October Horror Challenge: Day 11: “Night of the Creeps”

In 1959, on board an alien space ship, two aliens feverishly race to keep an experiment from being released. But it is too late and the seemingly possessed third alien they are pursuing has shot the canister into space where it crashes to Earth. On this night a young college man takes a date to a parking spot where they see a falling star and investigate. Unfortunately, it lands in the path of an escaped criminally insane mental patient. As his date falls victim to the axe-wielding maniac, the boy finds the canister, from which a small leech-like thing jumps out at him and into his mouth.

Later in 1986, Chris Romero is pining over a love lost, being supported by his handicapped friend J.C. During pledge week at Corman University, Chris spots a girl, Cynthia Cronenberg, and seems to fall instantly in love. To get her attention, he decides that he must join a fraternity. As a part of their pledge (although the frat leader who is dating Cynthia has no intentions of letting them join), they must steal a cadaver from the university medical center and place it on the steps of the Phi Omega Gamma house. Chris and J.C. find one in a top secret room that is being kept in a state of suspended animation, but when it grabs one of their arms as they try to move it, they lose their nerve and run back to their dorm room. Meanwhile, Detective Ray Cameron, a cop that dated the girl killed back in 1959 and is haunted by the memories of what he found that night, is called in to the cryogenics lab break-in where there were two bodies, but one is now missing. The missing body is the one released from its cryogenics tomb – the same boy who found the alien experiment back in 1959. This missing body makes its way back to the same sorority house where he picked up his date 27 years earlier and all hell breaks loose.

“Night of the Creeps” is a forgotten classic from 1986 that mixes just the right amount of humor with a nice dose of jump scenes. When the film was first released, it grossed only $500,000 at the US box office before being unleashed on VHS and on pay stations everywhere. I remember the first time I saw it being scared out of my mind and begging to sleep on the floor of my parents bedroom. While the film doesn’t scare me as it once did, the effects and the acting both hold up quite nicely. If the film does drag a bit in the second act, it comes roaring back for a killer finale. Good stuff all around.

October Horror Challenge: Day 10: “Leprechaun”

"Leprechaun and Little People Fetishes Centerfold, May 1994"

Oh the joys of “Leprechaun”. The basic plot? A really nasty leprechaun is robbed of his gold and forced to lie trapped in a crate for ten years thanks to a magical four-leaf clover. When the Leprechaun is awaken from his slumber, he makes a vow to kill everybody who stands in his way of his recovering his gold. Sound promising? I’d say your luck just ran out.

"Lucky Charms, My Ass!"

“Leprechaun” is the sort of movie I might expect to see from someone who decided that there simply MUST be a St. Patrick’s Day horror movie (or October movie challenge….haha). The movie does have one good thing going for it, though, a young Jennifer Aniston who is actually quite charming as our lead and ultimate “Final Girl”. Tory is a spoiled young girl from L.A. forced to spend the summer with her father and friends in an all but condemned house in North Dakota. The very same house the mean, old Leprechaun has been staying!

"You think this is bad? You haven't seen Love Happens yet!"

Ugh…is this movie over yet? There is a slight bit of blood and gore, but the leprechaun spends more time trying to be funny (his “jokes” make Freddy Krueger seem like Woody Allen) than providing us with satisfying deaths. Far too many ridiculous sight gags are played, insulting the intelligence of even the youngest of viewers, and the climax (“FUCK YOU LUCKY CHARMS”) is too inane for words. In the world of horror movies, Leprechaun is typical B-rated horror….nothing more and nothing less.

October Horror Challenge: Day 9: “Cabin Fever”

Four high school school friends Paul, Karen, Bert, Marcy and Jeff rent an isolated cabin in the woods to spend a week together. When they arrive, a man contaminated with a weird disease asks for help, but they panic and kill the man, who drops dead in the water reservoir. When Karen drinks tap water and gets the disease, the group starts their journey to hell.

“Cabin Fever” is a no-holds-bars white knuckle horror-comedy that is both scarier and funnier than 95% of the other crap out there. The setup is simple: Five teens decide to go camping out in the woods at an old cabin when, one-by-one, they begin to become the victims of a killer flesh eating virus. As one might expect, many characters are killed in an awesome over-the-top gory fashion and there is a solid amount of nudity for a 2003 horror flick. It can be argued that this movie is not for everyone but fans of 80′s gore films will be in gore heaven.

P.S. I’ve talked to many people who have said they didn’t care for this movie because it wasn’t scary. Sorry, wrong type of horror flick. Watch it expecting “Evil Dead” and you’ll be fine. Also, I am one of the few people out there that genuinely loves the gooey horror sundae of a sequel, “Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever”.

October Horror Challenge: Day 8: “The Last Slumber Party

“You’re invited to a party … the Last Slumber Party … where the girls are dying for a good time.”

