Thinner

Thinner Fat Suit

For my third Stephen King film, I picked Thinner (1996), which is kind of a mixed bag for me. The novel is one that I read over and over and over again to the point of it falling apart because I just thought the story was so damn cool, but the translation to screen is a little bumpy. Mr. Tom Holland is the director of this one too, and he co-wrote the screenplay adaptation with Michael McDowell (who helped craft the screenplays of both Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas!).

The story of Thinner is pretty basic, and somewhat chilling (at least, in the book it seemed so): overweight, obnoxious lawyer Billy Halleck (John Robert Burke) accidentally runs over a gypsy woman in his car and kills her — while his wife is giving him head —  and then uses his connections to get out of being punished for it. The gypsy’s ancient father decides to takes matters into his own wrinkled hands, by cursing Halleck with something that causes him to lose weight rapidly no matter how much he eats.

It doesn’t take Billy that long to figure out what’s up, and once he does, he spends the entire movie running around looking for a way to break the curse — and, and ogling hot gypsy Kari Wuhrer, but who wouldn’t? It’s a little boring, but since the whole movie only runs 93 minutes it’s okay. The best/funniest parts involve Wuhrer and her slingshot, and Joe Mantega as mob boss Richard Ginelli, who’s also an expert on Gypsies. Or something. (more…)

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Horrorvids: Ambassadors “Unconsolable”

Stumbled across this because of my love for Zosia Mamet (loved her on Mad Men, love her on Girls – just LOVE her). The song itself is just ok – catchy enough, but not really my style. However, Director Gabriel Stanley put together an effectively creepy portrait of a deranged killer that goes well with the music.

Watch ’til the end – that’s the best (and most splatteriffic) part.

Deadly Friend

Another Craven movie I saw in the theater with high hopes, 1986’s Deadly Friend is unfortunately TERRIBLE (not even in a “so bad it’s good” The People Under the Stairs kind of way), and I can only recommend seeing it if you’re having a Bad Movie Night with friends—and have a lot of booze on hand. And even then, eh. THIS was his follow up to A Nightmare on Elm Street, for chrissakes. THIS.

Nerdy Paul (Matthew Labyorteaux, who will always be Albert Ingalls to me) is a super genius who moves to a new town because his awesome robot named BB—okay, awesome if you saw it in the 80s, I mean—got him a fancy college scholarship. Or something. Anyway!

It’s not long before he realizes next-door neighbor Sam is a hottie (HELLO Kristy Swanson) and she, along with new friend “Slime”, decided to prank the neighborhood crazy Elvira (Anne Ramsey) by having BB break her super secure gate and ring her doorbell. I know, TERRIFYING, right? Unfortunately, Elvira likes to shoot things, especially unruly kids, so she ends up blowing BB into a million smithereens. Aw, poor robot.

Paul’s barely has time to morn BB when (shortly after their first kiss) Sam gets beaten to brain death by her abusive father. Naturally, the only sane thing to do is for Paul to enlist Slime to help him steal Sam’s body and Frankenstein BB’s chip into her head. That way see, he can have a hot girlfriend who’s still alive, yet compliant and teachable.

SPOILERS AHEAD (more…)

A Wes Craven Retrospective: The Last House on The Left

This year I thought it would be fun to focus on a few horror directors, so I’m staring with Wes Craven. I’m most familiar with his 80s films, which I saw over and over and over and over—even though I knew some of them were completely terrible. But since I’m a fan of A Nightmare on Elm Street from way back, I have seen most of his catalog.*

Starting with The Last House on the Left (1972), which I tracked down sometime in the mid-80s after I’d (FINALLY) seen Elm Street—mostly due to all the “banned” talk around it, and the promise of some pretty unbearable graphic violence.

The thing about Craven’s debut is that it’s TERRIBLY dated, and because of that, people watching it now are going to have a really hard time taking it seriously. Poor film quality, some not-so-great acting, and some really strange music choices all make it more awful than good, but it’s still entertaining if you can look past all the ridiculous 70s clothes, hair, makeup, and lingo. Ohmygod, the lingo.

SPOILERS AHEAD (more…)

Bitter Feast

Bitter Feast caught my interest via its trailer, mostly because it stars indie actor Joshua Leonard and sensitive ponytail man from Singles (aka: James LeGros).

Due to a scathingly bad review by JT Franks (Leonard) on his blog, Gastropunks (ha.hahaha), Chef Peter Grey is booted from his restaurant and loses his TV show. It’s hinted that Grey has a lot of other mental issues – like being militantly sustainable, uh, if that’s an issue, I guess – but the gist is, he kidnaps the blogger and forces him to endure weeks of food-related torture, as well as a lot of merciless beatings. 

This film takes awhile to ramp up, but when it gets there, it’s worth it. There’s some incredible suspense going on, even when you *know* what’s going to happen. Not a ton of splatter, but some decent “aaaugggghh” moments, and most importantly, they didn’t fuck up the ending. It’s appropriately bleak.

All in all, this was much better than I was expecting. There is a ton of foreshadowing, but even though I saw some stuff coming, it still managed to surprise me. Recommended for indie horror fans – it’s available on DVD and streaming Netflix!

Hatchet II

I thoroughly enjoyed Adam Green’s Hatchet, and I was really looking forward to seeing the sequel – especially because of all the “banned from theaters” controversy – but also because, HELLO: Tony Todd rules.

Unfortunately, Hatchet II didn’t quite live up to the hype.

[SPOILERS] It started out really strong, picking up right where the first movie ended with Danielle Harris’s character, Marybeth, struggling to free herself from the grasp of deformed murderer Victor Crowley. Director Green moved right into the gross-out horror, which involved a guy being dragged across the floor by his own entrails, and Green’s trademark buckets of bloody splatter. I laughed, I cried. It was perfect…

Enter Tony Todd, reprising his role as Reverend Zombie – and then it’s about 50 minutes of exposition, planning, and well, frankly, boring, boring, boring until we get to some more death. Sorry, but that is just too damn long to keep me hanging in a movie that’s made with a tongue-in-cheek plot.

I think it’s pretty easy to pinpoint the exact scene where the MPAA said “Ohhhhh NO. No way, you are not releasing that.” Which is pretty silly, really, because (like in the first film) the gore is so ridiculously over-the-top that there’s no way any of it looks real. But hey, they made Clive Barker trim the knife-to-the-rat scene in Hellraiser, but left the hooked face-off maneuver intact, so we all know they’re cracked anyway.

I’m not saying the F/X aren’t hilarious and great, because they are (I love the excessive amounts of blood spray!) – the last scene, in particular, is pretty damn fantastic – they just took an awful long time to get there. The first film clicked things along at a pace that made sense, so the gory pay-off was even more awesome.

Still worth a watch just because I appreciate Green’s work (which reminds me that I need to address Spiral sometime). Just don’t be afraid to use that FF button…

Oh, and Tony Todd still rules. Of course.