Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Review: Lifeforce (1985)

Stars: Steve Railsback, Peter Firth

Budget: $25 Million

Directed By: Tobe Hooper

Wow this i beginning to become a series of 'films that shit me up when i was younger'
True maybe i shouldn't have watching shit like this when i was 7 or 8 years old, but well that's the thing about a kid with TV and cable in your room with channels like sci-fi and bravo.

So anyway a Vampire flick at heart but with a massive twist, in fact looking back on it and having recently re-watched it, i had the intense feeling of a live action manga film, Vampire Hunter D-esque in nature.
So yes the twist their vampires from 'spaaaaaace' that feed on your, get it, LIFE FORCE. like a kind of electrical energy sucked out of you.
Directed by Critters guy Tobe Hooper this film feels like a British film directed by an american guy, i can't explain why but it really does come across that strongly, mainly because that's whats it is but i feel it's something you'd get even if you didn't know. This is not a bad thing by the way, its a really bold and refreshing take and broke the mold of things like hammer horror films which would have been the thing of the time, you know thoroughly British what, what cup of tea etc, no this had some good action seriousness without getting wrapped up in British tropes.

The film stars an all star cast of Brits from the time too, Firth, Patrick Stewart, Frank Finlay and the beautiful French actress Mathilda May. Based on an actual novel from the 70's inventively called Space Vampires the film did not do well especially for its at the time huge budget of $25 million. It only made $11.6 million in the box office.

So the film starts with a joint American and British team in space to observe a rare comet, the ship the Churchill is an experimental ship that can produce it's own gravity. Whilst checking on the comet the ship finds another ancient craft in the stream of the comet. Within that craft most of it's bat like inhabitants are desiccated husks, that is until they come across three preserved bodies in some kind of hibernation pods. After a bit more digging by the crew ground control loses contact with the Churchill.

When they eventually find out it's coming back to earth they find the ship in bad condition everywhere burned and almost everyone dead. The girl from the pods is found and secured in a room for observation as are the two males in a different room.
The girl wakes up and drains the life force of he guard this is seen by another member of the staff on the security monitors. He tries to save him but the guard is dead by the time he gets there a husk of a man. She seduces the other and is again seen on the monitors by the head doctor, he however gets to the other guy but she hasn't drained him.

An investigator is brought in to see whats going on, the one guy is sent home complaining he's a bit drained. The girl however has escaped overpowering the security guards with ease. The two vampire males awake but are, after lots of bullets and grenades taken out. They go to do an autopsy on the totally drained guy but he wakes up and proceeds to drain the force of the lead operator. They quarantine both the newly regenerated guard in a very bemused state. This is definitely where most of the budget went the practical effects on this film are amazing and the way the drained people cry out and attract normal people to them to feed is what freaked me out so much as a kid. The way they almost wail in pain at their victims making you feel sorry for them.

So they quickly find out that without new energy the weird drained zombie husk vampire things quickly die and is a spectacular explosion of dust too.

It's then found out that Colonel Tom Carlsen is found crash landed in an escape pod. The film diverges into two here following Tom as he hallucinates about the girl as they seem to have some kind of weird connection now. Then there's the detective Col Colin Caine trying to stop this outbreak happening, they do help each other from time to time though.
Carlsen through regression tells of their master plan to absorb as much energy as possible so the ship can as it's passing by absorb it all. Throughout the film now more and more people start getting drained who drain more people as they try to work out a way to stop the vampires.
Leaden Metal is able to, as in traditional vampires kill them if pierced through their heart, the male ones who miraculously piece themselves back together are killed in this fashion. I like the main vampires have a lot of the usual vampiric like powers too, like entrancing, regeneration etc.

Now as always on THN i won't spoil the ending especially as this film has aged quite well and well worth a watch, it's currently on Netflix too. A really good and interesting take on the vampire genre with a lot of twists and turns thrown in. A very good and strong acting effort by all the cast new and experienced alike.
THN awards this freaky  film a very strong 3 out of 5 stars as with an almost 2 hour run time it might be a bit of slog for some people to watch through, otherwise a great film!

Monday, 19 June 2017

THN Top Fives: Head Kills

In horror film one of the nastiest ways to go is have something destroy your noggin, in any way shape or form a blow or otherwise to the most useful appendage on your body usually equals instant death to whoever was unlucky to take that hit.
THN  have what we think are five of the most horrendous ways people, or fodder have died in horror movies after taking a head wound...

5. Machete Wheelchair:
Right so this is from Friday the 13th part 2 Mark a wheelchair bound teen is happily taking in the night air when a machete is thunked into his face diagonally. Not only that the poor teen then goes rattling down some steps in the rain bouncing about like a rag doll.

