Friday, October 30, 2009

Tenebre (1982)

Being Film #12 in Hail Horror 4. This review is part of Kevin J. Olsen's Italian Horror Blog-a-thon at Hugo Stiglitz Makes a Movie.

Although he's made several in the years since, TENEBRAE (or TENEBRE) marks the last of Dario Argento's run of truly great giallo films, arguably starting with his debut THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE in 1970. Filled with Argento's common themes of sexual confusion, identity and vision, lushly and luridly photographed, and boasting a stellar soundtrack by 3/4 of the members of Goblin, who scored Argento's last two films (DEEP RED and SUSPIRIA) as well as George A. Romero's classic DAWN OF THE DEAD, TENEBRAE is a grisly but stylish film, serving as a great introduction to all of Argento's strengths as a filmmaker.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mr. Frost (1990)

Being Film #11 in Hail Horror 4. Thanks to Jason (formerly of Your Theory is Crazy) for the recommendation.

Back when I was a broke post-college graduate living in downtown Albany, I engaged in a film education event with my friend Jason, said "event" being nothing more than introducing films the other hadn't seen but that, in our infinite 20-something year old wisdom, deemed excellent. For the life of me I can't recall what film I might have recommended (probably something old...Jason, if you're reading this and remember I'd love to know), but I distinctly recall the two films Jason recommended to me: RAPA NUI, the Easter Island romantic adventure, and MR. FROST, a film whose concept seemed right up my alley but which, alas, was no longer in print. We watched RAPA NUI (decent) and never got to MR. FROST.

Fast-forward 12-13 years, and thanks to the power of Netflix's Watch Now, my fervent dreams of finally seeing MR. FROST were about to come true.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Grace (2009)

Being Film #10 in Hail Horror 4

Being a parent means dealing with dozens of different things a day. It's confusing, ecstatic, maddening - sometimes all at once. All in the name of that tiny little life you're now responsible for. GRACE, a disturbing little horror film from Paul Solet preys on those feelings - I cringed with the weighted memories of my son at that age during some of the more graphics moments - but the film takes that feeling of being a parent further - it tries to say something about feminism, veganism, and alternative lifestyles, all while telling a gruesome story about the lengths a mother will go to for her baby. But while multi-taking and being able to handle a dozen things at once is a necessity for any parent, in a film - especially a horror film, it can be more than a bit distracting.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Phantasm II (1988)

Being Film #9 in Hail Horror 4

It almost took a decade, but somehow the planets aligned, money was found, and Don Coscarelli brought the twisted horror of the Tall Man back for PHANTASM II. In large part thanks to the financial successes of 80s horror franchises like FRIDAY THE 13TH and NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET Universal decided to foot the bill, betting on the iconography of Angus Scrimm's Tall Man and his nefarious metal spheres to cash in at the box office.

So PHANTASM sports a larger budget, meaning we get to see some spiffy effects, like what's finally underneath the hoods of the menacing dwarfs (turns out, some great animatronic demon faces) and some pretty spectacular explosions. All the key players from the first one (reviewed here) come back, with the exception of Jodi (who died) and Mike, who perhaps at the studio's urging is now played by James LeGros, who's not bad at all, but still feels a little off, especially when paired against Reggie Bannister, who's back and better than ever as Reggie, the ex-ice cream truck driver turned ass-kicking, flannel wearing sidekick.

If the above sounds a little more like an action picture than a horror movie, that's kind of how I felt about PHANTASM II. It's not a bad sequel by any stretch of the imagination, but it definitely plays up the ass-kicking and downplays the horror a bit. The movie picks up immediately where the first one ends - with the Tall Man breaking through the closet door and grabbing Mike. Reggie runs upstairs to save him, and is confronted by a horde of the evil imps. Reggie blows up the house, and Mike spends the next decade in a mental institution. When he's released, he finds Reggie and together they begin the long journey to revenge, intent on tracking down and ending the Tall Man's evil plans, which seem to consist of raiding the cemeteries of town along the Northwest, turning the bodies into more evil dwarfs which are then shipped back to the Tall Man's home planet, or something like that.

Really, the whole PHANTASM series gets points for being so completely out there in terms of story that at times you don't know what the heck you're watching. You have action, horror, science fiction, comedy...if I had to make a comparison it would be to Sam Raimi's EVIL DEAD series (Raimi and Coscarelli know each other, having come up around the same time), specifically ARMY OF DARKNESS. Reggie is essentially the Ash character, even going to far as to engage in a wicked chainsaw battle with one of the Tall Man's minions. That's not the only homage to Raimi - there's a scene where Mike and Liz, a young woman sharing a telepathic link and prophetic dreams of the Tall Man with Mike, are chased by a new golden sphere that can break through doors, and basically mimics the door smashing scene in EVIL DEAD 2. On the more comical side, take a look at a another scene where one of the Tall Man's minions is bagging a well-known set of ashes:

All nice, sly touches in an engaging film, but the real fun comes from watching Angus Scrimm own the screen whenever he's on. There's always been something about the Tall Man that frightened me as a kid - Scrimm's features and imposing height bring to mind Boris Karloff in some of his more sadistic roles like in BEDLAM or THE BODY SNATCHER. You don't know anything about him - his history, his motives...only that he seems to know what's inside your head. There's a great moment in PHANTASM II where he confronts a drunk priest hiding in the mortuary. The priest is making the sign of the cross as he passes row upon row of interred caskets when he turns to see the Tall Man:

"They don't need your prayers," he says, right before he hangs the priest by the rosary he wears around his neck. The spheres are back as well, and this being the 80s, they're imbued with some new attachments like circular saws, blowtorches and, yes, laser beams. All of which pale when compared to one nasty little bugger that manages to burrow inside one poor clod, traveling up his torso and coming out (partially) through his mouth.

All in all a fun time, not too serious and retaining all the wackiness you'd come to expect from Coscarelli. It's amazing that PHANTASM lasted through four films with the same creative team, a rarity for a horror franchise, and I think that makes for a really fun time. Don't go in looking for real scares - PHANTASM II is more of a sit down with friends and laugh and high-five each other during all the cool parts.

