Category Archives: Reviews

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*The Guide to Gore

It was only a matter of time, really. The Blood Theatre has always been comprised of people who love their celluloid dripping red, and this is our chance to let loose and deliver some short, to-the-point reviews on some of our favourite (and not-so-favourite) horror flicks. Although, keep in mind that you can also peruse our full-length reviews of movies as well. In memory of the late, great Chas Balun (1948 – 2009) we have decided to employ his infamous GORE SCORE, which in his own words:

“…concerns itself with nothing but the quantity of blood, brains, guts, slime, snot, puke or other assorted precious bodily fluids spilled, slopped or splattered during the course of the film.”

Therefore, you will see films rated twice: the first is our standard FOUR SKULL rating as seen in every review posted on the website. The second is our GORE SCORE, which ranges from 1 – 10. Thus, we offer you two perspectives on each film: the former rates the quality of the movie itself, and the latter looks at nothing except the amount of gruesome violence it contains. Gorehounds, enjoy. The squeamish, beware:

…there be blood ahead.

bomb Mmm… bomb-o!
skull Ugh.
skullskull Average.
skullskullskull Genuinely solid.
skullskullskullskull We’ve got a classic, folks.
Gore Score 1-10
Monster Movie Monday
Approved – Group viewing
recommended!
alien

Alien

1979 / d. Ridley Scott
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Bleak and claustrophobic sci-fi/horror that owes much of its memorability to the concept art of the legendary H.R. Giger. When the crew of the ship Nostromo receives a mysterious S.O.S., they travel down to the planet to investigate — ultimately setting in motion a horrifying series of events that has them fighting for their very survival. Tight cinematography, well designed sets, and director Scott’s genuine knack for effective filmmaking come together in making what has become a genre classic. Followed by the equally excellent — if not arguably better — ALIENS, and additional sequels of varying quality.

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American Mary (2012)

Written & Directed by: Jen & Sylvia Soska (Dead Hooker in a Trunk)
Produced by: Twisted Twins Productions
Starring: Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps, Freddy vs. Jason)
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This film is, by far, one of the more truly creative and impressive films to be classified as horror in the last few years. It is difficult to come across a new film and walk away from it without saying “been there done that”, but let me assure you, you have not been here, and you have not done this.

I am at a loss for how to describe this film without giving it away, but one word comes to mind: unique. This film is about passion, finding your true self and expressing it un-apologetically; of course there is also violence and gore, rage and revenge, and everything required to be categorized in the horror section; but it is much more than a just horror film. The Soska sisters have said that they wanted to make a film that is undefinable, and I believe they have done just that. It is beautiful to watch, perfectly executed, and very well paced — and being a low budget independent production, that is extremely difficult to achieve. It truly is an empowering film.

The humor, ambition, dedication, emptiness, loss, violence, sarcasm and passion for her craft that Katharine Isabelle displays is something we can all relate to. It’s human nature. They’ve allowed us to feel connected to the character rather than making her inaccessible; masked and banned to the shadows. I was particularly taken by the performances of Tristan Risk and Twan Holiday. Many people see the culture this film explores as bizarre and in some ways terrifying, but within it are truly beautiful human beings, and Tristan and Twan nailed it!

I have definitely written this review with my serious face on, so let me assure you that in addition to being a powerful work of art, this film is also just fucking awesome.

As someone who refers to Audition as the perfect date movie, I have to agree with the Soska sisters that American Mary is definitely a romantic comedy. I look forward to what Twisted Twins have in store for us in the future, and hope they continue in their efforts to re-define the term “chick flick”.

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Antichrist

1981 / d. Lars von Trier
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ANTICHRIST, according to director von Trier, was created out of a simple desire to create a horror film. What resulted, however, is a fantastic, surreal, and devastating picture which burns itself into the pysche of anyone who witnesses it. Stellar performances by Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, who star as a husband and wife who retreat to a remote cabin in the woods, in hopes of restoring peace to their minds and their marriage. Lurid, explicit, terrifying, sexual — words can scarcely prepare you for the sights that await you.

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Army of Darkness

1992 / d. Sam Raimi
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Listen up you primitive screwheads! Bruce Campbell returns in the third part of the EVIL DEAD series. Reprising his role as Ash, he finds himself transported back in time to the year thirteen hundred A.D., where he must face an assortment of challenges in order to get back to his own time, including: fighting a hoard of hell-bent demons, destroying his twisted doppleganger, and perhaps the most difficult of all, reciting three words by memory! Enormously entertaining with a high replay value, ARMY OF DARKNESS is a staple in any horror collection.

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Bad Taste

1987 / d. Peter Jackson
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Before Mr. Jackson was directing ring-toting hobbits on perilous quests to Mount Doom, he was making insanely entertaining, low-budget gore flicks. BAD TASTE oozes, excretes, gurgles, vomits, and sprays blood, guts, and a multitudinous amount of sickening fluids for a satisfying ninety minutes of comedic genius. If you can handle brain munching, head exploding, arm amputating, and other grim spectacles, this film is right up your alley. Recommended for fans of EVIL DEAD 2, RE-ANIMATOR, and RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD.

beetlejuice

Beetlejuice

1988 / d. Tim Burton
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Don’t say the bio-exorcist’s name three times! Michael Keaton leads an all-star cast in this humorous tale about a country couple turned ghosts trying to rid their house of a snotty New York family. Winona Ryder is creepy as the goth daughter Lydia, and all of director Tim Burton’s odd touches have their moments-from Juno’ smoke coming out her slit throat to Delia’s infamous ‘Dayo!’ dance party. Multiple viewings are in order here.

