Monday, May 26, 2014

Rose Red (2002)

 Rose Red (2002)

PLOT - Over the Memorial Day Weekend, a college professor leads a team of psychics to awaken a famous massive haunted house that's gained a popular reputation for nearly thirty disappearances and deaths over the last hundred years. 

LOWDOWN - Last year I planned on reviewing and going over this mini series in time for Memorial Day. Well, instead I flew to florida to attend Spooky Empire and had my head up my ass and completely forgot. WELL...this weekend I made it a point to crack open a few beers and finally get around to watching and reviewing one of my favorite mimi series that Stephen King made. 

I've said it before, but Stephen King was a HUGE part of my childhood growing up. My mother was a massive fan of his books and I have great memories of always asking her which book she was reading and hearing all about it. Over the years my sister and I watched endless movies based off his works and enjoyed his mini series as they were released. In 2002 I was in 7th or 8th grade but I remember the hype ABC was giving the release of this mini series. I didn't watch it when it originally aired but I remember a lot of people in my English class talking about watching it. Now I've loved King's mini series. The Stand was huge in my house growing up. In fact our 4-pack VHS copy was played so much I'm stunned it didn't fall apart. IT was the reason why clowns (and I'm sure I'm speaking for everyone else my age) scared the ever living shit out of me. A few years before hand, I remember taping Storm Of The Century for my mother while she was at work. This was directed by Craig Baxley Jr. the same director as Rose Red. I'm so often asked which director would I choose, Mick Garris, or Craig Baxley?  See that's a tough one, Mick directed so many classics of King's, and Craig brought forth a new sense of style with Storm and Rose. I honestly can't even say. Every director that's come to adapt a piece of King's work has done a great job. (We won't bring up King himself for Maximum Overdrive.) = Ah the 1980's and coke...a very, very, very bad mix indeed.

I ended up renting Rose Red that summer at the local video store that was slowly dying a painful death down the street from my house. We rented this baby on VHS...yep 2002, one of the last years you could still do that. I remember we had rented Critters the night before and I was in a complete haze over that movie so I really didn't pay attention when we first started watching Rose Red. Well it didn't take long for my interest to get caught. This in my eyes after Burnt Offerings is the perfect haunted house movie. 

First I love the Seattle setting. The opening credits over the water are simply stunning. Instead of the typical rainy overcast Seattle we all know, we're able to see the nicer side of things. With breath taking shots of the city and surrounding neighborhoods everything has a certain kind of charm to it. The second and biggest thing is the house itself. It kills me this house really doesn't exist. In fact years ago I listened to the commentary to this movie and laughed that tons of people came to the producers asking where the real house was located since they were interested in buying it. Nope, sorry guys...the entire house was a set or CG. = Bummer

I find houses like this more scary than any gothic castle in horror movies. Houses like this remind me of the homes used in the Dan Curtis movies in the 60's and 70's. I guess I'm a sucker for set design, but the amount of detail that was put into this house was unreal. It just seemed cozy, the wood work, the wallpaper, the colors, ect. The house itself seemed very inviting and not scary at all which makes it even more scary when the shit starts hitting the fan. I loved the rooms in the house. The mirrored library, the upside down office, the tower, the giant rooms with the huge fire places. My dream would be to wander around these sets. Simply stunning. In fact I would go so far to say the sets in this movie are by far the coolest. 

Stephen King wrote this movie when Steven Spielberg approached him saying he wanted to make the greatest haunted house of all time. After King banged out a treatment for this story and gave it to him. Spielberg wanted a more "family friendly" movie and passed on King's story. (Really? You go to Stephen King for a family friendly movie...) Anywho, King wrote the screenplay for this story and a jointed book written as the professor who's investigating the house. I read it myself and not exactly a thrilling novel, but pretty cool to look more into the history behind the house and how honestly fucked the family who owned it was. Still, I can dream about a book based off the actual movie being written some day.

The next thing that was stellar was the cast. This was utter and complete perfection.  I really hadn't seen nor heard about Nancy Travis since the Three Men And A Little Baby movies. She played the driven bitchy...and very unstable Joyce. Loved how pissed she is whenever Steve takes over telling stories about Rose Red. This woman goes off the deep end very quickly and loved the final scene with her in the house. 

