Posts Tagged ‘Addiction

09
Oct
15

Leeches! (2003)

Very recently I decided it was make or break with my disc rental service from Netflix. All too often the movies sit there and don’t get watched for months, and with their selection of available discs diminishing every day, I sometimes have trouble convincing myself it’s worth it. The trouble is, I’ve been a customer for so long it’s just so hard to let go! I’m not the type of person that’s just going to watch whatever’s available; I refuse to be a slave to the availability of films on any streaming service. Netflix disc rental is my safety net. So since we are keeping it, we decided it was high time to push on through the queue.

My gift from Netflix: Hot Boyz with no Shirtz

My gift from Netflix: Hot Boyz with no Shirtz

Unfortunately, the disc we set down to watch that evening was broken. No big deal, we reported it and waited for the replacement. Which was also broken. Okay, that’s weird, there’s no way the third disc will be broken, right? Wrong! So the ever-wonderful Q called customer service, where they had trouble believing us, and handed us an extra disc from our queue while also sending another replacement for the same movie. Wouldn’t you know it, that fourth disc was broken, too. Q called customer service again and was so darn nice to the dude on the phone that he offered us two extra discs from our queue. And that long introduction, my friends, is what got me into the mess of a film called Leeches! Since I usually have time between shipping off one disc and Netflix receiving it, I have time to groom my queue and decide what movie I want next. Unfortunately, the kind generosity of Netflix Customer Service Representative X forced me to end up with a movie I honestly can’t even fathom having put in my queue. My guess is I put it in there somewhere around seven years ago where it languished until it said “Long Wait” next to it, at which point I moved it up top because, well, that’s where all the long waits live.

In the end, though, it is clear that I owe a giant thank you to Netflix Customer Service Representative X, because Leeches! probably never would have made it into the mail if not by accident, and although it is awful, it is awful in new and exciting ways! It’s not that I’m not used to awful horror movies, it’s just that I prefer those awful horror movies to come from a specific window of time (preferably the 60’s – 80’s). So when I saw this flick was from 2003 my first thought was Oh, dear lord, why?

“Dude, leeches! Gross!”

Thankfully, my worst fears were allayed at the very first scene. A young college boy in speedos practicing for a swim meet! In slow motion! He touches his hair as the camera softly graces his young, ideal form… holy crap! This is homoerotic smut! What an exciting, unexpected treat! I have to admit, I had no idea this sub-genre of horror even existed! Thank you Netflix Customer Service Representative X for opening my eyes!

I guess I should go through the plot. Ok, so there’s this college where none of the boys wear clothes. I mean, they wear speedos, and sometimes they wear swim trunks over those speedos, and surely sometimes they wear an earring (sometimes two!) or a necklace. They are really super pumped about being a great swim team, so they’re all on steroids! For some reason, they’re always swimming in this lake that’s right on campus, next to the swimming pool, where you’d think they’d get the best practice, but whatever. As you might have guessed, this idyllic lake is populated with more than just an Adonis or two; it’s also rife with LEECHES!

Still no shirts.

Still no shirts.

Well, that’s not really a big deal, just pick them off and throw them on the floor of the showers in the locker room, right? There’s just one minor problem: the leeches aren’t just feasting on hot-boy blood, but also on the hot-boy steroids! As you can imagine, the leeches grow to a ridiculous size and start wreaking havoc all over this extremely small and mostly-naked campus.

There is other stuff that happens, but obviously nobody watching this movie gives a crap what that is. I’d seen the director’s name, David DeCoteau, on countless used DVDs, some of which we’ve purchased. I had no idea a large part of his career was directing extremely cheap smut! That being said, at least here in Leeches! the smut is quite tame; I don’t think there’s any nudity at all. Just a lot of close-ups of cut abs and whatnot. It’s just so hilariously horny, it’s hard not to enjoy watching it.

Well, there they are ladies and gents, the titular leeches! And still no shirt.

Well, there they are ladies and gents, the titular leeches! And still no shirt.

I’m frankly not sure how many different movies of this ilk I could sit through, but the chances are I’m going to test my limits. At any rate, it’s really good to know this sub-genre is out there; what a gloriously idiotic and empty way to spend 85 minutes.

