Friday, 28 April 2017

Review: The Blob (1988)

Stars: Kevin Dillon, Shawnee Smith

Budget: $19 Million

Directed By: Chuck Russell

Aaah remakes sometimes they get it right (rarely) other times it's a total miss (most times) this at least to me is a very near case of right!

This remake takes everything of the original film and increases it ten fold. well maybe not everything some acting here is very two dimensional but aside from that its a ramp up in nearly every area. No surprise this was an early writing effort of Frank Darabont too.

The horror/gore are the most increased facets of this remake and in making those more graphic the effects have been upgraded exponentially too.
This may well of been one of the films downfalls ultimately as for it's budget it was quite high for a film of it's time.
Not a guaranteed box office smash took a massive gamble with the money pumped into this remake. Unfortunately it did not make it back and only found fame on VHS.
Only making $8.2 million back certified this film as a flop in a cinematic sense however.

There are minor changes to the story line to bring it up to date and be more relevant to the time it was released. Distrust of governments and echoes of war and weapons of mass destruction scaring people.

Starting off almost exactly the same as the 1958 version of the film a seeming meteorite crashes into the woods of California. A homeless man discovers the crashed sphere and pokes it with a stick, the giant amoeba like creature inside leaps up the stick and starts devouring the old mans hand.
Brian (played by Dillon), Meg (Shawnee) and Paul find the unfortunate man and take him to the hospital. This is where the aforementioned horror, effects and gore really ramp up, Brian leaves Meg and Paul at the hospital where Paul finds the blob has dissolved half of the old man.
Creeping along the ceiling the blob then drops on an unsuspecting Paul. The creature quickly starts to dissolve the poor boy right in front of Meg, squealing for her help Meg grabs his arm and pulls, pulls it right off! Meg collapses unconscious after bumping her head.

The police don't take to kindly to Brian aparantly but him and Meg team up, they both make it to a diner where Meg explains to Brian about the blob. Skeptical Brian doesn't believe her until George the diners handyman in pulled face first into the sinks drain. It then comes for them and in a scene hearkening to the original they make it to the diners walk in freezer.
Which again echoing the 1958 version seemingly causes the blob intense pain, it retreats only to Kill the diners owner Fran while inside a telephone box (we also see the sheriff has been devoured too here) Meg and Brian escape the freezer and leave.

The crazy old reverend witnesses some of this scene and goes to the diner, there he finds some crystallized pieces of the blob and puts them in a small kilner jar. After visiting the police station they are told Deputy Briggs is up where the meteor originally crashed.
Reaching there they discover a full on military outfit excavating the meteor led by head scientist Dr Meddow's. When the town is quarantined Brian manages to escape a truck he's trapped in and retrieve his motorbike

Meg on the other hand has been taken into town where she discovers her kid brother and his friend have vanished. They have however sneaked into the towns cinema where the blob is attacking and devouring people, Meg makes it back to see her brother fleeing from said cinema. She escapes with them both.

Brian manages to eavesdrop on Meddow's and, here's the cold war etc references in that the blob was a man made weapon deemed to powerful to use and was sent into outer space. He is discovered but manages to evade capture by head into the sewers on his bike.
Also in the sewers are Meg, her brother and his friend Eddie who is also devoured by the blob quite horrifically (yes kid death in this movie too). Her brother escapes through some grating and Meg is found by some soldiers who try to protect her. When they die Brian shows up and drives through the sewers on his bike with the blob in hot pursuit.
Brian and Meg make it out and blame it all on Meddow's, who in turn tries to blame it on Brian saying he's gone mad with infection from the blob. When people don't believe him he goes to shoot Brian only to be dragged to his death into the sewers by a blob tendril. When the army tries to shoot and blow up the blob in an attempt to kill it the blob gets really angry and starts attacking anyone who gets in it's way.

The reverend comes out preaching the end of the world just as the army tries to use flamethrowers against the blob and he gets caught in the crossfire. Meg manages to save him and in a process that echoes the original again she twigs that the cold hurts the blob when it recoils from an extinguisher.

