Recent horror viewings: 10/25/15
October 26, 2015

Six more movies to gab about, but this time I'm going to suggest some extra films for "double header" horror/B-movie nights. I miss doing those...

RINGU 2 (1999)

Following the events in Ringu, Takayama's assistant searches for clues regarding his sudden and mysterious death, discovers that his son and wife have gone into hiding, and that his son has begun a series of sinister changes. Obviously, Sadako's curse hasn't yet been resolved...

A slow-paced but effective J-horror piece that's more about giving you that uneasy feeling than it is about throwing horrific imagery in your face. Sadako rising out of the well wearing a plaster mask was pure nightmare fuel.

Double-header suggestion: Rasen (1998).
Trivia time: The whole Ring franchise is based on a series of novels and short stories written by Koji Susuzki: (roughly translate as) Ring, Spiral, Loop, S, Tide, and Birthday. Ringu draws its basis from the novel Ring and was released alongside the film Rasen, which is based on the novel Spiral. Rasen wasn't a big hit with moviegoers, which is why it was eventually retconned with Ringu 2 (although I'm told the newer Sadako 3D follows Rasen instead of Ringu 2). A double-header would allow you to see both of Ringu's sequels in one night.

HOUSE (1986)

William Katt plays a Vietnam vet dealing with the mysterious kidnapping of his son, his failing marriage, possible PTSD, and the apparent suicide of his dear aunt. To cope with his grief, he decides to move back into his aunt's creepy old house so he can write about his horrific experiences in Vietnam. However, insidious forces within the house torment him in a variety of forms, from poltergeist activity to a multi-faced closet monster that always appears around midnight. Oh, and George Wendt plays the nosy next door neighbor...

This was one the first movies I caught in theaters as a youngster, and I had a blast seeing it then. To this day, I still love this movie. It's fairly unpredictable, it's got wonderful practical creature effects, and it has a talented crew working on it, with makeup from Tom Savini, music by Harry Manfredini, and Steve Miner at the helm. It strikes a solid, Evil Dead 2-ish balance between horror and subtle comedy.

Double-header Suggestion: Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn (1987)
I thought about saying House 2: The Second Story, but ED2 is a much better film.

I AM LEGEND (2007)

Trapped alone in NYC with his faithful German shepherd, Will Smith attempts to survive in a world that has been ravaged by a genetically modified strain of the measles, which has transformed most of its population into zombie-like creatures allergic to light.

The film's dramatic aspects are decent, despite its somewhat braindead concept (I mean, really, a cancer cure that accidentally turns the whole world into zombies? How did this get past human trials? Maybe I missed that part...). Watching the death scene that you knew was coming (that I'm trying not to spoil) is pretty heartrending. However, it's not as disheartening as the visual effects. The director said in an interview that he eschewed the original practical effects because they weren't very convincing and the creatures didn't run quickly enough, so he instead infused the movie with a bunch of unnecessary CG animals and humanoids that looked even less convincing. I remember seeing this movie at a theater in 2007 and not being as bothered by the SFX, but I can tell they're already not aging well. Hopefully one day someone will properly adapt Richard Matheson's 1954 novel without all the committee-generated bullshit.

Double-header Suggestion: A Sound of Thunder (2005)
Just so you can see how much worse I Am Legend (which is still not that bad of a movie, honestly) could have been. It could have run out of budget money halfway through production, thereby forcing the visual effects team to use CGI that's abysmal even by Syfy's or The Asylum's standards. It also has velociraptor-baboons that shouldn't be missed.


A reporter and his wife struggle to escape a city that has been overrun by violent, radioactive ghouls who thirst for blood. Of course, those they attack also rise from the dead and hunt for blood to drink.

