This past week, in honor of Halloween, I have been catching up on some horror films I have missed recently. I checked out Jeepers Creepers as it had some good word of mouth, Wrong Turn simply for Eliza Dushku and House of 1000 Corpses as I had heard many good things about it.
Directed by everyone's favorite pederast, Victor Salva, this one turned out to be fairly good, at least at first. The basic plot involves two siblings that stumble upon a basement of an old church that just happens to house some sort of torture chamber. The occupant is seen dumping something down a drain pipe leading to said chamber and our two young leads decide to check it out after a rather hairy car chase with the same occupant. The occupant, it turns out, is our monster - he comes back every 23 years or so to feast upon humans so he can take the feature he likes best about each victim. There are some truly frightening moments in this movie, but most are the boo scare type. There is some gore to be revolted by, but by the end it ceases to play a factor. The leads do a fair job and the supporting cast includes the great Eileen Brennan (who must have been starved for work). I'd give it a three on a 5 star scale. All in all decent, but nothing special.
Ahhh, Eliza Dushku. If only she could act. The plot here involves several young attractive WB types getting lost in the back woods of West Virginia. Bad choice apparently because these same back woods just happen to be inhabited by three rather odd fellows. You can surely gather what happens next. One by one, our leads are taken out and the fun is, I suppose, guessing which order they go down. This was a Stan Winston project, so you would think the make-up would be pretty good. I guess it was, but the bad guys don't really look scary. In an attempt to get their inbred, toothless smiles and whatnot, they look more like aliens or guys with way too much latex on. There are some decent kill scenes, but all in all this movie disappoints. There are some nice shots of the country and the house that serves as the home base for the evil brothers has your typical gory elements - teeth and body parts in jars, bones hanging from the ceiling, bloody tables where they must eat their victims, etc., etc., etc. You can skip this one. It gets a one and a half - and the half is only because breasts are trying desperately to get out of shirts, though none ever does - yet another missed chance for the director.
House of 1000 Corpses
Now, here we have a great horror film. I happen to be a big fan of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, both the first and second. The first movie is scary as hell. It feels like a documentary and the tension is constantly ratcheted up until the final denouement with the dinner scene and Marilyn Burns' escape. The second is nothing like that. It trades in the creepiness for camp and it works. There is enough gore and boo moments to get your heart pounding, but it also serves up a fair dose of humor, thanks to Dennis Hopper and the Sawyer clan. One of those characters, Chop-Top is played by Bill Moseley. He also stars in this Rob Zombie picture that obviously takes it's cue from TCM 2. The plot of this one has four young leads running out of gas and stopping at a roadside chicken stand/murder museum. They learn of a legend of one Dr. Satan, hung on a tree years ago but the body disappeared. They decide to check it out. Madcap zaniness and horror ensue. What a cast - the aforementioned Moseley, Karen Black and particularly Sheri Moon (who I understand is Rob Zombie's girlfriend - he's got great taste) all shine as members of a sick and demented family that terrorizes the four young leads. Also great is Sid Haig as the attendant at the gas station they stop at and initially hear the legend. He plays some sort of sadistic clown and has some great lines of dialogue. What makes the movie so great is the sense of horror is continually taken to the next level. Each time you think it can't get any more twisted, Zombie gives you a bit more. The sets are original, the look and feel is dead on, which is impressing considering this is Zombie's first movie, and the script is full of great lines and scenes, some extremely grisly. Zombie has taken what's best about some of the greatest horror films of our time and put them together in this wonderful movie. It's really an instant classic of the genre. I give it four and a half out of five (as 5 is reserved for the true elite - Halloween, The Exorcist, TCM, etc.) You must see this film if you like good horror.
Well, there you go. One dud, one decent horror movie and one great one. A little bit of everything. For all those fans of horror, you might want to check out Mystery channel (143 if you have ComCast) - they are showing the Omen Trilogy tonight starting at 8pm. Gotta love Halloween if for anything, many more horror movies on TV and that can't be bad. That is all.