31 Days of Gore is (nearly) here! Meet the Gore Meter!

Gore junkies rejoice!

For the entire month of October, I’m putting political correctness and good taste where it belongs: in the garbage can. Decent people get eleven mind-numbing months out of the year and, considering this “trunk-or-treat” nonsense creeping into America’s embarrassingly cautious mainstream, I’m worried about the sanctity of the one holiday where it’s okay to be a sick fuck. Cue Rush Limbaugh voice: Folks, there’s a war on Halloween and it’s time to push back….

So this month’s film marathon, in which I feature a different horror movie everyday, is a tribute to all the great things horror films have to offer: hilariously wooden acting, red-colored Karo syrup, demons, monsters, decapitations, castrations, and tons of gratuitous nudity. Oh my.

The Gore Meter

Each film will be assigned 1-4 on the “gore meter,” which, of course, is no indication of the quality of the movie itself. The rating is less affected by the amount of gore in the film than other factors. It’s based more on the satisfaction, the quality, and the pacing of the gore effects. Like anything else, it’s highly subjective, but for easy benchmarks, let’s compare my two favorite horror films of all time: Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby would score about a 1 on the meter, while George Romero’s director’s cut of Dawn of the Dead would get a 4.

Rosemary’s Baby
Dawn of the Dead

That just about brings you up to speed. 

It all starts at midnight, Central Time. See ya there, boils and ghouls.

We Are Still Here is available for rent

Holy shit, you guys. We Are Still Here flew in under the radar for me. It’s a solid, believable, not-too-slow horror movie starring Barbara Crampton, my favorite scream queen of all time. Yeah, she may be well into her fifties and sporting a choppy mom haircut here, but she’s still aged better than almost any A-lister in Hollywood, particularly the ones who filled their faces with plastic.

Here’s the best thing I can say about We Are Still Here: movies just don’t scare me, but this one kind of did. Yeah, creepy basements are a dime a dozen in films like this, but what matters is what’s lurking inside those basements. In addition to You’re Next and It Follows, here’s further proof the recent era of terrible horror movies is coming to an end.

More horror movies for adults, please. Thank you.

Quitter’s Inc.

Only two posts this month? Let me explain.

I smoked my last cigarette almost ten days ago. Supposedly, I’ve regained the sense of smell I would have had if I never started smoking. I believe it. Being able to smell like a normal person is already terrible.

I keep catching whiffs of things I wouldn’t have noticed before I quit. Napoleon (the dog) suddenly smells like old sweat and dirt. I can sporadically detect the scent of beer even though I haven’t had any drinks in the house in almost two weeks. Suddenly I hate the smell of laundry detergent, so much so I’m having trouble sleeping on pillows which are now obnoxiously fragrant.

Last time I tried quitting I couldn’t focus on anything. This time, my symptoms of withdrawal aren’t bad enough to distract me from my writing (yet). Still, I don’t feel like updating this blog right now (I’d rather punch it right in its goddamned face to be perfectly honest), but I assure you I’m still doing 31 Days of Gore, an October-long film marathon in which I review 31 horror movies in a row.

That’s another reason September was such a slow month: October will be the biggest month for this blog ever.

everything is as irritating as fingernails on a chalkboard lately

I’m worried my blog posts might seem a bit more angry in the near future, and if that’s the case, just remember that’s probably the nicotine junkie talking, not me.


* * *
I have yet to see this or any other trailer for fear of spoilers

In other news, I was browsing OOP (eBay lingo for “out-of-print”) movies the other day and stumbled upon a VHS copy of Sonny Boy, an early 90s exploitation film which features David Carradine playing a transvestite. I remembered reading about it in a Fangoria about a million years ago and was tickled to death to rediscover it. I’ve always wanted to see it (at least during the period of time in which I remembered it) and, thankfully, I won the auction for a little bit less than I was willing to pay.

$8 to see a lost masterpiece like this? Fuck yeah.

10/3/2016 Update:

Sonny Boy is now available on Blu-Ray from Shout Factory.

After a year, the weirdest thing about being a non-smoker is my food cravings. I haven’t gained any weight (that I’ve noticed), but I crave spicy food more than ever now. You’d think I wouldn’t be able to handle it as well now that I’m no longer deadening my tongue with smoke, but my tolerance for heat has steadily gone up.

Seth Rogen posted this on Twitter (AMC’s Preacher)

From Seth Rogen’s Twitter, which has some other Preacher relics:
There are three things I can’t wrap my head around involving AMC’s adaptation of Preacher. One: that it’s actually being made. Two: that Seth Rogen is involved. And three: that it will be any good.

Yeah, I know the comic I love so much will still exist even after AMC has their way with it. Hell, my favorite ongoing comic right now is The Walking Dead and I’m not a huge fan of the TV show. Sure, the television version of TWD has shown AMC can deliver on the violence, but violence isn’t the only thing Preacher has going against the likelihood it’ll get a faithful adaptation.

Those who’ve read Preacher already know that a lot of its subject matter just doesn’t jell with network television’s desire to sell us Walmart and McDonald’s. Adult situations have managed to creep into TV as of late, but can Preacher’s depiction of Christian gods and angels (spoiler: they ain’t the good guys) really be pulled off? I can’t imagine AMC would greenlight a project if it had all that juicy, blasphemous stuff in there, and if it doesn’t, would it really be Preacher?

I can’t imagine any flesh and blood actors looking this cool

Nonetheless, I’m (cautiously) looking forward to this one. How could I not be interested in seeing it? It’s fucking Preacher. Something tells me Seth Rogen’s the right guy for the job and maybe—just maybe—someone at AMC is trying to pull off the unthinkable: a Hail Mary pass at making AMC the new HBO. Walls like this have to be broken sooner or later.