A very violent and fast-paced Italian horror flick that's pretty fun. I feel, though, that the movie was never fully realized because the gore effects are pretty inconsistent. One person gets his throat slashed and all you see is a red line on his neck, obviously put there by a fake blood-exuding prop knife. Other times, a character will receive a throat slitting that results in a gaping wound. Honestly, this is more of a nitpick than a bona fide criticism. The movie does have a remake that's been funded through Indiegogo, with the original director Umberto Lenzi producing this time around and Tom Savini directing and supervising makeup. Hopefully, they'll realize the movie's ghastly vision more completely this time.

Double-header Suggestion: 28 Days Later... (2002)
I've often said that 28 Days Later... felt like a British remake of Nightmare City. The two movies do have a little in common (mainly because neither uses traditional zombies), though Danny Boyle's film isn't as violent.


Cory Haim claims a werewolf is bumping off the citizens of his tiny American hometown, but Gary Busey doesn't believe him. Worse, the wolf knows that Haim knows his human identity, and attempts to kill the kid before he can expose him.

Typical fun '80s monster movie based on a novella by Stephen King. It's odd to see Busey coherent and Haim before his voice broke. It does a fair job of building tension, but doesn't always release it in the best way. Early on, the wolf is more than capable of ripping a woman apart or bursting up through a floor to yank a fat drunkard into the darkness, but in the latter phases he struggles to do more than throw Busey across the room and leave a bump on his noggin.

Double-Header Suggestion: The Howling (1981)
Two '80s werewolf movies based on written source materials. Why not?

Q (1982)

David Carradine plays a detective attempting to crack a case about a savage cult that skins its members alive for some sort of ritual. Michael Moriarty is an ex-con who runs into trouble when a heist goes south, causing him to run for cover. He ducks into the Chrysler Building, where he discovers a tremendous egg and woman's skeleton picked almost clean. Meanwhile, random New Yorkers go missing and blood and body parts occasionally rain down on the streets. Yeah, I think you know what's going on here...

Q is another '80s monster flick, this time with stop-motion animation and a massive winged monster. Michael Moriarty is in rare form in this movie, where he adeptly plays the neurotic Jimmy trying to leave behind his criminal past. I love the scene where he lures a couple of scumbags into the creature's nest to be eaten and he spirals into insanity while calling, "That's right! Eat up! Crunch crunch!" I won't say that this movie isn't without camp, but the those involved with the project were well aware of that. When Rex Reed reviewed the film, he said, "What a surprise! All that dreckó-and right in the middle of it, a great method performance by Michael Moriarty!" producer Samuel Z. Arkoff said, "The dreck was my idea."

Double-Header Suggestion: Godzilla (1998)
I almost feel dirty for suggesting this movie, but think about it: two campy monster movies about creatures that terrorize New York and lay eggs inside of well known buildings, and both also feature endings in which the camera focuses on an egg as it hatches. After all, some critics did say that Godzilla was more of a remake of Q than Gojira.

Most recent blog posts from Joseph Shaffer...

EmP EmP - October 26, 2015 (02:38 PM)
I AM LEGEND was awful. There's no getting around it; it's a terrible film that only every excels at missing the entire bloody point. Urgh, that scene where he's driving around with all the deer. And that fucking ending... god.

Fun fact: I once made Ben review the Sound of Thunder Gameboy video game tie in. It was just a random dick move.

In anticipation for the Evil Dead series, I watched all three films over the weekend. Didn't bother with the reboot. Not awful, but once is enough.
JoeTheDestroyer JoeTheDestroyer - October 26, 2015 (08:57 PM)
I still haven't seen the ED remake. I've wanted to, since I've heard it's actually somewhat worthwhile. I usually drag my feet when watching remakes, though. I think the It's Alive remake pretty much killed them for me.
overdrive overdrive - October 27, 2015 (11:29 AM)
I saw the ED remake last year. They decided to go away from camp and more towards graphic violence and a bit of body horror. Definitely got freaky at times. I enjoyed the experience. Any time you can watch a dude getting shot repeatedly by a nail gun is a good time. At least when it's in a movie and far, far away from your personal reality, that is.

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