Tom Atkins, Adrienne Barbeau, Ed Harris, Bingo O'Malley

NIKKI says:
I've never been the hugest fan of Creepshow. I think it has something to do with the cartoonishness of the whole thing, which I underestand is the point of it, but still never really drew me in. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that I wasn't into comic books as a kid? Because when I first saw the film, I found it kinda silly, and not really scary, and really not that entertaining. Apart from the bug one, which I've always thought was horrifying.

Still, even without a real love for the film, the documentary was fascinating. I enjoyed hearing all about the project and how it got off the ground, and how George Romero and Stephen King came to finally put it all together. It really made me miss that sort of old school filmmaking, where a couple of guys with mutual love for something join forces to bring it to life. This was back when it wasn't about names and budgets and studios and effects, but a real desire to want to see something very specific on screen. The idea and then the how-to, rather than the other way around.

I very much enjoyed, too, the different sorts of folks they spoke to here. From the major players in the project to the grips and the editors and other cool folks usually left in the sidelines.

Some great stories, some interesting filmmaking philosophies, a lot of great movie history. I really liked it. Pity they didn't talk to King, though. That was really the thing's only downfall.


13 October 2008

Halloween: 20 Years Later (aka H20)

Director: Steve Miner
Writers: Robert Zappia, Matt Greenberg
Released: 1998
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Josh Hartnett, Michelle Williams, Adam Arkin, Jodi Lynne O'Keefe, Adam Hann-Byrd, LL Cool J

Tropic Thunder

Director: Ben Stiller
Writers: Ben Stiller, Justin Theroux, Etan Cohen
Released: 2008
Cast: Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr, Jack Black, Jay Baruchel, Brandon T. Jackson, Nick Nolte

NIKKI says: So, who knew this was gonna be the most freakin' hilarious thing ever? Okay, so not EVER, but it was damn funny. I'm so over Ben Stiller, which made me shrug this one off as yet another vanity piece for the guy to go around yelling and making stupid faces. Consider -- he's really only got one classic in his comedy list and that's Zoolander. Everything else is just annoying. So, how is it that this works? Well, I think it has a lot to do with the fact that his character in this movie is very much like Derek Zoolander. A passionate innocent, with a huge ego and a small brain. Welcome back, Ben. I like you again.

So, this new Ben is on the set making a movie in the jungle with rebel drug makers trying to kill him which he thinks is fake movie magic but after certain bizarre circumstances becomes completely real. He fumbles his way through the whole thing as his friends and fellow actors try to save him. Jack Black plays a heroin addict on detox whose only claim to fame is fart-joke movies, and Robert Downey, Jnr plays an Australian actor so immersed in his character of a black man that he can't stop talking like Mr. T.

Their mission to get Ben and go home occurs as Ben's agent, Matthew McCaonaughey, tries to get Tivo to his client trapped in the jungle without entertainment. He has to battle the big studio boss, Tom Cruise, to make this happen. But Tom wants to let Ben die and claim the insurance and buy Matthew a plane. So, Matthew has a moral dilemma on his hands, and Tom Cruise dances around a lot like a sex-monkey FREAK.

It's so ridiculous, I could not stop laughing. Who thinks of these things? I did enjoy the parallels between actors on set and soldiers in the jungle. That was very clever, and the way the whole thing pulled together with Cruise as some crazy President-like guy sacrificing his actors for money -- it was good.

I can see us going back to it every year like we do with Zoolander. Maybe we can double-team the both of the them?

"A little twig-man Oscar. I 'm going to call you Half-Squat, and you can call me ... papa."



12 October 2008

The Hitcher

Director: Robert Harmon
Writer: Eric Red
Released: 1986
Cast: C. Thomas Howell, Rutger Hauer, Jennifer Jason Lee, Jeffrey DeMunn

NIKKI says:
I love going back to these old movies with new eyes. Steve said we should watch this with the idea that Jim Halsey and John Rider are the same guy. Apparently, that's a theory going around -- they are actually one and the same, and it's Jim going around doing these horrible things in some Tyler Durden split-personality freak parade.

