Amusement Review

Amusement (2008)

Starring: Keir O'Donnell, Katheryn Winnick, Laura Breckenridge
Directed by: John Simpson

So, for those who don't know, I've signed up for NaNoWriMo or the National Novel Writing Month. From November 1st to the 30th is a run to put out the first draft of your novel, approximately 50,000 words. Basically, this means I'm going to have a long month ahead of me, but it'll be for the best. The plan is to shotgun more focus into No Dreams For Henry and see what may come of it.

But on another note, today we're looking at the title, Amusement. This title I was a bit skeptical about to begin with, but I like clowns, so it was worth giving it a shot.

Amusement is the bizarre tale of three female friends who are stalked by a killer bent on revenge from an incident reaching back into their childhoods.

Like I said a second ago, this movie is bizarre. There's a great opening sequence in which one of the girls is kidnapped. There is a cameo by actor Kevin Gage (known for Dee Snider's Strangeland and the gore fest, Laid To Rest) as the truck driver that I truly enjoyed. The following scene with the clown is by far one of my favorite creep out moments in a movie. From there, Amusement takes a little bit of a different approach to providing the creep. Switching from the scary clown to a house that approaches Bat Cave levels of "what the fuck??" magnitudes.

I did find the film a bit weird to follow, but ultimately it was glued together pretty decently. Just about every scene in the movie is enough to give you a bit of a chill. Just creepy enough to keep you plowing through. When it wasn't quite creepy, it was good exposition.

The pacing and editing in Amusement is done pretty well. As said before, a little weird, but still well done. To be honest, it plays out almost like how one would play an indie survival horror game. As a matter of fact, I'd love to see someone make a survival horror game based off of this movie. Get on it, code monkeys!!

Easily, the character I liked the most in this film was "The Laugh", played by Keir O'Donnell. This was a character that reminded me somewhat of the Joker, albeit in a far off way. I felt the performance was done fantastically and he definitely got across the bizarre and creepy nature of the character. The rest of the characters in the movie were great. The three leading characters, Shelby, Lisa and Tabitha, are all gorgeous and easy on the eyes, which helps in a macabre movie like this.

There are no nudity scenes so don't expect any peek-a-boo tit shots or shower scenes.

The atmosphere in Amusement is pretty dark and sickening. The worst of it is when Lisa (Jessica Lucas) is captured. The inside of the "hotel" is dirty and nasty. Next to the clown scene, this was probably my favorite.

Amazingly, for a movie like this, there isn't a lot of blood and gore. There are some dead bodies and a really good punch dagger scene later in the movie, but the best gore...well, I won't spoil it as it's part of a twist towards the end. The flashback scene involving the mouse was good and nasty. Unfortunately, though, there's not a lot of real gore or nastiness in the film.

I will say, I was surprised by this film. It was creepier than I'd really expected and more enjoyable than I'd originally given it credit. If you suffer from coulrophobia or the fear of clowns, this movie may not be the best choice for you, but ultimately, I'd suggest Amusement for any horror freak out there. It's a decent flick that's worth the ride.




Special Effects

Overall Rating: Amusingly Nasty

Norman Reedus Isn't Dead...

For those worried The Walking Dead has been cancelled, fret not. It's just a hoax. All is well. Norman Reedus isn't dead. Here's a link about it:

Here's another one:

I won't lie, though, this whole debacle made me want to start actually watching the show. Maybe I will. What say you guys?

Diablo 2 Review

Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction (2000/2001)

Developed by: Blizzard North
Published by: Blizzard Entertainment

I may not be a WoW player, but I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Blizzard. In the realms of MMORPG's, this is one I essentially cut my teeth on. Today we're looking at the monster hit, Diablo 2 and its expansion, Lord of Destruction.

Diablo 2 takes off after the events of the original 1996 game, Diablo. Tristram is destroyed. A mysterious wanderer, the unnamed warrior who defeated Diablo previously, has attempted to contain the demonic Lord of Terror's essence within his own body, but unfortunately has become corrupted. Now, demons and monsters are able to enter the world of Sanctuary and wreak havoc.