From United Entertainment/VCI (Haven’t heard of them? Don’t worry, neither has 99% of the general population) who gave us the awful home video ultra-no budget hit “Blood Lake”, comes “The Last Slumber Party”. On their last day of high school, Linda, Tracy and Chris celebrate by having a slumber party at Linda’s house. A few boys drop by and the beer flows like wine. Just good, clean, fun-loving kids. But the girls have another visitor, one they don’t yet know about. Hiding in the house is a homicidal maniac who has just escaped from a mental hospital. Armed with a scalpel, the nut slashes a little here, a little there as he sneaks from room to room. One by one the guests start disappearing. What evil lurks there? What nightmare world have they entered?
The plot is twisted inside out, leaving you stunned and clinging to your chair as you witness shock after horrifying shock. The ending will leave you breathless. Umm….sure.

There are bad movies and then there is “The Last Slumber Party”. The film looks like it was made for about $20, features “actors” that wouldn’t be able to get extra roles in community theater, and has the audacity to be neither gory OR show nudity. The film claims it was made in 1988 but looks like it was probably filmed in 1982 or 1983 tops. The film looks wretched, shots go on and on to the point of boredom, and the sound switches from not being able to hear a damn thing to shouting in your ear. Sound like your cup of tea? Well dig in and enjoy the bad horror movie you are soaking in.

For entertainment value alone:

October Horror Challange: Day 7: “Seed of Chucky”

Chucky’s back and better than ever! Well, not quite, but “Seed of Chucky” is a silly, enjoyably campy horror flick with just the right mix of blood and giggles. The story? Glen, the orphan doll offspring of the irrepressible devilish-doll-come-to-life Chucky and his equally twisted bride Tiffany, is now alone, looking for his parents. When production starts on a movie detailing the urban legend of his parents’ lethal exploits, Glen heads for Hollywood where he brings his bloodthirsty parents back from the dead. The family dynamics are far from perfect as Chucky and Tiffany go Hollywood and get rolling on a new spree of murderous mayhem; much to gentle Glen’s horror. Chucky can’t believe that his child doesn’t want to walk in his murdering footsteps, and star-struck Tiffany can’t believe that the movie will star her favorite actress, Jennifer Tilly, who soon becomes an unwitting hostess to this new family in more ways than one… It may sound a bit confusing, but it is all done in good fun. Also in for the mix, John Waters plays a sleazy reporter obesssed with Tilly. Bloody good fun.

Trivia Facts about “Seed of Chucky”:
* The script was originally offered to Universal in 1998, who turned it down. Focus Features (a division of Universal Studios) finally picked up the movie in 2003.

* Jennifer Tilly wanted to lose weight to play herself in the movie, but she and Don Mancini inserted “fat jokes” into the script in case she didn’t make it.

* The TV spots for this movie displays an unusual disclaimer: Britney Spears Does Not Appear In This Movie. This disclaimer was inserted into TV spots because Britney’s management was concerned that people might be lead to believe that Britney actually appears in the movie. It is not her in the movie; but a look-alike.

* As revealed on the DVD’s commentary the directors and producer had difficulty agreeing on the look of Glen. The director wanted to give him his own look and style but the producer felt that he should have features similar to Chucky because after all Glen is his son. As a result Glen was given blue eyes, red hair, and freckles like Chucky. Glen’s blue eyes and red hair however are a different shade than Chucky’s.

* When the floor manager at the beginning of the film shouts “Hey, Tiffany’s left arm is loose again” and then the arm grabs his crotch, this is an in-joke as revealed on the DVD commentary for Bride of Chucky. Jennifer Tilly explains that Chucky’s left arm kept grabbing her breasts during shoots.

October Horror Challenge: Day 6: “Hell Night”

“Hell Night” beings with a massive Halloween style college party, Peter Bennett, the president of the Alpha Sigma Rho fraternity, decides to make four pledges: Marti, Jeff, Seth, and Denise told to stay at the historic Garth Manor until dawn on hell night as part of their initiation. Peter and a group of others, along with his friends Scott and May, bring everyone together and tells them about the jaded history of the estate as they walk while he leads them. Twelve years prior, Raymond Garth strangled his wife Lillian to death and then proceeded to murder three of his children (Morris, Suzanne, and Margaret due to them having decayed severe and deformities). After the carnage, Raymond hanged himself. However, police never found the body of the youngest Garth child, Andrew. Legend has it, Andrew witnessed the murder of his entire family and may still be living within Garth Manor.

