Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Flim #6: The Wolf Man (1941)

We all have a little animal in us.
A side glace at Nick’s back, and you’d swear he was a black bear.
With Chris, there isn’t a dry fire hydrant in the city of Chicago. Hey, when nature calls
But the RDHP gots nuthin’ on poor Larry Talbot, the tortured soul at the center of the 1941 Universal Studios classic monster flick “The Wolf Man.”

Prodigal son Larry returns to his homeland in middle Europe after 18 years in the bawdy States. His family, the Talbots, are big-wigs in the village with a fancy castle and creepy portraits on the wall. While playing with his father’s new telescope, he spies a fetching young woman named Gwen in the town’s antique shop. He can’t keep his telescopic-eye off her, the peeping tom pervert, and decides to step away from the telescope and visit her in person. She’s engaged, but the little tramp is so charmed by Larry that they make a chaperoned date to visit a gypsy fortune teller.

Jenny the chaperone goes first for her reading so Larry can try and suck some face with Gwen. During the reading, the gypsy flips his shit, and the full moon drives him to hunt down a screaming Jenny the chaperone. Larry runs to her rescue, but soon realizes it isn’t a man attacking Jenny, but a huge wolf. Larry kills the wolf, but during the fight gets bit on the chest. Well, you guessed it, he is fuc*ed. When the coppers arrive, they find not a wolf but the fortune teller dead on the ground! But Larry swears he wrestled with a wolf! Dun-dun-DAAAAAAAA!

Larry soon starts to exhibit some wolf-like behavior, and learns from the fortune teller’s mother that he is now cursed with the same affliction as her son… the curse of the WEREWOLF.
Being a practical man, Larry can’t decide: is he truly afflicted with the ancient doggy curse, or is it just all inside his fragile little head.
Things start to get hairy as Larry embraces his inner animal in the 1941 classic howler “The Wolf Man.”

The Low-Down:
Let’s be honest here. It may be a classic, but Wolf Man is truly a 1940s popcorn flick. Don’t let that turn you off, this one is several hairy hands and feet above todays “strictly for entertainment” wolf-crap fests that fill theaters every few summers (We’re looking at you Twi-tard: New Moon).

What it lacks in brains, the film makes up with heart. The subplot of Larry and Gwen’s star-crossed love is filled with charming dialog and heart-thumping glances. The scenery of the haunted forest known to hold the wolf-man is just the right mix of classic creepy and cinematically beautiful. The special effects are tame by today's standards, but freaked the hell out of 1941 folk. Still, it is fun to watch the wolfy-transformation, and you just gotta love those wolf feet!

The story moves along at a blazing pace, necessary since this film is only 70 minutes long. Its brevity adds to its charm. There are no slow sections, no room to question the premise of a man turning into a wolf. It keeps the fun at full throttle till the unusually depressing (for its time) end.

Just because the film isn’t brainy doesn’t mean it is brainless. The Wolf Man gives you something to think about as well. Larry continually questions whether he is merely imagining he is a werewolf, or if he is indeed physically transforming into a beast. The film comments on the various quagmires that can take hold of the mind. Can a man become a werewolf through thought alone? Should a practical man, one who believes firmly in science, trust in the old country’s gypsy superstitions?

Sure, it’s not much to think about… but at least it throws the mind a soup bone.
True, there are no shirtless, abed-out squish-faced Taylor Lautners in this werewolf flick.
But that fact alone makes this work even more classic.

RDHP Ratings:
C-rating: 4.9
Chris Dimick howls: “Of all the Universal Studios classic horror movies, this is by far my favorite. Better than Dracula. Better than Frankenstein. Better than The Creature from the Black Lagoon. The Wolf Man is just such a fun and endearing movie. The dialog between the characters is witty and quick-paced. The creepy forest setting is delightfully hokey, and Lon Chaney Jr. is great as a ladies’ man turned wolf-creeper.
But I think the thing I love best about this movie is just the premise of the werewolf. What an awesome monster, and a truly horrifying thing to imagine. Anyone can become a werewolf. Pet the wrong snarling dog, and BAM, you are forced to spend your full moons running around pants less and tearing out the throats of random townies. What is terrifying about becoming a werewolf is not just the painful transformation into the beast; it is having to deal with your secret shame once you become human again. During your normal periods, you are psychologically tortured and must dwell on your murderous affliction.
The werewolf monster is really a commentary on the beast within us all. Even if you hate older movies, watch this one. You will enjoy yourself.”

