Retro Cinema: ‘Hellraiser’

It’s no coincidence that this week’s Retro Cinema choice is “Hellraiser.” Because in case you haven’t heard, the remake has been given a green light. Now, I know you hard-core horror fans like me are out there saying “Oh, God no, not another remake!” But fasten your seatbelts kids, because for once this is good news: Clive Barker is gonna direct and Doug Bradley is coming back as Pinhead.

Now that’s how you do a freakin’ remake.

When Barker first directed “Hellraiser,” he had a very limited budget and in fact, he confesses in the DVD commentary that he basically got the resurrection scene special effects done for much less than what it should’ve cost (only $25,000) because the studio liked what they saw of the film and threw a few more dollars their way. That scene wasn’t even in the original script due to not having a budget for it.

I think it’s fair to say that this time around, Barker won’t face those kinds of problems. Nor have to resort to the cheesy painted in special effects he did himself — those being my main criticism of the original as well as the pretty dreadful acting of Ashley Laurence (sorry, but it’s true.) Sure, there are a few things that went wrong, but a whole lotta things went right.

While I’m sure most people reading this have seen the film, I don’t want to give away too much just in case, but let’s just say after “Hellraiser,” people really didn’t look at hooks and chains quite the same way again. Nor their prim and proper British wives.

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‘Creep’ 2004: What lurks in the shadows of the London underground

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Long before The Midnight Meat Train, subways and the London underground have been the setting for horror, like the famous scene in American Werewolf in London. But 2004’s Creep stays down in the dark, with poor Franka Potente finding herself locked in after falling asleep and missing the last train home.

Yeah, I know, who would really sleep through the last train, but just roll with it on this one. Because this little sleeper is definitely one of the better examples of subterranean monsters run amok. Where is Jason Bourne when you need him?

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After leaving a party, Potente finds herself wishing she had stuck with cocktails and boring small talk. She encounters an acquaintance who tries to take advantage of them being alone, and a homeless couple who she tries to help by paying the young man to help her find the next security guard station.

Emphasis on tries to help, because as you can imagine, this does not end well. Especially for the young woman in the couple, who is an integral part of a particularly gruesome scene for the women watching. Like we don’t hate going to the doctor enough already, thank you.

Instead of just going with a deranged serial killer, Creep twists its monster into some kind of lost boy lost boy born into the London underground tunnel system as a nocturnal creature who has never seen the light of day. And who tries to mimic the adults who “took care” of him with disastrous results.

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Creep is definitely not a film for the squeamish, but is well worth seeking out despite being fairly rare and a bit hard to find. But isn’t that the fun in discovering those of secure films that none of your friends know about? Then scaring the shift out of them because they have no idea what they’re getting into. That’s what friends are for.

Check out the trailer below for Creep.

Bigfoot stalks a cabin in the woods in ‘Exists’ (TRAILER)

It seems this particular group of young adults in this new trailer for “Exists” accidentally selected the Bigfoot option for their run in at the classic (overused) “cabin in the woods” horror film scenario. And it seems instead of “going ‘Squatching,” Sasquatch is hunting them.

The film documents five friends on a camping weekend in the remote woods of East Texas, who find themselves struggling to survive against a legendary predator that is stronger, smarter, and more terrifying than anything they would have ever believed exists.

Let me guess: we can expect lots of sex, gratuitous language and gore, all filmed by the people experiencing it in another “found footage” film. Although, to be fair, this film is brought to you by Eduardo Sánchez, who directed “The Blair Witch Project,” the grandaddy of them all. So if anyone should be allowed to use the ploy, he should. And the film was an audience award winner at SXSW, so it could be quite promising.

But having said that, does no one watch “Evil Dead” before going off to a remote cabin in the woods? No cell phones, no neighbors, no chaperones is just a bad idea. And we won’t even get into having sex in a horror movie. That’s just begging for a gruesome death by monsters or supernatural forces, y’all.

