Monday, 24 September 2018

Review: Piranha (1978)

Stars: Bradford Dillman, Heather Menzies-Urich

Budget: $600,000

Directed By: Joe Dante

An original film I did not know existed until years after seeing what I thought was the original. I had initially seen the 1995 version of piranha on the sci-fi channel when I was younger thinking that was the original.

It was only years later that I found out this older version existed and that piranha 2 was the sequel to this one. Which you can tell just by the aged look of them, but i was young and it was on Bravo late one night lol.

So anyway lets get on with the actual movie, effects wise there's some decent practical effects for its time period. The what seems as constant use of the same jaws like following of the fish can get a bit jarring from time to time though.

So two teenagers typical of the time period stumble across a military base that's disused. Coming across a massive swimming pool of sorts they, as you do, decide to go for a dip, surely that water would be stinky and stagnant by now. They are of course eaten by the unseen thing that live in the pool.
A little while later a woman tasked with looking for the teens comes to the town named lost river lake to look for the teens. Maggie doesn't find much help other than from Paul Grogan, drunkard to take her looking for the kids.
They come upon the compound too which they learn was some kind of military fish hatchery, deciding to drain the main pool she goes looking for the switch. Inside they find many strange experiments in jars before coming across the drainage controls. A guy tries to stop her warning her, Paul knocks him out though then stupidly Maggie drains the pool unknowingly releasing the piranha into a local river.
They find some stripped skeletons in the bottom of the pool but the knocked out guy comes to and tries to steal Paul's jeep, which he fails to thanks to his groggy state. Paul takes Maggie and the guy back to his house for the night.

Down the river however we see a guy trying to fish, hes sat at the end of a jetty danging his legs over with his pet dog. His legs get stripped of flesh and he tries to escape. Later Paul, Maggie and (as we find out later) Dr Robert Hoak take a raft downstream. They find Paul's friend Jake and his dog, the latter who has bled out thanks to his wounds. The Dr explains he was working on Vietnam weapons and that the facility was working on weaponised Piranha capable of living in salt water and Maggie has now released them into the wild.
They quickly come to the realisation that if the local dam is opened it will allow the piranha to escape into the wider world which would be quite a bad thing for the ecosystem and people. Not only that before then is the children's lost river water park where Paul's daughter is at.
Further down the river they find a poor boy who's father has fallen into the river and been eaten, he's trapped on a capsized canoe. Hoak attempts to rescue the boy but in doing so gets mortally wounded by the fish in the process. In his dying breath he tries to tell them how to kill the piranha but dies before he can, however incensed by Hoak's blood in the water the piranha start attacking the raft loosening the rafts bindings. They make it to the shore just as the raft completely falls apart.

They stop the dam from being opened and decide to call the military for help, this ends up being a bad idea as the military wants to keep this hush, hush and deal with it quietly. They send in Dr Mengers, who we learn later was once involved with Hoak in a relationship. She tries to deny the existence of the fish and detains them in an effort to stop them blabbering.
They also realise that a small inlet allows the fish to travel to a nearby newly opened camping ground where Paul's daughter is actually at. They get away and attempt to make their way to the camp ground but Mengers reports them to the police to detain them if they are seen.
Even though Paul manages to contact the camp counselor, he doesn't believe him due him being known as an alcoholic. They are then caught and arrested but manage to escape a little later stealing the cops squad car.

Paul's daughter who actually afraid of the water watches in terror as the piranhas start to attack the camp, killing many kids and adults in the process. Despite her fear she manages to get a dinghy out and attempts to rescue some her friends. One of them however falls back in and gets devoured by the fish, despite arriving late Paul is happy to see that his daughter is fine.
they try to contact the water park but Mengers has beaten them there and advises the park owner not to answer the phone. Using the cop car they make their way there, on the way Paul remembers that there's an old industrial plant that has gallons of waste in tanks that he hopes may poison the fish and kill them before they reach open water (remembering these piranha can live in salt water).
While they decide to head towards the plant the piranha attack the water park and kill many many people, including Mengers superior.

