Tuesday 23 April 2013

The Lords of Salem (2012)

Rob Zombie caused a lot of controversy within the horror community and caused quite a split in opinion with his vision of Halloween I and II. Where as his first two films, House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects where received a lot better. I personally, am a fan of his work (more so his films than his music) and was looking forward to seeing what original project he would do next. I've been following the progress of The Lords of Salem since it was first announced way back in September 2010.

When it was first screened on the festival circuit, again, it had a lot of mixed reviews. This was something I was expecting, so it didn't put me off in pre-ordering the DVD on April 9th as it was to be released April 22nd here in the UK. This came as great news because, in both the UK and the US, it was only to receive a very limited theatrical run.

Needless to say, my copy arrived yesterday morning and I sat down to watch it last night.

The movie starts with an introduction to the original coven of Salem witches back in 1696. Margaret Morgan (Meg Foster) is the head of the heretic coven and is leading the group of six in a naked frenzy of Santanic worship. Cut to present day, Heidi Hawthorne (Sheri Moon Zombie), a recovering addict, is waking up and starting another day DJing on the radio along with fellow members of the Big H Radio Team, Herman 'Whitey' Salvador (Jeffrey Daniel Phillips) and Herman Jackson (Ken Foree). Before leaving the apartment, she notices that someone has moved into apartment number 5. Heidi says hello, but is ignored.

After a long day at work, the three of them are ready to head home. On the way out past reception, Heidi has a wooden box waiting for her which contains a record by a band called The Lords. She takes it home to listen to. Upon listening to it, Heidi is put into a trance like state and we are thrown back to 1696 and witness more of the witch's ritual.

The next day on the radio show, the three hosts are interviewing the author of 'Satan's Last Stand - The Truth About The Salen Witch Trials,' Francis Matthias (Bruce Davison). At the end of the interview, the record that Heidi received the day before is played over the airwaves and catches the attention of Francis, among other listeners.

That same evening, as Heidi arrives back tat her apartment, she is invited to share a glass of wine with the landlady Lacy (Judy Geeson) and her friends Megan (Patricia Quinn) and Sonny (Dee Wallace). After being freaked out by the trio of elderly ladies, Heidi heads up to her own apartment to get her down in bed. Her wake is interrupted by her own coughing and while getting up to get a drink she notices that her dog is outside barking at the door of number 5. She retrieves the dog, but then investigates what's behind the door inside apartment 5. This is where things start to take a turn for the worse and Heidi's life starts to spiral downward into the bizarre, with disturbing visions at the hands of dark forces.

Right, not everyone will like or appreciate what Rob Zombie has done here and that includes his fans. It's very different from his previous work. I, on the other hand, did like it! If you buy the UK DVD, just be aware that there are no special features. You can order it here.

My only major gripe with it was the fact that, once again, Sheri Moon Zombie is in a predominant role. However great she's been in past roles, she just isn't strong enough to lead the film. Luckily she's surrounded by a solid and experienced cast. Meg Foster especially was brilliant . Every time she was on screen she gave me the creeps!

The film is very weird throughout. But with that comes some stunning imagery and fantastic cinematography underlined by a superbly foreboding score. With the the two elements of score and visuals mixed together, parts of the movie reminded me a little of Stanley Kubrick's work. The whole movie is very "art house" and also has a 70s feel to it and at one point I was even reminded of John Milius's Conan the Barbarian (1982)! Yes, strange, I know.

This is more than a simple horror movie. Rob Zombie's disturbing vision filled the screen with every scene and was accompanied by an equally disturbing score from newcomer composer Griffin Boice and long time metal guitarist John 5.

The Lords of Salem is 4 stars

Check out the trailer below...

Saturday 20 April 2013

Evil Dead (2013)

I have to start off by saying that I was never a massive fan of the original The Evil Dead. Yes, I know, I can hear the boos from here! However, I did like it and thought it was enjoyable, despite it's campiness, and accept it's cult classic status. The 2013 version felt more of a re-imagining than an all out remake though.

I also accept that whatever and however this movie turned out to be there was always going to be fans of the original that hate it, whether for genuine reasons or the fact that they are arseholes that are just going to hate because it's "a remake and all remakes suck" and they like to piss and moan about remakes bla bla fucking bla!

There will be a certain amount of spoilers, but lets face it, it's based on the original, we know what's going to happen, and quite frankly, if you haven't seen the original being of the generation that should, then you need shooting!

Anyway, I digress, back to the film...

The opening scene sets the mood straight away with a young girl being chased through the woods. She's caught by a couple of backwoods hicks and dragged to a cabin, tied up to a post and set on fire. I'll leave the small details out as to not completely spoil it, but let's say it's a good start to the proceeding.