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‘Wer’ redefines the werewolf genre


It’s so hard to find — and presumably make– a good werewolf movie. It’s certainly one of the most complex creatures to create realistically, with a varying rate of success in the past and present. For instance, you have the classic “American Werewolf in London” where the werewolf effects were done the old-fashioned way with animatronics, with a very good result, at least for it’s time. But looking back at it now, it’s obviously dated in the special effects department and with our 21st-century eyes, we see how unrealistic it is. On the other hand, you have the full-blown CGI werewolves like those in the “Underworld” series, where the CGI can pass in those fast-paced sequences where we can’t look at it too close, but under any kind of close scrutiny of pure CGI, any realism crumbles.

Enter one of the latest installments of the werewolf genre in “Wer.”

This film shows a third option, combining special-effects makeup with motion special-effects and a real-life disease to create a more realistic Wolfman for the modern day. In “Wer,” the filmmakers linked becoming a werewolf to the very real disease of porphyria, and kept their beasts in a primary manlike state. Hey, I love the hairy beasts just as much as anybody, but I have to say this approach was refreshing. And when done well, it was very creepy.

(Spoilers ahead.)

The premise of the film opens with the brutal murders of American tourists in France. If you’re starting to think of “An American Werewolf in Paris,” you’re going down the wrong track. The film delves into the murder investigation as the primary suspect is about to be put on trial, defended by an American expatriate lawyer named Kate Moore (A J Cook). With her support team of Eric Sarin (Vik Sahay) and Gavin Flemyng (Simon Quarterman), Kate is determined to defend the brutish, hairy man accused of the crimes, and is convinced of his innocence. In fact, she is convinced that local investigator Klaus Pistor (Sebastian Roche) is part of a local conspiracy to take over his family homestead for a profitable development proposal.

As often happens in horror films, those with the best of intentions have a way of unleashing hell on everyone, and unfortunately for the locals, that’s no exception in this film. What does that this film apart from other werewolf movies is the convincing way they presented porphyria as a plausible explanation for the condition, although some of their science is fictional, to put it mildly. In other words, you cannot get poorer for it by being bitten by someone who hasn’t, just for the record. But just go with it for the movie’s sake. Hey, it’s fiction.

The use of special-effects with the way characters move has become a bit of a cliché, but it’s pretty effective in this film. Quite honestly, the appearance of the werewolf in this movie when he wasn’t attacking wasn’t that frightening to me. The jerky, seizure-like movements definitely enhanced the fear as did the gore. And make no mistake, there are some very gruesome moments in this movie. On the other hand, the second werewolf that comes along creates an appearance that is quite chilling. And kudos to the actor portraying that role, who I won’t name here for spoiler purposes. As he shaved his head and body during his transformation — creating an interesting opposite to the Talan (Brian Scott O’Connor) character — I felt that was the most chilling moment of the movie.

The performances are fine, and director William Brent Bell redeemed himself from the awful ending of “The Devil Inside,” his last turn at the helm of the horror film. There are some irritating plot missteps, such as the previously mentioned scientific flaws, and some stretches of the imagination. That’s local police would allow an attorney and her team on site while they were doing a manhunt, plus the old cliché of their idealistic lawyer insisting that her clients, who has been accused of horrific violent crimes be taken out of his handcuffs while she speaks with him. Pretty far-fetched to believe either of these situations would actually happen. But overall, “Wer” Is an unusual and refreshing take on the werewolf mythology if you’re up for trying something a little bit different.

 

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‘Crawl or Die’: Just the trailer will make you feel claustrophobic

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Earth as we know it is gone. A virus has destroyed the planet and rendered all its women infertile, all but one. An elite team of soldiers are tasked with bringing the woman to safety on the newly habitable Earth Two. But when they are forced underground they find themselves fighting for survival from an bloodthirsty creature in a maze of ever shrinking tunnels. As the team’s ranks start to dwindle, the tunnels shrink and the ammunition run out, the crawl for survival becomes more and more desperate.

I don’t know about you, but I get claustrophobic when I see someone put in the trunk of a car in a movie. I think I’d rather someone just kill me than that, and don’t even get me started when I see someone buried alive. So for me, and all the other small space challenged like me, this is going to be one nightmare of a movie.

I hope this girl in “Crawl or Die” was paid well to crawl into those spaces, as well as the camera crew. Check out the trailer below, and a special nod to the female power behind this film, as Nicole Alonso is also a producer of the film.