When Paul and Maggie reach the facility they see that the control room to flush out the tanks has been submerged in water. He ties some rope to his waist then telling Maggie to pull him back up at the count of 100 he dives down to the controls.
The wheel is however very rusty and takes a lot of effort to move, not only that as he starts to move it the piranha show up. I wont spoil anymore as this is actually quite an intense ending, possibly one of Roger Coormans best films ever, in my views. It's a fun watch and definitely worth your time especially if you like tense jaws like action.
THN awards Piranha 1978 a strong 3 out of 5 stars and recommendation to watch.


Saturday, 1 September 2018

Review: eXistenZ (1999)

Related imageStars: Jude Law, Jennifer Jason Leigh

Budget: $31 million (CAD)

Directed By: David Cronenberg

A late entry into the video games are evil and will turn you into a weird killer franchise. It's also a play on body horror as well such as Videodrome.
Videodrome also being a play on how bad video nasty films were getting bad back then too. I'll probably review it at some point.

An early film for Jude Law too, riding on from Gataca thinking this would be a big hit, it was quite a flop in the cinemas at the time though just like Gataca.
They both have like a lot of films gathered a reasonable cult following now on home video. Possibly due to the odd nature of the film just entertaining for what it is.

Also staring strong female actress Jennifer Jason Leigh in her late thirties (though she looks no where near that in here and still looks great these days). She'd been acting for many years prior also staring in 1986 original version of the hitcher with Rutger Hauer. This is not an easy film to review by far, with all the oddness and changes it goes through can be a little hard to put into words. But i'm going to try!

In what seems to be a futuristic world where biotechnology has overtaken normal technology a new 'games console' is being released to the market. A test group are trying it out, Allegra Geller (introduced by non other than a young face Christopher Eccleston) a bit of a recluse and the console maker is there to show it off. These new consoles plug directly into your spine via a weird umbilical cord thing and bio-port. The bio-port you get implanted into yourself to be able to play these games.
Some people aren't totally into these new bio-consoles or bio-ports and see them as some kind of a travesty, to the point where some people want to assassinate Allegra. These are called realists and one tries to kill her while she is showing of eXistenZ, little e big X, as it's described in film.
Pikul (Law) manages to save her and they go on the run together, unfortunately her bio-console was damaged in the attack. It holds the only copy of the game on its drives and to be able to test out if it's still okay Allegra needs to port with someone.

She discovers Pikul has no port and they go see an illegal port installer (Willem Dafoe) called Gas, Pikul professing he's not an extremist but just never believed in 'violating' himself like that agrees to have one installed. Unknown to them both the port installed is a faulty one and hurts the console even further. Gas attempts to kill Geller but Pikul once again saves her life.
This time they go to a ski lodge to see Geller's ex mentor (played by Ian Holm) who helps her repair the console and install a fresh port good into Pikul.

This is where the film starts to get even weirder an may lose some people now. They manage to get into the game where things get odd, some dead people are in there as different characters and others are simple npc's. what makes it weirder is in the game they further enter the game by jacking mini bio-consoles into their bio-ports. So much so you don't know whats game and what isn't, just for sanity sake it's all game now lol.
So going 'further' into the game they get mundane jobs 'undercover' in a pod making factory seems they are made (in this reality) from bits of other mutated animals. They are met by a person who says that they are their undercover agent in the factory. Pikul is told to order the special in the restaurant, it's an assortment of disgusting looking items. As he eats it however the bones seem to makes up the signature bone 'gun' from earlier and the movie poster. He mock threatens Allegra but then for some reason blows away the Chinese waiter. They find out after this that the original guy they spoke to was a double agent and the waiter was their real contact.