N-rating: 2.7
Nick Rich howls: "Awooooooooo! You may be wondering why I rated this film so low, especially when Chris rated it so high... well let me tell you: the film itself didn't impress me. I loved the idea of it, I loved heatedly talking about it with Chris, shucks I even liked the weird coincidences that happened to me afterward (i.e. noticing that there was almost a full moon the night of the viewing as I was walking home while a random homeless man howled at it. I informed him that I just watched The Wolfman, he smiled and said we could be Wolfmen ourselves (in reference to our beards.)) but as for the movie itself... it was average. The thing I found most memorable about it was the leading lady's wardrobe and the Wolfman's feet (in that order)! Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the film for the most part, especially viewing it with someone as enthusiastic as Chris, but in the scope of the RDHP I felt I had to rate it accordingly. This movie is great for what it is (a popcorn flick) but thanks to our viewing schedule I've been waned from milk to meat - and The Wolfman just didn't have enough bite. The Skinny: watch The Wolfman if you're in the mood for a no-brainer flick where you can let loose Mystery Science Theater 3000 style.

Poem of the Viewing:
Even a man who is pure in heart,
And says his prayers by night,
May become a wolf,
When the wolfbane blooms,
And the autumn moon is bright.

Quote of the Viewing:
[Scene: Gwen’s friend Jenny unexpectedly comes along as a chaperone on Gwen’s date with Larry]
Nick: What is that called when another woman does that… comes along on a date?
Chris: I think it’s called a three-some.

Today’s Stupid, Sexist Wolf Man Joke:
Living with the Wolf Man:
The Wolf Man comes home one day from a long day at the office. "How was work, dear?" his wife asks.
"Listen! I don't want to talk about work!" he shouts.
"Okay. Would you like to sit down and eat a nice home cooked meal?" she asks nicely.
"Listen!" he shouts again. "I'm not hungry! I don't wanna eat! All right! Is that all right with you? Can I come home from work and just do my own thing without you forcing food down my throat? Huh?"
At that moment, the wolf man starts growling and throwing things around the apartment in a mad rage.
Looking out the window, his wife sees a full moon and says to herself, "Well, I guess it's that time of the month."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Film #5: Scanners (1981)

How great would it be to have mind control powers?
You could get the Chipotle burrito-artist to add an extra scoop of steak.
That fat-ass who stands on the down escalator; you could connect to their brain and send them skipping down those stairs.
And that “crazy” thing you’ve wanted to try with handcuffs, a rotted apple, and some KY? Your significant other couldn’t shoot you down this time, thanks to your awesome mind control powers!
To dream, to dream.
But for some, this dream is a waking nightmare. There are those who walk among us, like drifter Cameron Vale, who need only twitch their eyebrows in order to control human minds and bodies in the 1981 horror-thriller “Scanners.” But it ain’t all stuffed burritos and kinky sexy for old Vale.

Of the four billion people on earth in 1981, 237 are Scanners – freaks with the ability to connect their mind and nervous systems to both man and machine. During Scanning, Scanners can read people’s thoughts, control their actions, and, if the mood strikes, even cause their head to explode.

Unable to control the constant voices he hears, Vale had been eking out a living eating discarded hotdogs in malls and ogling old women with sexy legs. Thankfully, we have caring mega-corporations to take care of our street folk.
Canadian weapons and security corporation ConSec (Ohhh, Canada, scary!) forcefully takes in Vale, and gives him a drug that helps him control his Scanning. Then he gets the rundown. He is not the lone Scanner. In fact, there is a large network of the super-humans currently forming underground, with world domination on their revved up brains. ConSec originally tried to work with these Scanners, but after a little mishap with a blown-up scientist, the most powerful scanner in the group, Darryl Revok, revolted and started his own Scan-gang.
ConSec convinces Vale to turn double-agent, infiltrate Revok’s Scanner group, and kill him before he uses his powers to take over the world.

