Sunday, January 31, 2010

Horror Movie Review: Dog Soldiers

Dog Soldiers

Starring: Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd, Emma Cleasby, and Liam Cunningham

Directed by: Neil Marshall

Written by: Neil Marshall

Production Companies: Kismet Entertainment Group, The Noel Gay Motion Picture Company, The Carousel Picture Company, The Victor Film Company, and Luxembourg Film Fund

Release Date: March 22, 2002

Awards: Gold Raven and Pegasus Audience awards at the Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film in 2002, the Grand Prize of European Fantasy Film in Silver at the 2002 Luxembourg International Film Festival, and the Saturn Award for Best DVD Release in 2003 from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films

Dog Soldiers starts off looking like a military thriller where, if done in America, you would expect Denzel Washington starring with Jack Nicholson as the antagonist, but we get Kevin McKidd standing up to Liam Cunningham. That's not to say that McKidd or Cunningham did a bad job, but the opening scene felt like it should have Washington and Nicholson.

McKidd's on the run through the forest as strange attackers chase him. He defends himself but ultimately gets subdued. Cunningham, as Captain Ryan, tells Private Cooper (McKidd) that he's lasted longer than any other recruits but that he needs to learn to eliminate his enemy's means of finding him. Then Ryan tells Cooper to shoot the dog. Cooper refuses and Ryan shoots the dog just to prove a point...that Cooper's not fit for his squad.

See, can't you just see Denzel and Jack head-to-head here? McKidd and Cunningham do a fine job, but Cunningham just doesn't seem to play the "evil" character convincingly, and McKidd lacked moral indignation at Cunningham's request...but it's not a military flick, it's a werewolf flick.

Cooper's in the woods again with a different boss, Sergeant Wells, played by the underworked Sean Pertwee. Wells and his team are on a training mission against a black ops group. It's not long, however, before chaos reigns down on them, startlingly with, at first, the bloody remains of a cow. Captain Ryan rears his untrustworthy head, and the werewolves come out of the woodwork.

Then enter Megan driving along to rescue the survivors in her jeep. They go to a house, the inhabitants who live there ominously missing, and make their stand against the werewolves.

I enjoyed the movie, although there was an unexplaned werewolf transformation without werewolf would or explanation why the werewolf could keep from transforming past nightfall when all the other werewolves already transformed.

But it was an exciting film. I liked that, in this day of CGI dependency, Marshall used actual special effects rather than computer animation for the werewolf effects. He did some cool shots early on with the werewolves showing us the house in which Cooper, Megan, and the rest were hiding in through the eyes of the werewolf giving us black and white scenes.

It's a fun, exciting movie despite a little of the nonsensical.

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Event Horizon

Sean Pertwee plays my favorite character in one of my favorite movies, Event Horizon. A rescue crew investigates a spaceship that disappeared into a black hole and has now returned...with someone or something new on-board.


Emma Cleasby, who played Megan, also starred in Doomsday. A lethal virus spreads throughout the British isles,infecting millions and killing hundreds of thousands. To contain the threat, acting authorities brutally quarantine the country as it succumbs to fear and chaos. The quarantine is successful. Three decades later, the Reaper virus violently resurfaces in a major city. An elite group of specialists, including Eden Sinclair, is urgently dispatched into the still-quarantined country to retrieve a cure by any means necessary. Shut off from the rest of the world, the unit must battle through a landscape that has become a waking nightmare.

Blood: The Last Vampire

Liam Cunningham, who played Captain Ryan, also starred in Blood: The Last Vampire. A vampire named Saya, who is part of covert government agency that hunts and destroys demons in a post-WWII Japan, is inserted in a military school to discover which one of her classmates is a demon in disguise.

Neil Marshall also wrote and directed The Descent. A caving expedition goes horribly wrong, as the explorers become trapped and ultimately pursued by a strange breed of predators.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Horror Movie Night Orgy Goes to the Dogs

In November, I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and wrote my first horror novel, hell, first any kind of novel, A Hungry Sea. Jazzed by the experience I looked to see what other writing challenges existed and discovered Script Frenzy.