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Behind the Mask

2006 / d. Scott Glosserman
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Sure, self-aware horror films are all the rage now… but back in the day, BEHIND THE MASK was a trailblazer. In the midst of an era which was dominated by horror remakes and rehashings, filmmaker/writer Scott Glosserman not only created a new and original “movie maniac” but was also able to inject a brilliant deconstruction of the entire horror genre. It’s filled with enough cameos and horror in-jokes to make all genre fans giddy, and even places our beloved Robert Englund in the role of a pseudo-Sam Loomis. Half documentary, half theatrical presentation, but entirely entertaining and enormously engrossing. Proof that intelligent moviemaking is still alive and well… you just need a shovel to extricate it from beneath the piles of festering, maggot-ridden remake-meat. Qu’est-ce que c’est?

bio-cop

Bio-Cop (Short, 2012)

Written & Directed by: Steven Kostanski (Father’s Day, Manborg)
Produced by: The Astron-6 Team (Father’s Day, Manborg)
Starring:
Robert Homer
Rick Cordeiro (Outlaw Bikers)
Adam Brooks (Father’s Day, Manborg)
Matthew Kennedy (Father’s Day, Manborg)
Marko Balaban

Official Website: http://www.astron-6.com/ OR http://manborg.com/

Coming soon to video disc! Bio-Cop is an epic five-minute trailer of pure ooey gooey excellence! There really is no professional sounding way to describe slime, melting flesh and organ rot. I’m going to say that again — organ rot. I am so happy right now. Anyway, a freak lab accident takes a nasty turn, leaving a  once-normal-man horribly mutilated and unable to die. Physically indestructible, but plagued with intense emotional problems, this newly declared super-cop is sent to rid the streets of a super-drug. Unfortunately this walking bio-hazard has a serious death wish — for himself, and everyone he comes in contact with.

Quick test for my twitter followers- What are three of my favorite things? If you said Gore, Laughter and The 80′s… you’re right! While viewing this film, my eyes experienced a visual orgasm so satisfying, they were left soggy and emotionless for days. From the mist rising off the slick city streets, to the combination of pink and blue lighting against a dark shadowy industrial backdrop — every atmospheric element worked together perfectly to convince me that I was watching an instant 80′s classic. It was as if I had dusted off one of the VHS tapes from my shelf and loaded it to the VCR. The epic voice-over and music accompany hilarious snippets of dialogue that tell the story of this walking catastrophe. It’s not surprising that the make-up effects are fantastic since the writer/director Steven Kostanski is also a well known FX artist. Gore-hounds will not be disappointed as this short contains facial explosions, vomit, tissue regeneration, gun violence, blood, mutation, mutilation and a human being eaten alive.

An instant classic and a definite favorite!

*This film was screened at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival this past week. We’ll keep you posted, and let you know how you can check it out in the near future!

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Black Christmas (1974)

Directed by: Bob Clark
Written by: Roy Moore (screenplay)
Starring:
Olivia Hussey
Margot Kidder
John Saxon
Keir Dullea

I used to work at a video store. While I walked through the horror movie section, putting movies back on the shelves, I always saw BLACK CHRISTMAS. It was never rented out, for it had a thin film of dust over its VHS case. I was big into zombies, and Black Christmas seemed to lack them. Why bother? The director, Bob Clark, went on to direct A CHRISTMAS STORY after BLACK CHRISTMAS. How scary could it really be?

Fast forward many years later: I was no longer at the video store, but had decided since I had cleared out the zombie section, it was time to start expanding my horror repertoire. Why not pick up the dusty old tape I’d passed by so many times before? In the time of DVD’s, the poor VHS had been forgotten. Luckily I still had my VCR.

At first glance, the movie seemed harmless enough. Someone screaming vulgarities into the phone, preying on young sorority girls – it didn’t seem original to me. I had already seen enough horror films with girls being scared. I wanted something new!

By the first death though, I was hooked. “Who was the killer?” “Why is he still calling the girls?” I continued watching; waiting for the inevitable exposition and climax – the showdown between the killer and the main character, Jess (Hussey).

By the end credits, I was left with chills. Black Christmas successfully did what rarely any movie could do to me: leave me speechless. I had to watch it again.

Years later, I now own it both on DVD and Blu-Ray. But what about Black Christmas that makes it so different?

While the film initially starts with showing several girls at a sorority house preparing for Christmas break, it expels itself to be so much more. In 1974, sorority horror films, let alone slasher films, had yet to impact the genre. Black Christmas was one of the first, or arguably the first, film of its kind -it even inspired John Carpenter create Halloween.

But with an ambiguous villain and often disturbing phone calls, the viewer is purposefully left uneasy with the whereabouts of the killer. From the haunting sounds of the house, to the portrayal of children singing  harmless Christmas carols, no matter what scene you’re in, you’re never comfortable.