Of which there are many.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Martyrs (2008)

Being Film #8 in Hail Horror 4

NOTE: MARTYRS is a film that works best if you go in completely fresh. So I'm going to keep things as brief and spoiler-free as possible. The best thing to do is just stop reading this review, check out the film, and come back, provided you have the stomach for it. The movie, that is...I'm sure my review is safe.

When it comes to horror films, there are those that make you scream and laugh at the same time, and when you leave the theater you have a smile on your face. It may have grossed you out, but it was all in good fun. There are plenty of good, scary films like that, and that's perfectly okay. But there's another type of horror film, one that creeps under your skin and festers, never really going away, making you scratch and tear at your skin because it's just so unsettling.

MARTYRS is a lot like that. It deals with some pretty disturbing subject matter, a brilliant jewel of a film that constantly keeps you off balance, working as an outright horrific story, a crazed thriller, and a meditation on guilt, vengeance, and enlightenment. It's also one of the most brutal films I've ever seen, making each act of violence so gut-churning the last thing you're going to want to do is laugh.

The movie opens with a young girl, Lucie, escaping from an abandoned building where she's been chained, starved, and judging from her appearance, physically abused as well. Director Pascal Laugier immediately puts you right in the face of the unpleasantness, giving MARTYRS a very gritty but professional realism, never shying away from Lucie's abject fear as she runs half naked through the deserted industrial section where she was being held.

Once found she's cared for in an orphanage where, despite everyone's best efforts, she can't quite adjust after her horrible experience, the details of which are not revealed. She does make friends with Anna, a sweet girl who shortly becomes her inseparable twin. Through Anna we begin to see that the lingering effects of Lucie's imprisonment might be far worse than anyone thought. Something seems to be stalking her, something that has a purpose...

From there MARTYRS jumps head 15 years, and MARTYRS really begins, as we see what's become of Lucie and Anna. It's hard to say much more than that. The movie deals with Lucie's guilt and anger over what happened to her, and Anna's eventual discovery of what exactly did happen, and why. Where the film ultimately goes is a complete 180 from where you think it'll go, and it's a ton of credit to Laugier, who not only directed but wrote the film, and refuses to take any shortcuts in the story. When he kills someone in this film it is horrible, even when it seems entirely justified based on the mechanics of the story. There's no cheering as someone gets their comeuppance, Laugier wants you see the terrible impact of death, which in turn affects the latter part of the story where things begin to get truly weird.

Everything in MARTYRS has a purpose, and Laugier pays as much attention to the development of Lucie and Anna as he does to the set pieces and gore. Although, that's a pretty easy thing to do when you have some amazing actresses in the roles, and Mylène Jampanoï as Lucie and Morjana Alaoui as Anna are both revelations in the film. They carry the film on their shoulders, and I'd be hard pressed to think of a film, horror or otherwise, that asks for more from its actresses.

To continue talking about MARTYRS would be to risk giving too much away, and this is a film that works best going in without knowing too much of what you're getting into. Not for the squeamish, I'll just end by saying that this is an excellent film, well-crafted, well-acted, and terrifying to boot. Not content to leave when the credits roll, MARTYRS lingers under your skin for a long time, and is without a doubt one of the scariest and best horror films I've seen in a long time.

Monday, October 19, 2009

1 From the Past: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994)

A busy weekend caused me to lag behind a bit on the Hail Horror marathon, but we'll be back up in no time: I have a review ready to go of Dario Argento's TENEBRAE which will make its appearance over at Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies Italian Horror Marathon, and there's a couple more sequels ready make their way here as well.

In the meantime, I'll be posting two reviews from last year that never found their way over to Celluloid Moon, starting with Kenneth Brannagh's MARY SHELLEY'S FRANKENSTEIN:
Two years after the bloody, beautiful mess that was BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA, Francis Ford Coppola moved into the producer's chair for MARY SHELLEY'S FRANKENSTEIN, handing the directing reigns over to Kenneth Brannagh, who had great success with his two previous Shakespeare adaptations, HENRY V and MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. So I imagine there was a certain logic to letting him tackle Shelley's horror masterpiece, a novel about the search to become our own God, and the folly of reaching for the Eternal without owning up to the responsibility that comes with it.

Boasting an enormous cast, including Robert DeNiro as the creature, and taking a grand, operatic cue from Coppola's DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN strangely suffers from the same points that brought Brannagh's Shakespeare adaptations to such vibrant life. It's odd that what worked for for one didn't when applied to something seemingly so similar, but the in-your-face score reeks of melodrama, and an over-the-top, dandified performance by Brannagh as Victor Frankenstein, who brought such passion in his earlier roles, here strives for tortured but instead falls to slightly foppish and silly.

The screenplay follows the events of the novel very closely. It opens on the ice, as a group of explorers frozen in the Arctic comes across the world's most famous mad scientist, pulling himself along on a makeshift sled as a fearsome howl rages behind him in pursuit:

Echoing the past, Brannagh uses some of the famous images and scenes from films like the James Whale FRANKENSTEIN and even some of BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN with it's almost surreal locations, but everything is shot with an eye to being over-dramatic: scenes are filmed at odd angles and oftentimes use deep focus or fish eye lenses for effect, actors emote to the point of jumping out of the frame, and the score by Patrick Doyle screams each feeling and theme instead of implying them. Nuance is in short supply, and each beat of the movie feels like it bludgeons you on the head when sometimes a tap would suffice.But probably the most laughable moment comes during the famous "birthing" scene, where Victor finally brings his creation to life. Stripped down and greased up, Brannagh jumps and prances about the lab, flexing his muscles at every opportunity and essentially creating a moment of hilarity instead of solemnity. The one moment of true levity, when Victor continuously slips in the amniotic fluid that's spilled all over the floor as he tries to help up his creation, provides a more truthful moment that the "It's Alive!" sequence that came before it. The creation of the monster is the point where Victor marks his own destruction, but the effect here is just a chance to show off where a majority of the film's budget went. Allow the glory of YouTube to take you there:

If anything really works in FRANKENSTEIN, it's DeNiro's portrayal of the Monster. Although it won't cause anyone to forget Boris Karloff's iconic performance, it does come closer to mirroring the book than any other film adaptation I've seen. This is still a period when DeNiro was completely immersing himself in his roles, and he brings a quiet dignity to the Monster, even when he's at his most destructive. It helps that Frankenstein immediately becomes an utter prick as soon as he realizes the Monster is alive, screaming and running away, instantly abandoning the Monster to his own devices. Once the story becomes his, FRANKENSTEIN moves along at a much better clip. At its heart FRANKENSTEIN is about the doctor's folly, and the question of responsibility to what he's created. And DeNiro's Monster uses the eloquence of a Shakespearean character to drive this point over and over again to Victor throughout the movie. It's a heart breaking performance, and one that should have gotten more credit at the time.

