The Babadook (2014)

babadook

 

 

The Babadook is a small budget Australian film by director and writer Jennifer Kent that took the horror world by storm last year. I may be a little late catching up with the film but since I’m three years late with an update, it seems fitting.

The film opens with a stylistic shot depicting a car-crash that is reminiscent of 2007’s Inside and, much like Inside, sets up the emotional landscape for the rest of the film. We are then properly introduced to our main characters: widowed mother Amelia Vannick and her unruly son Samuel Vannick; played by Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman. A slow first half hour teaches the audience that Amelia’s husband was killed driving her to the hospital to give birth to Samuel and that she has not been able to cope with the child’s or her own emotional issues. Samuel is obsessed with monsters and terrified of his mother dying, while also being hyperactive.

When a macabre pop-up book (designed beautifully by Alexander Juhasz) appears on her son’s shelf one day things start to take a turn for the bizarre. The mother-son couple begin a spiral into the dark depths of depression and psychosis which I don’t want to say to much about, even though everyone has seen this film by now. The performance by Essie Davis is one for the history books; she sells the depth of her character’s issues from beginning to end and is the highlight of the film by far.

The Babadook is a film that should grace the shelf of horror lovers the world over. It’s a slow burn that challenges the audience to look beneath the visual layer of the film to strike at what it really means.

Dip Your Toes In: Body Horror

Body horror is a sub-genre of horror, that is all about the destruction, transformation, and degeneration of the body, as well as one of my favorite sub-genres. Here’s three titles I hope you’ve all seen.

Cabin Fever

The tale of five college friends who rent a cabin out in the woods, to have a nice little get-away, and instead catch a deadly flesh eating disease. Cabin Fever is Eli Roth’s first movie, and a pretty solid entry, but it enters body horror with the disease it’s self. The slow rotting process, that you watch these characters go through is pure hell.

The Fly

The Fly is one of the many body horror movies that David Cronenberg has directed, I could  write, and plan to, an article all about his work in body horror, so I’m going to just keep it to this one. The tale of Seth Brundle’s tragic transformation into a fly is one of the few movies that lets you feel bad for the villain. The transformation from Seth Brundle, to Brundlefly is one of the most terrifying examples of body horror today.

Society

Society is Brian Yuzna’s first movie behind the chair, and far from his last. Society is a mystery film, with a lot of WTF moments, and a body horror finale that blows you out of the water, almost out of no where.  I don’t want to give too much away, but the body horror elements of Society are some of the strangest in the genre.

Dip your toes in : Underrated Vampire Films

The vampire film is one of the oldest sub-genres of horror, and are prone to both fantastic hits, and utter failures. As with any genre, there are some great films that slip through the cracks, and find themselves lost in the minds of the viewer, with the memories of more recent, or lasting films. Here, for your pleasure this weekend, are three of my favorite, oft underrated, vampire films.

Bitten

Bitten stars Jason Mewes, of Jay and Silent Bob fame, as a lonely night shift paramedic who brings a troubled women in off the streets. The catch? She’s a vampire. The romance  angle played in Bitten is how a vampire love story should be.

Dracula 2000


This may be the most well known of these films, as well as the one most likely to raise criticism. Dracula 2000 is not a great film, in same sense Let The Right One In was, but it is an absolute balls to the wall fun journey, suffused with sexuality and blood, and Gerard Butler as Dracula!

The Night Flier

The Night Flier is based on a Stephen King short story of the same name. The film follows a reporter who is trying to get a lead on a story, about a killer who’s victims all seem to be that of a vampire. The vampire in The Night Flier is one of the most interesting looking,  with great fangs, and captivating vampires on screen, even taking a piss is interesting.

Dr. Giggles (1992)

” For extreme illnesses, extreme treatments are most fitting – Hippocrates ” appears over a blank screen, and as it fades we’re treated to credits, flowing around the blood stream, pulling out and showing us our title character, performing open heart surgery. Our title character being that of the insane Dr. Giggles, nicknamed so because he thinks he’s a doctor, and because he is always giggling, and the patient being one of the many kills in the opening sequence of the doctor escaping the hospital.