That’s just it: you’re never comfortable. Right up to the end of the film, the viewer is never left a sense of relief. The tension builds up and leaves no room for breathing. The phone becomes an unfamiliar stranger. The town too, seems to disappear leaving the large sorority house to become the only place of commonality. Even then, it too betrays as it tightens in on you. What room is safe? Which cast member will survive? What will happen next?

Oddly, one of the incredible things I took away from the first slasher film was the lack of slashing. Leaving the viewing to only ponder what had taken place, it all adds into the chaos that you’re left feeling. That feeling won’t go away when you’re done watching either.

Looking back, when working at the video store, I wish I had seen Black Christmas. I passed it off for a lack of “originality.” For an older movie, it certainly presents something new. That, and it was disrespectful for me to let it collect all of that dust.

blood

Blood

Platform: PC
Release Date: May 31, 1997
Developers: 3D Realms/Monolith Productions
Players: 1 (solo campaign)

THE LOWDOWN
When most people think back to early first-person-shooter games, they automatically recall classics like DOOM, DUKE NUKEM, and QUAKE, all of which emerged in the mid-to-late 90′s. It’s no surprise, since all of the aforementioned spawned highly successful franchises, spanning a wide range of sequels, consoles, and even film adaptations. If you really put people to the task, they may even remember oddball titles like HERETIC, POSTAL, or the satirical REDNECK RAMPAGE. However, in 1997 a game developed by 3D Realms and Monolith Productions was released. A game that, for all its worth, still seems to fly under the radar more often than not. A true FPS for the horror fan, chocked full of horror references that would make any genre buff smile! That game… was BLOOD.


COOL STORY, BRO!
BLOOD places you in the character of Caleb, a freshly resurrected gunslinger and former leader of a cult known as The Cabal, who worship the long-forgotten god Chernobog. After rising to the top of The Cabal, he and his fellow cult leaders are summoned before the god, and then savagely murdered for an unrevealed failure. At the start of the game, he has no idea why he has been brought back to life, but knows he must find Chernobog to gain answers, and to extract his vengeance. Throughout the game, Caleb is a merciless killer with no regard for life whatsoever, deriving a certain glee from each enemy he must vanquish on his quest.


WHY IT’S RELEVANT
Never in a million years would I bash DOOM, DUKE NUKEM, or heck, even WOLFENSTEIN 3D. Without those trailblazers, the FPS genre of gameplay wouldn’t have exploded in popularity the way it did. And certainly, games like DOOM, D.N., OR W3D have horrific elements to them; whether you’re fighting demons on Mars, mercy-killing beautiful women ensnared by tentacle monsters, or gunning down Nazis, there’s a high enough creep-factor to satisfy any horror gamer. But the fact is, those games were never intended to be full-on horror games. That’s where BLOOD is different. You don’t start the game wielding a gun and attacking demons in a futuristic or modern setting; you start off in a goddamn cemetery (right beside the “Morningside Mortuary”, for all you Phantasm fans) brandishing a pitchfork!

Your weapons range from somewhat normal firearms like a flare gun, a sawed-off shotgun, and sticks of dynamite, to downright bizarre items like a voodoo doll, aerosol spray cans employed as flamethrowers, and even an experimental rifle named after Nikola Tesla! And lucky you, you get to use all of these weapons to take down level after level of flesh hungry zombies, bloodstained butchers with meat cleavers, insane cultists, gargoyles, giant spiders, and more! The stages lead you through some uber-creepy settings, including the previously mentioned cemetery and mortuary, as well as a carnival, an abandoned hospital, a train station, and more. As I said, the stages and the enemies are both tailored to appease the horror fan. And in 1997, in the midst of all the other first person shooters that were being released, this was exactly the sort of game I was looking for!

As I mentioned earlier, the game is rife with horror references. Throughout the six episodes the game is broken up into, there are references to: PHANTASM, ARMY OF DARKNESS, H.P. LOVECRAFT, JAWS, FRANKENSTEIN, THE SHINING (you need to traverse the hedgemaze on your way to the “Overlooked Hotel”… and if you keep your eyes open, you’ll even spot the frozen body of Jack Torrance!) IT’S ALIVE, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (in episode 4, look for Freddy Krueger’s sweater and hat on the wall of the house), FRIDAY THE 13TH (plenty of nods to the series here as you travel around the cabins of Crystal Lake…), and DAWN OF THE DEAD.


THE GORESCORE
Flesh hungry zombies, psychotic butchers, pitchfork brutalities, flare-gun fatalities… I think it’s pretty clear the game is bloody violent. I mean, it has the word right in its title! Gorehounds will not be disappointed.


LAST WORDS
I don’t know how difficult it is to get ahold of the game these days, or even how feasible it is to the run game considering it was originally released on DOS. However, if you’re lucky enough to find a Windows friendly version (or even run the game through an emulator) you’ll find BLOOD to be a truly satisfying gaming experience. I’ve included a video of the introduction, first level, and the ending of BLOOD, so choose carefully how much of the game you want to see. Much like DOOM, DUKE NUKEM, and all the other FPS games I’ve mentioned throughout the course of this review, BLOOD has an extremely high replay value. The first level alone never gets old, and in this reviewer’s humble opinion, BLOOD succeeds where many modern horror games fail. Though the graphics by today’s standards leave much to be desired, the well-crafted gameplay and macabre levels never fail to leave you wanting more!

