Saturday, January 31, 2015

Annabelle Movie Review – Be Careful Who Your Neighbors Are

Runtime: 99 minutes
Release Date: October 3, 2014
Rating: R
Director: John R. Leonetti

Remember in The Conjuring how the Warrens talked briefly about, and the film briefly showed, them dealing with a haunted doll? Well, just in case you've never seen Chucky before, you can watch Annabelle and see a haunted doll movie.

First, we meet two young women and a young man talking about a haunted doll that one of the girl's mom gave to her. We then jump to the past. Mia and John are a young couple living in a small bungalow. He's a new doctor, and she stays at home because that's what pregnant woman did in the 1960s. John brings home a truly ugly doll, but it's okay because it turns out that it's one Mia's been looking for.

One night a few days later, Mia wakes after hearing a strange noise next door. We briefly see the neighbors being killed before she wakes John. John rushes over and comes back covered in blood, urging her to call for help immediately. When Mia goes back in the house, she finds a man and a woman waiting for her. The two start to attack her, and she gets stabbed right before the police arrive. The woman locks herself in the nursery and kills herself, letting her blood drain into the doll.

John gets a new job, and since Mia has a brain, she refuses to go back to their former home. They move into a new apartment. They also learn that the murderers were the daughter of the neighbors and her boyfriend. Though she asked him to throw the doll away and he did, the doll turns up in one of their boxes. Mia then makes the unfortunate mistake of letting the doll stay in their new apartment.

Before long, she realizes that there is something wrong with the doll. She keeps hearing noises and footsteps when no one is there and discovers that someone keeps watching over her baby girl. The weird activity eventually leads her to turn to Evelyn, the owner of a local bookstore, for help in bringing an end to the paranormal activity.

As someone who didn't enjoy The Conjuring, I was surprised at how much I wanted to see Annabelle. Not only do I love horror movies, but I'm also a big fan of ghost stories. Unfortunately, Annabelle came across as just a bland and somewhat generic, maybe even formulaic, horror movie.

Part of it may be because I have very little faith in the Warren family, and part of it might be because I've read a little about the original doll. Rather than being this monstrosity, which you have to admit is weird to give to a pregnant woman, the original doll was a Raggedy Anne doll. I don't know about you, but experiencing all this weird stuff with a typical doll would scare me a lot more than something that looks like it's possessed would.

On the plus side, I'm a fan of mid-century modern things, and I loved seeing the cars, furniture, and decorations in this movie. Sadly, that is about the only thing I'll take away from it because I thought the movie was pretty forgettable.

Friday, January 30, 2015

See No Evil 2 – What Happens When You Put Well-Known Horror Actors in One Film

Runtime: 90 minutes
Release Date: October 21, 2014
Rating: R
Director: Jen Soska & Sylvia Soska

Amy (Danielle Harris, every horror movie in the world) is working late at the city morgue on her birthday with Seth and Holden. Seth has a crush on her but hasn't worked up the nerve to tell her, which causes Holden to pick on him almost every night. Just as she's about to leave for her birthday party, they see on the news about a mass murder at an old hotel. Yes, despite eight years passing between the movies, this one takes place hours after the first film. Though they encourage her to leave, she decides to stick around and help.

Luckily for Amy, her friends sneaked into the morgue and surprise her by jumping up from sheets on tables. It would give me a heart attack, but it makes her laugh. Among the party guests are her extremely overprotective brother Will, close friend Kayla who has a major crush on her brother (Chelan Simmons, Final Destination 3), and her whorish friend Tamara (Katharine Isabelle, Ginger Snaps) and her boyfriend Carter.

It doesn't take long before Tamara and her boyfriend leave to find a bathroom and instead stumble on Jacob's body. Rather than run screaming in the opposite direction, Tamara gets off on seeing his body. This leads to a truly uncomfortable scene, where she climbs on top of his body, straddles him, kisses him, and does some grinding to get herself in the right mood. As she and Carter go to town, she suddenly looks over and realizes that Jacob is gone. Jacob isn't happy about those other kids killing him, and he makes that clear when he goes off on another killing spree.

Taking See No Evil from a hotel to a morgue sounds interesting in theory, but there was something about the sequel that I just didn't like. It wasn't a bad movie, but it won't ever replace the original in my mind.