Dr. Giggles has a great start for what looks by all means, to be a terrible movie, and for the most part, manages to keep the film going moderately strong through out it’s 95 minute  run time. The film follows Jennifer Campbell around, her mother’s recently been in an accident, she has a heart condition, her boyfriends lack of understanding, her fathers new girlfriend, you know how it goes with slasher films, while the character does have a rich background, it’s all boring in wait for the doctors visits.

The film really work’s best because of Dr. Giggles, played by Larry Drake, who uses these wacky home-made surgical tools, while sprouting off terrible one liners ( ” It’s a good thing I make house calls”), and all the while letting out a high pitched giggles. The doctor speaks to the best of B-horror killers, such as Horny The Clown, or Jack Frost, and plays it rather straight-faced, which always leaves a funnier impression than winking at the camera.

While the acting is weak on the most part, what it lacks in acting it makes up for with early 90s fashion disasters, and some great camerawork. The film is surprisingly engaging, showing a technical understanding one wouldn’t expect from a film with such a concept. The film also managed to have a few gruesome scene’s on a caliber I wouldn’t of expected, such as a small child climbing out of the inside of a corpse, which was rather unsettling.

I highly recommend Dr. Giggles, it’s a fun slasher film, that does just what it sets out for, to have fun, and even manages to deliver some chills along the way. While some of the acting isn’t the best, Dr. Giggles steals every scene he’s in, albeit there’s not enough with him.

Score – B+
Gore – 8/10
Quality of Gore – 7/10

Dip your toes in : Tom Savini

Weekends are the perfect time for movie watching, you have Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, three nights, three different films. Near the end of the week I’ll be highlighting three  different films, with some thing in common. Could be the sub-genre, a certain aspect, or a member of the crew.

Tom Savini is a legend to genre-hounds, the man has done some of the best special effects, from Friday the 13th to Creepshow, and trained Greg Nicotero, who now does effects on The Walking Dead. So over the weekend, why not dip your toes in some of Tom Savini’s best work.

Maniac (1980)

Maniac is a slasher film about serial killer Frank Zito, a disgusting man who likes to scalp girls, and keep them on manniques in his house. The fact that it’s sometimes considered more of a splatter flick than a slasher movie, should give you an idea of the effects in it. The movie drips blood from the cover, til’ the last frame, the best effect being  point-blank shotgun blast to the face. Fun fact, it was Tom Savini’s face. The gore in this one is so good, you might say it’s an Essential viewing.

Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)

Friday The 13th part four is widely considered one of the best in the series, it’s got a fun cast, including Crispin Glover and Corey Feldman, but most important of all, it has some great kills. Savini has experience with Jason and the family already though, since he helped to create Jason’s mother’s murderous rampage from the first film. They brought him back so he could help to kill Jason off, and make it a death to remember.

Day Of The Dead (1985)

Day Of The Dead is the third in Rameo’s dead series, and by far the best one. Day is about a US Army base after most of the world has been overrun by zombies. With characters everyone’ll remember, Bub the zombie, and Captain Rhodes, and some of the most gruesome gore in a zombie film. Savini had previously worked on Dawn Of The Dead, but this time around, he really got to step it up a notch. There is some outstanding gore in this film.

A change in tone – Five great re-cut horror trailers.

A trailer in essence is your film set up in a matter of clips, designed to attract an audience to the opening weekend, or to buy the dvd.  In a trailer we’ll learn from the underlying tone, and the scenes we’re treated with, what we’re getting into. So what happens if you change the tone? With a few edits, a different soundtrack, placement of scenes, you can make even your happiest family film seem like a horror film.

The Shining ( Happy Version)

We all know The Shining, the classic 1980 Stanley Kubrick adaptation of Stephen King’s novel of the same title. It’s the tale of the Torrance family’s time spent at the haunted Overlook hotel, and Jack Torrance’s decline into insanity. But change the soundtrack to be upbeat, and add some narration over top, and suddenly you got yourself a fun little family film about a man and child’s bonding.

Scary Mary

Mary Poppins is the 1964 Walt Disney musical about a magic nanny coming to help out an unhappy family, that won five of the thirteen Oscar nominations it had. Mary Poppins is in no way a scary film, but this trailer would give you a different idea. Using music made for the film ” An American Haunting” with Mary’s own singing over top of it, it looks like a genuinely frightening film.