 

boogeyman

Boogeyman, The (1980)

1980 / d. Ulli Lommel
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Early supernatural slasher hokum which, by merit of its taboo-breaking (and outright icky) opening sequence, earned its place on the infamous list of “video-nasties” and thereby developed somewhat of a cult following. From the get-go the film is too reminiscent of BLACK CHRISTMAS and HALLOWEEN to be an accident, and it quickly becomes clear that there is scarcely an original idea to be seen; owing heavily to earlier, better movies such as THE EXORCIST, PATRICK, and THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, to name only a few. THE BOOGEYMAN is just a cliched mess of a movie that spends too much time attempting to be too many other films, which ultimately results in a heavily unfocused and difficult to follow mishmash of scenes. Only the ending, with its unexpected use of black humour, make this film worth a watch; otherwise, your time is better spent elsewhere.

buffy

Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1992)

Directed by: Fran Rubel Kuzui
Written by: Joss Whedon
Starring:
Kristy Swanson
Luke Perry
Donald Sutherland

As this is my first review for The Blood Theatre, I feel I should begin by introducing myself. My name is Drew Comerford, but I’m better known for my role as “Patient 1” from Blood Theatre’s “Devil’s Night”. No not the impressive patient with the blank face that falls like a champ, the other guy with the 14 seconds of screen time and the ADR coughing. I enjoyed working with the Blood Theatre crew, and as a massive fan of horror movies myself I was totally onboard to write some reviews. When I was discussing with Ali which movie I could start with the topic of B-movies was brought up. I am B-movie fanatic. For me to enjoy a movie it has to be either really good, or realllllly bad. There is no gray area. More often than not I will enjoy a bad movie more than a great movie. Looking back at some of my favourite terrible movies I was instantly drawn to one in particular. One written by someone you may have been hearing a lot about recently, Joss Whedon. (Hold for applause)

Yes before he made the third highest grossing movie of all time Joss Whedon made a far lesser known movie about a bubbly teen that is destined to be something far greater than she ever imagined. Despite the films poor reviews and failure at the box office, Whedon was eventually able to bring the idea back to life with the darker and well-received television series of the same name, but we’ll get to that later. So without any further ado, here is my review of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER.

“Into every generation, a slayer is born…” The opening scenes set the tone for the entire movie.  It starts with a gothic period piece that briefly explains the vampire slayer lore, and then immediately cuts to a much brighter scene introducing Buffy who is cheerleading at a basketball game. It’s a perfect blend from dark to bubbly and after these two scenes you know exactly what you’re in for with this film.

Over the next few scenes we’re introduced to the entire core cast, and to me BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER is one of the most hilariously casted movies I have ever seen. First we go to the mall where we’re further introduced to Buffy and her friends. Buffy, played by Kristy Swanson is instantly a dislikable character. She is portrayed as a selfish teen that is way beyond ditsy, certainly not anything close to the Buffy we know and love from the series. However, even though this isn’t considered canon to the series it is an origin story and some character development does happen by the end of the film. Even more dislikable than Buffy are her friends, one of which is portrayed by Hilary Swank. We’re also introduced to Pike, the bad boy love interest played by Luke Perry (who we all know is a total badass), and his sleazy friend Benny, played by David Arquette. My favourite casting ever is Donald Sutherland as Buffy’s watcher Merrick. Apparently one thing they don’t teach at the Watcher’s Academy is how to approach teenage girls without coming off as a total creeper. If you want her to go to the graveyard with you, don’t lead with that and certainly don’t try to catch her after cheerleading practice when she is alone and half naked in a school gym. Meeting someplace other than the girls change room is another great way to avoid being arrested. All kidding aside, as always he is an excellent actor. Last of our leading characters are the villains, Rutger Hauer as the Vampire Lothos and his disturbingly creepy henchman who is of course played by Paul Reubens.  Also Stephen Root is the principal, which is awesome.

If you’re a fan of cheesy movies you’ll probably enjoy BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. There are a couple notable scenes that deserve mention. One of my favourite scenes is when Pike gets a midnight visit from his freshly vamped friend Benny. Pike is sleeping but for some reason he has music blaring in his room (Again, total badass). Benny shows up at his bedroom window on the second floor, hovering in the air because vampires could fly until about 1994.  The performance from David Arquette is almost as hilarious as Luke Perry’s soul patch. Another excellent and cheesy scene is Buffy’s training montage that for some reason is set to “Ain’t Gonna Eat My Heart Out” by Divinyls. Also Buffy appears to be practicing her kamekameha in the mirror. This movie also proves once and for all that vampires are almost as good as teen wolves at basketball. Honourable mention for the basketball scene: Ben Affleck as “Basketball Player #10” (uncredited). The last notable scene I’d like to mention is Paul Reubens’ death scene. His delayed death is so funny and it is perfectly delivered by Reubens. It actually sounds exactly like what I imagine PeeWee Herman’s death would sound like. (link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WT2syd-_HVU )

