Another Schlocktoberfest in the books…

Well there we go guys and gals October 2015 is now just a memory. Wow! What a crazy adventure.

The key theme of this year’s Schlocktoberfest would have to be deviation. As I stated back in September I had no idea what direction this year’s marathon would go in. In terms of totals there were 28 days where movies were featured 2 days where I decided to shake things up and look at a couple horror based video games (1 classic and 1 contemporary) and I have to say that was a pretty fun change of pace that I might have to consider incorporating on a permanent basis once Schloctoberfest 2K16 gets here.

Looking at the highlights of the past month here are my personal top 10 movie choices worth looking into:

1 – The Dark – This one was a lot of fun. You can’t say that very often about a movie that centers around a monstrous rat that goes around eating recently deceased corpses. Plus not to mention a Neve Campbell in her early 20s. Major eye candy overload!

2 – Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil – The horror comedy genre has become so one dimensional to the point that everyone and their mothers are trying their hand at it. The key to merging the two successfully is not trying to be deliberately funny. The best comedy comes from being yourself and winging it and that’s exactly why Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil breaks down barriers.

3 – Backcountry – All wild life can be unpredictable it’s how we go about conducting ourselves when we cross paths with a deadly animal that will have us either walking away from the situation without a scratch or as we’re running for our lives we’ll be swearing never to set foot in the wilderness again.

4 – Tourist Trap – Definitely one of a kind. Chuck Connors acting up a storm taking creepy to a new level.

5 – Horror Express – Peter Cushing. Christopher Lee. The horror genre’s dynamic duo stealing every scene they’re in. Put anyone else in the lead roles and it would be nowhere as good.

6 – Tremors/Tremors 2: Aftershocks/Tremors 5: Bloodlines – No one will argue with me in saying that the original tops every sequel that has come down the pike but those of you still looking for a fun day in will get their fill on direct to video sequels that managed to make the best of their minuscule budgets. Aftershocks is still plenty inventive and after watching Bloodlines a few times since it hit I’m moving it higher than my initial rating, it fits well right behind the first two.

7 – The Return of Godzilla – Released at a time where the Godzilla franchise had been on a decade long hiatus the king returned to being a unrelenting force of nature. The only downside is he doesn’t face off against another monster however when reminding the world of your dominance there can be no other contender to the throne. Hail to the King, baby!

8 – Joy Ride – Bringing the CB Radio fad into the 21st century you get thrilling action, tension, and a mentally disturbed trucker who takes road rage beyond whipping the bird.

9 – Horror Rises From The Tomb – Never have a seance, never communicate with the severed head of a warlock, never discover the resting place of his severed head, and never allow his head to reconnect to his body. Doing such things will not get you a first class ticket to nowhere it will just leave you and all the friends that accompanied you lying in gutter possessed out of your gourd or dead.

10 – Trick ‘R Treat – A lot can happen during a single Halloween night and while you might think that its a night where you can dress up and pretend to be something else don’t even think about doing anything mischievous believe me getting a stomach ache from all the candy you over indulged on will be the least of your worries.

To wrap things up thanks to everyone who clicked on over to the Direct 2 Video Dungeon to celebrate Schlocktoberfest. May you all have a wonderful time celebrating tonight. Have fun and stay safe! Oh and on a closing note tonight on Starz is the series premiere of Ash vs. Evil Dead starring the legendary Bruce Campbell. Check out the preview below it looks to adhere to the standards that made the original Evil Dead trilogy more fun than a barrel full of Deadites. I’m counting down the hours in eager anticipation.. Until the next time around (whenever that may be) keep on keepin’ on!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unnLg1TPCYM]

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Schlocktoberfest 2K15 Day 31: Trick ‘R Treat (2007)

Anything can happen on a Halloween night.
Putting the thrills and chills back into the scariest night of the year.

Synopsis: Trick ‘R Treat takes the Creepshow/Tales from the Crypt approach to nefarious new depths with four interwoven tales set on Halloween night.

