Friday, May 29, 2009

MOVIE REVIEW: Drag Me To Hell


One thing I can tell you about Sam Raimi without hesitation is that he thinks old ladies are gross. And Scary. They have warts and stinky breath, and bad teeth or no teeth, ugly fingernails and toes, stringy and dirty hair, and they make lots of squishy sounds when they talk and eat and they are generally just about the grossest things on earth. Old, white crones. Anyone who knows Raimi's earlier work in the "Evil Dead" series (including "Army of Darkness") knows what I am talking about. Gnarly, demented and possessed old ladies often face the bad end of a boomstick and are told to come and get some. Same thing here, except this is a more mature Sam Raimi than the Evil Dead 2 days. This is more Spiderman II and The Quick and the Dead Raimi than Spiderman 3 and For Love of the Game Raimi. Thank God.

The point is Raimi has always handled horror with a tongue-in-cheekiness where characters glib neo-colloquialisms in horrific situations for a consistent levity with performances that are of another genre, but not horror. Perhaps spaghetti western. But Drag Me To Hell - which thankfully doesn't abandon his penchant for gross-out humor and inventive special effects - does ground this movie so it is both funny, gory, entertaining, and even (surprise, surprise), a little bit scary! Some of this is due to the skills he has honed on big Hollywood blockbusters like the Spidey franchise, and some of this is due to the advances in technology (unlike the claymation feel of the the demons doing crazy stuff in his early films, this movie looks absolutely amazing). But another is the revelation of Allison Lohman (Justin Long I can do without. As far as I am concerned you become a commercial icon for a computer you don't get to make movies anymore). But Lohman, she is a different duck. I am not too familiar with her work, but I was very impressed with her understated approach to the character, and I didn't get that it was because she is generally an understated person in which good performances are often mistaken. She actually had a real astute comic timing. Watch for how she delivers the line about why her cat may or may not still be alive. It is actually quite brilliant and one of the funnier moments in the movie. And she is the Bruce Campbell role. Where he is all camp all the time (and we love him for it, i guess) she walks through life incredulous and guileless. So when she makes a career driven decision at the expense of someone else it comes off as reasonable and empathetic.

That decision, however, is what gives us our crazed, disgusting old lady her bile (and when her spleen explodes that's literal). We get to see her take her teeth out to the sound of what it might sound like if you miked up slugs having sex, we see her eye puss then pop, vomit maggots, gum someone's cheek, and lots more fun stuff. Her battles with Christine Brown (the character played by Lohman) are action-packed, inventive, hilarious and thoroughly disgusting. Much like Peter Jackson before him in Braindead he tries to one up himself and all directors before him in grossing us out with innovative and ultimately silly gross-out gimmicks. But what is beautiful about what he does here is that it is all in the flow of things. Unlike Spiderman 3 where it was all about the special effects, here sometimes you don't even realize it was. but it was. One scene many are probably already aware of is the scene where a fly lands on Christine's face and then goes up her nose. But what you don't get in a trailer is that this scene goes on for two minutes and never once do yo not think it is a real fly doing this, and they get close up. You know it isn't because flies aren't the most responsive creatures to animal wranglers, but you wouldn't know it. Nor are you expecting what ultimately happens to the fly.

Wit, performance and special effects success aside, about halfway through the movie I started thinking about the randomness of the film itself. Is this based on some source material I don't know about? It truly isn't like one of those eureka ideas a filmmaker might have who passionately try and get it up on the big screen. It is fairly straightforward in its concept. A young woman denies an old lady a third extension on a loan, that old lady hunts her down and fist fights with her, loses fight and then puts a curse on the girl. The curse causes a demon to rain down on her and eventually tries to drag her to hell. As big ideas go, this one doesn't necessarily jump off the page. But I believe it is in the banality of it lies the success. I think the pitch to the money people was, "what if you pissed someone off in the everyday flow of things, just doing your job nothing nefarious, but unwittingly that causes someone with the power to summon demons to rain that power down on you and suck your soul into Hell." Now that's intriguing. And that's what happens. She doesn't open any secret book, or do anything wrong at all really, but the wrong person thought she did and she was cooked from there.