20
Jul
15

I Come in Peace (1990)

IComeInPeaceVHSCover_FotorFinding a videocassette like I Come in Peace for sale in a heap of garbage at a used book store or thrift shop makes all the hunting worth it. Amongst all the copies of Titanic, While You Were Sleeping, Jerry Maguire and the like, you hope and pray for something worthwhile. That moment when you see a VHS with Dolph Lundgren on it, you know you’ve won. But you know it’s the jackpot when he’s threatened by an alien on the cover!

Picture it: Houston, Texas, 1990. Jack Caine (Lundgren) is a vice cop with little regard for the rulebook. He’ll stop at nothing to put the White Boys, a bunch of white collar drug pushers, behind bars. But alas, Caine is a good guy to a fault. While his partner is doing some real dangerous undercover work with the White Boys, Caine leaves his buddy in the lurch to stop a robbery in a nearby building. That is, of course, when the White Boys discover there’s a mole in their midst and blow everything to smithereens, including Caine’s partner.

Now Caine is even more pissed than before. This is no time for the FBI to stick their heads in his business! But alas, they do, and Caine is now saddled with straight-laced, by-the-book Special Agent Larry Smith (Brian Benben). Smith of course has no patience for Caine’s renegade nature, but let’s get real, it’s not like Smith is going to fight against a muscle-bound cop like Caine too much.

So far, so normal, right? Typical story about a local cop with no regard for protocol and a tight-assed Special Agent who loves the shit out of bureaucracy. Don’t worry, the weird shit’s just around the corner: there is a tall, leather-bound dude with long blond hair who is killing people! Smith and Caine find a very alien weapon: a vibrating disk that slices and dices everyone in the room until it finds a place to lodge itself. There’s also a sudden proliferation of corpses pumped filled with heroin, but strangely the cause of death is not a drug overdose. Obviously something is fishy, but what is it? And will anyone believe Caine and Smith?

This movie is delightful, stupid fun. First of all, I don’t think I’ll ever get enough Dolph Lundgren, he’s just so much fun to watch! The “tension” between his character and Benben’s is so hilariously textbook, but I think that actually adds to this dumb movie’s charm. Then there’s this whole alien thing, which is like, what the fuck is that all about? This movie is like Predator 2 meets The Hidden with a serious anti-drug message thrown into the mix. Who comes up with this stuff, and why don’t they continue to make shit like this today?! I would totally go to a movie theater and watch silly shit like this. Knowing this is now available on blu-ray, I just might have to upgrade.

08
Feb
15

Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy (1996)

kithposterA truly great comedy film is a difficult thing to find. The odds of finding an acceptably entertaining comedy are only slightly higher than the likelihood that any given horror movie will actually scare you. But finding a comedy that makes you laugh throughout the whole film, for years and years after you’ve seen it the first time? And one that only seems smarter the more you see it? That’s like climbing Mt. Everest and, you know, surviving. I can’t tell you how many times I laughed and laughed during a first-time watch of a comedy, only to show it to someone and realize: holy shit, this movie sucks. So naturally, when I feel I’ve found that needle in the haystack, it shoots right up to the top tier of my favorite films. Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy is just such a film.

Look, I won’t deny growing up a relatively privileged kid. I had everything a kid could want or need, but perhaps more important than anything (except maybe a mother’s unconditional love), I had cable. Shit, I’ll do you one better: I had HBO. I was watching the Kids in the Hall sketch comedy show before I had any damn clue what their jokes were on about. For the uninitiated, at its core the Kids in the Hall are five Canadian guys who write and perform sketch comedy. They play most, if not all of the characters in their sketches, which naturally means half the time they’re in drag. Growing up with their quirky brand of comedy probably predisposes me to appreciating their film more than the average Joe would. I do have it on good authority though that folks who have never really ‘got’ the Kids‘ sketch comedy can (and some even do!) appreciate the film to the fullest.

God damn the pusher scientists!

God damn the pusher scientists!