The towns survivors barricade themselves inside town hall and use extinguishers to stop the blob attacking. Despite this the blob still kills the deputy and starts to engulf the building.
Brian escapes and manages to get to a snow making machine, he makes it back just in time to rescue Meg and a few others shooting cold snow over the creature. Angered it knocks the truck over and goes to kill Brian. Now i wouldn't as usually spoil a films ending as you know but just as in the original as here in the remake I will make an exception.
Meg manages to get the blobs attention and lead it back to the truck where she has placed a stolen bomb pack onto the nitrogen canisters. Sure as anything it explodes and manages to flash freeze the blob into thousands of tiny crystalline rocks. They then store this in the towns ice house, unlike the original where the blob was dropped off in the arctic.

The however doesn't end there, no we are treated to an extra scene where the reverend is scarred and preaching the end of the world. Low and behold it is revealed that the small pieces of the blob in the jar are now one small organism alive and well inside!

Now to me this version improves and expands upon the ideas of the original film in many ways and decently too. This doesn't warrant however the mass gore it also calls upon, this was again one of those films i watched as a youngster 8 or so and found unable to finish and came back to later on in life 12 or 13 to re-watch. Now some of the acting is a bit iffy but all the cold war and paranoia at your government lines are very relevant to it's time. this version however loses some of the tension of the original in using big effects shocks to scare you rather than clever little effects.
So with those downsides and plus sides i give blob the 1988 remake an equal score but for very different reasons to it's predecessor a 3 out of 5 with a recommendation to watch.

Review: Hunting Grounds (2015)

Stars: Bill Oberst Jr, D'Angelo Midili

Budget: Can't find, guessing very little

Directed By: John Portanova

Ok so i was sent this as a screener to review
It was originally called something different to this
it was rerelease this year of an older 2015 film
called Valley of the Sasquatch.

It stars THN friend Bill Oberst Jr and even though I wasn't sent it nor could i find it, this movie was probably filmed on a shoestring budget. Seriously i'm guessing the sasquatch costumes probably took up most of the budget.

So yeah, budget wise this b-movie suffers from all the usual tropes. Excessesively long chats in one or two locations that are constantly reused over and over again to pad out a 90 minute (or there about) run time.

Bill is a trooper and so loyal to the indie scene, he is a spectacular actor way below his pay grade, but i love that he loves and keeps coming back to film in movies like this and i'm talking on average 3-4 films a year! On with the movie:

First off we see b-movie veteran Bill alone in the woods, he comes across a camp where he finds a dead man, he is then seemingly killed also.
Cut to a town where a young man (Micheal) and his dad (Roger) have fallen on bad times after the wife/mother has died and they are having to move out of town to a small cabin in the woods. This sets them up having no mobile phones etc (nice little trick there to keep them isolated) the dad seems a little overly harsh. Especially when he says about the mobile phones not being essential but then buys lots of beer, it's obvious here he's got a bit of a problem.

When they reach the cabin they see it's been ransacked with the door busted open and all it's furniture messed up yet not broken or stolen. Dad then explains as they are tidying and fixing the place up that uncle Will and Sergio (Dad's friend) are coming for a visit. This further alienates Micheal as he seemingly doesn't like Sergio (for good reason too) When they both come Sergio is indeed a massive dick to Mike any opportunity he can get. Will however (who seems really young looking to be an uncle to someone Micheal's age) seems to be a very good influence.

Will comments on a meteor shower that's happening that night, sure enough Sergio acts like a dick and Micheal leaves in a huff. Will joins him later and they have a chat while the meteor shower goes on above them. Will explains that Micheal's mother was a good influence on his father she was the one stopping him from becoming the bum he's currently turning into.
He also offers Micheal a college fund as his gym's are doing well and he's even opened a second one due to this. Micheal is ecstatic at this but worried about his dad, Will assures him he'll deal with his dad when the time comes. Both happy they leave the roof and return to the cabin.

Sergio is once again a dick towards Micheal making him sleep out on the couch while he takes the boys bedroom. In the morning he is rudely awoken by the others and forced to go on a hunting trip with them, here Sergio and his father force Micheal to shoot a deer. He misses and Sergio and his father scold him for being so being so useless they then carry on hiking.
Sergio starts to get tired as well as agitated at all the walking and nothing happening, then he see's something he thinks is a creature. He gets scared and wants to go back to the cabin, they say about camping outside this alienates both Sergio and Micheal.
It's then they get jumped by the Sasquatch and Micheal's dad gets dragged off by one of them. Sergio forces the other two to go back to the cabin, in a ruckus Sergio stabs Will to death and gets Micheal to move his corpse to the bedroom out of his sight.