Today I would like to celebrate one of my favorite early 80’s slashers: “Hell Night”. For some reason, “Hell Night” just never received the respect that it so richly deserved when it opened in 1981. Audiences had grown tired of college style slashers and, let’s face it, Jamie Lee Curtis was the new Linda Blair. Nonetheless, I find “Hell Night” to be a richly atmospheric (I love Gothic style horror films and the house portrayed here is beautifully lit and decorated) and solidly acted (even if Blair isn’t given much to do in the second act). Also, let us all admit one thing…the early 1980’s were the only time in our society where the boys were prettier than the girls. Case in point..the picture below. I rest my case.

Facts about “Hell Night”:
* Filming Hell Night took only 40 days. The majority of the movie was shot in three locations: The outside of Garth Manor was shot at a mansion in Redlands, California. (The Kimberly Crest mansion was converted from a private residence to a museum shortly after filming was completed.) The hedge maze was brought in as there was no actual garden maze on the mansion property. The inside of Garth Manor was filmed in a residential home in Pasadena, California. The frat party was filmed in an apartment lobby in Los Angeles, California. The many underground tunnels filmed in the movie were actually no more than two corridors in which the director had the actors running repeatedly through from different angles.

* For the scene where Jeff is thrown down a flight of stairs and hurt his leg, there was not a lot of acting involved. In reality, actor Peter Barton had really hurt himself and most of his limping was due to being in real physical pain.

* Interestingly, the two actors who portrayed the killers are not listed anywhere in the credits, and their real names remain a mystery. However, on the DVD commentary, it is noted that one of them passed away shortly after the release of the film.

* This review is part of the wonderful Stacie Ponder Final Girl Film Club. Rock on Stacie! Also, if you haven’t done so already make sure to go out and buy her book: Slashers 101.

October Horror Challenge: Day 5: “The People Under the Stairs”

Some movies are a little bit out there. Some movies are a little on the strange side. Some movies can be a put off putting to others. And some movies are “The People Under the Stairs.” I can honestly say that I have never seen another movie like it. A Wes Craven classic that nobody seems to remember, it is weird, over-the-top, and quite frequently crazy. You have a husband and wife (or mother and son or brother and sister, the movie really doesn’t make it very clear) that kidnap children to raise as their perfect offspring. However, when the child in question “hears, speaks, or sees evil” they are banished to the basement with the other neglected children. Sound fucked up?

Well, that’s only the start of it. The movie begins with a thirteen year old boy nicknamed Fool. Fools lives in the ghetto and has just found out his family is going to get evicted from their run down apartment. Fool is persuaded by family friend, Leroy, to sneak into the landlords’ home (the husband/wife, etc) to steal a prized coin collection rumored to be in their home. Desperate to help save his Mother’s life and the family from being thrown into the streets, Fool goes with Leroy and Leroy’s friend, Spenser, to the house.

Once they force their way into the house, they realize they got a lot more than they were looking for. After Spenser and Leroy are tragically killed, Fool tries to escape. Running for his life, he bumps into the landlords’ daughter, Alice, a young abused girl full of nothing but scars and fear. Fool feels sympathy towards Alice and persuades her to escape with him.

The movie works as a social parable about the rich and the poor but works even better as a balls-to-the-wall action/horror comedy that is just about as weird and crazy as you would imagine. I can’t recommend this movie to everyone but for those looking for a little leather gimp action, a crazy incest plot, and lots of hillbilly kids. Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Buy it here: The People Under the Stairs

October Horror Challenge: Day 4: “Scream 4”

Hmm…well, where to start when you are reviewing the most anticipated horror sequel of the year that is just now FINALLY being released on dvd/blu-ray? Seeing “Scream 4” just made me feel good, like reconnecting with old friends while making new ones as well. The film is just damn fun from beginning to end. And speaking of beginning, the opening fifteen minutes are terrific. It doesn’t beat the original’s opening, but it certainly toys with horror conventions while still being witty, dark and quite violent. The final twenty minutes is fucking insane. Hell, some of it is just down right crazy. Never in the history of the Scream franchise have I seen a killer go through what the killer goes through here. It is so bloody crazy that I couldn’t help but love it. But, I apologize for the random thoughts. Let us start at the beginning…

“Scream 4” begins on the fifteenth anniversary of the original Woodsboro murders, high school students Jenny Randall (Aimee Teegarden) and Marnie Cooper (Brittany Robertson) are attacked and brutally killed by a new Ghostface. The following day, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) returns to Woodsboro to promote her new book with her publicist Rebecca Walters (Alison Brie). Sidney becomes a suspect in the murders after evidence is found in her rental car, and she must stay in the town until the murders are solved. Her cousin, Jill (Emma Roberts), who is dealing with the betrayal of her ex-boyfriend, Trevor Sheldon (Nico Tortorella) gets a threatening phone call from Ghostface, as does her friend Olivia Morris (Marielle Jaffe). Jill and Olivia, alongside their friend Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere), are questioned about their calls by Dewey Riley (David Arquette), who is now the sheriff of the town, and one of his deputies, Judy Hicks (Marley Shelton). Meanwhile, Dewey’s now-wife, Gale Weathers-Riley (Courteney Cox), is struggling with writer’s block.

