Thursday, December 29, 2005

lame thrills for scenesters

Three movies rented from the video chainstore in Chicago. All three were movies that it's hip to like and all three had fatal flaws. Let's get down to business.

The Machinist (2004) - We all know Christian Bale got sooo thin for this movie by eating a diet of only apples for several months. Director Brad Anderson (Session 9) made him quit, out of fear that he would kill himself.

fatal flaws! - Wow Christian Bale got really skinny on that starvation diet, but now that I've mentioned that, what's left? Does anyone give a damn about anything else in this movie? No, it suffers from Jacob's Ladder Syndrome, Carnival of Souls Syndrome, and perhaps the highly contagious Sixth Sense Syndrome. The plot sucks. They nail the points home to make it obvious. It's a weird movie for those who don't usually get weird movies and the only reason people like it is because of Christian Bale's 'sacrifice' which is something anybody could do. No Christian Bale, no movie.

The Manson Family (2003) - Have you seen the softcore serial killer worship of Monster? While that movie glorifies a true life killer, putting a hip feminist spin on it, this movie will not win sympathetic converts with it's simulated archival footage. The Manson actor hardly has any screen time, and the other family members are shown later in life, no longer hip and sexy, but come of as miserable and full of regret.

fatal flaws! - There is a subplot where mid-90's goth kids plan a Manson inspired attack on the media and I gotta tell you, this part is embarrassing because it's lifted right out of Natural Born Killers. Jim Van Bebber has some magical stuff here with phony documentary scenes, much of it run through the computer to look like old film footage. The 90's bit is a joke and it kills the movie. They don't even get the bit about the 'Charlie Don't Surf' Manson shirt right, though perhaps this is deliberate. Sadly I owned that shirt in high school. The poser-punk-type kid who is rocking this shirt in the movie is killed by a true Manson follower who is ironically wearing another t-shirt (Kill Yr Idols) that Axl Rose made popular in videos from the same time period. Is this an accident or a comment on the coolness of the 90's crowd? I'll give Van Bebber credit and say it's the latter.

Jim Van Bebber has made some great short films for Necrophagia videos and I had higher hopes for this movie, his second feature. Roger Ebert is quoted on the cover of the box. I read his review and he had mixed feelings on recommending this movie, but in the end gave it a positive 3 out of 4 stars. Ebert discusses the morality issues behind this movie as do most reviewers, but I think this is a fuss about nothing. Compared to the power of Natural Born Killers, which is loosely based on the Starkweather killings, this movie is a non event. The family members simply lack the charisma to inspire a following, which is another reason that the 90s action sequences are weak. I feel like there was an attempt to create a buzz about this movie and Ebert and others make the movie sound more important than it is. Shit is in here just make the movie feel dangerous, but the emperor wears no clothes.

Some of the controversy surrounding The Manson Family is that it explicitly recreates real life murders from the killers perspective. Call me insensitive, but that is just not a big deal. These murders have already been closely examined in books and documentaries over and over again. The dead are practically household names in America today. It's like the death of JFK, an event in American history, an it's getting closer to being ancient history. No controversy here. None.

The Woodsman (2004) - Here is a movie that deserves more controversy as it's from the P.O.V. of a convicted pedophile.

fatal flaws! - We learn that Kevin Bacon's character was lied to about the ages of the girls he molested. They told him they were teenagers (though still under legal age) and it seems that they were somewhat cooperative when being assaulted, though this behavior is still of course very wrong. Such an angle could be use to really get into the issue of whether or not some acts of pedophelia are worse than others, but that is not so much explored. It just felt like they were making Bacon's character less of a rapist when the movie is gripping because he is supposed to be the lowest of the low.

I'm already tongue-tied, I can't even talk about molesters and should be giving the filmmakers credit for touching upon the issue, but they really ought to have tackled the issue and showed how heavy it is instead of giving Bacon's character a free pass as they seem to at the end. That's political correctness gone bezerk, much as I discussed above when mentioning Monster.

spoiler - Credit where credit is due, the scene where Bacon almost molests Robin in the park made me squirm, but the other climax where Bacon punches out a fellow pedophile is a bad idea and just seems to be in there to make us feel ok.

This shit is not ok and the movie just does not work despite having great production values and an excellent cast. My biggest disappointment among the three because of the potential.

The moral of the story, I should stick to obscure 70's movies about satanic cults and leave these supposedly meaningful indie films to you guys who think you are smart.

Monday, December 26, 2005

you know I love my readers!