Her good old Jr pops back in he's been able to escape from the Sasquatch after being kidnapped by them, he caves in one of their heads. They knock out Sergio and go on the defensive, Micheal's dad also makes it back with a damaged leg. The Sasquatches start to attack the cabin and they all make an effort to escape but Micheal's dad drops the car keys.
Poor old Bill's character is captured and gets both his arms ripped off by the creatures so Micheal and his dad hide back in the cabin. Sergio awakes and Roger finds out from Micheal that he killed his brother, he seems to take it quite well. That is until they formulate an escape plan and then Roger bungs Sergio into the midst of the Sasquatches so they can escape.

There's not much left of this film so I won't spoil the ending it's not quite that bad enough to spoil, almost but not quite. Bill here is one of the saving graces, despite a short screen time his character is great, the film however is quite bunk and suffers from to many of the tropes that make b-movies bad.
Will dies so now whats going to happen to Micheal?
To much blah, blah in one spot meaning it can get very boring to have scene after scene.
A boring pointless plot and Sergio is a guy who just needs to die and no one, surely no one is that much of a dick to someones kid before the father would do something surely?
Aside from that the Sasquatch effects are great and Will being one of the stronger characters of the film is very well acted. These pluses minuses drive THN to give Hunting Grounds an unfortunate 2 stars out of 5 worth watching if there's really nothing else around or on at that point.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Review: The Blob (1958)

Stars: Steve McQueen, Aneta Corsaut

Budget: $110,000

Directed By: Irvin Yeaworth

It creeps and leaps and glides and slides across the floor, be careful of the blob!

I had actually seen the 1988 version before this wonder. Traversing the pound shops as a youth I seen this on VHS in one and thought how bad can a 1958 version of a film that properly shit me up and gave me nightmares as a young child be?

Not bad at all, it's almost like watching a different film with the same premise to be honest.
its mostly in black and white but the version i had had the blob, once it had eaten once turn a red colour.
staring A reasonably young faced Steve McQueen in one of his first roles, though looking way older than a school teen as he was supposed to be.
Made on a small budget even for those times all actors were paid little and the effects were made very cheaply yet very practical and looked good for it's time.

These include the blob actually moving through stop motion and it pushing its way through some theatre doors, obviously done on a miniature set.

So McQueen (Steve, yes his character is called Steve) and his girlfriend (Jane) notice when a meteorite crashes into a nearby forest, an old man living near reaches it first only for the rock to split open and reveal a white glutenous gel like creature in it's centre. Poking it with a stick the blob quickly travels up the stick and engulfs the mans hand causing him terrible pain.
Steve and Jane find him crying out and when he shows them his hand they quickly take him to see the doctor. Doctor Hallen is a little flustered as he was about to leave for a conference but once he see's the thing his intrigue takes over.

The Doctor anesthetizes him then sends Steve and Jane to back to the site to see if there's anymore evidence etc. The blob is spreading rapidly so Hallen decides to amputate, unfortunately before he can the old man is totally consumed. His nurse is dissolved too and then Steve and Jane return to see the doctor being absorbed by the creature too.
Both heading to the sheriff  they get lieutenant Dave and Sergeant Burt go with them back to the doctors. Knowing the doctor was off on a conference and finding nothing Burt calls it a prank and gets the kids parents to pick them up.

The Blob has moved on and is clearly getting bigger and redder with every person it consumes adding their mass to it's own. It kills the town mechanic next and moves on again.
Steve and Jane have sneaked out to recruited a few friends to help them warn people of the danger when they are cornered by the blob after investigating his dads shop being open. The only place they can escape to is the freezer where it seems the intense cold is a perfect deterrent to the blob.