This is clearly one of the largest city morgues in the entire universe. It consists of multiple floors, underground tunnels, and dozens of locked areas. In a series of scenes that irritated the hell out of us, Seth has dozens of keys on his ring that give him access to various parts of the building. When they get stuck in one area, he doesn't have keys for that space. However, he later has keys that operate all the cage and prison-looking doors at the underground levels that clearly look like no one used them in years.

And I know that Harris has a lot of fans, but she just doesn't do it for me. I prefer her in films where she takes a backseat than those where she has a starring role. After watching the Hatchet films, every time I see her, I think about that annoying fake accent and it grates on my nerves. There came a point in this one where I actually said, "see? This is why I don't like her. She's just around to make sure that the characters I like die."

Speaking of those characters, I have a soft spot for Simmons. Every time I see her, I get a little excited and have to point her out. She is just so cute, and she tends to add a breath of fresh air and some humor to most films. She has a cute scene with Amy's brother in this one, where she keeps throwing herself at him and finally asks why he won't go for her. When he tells her that he sees her as a sister, she just throws herself at him. I kind of want to hang out with her in person.

As for Kane/Jacobs, he does what he does best. Since he now has a massive hole in his eyesocket, he grabs a mask from the morgue to hide it and grabs some tools too. He breaks through security doors that others can't dent, attacks people with a bone saw, and generally acts like a mad man. The sad thing is that See No Evil 2 turns Jacob into just another slasher. We never hear the creepy song from the first movie, we barely see those gruesome finger nails, and there are hardly any references to the eyeball removals until the very end.

I was excited about a sequel to See No Evil 2, but I was hoping for a true sequel and not a film that changed Jacob's character and turned him into yet another generic slasher.

Friday, January 23, 2015

See No Evil – Kane Be Scary

Runtime: 85 minutes
Release Date: May 19, 2006
Rating: R
Director: Gregory Dark

In preparation for See No Evil 2, the friends and I decided to sit down and watch the first film.

See No Evil opens with Frank Williams, a police officer, and his partner investigating a home. They find a woman with her eyes missing in the home, and a giant of a man suddenly appears from nowhere. After killing the partner, he rips off Williams arm before Williams manages to kill him.

A few years later, Williams is a man living in a tiny apartment by himself and struggling to move past what happened that day. He now has a fake hand and works with juvenile delinquents. He and his female counterpart work out an agreement with a local historical society. They'll bring in four guys and four girls to do some work around an old abandoned hotel, and each of the delinquents will receive one month off their sentences.

The kids are less than thrilled with the arrangement but agree in the hopes of getting lucky and maybe even escaping. One of those girls, Kira, instantly freaks out when she sees her former boyfriend Michael, who is the one who got her locked up. Williams agrees to take care of things and ensure that the two are never alone together. Things don't work out as planned, especially after Jacob Goodnight, the killer from the beginning, kills Williams and beings tracking the teens throughout the hotel.

First of all, why did no one think to put Kane aka Glen Jacobs, in a horror film before? He is easily one of the creepiest and scariest mo fos in the world, which didn't stop me from developing a small (not so small) crush on him during his wrestling days. When they put the fake nails and teeth on him, I want to run screaming for the hills. Then, when he uses those nails to literally poke out a person's eyeballs, I find myself squirming in my seat.

This blog is called The Best Deaths, but I haven't mentioned a best death in awhile, so I'll do it with this one. The best death is clearly when the snobby, bitchy, rich girl who steals a cell phone tries to hide in a closet from Jacob. He finds her hiding spot after hearing her phone ring. Without thinking twice, he shoves the cell phone in her mouth and right down her throat. Whenever I think about this movie, this is the scene I always remember. If you watched 666 Park Avenue or Transformers, you might just recognize the chick in this scene too.

I like to call See No Evil one of my guilty pleasure horror movies. While it might not be the best movie out there, it keeps me entertained and I like to go back and watch it every now and then. It's one of the few films that I don't regret buying without watching first.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Way of the Wicked Movie Review – Not Enough Christian Slater

Runtime: 92 minutes
Release Date: April 30, 2014
Rating: NR
Director: Kevin Carraway

Robbie and Heather were best friends as kids, but a lot of the other children picked on Heather and teased her. While defending Heather, one of the kids teasing her accidentally died. The film then jumps to the present day, with Robbie moving back to town and hoping to reconnect with Heather. The only problem is that several people start dying after having run ins with Robbie. Enter Christian Slater as a former priest convinced that Robbie is the Anti-Christ and will bring about the end of the world.