When these scenes are occurring, Brannagh finds the soul of the film, and everything begins to work. It's here that his eye and ear for the theatrical really work for the film instead of against it. It's jut too bad there isn't more substance in the rest of the movie.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)

Being Film #7 in Hail Horror 4

Five years may have elapsed since people last set foot in Camp Crystal Lake, but it only took a year in the real world for Paramount to capitalize on the success of FRIDAY THE 13TH and launch a sequel. Working on the same things that made the first such a success (scantily clad women, gory and gruesome deaths involving creating uses of various tools), FRIDAY THE 13th PART 2 is a prime example of what's become a sort of staple for horror sequels: namely, "second verse, same as the first."

For those not familiar with the first film, it's nicely summarized in a quick prologue. Alice, the lone survivor from the first movie, has a nightmare where she relives all the key moments from the original FRIDAY THE 13TH. Sweet old Mrs. Voorhees, after seeing her mentally-handicapped son Jason drown at camp Crystal Lake a few years before, the victim of camp counselor neglect, goes on a killing spree until Alice finally decapitates her with a machete. Alice retreats to the middle of the lake, where the film and her dream closes: a misshapen and very much alive Jason Voorhies jumping out of the water to pull her down.

Was it real or just a dream? The police think the latter, and Alice is inclined to believe them. Now trying to get her life back together, she's living alone with her cat, odd David Bowie-ish sketches lining her apartment. This lasts for about two minutes, when Jason creeps into her apartment and drives a thin awl into the side of her head. Cue the credits, and we're off.

It's five years later, "Camp Blood" as it's now called has been condemned, and a new batch of counselors are in training at the camp across the lake. Everyone knows the story of what happened, and the rumors of Jason, the "beast-boy" supposedly still running wild in the grounds. But hey! We're all young, sexy kids...what's the worse that could happen.

Oh, ripe, juicy pickings.

Steve Miner, the production assistant on the first film and future director of horror flicks like HOUSE, WARLOCK, and the third FRIDAY film makes his directorial debut here, and he does a nice job, using long, steady takes, misdirection, and careful lighting to give the film a nice, polished look. The script by Ron Kurz (uncredited on the first film) is descent, giving us some characters we like, a little more humor, and ample opportunities for women to take their clothes off. There's one nice transition where a screaming woman, about to be killed by Jason, is suddenly cut to a wailing guitar, being played by the band where a large portion of the campers are. They also keep most of the blood off-screen: with Tom "Man-God" Savini not doing the makeup effects this time around and some serious MPAA restrictions, a lot of the horror of the movie is implied rather than direct, often cutting away right as the violence begins.

We don't get our first real glimpse of Jason until after an hour into the movie. His arrival, under the sheets of next to one of the women he's killed (using the old "spear through the copulating couples" trick we saw back in BAY OF BLOOD a few days ago) is pretty horrific. Although missing the iconic hockey mask he's most famous for (he gets that in PART 3), he's still a towering figure, wearing dirty blue overalls and a torn white pillowcase over his head. He's fast, too - certainly not the lumbering behemoth we're used to in later films.

The climax of the movie, a prolonged chase sequence between Jason and Ginny, the heroine of the movie shows a lot of imagination. After escaping numerous attempts at death by pitchfork, Ginny makes her way to a dilapidated old shack. She goes in and finds Mrs. Voorhees head on a table surrounded by candles, an alter her son worships at. Putting her child psychology skills to use, she puts on a ratty old sweater and impersonates her, causing Jason to stop and bow down before her so she can deliver a killing blow. She misses, and the film continues on until it oddly runs out of steam, but this section was pretty unique for a schlock horror film.

FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 has some definite problems: The cuts imposed from the MPAA makes a lot of the editing feel a bit choppy, causing some of the kills to lack a visceral punch, and completely confusing the climax, ending the film on a deflated note. We never learn what happens to some of the characters, including Ted, the comic relief of the movie, who I assume is still drinking at the bar he was left at. But it does what it has to do: by the movie's end we have a Jason who seemingly cannot be killed, paving the way for nine movies (as of this date, anyway), and creating the template for clone after clone after clone.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dead Snow (2009)

Being Film #6 in Hail Horror 4. Thanks to Sean from Spectacular Views for the recommendation.

Nazi Zombies. Should I be disappointed or proud that it took humanity this long to make a movie featuring Nazi Zombies? And how on God's green Earth did the Norwegians think of it first?

On the surface DEAD SNOW is your run-of-the-mill "kids in the woods" movie. A group of medical students on Easter break head up to an eerie cabin in the woods where they do what any fun-loving Norwegians would do: cavort in the snow, drink beer, and make out. One night they're visited by a grizzled old camper who chastises them for not reading up on the local history: apparently a nasty regiment of German soldiers terrorized a series of towns, raping and killing and stealing all the valuables they could carry. The villagers eventually banded together and chased the regiment out into the woods, where they supposedly froze to their deaths. Or did they?

Sounds like a couple dozen other films I could rattle off the top of my head. Dig a little deeper though, and DEAD SNOW offers a subtle interplay of different themes. It's at once a meditation on...

Oh, who am I kidding - DEAD SNOW is exactly what it sounds like - no more, no less. In fact, as far as story and characters go it's a pretty generic film. But it does have one thing going for it that makes for a damn fun experience. Care to guess what it is?

That's right, my friends...Nazi F----n' Zombies.

And not just your typical Nazi Zombies (I can't believe I just wrote that) - these Nazi Zombies have no desire to shamble around feasting on the flesh of the dead. They run like they're competing in the 1932 Olympics, and instead of trying to gnaw on your bones they punch you dead in the face and stab you repeatedly with their bayonets. It's outlandish, over-the-top, and pretty much unlike any other zombie I've seen in film up to this point.