Out of the past 100 readers, 28 have come from the search engines. I always say that it's the quality of my readers that counts, not the quantity. Well, sadly, the quality varies. Here are some of the search terms that brought people here.

the good

5 hits for warrenzone blog or warrenzone - These are the true fans coming to my blog. Another good set of terms I like to see listed, bloodbath horror blog.

the relevant

2 for argento third mother
1 for gobbly gooker
1 fear beef bologna mp3
1 horror movie against george bush - Though there is no such movie.
1 movie crystal force
1 movie satans school for girls
1 poison idea november 2005 jerry a - That search has too many terms in it, good luck man.

the bad

1 blood dripping html codes for myspace
1 south park characters myspace
1 sexy scenesters - I really am starting to regret some of the articles I wrote.
1 vegan straightedge basketball jerseys - They don't make these anymore, it's not 1995. Now it's vegan straightedge eyeliner you should be searching for.
1 siskel and ebert bizarre skit - what?
1 first night warren - unkown, First Night sucks anywhere.
1 preteen - yuk - not here man! You should watch the movie The Woodsman.

Merry week-after-Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Christmas Evil (1980) Lewis Jackson - the true meaning of Christmas

I mentioned last post that this was playing in my town at the modern art museum for free and I could not go. Well, I did go. I took my Great Directors of Cinema final exam as quickly as I could and got from Costa Mesa to Newport Beach in record time, running only one red light. The movie was not quite half over when I got there, but that was no big deal since I'd just watched it at home less than a week ago. I was disappointed to see that movie was being projected off of the DVD. As this must-read article explains, the museum cannot project 35mm. From the director's talk after the movie we learned that all DVD releases of this movie, and probably all VHS versions, have a washed out look and do not show that this movie was filmed in especially brilliant and vibrant color. A world-renowned cinematographer from France was hired for the movie and his lighting bill alone nearly doubled the film's budget! An official DVD release under the original title You Better Watch Out will be available in October 2006. John Waters, a major fan of the movie, will be doing guest commentary. The screening I went to was in conjunction with a John Waters art exhibit and film series.

After the film screened a lot of people split right away and did not stay for the deleted scenes and director's speech, which was the main reason I was there. Director Lewis Jackson counted nine fans still remaining and said that was the story of his life and career. This movie is the only one he has ever directed (in 1980) because it scarred his reputation so badly! Amazingly, he is still behind this film and has not disowned it as many others in his position would have. How he is not a bitter and angry man, I do not know. He clearly still loves this movie and is campaigning for it till this day! Talk about never selling out!

This European DVD cover not only says "Don't Fuck with Santa!", it also shows Santa with his gun, but there are no guns in the movie!

Check this out...

1. The movie is basically famous under the Christmas Evil title, which I must say is a pretty cool title, but it does not fit with the film's general message. Lewis Jackson never wanted the title to changed from You Better Watch Out. Note: there is another title, presumably unauthorized as well, Terror in Toyland. (Note: From what he said, I, for the first time, fell guilty for watching pirated movies. You guys know I am a big advocate for low cost DVDs, but unfortunately, they are often cheep because the movie maker isn't getting paid.)

2. As I mentioned before, the versions of this movie most people have seen all have very muted color and great pain were taken to make this an extremely bright and colorful movie.

3. Lewis Jackson has not, until very recently, owned the rights to this movie. Do to the numerous versions of this movie you can find from low end DVD companies, you would think that this movie was in the public domain, but Jackson explains that this is not the case. All DVDs of this movie are bootlegs, including the one I've got in the 50 Movie Pack, Chilling Classics. The Troma edition, is slightly more legitimate as you can read in the article I linked above.

Anyway, the movie aims high and I believe it hits the mark. It's a true tale of Christmas, a story of a man standing up for what he believes in. I personally relate. Can you? How are we supposed to react after being taught to believe in something as a child, only to find out as we grow that no one can stay true to their beliefs and ideals? I'm not talking just about the belief in the magic of Santa, but am taking a deeper look at the issue, as this movie does. Childhood is simple. There is good and there is evil. When we grow we find out that it's not a good versus evil world. Grown-ups are evil and are constantly struggling to become more evil. Life is a race to shed the innocence of childhood and become as evil as possible. People are eager to shed the simplicity of their true and correct childhood beliefs and to replace these with selfish relativism..

To think that these people even go to church? It is no accident that the finest kills in Christmas Evil take place after Midnight Mass on the step of a New York City church. The scum come out of the church with cruel intentions trying to joke at Santa's expense in order to impress a female friend. Fortunately, there is a butchering.