Meanwhile Steve's and Jane's friends have set off the towns air and fire alarms so as to get townsfolk's attention, where they promptly disbelieve everything the kids have to say. While this is happening the blob has entered the theatre and consumed many people, the survivors come screaming out of the building proving Steve right. The blob oozes out of the front doors too causing everyone else to flee, including Steve's younger brother Danny who along with Jane and his brother hide in a nearby diner.

The blob is now large enough to easily cover the whole diner, Steve has no plans when Dave patches his radio through to the diners phone. He tells them to enter the cellar as they are going to attempt to drop a live power line on the monster.
Bert shoots the wire once he thinks everyone is safe and it drops upon the blob. Although thousands of volts dance all over the thing it is unaffected by the electricity, which has started a fire in the diner.
Steve quickly grabs a Co2 extinguisher and puts the fire out, not before hitting the blob with it too and causing it to recoil. Steve coupled with the freezer incident finally realises that it's the cold the blob doesn't like.

It's not far from the end here so THN won't spoil no more for you. So whats my overall verdict of this film? For it's 59 year age and relatively low budget even for it's time this film sets up some good tension which i'll add is missing quite a bit from the 88 remake. This is done by the use of more of 'what you don't see' which really works in this film, the only let down is the ending (on both this and the new) THN awards the 1958 version of the blob a solid 3 stars out of 5.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

THN Top 5: Horror Anthologies

I may have mentioned before that I love anthology type horrors, any film that includes more than one story be it linked or just separate entities i can't get enough of them.
There are some bad ones, good ones and ones that make you go meh. But one thing i have noted is that i have yet to find one that is truly god awful.
So if you've never indulged or maybe looking for a gem you may not have seen check out my top 5:

5. Twilight Zone: The Movie
This one sticks in my head because i sure apart from maybe an old hammer Horror one was the first anthology to stick in my head. Featuring a multitude of stories from a boy with immense psychic powers to a man witnessing a gremlin demon tearing up the wings of the plane he travelling on. We even get 'do you want to see something really scary?' by Dan Ackroyd which truly did make young me shit my pants lol.
It is unfortunately dated and aged now, though this is still in my books a must see for any anthology fans.

4. The ABC's of death 2
Far superior to it's predecessor with some very chilling shorts, some twisted and funny also some are unusually thought provoking. The first one is certainly funny with the inept assassin. Then the one with the Russian roulette that looks like their being forced into it, they are but for entirely different reasons you might think. If you want a more modern take on anthologies this one will be right up your street.

3. Creepshow 2
The second in the three part series, i may be jaded because this one was the first I watched then the first one. To me though this one seems more horror than the first film which has a lot more comedy elements than this one. Old chief wooden head being one of my favorites the bad guys in this short really deserve the gory end they get.
Then there's the raft which is almost the blob it certainly acts and dissolves people just like the 1988 version of the film. Although I wasn't fan of the ending to that short a little undeserved, but the last one the hitchhiker is quite funny and the repeating thanks for the ride lady is something i can never forget even after he's mangled beyond recognition.

2. Trilogy Of Terror
From way back in 1975 this is almost my favorite for one reason and one reason alone, the little Zuni doll that screams like a little idiot and seems so stupid to be scared of or killed by. But when it's shooting little arrows at you or blow pipes it's so effectively terrifying.
A big influence over other media like games, in Diablo 2 the little Zuni are an effective enemy there too. The others are great to and even though I felt Twilight zone was aged, this has to but not so bad, don't get me wrong it's old but a fun film.

1. John Carpenters Body Bags
Possibly one of the best anthology films i've seen at least in my book, this is after all my list of favorites. Three very good stories book ended by some funny moments from John Carpenter himself as the morgue attendant introducing each segment.
From hair where a poor man obsessed by his looks and losing his hair goes in for some hair loss treatment that turns out not to be what it says on the pamphlet.
The Gas station is  a typical stalker, who is the killer? type story.
The best one being Mark Hamill who loses an eye then gets a replacement from a psychotic killer only to be slowly taken over by the replacement.

These may or may not be on your lists but i'm sure you'll agree these are by far some of the best anthology films available to watch. Please take my list and decide if you want to see any of them for yourself.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Review: Beyond the Gates (2016)

Stars: Graham Skipper, Barbara Crampton

Budget: $300,000

Directed By: Jackson Stewart

Bab's is back!
That's right good old scream queen Barbara Crampton appears in this film, a homage to 80's video board game crazes.