4. Eyeball puncture!:
Zombie Flesh Eaters the infamous 1979 zombie film has on of the still best eyeball puncturing practical effect death i've ever seen or pretty much still have to see. A woman is grabbed by a rotting appendage and dragged eyeball first onto a giant splinter protruding from the hole she was grabbed from. at least she wasn't eaten alive, that's better right, right?

3. Indy Face Melt:
Not a horror film but still a frightful way to die, even in a pretty much family friendly film too. So the Nazi's have found the ark of the covenant believing it will grant them uber powers the greedily open the golden chest.
Unfortunately evil spirits are released which proceed to melt the face and heads of anyone stupid enough to look inside the box. Was clearly a gruesome scene and one of the most memorable scenes of the series.

2. Frosty Face Death:
That lovely scene from Jason X, the poor student doing an autopsy on big tall and killy doesn't notice when our frosty friend starts to thaw and reanimate upon the operating table.
While she's busy looking at stuff through a microscope she is grabbed and has her face thrust into below freezing liquid nitrogen. within seconds her face is a frosty mess. Then to add frosting on the cake, he smashes her face on the counter into tiny little crystalised pieces!

1. Brains Sucked Through a Straw:
Ok this is my top head death, it comes from none other than starship troopers and was one of the first true scenes that proper grossed me out. Being that i watched in the cinema when it was originally released as just a 15 age rated film.
You all probably know the scene i'm talking about the brain bug sucking out Zanders brain with it's straw like appendage, why this was so bad to me is your alive while your brain is literally being slurped out, can you imagine that? just slowly losing yourself as you brain is sucked out. Makes me shudder eeww.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Review: Leprechaun 3 (1995)

Stars: Warwick Davis, John Gatins

Budget: 1.2 Million

Directed By: Brian Trenchard-Smith

Aah the Leprechaun Series. This is one of my pet loves, well at least until the 'in the hood' sequels. Even the inevitable next sequel of 'in space' is better than those, that's a different film for a different time though.

Warwick returns as the titular wee guy with a different origin once again. I often wonder if it's the same leprechaun or different ones who just all lookalikes and a mad little killers!

A small budget and a not to great story line mars this addition to the series though especially since it's filmed in and around Las Vegas. In fact one of the alternate titles to this film was Leprechaun in Las Vegas.

So this time we see a porn shop come into the possession of a strange little statue. It is seeming made of gold and depicts the wee man with a golden medallion around his neck. The pawn shop owner is told that the medallion is lucky and magic, the owner greedily takes the medallion off which free's the leprechaun from his imprisonment in the statue. He then murders the shop owner. Again the Leprechaun has his gold and when the hero of the film, a down on his luck student, Scott who comes into the pawn shop to sell his Rolex watch. He picks up one of the gold coins then flees at the sight of the dead shop owner.

What Scott doesn't know is the coin can grant wishes, he ends up wishing for his luck to turn which it does. In turn he grabs the attention of both the leprechaun and the casino owners, as he keeps winning so much money. The casino also has a two bit magic act in the form of Fazio and Loretta, Loretta is an older woman worried about her looks. They steal the coin and when the leprechaun stumbles across these two looking for it and Scott.
Scott fights with the leprechaun and gets bitten in the process, some of the leprechauns blood also gets into the bite before Scott throws him from the hotel window. The leprechaun slowly starts kill people who made wishes with the coin twisting what they wished for. Once they are outside the power of the coins influence he is able to make the wish turn on them and kill them.

The casino owner is killed by a weird robot version of a girl he wanted to have sex with and Loretta who wished for the body of a younger woman loves it when her body plumps up. Then despairs as they keep plumping up like balloons until the inevitable and they explode.
All this time Scott is infected by the leprechaun blood which is in turn, turning him into a human sized leprechaun. This does however give him powers like the little guy but also his greed over gold too. This makes for some fun interactions between Scott and the leprechaun between gold and magic powers, his girlfriend Tammy is also caught up in all this but just seems to want the best for Scott including taking him to hospital where they refuse to see him due to his green cross insurance.

In a final show down between the two (after Fazio's last wish to be the best magician is reversed to kill him) the leprechaun actually tries to entice Scott into joining him with the lure of half of his gold. Does he take it or does he ignore it that you'll have to find out for yourself as we don't spoil the ending of decent films here in THN. Leprechaun 3 scores a 3 out of 5 stars.