The film was directed and co-written by Tommy Wirkola, whose brief filmography seems to favor the horror/comedy mix. He peppers DEAD SNOW with the requisite horror references and stereotypes - the kids are a hodge-podge of every other horror cast, including the film geek who quotes EVIL DEAD and wears a BRAINDEAD t-shirt (actually, I gave him points for that). There's the obligatory Sam Raimi moment where the leads start to equip themselves for battle with sudden close-ups of chainsaws and knives, and the film doesn't really try to do anything other than have fun coming up with ways to kill humans and zombies alike.

Where Wirkola does excel is in utilizing the uniqueness of the environment and his creatures. Norway is a beautiful country, and he makes full use of its pristine landscapes, shooting the majority of the carnage in full daylight. And that carnage is pretty inventive: my favorite sequence involves Vegard, the rugged outdoorsy student, and his series of battles with the zombies alone on the mountains. At one point he gets thrown off a cliff with a zombie holding on to his legs, the only thing keeping him from falling being the thin line of intestines he's holding onto, which are attached to another zombie impaled on a tree. If you squint it almost looks like an extreme sports documentary.

The final showdown is suitably bloody and involves a few fun gags, including a great blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment when one of the leads sprints toward a zombie with a hammer and sickle, which he crosses together in the familiar Russian symbol that had me rolling. All in all DEAD SNOW isn't what I would call a stellar horror movie, but just based on the inventiveness of its main draw and the obvious fun the movie has with itself makes this a great group experience, and a worthwhile addition to the zombie genre.

Besides: when you're talking about frickin' Nazi Zombies, as a friend pointed out to me, what more do you need?

Quick Note: Normally, I wouldn't have used the term "Nazi Zombies" so many times in a review, but really: what chance am I ever going to have again to use it? Can someone say DEAD SNOW? Yes, please!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Bay of Blood (1971)

Being Film #5 in Hail Horror 4, and a contribution to the Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies Italian Horror Blog-a-thon

Most of what I know about Mario Bava comes from reading: the grandfather of Italian Horror, creator of the giallo genre and a prime influence on generations of filmmakers, among them Dario Argento, who would go on to refine and bring the genre to a legion of fans worldwide. But my practical film experience with Bava was limited to BLACK SUNDAY, admittedly a masterpiece of mood and a great movie to boot, but not really indicative of what I was about to see in BAY OF BLOOD, aka TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE.

A twisted version of an Agatha Christie mystery, BAY OF BLOOD starts out with the death of an insect, falling into the aforementioned bay. Within the next eight minutes the other two characters we meet, a wheelchair-bound old woman and a mysterious man are also killed with no explanation. The mysterious man throws a noose around the woman's next and kicks her wheelchair out from under her, leaving her to the die as her useless legs scrape against the floor. The man's victory is short-lived, as seconds later he's stabbed multiple times and slowly dragged away from the scene by someone unseen. These two murders set the scene for the rest of BAY OF BLOOD, as the rest of the characters introduced in short order either kill or die or do both as the mystery as to who the woman was and why she died comes to light.

A lot of BAY OF BLOOD may seem familiar to someone watching it for the first time: that's because large chunks of the film have been re-cycled over and over again in the slasher films we've all come to know and love, most notably FRIDAY THE 13th (reviewed here years ago), which utilizes the killer POV, the basic setting (trading a set of houses on the bay for a camp on the lake), right down to one of FRIDAY's more audacious kills (from the second film): the spearing of two kids making love:

But where BAY OF BLOOD outshines FRIDAY is in the glee it takes with its despicable cast of characters. No one is good - everyone is after something, and murder seems to be a small price to pay to get it. The only people seemingly innocent of the whole thing is the one piece of BAY OF BLOOD that falters - in the middle of everything that's happening a group of four kids our joyriding in a car that looks suspiciously like Speed Buggy wind up at the house where the old woman was murdered and decide to fool around and explore, and are of course promptly all killed within minutes. Later on their deaths are used to make a connection between two of the principle players later, but the whole sequence feels kind of wedged in, despite being a LOT of fun to watch.

Bava, who's also credited as one of the screenwriters as well as the DP, shows a great sense of lurid style, using bright colors juxtaposed with some of the dark surroundings, and a clever (if not always successful) use of going in and out of focus, particularly when coming up to a weapon. The film may not look very expensive, but it doesn't look cheap in any way, either. There a re plenty of great moments that are reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock, including a swimming scene where one of the girls gets her leg caught on a line that's holding down a dead body. When it rises to the surface, it makes its presence known by slowly floating toward her until its decayed hand prods her on the buttocks. The deaths are all flashy and use copious amounts of bright red, but the kicker has to be the ending, giving a big middle finger and a raspberry to everything that went on before it, all to a bright, sunny soundtrack.

As a history lesson BAY OF BLOOD shows exactly where so many of the tropes we've come to expect from our 80s slasher horror comes from, and also shows that it can be executed with a sense of style often missing from its larger budgeted descendants. Factor in the sweet ending and you have a great introduction to Bava's work as well as a film worthy for any midnight marathon.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Deadgirl (2008)

Being Film #4 in Hail Horror 4

You might have noticed a bit of a trend here: I'm trying to alternate between older, vintage films and some of the newer releases. I also want to try and make some of these more concise, so pardon if things feel a little awkward at first.

Although, watching DEADGIRL, a small independent film that made a splash at last year's Fantastic Fest, awkward would be a relief. DEADGIRL is an ugly, twisted film that goes to places that what passes for "Torture Porn" films like the HOSTEL and SAW movies only dream of traveling to. Rickie and J.T are two low-life high school students who decide to skip school during a fire drill to chug some beers and cause a little trouble down at the abandoned old mental institution. The name of the movie comes from what they find stuck down in the place's basement: a filthy, emaciated young woman, chained to a table and covered in a transparent tarp. She moans, moves - she's alive.

Or maybe not. The horror isn't in whether or the chained girl is alive, dead, human, or something else...the horror stems from the increasingly sick acts of depravity committed by J.T. and his friends as peer pressure combined with the allure of being able to do anything to the girl without repercussion escalates until soon what began as a secret between two friends gets out, leading to some serious awfulness.