Finding a diseased pod back at the factory Allegra seemingly overtaken by the game tries to infect all the other pods with it. It makes her ill though and Pikul attempts to save her by cutting her cord, this unfortunately leads to her bleed out. The double agent returns and douses the diseased pod with a flamethrower which bursts into diseased spores.
Awaking back at the ski lodge they realise the main pod has been infected, Allegra believes it was trying to tell them subconsciously it was in trouble. It seems Vinokur (Holm) was also a double agent working for cortical systematic's. This is where it gets really annoying now, everyone turns on everyone as some kind of double agent of some kind, I wont spoil the main ending but it's a twist that worked back in the day but i think won't fool many these days.

So eXistnZ, it's worth watching, its a bit of a mind fuck for the last two thirds to half of the film which may or may not either lose you, piss you off or entertain you. THN fell into the entertain segment back in the day when we first watched it, we now fall into a more of a 'Meh' so with that we do give it only a 2 out of 5 but with a recommendation to watch if you can, i'd like to see your thoughts on it.


Saturday, 18 August 2018

Review: Child's Play 3 (1991)

Childsplay3.jpgStars: Justin Whalin, Brad Douriff

Budget: $13 million

Directed By: Jack Bender

Third film in the childs play/Chucky series, we see the films evolving like Nightmare on elm street from more horror based to slaptick gore fests, gone are the Chucky level cameras and late reveal of the killer.
We all know who the star of the show is and we want to see him take out as many chumps as he can before his innevitable defeat at the hands of the films chosen heroes.
As this franchise would have it, it once again falls on the shoulders of Andy Barclay, now played by Justin Whalin, showing the older Barclay in the few years between movies.

Based a good number of years after the last film, we finally see the toy company responsible for making the good guy dolls starting to recover from it's financial loses over the bad publicity of 'Chucky'.
Deciding to reintroduce the Good Guy Dolls they re-open the factory where Chucky was last killed. Throwing in what they think is just waste plastics into the mixing vat, it is infact the remains of Chucky. His blood mixes in with the plastic and he is reborn in a new body.
The first new doll of the assembly line, he given to the company CEO who he quickly dispatches with a variety of other toys. He finds the location of Andy and mails himself to him.

Andy has joined a military school as he's been trouble in numerous homes, he is clearly still troubled from his past fights with Chucky. He quickly makes friends with some other cadets with his defiance of the bullying techniques they try to press on them.
Kristin, Harold and Ronald. He quickly falls Kristin, Ronald is a young boy and runs errands for people around the campus. He is tasked with taking a package to Andy (Chucky inside). When he discovers the contents are a good guy doll he keeps it for himself.
Hiding in the lower reaches of the campus he goes to open the package when it burst open revealing Charles ready to get back at Andy. Realising he has a new body and that he can now tell his secret to a new person, reveals it to Ronald in hopes he can possess this new kid with his soul.

They are interrupted mid possession by the campus owner colonel Cochran, he ends up throwing Chucky in the rubbish chute, he then ends up in a garbage truck but ends up killing the driver when he thinks someone is trapped in there. Stupidly that night Chucky reveals himself to Andy and his entire plan, before he can kill Andy though The bully Shelton busts in. He takes Chucky for himself back to his room, Andy unsuccessfully attempts to steal the doll back that night and ends up getting caught by Shelton.
Chucky has however left of his own volition and Shelton accuses Andy of theft and much to the chagrin of everyone forces the rest of the cadets to get up and exercise.

Chucky tries many times to possess Ronald but fails or gets stopped every time by something. In all this time he also kills a number of the camps other staff such as the barber and attempts to kill Cochran but comically he naturally dies of a heart attack upon seeing him.
When the camps annual war games are announced Chucky switches the fake ammo with live munitions. split into two teams they fight against each other, Chucky takes this opportunity to try and possess Ronald again. This time Ronald realises that he's bad, back outside some of the kids have accidentally shot each other. Andy's friend selflessly throws himself onto a live grenade to save the others around him too.
Finally Andy and Kirstin go to help Ronald. I'll leave the explanations there, part 3 is still a very strong addition to the series and well worth watching. THN awards Child Play 3 a strong 3 out of 5 stars and recommendation to watch.