It also, like a few movies of recent times has some heavily influences from that time period too. From the filming style to the colours and even effects.
This is a massive feat considering this was made on the incredibly small budget of £300,000. Almost in micro budget territory with such a low amount of funds.

This film is also decently acted and cut well too with some good but basic effects thrown in for good measure.
Lets get on with the film shall we.

The film shows us a happy family a mother and father with two kids playing around outside a newly opened video shop.
The kids are two brothers and they all seem pleased with the shop. as they all look on towards it as the film fades to black.

A number of years later around 20 the father has gone missing and their mother has been long dead. The two brothers (obviously now older) meet up at the store.
Apparently their father has gone missing before except this time it's been for a long time. Since it's been such a long time they are assuming the worst this time. The brothers are two very different people also, one a hard working serious type (Gordon) the other a laid back down and out (John).
Gordon lives out of town with his girlfriend Margot who is coming into town later on, he doesn't seem to enthused about coming to the town. He also seems terribly unimpressed by his brothers choices in life too. They check out his old video store and actually begin to get nostalgic as they begin to pack the videos away.

An old friend from their past shows up and is now the sheriff of the town, he gets nostalgic over a particular tape and the brothers let him take it. John starts talking about video board games as he finds them upon the shelf. near the end of the day they realise they can't get into the back room and think the key must be back at the house.

We meet Margot now and she seems to be properly in love with Gordon despite something happening between them a little while back. Gordon finds the back office key just before they go to bed.
The next day both the brothers enter their fathers backroom, which isn't what they were expecting but they do find a video board game they haven't seen before.
The put the tape in and we are treated to the opening narrative of the board game by none other than Bab's Crampton. A weird time lapse happens as they are watching the video and it's already time to pack up for home.

Back at their dad's old house they continue to play the game and learn that it's not an entirely up to scratch, in fact it's quite possibly demon possessed. They learn more about the game from some other near do wells, especially where their father bought it from.
Despite coming to the conclusion that their father has disappeared into the board game they try to leave it be but the game won't let them stop playing. So Margot, Gordon and John continue to play the game at the video's behest. There's really not that much left to say about the film, in fact we are near the end which you know i won't spoil.

That's the trouble with this film though, it builds up and builds up vey well in fact only to have the end of the film splurge it's load in the last 15 minutes, despite this the pacing is pretty decent and goes quite well from scene to scene. Not quite a 4 star but above a three star too so THN awards Beyond the gates 3 out of five stars but with a Heavy recommendation to watch.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Review: Peelers (2016)

Stars: Wren Walker, Caz Odin Darko

Budget: Unknown, probably not much

Directed By: Seve Schelenz

My word it's not often we come along a big pile of steaming shit in the horror nation.
Even some of the worst b-movies are at least watching or forgivable because of their low budgets or inexperienced actors.

These often make for a certain charm that keeps the movie watchable to an extent. but when you get absurdly bad writing, laughable acting and not a single character to relate to there's just nothing to redeem this movie.
Not that there's  nothing that is redeemable here except for maybe the surprisingly original way the zombies are made.
But that is quickly spoiled by to many other irredeemable factors, which i'll get to.

This is almost a clone of zombie strippers too except that film had some spark and excuse me for being crude showed a lot more 'skin' which helps with the fellas you know.
I know this tries to have something to say about big powers and oil etc but it just doesn't work with the rubbish the rest of the film delivers.

So enough with the put downs lets get on with describing the dribble shall we?

right so we are treated to some random stranger in a bed who when a nurse enters goes bananas and attacks her.
Orderlies and doctors rush in to help only for the door to close and blood leak out from under it.

We then see the interior of the strip club this is the problem they try to set up to many things to make you care about the people like why does blue jeans have a police bike. A necklace with L M on it but none of it pans out to more than two dimensional stories to try and flesh out some stupid characters or trying to force you into trying to like them past irredeemable flaws.