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER can’t be compared to the series, but it does have certain similarities and “Whedonisms”. The dialogue is very Whedon, and the scenes with Merrick and Buffy in the graveyard feel very similar to the graveyard scenes with Sarah Michelle Gellar and Anthony Stewart Head. It was obviously not intentional since Joss can’t predict the future, but near the end of the movie Luke Perry actually starts to look like Spike. If you are expecting this to be like the cult series, don’t get your hopes up. Even Joss has stated that it didn’t turn out how he envisioned it. In my opinion as a fan of Joss Whedon and cheesy b-movies, it’s still an enjoyable flick if only for a laugh.  I’d recommend it to any fans of the BtVS series, b-movies, The Lost Boys, or Ben Affleck.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqQ3fLq-y9U

Buffy_Season_(1)

Buffy The Vampire Slayer (Season One)

Created by Joss Whedon
Media Reviewed: DVD

This is possibly the best writing assignment I’ve ever had to complete. For the first time in my life, I was able to sit down and watch an entire season of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and claim productivity. I’ve been a fan of the series since I was a kid, so over the next couple months I will be sitting down and watching the entire series again then posting my reviews of each season. Since TV seasons are quite different from the films that we normally review at The Blood Theatre, I came up with a reviewing format that I will be using as I work my way through the series. For each season I will review the story arc and the big bad of the season, the regular cast and guest stars, and some best and worst episodes or moments. Starting immediately with Season 1 of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER.

I will admit that for some people Season 1 is hard to get through. It stumbles a bit at first and has a serious cheese factor that some people just can’t handle. Personally, I love it. It’s not my favourite season, but it’s definitely in my top 3.  It doesn’t take long to realize that this Whedon guy certainly knows that he’s doing.  His quirky dialogue and made up words (coined by his fans as Whedonisms) begin to take form almost immediately.  This season is quite clearly what Joss Whedon wanted the preceding film of the same name to be. I once saw an interview with Joss where he describes that the title explains it all, and he’s entirely right. BUFFY is a funny word, VAMPIRE is a scary word, and SLAYER is an exciting word.  That’s everything that this show is in a nutshell.

Story Arc and the Big Bad
If you can get past the teenage angst and the hyena possessions you’ll find an enjoyable storyline underneath. The Master is a frightening and mysterious villain, and perfect for a first season to the series because he takes little focus away from the characters that you’re just learning to love.  He is featured in almost every episode, but the main plot is really only mentioned in a few. With only the viewers seeing his plans unfold in the darkness, Buffy and her friends are treated to the popular “Monster of the Week” television format. The writers play the format well and it keeps it new and fresh for most of the season. This season does seem to get the basics from the Monster Book of Monsters out of the way pretty quick. Did I just reference Harry Potter in a Buffy review? Yes readers, yes I did. Moving on, by the basics I mean this season introduces some of the regular contributors to monster movies such as witches, robots and invisible killers right away. These weekly monsters keep you interested until an amazing and thrilling finale.

Cast
This season is of course where we are introduced to our four lead cast members that (aside from a serious lack of Giles in season 6) stick around for the entire series.

We’ll start with Sarah Michelle Gellar. I’m sorry Kristy Swanson, but the Buffy you portrayed is nothing compared to this one. She’s quirky and funny, stunningly beautiful, and she kicks some serious vampire ass. She has perfect comedic timing, and when the opportunities arise she can act the crap out of the heartfelt scenes.

Some people will always see Alyson Hannigan as the band camp girl, but to me she will always be Willow. She is instantly lovable due to how adorably nerdy and naive she is, and her chemistry with her costars holds the entire cast together from the first scene they share.

Fun fact about Nicholas Brendon: He decided to get into acting because he heard that it would help his stutter. It must have worked because I have never once noticed any stutter.  The comic relief of the series and the most relatable character for any young nerdy guy, Xander is without a doubt one of my favourite characters to ever grace the small screen. He steals almost every scene he’s in consistently as the series continues.

Anthony Stewart Head plays Giles, the father figure to every character since the only revered parent on the show is Buffy’s mother.  He’s the perfect person to play the only adult cast member because he manages to be serious, intelligent, and strong while still being an entertaining person to watch.

Angel is also in this season, but I’ll say this. I don’t like Angel on Buffy. There I said it. Please don’t hurt me, 90’s teenage girls. His spinoff is great, but he is angstsy and depressing and he turns season 2 into a really long chick flick. BUT THEN HE GOES EVIL AND BECOMES AWESOME. But then he gets sad again and he’s less awesome. BUT THEN HE HAS A SPINOFF AND HE’S AWESOME AGAIN. But we’ll get to that over the next few reviews.

Cordelia has the same problem as Angel. BtVS’s Cordelia is the worst; Cordy on ANGEL however is one of the best examples of character development done right from any television series.

Bests and Worsts
The best is an easy choice.  “Prophecy Girl” is a stellar finale. It will make you laugh and it will make you cry. Gellar and Head’s performances are spectacular in this episode. The tear filled dialogue they share really shows how much Giles really cares for Buffy and you sympathize with the fact that she is just a kid in way over her head. It also has one of my favourite last lines before Buffy slays: “You have fruit punch mouth”.