Everyone has their own vision of what the perfect Halloween encompasses be it the exhilaration of stepping outside to take in that first breath of brisk autumn air or gathering up the family and heading to the nearest pumpkin patch to decide which one will have the honor of becoming that year’s jack-o-lantern. For others its spending several months collecting a variety of components to help in making a costume that will both turn heads and end up taking first prize at a local Halloween party. Kids entering their early teens know there’s not much time left to score as much free candy as they can so they get a hold of their closest pals and meeting up a few hours early to map out what route guarantees everyone earns a big haul. Those of us who don’t like plan big can enjoy the holiday by putting the kettle on and making some hot cocoa curling up with a spine tingling Stephen King or R.L. Stine novel. If none of those are viable options there’s always the choice of checking the local TV listings to see what networks are offering the best variety of scary movie marathons. Still there are those who are looking forward to getting the day over as quickly as possible so they can set their clocks back before heading off to bed knowing that the full hour of sleep we’ll be rewarded with will feel like euphoria. With the passing of yet another Halloween a select few will see it as that time of the year where its the start of that long agonizing journey towards the day after the new year where the holiday season can finally be put to rest for another nine months.

Any time a movie revolves a certain time of the year it can be difficult to establish mood. Christmas movies definitely have it the hardest because even during December not everyone is feeling a constant joy and love towards one another. A Halloween themed film has to be a lot more fun to create because it deals with a fair amount tricks and treats as well as making sure the thrills are a plenty and the scares are evenly spaced. Trick ‘R Treat doesn’t take long in capturing the essence of autumn’s most recognizable night before the twists slowly begin to take hold and you slip into a void where the spirit of Halloween makes sure you embrace every seasonal tradition whether you’re willing to or not. The setting feels like it could be any rural small town focusing on a group of people who are celebrating in their own ways and you follow these individuals through four impressively solid interlocking stories. The success behind any noteworthy horror anthology is making sure the suspension of disbelief isn’t piled on in too hastily and thankfully there isn’t one moment of Trick ‘R Treat that lacks in genuine emotion. Anyone who is looking to add some much needed atmosphere to whatever Halloween traditions you’re wanting to be apart of this evening needs to include a viewing of Trick ‘R Treat, doing so will make October 31st all the more meaningful.

Final Grade: A

Schlocktoberfest 2K15 Day 30: Horror Express (1972)

Parents here's a reminder please don't get the Hogwarts Express and the Horror Express confused. Harry Potter and his wizardry wouldn't want to ride this train.
Parents here’s a friendly reminder please don’t get the Hogwarts Express and the Horror Express confused. Harry Potter and his wizardry wouldn’t want a first class ticket on this train.

Synopsis: In 1906 a British anthropologist on a Chinese expedition discovers a frozen prehistoric creature and must transport it to Europe by train.

Which is the greatest pairing in all of cinematic horror? Is it Abraham Van Helsing vs. Dracula? Perhaps Dr. Frankenstein vs. The Monster he created. In terms of the iconic movie characters this list would go on for all eternity yet if one were look at two men who were given the opportunity to play those four characters mentioned above a lot of film historians will universally proclaim that Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee are the greatest match up in the genre. Perhaps no set of actors have worked more with one another starring in well over 20 productions together. You’d almost expect when searching for the definition of typecasting in the dictionary to see portraits of Lee and Cushing next to one another. Than again sometimes you meet a person who is a kindred spirit and an absolute privilege to share quick-witted dialogue with so what’s to stop you from signing on when a movie studio calls and asks ‘Would you consider doing a new picture with your one of your dearest friends once more?’ Horror Express is one of those rare projects where Christopher Lee wasn’t decked out in makeup or acting through prosthetics. Instead he is a rather uptight but highly intellectual scientist who has recently found a scientific discovery that will change the history of mankind forever. Along for the ride is Cushing who plays a doctor and friendly rival who is naturally curious to see what sort of find has been unearthed. On the way from Shanghai to Moscow the discovery suddenly wakes up breaking free of its containment and starts killing a group of hapless victims in a very unique manner – draining all of their intelligence out through the eyes.