Script Frenzy's challenge is to write a 100 page script between April 1 to April 30. Well, I don't know dick about writing a script, but I know me some movies, so because I don't have enough sense to buy penny candy, I've decided come April I'll dive in to Script Frenzy.

What's that got to do with Horror Movie Night Orgy? Well, other than the possibility of another month of few to no movie reviews, until then I'm going to focus my reviews on the type of movie I want to write. So, if for the next several reviews you notice an onslaught of werewolf movies, that's why. I want to write a script for a werewolf movie, so I turn to werewolf movies for inspiration. I'll being seeing what's been done in the past to see what's expected in a werewolf movie and what' try and give my script something special.

Mr first werewolf review will be Dog Soldiers. A routine military exercise turns into a nightmare in the Scotland wilderness.

Starring Kevin McKidd, Sean Pertwee, Emma Cleasby, and Liam Cunningham, Dog Soldiers won the Gold Raven and Pegasus Audience awards at the Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film in 2002, the Grand Prize of European Fantasy Film in Silver at the 2002 Luxembourg International Film Festival, and the Saturn Award for Best DVD Release in 2003 from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films.

Join us soon to see if Dog a good boy.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Horror Movie Review: I Bury the Living

I Bury the Living

Starring: Richard Boone, Theodore Bikel, Peggy Maurer, and Howard Smith

Directed by: Louis Garfinkle

Written by: Albert Band

Production Company: Maxim Productions

Release Date: July 1958

In the 1950s and 1960s, horror films were bringing us terror from the stars (The Blob, The Thing from Another World), giant critters (Them!, The Giant Gila Monster), and science gone awry (The Fly, Donovan's Brain). Amidst all this futuristic horror came an unique villain in cinema, the map in I Bury the Living.

Robert Kraft, played by Richard Boone, becomes the new head of a cemetary. In his office hangs a map of the cemetary with black pins showing plots which have bodies buried there and white pins showing plots which are owned by people still living. It all seems mundane until Robert accidently puts black pins on the plots for a living couple. When the two turned up dead the next day, Robert and cemetary caretaker Andy (Theodore Bikel) figure it's just a spooky coincidence. To prove it, Robert removes a white pin and puts a black pin in its place. When that person winds up dead the next day, Robert's convinced somehow he is responsible.

I Bury the Living is a fascinating tale of mystery held back only by the deaths being off-screen (possibly a budget issue), the movie making limitations of the 1950s/60s, and an ending which doesn't completely make sense. But the premise is intriguing and the movie enjoyable despite its limitations.

This is a film I would love to see redone with gory deaths, breasts (we don't see attractive Peggy Maurer's), and a conclusion which better matches the rest of the story's promise.

If you like horror films of the 1950s and 1960s, then you should check out this overlooked gem. The first two acts can be held up as a unique tale in the horror genre which has a dearth of originality.

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Zoltan, Hound Of Dracula

Albert Band also directed Zoltan, Hound Of Dracula. Russian soldiers accidently unleash the servent of Dracula, as well as his dog, during excavationss of Romania. Together, they set out for America, to find the last descendent of the great Count.

Ghoulies 2

Another Albert Band directorial job is Ghoulies 2. Ghoulies 2 picks up a short time after the first movie, a few of the little nasties stow away on an amusement park ride and bring big bucks to a dying fair. The creatures are mad after an attempt to kill them, so the creatures go on a rampage through the fairgrounds, ultimately leading to an explosive conclusion!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Horror Movie Review Preview: I Bury the Living

Coming Soon...I Bury the Living. A newly appointed cemetery chairman discovers that, merely by inserting a black pin into a wall-sized map of the cemetery, he can cause the deaths of that plot's owner.

I Bury the Living



Out of a time-rotted tomb crawls an unspeakable horror!

A creature to freeze your blood! A story to chill your soul!

Starring Richard Boone, Theodore Bikel, and Howard Smith, I Bury the Living was released in July 1958.

