Horror. Worldview. Faith.

Our First DVD Giveaway Winner!

Our First DVD Giveaway Winner!

Jul 31, 2010

Congratulations to Ron who resides in California for being our first winner of the monthly DVD Giveaway! Ron will be receiving a free DVD of The Changeling.

Be looking for the details on our next monthly DVD Giveaway in August. You might be the next winner!

The Walking Dead – First Look

The Walking Dead – First Look

Jul 26, 2010

This is pretty sweet.  Someone filmed the exclusive 4 minute trailer at Comic-Con of The Walking Dead, soon to be on AMC.

Diary of the Dead- Review

Diary of the Dead- Review

Jul 25, 2010

reviewed by hallo
directed by George Romero, 2007

“Are we worth saving?  You tell me.” – Debra Moynihan

With those concluding words of narration, Diary of the Dead rolls credits.  It is a question that permeates the brilliant storytelling of famed horror director George Romero in this 5th entry of his critically acclaimed Dead series.  A struggle for power, an insatiable desire to fulfill a perceived life purpose, and a misunderstood destination of safety all provide a thought-provoking 90 minutes of zombie mania.

Diary of the Dead is not a typical sequel in the Dead series, but rather documents a separate story during the initial outbreak of the original Night of the Living Dead movie.  In other words, the timeline follows the same chronology of the original 1968 film even though the immediate setting of Diary of the Dead is in the 21st century.  As this group of young people are struggling with zombies and one another, we can imagine a boarded up house on a farm somewhere in PA where Ben and Barbra are fighting for their lives.  Several references to the original film are made, including the reuse of the original newscast from NOTLD.  Romero himself called this entry a “rejigging of the myth.”

As always, Romero is masterful with zombies and remains in this reviewer’s eye the heavyweight champion of all things zombiefied.  This particular story follows a group of young Pitt film students who are creating a horror movie when the outbreak strikes.  Since documentary is Jason Creed’s first love, he decides to carry his trusty Panasonic camera with him at all times and capture the events of the developing real life horror story.  Along the way, another camera is picked up allowing for two different camera angles of the action.  We learn at the beginning of the movie that Jason’s girlfriend, Debra, compiled the film together so that people would know the truth.  Oh, she also added music and sound effects because she “wants you to be scared.”  Unfortunately, the film at times loses its grip because of the consistent and occasionally tiresome use of the documentary style.  That is one of very few complaints I have with the movie.

In typical Romero fashion, we are immersed in the struggles of the core group of people as they in turn are struggling with survival.  Deeply embedded in DOTD is the universal desire to fulfill our life passion, which almost certainly involves a certain amount of assumed power.  For Jason, the consuming desire to capture the “real” story of the outbreak is convincingly explained to Barbra as the only way they might be able to save lives.  However, Jason’s true motives are revealed when he repeatedly refuses to put down the camera in times of desperate need, choosing instead to film the ending of human life at the hands of the zombies rather than save a human life, which is of course the explanation he provided for the filming in the first place.  In this way, Jason is no different than the living dead.  They know only one thing – to seek out and consume living human flesh.  Jason’s passions close his mind to any reality other than getting the shot on film.  Romero once again reminds us that the line between zombie and human is not as broad as we might think.  Debra, during her overdub narration of the finished documentary, blatantly explains this truth by asserting, “it is us vs. them.  The problem is that they are us.”

Another interesting sub-theme that was consistently placed throughout the dialogue was the realization of the supernatural in the chaotic events.  At one point, a character sarcastically screams that unless you are Jesus Christ you “don’t stand up and walk around after you are dead.”  Another use of narration by Debra insists that “God had changed the rules and we were following along.”  The movie makes clear that a world beyond mere materialism is known by all people in all places, yet even that inner knowledge cannot keep us from pursuing the riches of materialism.  At one point the group seeks refuge in a large garage where a band of friends had looted the entire city and hauled it all to one central location.  Proud of their accomplishments and their acquisition of stuff, they were unwilling to even let the group fill their tank completely with gas.  Finally, they were able to say “look at all the stuff we have.”

In the last 2 minutes of the movie, as the remaining 3 characters are talking with one another, an older professor looks in the mirror as the sun is rising.  The dialogue that ensues is wonderful:

Debra:  Things always look better in the morning.
Andrew:  Not to me. Mornings bring light. I prefer the darkness. It’s easier to hide in the dark.
Tony:  You know, Professor? I actually get the… the mornings. They show you for what you are, instead of what you think you are.
Andrew:  Inelegantly phrased, Mr. Ravello, but accurately put. Mornings… and mirrors. I despise them. Mornings and mirrors only serve to terrify old men.

We all prefer the darkness, it is indeed easier to hide.  On this point of dialogue, it is hard to imagine that Romero did not have John3 in mind:

“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

Are humans worth saving?  Absolutely.  And yet because of our own love of darkness, not all will be saved.

Body Count Podcast #1009

Body Count Podcast #1009

Jul 24, 2010

Hallo, Danny, and Skot discuss the use of allegory in horror movies.


Hatchet – Review

Hatchet – Review

Jul 24, 2010

reviewed by hallo
directed by Adam Green, 2006

I have continued to hear news reports concerning the fall 2010 release of Hatchet 2 directed by Adam Green.  Each of these reports served as a gentle reminder that I had yet to see the original, so I figured the time was ripe.  I will return to a few brief comments about the sequel below.