It is a battle of the wits in the 1981 chiller “Scanners.”

Scanners is written and directed by highly underrated director David Cronenberg, a genre master of such horror greats as “The Dead Zone” and “The Fly” remake. Body-horror is Cronenberg’s specialty. While some horror writers go for masked killers or atomic monsters as their villains, Cronenberg recognizes our biggest fear and hatred rests with our own mind and bodies. Disease and deformation strike horror in every man’s heart. We are a vain society, obsessed with looking and thinking perfect. Cronenberg continually exploits these feelings, bringing scares through images of body metamorphosis and hidden insanity. His horror is organic, personal, and terrifying.

What is scarier? An insane ax-wielding manic running toward a helpless heroine, or a mind-controlling psychopath using his powers to extract a man’s eyes from his sockets? You know, eye’s get the RDHP every time.

Scanners isn’t as deep as many of Cronenberg’s other films. There is some commentary about the out-of-control tactics of corporate drug manufacturers. Maybe even a few lessons about the mind's relation to the body.

But above all else, this is a popcorn flick exploring what would happen if a thoroughbred psycho had the power to control and destroy human minds.
Watch, but take note. This flick will blow your mind. Yes! Puns are fun!

RDHP Ratings:
C-Rating: 3.4
Chris Dimick speaks: "Scanners was good, but not great. First, the bad news. The acting was horrrrrrrible at parts, and I'm still not very convinced by that ending. But, there are some great reasons to watch Scanners as well. First, the story is incredible. Another masterpiece from director David Cronenberg, written as only he could. Second, while the acting is bad, the directing saves the movie, still managing to build tension and mood surrounding the unpredictable Scanners. And come on, who doesn't love to see a head explode via telepathy?!"

N-Rating: 3.2
Nick Rich speaks: "I too thought that Scanners was missing something... maybe it just had the great misfortune to follow "M". I enjoyed Scanners and taking a spin down its twisting, 70's-licious turns (i.e. the hair, clothes and make-up on both men and women) leading towards a freaky-deeky ending. But, I wasn't truly romanced by this film. Sure, there were moments that almost blew my mind (sorry I had too :P) and normally I enjoy slow burn films, and part of me did in this case. But more of me wanted the action in this movie to come out of the closet. Thinking back, there was quite a bit of action in this flick... but for some reason it didn't feel like there was a lot... maybe it was the Scanners desensitizing me to their nefarious plot!
The Skinny: watching Scanners gives you the same feeling as hanging out with a mustached man from the 70's - uncomfortable, yet strangely entranced so you remain to see what he will say next."

Clip of the Viewing: I've got a head-ache THIS BIG!

Things RDHP learned from Scanners:
- If you drill a hole in your head to let out “the voices,” cover the wound with a bandage that looks like an eye. It totally fools the voices from coming back in through the head hole.
- Everything is cleaner in Canada, even their homeless people!
- Toronto has an extraordinary amount of mind-controlling Scanners. Must be the combo of cold weather and maple syrup.
- Insane people can be cured via the magic of "art."
- If doubting how to kill a Scanner, always grab for the fully automatic assault shotgun (apparently everyone has one in Toronto).
- Local labor union laws state you need hire a certain percentage of the local "talent" for Canadian shot films. These people add "flavor" to films shot abroad (See the breakout performance of Vale, the main character in Scanners).
- There is no better place for a lounging area than a giant, decapitated head sculpture.
- If veins are rising up out of your face during a Scanner battle, follow Mom’s advice and don’t pick at them.