Could happen to any of us.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Country's First Vampire Museum Announced

The country's first all-vampire museum will open this September (just in time for Halloween I presume) in New York City. The MoVa (Museum of Vampiric Artifacts) will, according to Haunternet.com: "celebrate and educate the world about vampires in the media, folklore, and real life! Creepy, scary and informative vampire lovers the world over will flock to this one of a kind 5,000 square foot museum dedicated to everyone's favorite undead icons."

Further details about exhibits, websites, admission, etc. will be announced this summer. Follow this blog to find out more!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Hangover, I just Have To

This is a horror website. This is where i will talk about things i find interesting going on in the horror community. specifically about haunted houses, and even more specifically about my Haunted House Nightmare. I have plans on doing some esoteric stuff of continuing interest. BUT, I just can't help myself from showing my exuberance over this new bromance (ick word) The Hangover. My buddy Jamie and I went and saw Observe and Report which was decent (I liked it more than he did, but i appreciated it for being a silly comedy with such a dystopian outlook and style), and this trailer appeared before the flick. And he and I were both laughing our balls off. Perhaps we were feeling a little loopy at the time, but it was perhaps the funniest 2 1/2 minutes I have ever seen. Full disclosure, I am a sucker for these kind fo comedies. Will Ferrel and Paul Rudd always make me laugh. So perhaps it is not your cup of tea. That's fine, you're a stuck-up douchebag, I get it. But I am not embarrased to tell you that I loved the shit ot of Milli Vanilli even after they came out as fake, I loved that Vanilla Ice song, and I loe these kind of films. Judge as you may, but watch this trailer anyway:



Monday, May 11, 2009

There are no Nightmares in the Middle of the Summer


Summer is a fun, refreshing, relaxing time: Pools, beaches, blockbuster movies, flip-flops, and like 6 more things. It is also when all of the planning, designing, organizing, ordering, purchasing, marketing, branding, and other junk for the Nightmare haunted house begins (is done). But I'll tell you what it isn't. It isn't the time to mount our event. not in NYC anyway. We are considering it for oversees locations (where they don't celebrate Halloween), but we have no plans of doing it in, say, a couple of weeks on the West Side of Manhattan.

What i am trying to say is that despite using our name, the haunted house that some of you may or may not have heard of that is opening at the end of May has no relationship to us at all. make no mistake, this is completely an independent production and has neither been endorsed or supported by the Nightmare that you, my faithful readers, have come to love and enjoy or merely tolerate that opens at the end of September.

I have received many missives from friends and/or supporters who have received information about this other almost identically named haunted house with the body asking, "have you seen this? WTF?" and i am here to tell everyone that yes i know about it, you don't need to alert me to it anymore, and yes i realize it is called Nightmare as well. Now the most important thing I need to communicate to you is that it is not us. And I can't speak to the quality nor the presentation in anyway. not us. just not us.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

What About These Apples and Dees Nuts

As I progress towards making this blog into something more legit (I am working on a logo. i know right now there isn't much art to the site), I have concocted some regular features that I hope to keep consistent in addition to my regular musings. I will have a different feature per day that could always be counted on. I am going to begin this in June. let me know what you think, and offer any suggestion to the otherwise:

Monday: "The Truest Blood" - i will analyze each week of Season Two of "True Blood" on HBO (beginning June 18th) and rate who had the biggest fangs.

Tuesday: "What The Ef is That?" - I will post a photo and/or video of something that I took that i personally couldn't discern. It could be anything from road kill to abstract art. You will be encouraged to help me figure it out.

Wednesday: "Scream Scenes" - I will post a 1 to 2 second clip from a horror movie, and you have to guess what film it is. The first one to get it right gets $6000*

* not true

Thursday: "What's Creepier Than That Song in those Freddy Movies?" - That "one, two Freddy's Comin's For You..." song sung by the girl's skipping rope in the Nightmare Elm Street Movies will go down as one of the more eerie ditties in scary movies. But it can't possibly be the eeriest. I will post a weekly audio track of songs that I think are scarier.

Friday: Monster Link Madness - I will comb through some of my link partners and highlight 5 links to some of the more interesting content that other sites are posting.

How does that sound? Do these sound compelling? Will you tune in every day if you could count on a certain post? Oh, Thank God.