Diablo 2 is a point-and-click hand and slash action rpg that is still after all this time addictive and fun. The storyline itself honestly is almost negligible, save for the fact that you get 6 specific quests per act to complete to be able to move on to the next area. Not all quests need to be finished, just the main story plot quests. The additional quests simply provide various benefits like extra stat points and skill points. At the very least, though, if you are one to listen to the few townspeople that populate each act, there is a pretty good story that plays out with a decent amount of lore to be had. Also, there are the occasional cutscenes that still look great and add a good amount of flavor to the game.

In the basic game, there are four acts to complete: The Rogues' Camp, The Eastern Desert, The Jungles of Kurast and finally Hell, where you do battle with the Lord of Terror, Diablo. The expansion adds the fifth and final act, Harrogoth, where you take on Baal and his minions.

To complete these Acts, there are five basic character classes to choose from: The Amazon, Sorceress, Necromancer, Paladin and Barbarian. The expansion adds the Druid and Assassin to the mix. Each class has a certain set of weapons it is more proficient with (e.g.: Paladins are great with maces, Necromancers are great with wands and daggers, etc), but at the cost of some attack speed, you can use any weapon type as any class.

Much like games such as Borderlands, there are a ridiculous amount of mods that can spawn on weapons and armor, making drops plentiful. Also, much like Borderlands, based on your character class, you'll be ignoring about 95% of those item drops in lieu of specific mods that fit your play style. This has lead to some very interesting builds that have worked way better than one could expect. Take this Enchantress (a Sorceress specialized in the Enchant skill) for instance.

That's just one of quite a few viable novelty builds one can specialize in in Diablo 2.

One thing I'll always love about Diablo 2 is the general setting of the game. The atmosphere is bleak and essentially desolate.  Bodies literally litter the lands for you to search and hope to find useful items. Aside from that, bodies can be seen just laying around in general, evidence of the chaos and destruction caused by Diablo and his brothers.

Graphically, Diablo 2 hasn't aged the best, but still looks damn good in my opinion. The game plays in a 3/4 overhead isometric view. It can be played in both a 2D and 3D setting. I won't say there isn't really a difference between the two, but if you were to pick it up in this age and day, I can say there's really no reason to play it in the 2D setting.

Personally, I say if you haven't played Diablo 2 and you're a Blizzard fan, check it out. It's cheap, and when you purchase the battle chest, it comes with the expansion. As classic games stand, this one is easy to pick up, fun to master and easy to go back to when you're done going gaga over modern graphics.





Overall Rating: Devilishly Good

Sex and Nudity In Horror: My Thoughts

Sex and Nudity In Horror: My Thoughts

I've always been one of the belief that when it comes to horror, pretty much anything goes.

There's all kinds -- brutal torture, psychological, thriller, and general gory, to name a few. One thing that draws them all together is the fact that nudity is a common occurrence. For some, nudity is like adding the greatest spice to the stew as many times, if you view a movie in a theatre and a woman bares breasts, you get cat calls and wolf whistles. For others, though, it's enough to drive the movie into the ground. Michael Bay himself is known for walking out of the premier of the Friday the 13th remake because he felt it was too overtly sexual.

Since pretty much the beginning, this has been a bit of an issue with horror as plenty of films have not just incorporated sex and nudity into the story, but in some cases, simply relied upon it as something of a crutch to keep people interested..

A good example would be the many exploitation flicks where the plot focuses on, usually, the negative aspects of it. Movies like Run, Bitch! Run! and Irreversible or the more commonly known, I Spit On Your Grave use rape and revenge as a key tool in moving the story. In each of these films, there is a varying amount of nudity and (forced) sex that gets your heart racing in fear, anger and excitement. I Spit On Your Grave probably takes the award for being the overall most disturbing due to the length of the initial rape scene used to set the movie off. Yes, I consider I Spit On Your Grave to be more disturbing than Irreversible, a movie notorious for its sex and brutality.

To level things out, though, there are many classic films that have used sex in a way that is more subconscious and actually quite clever. Classic films such as Halloween and the original Friday the 13th have had a more underlying social-psychological meaning in regards to their sex scenes. This was the generation of movies that gave birth to the idea that "the virgin is always the sole survivor" because "sex kills". Think about it, in these older films, every time a couple felt amorous, you knew they were going to die. One of the biggest rules in horror movies is "Don't Have Sex" and this is why.