The most popular adaptations of John W. Campbell’s Who Goes There? conjure up images of James Arness stumbling around as a weird looking plant alien right as he’s about to be lit up like a Christmas tree or how in 1982 Rob Bottin’s revolutionary special effects made audiences sick to their stomachs. The gentlemanly Lee and Cushing are the last two actors anyone would expect to find offering a much different take on the popular sci-fi/horror novella. Depending on your expectations Horror Express might disappoint as it relies more on being the slow burn murder/mystery rather than a full on gore fest and no I’m not talking Bottin level Thing-outs here since this is 1972 after all. While there is a fair amount of blood and even a graphic little autopsy scene when the otherworldly being reveals itself my immediate reaction wasn’t one of fear or revulsion but rather my mind wondered if several camera angles influenced James Cameron when he shot the original Terminator (the initial being has a bright red eye that in shadow sort of looks reminiscent of everyone’s favorite T-800). With the passing of Christopher Lee earlier this summer I wanted to give him a proper Schlocktoberfest send off. I truly hope wherever he is now both he and Peter Cushing are catching up and putting on some more great performances. With every passing day we get closer and closer to losing other classically trained actors from this golden era so value every piece of artistry they’ve given us, they’ll remain forever timeless. Thanks for the memories Mr. Lee.

Final Grade: B

Schlocktoberfest 2K15 Day 29: Dracula Untold (2014)

Vlad knock that off if Batman sees you doing that he's going to be ticked!
Vlad knock that off if Batman sees you doing that he’s going to be ticked!

Synopsis: As his kingdom is being threatened by the Turks, young prince Vlad Tepes must become a monster feared by his own people in order to obtain the power needed to protect his own family, and the families of his kingdom.

Dracula Untold. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt that movie titles can do just as much damage as attempting to re-image one of the most recognizable icons of horror. Dracula. Untold. Okay I’m sort of curious what exactly about this story has been left untold? We’re going on nearly 120 years since Bram Stoker published his masterpiece so has a long lost manuscript with some bold new additions been recovered? Nope, the reason for Untold being tacked on is someone over at Universal Pictures cracked a history book and read a paragraph or two about Vlad the Impaler (aka the real life inspiration behind Stoker’s Dracula) and thought lets combine the story of a man who actually went around impaling his enemies on giant wooden spears with the legend of a creature of the night who sucks blood and has a weakness for silver, garlic, and the daylight. Audiences are going to be intrigued with how Universal will incorporate Vlad’s favorite past times like roasting children whom he then fed to their mothers. Not to mention he also cut off the breasts of women and forced their husbands to eat them. Once all that fun was finished he had them all impaled for good measure. What’s the rating they went with on Dracula Untold again? PG-13, yeah they’ll have no troubles whatsoever fitting all that obscenely gory history into the backstory without garnering a hard R or NC-17.

Like a vast majority of current output Dracula Untold fails to captivate even within the first few minutes of its still frame prologue. Its an overly glossy action film miserably trying to pass it off as horror in fact I’d even go a step further and say its an action film that relies too much on romanticism. The vile acts that haunt Vlad’s past are treated like an afterthought instead he is all about being a loving husband and father while garnering the respect/honor of the people he rules over. So what happens if someone misbehaves or questions Vlad’s ruler-ship? Does he simply smirk at whoever was being a nuisance and then glance over to where a wooden spear sits in a corner? You can go several ways when it comes to exploring the actual history behind the story of Dracula and Universal decided to merely paint by numbers rather than take the vampire king into some unnerving territory. I’ll give the film makers their due in terms of cinematography the visuals catch your eye in several scenes to the point where you wish there was more substance elsewhere. The only other thing that Dracula Untold manages to succeed at is sucking the life out of you without any remorse, instead why not go bite into the source material you’ll end up relishing every moment of it.

Final Grade: D- 

Schlocktoberfest 2K15 Day 28: Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010)

Never let a dumb college kid come between a hillbilly and his chainsaw, a beer, and a pretty looking girl.
Never let a dumb college kid come between a hillbilly his chainsaw a beer and a pretty looking girl.