There's Matt Keeslar who I remember from Waiting For Guffman and Scream 3. He plays a typical every day Joe who's sleeping with Joyce (what an odd pairing) but did a good job in his role. Nothing memorable but good enough. Kimberly J. Brown does a great job as Annie, the gifted girl who really does pack a punch with her performance. Melanie Lynskey plays "Sister" Annie's older sister Rachel. I don't know, every time I see her I think about two and a half men. Still, she did a nice job as the sister even though she did overact a bit. Matt Ross plays the very unlikeable and overweight Emery. By far one of the most annoying characters ever to grace the small screen. Loved the mouth breathing! His character and his mother were so annoying and weird it was down right laughable. I'm still stunned that Matt gained weight and put on a fat suit for this role. Talk about acting!

Julian Sands plays Nick, oh Julian...I have some memories of you from when I met you at HorrorHound. words lol. A class act indeed. His character Nick was my favorite, not only was he charming and handsome he also seemed like the most interesting character in the entire story. Wish he could have gotten more screen time. His end is down right heartbreaking. 

There's Kevin Tighe, Judith Ivey, and Emily Deschanel in supporting roles. I like them all and that's hard to say for a story like this to have all supporting characters I liked but it's true. They all brought something to the table. In fact I love the scene of Tighe, Ivey, Deschanel, and Sands at the sports bar. I could have watched these guys for hours. Yes the Ivey character became a little annoying as did Deschanel (HATED the scene when Joyce asks her character to feel the doorknob and she rolls her eyes and goes "All right..." I would have flipped, Um, excuse me I'm paying you five grand you better bet your ass your gonna work for it.") "Sigh..." I'm okay...

The backstory was great, loved all the flashbacks. Like I said I read the backstory book and it was eh, but still the way these scenes were filmed were completely perfect. Loved the scene when Ellen and John first arrive to the house "How beautiful you are Rose Red." Or the scene where she disappears down the hallway in 1950. Still gives me chills. 

I loved the practical makeup in this movie. The corpses were by far the best. Crypt Keeper realness. This movie had a blend of CG and practical effects. Some of the CG looks dated but for the most part it still holds up almost thirteen years later. I loved the makeup on the ghosts, bodies, and creatures. Loved the scene of the actress in bed with Matt Ross. That's what I call a killer puppet. 

I've always loved stories about haunted houses, and psychics and this is a story that honestly could be told in any period time. It's almost like King's take on a classic hammer horror. I love the pacing of the story and how quickly it picks up. The first DVD is mostly backstory, taking it's time to a slow build that works perfect. In the second half it's down right terrifying. Love how crazy everything gets, and how things start to pick up. (Love the shots of Joyce...clearly pregnant walking around filming.) I love the stone stature, the crows, the vampire ghosts, and corpses, and of course the huge blow out ending. With a sad, yet fitting ending I feel a movie like this should have and deserves a sequel. Instead we got a prequel which wasn't as amazing as the first mini series. I watched it back at school and honestly wasn't impressed. Lots of details were missing, and the pay off wasn't as good. I think it needs a re-watch from me but I remember not really being impressed.

Years ago I came upon a blog that was honestly amazing. It was called Unraveling Rose Red. It had a fake character named Ally I think? Who was engaged to the Sands' character. This was one hell of a site. It was in her POV talking about her life with her fiancé before he went missing and how devastated she was after the house took him. It went into her quest of finding him, and how she bought one of the condos build over what remained of the house. Sadly the blog got taken down years ago but whoever ran it did a truly amazing job. It was like reading a soap opera. It went into details with photographs, evidence, and how crazy this woman was to learn the truth. How about a sequel like that?!

Anyways, Rose Red to me in a comfort movie. It's a classic tale of haunting with an amazing cast, great effects, and stunning settings, and a great story from King himself. They truly don't make them this way anymore!

5 stars!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Top 5 most underrated endings to a horror movie part 1

 Top 5 most underrated endings to a horror movie part 1.
Wanna know what really packs a punch? A great horror ending! Here is my first list of some of the most underrated endings to a horror movie!

