Monday, August 29, 2011


Peter Toombes (pun very much intended) had become a giant star making horror movies in the 50’s and 60’s and was most famous for playing his signature character Dr. Death, portrayed by the one-and-only Vincent Price. At a New Year’s Eve party, however, tragedy strikes and he shrinks away from the public eye and puts aside Dr. Death for good. 12 years later and old friend and colleague, played by the incomparable Peter Cushing, convinces him to movie to England and reprise the role for a British TV series. He agrees and both the accolades and the tragedies seem to pick right up where they left off. At this stage in his career, Vincent Price was sick of horror. In fact, he hated the direction the new generation of horror filmmakers were taking the genre. Rather than try and emulate them, the fantastic Mr. Price made this piece in a very classic style and commented on the new wave in subtle ways, through monologues and roles for heartless producers. He also used the story to comment on himself. Here is someone, like himself, sick of doing this but finding himself doing horror once again, and, so, the question becomes will Peter use this opportunity to be a hero or a victim?

If there is one thing that separates old horror from the new generation of horror (and by old and new I don’t mean anything in the present day, but rather the pre-70’s horror and the horror genre birthed by people like Wes Craven, George Romero and John Carpenter in the 70’s) it is the type of the weight of the threat posed by the villain. In fact, one might say it boils down to movies being creepy versus scary. For example, this movie, to me, played more like a whodunit with some fantastically creepy atmosphere, but it wasn’t scary at all, not a single frame of it. granted, I’m not easily scared by movies (I find horror more fun than scary), but this movie feels more like old Hollywood with it’s grand score and classically trained actors than it does anything resembling a harrowing tale of the evils of some demented mind. That said, I enjoyed this movie immensely. I find it very hard to dislike a Vincent Price vehicle and throw in Peter Cushing and you have a near guarantee I will like it. This movie contains classic Price monologues and Cushing coldness.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hobo with a Shotgun

Hobo with a Shotgun tells the story of a man who has seen enough. He’s taken all he can stand and he can’t stands no more. An old train hopper stumbles upon the town of Hopeville and finds it to be brimming over with crime and violence, mostly due to the vice grip a crimelord named The Drake has on the town. He just looks the other way, but, after a couple days in this lovely town, just can’t take it anymore. So, he goes down to the local pawnshop, buys a shotgun and starts “cleaning up the streets.”

Hobo with a Shotgun is a spoof of those grindhouse movies from the 70’s and 80’s that, usually, prominently featured vengeance, blood and any other exploitative, scandalous thing they could pack into 90 minutes. Problem is, the only good spoofs are those that show a real affection for the genre and aren’t just mocking it (for a great example, please see Black Dynamite, actually, just go see Black Dynamite either way). This movie is not that kind of spoof. They are clearly just mocking those action movies that now populate $1 bins across the country. Everything is over the top, the writing is just awful, the acting awful, the effects are ridiculous and the movie seems to have no point whatsoever. Then again, I did kind of enjoy it. call me sick, but maybe that’s why I can’t resist those $1 bins and half my movie collection is made up of movies where people’s heads explode following a punch or where the dialogue is laughable. So, in the end, if you love those trashy old movies and this one happens to be on late night cable, give it a view, but otherwise, just go rent Ricky Oh or Death Race 2000. That said, I gotta admit, the music for Hobo was spot on perfect.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Last House on the Left

The Last House on the Left tells the story of a girl’s night out gone very wrong. In reality, I suppose you could say that it was about three different groups whose respective nights don’t quite end the way they’d hoped. Mari and her friend Phyllis head out of the suburbs to see a rock show in Harlem. They’re almost adults now, they can handle a rock show in Harlem, what’s the worst that could happen? Well, when they get to the city they decide to try and score some weed. The people they ask just so happen to be a traveling group of serial rapists and murderers. They proceed to rape Phyllis and then put both of the girls into the trunk of their car like leftovers for later. They then stop at some random spot in the suburbs for more rape and torture and it just so happens to be right across the street from Mari’s house. That’s when the shit really hits the fan.

This movie is significant to any and all horror aficionados, such as myself, for two reasons. First, it is considered one of the first to usher in the age of, what is known as, new horror. It’s not new anymore, as this movie came out in the early ‘70’s, but what ‘new horror’ means is that horror shifted from being not so creepy swamp monsters and vampires and started being about truly terrifying supernatural possessions and serial killers. Freddy Kruger and Rosemary’s Satanic baby are very different from flying brain monsters and movie adaptations of Edgar Allen Poe starring someone like Vincent Price. I suppose you can say that new horror is when horror went from being creepy to being scary. The second things significant about this movie is that it introduced the world to a, then, literature professor who was interested in making movies named Wes Craven.

Despite it’s prominence in the history of the genre, I’d never seen it. I figured it was about time. It’s influence is undeniable and I’m not sure there’d ever have been a John Carpenter or Toby Hooper without inspirations like this out there. That said, let’s talk about the movie watching experience. The performances were really uneven. Some, like Jeramie Rain and David Hess, were really great and memorable, while others were totally one note amateurish performances. In fact, just about everything about this movie was uneven, with moments of greatness peppered with things that just didn’t work at all. For example, the music was awful, completely out of sync with the tone of the movie and distracting and they would toss in these stupid moments of goofy cop comedy right after some heavy rape scene. In the end, it meant one could clearly tell the director had talent and promise, but the movie itself just wasn’t that engaging or scary, at all. Long story short, see it if you’re a fan of the genre and want your movie watching collection to be complete, but, otherwise, you can probably skip it.