After quickly reviewing the production team and cast for Hatchet, I was surprised by a couple of things.  First, I was surprised that I had never heard of the director Adam Green.  The movie has caused enough of a stir in the horror world that I figured I would have at least known something about the director.  Nevertheless, I had never seen nor heard any of the 10 films he had directed.  On the contrary, the cast was packed with familiar names such as Joel Moore, Kane Hodder, Richard Riehle, Robert Englund,  and Tony Todd.  I was intrigued to say the least.

The film is about a young man named Ben who has unfortunately been dumped by his girlfriend of eight years.  In a friendly attempt to offer consolation, a few of his friends take Ben to Mardi Gras in New Orleans.  Ben, however, wants nothing to do with the moral decay of Mardi Gras much to the chagrin of his friends.  He decides to find something that better suits his interests and seeks out a haunted swamp tour he heard about from a friend.  Although the rest of his group ditches Ben, one loyal friend named Marcus hangs around.  Marcus, as it it turns out, becomes one of the very few reasons why Hatchet is watchable.  Although the established swamp tour business is no longer doing tours (because they were sued), they stumble across another tour guide.  As we will discover, this new tour guide is a fake and is only looking to make a buck.

Ben and an extremely reluctant Marcus end up paying for a tour along with a couple of porn stars, a porn director, an elderly couple, and a quiet but assertive lady.  Ben attempts to befriend the quiet lady, whose name is Marybeth, by whipping out effective conversation starters such as “I like that coat.”  Anyway, the group eventually gets to the boat and makes their way down the swamp.  Along the way all the guests begin to realize that the guide is a scam and just as it comes to a head, he wrecks the boat into a pile of rocks.  Too bad for them, because this is the home of Victor Crowley, a severely deformed man who was accidentally stabbed in the head by his father with a hatchet.  Now, as the legend goes, Victor walks the swamp looking for folks to brutally mutilate (sound like anyone else you know?).  In classic horror movie style, folks start dying one by one in rather gruesome ways.  The gore is excellent and is probably the only other redeeming aspect of the movie.  Arms are torn off, jaws are sawed off, spines are ripped out, and heads are twisted off.  The gore is not really an essential part of the film in terms of the storytelling, but as a horror movie lover I am always pleased to see a well done kill scene.

Amid all the stupid dialogue and confusing actions on the part of the group, Ben finally decides to go back to Victor’s house to look for gasoline cans.  Bad idea as that causes the death of more people.  Ultimately, Marcus bites the dust and just when it appears that things are over for Ben and Marybeth, they manage to run through Victor with a spear.  Just like all good slasher movies, the heroes end up on a canoe to paddle away with nice peaceful music playing (sound like another ending to a movie?).  Oops!  Victor isn’t dead!!  Can you believe it??  He pulls Marybeth into the water.  She manages to escape but gets caught in some branches under the water.  Just above her she can see Ben’s hand reaching down in the water grasping for her.  She finally manages to reach Ben’s hand and is pulled up out of the water.  The bad news is that Victor has ripped Ben’s arms out of their sockets and was holding them down into the water to lure Marybeth up.  The film ends with Marybeth in the embrace of Victor’s arms.

The movie has absolutely zero to offer in originality and creative story telling.  However,  I’m not so sure that was their intent.  The tagline for the movie is “Old School American Horror.”  This is a film that sets out to take a well-established formula and do it well.  Three elements were obviously important for director Adam Green.  First, he wanted to assemble a solid group of actors.  This is a movie where you keep saying, “oh yeah, I know that guy.”  It does add credibility to the film and it is always fun to see old name resurface.  Second, humor was a critical part of the movie and it was provided beautifully by Marcus and Shawn (the fake tour guide).  Third, gore was used as a means to filter between horror fans who live for well done classic gore and those who don’t.  So much so that director Adam Green’s comments concerning the second film are, “if you didn’t like the first one, don’t see the second one.”  Green’s directing leaves something to be desired and a majority of the dialogue is pathetic.  Having said that, this probably succeeds in what it was attempting to do:  provide a fun, stomach-wrenching gore fest wrought with laughs and “shock” moments.

Philosophically, the movie really says absolutely nothing.  The only point of interest is a running theme throughout the film concerning folks who pretend to be something they aren’t.  The tour guide who speaks with a terrible New Orleans accent is really a scam artist.  The “porn director” is really a business man just trying to get some action.  One of the porn actresses lies about attending NYU.  What all that has to do with the gore infestation that is Victor Crowley I have no idea.  The only thing I was able to come up with is the irony that Victor, a brutally distorted human being, was always honest and open about who he was.  In contrast, he is now killing those who hide their own inner darkness behind a facade of lies.  More likely is the possibility that the writers were frantically looking for a story to weave in-between the awesome death scenes.

From what I have been reading concerning the sequel, Adam Green has decided to step it up a notch.  Humor, apparently, will not play as prominent a role in the sequel and the gore promises to be taken to the next level.  My hunch is that Green is somewhat amazed that he will actually be directing a sequel and has decided to strengthen his grip on what could be the start of a name for himself.  The movie has a strong set of fans and the sequel seems to be gaining some high expectation.  Victor is not finished yet.