The plot is simple: Roritor Pharmaceuticals’ research department is about to get gutted. After spending a great deal of time on top of the Big Pharma heap as the geniuses behind stummies, a prozac-like pill that you can pop like candy whenever you feel a bit down, they’re now facing the possibility of bankruptcy. Don Roritor, the ruthless madman behind the company, is personally interviewing each scientist about their research; not only is he out to separate the wheat from the chaff, but he is also on the lookout for a hot, new, marketable drug, like, yesterday. When they get to Chris Cooper, they find out that he and his team have discovered a drug that will cure depression. Though they’re still in the early stages of testing, Cooper is pushed into a corner: tell them the drug is ready, or he and his entire team get the axe. So naturally, he lies and says it’s ready to go.

Gleemonex, as the drug is soon dubbed by Roritor’s wacky marketing executive Cisco, works by latching onto a patient’s happiest memory. For instance, test subject Mrs. Hurdicure reminisces in the happiness of her last

Mrs. Hurdicure, a.k.a. patient 957, is reluctant to take the new drug.

Mrs. Hurdicure, a.k.a. patient 957, is reluctant to take the new drug.

Christmas, when her lovely family came to visit… for 30 seconds. She is the first of millions of Americans to “cure” their depression by reliving their happiest memories, which honestly folks, are all pretty damn pathetic. Sadly, it’s just a matter of time before the unfortunate side effects take hold…

I truly believe Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy to be one of the smartest, funniest comedies I’ve ever seen. I am quite honestly astounded that it’s not more highly rated on Rotten Tomatoes (38%?!) or IMDb (6.8). Not only are the laughs consistent, but as I said before, it really holds up over time. Almost 20 years on, the subject matter is still relevant; perhaps even more so now than ever, what with Big Pharma growing so ubiquitous we simply take it for granted. But the Kids’ take on Big Pharma is just a small slice of the biting commentary it has to offer on our fucked-up society, but I must admit it’s my favorite part.

Ah, the perks of corporate rulership.

Ah, the perks of corporate rulership.

For as long as I’ve watched Kids in the Hall, they’ve been mocking businessmen. From the sketch where a young boy brings home a Businessman to his mother hoping to keep it as a pet to the one where businessman-Bruce literally rips his heart out of his chest and pours coffee on it to keep it ticking, the subject is obviously one the Kids are quite familiar with, and frankly, very good at making jokes about. But with an hour and a half running time to work with, the Kids have a serious field day with it, not only mocking what an asshole corporate bigwigs tend to be (this one evidently resembling Lorne Michaels more than just a little bit), but exactly how dangerous and reckless it can be to keep one’s eye on nothing but the company’s bottom line.

The Kids of course don’t stop there, they have plenty to say about how pathetic all our lives are. The characters that inhabit the world of Brain Candy are naturally pretty miserable, but not outrageously so; most of them strongly resemble folks we know in real life. Our narrator, a nasty old curmudgeon who drives a taxi seems to be the only guy who really understands that you can’t have happiness without sadness. But all that makes it sound like the film is preachy; it isn’t. Sure it’s got something important to say, but I don’t think you can have good, lasting comedy without cultural commentary. The bottom line is, of course, whether or not the movie will make you laugh. The only way to know that is to watch it yourselves, I suppose, so get to it.

01
Nov
14

Evil Dead (2013)

EvilDead2013PosterWell kids, October is now over. All the people who aren’t horror fans are going to start watching romantic comedies in preparation for the upcoming, gooey holiday season. But we are different than them; for us, the horror doesn’t stop when November comes along. Anyway, being that I have a full-time job and need to do things other than write blog posts, I still have six movies we watched during 31 Days of Horror that I need to write up. Who knows how long it will take, we might be near December by the time I’m done with this damn tag. Anyway, at a certain point we decided it was our duty to watch the Evil Dead remake. Usually, I’d stay away from such things, but since it actually got some decent reviews, I figured I had to see what all the hype was about. So we picked it for day 26. I’m still wondering what all the hype was about.

