Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Back to the Grindhouse...Zombeavers, Wolfcop, and a top Thirteen Horror Movies in the mind of Mad Mark.

Back to the Grindhouse!


I can’t figure out whether this movie tried too hard or just didn’t give a damn. It really rode the rails between those two ideals- on the one hand, it hit many of the familiar marks you’d see in a grindhouse film with a bad cop, supernatural situation, some blood and guts violence, and a terrific Werewolf transformation scene. On the other hand, almost nothing happens for the first fifteen minutes of the film and the character development is piss-poor at best. The villains make no sense- not just the Swiss cheese scheme, every detail about what they have done compared to what they want to do makes no sense and seems a twist for the sake of having a twist. Wolfcop fails in almost every way that storytelling should be done- the characters lack any depth, the hero isn’t very sympathetic, and every side character’s twist makes so little sense that you’re just left shaking your head in confusion. The movie succeeds in special effects, action sequences, and pure bizarreness.

There’s a character revelation that makes no sense at all within the context of that character’s confessed motivations. What this one character does completely flies in the face of logic with regards to the rest of the film. The other characters who seem to be in league with this character act in a manner that is entirely inconsistent with his supposed role and so the revelation isn’t so much a twist as a head scratching moment of absolutely confusion.

I wish I could recommend avoiding Wolfcop, but the film really does come into it’s own when it literally grows a set and brings about the first transformation. Everything kicks into gear and the blood and violence are more than just satisfactory, they are some of the best practical effects I’ve seen in a film of this sort. The writing also tends to pick up when it doesn’t try to be clever or create a new twist- when it’s at it’s more straightforward, the script works. Also, the acting is halfway decent with the lead character having a certain degree of charisma that leads his drunken wastrel of a deputy to actually be a likeable guy.

2.5. Rent it or stream it, but I wouldn’t recommend purchasing it.


Three college Sorority Sisters head up to a cabin for a weekend of fun and frivolity in the wake of a messy break-up for the token blonde. The token Nerd and the token Bitch try to cheer up their Sister with a relaxing swim in the nearby lake when they’re suddenly attacked- by the Frat Boys they thought they abandoned and a full weekend college bash of sex and booze begins. Nekkid teens bop around, beer is guzzled, secrets come to light, and the neighbors aren’t too happy with all the goings-on.

Then the Zombie Beavers attack.

Blood, guts, carnage, and a script that is as tongue in cheek as it can be with plenty of gratuitous beaver shots. While the lighting may not be too good on occasion, the film moves at a quick enough pace to never leave the audience bored and there are plenty of quick one-liners to throw on top of a those gory gags. The film is fairly predictable and goes where most fans of the genre might expect it to, though not necessarily the way they might predict. This is kind of another attempt to create a cult classic and it’s fair to say they may find a larger audience than Wolfcop, but the results are fairly similar here with a reliance on that Grindhouse Cult Cinema audience.

3 out of 5, Strong Rental.

Time to put a little bit of a list here, since I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts as of yet where they all list their top ten. Well, here I’m listing thirteen because it just feels like something I should do… and admittedly, some are on this list purely because of a corresponding number when they might’ve actually been tied with earlier entries. So, without further adieu-

My top thirteen list of Horror Movies!!!!

Friday the 13th Pt. IV: I love the series, but if I were asked to pick the very best one than this is the movie that tops the list with regards to all the storytelling elements. It has Jason, it tells his origin, it features the best death scenes, and it has the strongest cast. F/X master Tom Savini puts in some decent work here in putting Jason to rest for good… uh, at least until the sixth film revived him.

A Nightmare on Elm Street: This one is based on the original film which left me scarred as a child when a friend of mine told me a ghost story during one sleep over when he basically told me the story that opens the film- Tina being stalked in her dream. When I saw the movie a few weeks later, it still scarred me. This movie definitely has a place in my dark deep pit of horror.
Let the Right One In: This is a fairly recent film and smashes into my top favorites because it’s one of the most effective Vampire films I’ve ever seen. It terrifies me and makes me sad. I will not say that one should avoid the English remake, because that’s also a solid viewing- but the original Swedish film goes some places where the other film doesn’t and is that much more effective for it.
Jaws: This movie made audiences afraid to go near the water for generations. For me, it’s probably one of my earliest horror films and features a number of elements that I find brilliant. Quint’s monologue on the boat, the slap from the distraught mother, and those immortal one liners. There’s no way this film doesn’t make my top list.
Bride of Frankenstein: It’s a sequel, but in many ways it addresses many of the issues from the novel that the first film avoided. And those themes are what reaches out to me in this particular feature, over it’s original entry.
Pet Sematary: This movie scared the shit out of me. Seriously- the idea of wanting your loved ones back only to have them come back “changed” is a seriously screwed up trigger for me. That child—look, I don’t find this film enjoyable on any level but it horrifies and terrifies me and this is my list of top horror films, not my favorite movies. So there you go.
The Thing: John Carpenter’s film is a remake of a sci-fi classic, but it does everything a remake should do and it tells a different story altogether. This is one of the most terrifying experiences I’ve ever had watching a movie and, to be honest, some of the imagery still haunts me to this day.
Dawn of the Dead: George Romero continues the social commentary he began with “Night” and drives it straight at the American Consumer culture with this bit of horrific terror. This is a film that deserves to be studied- don’t just watch this film, study it and take note of the little things that maybe you might miss on a first viewing. Especially notice how the Mall Survivors behave after a few weeks of doing nothing but hanging out in the mall and spoiling themselves with material goods. Brilliant film.
Halloween: The second Carpenter film on list, and no surprise except maybe that some people might want to rate it a little higher. This movie builds tension masterfully, uses a wonderful score to its full advantage, and pretty much cements the Faceless Killer into the consciousness of cinephiles everywhere.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Bugnuts. This movie is pure insanity-if you haven’t seen this movie yet, do yourself a favor and watch it now. If you have only seen the remake, forget that and go rent the original right now. I’ll wait.
The Shining: Stephen King hates this adaptation of his novel- for good reason. His novel is a very personal exploration of his alcoholism, his relationship with his family, and several other small bits of himself scattered throughout the book. The movie, however, is about a haunted hotel during the dead of winter and the caretaker who is driven insane by the atmosphere around him. I’ll tell you a secret- It scared me as a kid. It sometimes scares me to this day- though the characters I identify with have changed as I’ve gotten older.
Night of the living Dead: This, for me, is a masterpiece. It’s hopeless, it’s tragic, and it’s one of the most impactful films ever made. The ending leaves people open mouthed- I’ve watched people cry and excuse themselves after watching this film. I love that.
Evil Dead: I’m not sure how old I was- I remember being very young and visiting my aunt when she put this movie on the VHS for everyone, and I remember bits and pieces of this film, and I remember being scared out of my mind for years to come. I realize many people think the film is hokey, but it is downright horrific when you think about some of the visuals- some of the pacing- the camera tricks. Never mind the comedic sequels that came later, I remember watching Linda sit crosslegged and sing that little ditty to the lead and I remember those blank white eyes. Those eyes. The blood, the gore, the horror- this movie terrified me at 7 and thrills me now at nearly 40. It’s my favorite horror film of all time.

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