Monster in the Closet (1986) Horror-comedy from Troma with intentional movie cliches. The monster–which is actually kinda cool–hides in closets, grabs people and throws clothes out of the closet. After even the military can’t stop the monster that soon threatens the entire world, the cameo-filled cast concludes that they must destroy all closets. I guess it was either that or nuke the entire planet from orbit. [rating: $6] –Kenyon
Lake Mungo (2008, Australia) More like Lake DUMBO. This melodramatic “mockumentary” about the haunting of a drowned girl serves to pleasure itself by showing a ghost in camera footage that is later discovered to be faked. Eff us, right? The second half is more confusing than the first, adding blurry camera phone clips and more dull as hell commentary from people who knew the girl. Serious material like this needs to be handled better. [rating: $1] –Kenyon
Cannibal Holocaust (1980) If there has ever been a film that you can call “not for the squeamish,” it’s Cannibal Holocaust–hell, it was banned in like 50 countries. A groundbreaking, shocking cannibal film that, although isn’t perfect, set the bar for copycats (Welcome to the Jungle, anyone? Kenyon raises his hand). Shot on 16mm, it’s gruesome and explicit, even by today’s standards. It’s even controversial within the film itself, while the production and filming faced all sorts of problems. If you want to get deep, read up about the social-political messages it represents. Without spoiling anything (really, it’s just something you have to see), most of the first half of the film follows an anthropologist searching in the Amazon jungle for a lost group of people who were filming some sort of twisted documentary about native tribes, and apparently, cannibal tribes. Although the group is notorious for setting up graphic scenes, they are now dead, and likely eaten. The search party is able to obtain the film reels and bring them back to the U.S, where they discover that the footage is not at all appropriate for public exposure. As the film within a film progresses, the documentary crew pushes things WAY too far in their quest to fabricate their story. Inevitably, they end up as bones. Now, there are some scenes in Holocaust–some of it is REALLY effed up–that are REAL. That said, the uncut version deserves an NC-17 rating, as it is difficult to forget. [rating: $10] –Kenyon
Here’s a smart comment someone posted on this video: “Pathetic how people bitch about the killing of 7 animals that were killed 32 years ago, whilst in the meantime, hundreds of thousands of animals are being ‘processed’ in farms and the like. At this very moment, imagine how many animals- like Sheep, Cows, Goats, Chickens and the like -are savagely being slaughtered just so your fridge doesn’t have an empty meat section. There’s no such thing as ‘Civilization’. We’re just cocky because we’re clever. Humankind is and always will be, savage.”
The Cabin in the Woods (2012) Following months of buzz and high expectations, Cabin mostly succeeds in adding fresh life to horror. Not that it’s entirely horror. While making references to classic backwoods horror films (Evil Dead, et al), Cabin is a horror-thriller COMEDY that embraces witty satire. An evil unicorn sticking its horn where it doesn’t belong? That’s rich. Shoot, maybe it’s supposed to be straightforward comedy.
It turns out the big surprise twist is that among the young adults visiting a remote cabin there is a purposely token stoner who proves he’s the most logical, insightful and smart. Plus, he always has weed on him in the form of a joint or in a bong converted from a travel coffee mug.
Cabin in the Woods shows ambition, for sure. And there’s plenty going on to cause suspense, including a slightly overblown apocalyptic scenario. The effects look great, there are surprises and original ideas that build on old ones.
Still, too many questions remain. Why don’t the people underground who manipulate the cabin take this heavy situation more seriously? Why was “Merman” underused? Where can you get one of those coffee mug bongs? Perhaps answers to this fun pro-marijuana film will be answered in a prequel. [rating: $7] –Kenyon
Splice (2007) This doctor couple spawn a creature in their lab. It impregnates the woman and then it f*cks the man and kills him. That’s what you get you dumb asses. Stupid f*ckers. [rating: $3] –Kenyon
The Host (2006, South Korea) When approaching the Host, it’s important to recognize what this film is really about. It’s not about a mammoth mutant amphibious creature wreaking havoc. Little attention is paid to its biology and motivations. It’s primarily about a ragtag family determined to rescue their child from the clutches of the sea monster, which in a nod to classic sci-fi monsters, is the result of toxic chemicals carelessly dumped. This is secondary to the Host (in fact, the Korean version of the movie poster shows the family, unlike the U.S version with the creature’s tentacle). With focus on the family’s need to recover the girl, the Host has much heart. But it also has the strength to combine sci-fi horror, comedy and adventure. Oh, this family is ragTAG! There are also some social political themes that you can look up on your own.
Now, a heck of a lot of toxic waste was put into the water. If that much formaldehyde entered the river, there must be other animals that were effected, not just the one. Where are they?! Must have died. Anyways, to sum it up, the Host is like a warm-hearted Cloverfield in daylight. Yea that’s right, DAYLIGHT. The effects for the monster are so sharp that it can be clearly shown without hiding it in the dark. Nice work! [rating: $9]. –Kenyon
Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971) A psychological chiller rarely mentioned, Let’s Scare pre-dates some of horror’s most influential films, allowing it to walk its own path. While it does have that 1970s horror film atmosphere, the movie only plays mind games with the namesake character and ultimately the viewer. The emotional mess Jess has recently left a mental hospital. She, her husband and a pal move to a big house in rural Connecticut, where Jess starts seeing things and hearing voices. It’s not clear if all the images she sees are real or in her mind. Meanwhile, they are acquainted with a woman who they find already living in the house. She turns out to be either a vampire, a ghost or just a sick and twisted drifter who strums a stringed instrument with audio dubbed over it (yikes!). In the early 70s this must have spooked people, but with a lack of meaning and no closure, the film–even with its moments of suspense–comes up short in its attempt to scare. [rating: $5] –Kenyon
Welcome to the Jungle (2007) Hostel, Wolf creek, and Turistas were adept at spending the first half of the story getting to know groups of adventurers, before they suddenly meet their doom. A straight to DVD “Dimension Extreme,” the “unrated” Jungle makes the same attempt, all the while pretending to be filmed by a first-person shakey cam. Four unfortunate travelers seek fame and fortune by searching the jungle for a Michael Rockefeller, who is rumored to still be living amongst the native cannibals. Obviously a terrible idea, but the four young adults–one whose acting is deplorable–proceed anyway. Already short at 82 minutes, roughly half of that is unnecessary mundane clips of them chilling out and talking to each other or to the camera. [rating: $2] – Kenyon