Synopsis: Tucker & Dale are on vacation at their dilapidated mountain cabin when they are attacked by a group of preppy college kids.

True friendships endure through thick and thin no matter what set of circumstances are thrown into the wild and craziness of everyday life. I remember reading once that people meet their true friends are after high school and quite honestly I can’t find any real validity behind that particular statement. Maybe its because at that particular age you’re just a teenager interested in flirting with girls or cracking jokes trying to make people laugh. This is the final part of childhood innocence four years where you prepare to go out into the real world yet you value every memory of hanging out with the people who got your distinct personality within five minutes of meeting one another. This past September has been 18 years since meeting my two best friends and thanks in part to social media and smartphones we’re always in contact with one another. When you’re a teenager a lot of adults will tell you ‘You have a lot of growing up to do’ and looking back at that point in my life I had already matured into the person that I wanted to be. Thankfully I still have two like minded people in my life to make me laugh whenever bad luck reared its ugly head or offered advice when I needed a different point of view. If I had to do it all over again I wish I could go back in time and get a do over on a few things but in terms of my friends I wouldn’t change one thing.

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is one of the finest buddy/situational comedies I’ve ever had the pleasure of laughing my way through. It focuses on two friends who enjoy the simple things in life such as drinking beer, fishing, and fixing up a vacation home they bought out in middle of nowhere. Unfortunately for Tucker and Dale they bump into a group of college students who thanks to the Deliverance stereotype think the pair are nothing more than a couple inbred hillbillies who want to cause bodily harm to anyone who enters their turf. One evening while out fishing Tucker and Dale manage to save one of the college kids who accidentally hit her head on a boulder. Because the rest of the group of 20 somethings perceive that the ‘crazy’ hillbillies have taken her hostage they vow to get her back by any means necessary. The extreme bloodshed that follows is due to the college kid’s ignorance as they refuse to think logically or try to communicate with the two hillbillies who end up possessing a lot more common sense than either of them. It’s the basic role reversal which isn’t done much nowadays and thankfully the two actors playing Tucker and Dale (Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine) along with director Eli Craig decided to rely on a lot of great spur of the moment improvising  to make what could have been a ho-hum comedy into an instant cult classic. Don’t take my word for it though track this down give it a watch then laugh, cry, make new memories with friends. Repeat.

Final Grade: A+

Schlocktoberfest 2K15 Day 27: Breeders (1986)

Excuse me Miss you have a little something on your face... No on second thought you're good.
Excuse me Miss you have a little something on your face… No on second thought you’re good.

Synopsis: A detective and doctor tie a string of rapes to bug-eyed aliens who are posing as humans in order to multiply.

Well now that I’ve sat through the 1986 version of Breeders I’ll bravely admit that it has several advantages over its 1997 counterpart the one most distinctive among them is being a byproduct of the mid-1980s itself. All the call signs are there from the leopard print clothing to the aqua-net infused mounds of permed hair to the tacky synthesizer music. Instead of wasting time trying to establish where an alien race of giant flies that look like the rejected designs from a Roger Corman production come from Breeders instead attempts to go for sheer shock value by having these fly creatures hide in human form attacking young virgin women since they are the most pure out of all the human race to mate with. Yeah I’m going to pull the bullsh*t card here as all of the young women the aliens go after cake on way too much makeup and flaunt themselves for any member of the opposite sex that so happens to walk into camera frame. One girl in particular is an aspiring model decides while on a lunch break from a photo shoot to do a line of cocaine, put on some gag inducing background music, peel off her two piece bikini, and do aerobics in front of a window. Unlike the prototypical slasher flicks that were hitting their stride at this exact point in time there isn’t one innocent final girl to grab an industrial barrel of Raid and do away with these perverted alien parasites once and for all. The director probably didn’t even second guess himself in deciding to walk down a path so trashy that it would make both Glad and Hefty blush.