Surely, you know the story, but this time there are a few tweaks. Instead of just a group of friends going to a cabin for a getaway, it’s a group of friends going to a cabin to make sure their pal Mia (Jane Levy) kicks her drug habit once and for all. Her estranged brother David has taken time out of his busy life to be there for her, too, I guess. Their mom got cancer and died and the dick wasn’t around for either of them, so I guess he decided he could at least support his sister through her delirium tremens, or something.

Mia atop a familiar-looking car.

Mia atop a familiar-looking car.

Anyway, the cabin they go to is supposedly their childhood summer home. Since their family seems to have dissolved into some big, dramatic mess, they haven’t been there for a while. Seems in their absence some witchcraft types took up residence; the basement is loaded with decaying animal carcasses, and the smell is so bad they almost decide to leave then and there. But Mia’s had a rough time with the drugs and all and her friends have decided they’re not going to leave until she’s drooled her last bit of detoxed saliva. David isn’t sure if this is a good idea; he doesn’t want to defy Mia. Their relationship is fragile after he’s dicked her over for all these years. But in the end he knows it’s what’s best for her, and he goes along with the idiot crowd.

As you know, there is a book. It is a book that shouldn’t be read, but it’s going to be read anyway. This time it’s a high school science teacher named Eric who becomes absorbed in the thing and decides to read it out loud, even though

That book looks scary. Let's read it out loud!

That book looks scary. Let’s read it out loud!

every single page of the damn thing warns him not to do so. His utterances awaken an ages-old demon that possesses and kills the group one by one. If only they hadn’t mistaken Mia’s post-tree-rape trauma for withdrawal, perhaps they could’ve gotten out of there in time…

I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t hate this remake. There were times I even caught myself enjoying this movie, and unlike the original I kind of felt skeeved out by the time I was getting to bed. The trouble is, being that the film is titled Evil Dead it will never be separated from the original, and therefore can never (at least in my mind) be considered actually good. It just baffles me a little bit that people who obviously enjoyed the original film and constantly wink at those in the know throughout their own version of it would actually make a film like this. It just doesn’t feel like they every really decide if they want it to have any humor or not. I found myself watching scenes with my head cocked a little thinking ‘is that funny?’ and never really coming to any conclusions. The addition of family drama and the addiction thing add too much weight;

Jane Levy is pretty good at making a scared face.

Jane Levy is pretty good at making a scared face.

it’s just unnecessary backstory the film could do without. It certainly doesn’t help that all of these people are helpless, idiotic assholes that I don’t give a shit about. All of them.

The other trouble is, it is just too damn gory. It’s gleefully gory, but without any glee, really. In other contexts in other films I would have laughed, but here I just found myself wincing, and by the end I’m like… blood rain? Really? Oof. And just as it seems the filmmakers couldn’t decide when enough gore was enough, it also seems they couldn’t figure out when the fuck to end the god damn movie. I think there were about three times that I thought: okay, okay, this is finally gonna be the end, right? I was wrong each time. And on that note, the ending they decided to go with was stupid anyway!

My thoughts on Evil Dead sound harsher than I think they really are. Like I said, I didn’t hate the thing, but I don’t think I liked it all that much. In fact, we are debating on whether or not it is worth keeping our copy of the DVD. I can’t picture a time when I would want to sit down and watch this massacre again, that’s what I own the original for. Ultimately, what this movie really lacks is charm. The first Evil Dead is loaded with charm, and that’s what helps make it stand the test of time. This remake just proves my theory that money ruins everything. All this being said, if you are a crazy gore hound, this movie’s out to please you. If it doesn’t sate your thirst for nail guns and electric-knife amputations, you are a truly sick individual.

09
Oct
14

Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005)

Up to this point, this year’s iteration of 31 Days of Horror has offered up a pretty darn good list of horror flicks. It’s about time we had a real stinker, and Day 9 more than delivers that. Remember when I warned y’all that I was going to intentionally make the mistake of watching the rest of the Hellraiser series, even after Hellraiser: Inferno insulted my intelligence? Well, I’m a woman of my word folks; when I saw Hellworld on sale for $3 I figured it was time to bite the bullet. After all, Lance Henriksen is in it, so it can’t be that bad, right? Sigh… sometimes my optimism needs a reality check.
This computer game's menu is a little outdated, even for 2005.