Sidney stays with her aunt Kate Roberts (Mary McDonnell). Later that night, Olivia, who lives next door to Jill, is attacked and murdered by Ghostface as Jill and Kirby watch in horror while Sidney was interrupted by a scream while reading her book. Sidney and Jill were injured in their attempt to save Olivia, and are taken to the hospital, where her publicist Rebecca is murdered in the parking garage. Gale, trying to solve the murders, enlists the help of two high school movie geeks, Charlie Walker (Rory Culkin) and Robbie Mercer (Erik Knudsen), who explain that the killer is using the rules of movie remakes to murder. Charlie concludes that the killer will probably strike at a party being held that night. Can the group of teens stop the killer before it is too late?

“Scream 4” is executed with an artistic flair of wit and style that long time fans and film buffs alike will love. While I sometimes wished there could have been a little more genuine tension and suspense, the final twenty minutes are just so off-the-wall that it makes up for any slow patches. All in all, this is bloody, fun, and very entertaining. The cast is clearly having a ton of fun, and most of them really put on a good show. This may be cinematic junk food but it sure is tasty.

October Horror Challenge: Day 3: “Silent Night, Deadly Night”

Described as “The ULTIMATE Killer Santa Movie”, where would Christmas be without a deranged, batshit crazy Santa? After his parents are murdered by a scalpel-wielding Santa, a young boy is sent to an orphanage. He ends up spying on two people having sex, and learns sex is a very naughty thing. A few years later, in a little, old fashioned department store, the kid is given the ultimate job: SANTA CLAUS. After seeing two people having sex in the storage room, he has flashbacks of his parents’ murder, and ends up killing them both. He then sets off on a massive killing spree. Can he be stopped? Or will Santa deliver new presents to all the little kids? This film is a hell of a lot of fun and the protests behind the film only add to the enjoyment. Well, kind of….

“Silent Night Deadly Night” is the kind of movie that makes you want to take a shower immediately after watching it. The entire experience just kind of makes you feel a little bit “icky”. Seriously, how else do you describe a movie in which a mother is raped in front of her children, a Santa Claus is shot down in cold blood in front of a bunch of orphaned children, or a scene in which a young girl is given a murder weapon by Santa immediately after he has killed her babysitter and the babysitter’s boyfriend? “Silent Night, Deadly Night” is not exactly the kind of feel good holiday movie that is sure to put a smile on your face.

I cannot in good faith recommend “Silent Night Deadly Night”. The acting is quite poor, the direction is flat, and the story has too many loose ends (don’t even get me started on the worthless sequel). But, those going into this film will know exactly what to expect. It is fun, for what it is. Just don’t expect much.

October Horror Challenge: Day 2: “Scream 2”

“By definition alone, [sequels] are inferior films.” Randy, “Scream 2”

Who would have thought that a small, low-budget horror movie named “Scream” would forever change the horror movie genre? When it was released in 1996, the small film was expected to do about $20 million at the box office and have a fast flight to video. The movie ended up grossing over $103 million ($171 million in today’s dollars) and spend nearly five months in the box office top 10. It achieved something that most horror movies do not: excellent reviews and terrific word-of-mouth. Less than one year later, director Wes Craven and company would be back in theaters will the cleverly titled “Scream 2”. Does “Scream 2” live up to the name of the original or does it die trying? Now that the horror meta movement has come and gone, how does it hold up as a slasher sequel to one of the most influential horror films in history?

“Scream 2” opens two years after the terrifying events that occurred in Woodsboro. Sidney is now attending Windsor College with long time friend and horror movie pal Randy. Meanwhile, Gale Weathers best selling book on Sidney’s life has now been made into a major motion picture. When two college students are killed in a theatre while watching the new film “Stab,” Sidney soon realizes that history is repeating itself again. Gale Weathers is present around the college reporting on the latest gruesome details that her movie has sparked. Sidney’s cop buddy Dewey comes to visit Sidney after he hears the news also. No one believes the murders were in any way connected to Woodsboro, until more students around the campus are found dead. Gale and Dewey investigate and find that someone is trying to recreate Woodsboro. Sidney is no rookie when it comes to surviving a killer but someone wiser is on campus to show her some good old fashion revenge.

Although at times I feel as though I am in the minority, I truly believe that “Scream 2” is the best film in the Scream franchise. This is that rare sequel that takes everything that works about its predecessor and manages to take it to another level. The deaths are suspenseful, the characters are charming and likable, and the twist ending works better than it has any right to. I also truly believe that this is some of Craven’s finest directing and the “cop car” scene is a hide-your-eyes-behind-your-fingers chiller of a scene. More than that, this film is just a hell of a lot of fun from beginning to end.