Things RDHP would do if they were Scanners:
- Get free Slurpees from the local 7-11 Apu.
- Go to the UN and make the assembly do a massive version of "Who's on first?"
- Make that douche-bag from IT walk around the office with his pants down.
- Make people randomly burst out in song and dance a la Disney.
- Force Coca-Cola executives to put their product back in large glass bottles.
- Get Congress to pass a national “Dick-Off Day” in honor of slacking off.
- Stop women from constantly looking at our luscious legs. Our eyes are up here ladies!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

There are 4 billion people on earth. 237 are Scanners. They have the most terrifying powers ever created... and they GOT CHRIS!!!

Horror of horrors (and seeing as this is a horror blog I do mean horrors)!! The Rich-Dimick Horror Project had to postpone their 12/15/09 viewing of Scanners due to infection!

Part of the reason Nick and Chris live in U.S. cities so far from each other is so they can have advance warning should the Zombie Apocalypse break out in their prospective regions. Anyone with a lick o' sense will see the logic in this - should an Asian or Central/South America outbreak occur it would quickly migrate to San Diego (where Nick is ever vigil) and if there is ever a European or African outbreak, Chicago, hub of international travel that it is, will most certainly attract oodles of illness (where Chris stands steadfast)!

That being said, I feel compelled to warn everyone that there is a potential outbreak in Chicago! Yes dear readers, as you gaze upon these words The Rich-Dimick Horror Project's very own Chris Dimick is battling off a bitter infection! Little is known at this point as to the infection's origin... but Chris's penchant for eating pigs that solely feed on other pigs makes one wonder if it is the dreaded swi-er, H1N1! (I almost forgot we can't call it swine flu anymore!)

In honor of the harrowing battle Chris is presently engaging in, I have decided to share my

Top 5 Zombie Apocalypse (ZA) Films:

#5. The Omega Man: Charlton Heston teaches us that all one needs to survive the ZA is inept afro'd ghouls, a sassy sista who rules at freeze tag and the ability to be shirtless a much as possible!

#4. Sean of The Dead: If Simon Pegg has shown us anything in this film (besides what NOT to do in a relationship) it's that friendship is forever... even when it begins to stink.

#3. 28 Days Later: Before Danny Boyle went all Bollywood on us, he was making useful films that illustrate how extremist hippies will end civilization as we know it.

#2. Dawn of The Dead (2004): I never tire of watching Zack Snyder's more brawn, less braaaaiinnsss remake - this film solidified that yes, zombies can be fast!

#1. Dawn of The Dead (1978): George A. Romero's masterpiece makes me long for the day the ZA begins! No other film can make you want to live in a dismal, depressing zombie-infested-oh-I-just-had-to-shoot-my-best-friend-in-the-head-world quite like this one... if you haven't seen it, watch it. Now.

Take my advice and add these movies to your Netflix queues before it's too late... because who knows? Chris could be rising from the dead and feasting on his lovely bride as we speak! ZA notwithstanding the RDHP will be back on track next week. Till then: courage.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Flim #4: M (1931)

YOU are the child murder! I can just tell by lookin’ at ya!
“POLICE! POLICE! I FOUND THEM! The person reading this blog is the KILLER!”

Oh, sorry about that. I’m sure you wouldn’t hurt an ant. Seems the RDHP still hasn’t escaped the hysteria that also engulfs Berlin in the film, “M” (1931). A serial child killer can’t stop hacking up little Ava’s, and the city goes mad with suspicion by accusing every Franz Six-pack of committing the crimes. With each murder the city folk grow more paranoid, enraged, and terrified, only heightened by the fact that the police are literally clueless (this killer is careful to leave nothing but his chilling whistling behind as evidence).

The incessant, random police raids on homeless shelters and brothels in their search for the killer eventually motivates the criminal element of the city to join in the hunt. After all, how can a guy make an honest living stealing wallets and pimpin’ hoes when the cops-filled streets keep cutting into business!
The killer knows the heat is on, but he just can’t seem to quell those juicy feelings that come with child murder. Ohhhhhhh, it feels so good!

Soon the low and high classes of society take matters into their own hands, and decide to do whatever it takes to track the insatiable maniacal killer in the 1931 classic chiller “M.”