So, I considered... and I could see where such confusion might come about. There are times when Jim seems completely nuts and just a paranoid kid. But then there are times when gas stations blow up and women get ripped in half by guys driving trucks that cops have told Jim to go and talk to. So, no -- whoever thought Jim and Rider were the same is a fool. The cops can SEE John Rider -- are you MENTAL?

Still, it was fun to look at in a different way. I still enjoy the movie after all these years. It used to freak me out way more than it does, and I always used to put it up there with Duel as far as the suspense. But I don't so much anymore. The more I see it, the more standard it becomes. That doesn't mean it's any less effective, but looking back, it could be more terrifying, and more freaky, and it could also be a bit more realistic, because at times, and maybe I saw this because I was trying to see Rider as Jim, but sometimes Rider seems supernatural. He can go anywhere, get into anything, do anything and never really get caught until the end. So, maybe that lets me down a bit now? He's not as scary a guy when there's that ghostly element to him.

But a good movie nonetheless. And Robert Harmon is one of the most underrated artists in film. He should be the touchstone for all young up and coming cinematographers. In fact, he should just work more. Where are you Robert Harmon?


11 October 2008

An American Werewolf in London

Director: John Landis
Writer: John Landis
Released: 1981
Cast: David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, Griffin Dunne, John Woodvine, Brian Glover


Director: Andrew Stanton
Writers: Andrew Stanton, John Reardon
Released: 2008s
Cast: Ben Burtt, Ellisa Knight, Jeff Garlin, Fred Willard, John Ratzenberger, Kathy Najimy, Sigourney Weaver

NIKKI says: There's just something about that little trash machine that's had me obsessed with seeing this film for a while. I hate the cinema these days, though, so I was happy to wait for DVD much as it was killing me. But, a spur of the moment decision led us to the movies to finally see it. And I absolutely loved every second of it. Which is to say, I loved every second of Wall-E. Is there anything in the universe ever that is cuter than him? I can't think of a single thing. I can't think of a single moment in my entire life -- and I've seen a lot of CUTE -- that rivals the heart-melting two seconds when Wall-E tips his trash can lid hat to mimic Michael Crawford in Hello Dolly. There's nothing cuter in world history. And it makes me want to give this movie five stars.

But ... I wished the whole thing had been just Wall-E and Eve running around, because I didn't enjoy myself as much when the humans came into it. I can see the point being made about our fat ass lives and how we're just ruining everything with our need for more, more, more, and easier, easier, easier. But humans on the whole were kinda fat and stupid and I didn't really enjoy that aspect of the movie.

Still, I was distracted from that most of the time by Wall-E and Eve. Ohh, they were just great, and whoever wrote thier little love connection story is a genius, because without words this great love story just came to life. It was fascinating to watch. Two characters who don't really ever say anything, and yet you see every moment, every emotion, every instance that drives them into this relationship. It's adorable.

So, I loved it. If the humans had been made a bit more realistic, I would give it a five.


10 October 2008

Deer Woman

Director: John Landis
Writer: John Landis, Max Landis
Released: 2005
Cast: Brian Benben, Anthony Griffith, Cinthia Moura, Sonja Bennett

NIKKI says: Mmm... did I like Deer Woman? Not really. It's not something I would go back to. It was a bit silly, and though I recognise it had a sense of humour about itself, I still felt that strange Landis sheen over the top of it that draws me away from his other films in the same way. Why do I just dislike Landis so much? I don't know... but this was bearable, which is more than I can say about much of the other Masters of Horror episodes we've endured.

The gist is this: after a string of murders, a burned-out cop suggests the dead men are being killed by a deer-like creature. He discovers, then, a Native American legend that suggests that very thing -- a half-woman, half-deer creature exists that goes around seducing and stomping men.

Yep. And so it's up to the cop to bring it all home. Brian Benben plays the cop, and it was so great watching him after all these years. I don't think I've seen him in anything since Dream On, which counting Thriller and The Blues Brothers is only one of the few Landis thing I've really liked.