THN Moving to YouTube

Yes we are transitioning to YouTube (hopefully) why do i say hopefully?
Well THN is pretty much run by just one person, me the guy you know as the horror master, I have someone who does the Facebook side of things but that's about it. So I say hopefully because i'm not rich, this is going to involve some help so i've set up a go fund me, here:

What does this entail?
I will be able to buy a new GOOD laptop to mix audio and visual files and a decent camera to produce that video content. This doesn't mean by any mean the blog will closing down no no no, i'll be doing both video and written reviews for both, then hopefully i can move on to getting in people to help make MORE content, even be able to make it to film premiers etc.

So any people who can offer a small amount of money to aid me in getting this equip would be in a great thank you video, named and thanked by me.
Thank you for all of the support you have shown me in the many years i've been doing this.

The Horror Master

Friday, 2 June 2017

Review: Hellraiser 5 Inferno (2000)

Stars: Doug Bradley, Craig Sheffer

Budget: $2 million

Directed By: Scott Derrickson

Okay so this is a series that after the 4th movie steadily went down hill. Despite that there's some decent acting and the always great turn of Doug Bradley as the demonic Pinhead.
It's also the first one where the you don't really route for any of the characters, you want pinhead to teach them a lesson.

It features all the things a Hellraiser film should though, the Lemarchand's box, surreal scenes and is it real or not?

This one starts off with clearly corrupt detective Joseph Thorne. We know he's corrupt as we frequently see him taking drugs and cheating.
It's also hot and getting hotter in Denver and murder is on the books. Joseph is called to the scene of a suspected ritualistic murder where he discovers the Lemarchand puzzle box.

Joseph naturally in a Hellraiser film is also very keen on puzzles and fiddles with the box until he solves it. Not long after solving the damned box Thorne begins to suffer from delusions and hallucinations, one such is being seduced by two horribly mutilated women. After being chased by a no eyed beast from hell Joseph tries to dig further into whats going on.
He finds evidence linking a suspect known only as The Engineer, to the original murder, he is also linked to the disappearance/kidnapping of a young child. When Thorne starts to get close to capturing him however The Engineer starts picking off some of his friends and acquaintances, most horrifically the killer leave behind one of the kids fingers at every murder.

Thorne tries to get psychiatric help for his hallucinations in an effort to try get his mind sorted out. Unfortunately this backfires when his doctor reveals himself to be none other than Pinhead, he explains about hell and the cenobites. Not only that but since Thorne first started using box he has in fact been trapped in hell himself where he has been being punished for his sins in life.
Not only that 'The Engineer' has been a construct of Thorne's mind embodying his cruelty where as the child has been his innocence. Thus in his mind the evil side has been winning out over his better judgement. Unbelieving of his situation Thorne tries to escape his own personal hell.

That is where THN stops and doesn't spoil the ending. Despite it's many flaws and no one to really route for it does have an intriguing plot and will keep you wondering whats going on. Although that's not exactly great when it can get just plain puzzling for no sake.
So THN awards Hellraiser 5 Inferno, a pretty strong 2 out of 5 stars with a recommend to watch if you've liked the other films up until this one.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Review: Beyond Re-Animator (2003)

Stars: Jeffrey Combs, Jason Barry

Budget: 3 Million

Directed By: Brian Yuzna

The Re-Animator series is one of the greats, mostly done by brilliant comedy horror director Brian Yuzna these like the ROTLD series have all his usual tongue in cheek schlock horror tropes. These include surreal moments and incredible gore filled, yet funny moments. Much like other films in it's time and genre like the Evil Dead series.

This series is based on HP Lovecraft's books chronicling the misadventures of one Dr Herbert West. A man obsessed with death and the prevention of it happening.

If you've seen any of the others his plans never go to well as his reanimating solution never seems to fully bring back full cognitive ability in his subjects. This often means the dead come back as anything from dangerous psychos to gibbering wrecks.

The first film is definitely a cult favourite and the second a very decent follow up in a lot of respects, this however is the distant cousin of sequels. Not so far removed that is changes to much or even replaces key characters but its 13 year gap, small budget, poor writing and only Combs returning make this a very unneeded sequel just to cash in on the name and star.
Not that this film is incredibly bad it just doesn't take the series anywhere other than oh more experimentation. Although despite this it is great to see Jeffery back as West and if you like the others you will like this, So lets get on with the movie.

West has been serving in prison for the past 13 years, nice see they bridge that gap!
Despite this and using any ingredients he can scavenge he is still managing to create enough of his serum to do little experiments on rats.
Despite this he has discovered something new in his research, a sort of energy that can be extracted from a living person. This energy is electric in nature so can be stored in something like a light bulb (which he does in this film). Though this puzzles me, you have to kill two people to one for the reanimation subject the other to extract this life force energy.
Then you reanimate the one person and use the stored energy to bring them back to ALMOST human levels. That right not even this way makes the dead come back to 100% close but still not full.