Join us soon to discuss I Bury the Living's plot...Burial plot, that is...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Horror Movie Review: Prom Night (2008)

Prom Night

Starring: Brittany Snow, Scott Porter, Dana Davis, Ronnie Heflin, Idris Elba, and Johnathan Schaech

Direcor: Nelson McCormick

Writer: J. S. Cardone

Production Companies: Alliance Films, Newmarket Films, and Original Film

Release Date: April 10, 2008

Awards: 2009 Chainsaw Award for Worst Film at the Fangoria Chainsaw Awards

I'm slightly amused that a remake like Prom Night was produced in part by a company called Original Film. Granted Nelson McCormick claims that the only similarity is the name of the movie and, you know, killings at a senior prom. But I think even if you called the film The Cotillion, most anyone familiar with the original would say, "Hey, this is Prom Night."

Donna Keppel's family was killed three years ago by Richard Fenton, a teacher who became obsessed with her. He wanted her for himself, so killing her family was a way to give her nowhere else to go. But he got arrested and put away for life in a psychiactric hospital.

Three years later and Donna's a senior. It's the night of the senior prom. She and boyfriend Bobby are going with friend couples Ronnie and Lisa, and Claire and Michael. Unfortunately, Fenton broke out of the hospital a few days earlier. Let the massacre begin.

In terms of a general film, I didn't see much wrong with it. The acting wasn't great, but wasn't horrible either. The direction seemed reasonable, really, though nothing was really scary in this horror film, which is the is not a horror film. It's an action thriller.

See, horror gets its own genre because it depends on certain things: surprise, shock and scares, and the supernatural. You don't have to have all of these, but mostly there is a combination of some sort. Prom Night doesn't have the surprise. We know who the killer is from the beginning, we know why he is killing, and we can tell when someone is about to get killed. The original Prom Night with Jamie Lee Curtis has surprise. The "killer" from the past wasn't the killer then and isn't the killer now. The original had a well played red herring, the remake doesn't. Because we know who the killer is and can see when and how he is about to kill someone, we aren't scared when he does, and the lack of gore prevents us from being shocked. In Hannibal we know who the killer is, Hannibal Lecter, and we usually know when he's going to kill someone, but tension is increased because of Hopkins's performance and careful delays. Also, we are often shocked by Hannibal's brutality in contrast with his cool, charming demeanor. Clearly Prom Night doesn't have anything supernatural, or implied supernatural. By comparison, the antagonist in John Carpenter's Halloween Michael Myers, behaves in a supernatural sense, although at the beginning he's just an insane killer. We know who the killer is, but his face is constantly hidden behind a mask, he is silent, he seems to appear out of nowhere, and he seems impervious to injury. All of those are beyond the natural. Prom Night doesn't have any of these. It's more like Die Hard. We know the villain, we know he's going to lose, we just don't know how. But with no gore to make it horror and no explosions and car chases to make it action, it's left in genre limbo.

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Prom Night

The original Prom Night, released in 1980, followed a masked killer who stalks four teens, at their high school's senior prom, responsible for the accidential death of a child six years earlier.

Clock Tower

Brittany Snow will star in the 2010 release of Clock Tower. This film is an adaptation of the horror video game series which recently released Clock Tower 3. Here is a trailer of the video game.

The Unborn

Idris Elba, who played Detective Winn, starts in The Unborn. A young woman fights the spirit that is slowly taking possession of her.


Johnathan Schaech, who played Richard Fenton, also stars in Quarantine. A television reporter and her cameraman are trapped inside a building quarantined by the CDC after the outbreak of a mysterious virus which turns humans into bloodthirsty killers.

The Stepfather

Director Nelson McCormick tackles another 80's horror remake with The Stepfather. Michael returns home from military school to find his mother happily in love and living with her new boyfriend. As the two men get to know each other, he becomes more and more suspicious of the man who is always there with a helpful hand.

The Forsaken

J. S. Cordone also wrote The Forsaken. A young man gets embroiled in a war against vampires.