It was okay. No Homecoming, but okay.


09 October 2008


Director: Marty Weiss
Writer: Anthony Jaswinski
Released: 2008
Cast: Jonathan Chase, Haylie Duff, Willow Geer, John Hemphill, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, Danny Nucci

STEVE says: When I said I wanted to do a Horror Classics month to counter balance all the crap we'd been watching, this was exactly the sort of thing I was talking about counter balancing.

Lifting bits from The Hills Have Eyes II (2007), Lake Dead (2007), Severance (2006), Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (2007), See No Evil (2006) and Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990), as well as a kill from Southern Comfort (1981), "original" is something Backwoods was never going to be accused of being. But neither is "boring", for that matter, so that's something.

I'm going to have to watch something really good now to counter balance this. Night of the Creeps good. Re-animator good. It didn't exactly suck - it was no Brutal, for example - but I could think of better ways to spend an evening.


NIKKI says: And once again I'm reminded why it's NOT as fun as it looks to pick random scare-fests off the New Release wall to bring home. Ohh, Backwoods, I said, it's like Severance, and it could be fun.

I should be banned from my own shop. It was shit. I knew it would be shit. And I am ashamed. But, it wasn't as shit as most. So, I might not get banned, just temporarily booted.

Apologies all around.


08 October 2008

Roadkill (aka Joy Ride)

Director: John Dahl
Writer: Clay Tarver, JJ Abrahms,
Released: 2001
Cast: Steve Zahn, Paul Walker, Leelee Sobieski, Ted Levine

STEVE says: Much like Session 9, I didn't expect much from this one and ended up thoroughly digging it. You'd think I'd learn a lesson.

Walker and Zahn play brothers, driving halfway across the country to pick the friend Sobieski up from college. Just for kicks, Zahn picks up a CB radio to kill time along the way, and ends up pranking a truck driver who goes by the handle Rusty Nail. And then the fun begins.

A mix of road movies like The Hitcher and Duel with some Hitchcock thrown in for good measure, Roadkill is better than my preconceived notions would have had me believe. But isn't that always the way?


NIKKI says: I really like this movie. And it's the kind of movie we should hate -- a derivative, rather tame horror film with super-sexy stars of the day. It's all shiny and glossy. It should be right up there with I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. But, somehow, it's not. It has traces of The Hitcher and Duel, and a little bit of I Saw What You Did, but it stands on its own as a decent modern suspense flick. It's a popcorn movie, absolutely, with some great scares, some fun, and a couple of surprisingly awesome performances from Paul Walker and Steve Zahn.

Actually, you know, that's one of the major draws for me about this movie -- I have a feeling Steve Zahn might have adlibbed all his lines. And it's hilarious. If he didn't adlib, then he definitely came up with his own line readings because everyhting is yelled or popped or screamed in places where it so shouldn't be. And it's so great to watch. There were times when Steve and I were sure Paul Walker wasn't acting but reacting to Zahn's bizarreness. It gives the thing an extra dimension having Zahn in there nstead of another pretty boy or a chick, or whatever else could have inserted easily in.

It loses me a bit at the end, when everything starts to come together -- it goes a bit over the top for me, but the lead up is sensational. I love it.


Easy Riders, Raging Bulls

Director: Kenneth Bowser
Writer: Kenneth Bowser
Released: 2003
Cast: Roger Corman, Peter Bogdanovich, Karen Black, Dennis Hopper, Peter Bart, Peter Fonda, Mickey Dolenz, Richard Dreyfuss

STEVE says: For film class this term I thought we'd watch flicks from the guys who changed the way films were made - at least for a little while. To introduce the class to the type of films we'd be looking at, I decided to show them this doco first.

Good as it is, it's pretty much what you'd expect - Corman, Nicholson, Bogdanovich and Hopper give way to Coppola, Spielberg, Lucas and Scorsese as the doco chronicles Hollywood's brief taking-over by the long-hairs after the demise of the studio system, only to wrest control away from them in the end. Sad, really.

