The House of the Devil (2009) - A wonderfully delightful surprise from writer director Ti West. The throwback to a period when horror movies built up to an overpowering dread is captured in this well done little film. The story is simple, in the 1980's a young college women, Samantha (Jocelin Donahue) has a need to earn some cash quickly. She calls for a sitter job at a house in the country that will solve her financial problems. Things are not quite how she envisioned them when she arrives to meet the couple, Mr and Mrs Ulman (Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov) they are strange but not too scary. Instead of sitting for kids she will be minding the house with the old mother upstairs. She negotiates a good price and sends her friend Megan (Greta Gerwig)home until the end of the job and settles in for a night of studying. Megan never arrives home and Samantha is a bit creeped out by the house, it builds and the reveals are well done to keep the tension growing. When the finale arrives the action is quick and well done. The ending is unexpected but follows the movie title well. Building off the satanic cult themes that were rampant in the eighties Ti West crafts a perfectly fitting story. Being a teenager in the 80s I had a real appreciation for the feel of the movie and the slow burn it is. The newer flash and cut method of film making sometimes gets on my nerves but West doesn't do that he brings us along on Samantha's ride without trying to shock us every two seconds. I was so impressed that I actually watch the movie a second time to make sure I was not creating a fantasy about it. Sure enough it is a solid horror movie that truly pays homage to the era it is set in.
The opening of this film we are introduced to Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser) who we think is a killer as we get to see him aim a gun at a trucker before breaking and starting a scene to introduce our two female leads Lindsey (Ashley C. Williams) and Jenny (Ashlynn Yennie). They are two American girls on a walk about in Europe and preparing to head to a party in the German countryside. This leads to the inevitable flat tire and then leaving the vehicle because there is no cell phone service to look for a house to call for help. They stumble upon Dr. Heiters home and he invites them in in his strange and off putting way. He says he will call for the rent a car service people but fakes the call from the other room while drugging the water he gets for the girls. When they are captured and drugged and then wake up they are in restraints, and laying with the big old trucker in what looks like an operating room. Scared and crying they watch in horror as the trucker is killed because as the Doctor says "One of these thing does not match. So next we have the doctor arriving with a new body of a young Japanese man Katsuro (Akihiro Kitamura), who has been tranquilizer darted. Now that all three parts have been procured Heiter explains to them that he is formerly the leading doctor for separating Siamese twins but now he wants to do the reverse. He wants to create a human centipede. He will attach the lips of one to the ass of the other and so forth creating a living human centipede with a singular digestive tract.
Naturally the captives are horrified and Lindsey successfully frees herself but not being able to bring herself to leave her friend she is recaptured and is promised the middle spot for the trouble she caused. The operation proceeds and it is a nasty thing this guy does, cutting knee tendons so the victims can't stand and attaching Lindsey's face to the ass of Katsuro while attaching Jenny's Face to Lindsey's behind. Absolute gross to look at we are subjected to the doctor then trying to train them like a dog. We get the requisite shitting in Lindsey's mouth scene and then the climax, when a couple of cops investigating the disappearance of the girls in the area find the doctor strange. I won't discuss the actual ending but I was left feeling like redemption of any kind was never in the plans for any character in this film. So strange and disturbing just talking to my wife about it left her with nightmares. A passing grade for the shocking grossness of the idea but really the film does not have any character paths that grow, only suffering so in the end not a great movie. Rating (5.2)
Revenge of the Creature (1955) - A year after the Creature from the Black Lagoon scared audiences with a new type of monster, director Jack Arnold brought the creature back for a second round. The fact that the creature appeared to die at the end of the first movie just was not enough from bring it back again. This time new actors, capture and bring the creature back to southern Florida as a amusement attraction. Creating the tried and true relationship triangle this time around are John Agar, Lori Nelson, and John Bromfield, all studying and trying to train the creature. This film had several logical flaws in it. The creature is caught in the heart of the Amazon but is brought to and deposited into a saltwater tank with sharks and the such. It seemed these scientists really did not think about what they were doing. The creature revived like a salmon in a stream proceeds to attack everyone in site but no one had the foresight to see this coming? Then it escapes again into the ocean and news reports track it heading south, but it tracks our stars for some revenge instead of staying free. In the end it the final scene is exactly the same as the first film. Few underwater shots outside the aquarium tank and a more confusingly silly plot leave this second out wanting.
Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) - Dr. David Reed (Richard Carlson) and is fiance and assistant Kay Lawrence (Julie Adams) are brought into the search for a fossil of a strange part humanoid part fish creature. Financially backed by Kay's former boyfriend Dr. Mark Williams (Richard Denning) the three and other Red shirts head deep into the Amazon searching for the fossil. What they find is the legend of the black lagoon and the creature, the gill man that still lives there. Driven to make the greatest capture in history, Williams commands the plans for capturing the creature. Things go poorly and even after the initial capture the creature is too strong to be held. Now the survivors must fight for their lives while trying to escape down river. First though they must remove the barricade that has blocked their way. Someone must enter the water, remove the trees blocking the way and risk confrontation from the creature. IN the end sadly the creature is killed along with five members of the starting crew.
This film is a favorite. It is really a sad tale and a love triangle and the outcome leaves no doubt who was meant to be the lead in what initially looks like a film with more than one lead. Julie Adams is worth fighting over in this, the beautiful actress who is still working as late as 2008 is captivating. The story has a very modern pace and their is very little slow time in this film. The creature is great and the underwater scenes are clear and top of the line water photography. An exceptional movie that stands the test of time. I look forward to see what they do with the remake in 2011.
The Descent: Part 2 - The original The Descent was a horror revelation with its all women cast, dark and terrifying confines and scary and menacing monsters. Now four years later we have the sequel, starting just after the American ending in which Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) makes it out of the cave system we open with the search for the women at the cave they were supposed to have explored before Juno switched things up. Hard nosed and headed sheriff Vaines (Gavan O'Herlihy) forces Sarah, who says she can't remember what happened down there, back into the cave system with a rescue team, himself and officer Rios (Krysten Cummings). The scenes that set this up are poorly written with a mine entrance as the access. To get there the sheriff send a deputy with a dog to pick up Sarah's trail, but we know from the first film that she did not come out a mine entrance and thus there is no way the dog could pick her scent up there. It is just an excuse to have a way back down with out revealing too much about the creatures to come.
There is quite a bit of this clunky screenwriting, and example is before they go down the lead rescuer Dan (Douglas Hodge) asks the cops to leave their guns behind because of the danger of a shot causing a collapse down in the caves. Naturally Mr hard head Vaines keeps his gun and you can guess what happens in the cave. Even worse is when they get to that scene Dan points out some rocks and how it looks unstable right before the gunshot starts the collapse scene. grrrrr...
In the caves they quickly have trouble and soon stumble upon the creatures who are meaner and maybe not so soft as they were in the first movie. We also get to see the dead bodies of two of the cavers from the first movie. Sarah remembers and soon turns into the fierce fighter we saw at the end of the first movie. Remarkably the cave experts are all killed off first leaving Sarah, Vaines and Rois fighting for their lives while looking for a way out. They then run into Juno (Natalie Mendoza) who is still alive even after the last movie left her surrounded by creatures and wounded. What a fighter that Juno is! There are some bigger and harder fought encounters from the first movie and the gore factor was increased for the sequel. In the end there is a twist that certainly is setting up for part three so watch your straight to DVD review sites for that. Overall the film is a poor little sister to the first movie lacking a singular vision or writing creativity that make you care about the characters.
Rating (3.2) Skip it , no really, not worth the trouble.
The Bare Wench Project 2: Scared Topless - It is what it says it is really a movie styled after the Blair Witch project with topless women. The story pics up with Nikki (Nikki Fritz) out looking for her twin sister who never came back from the original Bare Wench Project. I have never seen that one so I can't tell you about it. The one who does give a repeat performance is Lunk (Lenny Juliano)who only remembers entering a cave and seeing a bright white light and then waking up in his motel room. He is there primarily to add whiny oohs and ahs when the girls are performing, and to carry a couple empty backpacks around. They are after all camping while hiking through the woods in there search. The women are attractive for the most part and the legend of the bare wench seems to include that she can't get them if they all take there tops off. So there are many scenes of what appear to be badly ab libbed or bare bones dialog enhance with ab libbing while going topless. The women include Samantha Phillips, a music video queen and actress. Arban Ornelas who later would be Vampirella. The lovely Juliet Cariaga, and Alexus Winston and a special appearance of legend Julie Strain as the Bare Wench.
After many sessions of removed tops and walking around the woods they come to the cave where Lunk saw the light. From there the story takes an extraterrestrial turn. The plot though is not the point of this movie, I am not sure guys getting off is the point either as mostly the story and plot just get you really annoyed. I will leave you with a teaser though. Chocolate syrup orgasms.