19 May 2012

SPLINTER/2008

The 2008 horror film Splinter was directed by Toby Wilkins, whose history in film has been more in the special effects department than behind the lens as director. Sadly his only other film worthy of mention is The Grudge 3 (which I have not seen), the rest of his film work being TV work and shorts. Too bad since Splinter is a stripped down horror film – a cast of six and filmed mostly within one location at a convenience store- whose success rests on some solid direction and acting, along with decent dialog and a believable and scary monster. When the film first came out I read a few bad reviews of it and put off seeing it until only recently. You cannot believe everything you read and some people are obviously just impossible to please. While there is a lot of crap coming out of the horror film industry these days there are good and watchable horror films as well and Splinter is one of them. While far from perfect or flawless it nonetheless move along and delivers the horror goods from start to finish.

With no more than six people in being listed in the film’s credits this is not going to be a teenage body count film, and that genre is still alive and well though it has been trussed up a bit and made less funny the films of the 70’s and 80’s. Everybody in the film seems to be 25 and up and plagued with “real life” problems other than what college will one go to now that high school is wrapping up. City slickers Polly and Seth (Jill Wagner and Paulo Costanzo) are having problems sitting up tents in the wilderness to celebrate their anniversary. Jill is obviously the hard one to please in the relationship and Paulo is trying his best, but he is more comfortable with test tubes than tents and mosquitoes. Jill hammers on him but she herself can’t get the tent up any better and after it is ripped they opt to stay in a hotel for the night. She does the driving –natch- since Pauolo cannot drive a stick. Hey, neither can I. While heading to who knows where they pick up and then are kidnapped by con on the lam Dennis Ferrell (Shea Whigham) and his super tweaker girl friend Lacey (Rachel Kerbs). The stereotypes are not over done and the ride in the SUV is filled with believable dialog and situations for the most part. Things turn for the worse when they run over a spiky creature who we met earlier when it killed a potato chip munching hillbilly. A tire is blown and we find out how whacked Rachel is when she is sure is some old dead pet of her come back. The spikes on this creature –which never find out anything about, long with the parasite that has infected it- not only blows their tire but damages their radiator as well. After it blows they all wind up back at the bas station/convenience store where the redneck was killed at the film’s start. And he is still there, but now he too has become a spiky, thorny creature that jerks and scrambles around in unnerving manner, and is very fast and very intent on killing the three people –yea, tweaker Lacey doesn’t make it- holed up inside the store now.

The film now becomes the three of them against the unrelenting monster outside and against each other. I guess if you want to push it it also becomes them against themselves as well, but I try not to take too many of these movies to that level. We’re not watching Lord Jim here no matter how good it gets. Here is where many a modern horror film may fall all apart, if they haven’t long since crumbled, but Splinter manages to hold on. The characters and situations never get corny or unbelievable. The creature, while locked outside, still poses a threat and is able to get inside –i.e. in the form of a torn off hand- and prevents the trio from leaving. When help arrives it is quickly dispensed with and their limited options for getting out seem like just one bad idea followed by another. Science geek boy Paulo may not be able to pitch a tent or drive a stick but he suddenly comes into his own when trying to figure out what the creature is and how to combat it, all the while being nagged by Polly of course who can’t find it in herself to tell the guy even once “yea honey, go on, we’re listening”. But in the end it is brains over beauty as Paulo figures out the creature is sensitive to cold and comes up with a pretty interesting and tension building method to go out and move a vehicle closer to the door. The film is has other moments like this where the trio try to get some chance at rescue but are thwarted by the creature in one for or another.

18 May 2012

NECRO GIRLS/BRINKE STEVENS

Since moving Necrotic Cinema here to its new address and new URL there has been a period of readjustment for popular posts. What were popular at the old address (my old number one posts being my 1st post here for the Japanese film Killer Pussy) are no longer so popular and a whole new assortment of Necro Posts have climbed to the top of the ladder, including my one old Nero Girls posts on Rhonda Shear. I figure it is time then to revive that category and for this post I am featuring Mensa member and one of the true 80's Scream Queens Brinke Stevens. Along with a collection of, I hope, choice images I am putting up some material from Scream Queens magazine and Femme Fatales magazine as well. A couple too short interviews. I will keep this category alive as a little eye candy for horror films never hurt anybody. Will be looking into what other things I can do when I am not in the mood to do a full review, like posters, comic book samples, maybe music and artwork. For now sit back and live life a little on the Brinke. (Okay, that was so obvious I just couldn't resist.)