Got me thinking, though - next term we might just watch movies about movies. Dennis Hopper's The Last Movie, The Player, State and Main, or some docos like and Hearts of Darkness and Lost in La Mancha.


Nikki did not view.

07 October 2008

Session 9

Director: Brad Anderson
Writer: Steven Gevedon, Brad Anderson
Released: 2001
Cast: Peter Mullan, David Caruso, Steven Gevedon, Josh Lucas, Brendan Sexton III

STEVE says: This is one that we originally almost passed by, largely because it stars David Caruso. I have no problem with him, personally, it's just that I was sick of hearing about him and what a Prima Donna he can be. Getting past that, we thought it might be a fun, low-budget haunted house pic to kick back to.

It turned out to be one of the scariest movies ever. Not only that, Session 9 manages to be suspenseful, scary and intelligent all at once, and without resorting to cheap scare tactics. I wish we hadn't watched it in the middle of the afternoon, though, because we may have cheated ourselves out of some of the effect. That said, the movie takes place in broad daylight from beginning to end, and the only dark places are those in the abandoned mental hospital it's set in - and there are many of those.

Watching again, nearly seven years later, I am still completely drawn in by it.


NIKKI says: This is without doubt one of my favourite movies of all time. I absolutely adore it. It comes so close to perfection -- it's scary, it's smart, it's tense, it's a great story, it's got a wonderful setting, it looks great, it's paced well, the acting is great... come to think of it, what faults are there?

We discovered this movie entirely by chance. Ooh, a horror flick set in an old mental hospital starring David Caurso -- that's the kind of stuff we love to watch and make fun of. Well, "fuck you" didn't the movie just shout in our faces? We were glued, enthralled, terrified all the way through. I couldn't sleep with Mary's voice in my head all night afterwards. And she still creeps me out. I think I looked behind me at least once watching this tonight, and I've seen it a bunch of times. It just does that -- it grows on you, creeps through you. It's an amazing piece of work.

Instead of more raving, I'll do a Top 5 Best Moments in Session 9, the best mental hospital movie with David Caruso EVER:

5. When you realise the phone is broken and Gordon is talking to himself.

4. Hank in the stairwell: "What are you doing here?" (OH MY GOD!)

3. The lights turning off as nyctophobic Warren runs out of the tunnel.

2. The little wobble on the tape player that puts a shake in the recorded voices. Oh god, whoever thought of that... It just makes the recordings seem even more authentic. I was convinced they're pulled a real interview from the '50s or something.

1. Simon. Yes, okay movie -- you win.

Why does it creep me out just thinking about it? A brilliant, amazing, awesome movie. Fuck it, I'm just gonna give it five.


06 October 2008

Fright Night

Director: Tom Holland
Writer: Tom Holland
Released: 1985
Cast: William Ragsdale, Roddy McDowall, Chris Sarandon, Amanda Bearse, Stephen Geoffreys, Jonathan Stark

STEVE says: Score two for Tom Holland on the Guilty Pleasure-o-meter!

No, look - I love Fright Night, always have. I saw it five times in the theatre when it came out because it was Just So Cool. But then the 80s ended.

Fright Night does not hold up well in the new millennium. The soundtrack, the fashions, the hairstyles - it's all pretty embarrassing.

Still, Holland's storytelling techniques again stand out... and are again let down by simple logic. (Charlie Brewster watches movies about vampires constantly, but has to go to his friend Ed to find out how to kill one?) But, you know, guilty pleasure.

And thanks again to Icons of Fright for the TWO Fright Night Pirate Commentaries! You guys rock.


NIKKI says: Never been the hugest fan of this movie. I think when I was little, I watched the second one more than this. In fact, I think this might only be the second time I've ever seen this movie? Maybe...

Steve is a big fan, so to have him sit there and come to the realisation that it's not really a great film worked double for me. I was quite bored. Maybe it's the cheese? It is a bit cheesy -- the effects and the style and Chris Sarandon's over the top performance.