Done on a shoestring budget, writer Trent Haaga and directors Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel have crafted a film that doesn't shy away from its content, but also doesn't use it gratuitously - despite the actions in DEADGIRL, this is the furthest thing from the current "torture porn" genre. The writing is smart and dead-on in the way it deals with the small moments between friends and family, and the way it plays with the zombie genre it's got its foot in. The acting is largely done by relative unknowns, but they're completely effective at making everything feel believable and rooted in the real world. Noah Segan's J.T. is one of the most twisted, sadistic people I've seen in a film in a long time, and his scenes play out so that even as you're turning away from his actions you can't. Shiloh Fernandez is Rickie, and he has a hard role as the protagonist, and as you watch the decisions he makes by the end of the film it feels both heartbreaking and inevitable.

These are the types of films we should be seeing in wider release. DEADGIRL is smart and truly frightening for showing us the horror that's within ourselves. Essential horror viewing - I can't wait to see what the team behind this movie does next.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Raw Meat (1972)

Being Film #3 in Hail Horror 4. Thanks to Dennis Cozzalio of Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule for the recommendation.

Man do I miss the 70s. Remember when people wore mustaches? And I don't mean those sparse wisps of hair that look like they've been applied with dabs of saliva that are popular right now - I mean thick, Tom Selleck "I-mean-business" mustaches, the kind that will look after you in a bar fight and lend you a fiver when you're short for the next round.

Mustaches don't have a lot to do with RAW MEAT (also known as DEATH LINE), a crazy little film about a series of disappearances in a London subway system, but they're there, on the face of the first character we see, a gentleman in nice clothes and a bowler hat ducking in and out of various strip clubs while the film's score throbs like a seedy porn soundtrack that's been left in the dirt for too long, buzzing and pulsing with an ominous low-end. It's also on the face of Christopher Lee, who puts in a cameo as an MI5 operative who comes to warn Inspector Calhoun (Donald Pleasence) off the case of the missing man, who it turns out is a powerful figure in the English government. They're there, and it's just another piece of the pie that makes RAW MEAT such a hilarious treat of a movie to watch.

The crux of the story is that almost a hundred years ago the company digging the rail tunnels had an accident - a tunnel collapsed, trapping the men and women inside (it's said that in those days men and women worked the tunnels together). Since the company was facing bankruptcy, they left the people there to die. or, as the surveyor explains to Calhoun, they also could have lived off the water and bodies of those who died.

Which is of course exactly what happened.

Not much of a mystery, especially since what's happening is explained within the first 15 minutes of RAW MEAT. But this is a movie where you don't go for the story. Nor for the two romantic leads who are pretty forgettable and whose story is utterly predictable. No. You're going into this for one reason and one reason only:

The bug-shit best Donald Pleasence performance I've ever seen.

Maybe I haven't seen enough of the man's work, but I've always considered Pleasence to be the perfect milquetoast - quiet, easily cowed when threatened, quiet and mousy if somewhat dignified, much like his roles in THE GREAT ESCAPE and HALLOWEEN. Well take that persona, flip it 180 degrees and give it a Scotch (a double, preferably) and you have his laugh-out loud portrayal of Inspector Calhoun - a man who loves his tea, likes to get drunk and make fun of his assistant (the equally funny Norman Rossington), steal liquor from a suspect's house, and basically give up on a case when he's too hungover or frustrated to care. It would be a mistake to think this was due to any flippancy on Pleasence's part regarding the role; he plays Calhoun with a vigor and relish that would imply he knows exactly what he wants to do with the character. I laughed out loud numerous times at his quips and especially his sarcasm, particularly when interrogating the male lead about the missing gentleman.

As far as the horror is concerned, there's some pretty gnarly gore - the film's called RAW MEAT after all, and there's copious amounts of rotted carcasses strewn about the cannibal's lair. It's suitably seedy, and there are a couple of slow, long pans that move from body to body, torn off hands and rotted skulls. There's also a perhaps unintentionally funny fight between three subway workers and the cannibal where we get to see a shovel cut through someone's skull and a broom handle shoved through a torso, complete with hanging bits of goo. Good stuff. The cannibal shows some signs of intelligence: when we first meet him he's trying to revive the only other cannibal, a pregnant woman too sick to move. When she dies, he files into a rage and kidnaps the male lead's girlfriend, who he hopes will take his dead love's place. Living under the subway however hasn't done much for his vocabulary; the only words he can utter is a sickly "Mind the doors" which gets creepier and creepier during the climax of the film.

Even if there were nothing else to recommend about the film, the crazy Donald pleasence performance makes RAW MEAT a must-see. But you also get a great Christopher Lee cameo and a guy who eats people. What more could you want?

In lieu of a closing picture, check out the full trailer below:

Trick 'r Treat (2008)

Being Film #2 in Hail Horror 4

Mike Dougherty gets it.

It's not that he gets Halloween (although after after watching TRICK 'R TREAT it's obvious he does), it's that he gets what it's like being a kid on Halloween, the balancing act between being cool in front of your friends and falling under the spell of the jack-o-lanterns, of ghosts and ghouls and the joy of being scared out of your wits. He gets the excuse older kids use Halloween for, where keggers in the woods and kisses in the dark invite their own pagan ritualistic comparisons. And he gets the sense of jealousy so many adults feel when they can only take part as a parent, or as a joke at the office party.

But the thing Mike Dougherty really gets, the things he innately understands, is how to make a horror film that's fun without being a comedy, how to evoke the feelings that the great, inventive horror films of the 80s gave us without resorting to hipster self-referencing that winks and tries to show you just how cool it is. TRICK 'R TREAT is that rare horror movie that's as smart as it is fun, and sincere in its love of the genre.

At its core TRICK 'R TREAT is a series of connected tales, taking place on a single night in the town of Warren Valley, OH, a small town whose denizens take the celebration of Halloween very seriously. The town comes alive with parades, parties, and the sounds of children going from house to house. Time moves back and forth between four distinct stories (including one that bookends the film), each blending into the other so that something seen on the periphery in one tale becomes prominent in another. In one, Dylan Baker plays a harried school principal, frustrated at the constant interruptions from his neighbor, his son, and a feisty dog as he goes about his night's work. What that work is, and how his story ends becomes part of another's tale: Anna Paquin as the shy little sister, going out with her friends to find a young man to spend the night partying with. The other stories, one about a group of kids using an old town ghost story to play a cruel prank on a sensitive girl, and a cranky old man's (Brian Cox) battle with a horrible little trick-or-treater and his own past are also intertwined, and it's a credit to Dougherty's sharp writing that all the twists and turns the stories take to interact with one another never feel forced or stand out as pretentious.