So out of Breeders ’86 and ’97 which is the better film? Hmm that’s a tough answer they both go below mundane standards. Breeders ’97 wins out as a more tolerable form of entertainment whereas Breeders ’86 spins around dizzily with no other purpose other than having ample amounts of T&A flashed whenever the bad acting starts to come off the rails. It’s really too bad there wasn’t a way to take all the excessive female nudity and combine that with the remarkable practical effect alien from Breeders ’97. There is definitely no reason to even think that a ‘third times a charm’ re-remake rule with this weird barely erotic sci-fi/horror film series would apply here. If you enjoy getting more than the average breast flash with only four more days remaining in October my recommendation is to skip both of these and find something Halloween themed on The Spice Channel instead.

Final Rating: D- 

Schlocktoberfest 2K15 Day 26: Deadly Instinct aka Breeders (1997)

If this is the picture our Extraterrestrial friend used on an intergalactic eHarmony I can see why he decided to pay Earth a visit.
If this is the picture our Extraterrestrial friend used on an intergalactic eHarmony dating site I can see why he decided to pay Earth a visit.

Synopsis: An alien travels to Earth on a meteorite and mates with humans to preserve its species and destroy humanity.

How could anyone muck up a simple concept the likes of an alien crash landing on earth with its sole mission being to propagate with a bevy of college co-eds? Easy just have the person in charge of designing the opening credit sequence use what looks like an early beta version of Microsoft Powerpoint and then forcibly drop them over some atrociously rendered computer animation of a lone meteorite passing through the solar system. Maybe it wouldn’t be too bad if said person would have picked out a font color that was a little easier to read than dark purple. If Deadly Instinct’s (or Breeders whichever one wants to refer to it as) sole purpose was to make my eyes bug out of my skull because my retinas were having difficulty adjusting to reading the words as they flashed on and off the screen in a migraine inducing clutter of misery then congratulations this alone almost made me grab the DVD out of my player and spew profanities upon it. We’re not even into the full movie yet and I’d end up also having words with the computer animator who designed the meteorite hurtling towards earth. Any scientist or normal everyday Joe would notice how much the space rock’s proportions are off. When it passes both Jupiter and Mars if it collided with either it would do some damage so why is it when it enters Earth’s atmosphere the only sign of catastrophe is plowing a small crater into a parking lot and not a global wide extinction?

Welcome to greater Boston’s most out of place girl’s only college which so happens is also conveniently located near the ocean as well as a nearby oil refinery. I’m curious to see what exactly the curriculum would be? Sorry ladies the only two fields of work you can enter into is the oil industry or marine biology. Hey why not go a full eight years of college and get a masters degree in both that way if there’s ever an oil spill you’ll have all the bases covered. Perhaps its best to pitch that acceptance letter into the waste paper basket since not much actual learning takes place instead the only thing you’ll take part in is inappropriate student/faculty/janitor extracurricular activities. College life is about gaining independence after 18 years of living under your parent’s roof and more importantly under aged drinking well except on this campus where you’ll get a stern lecture from one of your professors how alcohol is strictly prohibited even though he is seen walking around with a Coors hat on and a little bit later will put the moves on you in front of a neon beer sign. Whenever I’ve had to suffer through something that has no logical form of pacing the best way to numb the pain is to pay attention to the random details and occurrences that take place during filming. The creature effects are rather impressive and deserved to be showcased in a much better production but when observing the alien hobbling around it made me wonder how exactly is it able to catch up to its victims when he had the mobility of a potato with tooth pick legs.

Apparently Deadly Instinct/Breeders is a remake of the 1986 film of the same name (Breeders, that is not Deadly Instinct good luck figuring out why the production company didn’t stick to one title) although I’ve never had the privilege of viewing it (apart from coming across its notably awesome 1980s VHS artwork). Maybe the time has come to suffer through that one as well to see whether or not if its a vast improvement over this humongous pile of alien excrement. After experiencing the absolute worst opening credits sequence in the history of mankind things have to get better… right?

Final Grade: D