Willy Wonka – Recut Horror

Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory is one of those films everyone needs to see at least once in their life. I personally watched it every day for years growing up, and will return to view it once every couple years. Gene Wilder’s performance of Willy Wonka captures the essence of a boy trapped in a man’s body, who’s realizing he’s growing old. It’s a sad, and happy film all at the same time. But if you put the twist that Willy Wonka is delusional, the film takes on a tone of malevolence that’s chilling. At least now the tunnel scene fits in.

Toy Story 3 Trailer ( Horror Re-cut)

Toy Story 3 is regarded by a lot of people as the best of the series. My own opinions aside, the film is indeed as touching, and as deep as the first two, touching on themes of abandonment, love, and the meaning of friendship. In this re-cut trailer, the film takes on a much darker tone, and while it only works in a few of the scenes, the audio coming from Rob Zombie’s Halloween trailer, and presenting it’s self as a Zombie film, makes this one a good laugh.

Forrest Gump As A Horror Movie

Forrest Gump, is the story of a challenged man’s life, as boy in love with Jenny, to a man in love with Jenny, the struggles of his life, and love. While in the film, it’s played as both sad, and honorable the love Forrest has for Jenny, if you just put a dark tone on things, the same scenes take on a whole new meaning. Too bad this wasn’t what ‘Obsessed’ was.

From Beyond (1986)


Stuart Gordon and Jeffery Combs, back at it again, a combination that never does wrong. Once again their back to do a modern, reinterpretation of an H.P Lovecraft story,  of the same title. One year after they came together to make the classic Re-animator, do these two still have what it takes to pump out horror gold?

From Beyond is the tale of Dr. Crawford Tillinghast, here-on referred to as Combs, the assistant to the twisted Dr. Edward Pretorius, a sadist scientist with an unhealthy addiction to S&M. Together, the doctors are working on a device called The Resonator, which vibrates the Pineal gland, allowing you to see into a realm that is always around us, but never seen, and in return, never sees us, filled with weird flying warm like creatures. While testing The Resonator, success turns to terror as Dr. Pretorius has his head bitten off, an act which ends Combs in a insane asylum. Willing to take the risk to see if Combs story about another realm is true, Dr. Katherine McMichaels gets permission to take Combs back to the house it happened, with the help of  Bubba Brownlee, played by the always excellent and often underrated Ken Forbes.

The first two acts of the film are an absolute blast, upon recreating the experiment, we learn that Dr. Pretorius is now some form of super-being in this other realm, who’s form changes and molds as if made out of wax. Great effects, reminiscent of Re-Animator, as well as the body horror entries of David Cronenberg. Things quickly turn bad, and characters, mainly Barbara Crampton in the role of Dr. Katherine, start to make terrible decisions and choices. During this time it’s nice to see Ken Forbes playing the voice of reason, something often missed in horror films. Dr. Pretorius’ evil manner makes for a great backdrop to the spot on acting of Jeffery Combs, and they play off each other very well.

The third act of the film we start to see the story go downhill a bit. We step away from the house, and away from Dr. Pretorius and start to look at the effects the experiments have been having on the characters, and the downhill slope it leads them on. While interesting in it’s own right, it doesn’t quite feel right when compared to the rest of the film. When we finally get back to the house, we get an ending that I personally didn’t see coming when I first saw the film, not so much in it’s conclusion, but in how we get to it.

The film is beautifully shot, with a fantastic color scheme. The film is very bright, with lots of purples and shades of pink and red. It has the feeling of an episode of barney through the eyes of a demented killer on acid. Where most horror films tend to use a dark palette, working off of shades of grey, and crimson, it’s nice to see something up the color, but be able to keep the gore, and he scares with it.

From Beyond is a great film, and while the second collaboration with Combs, it’s far from the last, as they return together for such classics as The Pit And The Pendulum, and Castle Freak. It’s a good look at the earlier points in these two horror legends career, with a great character provided by Ken Forbes. If you haven’t seen From Beyond, what are you waiting for, get out there and vibrate that pineal gland!

Score – A
Gore – 8/10