The lynchpin that holds everything together is Sam, a pint-sized demon in ragged clothes and a burlap sack sown into a cute jack-o-lantern face. He's the spirit of the holiday, appearing each each story, sometimes to observe, sometimes playing a more active role. He's an iconic mix of cute and eerie that embodies the fun/scary tone of the film, and Dougherty wisely doesn't go into any explanations concerning his origins or motives - it's enough that the audience connects him with all the things we think of when we picture Halloween.

The direction's equally impressive for a first-time director. Doughtery keeps everything moving at a brisk pace, showing a good eye for framing and a refusal to move the camera in ways that don't feel natural. You won't find any Sam Raimi "camera on a shopping cart" techniques here (speaking of Raimi, DRAG ME TO HELL, while being more overtly comic, is another great example of getting the tone right - maybe 2009 isn't as dismal as it seems) - the visuals are enough without drawing attention to how the camera got there.

There's a little bit of everything in TRICK 'R TREAT: ghosts, serial killers, vampires, werewolves, razor blades in candy and creepy old men, all done with an eye towards a good scare and a good laugh, with the scare coming first. It's a shame that TRICK 'R TREAT got screwed by Warner Premier's inability to see what they had in their hands: in a holiday season overrun with lackluster remakes of 70s slashers and brainless SAW sequels, TRICK 'R TREAT would have been a great theater experience. As it is I'll settle for putting every year with a loud group of friends.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Curse of the Werewolf (1961)

Being Film #1 in Hail Horror 4. Thanks to Tony Dayoub of Cinema Viewfinder for the recommendation.

* Lesson learned: don't name your .jpg images the same or else the next time you try exporting a post from one blog to another, you'll wind up losing awesome pictures only to be replaced by incorrect ones.  Sorry!

Sumptuous colors, a lush orchestral score, passions both restrained and unhinged...THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF is horror filtered through a Douglas Sirk melodrama, a tortured psychological thriller that indulges in the vibrant red of spattered other words, the singular calling card of Hammer Films. But THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF stands out - both from its fellow Hammer productions as well as other werewolf films - by rooting its lycanthropy in religion and the base desires of human sexuality, playing up the madness and despair of its afflicted lead, and allowing the supporting cast to be more than terrified villagers.

The film is roughly divided into three sections, with the first 30 minutes dedicated to a wicked origin story that sets itself apart from the chaff. A beggar unwisely decides to ply his trade at the reception of the depraved Marques Siniestro, whose name playfully implies his twisted nature. He's thrown into the dungeons and left to rot away, his mind slipping through the years until it finally cracks with the arrival of the beautiful mute serving girl, imprisoned for rebuffing the now-ancient Marques' advances. The beggar rapes the poor girl and, having indulged in his carnal appetites, promptly dies. Upon being released with the admonition that she "apologize" the the Marques, she does so - with the pointed end of a torch holder:

It's one of only a handful of truly shocking moments, but its purpose, along with the rape and the wedding scene before it, is to set the stage for the many different conflicts the movie presents with regards to love and lust. In that vein THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF dives directly into waters only hinted at in other werewolf films (GINGER SNAPS comes to mind as a wonderful exception), exploring the concept of love holding the beast at bay while lust unleashes it. The mute woman runs away and is found and cared for by Lord Alfredo, a kind nobleman and his religious maid, Teresa.

The next couple of sequences play into the religious aspects of the curse, something new in my experience. Teresa begins to fear the baby will be born on Christmas Day, a bad omen and "an insult to Heaven" as she tells Lord Alfredo. Sure enough, a wolf's howl precedes the cry of the newborn, and the woman dies. Deciding to raise the child himself, Lord Alfredo prepares for the baby's baptism, and the discussion with the priest yields some interesting conjectures on the nature of curses. The priest's suspicion is that the horrible nature of Leon's conception allowed him to be possession by an evil spirit.

So already the story's taken an interesting couple of left turns, and the quality of the story is matched by the firm direction by Terence Fisher, who also directed some of the best early Hammer Films, including THE HORROR OF DRACULA and THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, both featuring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing in their most memorable roles. There's a great early sequence where young Leon is questioned by Lord Alfredo as to whether he remembers leaving the house (he's been mysteriously shot in the leg) and the boy recalls a frightening episode/dream where he was taken along hunting and, after refusing to kill a squirrel, later begins to suck its blood, recalling how sweet it tasted. Taking this as a warning, Lord Alfredo bars the boy's windows, and we get a sense of what's in store for Leon as he rails against his confinement at the next full moon:

Despite the goodwill fostered by the script and direction, things could still fall flat if Leon isn't adequately portrayed as an adult. No worries - in a very early role Oliver Reed is fantastic, barely able to be constrained by the screen. His journey to manhood: leaving home and going to work in a nearby town is mirrored by the journey his heart takes, falling in love with the daughter of his employer, yet succumbing to his base desires by traveling to a brothel with his friend. It's there, drunk and in the arms of a whore that the first transformation takes place, and blood is spilled. But again THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF refuses to conform: rather than piling on scene after scene of rampant killing and hunting, the movie looks at Leon's gradual realization of what he is becoming, and his family's attempts to cure him through their love. The night spent in the arms of Catherine, his true love, is enough to stop the transformations, and the climax of the film where Leon is jailed under suspicion of the murders is powerful, the look of fright on his face is striking as he implores the law to allow Catherine to stay.

Of course, the film has to end as it must, with a transformation, a chase through the streets, and a silver bullet through the heart. So rather than focus on the ending, I'll just say a few words about the actual werewolf effects. While the early effects feel a little shoddy (hair tape to the young Leon's arms and palms, a hand transformation that shows a pair of obviously wooden hands slowly growing either fur or moss), the final reveal of the creature is a tour de force, sold 100% by Reed's face. It reminds me of the early still of Benicio del Toro attacking Rick Baker back when the upcoming WOLF MAN was still going to be done practically (it has since been revamped and now appears to be mostly CGI based on the trailer). Del Toro's face is devoid of make-up; he sells the beast with his face alone, and Reed, although covered in make-up still manages to put his own features forward. It's a terrific look, and is reminiscent in feel if not in actual look to the Beast in Jean Cocteau's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.