The new Fantastic Four really is as bad as everyone said it is

I’m conflicted about posting this review at all. It offers little more than what most people have already said. I even feel bad about making fun of this movie because it’s too easy. It’s just not all there in the head. I also have a feeling the director was suffering from a massive breakdown and the moon and the stars really had to align in a magical way to produce something so awful. If, like me, you love to see things go horribly wrong, then it’s almost worth the ticket price.

There aren’t enough words to convey how stupefying Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four is. I can’t call it bad—it would have to make a lot more sense to qualify for normal criticisms like that. I’m not even sure it qualifies as a movie. If you ever wondered which critics are on the studios’ payroll, just make a note of all the names responsible for Fantastic Four’s 9% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

I’d have an easier time pointing out the artistic merits of a slug trail than writing this review. When I sat down to write it, I sighed and shook my head. I’m still shaking my head. What the hell was that? I mean, in a way, it’s actually kind of exciting how misguided it is. I’ll say one thing about it: I’ve never seen anything quite like it. I’ve seen movies so bad I had to leave the theater and movies so bad I laughed hysterically. Fantastic Four is neither of those movies. It assaults you so thoroughly with its badness, there’s not even enough time to roll your eyes.

Even knowing the film’s storied production history, you won’t be able to figure out how so many bad creative decisions can be made. You don’t see the Fantastic Four use their powers until about an hour in. You don’t see them use their powers again until the anti-climactic battle with the film’s villain, who’s dispatched almost as quickly as he’s introduced. Among the strangest creative decisions is the Thing doesn’t wear any pants. If I had to guess why, I’d say it was because the CGI department wasn’t good enough to animate cloth.

I’m getting ahead of myself.

Fantastic Four is the kind of movie in which a high school genius builds a functioning teleporter, kind of like the one in The Fly, and gets disqualified from a science fair because… well, as my mother used to say, “Because it was in the script, dummy.” That’s like flunking a student for ending world hunger. There were reports the director and the lead actor were showing up to the set on drugs and alcohol, but when you see this movie you’ll wonder if anybody was sober.

Immediately after Richards’ science experiment is disqualified, he’s approached by a couple of bonafide scientists, one of whom is Susan Storm. The scientists reveal they’re also experimenting with teleportation, but they can’t bring their test subjects back the way Richards can. So, with a straight face, this movie asks us to believe A) that brilliant scientists peruse high school science fairs for ideas and B) this tactic actually panned out. Naturally, Richards is given a job, but we learn the g-men overseeing the experiment are, like Richards’ teacher, just as clueless about the real world applications for what could possibly be the most amazing invention in human history. I have a feeling if someone actually invented something like this, the real government would be drooling all over it. Yet the writers seem hellbent on throwing illogical adversities at their characters because a 2-day screenwriting course told them to include lots of conflict.

Soon after Richards is recruited, the film introduces Victor von Doom, whose speeches are about as poignant as Jaden Smith’s tweets.The version of Doctor Doom in the previous FF films actually got a lot more right about the character than this one does. Trank’s version would have us believe Doom’s a genius, but he seems more like a Silicon Valley reject whose parents still pay for his World of Warcraft subscription.

There’s no reason for Doom to even be in this movie, just a sloppy excuse. What’s worse is he and Richards are madly in love with Sue (yawn), which creates a pointless love triangle nobody wanted. Even if you’re not familiar with the comics, it’s the kind of run-of-the-mill romance that always has an outcome which will surprise no one. No, what’s unexpected is this plot thread leads absolutely nowhere (Doom tries to crush Sue to death later in the film and if that’s not true love I don’t know what is). Come to think of it, hardly anything they set up early in the film has any kind of payoff or resolution.

Other comic book adaptations would have given us at least one action sequence early in the movie. This one doesn’t unless you count a one-minute car chase involving Johnny Storm about twenty minutes in. It’s a bold move which might have paid off in a better movie that actually cared about its characters. This movie doesn’t. For example, Ben Grimm appears early in the movie to help Reed Richards construct his experiment, but he mysteriously exits the stage until it’s just about time for him to transform into the Thing.

Nearly an hour into the movie, there’s a glimmer of hope for it when it accidentally becomes entertaining. The four male characters get drunk and decide to take an unauthorized trip through the teleporter so they can plant an American flag in an alternate dimension. You’ll be happy something is finally happening, but what’s incredibly insulting about this decision is no one even thinks to take Sue along with them, whose contributions to the project were supposedly critical.

By then, the movie had so thoroughly shut down the activity in my brain, I actually found the next few scenes to be kind of enjoyable. The only problem is this stuff should have happened about ten minutes in, not halfway through. Just when it started to hook me, it pulled a title card out of its ass, announcing a year had passed.

Because it was in the script, dummy.

Kids won’t like this movie because it takes so long to get to the good stuff, which is fleeting at best, and adults won’t like it unless they’ve never seen a real movie before. Part of what drew me to Jack Kirby’s source material was the fact that, with the exception of Johnny, the Fantastic Four were seasoned adults who at least tried to make scientific decisions. With actors as young as these, this is Fantastic Four: The Hip Teenager Version, and their age is somehow even more obnoxious and misguided than the decision to cast Jessica Alba in the previous installments. To this day, Roger Corman’s infamously cheap production is the most genuine Fantastic Four film of all. At the very least it gave us age-appropriate actors and didn’t rewrite the mythology so many of us love.