If there is one thing you should know about me, it's that I love Christian Slater. I can't even tell you how many bad straight to DVD movies I watched with him over the years. If he's in it, I've probably seen it. I was so infatuated with him as a kid that I even wrote him a fan letter. If you're reading this Slater, I'm still waiting for a response!

I also happen to be a fan of Vinne Jones ever since I watched this movie The Condemned. A bad movie starring a former professional wrestler stuck on an island where only one person can survive and the whole thing is a reality show? I am so there. When you put Christian Slater and Vinnie Jones in the same movie, I should be a happy camper. Instead, I was a bored camper.

Way of the Wicked is one of the films that I stumbled across in the middle of Family Video. I swear, I am like a studio's wet dream. I rent from Family Video and Redbox, have a Hulu account, and can't live without Netflix. That's probably why I keep finding all these random horror movies. The cover caught my attention, as did Slater's name across the top. Unfortunately, the movie just seemed long and couldn't hold my attention.

Part of the reason might be because Jones plays against type. He was so perfectly cast in Midnight Meat Train that I now have a hard time seeing him as anything but a menacing guy. It doesn't hurt that he's so tall and has those intense eyes that make him the perfect bad guy. In Way of the Wicked, he plays the father of Robbie and is the one guy who probably believes that his son is innocent. It almost seems like it would make more sense to have him play the priest role and Slater play the father.

I read that the original script was a lot darker and more complex. Rutger Hauer was originally in the film as a priest trying to help Peter Facinelli locate a killer, and Facinelli played a cop. Oddly enough, that sounds more like the film he just did. That movie also sounds a lot more interesting than the movie we got.

I would normally claim that Slater was the stand out of the film, but even he seemed to just go through the motions. This is yet another of those films that I watch and almost immediately forget about. Though Way of the Wicked did get some positive reviews online, it just seemed like a typical straight to DVD horror film to me.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Wrong Turn 6 Movie Review aka Wrong Turn VI aka Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort

Runtime: 91 minutes
Release Date: October 21, 2014
Rating: NR
Director: Valeri Milev

An unnamed man and woman are out riding their bikes when they decide to take a dip in the hot springs. This leads to some near full frontal nudity and a quick sex scene. Hopping back on their bikes, they head off again until the man calls off his bike and screams that someone shot him with an arrow. Out comes three resident hillbillies to take care of them both.

Danny and his girlfriend Toni take a trip to the middle of nowhere along with some of their closest friends. After working on Wall Street for far too long, Danny snapped and tried to kill himself. Not long after his suicide attempt, he received word that he inherited a large old hotel from his family, and he convinces his friends to go with him to check things out until he can decide what to do with it.

Sally and Jackson are the caretakers of the old hotel, and after making out for a bit, we learn that they are also brother and sister. They welcome Danny with open arms after making it clear that they didn't expect him to bring any friends. After showing him the hotel, the group decides to look around themselves, which leads to them finding a hidden chamber designed for people to watch others have sex. It doesn't take long before our favorite group of hillbillies come back to get rid of the friends and bring home their long lost brother/nephew/cousin/uncle/whatever.

I have mixed feelings about the Wrong Turn franchise. I loved the first one, which became one of my "can't flip through the channels, see it on, and keep going" movies. Thanks to Henry Rollins and that opening scene, the second one became one of my favorites as well. Bought the third one and was so disappointed that I assumed they would never make another one. I can't remember the fourth one, but I liked the fifth one. I almost figured this one would turn out to be pretty awful too. Guess what? It really isn't that bad for the sixth film in a franchise that most people thought would never make it past a first film.

One complaint I had is that the film doesn't explain how it connects back to the others. We suddenly have this amazing hotel in the middle of nowhere that actually sees guests coming and going despite the rednecks running loose through the woods. Are they related to those from the other films, or is this an entirely new group? We also learn that they have a huge shanty town in the middle of the woods that no one else seems to know about. Also, Danny is part of the family, but we never really get an explanation about how or why his family left.