The two part premier of  “Welcome to the Hellmouth” and “The Harvast” is another great story, and a perfect first adventure for our heroes.

The worst episode in my opinion is “Teacher’s Pet”. Xander narrowly avoiding being raped and beheaded by a giant praying mantis is a bit heavy for season 1.

Honourable mention: “The Pack”. I made a reference to this episode earlier when I brought up hyena possessions. A lot of people hate this episode, but for me it’s actually one of my favourites. It almost seems to have a subtle underlining message about bullying that I can definitely relate to. It is definitely one of the cheesiest episodes in the series, but at the same time it pulls at my heartstrings a little bit. I just don’t like seeing Willow cry.

Final Words
Season 1 is a pretty fun season. I’d say in my rating system from worst season to best, Season 1 takes the bronze.  If you can’t handle anything super cheesy, maybe start at season 2. If you can’t handle sappy chick flicks either, then maybe start at season 3.

Coming soon: My review for the really long chick flick turned horrifying monster movie with an abstinence message and a sword fight. Stay tuned.

buffy 2

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 2

Created by Joss Whedon

Before I start I have to withdraw a few of my comments from the previous review that I made about season 2. I did make it seem that it really was a long, cheesy chick flick but that’s only a few episodes. It had been a while since I watched the season, and I remember the girly parts dragging a lot more than they did. There were only a few episodes where the Buffy/ Angel relationship got a little too heavy for my liking. I also left out one thing about the DVD menu that carries on to this season as well. If you have Netflix, I recommend you watch the seasons there rather than on DVD because the DVD menus are really annoying. For starters there isn’t a “Play All” option, which is irritating. Not only that but the first two seasons have a dumb cinematic thing that plays every time you switch from an episode menu to the main menu and back again. It is a real pain because you end up spending a few minutes just trying to switch to the next episode. A fine example of what the Internet memes call, “First World Problems”.

Story Arc and Big Bad
There really isn’t much of a main story happening in the back ground until Angelus shows up. Angel loses his soul and without it he goes back to his old bloodthirsty ways and becomes Angelus. Angelus teams up with new Big Bads Spike and Drusilla to form one of the best combinations of villains the show sees. It’s a good thing their story line is so good, because up to that point in the season the writers aren’t playing the Monster of the Week format very well. It’s really a boring first half of the season, with very few episodes that actually stand out from episodes from other seasons.

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Spike and Dru

Cast
Our main characters develop more and more as the show continues. The biggest you’ll notice in this season is Cordelia, starting from the first episode of Season 2 “When She Was Bad”, where she has her first redeemable moment in the series. The further into the show you get the more she grows on you, until the end of her run on Angel where you’re absolutely in love with her. I also have to mention the introduction of some lesser characters that end up becoming series regulars in later seasons. We’ll start with Oz, played by Seth Green. Willow’s smart, sarcastic, musically inclined, Werewolf love interest. His dry and sarcastic wit is perfectly delivered by Green, and he quickly became one of my favourite characters.
Nobody can simultaneously terrify you and make you laugh as much as the power couple that is Spike and Dru. Juliette Landeau plays the insane and evil character of Drusilla so convincingly, and James Marsters is so funny and lovable despite being pure evil. I’d also like to thank Marsters personally for not having his security attack me the time I literally bumped into him at Fan Expo in Toronto. I was waiting in line for the Spike and Dru panel, which I unfortunately was way too late to get into. Just when I had given up waiting to get in I turned to leave and physically ran into Marsters. I apologized and said hi and he said hi back and awkwardly waved. The look on his face said “Thank you for not attacking me.” It was a pretty awesome moment for this young nerd, despite the awkwardness. Back to the review though, he is an incredible actor in every thing I’ve seen him in. Whether he’s Spike, Brainiac or making out with John Barrowman on Torchwood he is always an enjoyable reoccurring actor in nerd culture.
I also want to take a moment to talk about Angelus. As someone who didn’t really like Angel in season 1, this is the point where I realized Angel is actually an interesting character and David Boreanez is an insanely good actor. Watching him turn evil Angel on and off is so impressive. He is a truly terrifying villain.

Angelus and Willow in "Innocence"

Angelus and Willow in “Innocence”

Bests and Worsts
The best episodes of this season were fairly obvious choices for me. “Innocence” and the finale episodes “Becoming Part 1 and 2” were far better than any other episode from this season. The finale was a perfect ending to not only a season, but to a tragic love story. Between the acting from Gellar and Boreanez, the fight choreography, and the incredible story unfolding, “Becoming” is a truly captivating two-part episode. Joss Whedon has said in interviews that Innocence is one of his favourite episodes. The idea of being in love with someone and seeing them change right before your eyes is an idea that is relatable to most young people in love, and Whedon depicts it perfectly. Aside from those episodes, this season does fall short in many episodes. As I mentioned before they don’t play the monster of the week format very well this time around. The monsters are either very boring or embarrassingly cheesy, and this is coming from someone who enjoys some cheese with his horror.

Closing Thoughts
Season 2 isn’t my favourite season. As I did with the last review I’ll rate it in comparison to the other seasons. I would say that this season is my fifth favourite out of the seven seasons of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER.