I don't have a lot of experience when it comes to the Hammer Films, and although I wouldn't go out of my way to describe THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF as particularly frightening, it's a damn solid piece of film making that should be seen to see a great example of how the werewolf genre doesn't have to be so rote. Here's hoping Universal's upcoming remake furthers the trend sadly left behind by other, lesser films.

Strange Comforts

It's odd how things work out.

I knew I was going to be a few days late getting to Hail Horror 4; my business trip to Texas turned out to be a lot more draining than I thought, and every day I was home turned into something that needed to be addressed with the family, whether it was my wife's grandmother's 90th birthday party, my son's first day of nursery school, and a lot of prep work for a job I'm currently pursuing that's far outside the type of work I do now. Nevertheless, I was finally at a place where I was ready to go, I had in fact ditched the first movie I saw (Werner Herzog's remake of NOSFERATU, which I liked but couldn't generate enough of a reaction to write about) and settled on another to kick things off.

When I got the call from my brother, who lives down in Florida a few minutes away from my father, he explained that my father was in the hospital. In the middle of the night he suffered a mild heart attack. He thought nothing of it, and went back to bed. He had his second a few hours later and, rather than do the smart thing and wake his wife, or call 9-1-1, he decided to drive himself to the airport.

Leaving his car he collapsed in the parking lot, his third heart attack in 12 hours. The hospital staff found him and rushed him into the emergency room.

That was Monday. Now it's Wednesday, and things are the same. He flat-lined yesterday, and was resuscitated. Today they're going in to see what's going on. And I've had a little time to come to grips with what's going on, and the weird thing I found myself going to the stack of horror movies sitting on top of the television cabinet.

This isn't the first time I've found horror to be a comfort. When my wife was pregnant with our son, she went into labor eight weeks early, and was forced to stay in the hospital for four weeks. It was early May outside, the sun shining through the growing buds on the trees, but inside it was FRIDAY THE 13TH, HALLOWEEN, and NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET.

Maybe the real draw of horror is that at times we're compelled to wipe away the pain and terror in our lives, and one way to do that is to expose ourselves to something even more gruesome and terrifying. Maybe it's a chance to escape, to see someone handle the unknown and unexplainable so that we can better cope with our own hurdles.

At any rate, it looks like the first entry will be up tonight, with more to come by week's end.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I didn't intend to start Hail Horror 4 this late, but sometimes life decides to punch you dead in the face when you least expect it. Llast night my father had three heart attacks, and the idea of watching horror films doesn't seem so appetizing at the moment.

As soon as I know what's going on I'll be back to kick things off properly.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

C.H.U.D. (1984)

After reviewing C.H.U.D. last year I was afraid to re-visit any of my cherished kid movies for a while...what would happen if it turns out ICE PIRATES with Robert Urich isn't as good either?! #9 in the 3/4 done Hail Horror 4 prelude.


C.H.U.D. is a great example of how time can play tricks on the mind. I hadn't seen the film since I was a kid, maybe 15, 16 years old. All I could remember was the unbelievably awesome acronym: Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers. Which pretty much said it all, really. The only other thing I recalled was really bad, tongue-in-cheek kind of humor.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

Not about it being bad; C.H.U.D. is pretty awful. But its awfulness stems from its absolute earnestness around the plot. This is a damn serious movie, despite how tacky and cheesy it is at times. And it gets even weirder when you see such stars as Daniel Stern, John Heard, and even a brief appearance by John Goodman, who can't hide his charm even when he's playing a loser cop at a diner for less than a minute of screen time.

For those of you that blocked it out of your minds, C.H.U.D. is about a group of missing persons in the city, mostly homeless people called "undergrounders," who live in the sewer systems. When a cop's wife also goes missing, he begins an investigation involving the head of a soup kitchen (Stern, in full afro mode) and a photographer (Heard) who had made a name for himself shooting a series of photo essays on the homeless. They eventually learn that a bill to move toxic waste through the city was being appealed , and in the meantime the waste has been just sitting there, underground. Slowly the Undergrounders have been turning into vicious radioactive monsters who are no longer content to remain underground. C.H.U.D. is the name given to the creatures in a classified file on the beasts.

There are som gross-out moments, mostly focusing on bodies ripped in half and one scene where a clogged shower drain suddely shoots out a geyser of blood that rivals A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET's classic Johnny Depp death scene. But the C.H.U.D.'s are very much Man-in-Suit types: you can envision where the zippers are. I read one review where they likened the creatures to Sloth in THE GOONIES, which isn't really too far off the mark. Their eyes glow like big orange bulbs, they jump out and pose menacingly before killing you, and in one bizarre case they stretch their necks out in some weird, phallic pose that's outright laughable:

Stern and Heard are both pretty decent considering what they're up against - Heard in particular tries to wring everything he can out of his scenes with his pregnant girlfriend. But that's not enough for a movie tries too hard to send multiple social messages instead of just being scary good fun.

In the end you get strangled dogs, decapitated homeless people, and lots of hands coming out of man hole covers. You find out that C.H.U.D. in fact stands for something other than Cannibalisitic Humanoid Underground Dwellers, but you won't care because in the end that's what it HAS to stand for; it's the best thing about the movie.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Hatchet (2007)

A couple notes concerning my review of HATCHET, #8 in the prelude to Hail Horror 4. It was written in response to a film request from a friend of mine, and was viewed (and reviewed) while more than a little intoxicated. I decided not to revise it, as that would possibly entail me having to re-watch the film again. Writer/Director Adam Green is currently being hailed as one of the rising stars of horror, and I have to admit that his collection of shorts done with Joe Lynch (WRONG TURN 2) for this year's FrightFest are wickedly funny, so it's possible I just wasn't in the mood for this kind of thing when I saw it.

Or maybe not. It could just suck.
NOTE: I should mention that in hindsight the character of the swamp guide was so ridiculous he made me laugh. So factor that in when you decide whether or not to see HATCHET.