Saturday, 4 August 2018

THN Exclusive: Upcoming Giallo/Murder Mystery Film 2019

THN, good friends of production company Decades Apart Prod. Have been given some insider information into a new Giallo film they have in production slated for a 2019 release window. DAP work with ultra low budgets yet produce some of the best work I've seen on so little.
Most companies even traditional 'low budget' studios still have in the tens or hundreds of thousands to make a movie. Not DAP this film is apparently being made with the fantastically low target amount of $6000!

The title they're going with at the moment is: Silver Stars on Red Velvet. IMDb link:
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7966836/
It will star:

Laura Sharlotte as Madelyne
Image result for laura sharlotte
And
Max Caudell as Alexander de Toth
Max Caudell

These two actors who must be brave as Decades Apart is touting that 23 actors have already walked away shocked with the project (in a bad, kind of good way), spooky!
It's a murder mystery and without giving to many details Madelyne is Alex's girlfriend, Alex works as a photographer and they get mixed up in some trouble...

Typical to this kind of budget the effects will all be practical and low cost, but again by their last standards it should look good for the budget they have.
They are filming in eau Clare WI and St. Paul MN they are looking for somewhere in the region of a 90 minute run time, reasonably good length for any film to tell a decent story.
THN can't wait to get their mitts on this it all sounds so exciting especially since we know a bit more about the film  than we can let on at the moment!!!
2019 can't come quick enough...

Monday, 23 July 2018

THN Stuff: Horror Anthologies

One of my favourite types of horror film are Anthologies, especially if the stories are linked in some way. As in same world, same neighborhood or like creepshow for example have some in-between narrative.
In more recent years the anthology seems to have taken a back seat amongst horror film makers. There's still some Indies and low budget guys who push one out now and then but there's been nothing big as such.
I know Anthologies have never been a massive seller movie wise but I'd hate to see them drop off completely here's a list I've made of most of the ones I've seen or still have to see, how many have you seen?

1970s-80s

Trilogy of Terror (1975)
Tales from the Crypt (1972)
Asylum (1972)
From Beyond the Grave (1974)
Vault of Horror (1973)
The House that Dripped Blood (1971)
The Uncanny (1977)
Dead of Night (1977)

1980s-90s

Cat's Eye (1985)
Creepshow (1982)
Creepshow 2 (1987)
After Midnight (1989)
Nightmares (1983)
Night Train to Terror (1985)
Deadtime Stories (1986)

1990s-00s

Tales from the Darkside (1990)
H.P.Lovecraft's: Necronomicon (1993)
Two Evil Eye's (1990)
Quicksilver Highway (1997)
Twists of Terror (1997)
Body Bags (1993)
With Friends Like These (1991)

2000-10s

Trick r' Treat (2007)
Hood of Horror (2006)
Creepshow 3 (2006)
Fear[s] of the Dark (2007)
Nitetales (2008)
Terror Tract (2000)

2010-20s (so far)

V/H/S (2012)
V/H/S 2 (2013)
V/H/S Viral (2014)
The ABCs of Death (2012)
The ABC's of Death 2 (2014)
The Dark Tapes (2016)
XX (2017)

Friday, 20 July 2018

Review: Brainscan (1994)

Stars: Edward Furlong, Frank Langella

Budget: unknown ATM

Directed By: John Flynn

Eddie, Eddie, Eddie, Mr Furlong still fresh from his T2 debut stared in this video game based thriller/horror not long after.
the mid to late 90's tried to start a fear of gaming, it was getting to real!!
more and more violent game were being released and some people weren't happy with it. Hence we had a slew of films that tried to put the fear of what this evolution of gaming would do to us.
From this to, lawnmower man and existenz, plus many others that I may cover in the future. Lets get on with the review shall we.