I mentioned that I had trouble transitioning from innocent child to predatory adult. I think the shock is what triggered me to become deeply involved in militant animal rights activism. It was like a Holy War for me, like one of the Narnia books come to life. Did we not believe in the messages these books taught us when we were young. As adults you say "that's nice in principal, but let's be realistic". Adults do not follow their hearts and as a result they lose their hearts.

I believe that Christmas Evil spreads the Narnia message perhaps better than the new Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe movie does. For the record, the Narnia movie is impressive, but falls short of being a masterpiece.

Anyway, I thanked the director Lewis Jackson for coming out to this screening, which I might mention, was free of charge. During his speech he also mentioned his movie getting lumped in with Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) and other Christmas slashers, which hurt his reputation further. I guess I'm too young to understand the prejudices that the serious film community held against slashers and horror movies in general before my time. These days I think it's much easier for a horror director to cross over into the mainstream. Horror movies get more respect. Minds are less closed. I think today that it would even be possible for a director to use genre films as a stepping stone to mainstream movies kind of like how bands today use the hardcore scene to break into the world of MTV2 metal, but I digress... I have yet to see an example of this phenomenon, but bullshit horror director Uwe Bolle has got something called In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (with a LOTR running time) in the works.

Back to a director that really matters, Lewis Jackson was on his way out the door and I was in my car talking to Cub. She knew how excited I was to go to this screening and I told her how I thanked the director and even now he was just getting ready to leave, just two cars away from me. She asked me if I told him how much I liked the movie and I said I did not because I did not want to bother him further. Fortunately she persuaded me to get out of my car and do so before it was too late. I can be pretty shy around talent that I am impressed by. I have a lot of respect for this guy because, as I mentioned before, he did not sell out and turn his back on this movie even though it has never been well received. He said it took something like five screenings to initially find a single person who liked it and then of course there were all the problems in this years following that I have already mentioned. After twenty-six years the film will finally get the proper treatment with the upcoming DVD release under the correct title and from a good print. What an ordeal it must been for him!

Anyway, I don't want to ruin the plot for anyone who has not seen this movie. It can be a funny movie, even if you take it seriously, as I obviously do. Here is a cub speaks from before I went to the screening, from when we watched the movie for the first time, about a week ago.

Cub, I even strung up Christmas lights to get you in the mood for this one. Were you happy?

I loved that you put up Christmas lights in our room. It was very romantic and it totally sets the mood and creates a warm fuzzy inside. It is a cub tradition to put up Christmas lights in our room during the winter holiday season. jeez ...if only we had some soy eggnog to drink and some brandy? ..I mean we would make it virgin for you of course. I can't wait until we go to Chicago and sneak off in the middle of the night to sit under the Christmas tree at my house and tell scary bedtime stories.

Is it annoying that I only let us watch these movies during the Christmas season?

It is annoying that you have us wait to see Christmas movies until Christmas... I mean how long does a girl really need to wait just to see a damn movie (a year according to some naughty cubs).

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Christmas in the trenches!

I'm pissed because my new favorite movie, and the next movie that I'm going to review here, Christmas Evil, is screening tomorrow for free in the town that I live in. As seen in the OC Weekly (read this!), a publication I hate, but grab many copies off to absorb the piss and poo bits that come from my pet Bun Bun.

Puppetmaster vs. Demonic Toys is coming out on DVD from Anchor Bay on 1/17/06, a little too early for next years Christmas. Really, we are lucky we this movie is being released at all. Read
my review of it from last Christmas.

oh no

Last years Christmas posts...

review - To All a Good Night directed by David Hess

X-mas bedtime story -
Last X-mas Down the Way - Break out the soy eggnog for this new holiday tradition!

What's next?

this... I have not seen it.

The future of X-mas? Santa's Slay, trashed by bloody-disgusting.

Monday, December 12, 2005

finally some dissonance

Larry said my video was awful. Finally someone has spoken their mind. His rock video for this band Captain Ahab is finished and I saw it. Not sure if I'm allowed to talk about it, since it has not debuted. From the Captain Ahab website: "So, the insanely awesome music video for "I Can't Believe it's Not Booty" (directed by Lawrence Klein) will be premiering at the Smell on December 29. Holy shit. I can't wait." Yes that's right, there is a premier date in downtown Los Angeles.

What's similar about my video and his? Well, two of the same stars for one, though maybe that's the end of the similarities. They both have blood, but his has more blood and then some. There is dirty stuff in this that you can't even put into horror movies. You just aren't allowed to shoot these things. I will be at the premier.