As a female who likes horror movies, I've seen my fair share of tits and ass over the years, but Wrong Turn 6 takes it to a whole different level. The first sex scene literally came before the credits rolled, and it seemed like half the characters only cared about getting some, which led to even more scenes. When a movie has to rely more on sex and less on scares or gore, you know there's a problem.

While there aren't many scares, there are some gory scenes. One kill involves a woman's head going through a piece of razor/barbed wire, and another has two hillbillies literally ripping a woman's legs off while she's on a sex table. Oh, and did I mention the woman who has an orgasm while suffocating a man and the scene that shows a woman getting her face shoved in boiling hot water? If any of that appeals to you, you'll want to watch Wrong Turn 6.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Leprechaun Origins Movie Review – Fuck You, Lucky Charms

Runtime: 90 minutes
Release Date: August 22, 2014
Rating: R
Director: Zach Lipovsky

Sophie, Ben, David, and Jeni are four good friends and two couples ready for some excitement and adventure in Ireland. After winding up in a fairly small town, they make some new friends and wind up learning about a small cabin on the outskirts of town that is perfect for them. One of their new friends even offers to drive them there and drop them off and pick them up the following morning.

Not long after settling down for the night, they discover that something extremely dark is going on. After hearing noises outside, they find that the men who drove them to the cabin locked them in and that there is no escape. Once the leprechaun himself makes an appearance, we supposedly learn the true story behind our favorite little green guy.

I absolutely love the Leprechaun franchise. My older brother was a legal adult when the first movie came out, and I was just a little kid (maybe eight?) fascinated with the trailers I saw on television. He was nice enough to take me and a friend to see it in theaters and nice enough to torment her the rest of the night while I giggled at anyone finding that movie scary. I own copies of all the movies in the franchise and absolutely devoured Warwick Davis's book. That said, this movie was complete crap and unconnected to the franchise.

Do you want to know what the legend/origin is for the leprechaun? Apparently, there was once a town, the one from this film, where a group of townspeople discovered a pot of gold. They stole the gold, the leprechaun came after them, and rather than return it, they set it up so they could sacrifice people to him.

How does a little village in the middle of Ireland get enough people to visit to appease the leprechaun? I have no clue. The better question might be, why are there so many damn leprechauns? It turns out that there is an entire network of these little buggers running loose. Why don't they all just get together and attack everyone in Ireland? That is yet another unanswered question.

The problem with a movie like Leprechaun Origins is that it should tell some type of origin story. Davis originally announced that he wanted to do another film in the franchise and gave some interviews where he talked about being disappointed when the producers didn't call on him for this one. After seeing it, I can only hope that he's glad they didn't call him.

Leprechaun Origins is supposedly a reboot of the franchise. If this is what they want to do with the series, I hope they stop. I can usually find some type of redeeming factor in even the worst of horror movies, but this one was just boring. There weren't any scenes that left me on the edge of my seat and no scenes that really made me want to remember the film.

The best thing about the Leprechaun series is that Davis knows how to combine humor and horror to make an entertaining film. It looks like the people behind this film forgot about that.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Don't Blink Movie Review

Runtime: 92 minutes
Release Date: September 18, 2014
Rating: NR?
Director: Travis Oates

Tracy (Mena Suvari) and her boyfriend Jack (Brian Austin Green) take a trip to a secluded mountain resort with eight of their closest friends. Among those on the guest list are a cute girl who seems to be the only one who realizes something is wrong and Jack's ex-girlfriend. Not long after arriving, Tracy finds a car seat with everything a baby might need except for a baby. In what seems like a blink of an eye, she disappears without a trace.

While taking a walk around the property and trying to get an idea of what's going on or find the caretaker who is also missing, several notice that there are no birds or other animals anywhere near the resort. As the mystery grows a little darker, characters slowly go missing. Someone can be there one second and gone the next. The only hope they have is to figure out what happened or stay awake all night without closing their eyes before they all disappear.

Say what you want about the horrible Phantoms movie, but I liked it, and I also liked Identity. Don't Blink is essentially Phantoms crossed with Identity. Not long after it started, I thought it might be a classic slasher flick with a twist, then I wondered if it was some type of biological warfare flick. The sad truth is that we never get an answer for what happened. If you're one of those people who has to have an answer and wants a solid reason for the events that take place in a film, this is far from the movie for you. If you don't really care about all that, give this one a shot.