The door man Remy played by Caz, clearly has a crush on Blue Jeans, the bar man fancies one or multiple members of the stripping club it was so cliched that I didn't care which. She is in the process of selling the club, in fact it's the last night of the club before it changes hands.
Blue Jean's for some reason has a police bike as her mode of transport, to which she is called outside to show someone. Though they have already taken upon themselves to have a go on her bike.
When she says about this the bike rider who is interested in buying the bike proceeds to, in a off handed way insult her (though why some of the things she states as a 'strike' are just childish or absurd) until he finally calls her BJ, probably because it's a play on blowjob. She  then proceeds to (as she was a baseball player too) smash in the boys nose and teeth with a baseball.
He tries to chase her but one of the Mexicans earlier let into the club knocks the boy off his feet, which she thanks him for.

Turns out these Mexicans think they found some oil in a mine earlier that night, though they say they are there to celebrate one of their birthdays. Each one of them has been infected by the oil that really is oil but has some odd strain in it that infects anyone that comes into contact with it.
So one by one the Mexicans succumb to the infection, all the while each of the strippers puts on their own 'authentic' show for the punters. Even these feel forced or even totally pointless, the new girl (on a night where the club is being sold?) is nervous to go on the stage. One as she's scared she'll do shit compared to the other girls and secondly her jealous boyfriend might be watching.

Two men and a stripper are slaughtered in a private dance area during this the woman with the bad nerves goes onto the stage. Her boyfriend just happens to be at the bar and yes flies out of control when she goes up on stage and takes her bra off.
They argue until out the back and then both of them are murdered by one of the oil infected guys, the barman who has followed them manages to escape by holding the attacking guy off. Gibbering and hands covered in oil he is discovered with the bodies at his feet.

The police come and they are after Blue Jeans son as he has stolen and joy rode in a police car. The female officer goes to see Logan (her son) then the infected kill her partner, another infected leaps through the back office where Logan (who is apparently a ladies man) is getting it on with the female officer. The infected guy smooshes the officers head with the desk but Logan manages to shoot him down. They evacuate the rest of the patrons from the bar.
They realise they can't kill these infected as they keep coming back alive, then they try shooting them in the head. Blue Jeans has gone into the back room to get the strippers, the one who's gimmick is being a baby on stage (she actually pisses on people too!) is killed. Picking up her old baseball bat she bashes the guys head in with it.

They seem to think the head shots/bashing has done the trick, they proceed, Logan, BJ, Remy, another stripper and a pregnant stripper too, to go find the barman. He has unfortunately been infected by the oil on his hands and kills the other stripper.
This is where the film takes it's turn to being zero stars, it just goes beyond stupid and does things so tastelessly from now on. They come to the conclusion that water and oil doesn't mix despite the body being mostly water (so how does it infect them in the first place?) Logan magically pulls this out of the air by suddenly telling them he went to college.
Then the power and the water are cut as the idiot who is buying the club has them turned off at exactly 12 midnight. Remy devises that beer is mostly water here, the barman comes back to life and the pregnant strippers water breaks on his face killing him.

Remy and BJ take bottles of beer out into the bar to take care of the rest of the infected guys, now all the way through this people are touching the oil or getting grabbed yet not being infect too. The pregnant stripper has the baby but is then tastelessly ripped apart almost exactly afterwards for no reason other than to shock?
I don't know i just didn't like it, it was uncalled for. Sorry but there;s one thing i dislike in films and that's things to do with babies getting hurt or in peril etc. Anyway BJ and Logan make it out with the baby after killing the rest and discovering the guy who bought the club knows about the oil and how it infects people too. He is actually infected too, BJ brains him before making it out.

I am spoiling the ending because the film is so abysmal, the boy from earlier is infected outside and is their last fight, for some idiotic reason after killing him they choose to set the club on fire by sending the police car on fire towards the club. There's some stupid joke that's lame about the name of the club and then they drive off with the BABY on a MOTORBIKE. Not that it matter because halfway down the road it seems Logan is infected to as the oil dribbles from his nose.
Then he just DROPS THE BABY ON THE ROAD, this is sick and distasteful and not needed AT ALL. This was the last straw that broke the camels back for me, this film may have scraped one star for it's original take on zombies with the weird oil if that hadn't happened.
So THN awards this sickening pile of crap the lowest of the low the dregs of Satan's bum hole zero out of five stars