This one's for Sean, who loaded up his Netflix queue with horror films he was interested in and told me to take my pick. So before I talk about 2007's HATCHET, directed by Adam Green, here is a personal message to Sean:

"Hi Sean! Hope you're doing well - Jack misses you, so stop by soon! Oh, and by the way - you have some fantastic horror films in your queue. At a glance I can whole-heatedly recommend films like ROGUE, DANCE OF THE DEAD (obviously) BASKET CASE (which I hope to review next week), the original BLACK CHRISTMAS, and GINGER SNAPS, which I adore. Please, PLEASE consider these options very carefully before taking a look at HATCHET. You've been warned..."

Why do I say that? Because the poster's tag line of "Old Fashioned American Horror" roughly translates to "low-budget 80's throwaway that stars someone who looks and acts roughly like the dude who stars in that show Chuck". And while I can understand the film as a sort of reaction to the glut of PG-13 stuff that passes itself off as "horror" nowadays, HATCHET relies on simple devices like silly music and purposeful overacting for humor that feels more tired than funny. And the horror, when it does come, is pretty much like everything else you've seen in the mid 80's, just not as scary. Or good.

In short: a motley crew of tourists take an illegal nighttime cruise in the swamps of New Orleans where they're terrorized by Victor Crowley, a deformed giant who was supposedly killed as a child when, after a childhood prank burns down his home, his father mistakenly slams a hatchet in his face trying to save him by breaking the door down. You have your lanky hero, a pair of porno starlets and their sleazy director, the hot loner chick who will eventually have a tender moment with said hero, and the obligatory black sidekick who's main role is to scream and toss off unfunny one-liners. That's it. People get picked off one by one in gore-infested ways until only one remains.

Or maybe not, because every horror movie nowadays needs that little "jump" at the end that was probably the first thing thought of by the screenwriter. And I'll admit that the ending to HATCHET is sly and kind of cool, but definitely not worth sitting through 90 minutes to get to. Very brief cameos by genre vets Robert "Freddy Krueger" Englund and Tony "Candyman" Todd bring a little life but are in for too short a time to make any difference. Huge gaps in internal logic pervade every decision made in the film, the power of Victor Crowley is inconsistent and although the gore is pretty impressive for such a low-budget movie, the murder scenes are shot in an over-the-top in a way that borders on the ridiculous.

Maybe drunk with a bunch of friends who don't care about anything other than tits and blood (both are offered in copious amounts) is the way to watch HATCHET. It doesn't have any of the terror that the movies it prides itself on being a part of (e.g. FRIDAY THE 13th, etc..) have, so what promises to be a refreshing change from the typical instead finds itself barely retreading water from 25 years instead of 5.


Re-Cycle (2006)

Business travel got the better of me, so pardon the lack of reviews over the past few days. I'll get a few up today, starting with this horror/fantasy from the Pang Brothers, who brought us THE EYE a few years back. #7 in our ramp-up to Hail Horror 4.
In a weird, unsuccessful way the Pang Brothers are kind of hot in Hollywood right now. Having made a name for themselves in Asia with films like THE EYE and BANGKOK DANGEROUS, they made their US directing debut with the poorly received THE MESSENGERS, which tried to mix elements of the traditional "J-Horror" with a more Midwestern, American vibe. Both THE EYE and, more recently, BANGKOK DANGEROUS, have been given Hollywood makeovers, with the latter being adapted by the brothers themselves.

Surprise: the films tanked, and yet we still get a Region 1 release of their 2006 horror/fantasy film RE-CYCLE. Reuniting them with their EYE star Angelica Lee, I saw some incredible stills a few years ago but despaired of it ever coming around this neck of the woods. Although guilty of a few abrupt shifts in tone and editing, and some obvious CGI, RE-CYCLE turns out to be an interesting mix of ideas, taking the ghostly scares from horror and borrowing heavily from fantasy fare like THE WIZARD OF OZ and THE NEVERENDING STORY, layering fantastical images one upon the other.

Lee plays Ting-yin, a successful novelist whose new book, Re-Cycle, is a supernatural departure from her usual love stories. She begins to concoct her tale: a young woman with long hair being haunted, but writer's block and personal complications cause her to throw away her notes in frustration. Soon after she begins to notice strange things in her apartment: long strands of hair left on the counter, and movement out of the corner of her eye. The Pang Brothers shoot everything with an alarming clarity, often using extreme close-ups of everyday objects to emphasize the tension in the scene. They do well with the ghostly images as well: in one tense scene Ting-yin puts her head down to listen to odd noises emanating from her answering machine. When she picks her head back up, a blurry ghost head pick up its head a second later.

She later meets with an old lover who abandoned her years ago for another woman he got pregnant. Upset at the encounter and still freaked out over the disturbances in her apartment Ting-yin becomes lost, transported to a nightmarish world where everything deserted and abandoned winds up, and is being pursued by the remnants of the very character she tossed aside in the trash.

There are plenty of scare of the "jump" variety in RE-CYCLE, but the real fun comes in the Gilliam-esque (not really a word, but you know what I mean) images and scenery the Pang Brothers create. Seemingly right out of films like BARON MUNCHAUSIN and BRAZIL, we're treated to a basement straight of some urban version of Dante's Inferno, where evil things stutter and scream in darkened spaces, a building constructed entirely of books, a land of broken toys, and a decrepit amusement park impossibly situated between two apartment buildings:

An old man and a young girl aid her in her quest to return to the real world, and to tell you who these people are would be to spoil a large part of the movie. There's also a very disturbing section of the film where a significant abandonment issue is addressed, and we see that the implications of this episode have consequences that color the rest of the movie. Upon RE-CYCLE's release there was a lot of controversy around the film, many saying it was a thinly-veiled jab at abortion rights. But I think that's giving the film more of a reach than was intended - it feels much more like a narrative ploy to tie everything together into an obligatory "shock" ending. Which works, even if it's constructed out of ideas and images that are best taken as the stuff of dream and night terror rather than any tangible sense of reality.

From a purely visual perspective I enjoyed RE-CYCLE. There were more than couple nice scares (again, it was the "loud noise and jump" variety but that's okay) and there's plenty of eye-candy on display - Color and its conspicuous absence are used masterfully throughout the movie and everyone does a fine acting job. If you enjoy your horror or fantasy with a healthy dose of the industrial, give RE-CYCLE a try. There's more than enough there to keep you entertained.