News I read from UHM:

Marebito - Wow, what a letdown. From the internet buzz this film has been gettin' I expected more, especially since it's getting a limited theatrical run December 9th here in the US. Apparently director Takashi Shimizu shot this film in a matter of 8 days, between Ju-On: The Grudge, and its US remake simply entitled The Grudge. Takashi is goin' back to his direct-to-video micro-budget route with this film, basically shooting the movie in a consumer-brand digital video cam, so it has that gritty realism/low-budget look to it. The film does prove to be creepy at times, but it's ultimately left unsatisfying.

The rest of the review is
here. It convinced me not to go.

Also: Puppet Master 10 to be shot in about a year. More Puppet Master news in my next post.

Friday, December 09, 2005

All Night Long (1992) Katsuya Matsumura

First this: Feedback for my short horror movie (on-line!) is remarkably positive. I would post some of it here, but that would bore you, besides, I think some people are lying to me. Tell me that it sucks, and I will post what you wrote.

and now the review of the Katsuya Matsumura film: This movie is the first in a series and I did not like it that much, but the next two movies, that came in the box set are supposed to be better. I guess I'll watch them, but I can't guarantee it since I don't think I've ever watched every disc that comes in a box set. All Night Long 2: Atrocity and All Night Long 3: The Final Chapter never came out in Japanese theaters, but this first movie did have a theatrical run. The fifth and six movies were straight-to-video and are still not available legitimately in the USA.

"Human beings are garbage" is the theme to this series though it may be more established more-so in the sequels. The first movie reminded me of Kids, but with, you know, murders and stuff. I'd say this movie is probably not so much an accurate view of Japanese teenagers just like Kids was not truly representative of American youth, but journalists like to point at movies and say "this is THE TRUTH, it tells us what the kids of today are going through!!" Yeah right, if all that shit in Kids really mattered the kids of this generation would still be doing it with rubbers, but safe sex is out and everyone is still alive.

I'm sure glad I got this box set wicked cheap, but once again, don't rule out numbers 2 and 3. I'd seen a bootleg tape of Atrocity around and it had some sick shots on the back, though I forget of what. I do believe that it is the tale a boy versus the homosexual gang that sexually abuses him. How strange.

Other movies: I got the rare Sergio Martino film, The Great Alligator on bootleg tape, but it was such a bad copy I could hardly see any of the night time action, which included the climax where the tourists are caught between the alligator and the angry natives. It sure looked like a bloodbath... I think? Everything I saw told me that this hidden gem ought to be available on DVD, but it is not. Fortunately Martino does not kill any animals in this movie, but they do blow up trees with bats in them, though the bats are not actually blown up. Also live animals are thrown into the water, not sure what kind, my tape was too blurry. Funny, the hero character remarks about how that is inhumane. The gator was eating dead animals I'm pretty sure. Any of this stuff is unacceptable if you ask me, but I did not support this movie with any money, keep that in mind. Let's hope that a superior bootleg version of this becomes available or just hope that whomever owns the rights to this one now is pretty far removed from the original producers. Since 1979 the movie has likely changed hands many times.

The Thirsty Dead, that's a great name for movie that is fairly average. Got the DVD from Something Weird Video. I think Cub was pretty into this movie and it had it's moments, like it's one zombie-type scene, but other the other elements are really dated. The cult leader outfits and the primitive jungle get-ups were not as cool as some of the retro fashion you see in older horror cinema. The Blood Island films and Vampire Hookers, also made in the Philippines, are much better. The best scenes in this one were shot in the real jungle versus the bulk of them show on a fake-looking cave set. I'd been waiting a long time to see The Thirsty Dead and I'm not sure why. The title, I guess.

Stuff to see: The Worst Record covers of all time! One from Exploitation Retrospect and one from Pitchfork. I've bought at least two of the records off of the Pitchfork list (Bloodrock and The Kinks) from dollar bins for their covers alone. Silly me, I thought they were two of the best album covers of all time!

I'm in full agreement with Pitchfork on most of the 90's artwork the dismiss. Pretty much anything made in the 90's with low production values does not stand up today. I like just about all the 70's record art shown. My real complaint with the Pitchfork list, too many jokes that give misinformation about the albums. For some of these stories, I want to hear straight versions.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Precursor - the horror short is online!

It's late at night and my commentary on the movie might not make a hell of a lot of sense, but the file is up and running here:

It should be work safe for you people on lunch break. There is not a huge amount of blood it is more of a psychological horror movie. Just kidding, what the hell does that mean anyway? This is just a quick slasher. A typical bear-suit slaughterfest.

