Category Archives: Guide to Gore

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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!
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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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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.

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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?

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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.

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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

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.

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Christmas Evil

1980 / d. Lewis Jackson
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Uninspired, ridiculous, and blasé attempt at a holiday horror flick. This film is so painful to watch, it actually makes Christmas shopping, on Christmas Eve, fun by comparison. I’d rather have a vasectomy than rewatch this film.

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Covenant, The

2006 / d. Renny Harlin
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A woeful, unremarkable cast and silly reliance on special effects fights ruin what could have been a superior story about modern boys struggling with their ancient Salem witchy ways. I couldn’t tell which boy was which, and the hip metal music didn’t make me care much, either.

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Crazies, The (2010)

2010 / d. Breck Eisner
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It’s in vogue right now to slam remakes, since these days it seems as if nothing is off-limits from the grasp of the Hollywood redux machine. While I tend to agree with the spirit of the anti-remake argument, I’m also willing to acknowledge that there are times when a remake is valid, purposeful, and daresay, palatable: such is the case with Breck Eisner’s remake of THE CRAZIES. By remaining respectful to the original campy classic, Eisner was able to craft a worthwhile film from Romero’s stark tale of quarantine and government secrecy. Fine performances and new twists on old scenes make this highly recommended.

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Creepshow 2

1987 / d. Michael Gornick
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Gather round fright junkies, for the sinister minds of Stephen King and George A. Romero reunite in CREEPSHOW 2: a highly downplayed and often neglected sequel which, in this reviewer’s opinion, is every bit as worthy as its predecessor. It’s like a TALES FROM THE CRYPT triple-header… three 30 minute segments with each containing a set of characters more doomed than the last. There is nothing like a giant wooden Native American coming to life and hunting down hoodlums, or a strange floating membrane dissolving your skin as punishment for being an ignorant entitled teenager!  And even better: hitting and killing a hitchhiker on the side of the road only to have his undead corpse cling to your car and continuously thank you for the ride — must be a Canadian… We are also going to slap a Monster Movie Monday stamp of approval on this one, so include it in your next movie night line up!

 

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Cutting Moments

1997 / d. Douglas Buck
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There’s a fine line that filmmakers walk when they seek to transcend the accepted levels of on-screen violence and embark in the dangerous realm of gore. When a film becomes excessively graphic, one of two things can happen: either the viewer becomes desensitized and leaves feeling unphased, or a lack of convincing special effects transforms the film into outright silliness, regardless of how serious the subject matter. CUTTING MOMENTS, however, fearlessly traverses the choppy waters of violent filmmaking, and creates an unforgettable portrait of domestic horror. Set against the backdrop of a quiet American neighbourhood, we are introduced to a loveless couple and their only child; a husband now indifferent to his wife, despite the affection they once shared at the onset of their marriage. The film explores the dramatic lengths that an individual will go to in order to regain their love’s attention, and the perverse sadism that can occur behind any closed door — even in quiet suburbia. CUTTING MOMENTS demands your attention, but be warned, it is not for the faint of heart: its stark imagery is not easily forgotten.

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Damien: Omen II (1978)

1978 / d. Don Taylor
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Ah puberty! The time in every young man’s life when he awkwardly begins to change. The other kids look at you differently, your confidence is shaken, you find a noticeable birthmark of three sixes burned into your skull, and you have to come to terms with the fact that you are no longer a little boy, but rather, the son of the devil. After Damien’s father tried to kill him in the first film, the newly orphaned boy is shipped off to live with his uncle. Growing up alongside his cousin allows him to develop into a loving, well-rounded little boy; but all that soon changes when Satan’s cleverly placed henchmen start to step in and kill off those who get too close. Finally Damien discovers who he is and must stay true to the path is birth father (The Devil) set out for him. This film wont do much for you in the way of gore, but there are some pretty interesting deaths. And yes, that is Lance Henrikson, he’s just not featured in the title sequence.

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Darkness Falls

2003 / d. Jonathon Liebesman
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DARKNESS FALLS belongs to a category of films which span a period from the late 90′s up to the late 2000′s. Just as you can watch 80′s slasher films and immediately know that they’re all from the same era, the same goes for films such as SKELETON KEY, TH13TEEN GHOSTS, DEAD SILENCE, GHOST SHIP, and DARKNESS FALLS — to name only a few. They share a common atmosphere, and although their subject matter isn’t always the same, their style is easily recognizable. In DARKNESS FALLS, we are presented with a small town urban legend: Matilda Dixon, a woman beloved by all the town children, was known as the Tooth Fairy, since she would present them with a gold coin for their lost tooth. However, when she was accused and executed for a crime she didn’t commit, she swore a curse on the little town of Darkness Falls… what she took in kindness, she would take forever in revenge (talk about a reverse deathbed conversion!) The problem with DARKNESS FALLS is that it lacks memorability. On its own it’s not as terrible and easily dismissible as people tend to remember it; it still manages to offer up some minor thrills, and a decent (albeit contrived) story. The similarity between it and the later released DEAD SILENCE has been noted on more than one occasion, and in this reviewer’s opinion, DEAD SILENCE is the superior film. However, if you’re looking for another reason to fear the dark, give DARKNESS FALLS a shot. You might even like it.

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Dawn of the Dead (2004)

2004 / d. Zack Snyder
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Proof that not all remakes are bad, the director of 300 and WATCHMEN injects new life in George Romero’s classic commentary on the horrors of commercialism. Provided you’re not a zombie purist and can get past the fast moving brain-munchers, you’re sure to dig this new take on an old classic. Very highly recommended.