5). Amityville 1992 It's About Time.
I'm sure many people have noticed that I just love making any excuse to talk about this highly underrated sequel. In fact, it's one of my all time favorite horror movies of all time. A huge reason behind it is the fact that such effort was made for it being the sixth installment in the series. I'm a massive fan of awesome 90's sequels that actually could work as a stand alone film (Warlock The Armageddon, Waxwork II Lost In Time, ect.) Amityville 1992 is one of these movies. Being extremely well written, a big part of why it's such a great movie is how clever the ending is. After that nasty cursed clock yet again messes with time (de-aging Rusty and aging Andrea, time is quickly running out.) Andrea very weakly as she transforms into a sixty or seventy year old woman reaches for a lighter and flicks the flame on while the gas from the fireplace is pouring in. Just in time she blows the clock, along with herself into a time portal. Here Andrea wakes up, just as she was to the sound of the doorbell. Confused, she sees she has a tool in her hand and walks to the door only to answer it. Here she opens the door to find Jacob returning from his businesses trip. Exactly played out like the opening scene of the movie, right down to the same exact dialog. Jacob comments on why Andrea is holding the tool in which she says the same exact thing she said in the beginning "For protection." Little did the audience know that the protection was from Jacob from the very beginning! Here the clock is revealed and this time Andrea somehow remembers what happened, almost like an endless looping nightmare. Here she gets the good sense in smashing the clock in a complete rage before storming out. Confused, Jacob, Rusty, and Lisa follow her to the door where Jacob asks "What the hell was that all about?" Andrea sniffles, wipes her eyes and says "It's about time, that's what." With that she drives off into the night while Rusty stands in the doorway and sees his neighbor Iris smiling across from him. The two lock eyes before Rusty smiles back and says "Pure evil." Iris smiles, winking at him before walking off. Showing that somehow they all knew what would have happened in a different reality. 

4) The Thing
"Let's just wait here for a while...see what happens." At the very end of this roller coaster of a ride director John Carpenter takes us, MacReady and Childs are the last two survivors after the base has been destroyed and burning down in the middle of the freezing vast wasteland. Both happen upon each other, exhausted and cold. Both are uneasy on if one of them is really the Thing hiding. Knowing that the fires will die down soon, and both will surely die MacReady knows that if one of them really is hiding something, both aren't exactly in the best shape to do something about it. Child's asks what they should do and MacReady lays in the snow watching the fires before saying the iconic and classic line "Why don't we just wait here for a while...see what happens." With that Childs and him pass back and forth a bottle of booze as the score begins beating like a heartbeat. Both smile at their misfortune as the fires burn on. Slowly it fades to black. Going down as one of the best endings of all time, this wonderful remake is classic textbook on how filmmakers should go about doing a remake. Carpenter has made so many awesome movies with so many amazing endings, but The Thing takes the cake for one of the best ending lines and scenes of all time!

3) Jason Goes To Hell - The Final Friday
I'm sure for the rest of my life I will always be questioned on my taste level for horror movies whenever somebody finds out that I actually really enjoy the 9th installment in the Friday the 13th film series. Hey, maybe it's because John D LeMay is in it, or the fact that for once they decided to stray away from the same old tired basic plot line and do something new. I'm sure I'm speaking for a lot of fellow horror fans when I say I'll never forget the moment when I first rented this movie and that awesome final shot happened. In fact, I was downright heartbroken at Freddy Vs. Jason, the final result which was years in the making after this wonderful and shocking ending scene that made so many people stand up and scream in amazement. After Stephen and Jessica have sent Jason to hell, all seems right in the world. The sun has just risen and they walk off into the fields with their daughter. Just then the camera pans to Jason's hockey mask left in the dirt with the wind blowing. A dog wanders over, sniffs it for a second and runs away. The camera stays on the mask until BANG! A gloved hand with knifes pops out and grabs the hockey mask bringing it back down to hell. Here a wonderful legend was born that these two killers would someday go face to face. If only the ever so shitty Freddy Vs. Jason lived up to how awesome of a hype the ending of Jason Goes To Hell left. "Sigh..."

2) Dead By Dawn - Evil Dead II
I always tell everyone that Dead By Dawn is by far one of the greatest endings to a horror movie ever. In fact Evil Dead II is one of the best sequels, and horror movies in general. Taking the basic idea of the original classic, Sam Raimi amped everything up x 10000 and made complete and utter horror perfection. After the complete balls to walls ride the audience is taken, our hero Ash reads the final passage only to open up the portal and accidentally gets sucked up inside. Time traveling, he drops out of the sky (along with the classic) and wakes to be surrounded by knights. Confused, he gets up when suddenly one of the demons comes flying out of the sky. Aiming his shotgun (or later to be called his boom stick) he blasts it's head off only to have a knight slowly stumble over amazed. Lifting his helmet (we see it's Mr. Raimi himself) and claims that Ash was delivered to them to save them. Here all the knights join up and begin chanting "Hail! Hail! Hail!" and with Ash standing there, trapped back in time screaming "NOOOOO!" Then finally two metal clad fists knock together before it cuts to black. This awesome ending gave way to the amazing last film in the trilogy Army Of Darkness. Now I'm not the biggest fan of Darkness, but Dead By Dawn set the bar for so many movies I've honestly never seen a sequel have so much fun with itself and leave me in such a state of shock by it's ending.