A new doctor Howard Phillips (HP get it?) (Barry) gets assigned to work the infirmary in the hospital, West with his experience (and the fact the doctor knows of his studies) gets to work with him. This enables West to increase his levels of experimentation.
We also learn that Phillips sister was a casualty of the original experiments and has been looking to work with West for a long time. It's also around this time a reporter, Laura, doing a paper on the prison meets Phillips and starts seeing him, unfortunately the prison warden also has a infatuation with her. Ultimately though his infatuation leads to him almost raping her and killing her when she resists his advances.

Phillips was initially reluctant to give West full experimental capability, now distraught over the death of Laura. West attempts to bring Laura back to life using the new technique and his serum though as soon as we see the human side of this it's clear there is still problems even using both of his techniques.
The prison warden discovers this too, so in true West form he kills the bastard. Then promptly resurrects him but uses a rats life force thing NPE i think it's called Neuro or nano plasmic energy. I haven't watched this for a while to remember that clearly!

Quickly everything descends into madness as usual in these films as phials of Wests serum is being distributed around the prison, i think they think its a drug. You should know what happens to live people who take the serum from the past movies.
As people start dying and resurrecting a big old riot breaks out in the prison forcing more death and gore to descend upon the populace. Laura gets decapitated along the way leaving Phillips even more distraught and a wreck.

So there's not much left to film after this and Beyond is just ok enough for me not to spoil the very end for you. If you love the first movies you'll like maybe even appreciate this third film in the franchise, I do love them and so to loved the chance to see more work from Combs and Yuzna who I both adore for their work in their areas. THN awards Beyond Re-Animator with a mediocre 3 out of five stars with a watch if your fan or there's nothing else on TV/Streaming etc.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

IT 2017 Trailer Breakdown

So this year we are getting a lot of remakes, or additions to old/existing franchises. From Child's Play to Saw, we were getting another Friday the 13th that has unfortunately been canned though. Still we are getting a super awesome game based on the series up to part 9 at least.
One remake that has peaked a lot of people interests is the Stephen King classic IT. A lot of people love the original not because it's a masterpiece but because of the brilliant Tim Curry Pennywise and the hammy nature of the entire film.

The remake however looks set to remove the jolly of the clown and make him definitively the clown from everyone's nightmares. Some people seem on the fence about this but others willing to give it a try. I for a while was more interested in this despite the looks of Pennywise (another reason some people aren't to hot on the remake) than the upcoming other King work, the Dark Tower, though since seeing the trailer for that I've been somewhat swayed to give it a chance.

IT however I both enjoyed and quite like the look of the evil clown. So much so I've cottoned on to some of the things in the trailer which may or not be important to the story, everything is in the viewers minds eye right?

So in the opening scenes we see who i can only guess is Georgie sailing his waxed paper boat down the streets in the rain just like the book and the original film. This is where something really interesting and in my eyes at least because it make me wonder if a concussion type nightmare is something that's going to be a theme in this film?

If so it would be a nice way to explain the surreal themes this film will bring up if its all a collective nightmare of sorts, why i think this si because right up until that scene there's happy music playing then bam head hit it stops, something to think about perhaps.

There is definitely a large theme of playing on fears in this film and the way things are done that not everyone notices things happening like balloons floating past in the middle of a room except the kid that's involved, suggests it is only a small shared psychosis too.
Along with the fact that each of these children have experienced abuse or bullying at some point in their life to would leave them open to suggestibility or maybe even gives them the ability to see danger where most who live a normal happy life wouldn't.

What we all would like is if this was a real terrifying thing that some rag tag bunch of kids did find the courage to beat, but it think the under laying mental state will always make you wonder...

Onto some fears i have from the trailer now, i'm hoping every scare isn't a typical high sound effect screech thing to elicit a cheap jump scare. I don't have massive fears of this as the trailer only really does this once when Georgie first see's Pennywise In the drain.

Everything else seems to be mind playing tricks on you like the balloons just there or floating past, or just out right freaky like a number of times where the slide show goes bananas, the part where Pennywise claws come out to play and the wild scene where the killer clown in chasing one of the children arms flailing like a mad man.

Overall i have not high expectations for this film but at least a good feeling that yes it will be a more serious telling than our cult classic but will be certainly better acting and pace wise and find a place in our hearts next to the classic, THN signing off.