It then cuts to present time, as the main cast is arriving at a cabin in the woods, which is actually an old family getaway that belongs to Mia (Jane Levy) and David (Shiloh Fernandez). Along with the two sibling is David's girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) and old friends Olivia (Jessica Lucas) and Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci). They are all gathered to help Mia kick her drug addiction as she attempts to go cold turkey.

A few hours pass as they all try to settle in the cabin and the symptoms of cold turkey start to hit Mia. She complains of a smell that is driving her nuts and eventually David finds a trap door under a rug. They go down into the darkness to investigate. What they find creeps them all out! However, Eric finds something far more interesting. No prizes for guessing what it is though. It is of course Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, an ancient Sumerian text, or simply The Book of the Dead.

Needless to say, being somewhat of a geeky teacher, Eric sits down and studies his way through the book and without realising he unleashes the forces of hell. Let the fun begin...

"Why don't you come down here and let me suck your cock, pretty boy"
Let's get the negative points out of the way first. The plot is rather thin and even with the good opening scene it felt a little weak in the build up as there's not a great deal of character development other than Mia and David. You never really get attached to the characters in order to care about them so I found myself waiting for the real action to start which is nearly half the movie. That said Mia does come into her own as the movie goes on.

The second half of the movie totally makes up for any and all weakness that the film began with. The further the film progressed, Jane Levy's performance went from strength to strength. We see Mia as her normal self, pre-cold turkey, to the ill effects of cold turkey, to the full on possessed and back again, which led her to be a pretty damn good final girl. In fact, the acting all round was solid, there was no weak links.

With the great score and the set up to the more notable scenes, it was a genuinely creepy movie. Some of the more gory scenes could possibly make you uncomfortable. Now, the gore, this is what makes this such an awesome film. With barely any CGI, the VFX are absolutely fantastic which makes for a more realistic and enjoyable viewing. And because of that, this is possibly the most bloody and gory horror I've seen to date!

I give great credit to Fede Alvarez for his direction. He went his own way with the his script, but still threw in a few nods to the original, although that had more to do with Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell. Each character even had a little "ASH" in them, which was great.

Despite the slow start and the little faults, I'm still going to give this the rating I'm going to give. Why? Because it was that enjoyable! After watching the movie, I mentioned this yesterday on Maven's Movie Vault of Horror on facebook, but I'm going to go the full hog and say it here - Evil Dead is the best modern remake I've see to date! Whatever you do, stay through ALL the credits, right to the very end, even when the credits disappear. You'll find it groovy!

Evil Dead gets 5 stars

Check out the clip below...

Monday 8 April 2013

Music in Horror - Scores & Original Soundtracks Part 2

In Part 1 I covered my favourite genre of music in horror, which of course is Heavy Metal (read Part 1 here).

This time I'm going to share some songs outside of the Metal genre, although most are still under the Rock umbrella.

I'll start of the proceedings with two vampire movies. John Carpenter's Vampires (read my review here) and From Dusk Till Dawn.

First up, the Vampires theme song...

Next is Tito & Tarantula - After Dark...

Th 1996 we saw the slasher genre rise back to it's former glory days of the 80s with Wes Craven's Scream. It broke and rewrote the rules of horror and I believe it's one of the most important films in modern horror, as it was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise dull decade. It brought the die hard fans and the mainstream fans together and revitalised the genre.

Running through the original trilogy is one song that went so perfectly well with all three movie.

Here's Red Right Hand by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds...

Now onto the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead.

Zack Snyder's take on George A. Romero's classic zombie film is probably one of the best remakes out there. The intro to the movie is accompanied by Johnny Cash's The Man Comes Around. Check it out...

Now for something completely different. One of my favourite movies of 2012 which had an awesome soundtrack and score. Here's American Mary (read my review here) with a bit of Dubstep...

Back to my favourite sub-genre of vampires now. Here's another two films that I love. 80s classic The Lost Boys and a bit of a hidden gem from 2009, Suck (read my review here).


Here's Cry Little Sister from The Lost Boys...

And a great video which doubles as a trailer, Burning Brides with Flesh And Bone from Suck...

I can't complete the list without mentioning a foreign horror film, so here's We As Human with the Martyrs Theme song...

The list would be incomplete without this next song. Remember the ever so unsettling and disturbing scene from The Silence of the Lambs (1991)? You know the one! That's right, it's Buffalo Bill's Dance to Goodbye Horses by Q Lazarus. Check it out...

I've saved, what I consider, the best for last, one of the best scenes in horror movie history. It's one of the best not just because of what happens in the scene, but because the amazing Lynyrd Skynyrd's Free Bird is also playing throughout the entire scene.

"I am the devil, and I am here to do the devil's work"
 With this comes a massive SPOILER! So if you haven't seen the ending to Rob Zombie's The Devil's Rejects, look away now...

 That wraps up Part 2. Keep your eyes out for Part 3 which will be coming soon!

Sources - Wiki, Amazon, YouTube.