Could be I'm just so much more into I Was a Teenage Vampire, which doesn't suffer from the logic issues this one does.

I can't see myself going back. Sorry Fright Night.


05 October 2008

Child's Play

Director: Tom Holland
Writers: Don Mancini, John Lafia, Tom Holland
Released: 1988
Cast: Alex Vincent, Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon, Brad Dourif

STEVE says: And speaking of guilty pleasures...

I recently listened to a commentary for Child's Play by director Tom Holland. Seems MGM didn't ask him to be part of the 20th anniversary DVD release, so the gang over at Icons of Fright invited him to do what they're calling a Pirate Commentary, a valentine to the fans and a "fuck you" to the studio. Sweet.

Listening to Holland explain the development of the script (the original story, Blood Buddies, bearing only slight resemblance to the finished product), and how he fashioned the story (allowing people one by one to learn that Chucky really is alive, then removing those people until all of Andy's "safe places" are gone) was, frankly, more than I'd expected from what I remembered as a fun-but-kind-of-silly 80s horror flick. I was keen to watch it again and see if it was maybe better than I'd remembered.

It wasn't. I could see what Holland was talking about, and it's really kind of brilliant. I appreciate and respect his mastery of storytelling. But... little things, probably having more to do with Screen Time than Reality, put a heavy strain on my already stretched suspension of disbelief.

In the end, it didn't matter much. I'm not in this to hear realistic dialog, or to have explained to me how Chucky gets himself all the way across Chicago on his own, or to watch realistic police work (although I'm interested to know how the paperwork side of the case was dealt with). I'm in it to see a murderous talking doll stalk a six-year-old kid - because it's fun! And on that score, Holland delivered - which is more than can be said for any of the four miserable sequels.


04 October 2008

Terror Train

Director: Roger Spottiswoode
Writer: TY Drake
Released: 1980
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Ben Johnson, Hart Bochner, David Copperfield, Derek McKinnon,

STEVE says: Oh my. Watching it again, I can think of no earthly reason why I like this movie as much as I do. It follows the Halloween/Friday the 13th template of Evil Returning to Exact Revenge After Many Years, so it doesn't have originality going for it. The murders aren't that inventive, which seemed to be the sole excuse for making these movies after a while, although this one might have got in before they rounded that particular corner - either way, the kills are kinda boring. The editing pretty much excludes the person who turns out to be the killer from actually being the killer, and the red herring (David Copperfield) looks nothing like who we know the killer already to be.

And yet I rate it Good. Why?

I don't know. Might have something to do with it being one of the first slasher movies I saw as a kid, before even Friday the 13th or Halloween. I remember watching it over and over on HBO, this and RoadGames - both starring Jamie Lee Curtis. Coincidence? I think not.

It's a guilty pleasure, and I suspect we'll be viewing more than a couple before the month is out.


03 October 2008

Rawhead Rex

Director: George Pavlou
Writer: Clive Barker
Released: 1986
Cast: David Dukes, Kelly Piper, Declan O'Brien, Niall Toibin, Niall O'Brien

STEVE says: Clive Barker has apparently disowned this movie - and he wrote the screenplay. Nothing I can say will give you a better idea of how bad this movie is.

In truth, though, it tries. It tries too hard. The story - ancient fertility god accidentally released from his subterranean prison wreaks havoc on Irish countryside - isn't the problem. Much of it is the direction, the fact that this is all taken so earnestly - the same problem Sometimes They Come Back suffered from. Everyone is so serious throughout, you'd think they were in an Ibsen play or something, rather than a schlocky monster flick.

And that's the second problem: the monster here, the titular Rawhead Rex, looks ridiculous. He's meant to be eight or nine feet tall (yet is able to walk through standard doorways whenever the plot calls for it without banging his skull), and this is achieved by placing Rawhead's head on top of - not over, mind you, but on top of - the actor's head. This makes his torso look longer in proportion to the rest of his body, and causes his arms to protrude from roughly the middle of his ribcage. It's not pretty. Neither are his crazy, rolling red hypno-eyes, or his mouth which seems to have no movement beyond simple open/close. I really half-expected to see a zipper running up his back.