We see old Eddie Furlong playing Micheal a boy in a fevered dream. He's dreaming about the night he and his mother apparently crashed and his resulting leg surgery. Though played on a lot, as in we see him limping from place to place its never a major factor in the films plot at all. We quickly see Micheal has a somewhat creepy crush on his next-door neighbor, a girl named Kimberly (played the absolutely lovely Amy Hargreaves). Creepy in that her massive bedroom window is directly across from his and she seems to frequently get nude in front of it, which Micheal films on his camcorder. though it's later shown she knows and even takes pictures of him!

Micheal is it seems is a techie into gaming and horror films. He even runs a horror movie club in school, though that is quickly shut down by the schools principal (at least I think he is) who is very dickish about it all. Micheal has one friend, Kyle who also seems to be a bit of down and out loser like him. Kyle informs Micheal about a new interactive game that's been released called brainscan that literally submerses you into it's game world (there's your get out of jail free card right there).

How is Micheal able to do/get away with all this?
His father is not at home, though this just says he's working hard to keep his home and son in some semblance of normal, a good dad in my books. Micheal sends away for the game and it quickly comes in the post. Playing it right away it seems like Micheal has taken on the role of a serial killer, he quickly dispatches his target and even takes the guys foot as a trophy!

Micheal wakes and thinks he's played a really realistic game, the next day he's horrified to find that the guy he murdered is plastered all over the news. Frank Langella plays an over bearing police officer who quickly suspects Micheal as he keeps showing up or is involved some way to each murder. Micheal finds the foot in the freezer and goes to bury it in the woods to hide the evidence. Kyle tries to get Micheal to let him play the game, being a dick about but just because he cares about Kyle he rebuffs him, though he takes it the wrong way.

Later in Micheal's room an embodiment of the games npc erupts from Micheal's TV as the Trickster, a weird looking guy with stretched features and a shock of red hair. He tells Micheal he must play the second disc of the game as there's a witness to the first murder and if he doesn't kill them too he'll surely go to jail. Micheal is willing to do the right thing but tries to get evidence to show that it's him doing the killings. Playing the second disc he awakes pretty much the same as he did the first time except this time he doesn't know who he's killed.
Checking the freezer he see's Kyles necklace in there, distraught he rings his friends house. The phone is answered by the police officer who listens to Micheal scream down the phone asking if Kyle's alright. When the officer answers asking who it is Micheal quickly hangs up the phone. The Trickster appears again and Micheal berates him for having him kill his best friend, the Trickster with no feelings tells him it was necessary but that he's messed up again. This time leaving footprints at the scene of the crime, Micheal agrees to play the 3rd disc only if he doesn't kill anyone. The Trickster just says to do as he wants so long as he does it in the allotted time.

Covering the tracks the Trickster phones the house where a forensics guy is doing some work and tells him that Micheal's out in the garden tampering with evidence. He gets away with the officer in chase (yes with his bad knee).
Unknown to Micheal Frank's officer has ordered a sweep of the neighborhood with some neighborhood watch members, who he specifically tells not to go armed. They do of course grab guns. Micheal manages to hide after killing the principal (?) under a ton of bricks.
The forensics guy shows up at the exact moment he's about to caught but as he's wielding gun one of the zealous watch people blows him away. This give Micheal much needed time to escape the scene.
Now earlier after Kyle's death The police officer came to Micheal's to question him and noticed the fire had been lit (Micheal had destroyed his bloody clothes from the first murder by burning them). He returns later breaks in and takes some ashes for the forensics team.

Micheal is falling further down the rabbit hole and has also fallen out with Kimberly after she says how much of a friend he was, when she hardly knew him. The forensics come back that there were trace amounts of blood of the first man killed in the ashes too. The Trickster tells Micheal there's just one more murder to perform, Kimberly, it takes some persuading but he agrees.
When it comes to it though especially when Kimberly tells Micheal how much she's secretly loved him too. Micheal cannot kill her, Unfortunately Hayden (the cop) bursts in see's Micheal with a weapon and quickly blows him away without a warning.