Though he had directed a dozen silent films prior, “M” was director Fritz Lang’s first movie with sound.
This fact shows, as portions of the film take place in haunting silence, without a single note of soundtrack to distract the mind. The quiet nature of the film adds to the suspense and realism of the plot. Scenes stretch out too long, people do mundane things in blank soundscapes. It sounds boring. But this quirky element is both disengaging and compelling as a viewer. It is real life, which is not always full of whitty banter and John Williams orchestras. The realism Lang portrays makes you feel like you are one of those city folks, just waiting for that perverted killer to take your daughter.

This is a serial killer movie, but don’t expect Silence of the Lambs. There is no junk-tucking or liver eating in M. In fact, all the murder is done by innuendo (which I hear hurts even more!).
But this horror movie has a couple strange things rattling around inside it… a brain and a soul.

First, the soul. Peter Lorre, whom you probably know from old caricatures in Bugs Bunny cartoons, gives an amazing performance as the frumpy, pathetically sick killer. It is hard to believe this is his first starring role. You won’t even breathe during his speech about why he murders rugrats -- it is that purely engrossing.

Second, the brain. This is more than just a movie made to justify child-leashes. The film discusses social classes and how, when it comes to justice, there is no difference between the criminal, the beggar, and the police chief. It challenges mob mentality, and how fear leads to paranoia, which leads to rash acts (Hello, Jews anyone, this movie was shot at the beginning of the rise of the Third Reich!).
It questions whether mentally ill people – like the killer – should be pitied and treated, or admonished and eradicated.

A horror movie sparking discussions about class and mental illness!? This one is excellent, playas, but I’d have to say it is not perfect. Fellas, beware, there are no bouncing boobs in this movie. Shame on you, Fritz. Don’t you know horror?

RDHP Ratings:
C-Rating: 4
Chris Dimick declares: "See this movie if you like slow paced thrillers that make you think. Don't see this movie if you want to see a Hostel-like showcase of the seven ways to cut up children. Prefering the former, I found this a good one. It was not so much 'scary' in the classic sense of jump-shocks and gore. But it was terrifying to watch how madness can drive a man to murder, and how murder can drive a city to madness. Though some may find the slow parts soothing, I found several sections borrrrrrrrrrrring. I mean, come on, this could have been tighented a bit even for 1931. One point deducted for the turtle pace."

N-Rating: 4.8 (not a 5.0 because there were a few moments I didn't fully enjoy)
Nick Rich declares: "Powerful, simply powerful. I found M to be our best viewing thus far! I was instantly engrossed in the story from the first shot. Count me guilty as one of "those" Chris mentioned finding the slow parts "soothing"... they really let you stew in the helplessness of the situation you were watching unfold - priceless! You won't find a modern film being made in such a way, which made it feel so fresh, different and engaging to me. Speaking of fresh, I found the absence of the present day "staples" of horror (i.e. nudity, profanity, extreme violence) made this film all the more impressive. M didn't have to distract me with those flashy staples... it went straight for the jugular of true terror: one's feeling of utter and complete helplessness - especially when it comes to one's child! M is a lot like the problems you face in life... they move slowly in the beginning as you try to ignore them, only to speed up to a visceral, neck-breaking fervor once they can no longer be denied. And rest assured... M will not be denied!
Hey Chris, what's that on your shoulder?"

Quote of the Viewing:
Nick: “What kind of little girl blindly goes down the street with a stranger and lets him put his arm around her?”
Chris: “A really slutty little girl.”

Five Things We Learned from Watching "M":
- Cops carry around newspaper clippings describing crimes and reference them often during their investigations of the incident.
- German children love to sing about child killers. They think it is funny.
- If you are going to rape and murder children, don’t whistle prior to the act! The blind are always listening.
- Beggars are unionized and before the advent of cellular technology served as a means of instantaneous communication - I believe they called it the 3B Network! Take that AT&T!
- There's a reason you never see filmmakers use fully framed shots of people working at their desks from the under the desk. It produces an eye-full of man-package. Ew.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Film #3: Dead Alive (1992)

Gore-ifying: One word to describe the sickeningly bloody adventure that is Dead Alive. So much red goo poured out of our flat-screens that the RDHP had to change their socks after viewing.
All you gore hounds, take note. This one will finally shock you.