Cub Speaks? Yes Cub speaks on camera in this movie once again.

The video is roughly 5 minutes long. It's does not drag. So get with it.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

the straight edge Battle Royale t-shirt. cool or lame?

I don't know, I think that there are too many ordinary Battle Royale t-shirts out there already, thought I was tempted to buy one for Cub. Not this straight edge shirt of course, she would probably die of embarrassment, and besides, she drinks. Me, I'm not tempted to buy an straight edge related paraphernalia at this point, especially while living in the Orange County with it's wack hardcore kids. Shirt available here.

straight edge? In the 90's they would have called this advertising sexist. shit was like a witch hunt back then.

Did anyone else see Battle Royale II? I doubt it. It's more controversial than the first, though not as good. I call it a reverse Saving Private Ryan with the exact opposite message as that movie and also with similar battle scenes including a storming of the beach. I'm not too wild about Saving Private Ryan's message and the way Spielberg shoves it down your throat, however I must say that the lessons Battle Royale II tries to teach are the greater of two evils and this is coming from someone who is generally against George Bush's warmongering. I won't give it away. See Battle Royale II. As far as I know there is no version of this coded for U.S. dvd players and I wonder if their ever will be. It was made in 2003 so it really should have come out here already.

My horror video is almost done. I just need to get some correct spellings for the names in the credits. I've had computer troubles throughout the editing and for the first time have found out what the limitations are when you buy the cheapest computer on the market. I'm going to write a lot more about the filming and what worked and what did not in the near future so I'll stop now. In any case, get ready for something interesting cause I'm going to put it online.

The P.S.A. that I was in part producer on, with the Halloween part and an anti-drunking-doing drugs-and driving message, was shown in a film festival. This could be the only time something I made will run in one of these things. Oh no, I don't intent to submit my little slashers to tons of festivals and pay all of their submission fees. Unfortunately I could not attend this festival since I had to act in someone else's short movie, which is made with some great equipment, so maybe that will be in a festival when it's done. I saw some of the edits and they were top notch. Anyway, the P.S.A. that screened was shot will professional TV equipment, which certainly gave it an edge over the other homemade stuff that was surely submitted. Our set resembled a Halloween party and the piece ended with the characters behind bars and being sized up by a smiling, much bigger, and older, inmate.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

fuck you

I'm really pissed off. The rent is due and I'll never have enough money to pay it on my own. I'd better just pack up my shit and move to the hood. Want to live somewhere nice? Fuck you, you were born too late.

Anyway, here is a preview of the shit I am working on. It should play on it's own. There is no sound.

Victoria (in the bear suit) said she based her moves on Juon: The Grudge and Grizzly. Here are some of her

The other night I had a long phone conversation about the works of Charles Band. I mentioned that his older label, Wizard Video, put out almost all good material including Driller Killer as well as some good Euro-horror. Yes, almost all good stuff with the exception of the movies directed by Tim Kincaid. Breeders (1986) was his best, but was pretty stiff. (Don't confuse it with the unrelated and even worse 1998 Paul Mathews Breeders with the 3-D box.) Mutant Hunt (1987), with it's little Wizard "too gory for the silver screen" emblem, is unwatchable shot on video crap. Worst of all is The Occultist (1987), which never came out on Wizard, but is produced by Charles Band and I found it on DVD on the Full Moon label. This movie is 'bottom ten of all time material'. It is not shot on video, but if it had been, the movie could not be any worse than it already is. There is plenty of gore, yet we have to deal with endless 24-7 voodoo rituals, preppy security agents, and bad fight choreography, that just makes for a shitty package. I don't want to get into details, but one man fights with a morning star with a skull that looks like the Corrosion of Conformity logo on the end of a chain. Also, we've got an agent with a member that turns into a machine gun, and then he zips up his fly with attitude. Stupid to the max and fortunately or unfortunately, depending on what you are looking for, the penis-maching gun shot is from the waist up only, leaving the weapon to the imagination.

Tim Kincaid directs gay porn under the name Joe Gage. For real. The Occultist was not gay though, it's aimed at straight kids.

Long Island Cannibal Massacre directed by Nathan Schiff was a joy and was made back when home made horror had to be shot on film, 1980. It's Super 8 film I believe. The DVD edition looks great and the only thing that separates this amateur movie from b-movies with a budget is that this one has some out of focus shots in it. You don't see that mistake often at the movies. Was my new video shot in sharp deep focus? I hope so, but I have not reviewed all the footage yet. In fact my computer ate the parts I'd edited all ready. Today has been shit from start to finish.