This computer game’s menu is a little outdated, even for 2005.

So, this is when Hellraiser attempts to go meta, sort of. The film takes place in a world where the Hellraiser movies are a thing that everyone knows and loves, and there’s a computer game and everything! I’m not exactly sure what the stupid game entails, but I do know that some kid named Adam “took it too far,” doused himself in gasoline and set himself on fire. All of his friends are on a major guilt-trip, because they watched him get consumed by the game and sat back and did nothing. The only guy who seems to really feel super bad about it is this little twerp named Jake who freaks out on everyone at Adam’s funeral. Jake and his asshole friends consider themselves to bet he only “family” that Adam had, since his father was pretty much absent for most of his childhood, and I guess the mom is crazy or something? Whatever, within the first five minutes it is already apparent that we aren’t going to care about any of the characters.

Anyway, whatever, the four jackasses obviously didn’t learn their lesson and two years later are still hung up on Hellworld. If you can solve a particular puzzle with the puzzle box online, you get a special invitation to a Hellworld party! Despite our heroine (if you want to call her that) Chelsea’s reservations, she agrees it would be totally awesome to go to a Hellworld party, and so the  foursome head on over to some scary old house, where surprise, surprise, their old pal Jake shows up, too!  Looks like our host (Lance Henriksen) knew how to target all the right Hellworld fans. As the group convenes in the hallway, Henriksen invites them into a special room where he serves them questionable beverages and shows them fetuses in jars and stuff. So spooky. So edgy. Let’s party!

As I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, this party isn’t just fun and games. One by one, each unlikable asshole meets a pathetic end, seemingly at the hands of Pinhead. These fools stroll around the house, opening

Ladies and gents: your edgy host.

Ladies and gents: your edgy host.

doors you obviously shouldn’t be opening. Their curiosity kills them in the end, and the only two we are left with are Chelsea and Jake. When they set their feeble minds to work at figuring out just what the hell is going on at this “party” they start putting the pieces together. What they find results in one of the most unsatisfying and stupid endings to any horror movie I’ve ever seen, except, perhaps, Hellraiser: Inferno. Turns out, Henriksen is actually Adam’s father and is seeking revenge on all the kids whom he blames for his child’s death, even though he didn’t give a shit about his kid while he was alive, or even after he died; the scumbag couldn’t even make it to the kid’s funeral. Makes a whole lot of sense, right? But it gets better: he drugged the kids and then buried them alive, and everything we watched was nothing but a hallucination! Pinhead didn’t kill them, see, they killed themselves! Seriously. Wow. That is lame. Really, really lame.

It is truly amazing how easily dumbed down a great premise like Hellraiser can be. I know all too well that, usually, the quality of a franchise plunges the higher the sequel number, but holy bejeezus, I’ve never

Oh, if you care, Henry Cavill is in this.

Oh, if you care, Henry Cavill is in this.

seen anything quite as bad as the plummet from Hellraiser’s best films to the last two (maybe even three, Hellbound wasn’t so hot, either, but at least it wasn’t a total wreck) I’ve watched. The folks writing these films are literally given a premise and world in which to work, and they still can’t come up with anything worthwhile. There are many directions Hellworld could have taken, and a lot of them would have been a lot more interesting than what they decided to go with in the end.

While watching the movie, I have to say I was wondering why the hell Pinhead was using such lame methods to kill these kids. I thought the whole premise of Pinhead and the Cenobites is that they enjoyed bringing pain by way of torture to their victims. That’s not what we’re presented with here; instead we get a simple slashing of the throat or, perhaps the most egregious knock at Pinhead yet: decapitation by way of cleaver. Seriously? Even the kids in this movie should have known better than to think that Pinhead would use a cleaver to kill them. There is just no imagination whatsoever in this movie. And it looks like shit. And the characters are assholes, so who gives a shit if they die anyway?
This is wrong on so many levels. For the same reasons Captain America shouldn't use guns, Pinhead shouldn't use cleavers!

This is wrong on so many levels. For the same reasons Captain America shouldn’t use guns, Pinhead shouldn’t use cleavers!