Coming Soon
Season 3! One of my favourite seasons! Lots of Oz, lots of Faith, and of course, Mayor Richard Wilkins!

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Burning, The

1981 / d. Tony Maylam
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In a subgenre dominated by lemons, there are few films that can adequately measure up to THE BURNING.  Certainly the idea of a camping excursion gone horribly awry is nothing new to the slasher film – entire franchises have been built around it – but there is something skillful about the execution of THE BURNING that makes it so endearing and memorable.  The plot can essentially be boiled down to good old-fashioned revenge: Cropsy, the camp caretaker, is the recipient of a horrible prank-gone-wrong. After becoming disfigured beyond recognition, he returns to extract his vengeance on the kids at Camp Blackfoot. Featuring a plethora of visceral treats from gore-maestro Tom Savini, the film offers up a delightful smorgasbord of garden-sheer mutilations, amputations, and stabulations (I might have invented one of those words);  fingers fly, necks are sliced, and – true to its name – people are burned. Watch for appearances by Holly Hunter and a young Jason Alexander!

(As an aside: if you’re looking for more information on THE BURNING, I highly urge you to check out Justin Kerswell’s retrospective on his website: Hysteria Lives.)

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Cabin Fever

2002 / d. Eli Roth
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Man, how I dig this flick. Eli Roth managed to create an immensely well-made horror film, with gratutious blood, guts, vomit, and a massive assortment of skin grotesqueries that’ll give you the heebie-jeebies on more than one occasion. It’ll sure make the horror-loving ladies out there think twice before shaving their legs again! Fuzzy! Look for homages to a bunch of the horror classics, such as: THE EVIL DEAD, THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE, THE CRAZIES, FRIDAY THE 13′TH, and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, to name only a few.

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Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever

2009 / d. Ti West
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The fever returns for another 90-minute gross out extravaganza! If excessive amounts of sanguineous upchuck appeals to you, then by golly you should Visene up those lookin’ globes so you don’t miss a thing! Guts, gore, puke, and urine soak almost every frame of celluloid in this uber-sick, retro-flavoured sequel. See: repulsive skin mutations, powertool amputations, and least of all, blowtorch cauterizations! Crispy! Though not nearly as effective as the first CABIN FEVER, this is one follow-up that you can’t afford to miss!

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Candyman

Directed by: Bernard Rose
Written by: Clive Barker
Starring:
Virginia Madsen
Tony Todd
Xander Berkley

I picked up a used copy of 1992’s Candyman for my husband’s horror collection. Even though he hadn’t seen it, I was certain it was right up his alley. Indeed Candyman hasn’t lost its touch. Pre Urban Legends andTales From the HoodCandyman is still the film for urban horror.

Virginia Madsen (Sideways) stars as Helen, a Professor’s wife working on her own thesis. Her sleazy husband Trevor (Xander Berkley) belittles Helen’s research, so she sets out on her own to investigate Chicago’s own urban legend, Candyman. While photographing in the projects, Candyman (Tony Todd) appears to Helen. Her visions continue and gruesome murders follow Helen. Soon the authorities suspect Helen, and Trevor thinks she’s crazy.

I can list plenty of other projects with both Virginia Madsen and Tony Todd, but for me, their definitive film is Candyman. Madsen’s ideal as the intelligent, determined yet oblivious wife obsessed with Candyman. Likewise Tony Todd is at his utmost creepy and somehow alluring as the unjustly tormented former slave. Madsen’s Oscar nominated turn in Sideways is nowhere near as memorable as her role here. Her initial calling of Candyman in her bathroom mirror and her final triumphant scenes are cult gold.

After I first saw Candyman, for years I had dreams in which the fur clad and hook toting menace appeared. Todd’s trademark role and deep voice are that creepy, and like Bloody Mary, every kid has called Candyman five times in his bathroom mirror. Fans of gore and creative, bloody murders will no doubt enjoy Candyman. What little effects given are along the lines of fire, blood, and more blood. The violence, however, is not excessive. Integral to the story, many of the spooks in the film are carried out largely by the actors. Helen trips in the dark, dirty, messy projects we know it’s a place where real and fictious horrors can happen. When Helen enters a rank and bloody bathroom-is crap everywhere? Of course not. The audience, however, knows the smells through Madsen’s reaction and the director Bernard Rose’s swift pans.

One intriguing concept from Rose is the lack of those herky jerky Blair Witch style cuts and crazies. The scene of the crime is always fully panned, giving the audience a panoramic view. It’s almost like a three dimensional video game pulling the viewer in. Likewise, Rose moves the camera shots up and away, as if we were swooning like the characters onscreen. The camera work and gore doesn’t take away from Candyman like so many modern films that over do it and deter from the story with unrealistic effects. Clive Barker’s source story is allowed to shine.

Rose also makes use of some very beautiful and haunting urban artwork. Candyman graffiti appears throughout the film. Bees also play a significant part in the film, and this subtle attention to detail makes Candyman work. The families in the projects fear the legend of Candyman and the hooligans who commit crimes in his name-and the audience feels this fear. Like it or not, the racial statements in Candyman help the fear factor. Within the film, folks gasp at the thought of a white woman in the projects. When Helen is indeed attacked, through our collective mind we plant the seed for what the gangs, gang bangers, and hooks will do. Candyman isn’t real, but this film of racial violence and black legends fills the void left by the mainstream media and run of the mill horror standards.