In between the eye-popping, limb-hacking and disemboweling, a plot tries take shape. Set in 1950s New Zealand (now THAT is an original setting) the story revolves around Lionel Cosgrove, a wimpy cross between Norman Bates and Principal Skinner. Lionel seems to have left his balls inside MOTHER upon birth, because she orders him around worse than a fat chick talking to a baker.

Early in the movie, Lionel is sent to fetch some groceries from the local store, where he meets clerk Paquita, a saucy gypsy-esque "foreigner" who immediately states Lionel is her one true love (as indicated from a previous tarot card reading with grandma). It takes awhile, but Lionel finally gets up the nerve to ask Paquita out on a date to the zoo. But MOTHER is close behind, spying on her object. While hiding next to an animal cage, a rabid monkey chomps down on MOTHER's old-ass arm. This was no ordinary bite, as MOTHER soon turns into the living dead and begins infecting half the town.

Lionel is too p-whipped by mum to put her down, so he starts stashing her and the rest of the infected in his basement.
It is up to Lionel to finally stand up to MOTHER in order to quell the zombification of the village. But will he have the guts to stop her, AND score with Paquita?!

Dead Alive sets a new high bar for gore in a horror movie. Sure, it is a zombie movie, so it's bound to be bloody. But director Peter Jackson (yep, THAT Peter Jackson) doesn't stick to the lame cliches of mere brain smashing and limb chopping. The zombies literally fall apart in this movie, even before the hacking/slashing begins.

There were more than a few audible "Ughhhhhhhhs!" in disgust by the RDHP during this viewing. Rare squealing from two horror vets? Bravo Jackson.

"Kills" are an important part of any horror movie. Creative death scenes are what make a horror audience (s)cream. In Dead Alive, no two zombies or survivors are mutilated the same. In fact, though gory as hell, many of the scenes are just so creative you forget to puke. This variety keeps an audience member engaged through the sometimes lengthy zombie vs. survivor fight scenes. For example, a demon baby birthed after two zombies make whoopee actually crawls through a victim and emerges by pulling apart her head, his babyface slowly emerging between her lips. WTF?!
You just can't wait to see how the next monster (human or zombie) will meet its horrific demise!

This is zomedy at its best, and bloodiest.

RDHP Ratings:
C-Rating: 4.8
Chris Dimick proclaims: "Dead Alive is one of the best zombie movies of all time. The gore reaches pure insanity, and drenches the brain until all one can do is laugh. The film misses a perfect 5 though, as the plot is near "'tarded" ridiculous (Note: If your mother turns into a zombie, don't feed her poison, it will just make her stronger). But, this flick isn't trying for an Oscar. The point was to be gross and funny. Dead Alive was gross and funny. Golf claps for P. Jackson!"

N-Rating: 3.5
Nick Rich proclaims: "Two days after watching this flick and I still don't know how to feel, which in and of itself says something! After the credits began to roll, the only word I could muster to describe what I had seen was bizarre. I can't recall ever feeling this way about a movie... I was left with the distinct feeling that I would enjoy the movie on second viewing (0.5), but didn't feel like I had the opportunity to do so on the first(3.0). I suspect this was because the execution of the story and pervasiveness of the effects were so different from anything I had seen before that all my mind could do was "watch" the film and not necessarily "enjoy" it. Strangely enough I kinda felt this way about my wife when I first met her - I felt drawn to see her again, so much so that it superseded the option of liking her. Bizarre.

P.S. My favorite zombie moment was the "light incapacitation" - there's a nightlight for the kiddies!"

What We Learned From the Viewing:

Sleepwear Note of the Viewing/Quote of the Viewing:
Priests sleep in their little white collars. Guess you never know when you need to dole out some preaching, or some whoop-tush. Check out this guy, he "kicks ass for the Lord!"