Another thing I wondered while watching Hellworld: does Doug Bradley actually read the scripts of these sequels, or does he just show up, do a few takes, and leave? How much are they paying him to act in these films? It must be so sad to remember what it was like to have an interesting, meaty role in a horror film and then have to turn around and say a few cheesy lines as the same character just to take home a paycheck. His screen-time is probably shorter than the time it takes for him to get all that make-up on. On a related note, if I were Clive Barker I’d politely ask to have my name removed from such films. If you are considering, even for a second, that this movie is worth your time, please think again. It isn’t. It isn’t worth the plastic it’s printed on. It’s probably not worth the time I spent writing this post, either. Just say no.

26
May
13

John Dies at the End (2012)

Soy sauce. It's alive!

Soy sauce. It’s alive!

I must say, the Netflix instant queue has been very good to us lately. Without it, we wouldn’t have seen some of the best, recent horror we’ve seen in a while; Beyond the Black Rainbow and The House of the Devil topping that list. Those two films both wear their adoration for the 80’s on their sleeves, and so are very different from the latest film I can add to my list of Netflix instant queue  success stories: John Dies at the End.

It’s probably fair to say John Dies at the End has nothing to do with the 80’s. Instead of trying to evoke something familiar, John Dies at the End does exactly the opposite: nothing is what it seems, everything is something new, unexpected and alien. All that being said, I can’t claim that parts of John Dies didn’t remind me of Cronenberg‘s Naked Lunch, what with talking bugs and strange, addictive substances…

In a nutshell, John Dies at the End is about two friends who stumble upon a hallucinogenic drug called Soy Sauce and end up

Weird alternate-masked universe!

Weird alternate-masked universe!

saving the world from alien domination. That’s all I’m going to say about the plot; I don’t see much sense in elaborating.  Part of the fun of this movie is having no idea where it’s going to take you next. To be fair, I haven’t read the book (a frequent Schlock Wave refrain, I know) so of course I really had no idea what the thing was about. I have read the inevitable “this movie isn’t like the book wah wah wah” internet whines, who claim Don Coscarelli (of Phantasm fame, a franchise I’m quite fond of and plan on rewatching so I can write it up here) should never have been at the

We're all made of meat, after all.

We’re all made of meat, after all.

helm. Despite my ignorance of the book I’m just going to come right out and say they’re wrong. This movie is so enjoyable and so unexpected, it can definitely stand on its own two legs, book or no book. And what a pleasure to see Coscarelli make something fresh and new!

I know there’s no way most folks out there would enjoy this film. It’s too offbeat, too psychedelic for people to get behind. But for horror fans looking for something new and interesting, this is a definite must-see.

10
May
13

Transmutations (1985)

Sleeping beauty, Nicole.

Sleeping beauty, Nicole.

I like Clive Barker. Apparently, though, the folks that produced Transmutations didn’t care for him so much. The story goes they were looking for an hour-and-a-half long music video. Mr. Barker thought his screenplay was for a horror movie. As you can imagine, the final product suffered a bit from the confusion, and sadly doesn’t live up to its potential.

Transmutations is set in a typically strange Clive Barker kind of world. Nicole, a high-class hooker, is abducted from her bed by some ninja-like toughs. A supposedly reformed mobster has coerced an old employee of his, Roy Bain, to find her. It’s easy to

Bain

Bain

convince Bain he wants the job, because he’s still in love with Nicole. Everyone seems to be in love with Nicole. She’s beautiful and special; different than the others.

As Bain investigates Nicole’s disappearance, he comes across some truly unsavory folks, most notably Dr. Savary, the guy who’s been supplying a bunch of former heroin addicts with a new drug

Dr. Savary

Dr. Savary

called “white man.” The drug turns them into mutants, except Nicole, who is somehow immune.

There are definitely some interesting moments in this movie, and a lot of what happens reminds me of Night Breed, a movie I didn’t particularly care for, but is probably worth a second viewing and is definitely better than this. The problem is, as you might imagine, it wavers a little too much between detective movie, horror movie, and aimless nothing.




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