1) The Howling
Now I was going to put Sleepaway Camp as my #1 choice but I decided to say screw it. Let's try to do pick something different and not exactly the first movie that comes to mind when people are talking awesome endings. The Howling is one of the greatest werewolf movies ever made (after American Werewolf In London). It's hard to believe the same dude to made Gremlins made The Howling just a few years before. After the big showdown, poor Karen is bitten by her husband in werewolf form just as she's escaping with her friend. Knowing that it's too late for her she insists this needs to stop. That these killers need to be exposed and the world needs to know. Shortly after, a few days later Karen finally returns to her gig as a late night news reporter on live TV. Looking stunning, she gets ready as her friend, armed with a hidden shotgun asks if this is what she really wants? Karen begins her report as her producers sit in the booth puzzled. Held by gunpoint by her friend in order to keep the cameras rolling, Karen tells the world that she's going to make them believe. There she flashes gorgeous animal golden eyes before she starts to shriek in pain. There all over the country, people watch the news either stunned, or amazed as Karen transforms into what I would like to think of as the cutest looking werewolf in the world. In fact she looks kinda like a puppy with snot in her nose. Here she howls and her friend knows what he has to do. Aiming the shotgun, loaded with silver bullets he fires them at Karen before the station quickly cuts to a dog food commercial. At a bar, the men watching believe that it was just a prank done with special makeup. Here one of the men have brought a date and orders a couple of burgers, when the cook asks how the woman wants it cooked the camera pans to reveal one of the main female villains who has indeed survived. She stares at the camera, smiles and says "Rare." Here we have the most stomach turning credits as a rare hamburger is slapped on the grill and we watch it cook under the credits as a huge chunk of meat is left behind. Ew...ever hear about pam? Gross!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Terrorvision (1986)

 Terrorvision (1986)

PLOT - A family's new satellite TV system begins receiving signals from another planet, and soon becomes the passageway to an alien world. 

LOWDOWN - For years I've heard about Terrorvision, I remember seeing the poster and really never knowing what it was about. Finally last summer my friend Kirsty came to visit and gave me a bunch of her old T-shirts. One of which was an awesome Terrorvision T-shirt that I right away had to put on. That night we went to the movies in Boston and I met one of the guys who helped get The Video Dead released on blu-ray. The joke that night was that I had never seen The Video Dead, yet I was wearing a Terrorvision T-shirt. I had the movie on tape, yet for some strange reason just hadn't found the time to sit down and watch it. Now I'm a pretty big fan of director Ted Nicolaou's Supspecies series, never before did it click that he directed this movie as well.

Well this past summer, on what felt like the hottest night of the year I cranked the A.C and settled down to Scream Factory's awesome blu-ray release. 

This was truly a hidden gems and I'm blown away it took me this long to finally get around and watch. In fact, I would say Terrorvision is a very "summer" feeling movie. This was meant to be a B movie, almost a throw back to the cheesy 1950's sic-fi films. With lots of humor, whacky characters, slime, and the cutest monster ever to grace to silver screen I highly recommend this movie to anyone. Mostly fans of 1980's horror films.

The best is Suzy and O.D played by Diane Franklin and Jon Gries the two teenagers in the movie. First off I adore Diane in this movie. Never before in all the movies I've seen her in had I seen her look like this and I loved it.  Also watching Gries tell a child to kiss his boot...never gets old. 

Love the swinging parents, the army crazy grandfather, and of course of the whole gag of the kids trying to teach the monster about music, TV, and food.

With lots of clever whacky twists, and a pretty funny ending I would say the monster in this movie is one of my all time favorites. So if you're ever looking for a very strange, weird, and fun movie Terrorvision is your kind of good time!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Best horror movies to take place at school!

 Best horror movies to take place at school!

It's May which means it's FINALLY starting to warm up. Trees are in bloom, the sun is shinning, and lots of people are starting to graduate either high school or college. Here is some of the best horror movies to take place at school! 

Graduation Day

The Dorm That Dripped Blood

Scream 2

House On Sorority Row

Splatter University 

Final Exam

Girls Nite Out

Student Bodies

The Initiation


Prom Night

Hello Mary Lou Prom Night II

Return To Horror High

Sorority Row

Night of The Creeps

The Faculty

Black Christmas

Urban Legends 

Cherry Falls