Come to think of it, that might have made it all worth it.


NIKKI says: For the longest time I thought Rawhead Rex was a big scary dog who fought against Peter Weller. I would have sworn those two things were central to the film: dog and Peter Weller. I have no idea quite what planet I was on when I decided that. Bizarre.

I had no idea it was a Clive Barker story, either, though I probably read it as a kid. Back when I thought Cabal and Jacqueline Ess were, like, the goriest things ever and I was just so cool and grown up for not vomiting while reading them. I think back on them now, and I probably couldn't stomach them as well as I used to.

Anyway... Rawhead Rex was fairly lame. But I put that down to over-the-top acting and the worst make-up effects ever put on film. What possibly made these filmmakers think the big plastic head with the Mattel-like flashing red eyes could possibly be scary? I realise the film was made in the mid-1980s but there were scarier demons around at that point. It just looked like a big plastic mask. It barely moved. There was nothing real about it at all. Who thought of that? Ugh, terrible.

I had a hard time following the story, possibly because that awful mask was so disstracting. And I didn't feel what I think I should have after the little boy was killed. That seemed very out of place. Perhaps if I'd had more of a sense of just what Rex was up to, it may have come together a bit better. Reading up on the story later, I can see what was going on. I didn't grasp it so well watching the thing.

Peter Weller and a dog... if it's not this, what the hell am I thinking of?


02 October 2008

Dellamorte Dellamore

Director: Michele Soavi
Writer: Gianni Romoli
Released: 1994
Cast: Rupert Everett, Anna Falchi, François Hadji-Lazaro, Mickey Knox

STEVE says:
Sorry, did I say things could only go downhill after The Exorcist? My mistake. I didn't anticipate Dellamorte Dellamore being our second film.

Released in the States as Cemetery Man in 1996, I gave it a miss because the ads just made it look silly, and even back then I was sick to death of horror comedies. Five years later, my friend M'ike coerced me into watching his imported copy of the original Dellamorte cut, and I'll never be able to repay him. It was so incredible, so beautiful, so fucking amazing, I sat through the credits, rewound the tape, and watched it again. I watched it again the next day, and again the day after that, never tiring of it, never ceasing to find it enthralling.

And to this day, I still have no idea what it's really all about. To be honest, I don't want to know. It's like a Rorschach test: different people are going to see different things. But Martin Scorsese reckons it's one of the best Italian films of the 1990s, and if Marty likes it, I feel pretty secure in rating it as I do.


01 October 2008

The Exorcist

Director: William Friedkin
Writer: William Peter Blatty
Released: 1973
Cast: Ellen Burstyn, Jason Miller, Linda Blair, Max von Sydow, Lee J. Cobb.

STEVE says:
October is going to be horror month for us. As if we need to set aside a whole month, having watched 120 horror movies already this year, but it's October and it's timely and I like horror movies, so that's reason enough.

I wanted to start it off with a bang, though - something that packs a punch - and all credit to Universal Studios, I didn't think Dracula, Frankenstein, or The Wolf Man were going to quite set the tone. The Exorcist won out over such classics as Rosemary's Baby, The Shining and, yes, Fright Night, and I'm glad we went with it because, even though it's not what I'd class as "scary", it's still - 35 years later - one of the creepiest flicks ever.

What bugs me about it is, there's no wiggle room for those who might be, like myself, Faith-Challenged. There is no question that Regan is possessed. Even though we're given plenty of alternative medical explanations as to what might be wrong with her, including a "lesion" in her brain ("My name is Legion, for we are many."), it's pretty clear that reason loses the battle here and superstitions are put forth as fact. Since Father Karras is having a crisis of faith, and since proof denies faith, I think the story would have been better served had Karras not seen actual proof of Regan's possession, but only inferred whatever proof he needed to confirm his faith in the end, you dig?

Hey, whatever, The Exorcist works, and I'm glad we chose it to kick off the month. Only problem now is, it's pretty much all downhill from here.