11 May 2012

THE HOWLING: REBORN/2011

I am an older guy. I am 53 now and at this age one learns how precious some things are that he may have, or most likely certainly did, take for granted when he was 23 and still invincible or 33, or hell, even 43. But at 53 one’s mortality peers back at him in the mirror each morning. Gad, it’s a shocking and sobering feeling at times. So one also come to value time in as s fleeting and special, and you really do look back on the past with regret that you did not do this or your did that. So when one has 92 minutes of his life stolen that he can never get back there arises not only a feeling of anger and frustration but of deep and dire despair as well. And that is the quandary I often find myself watching horror movies anymore, and this film is an excellent example of what I once enjoyed about horror films and what they has become that makes me feel the watching of one only serves to bring me 90 or so minutes closer to my own demise.

The 1981 film The Howling by Joe Dante was and still is one of my favorite horror films. I recall being about a mere 22 years old and sitting stoned and a little drunk in the back of an old Cadillac drag racing a Mustang down SW Zarzamora Street in San Antonio Texas (back when you had a better chance of riding down that street and not get shot or stabbed than you do these days) and the water pump blowing out in our car. It all got fixed and we still made it to the theater in time and had a great time. The original Hollowing was filled with clever dark humor and sometimes subtle and sometimes hammer over the head references to older werewolf films. Far from a perfect movie but pretty darn near a perfect horror film. But what happened next always confused me and it really says a lot about me as horror film buff. The film spawned a long series of sequels that, I assume, only got worse and worse as each one came out. I believe it made it up to The Howling 7 and each one had another tiles, like Freaks or The Marsupials, or something. I have never seen any of them. I rented The Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf and watched about 10 or 15 minutes of it and popped it out and never troubled myself with another of the franchisee. Until now.

I watched this the other night on some sort of streaming TV program here in China called PPTV. So I did not spend any money on it and at first thought I might get into it. I knew it was not going to be a great flick but I assumed it was some sort of modern reboot or remake of one of my favorite horror films ever and it could not be that bad. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. I forget that modern does not translate into better most of the time. In fact I almost feel I have written too much about this turkey. It is still stealing my life from me, but I feel I have to do this, to issue a warning to those who are considering seeing this. All I can do is fall on my knees and beseech you “Don’t! Don’t do it! For the love of God listen to me!” This is one of those films where during the final quarter or so of the film I am actually groaning out loud and moaning “oh come on!” to myself. This is as bad as a film can get for me if I decide to continue to watch it. I will let you know in a paragraph or two what I was groaning in misery about, although there were more than a couple groan producing attributes to this sorry excuse for a werewolf film.

Daniel Radcliffe lookalike Will Kidman (Landon Liboiron) is going though all the Twilightesque teen angst all teens go through now in dealing with their vampire, warlock or werewolf issues. When I was growing up the big deal was whether or not a kid from a working class family would go on to college or go into the military. Simpler times. Now kids have to decide if they want to marry shiny vampires or how to carry on a relationship with the drug popping, ass-ogling school prima donna while facing that fact that along with his raging hormones he is also a raging lycanthrope. Add to that he has issues with the fact his mother died when he was born (or did she? Ooohhhh!) and his dad is still all whiny about it 18 years later (but he puts it behind him and finally takes off his SILVER engagement ring and gives it to Will) and all he has accomplished so far in life is helping the school get 2nd place (and a SILVER trophy with a pointy little top that has “I’ll be back in the picture later” written all over it) in the debate contest and soon we can understand poor Will’s pouty, brooding expression and dire, existential ramblings. Okay, no we can’t. We don’t want to. Who cares? We want him to end his pathetic life and maybe in doing so end the film as well, but no, he goes on and so does the movie.

For some reason he likes the less than charming Eliana Wynter (Lindsey Shaw). She is rude and arrogant, and dates the school jerk for some stupid reason she rationalizes later. Said school jerk of course does not like Will and picks on him big time. This is called a set-up for Will’s big get even scene later that seems like it was going to be a redoing of the same sort of scene in the first Spiderman film, except the get even scene in Spiderman was well shot and a bit funny, while the one here, well, was pretty lame and stupid. Lacking any humor or even enjoyable action. What we do learn is that in Highschools the bullies can carry guns and pump off rounds I the stairwell, get themselves killed by being tossed screaming down the stairwell and never have the police or school faculty get involved or ask questions. Not only that, but you can just leave the gun on the window sill and come back and get it later in the movie when you need it.