Despite a very satisfactory ending, two sequels followed Candyman. Both 1996’s Candyman II: Farewell to the Flesh and Candyman III: Day of the Dead (1999) are worthy for fans who still can’t look in their bathroom mirrors. Lessened by the loss of Madsen, and direct to video styles for film three, The Candyman chills have continued into the 21st Century.

Candyman is for any fan of the macabre, but particularly those horror buffs tired of the formulaic scare. Intelligent fans, underground enthusiasts, minority audiences-who doesn’t Candyman appeal to? No matter how artistically displayed, the buckets of blood, a touch of nudity and sexual innuendo aren’t made for the young kids or squeamish prudes. Also be warned that Candyman features several brief scenes victimizing children and dogs. Several editions of Candyman and its sequels are available on DVD at affordable prices, or even a bargain VHS. But do avoidCandyman cut up on television. If you’ve got a fur coat and a hook,Candyman is your perfect urban horror movie and it’s great Halloween costume.

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Candyman

1992 / d. Bernard Rose
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Clive Barker’s jaunt into urban myth is everything you’d expect. Virginia Madsen stars as a woman seeking to complete her university thesis, and in doing so discovers the local legend of the Candyman (Tony Todd). As she delves deeper into the sinister and sensual world of the former slave-turned-spectre, her world is thrown into violent turmoil. The unpolished quality of the film, coupled with realistic performances and a haunting minimalist soundtrack by Philip Glass elevate this into the higher echelon of slasher films. The horrors of betrayal and racial stereotyping are prevalent throughout, but it is also the fearless breaking of taboo by showing violence toward children and animals that makes for an uneasy viewing experience. There’s enough gore to satisfy gorehounds, and enough subtle, psychological horror to appease cinemaphiles.

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Carrie

1976 / d. Brian de Palma
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Iconic horror film based on Stephen King’s chilling first novel. A genuinely unnerving performance by Sissy Spacek, and filled with memorable scenes which have not lust an ounce of their luster. Beautifully crafted filmmaking explores the story of a young girl with an extraordinary ability: psychokinesis. Perhaps it is that we are presented with a “coming of age” tale (albeit an atypical and twisted one) that makes this story so relatable; or possibly even the topics of guilt, isolation, and the desire to fit in. Regardless, CARRIE is arguably one of the best Stephen King adaptations, and is essential viewing for any cinemaphile.

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Children of the Corn

1984 / d. Fritz Kiersch
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This original isn’t the best, and the entire series is fairly lowbrow in plot and effects. Nevertheless, all those rustling cornfields, creepy kids, and plant worship go a long way for a Halloween Harvest marathon. Name players come and go despite the low-budget status; and even if you’ve never actually seen all-count ‘em-seven films, you’ve probably heard of ‘He who walks behind the rows.’ I prefer CHILDREN OF THE CORN III: URBAN HARVEST myself.And to think, I grew up on a farm.

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Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things

1973 / d. Bob Clark
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The late Bob Clark is the man who brought us BLACK CHRISTMAS, surprisingly just one year after he co-wrote and directed CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS. The reason why it’s so surprising is that the difference between the two films is, quite simply, monumental. The picture quality on the 35TH ANNIVERSARY EXHUMED EDITION DVD still left much to be desired, so viewers should anticipate watching many a dimly-lit night scene. Instead of the undead, the true plague of this film is slow pacing: the special effects are surprisingly decent when there are actually creatures onscreen, but it just seems to take forever until anything actually happens. It’s interesting to see early films from directors who are still learning how to hone their craft, but just don’t go into this film half-expecting another BLACK CHRISTMAS, or you’re sure to end up disappointed.

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Chopping Mall

1986 / d. Jim Wynorski
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Who can say: after hours mall party!? Well friends, let me tell you: if CHOPPING MALL has taught me anything, it’s that malls can offer up more nightmarish material than just long lineups, price-checks, and old ladies clipping your heels with carts… they’re also full of bloodthirsty robots that’ll kill you where you stand! Such is the premise of this late 80s slasher cheesefest: a group of teenage mall-ployees decide to stay after-hours and party like it’s 1999 (silly kids, it won’t be 1999 for another 13 years…) Unfortunately for the rebellious youths, the latest in mall security has just been revealed: a pack of metal murderers known asDefenders, whose prime directive is to keep the mall safe no matter what the cost. When the mall doors lock and the robots go rogue, the teens must work together to survive the night! Campy sci-fi slasher goodness abounds, with more lasers and mechanics than you can shake a stick at! Look for a role by Barbara Crampton of RE-ANIMATOR fame.

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Christine

1983 / d. John Carpenter
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The dream of a hot rod gone horribly awry! There are a few past names here — and the film is sometimes billed under director John Carpenter’s clout — but the 1958 Plymouth is the star here. You can still enjoy these creepy car deaths today, and the early eighties motifs and fifties sentimentalities add to the scary nostalgia.