I won't spoil anymore though I think it's guessable at what happens next, but there's a few things after the fact that are quite funny too, one involving the Principal...
Over all it's a decent movie, it's nothing that'll get your brain juices flowing but if there's nothing else on i'd give it a go, even if it's just see Eddie Furlong at his screeching best before he takes the great gutter dive that is his carrier choices.
THN awards Brainscan a mediocre 3 out of 5 stars


Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Review: Child's Play 2 (1990)

Childsplay2.jpgStars: Brad Dourif, Alex Vincent

Budget: $13 Million

Directed By: John Lafia

The good thing about this one is it starts off not long after the last one and we see just how Chucky manages to come back from the dead too.

I mean how serious can you take a possessed wise talking small murderous doll right?
But from this one onward the humor starts to increase, in both kills, one liners and just overall acting.
I personally don't mind this at all but i know it's a reason for dissension among some fans, though it's no where near as much of a turn as bride of chucky did comedic wise.

A larger budget meant more special effects and better ones at that. This also meant you see a lot more of Chucky throughout the series from this film on, no longer just shoes under the bed or scampering feet sounds. No now thanks to a massively popular first film people though the audience wanted to see more of the puppet. Some would say this even detracts from it's horror somewhat, I disagree with this we are introduced to him in the first film we know who he is just get on with it this time. Which this film does nicely.

Two years after the incident where Andy, his mother and the detective managed to stop the good guy doll possessed by the soul of killer Charles Lee Ray the company decides to reintroduce the toy after losing sales. Now that Andy's mother is in a mental hospital and Andy himself fostered out for them both sticking to the story the company see's it as the prime time.
They even take the 'Chucky' doll and remake him too just to show how confident they are. While remaking him one of the factory workers is killed in a freak accident which they cover up. The Chucky doll is to be disposed of too.

Andy at this time has been adopted by Phil and Joanne Simpson who also have another kid under their care Kyle an older ex delinquent girl. Matteson the guy charged with getting rid of Chucky is killed after going into a shop, Charles has also found out where Andy is staying by ringing the foster homing place as a relative.
Reaching Andy's new house Chucky accidentally sets of another good guy doll that they used to try and break Andy out of it, Chucky caves in it's head with an ornament breaking it in the process. After burying the other toy Chucky takes it's place. Phil blames the kids for the destruction of the ornament and when they don't own up to it both are grounded.

Chucky in the night almost possesses Andy but is stopped when Kyle comes in from being out, Phil captures them both awake and Kyle being out past curfew. Saying he'll deal them in the morning he throws Chucky into the basement and goes back to bed.
The next day Chucky follows Andy to school, causing all sorts of mischief and gets Andy told off that he has to stay behind. Killing Andy's teacher with a yard stick, the kid just manages to escape in time.

Back at their home Andy goes to attack Chucky with an electric bread knife, Phil catches him in the act thinking Andy is quite bananas. Chucky attacks Phil making him fall down the stairs breaking his neck in the process. Joanne is convinced Andy had something to do with her husbands death sends him back to the foster centre.
Kyle however finds the broken good guy doll under the swing set and believes Andy. Chucky has killed Joanne however, capturing her Chucky makes Kyle take him to the foster centre where Andy is being held. Setting off a fire alarm Andy manages to escape with Kyle catching a glimpse of them as he does.

Before long they all end up at the good guy factory for one final showdown where Chucky manages to complete the ritual. Unfortunately it doesn't work as he's been in the dolls body for to long by now, enraged Chucky tries to kill both Kyle and Andy.
I'll leave it there as Child's Play 2 is well worth a watch a formidable sequel to a great first part in a long line of films to come, THN awards this 4 out of 5 stars.