There were a few things I liked about Don't Blink and a few things I didn't like. Let's get one of the biggest issues out of the way first, shall we? Jack spends a few minutes reassuring Tracy that he doesn't care his ex is there and that nothing will happen. Literally hours after she disappears, which is around 20 minutes in the film, he hops into bed with the other women. Needless to say, when she abruptly disappeared herself, I had to give a silent cheer.

One of the things I did like is that the story seems fairly realistic. You know how when you watch some movies and see people stuck in a house together and wonder why they don't turn on each other? Yeah, that doesn't happen here. I love how horror movies always seem to put one character in charge and everyone else just follows him or her. In Don't Blink, they seemingly elect one character as the leader, but two of the others eventually turn on them and take off on their own. Granted it doesn't end well for them, but at least they still go.

I always want to give it up for Green. He vanished off the face of the acting map for awhile, though if you had a hot wife like Megan Fox waiting at home for you, wouldn't you want to spend more time at home? Green does a pretty good job of playing a man stuck caring for his close friends when all he really wants to do is spend a weekend away from home with his girl.

I went into Don't Blink with no expectations, and I left pleasantly surprised. It's more of a mystery flick than a horror movie, but it did have some of the jump scenes you might expect. The director did a great job of not letting everyone vanish in the same way or even when you might expect, which kept me interested in the movie and watching and waiting to see who would go next.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Tusk Movie Review – "I don't want to die in Canada"

Runtime: 102 minutes
Release Date: September 14, 2014
Rating: R
Director: Kevin Smith

Wallace (Justin Long, Drag Me to Hell) is a cross between the director himself, Kevin Smith, and Howard Stern. Along with his best friend Teddy (Haley Joel Osment, The Sixth Sense), he hosts a podcast that seems to hold no purpose other than to make fun of others and act like teenage boys. After showcasing a boy on their show, Wallace decides to go to Canada and interview the boy in person.

Not long after arriving, he discovers that the young man committed suicide. In the hopes of finding another story, he wanders into a bar and accidentally stumbles on an ad in the bathroom from a man claiming that he went on a number of adventures over his life and wants to share his stories with someone else.

Wallace drives right to the man's house and meets Howard (Michael Parks, Red State) for himself. Now confined to a wheelchair, Howard spends the first night telling him stories about his crazy life and how a walrus once saved his life. After drinking a cup of tea, Wallace passes out. The next morning, he wakes and hears Howard tell him how he was bitten by a spider the night before and how a doctor had to amputate his leg below the knee.

It doesn't take long before Wallace realizes that there is something far more sinister going on. During a fight, Howard gets to his feet and shows that he can actually walk. He then reveals that he wants to turn Wallace into Mr. Tusk, the walrus that once saved his life. The film then jumps back and forth between the operations that Howard does on Wallace to scenes of Teddy and Wallace's girlfriend on the hunt for him and helped along the way by a bumbling former police detective played by Johnny Depp.

It's no secret that I love, love, love Kevin Smith. I have a Mallrats poster hanging on my wall, the expensive anniversary and original copies of his DVDs, and I was probably the only person who watched the Clerks cartoon when it actually aired on television. Not knowing about Tusk until a few months ago, I was actually looking forward to seeing it. Now that I have, I can officially say that there is one Kevin Smith movie I'll never watch again.

The best way to describe Tusk is irritating. There were actually a few hints of something great, but it just never got there for me. Justin Long usually does a good job as the funny guy, but it actually felt like he tried too hard here. His character is just so unlikeable that it almost felt like Smith was trying to show him down the throats of viewers. Oh, he wants to start a mock political party called the Not-Cee Party (say it out loud)? How hysterical! Oh, he thinks the kid was selfish for killing himself before he got his interview? Hardy har-har.

Watching this with my quasi significant other and my roommate was entertaining. The roommate, who found Smith after I made him watch all his films, fell asleep halfway through and only woke up towards the end, and the significant other kept making excuses to get up and leave. I was the only one who paid attention through the whole thing, and I'm a little sad that I did.

What happens to Wallace should have been disgusting and horrifying, but given how unlikeable the guy is, you don't really care. Johnny Depp playing a moronic detective on the hunt for a serial killer should have been entertaining, but it just came across as forced. Despite liking most of what Smith does, Tusk just absolutely fell flat.