Now, as we can see, there are plenty of reasons why sex and nudity would be used in horror to give the story a hand, though some would feel that there is no need to show the human form to begin with. Personally, I think it's a great thing to explore and, well, none of these films incorporating the two are for the younger audiences, so there's no reason not to be adults about it.

To me, I feel sex and nudity should be appropriate to the story in the same way gore is. Not that they both are required to be used in tandem, but that when they are brought into a movie, there should be a question of "Is this really necessary?" At least in most cases. I won't lie, there are some movies that I feel it just doesn't matter, such as Zombie Women of Satan. This Warren Speed vehicle probably has the most breasts I've seen in a good horror movie by far and while there's no real reason why there is so much nudity, it still maintains itself as a decent flick mostly because, well, they just don't give a fuck and just wanted to have fun. It's not a selling point, it's just Warren, and I'm fine with that.

That takes me to another question -- how comfortable are you with the human form to begin with?

 Truth be told, this is where most of the issues begin in regards to the debate about sex and nudity in horror. Depending on how you feel about it, it can keep your opinions from being objective quite easily. It's like if your biggest fear or pet peeve were put into a movie, that particular scene would make you cringe and wonder why the hell they would do something like that to begin with. As an example, I can't stand fingers and toes and nails being damaged. The video in The Ring depicts a finger being pressed down onto a pin and the nail comes off. I know it's fake, but it gets me every time. EVERY FUCKING TIME!! My first response to the scene was "WHY?! Why would they do this!!" and thus my love/hatred for The Ring took off like a bottle rocket.

It's been my experience that this sort of response is similar in regards to sex and nudity. As if people are literally grossed out or afraid of the human form. Breasts, usually.

Speaking of which, this brings about a concept that I don't think I hear enough talk about -- equal nudity in horror. It's not a very common topic as most people are more worried about breasts and butt cheeks, but one thing I've always felt is there does seem to be a gross lack of equality in the concept of who can bare what in a film. Granted there are movies that cater to the homosexual crowd (or simply those who love lesbians), but there is a fundamental difference.

Very few movies are willing to show the male form or even get picked up to be made. In part, I could see this being due to the misconception that way more men watch horror than females (not quite true), but there is also what I would like to consider the "porn stigma". Many men are insecure about themselves and this doesn't stop just at home, but with many actors as well. It's not just that they won't let men be shown naked, it's also that many men are afraid because they are worried they wouldn't be considered "manly" enough, if you catch my drift.

There have been very few movies I've seen that include men nude as well as women, most notoriously would probably be A Serbian Film, a horror movie revolving around a former porn star. He is shown several times in the film and even uses his "talent" to do in another character. Long story short, it was just fucking bananas (no pun intended...well, maybe just a bit).

I suppose to end this rant, I'll say again, I don't mind sex or nudity in horror as they tend to fit together like a hand in a glove. But sometimes the hand is too big for the glove and vice versa. And unless the idea is for the proverbial Micky Mouse effect (again, Zombie Women of Satan), there needs to be a balance. Otherwise the glove simply wont fit. Will it, O.J.?

Picking A Part: 5 Horror Movie Antagonist Stereotypes

Picking A Part: 5 Horror Movie Antagonist Stereotypes

What do you think of when you think about horror movies?

Do you think about the dashing do-good and his or her band of walking expiration dates? Do you think about the haunted house the movie takes place in? Or do you think about the bad guy? The monster? The thing that makes the horror movie what it is?

Today's article is going to be sort of a counterpoint to a previous one I did. If you didn't get a chance to read it already, here's a link to it.

The Psycho/Slasher

This is the bread and butter of the horror genre.

The most well known bad guys in horror are the razor-gloved, hockey masked, horny teen killing psychos we love so much.

Try as you might, you can't kill them. You can't run from them. You can only slow them down until the rage takes over again.

With these antagonists, there is always blood.


On the other side of the spectrum we have a relatively unappreciated set of baddies, the monsters. Ever since cg became more popular, these antagonists have seen less quality screen time, save for a few modern gems.

On the alien side, there are the classic Xenomorphs of Alien fame as well as a history's worth of great extraterrestrial tales.

Besides classics like Critters and Gremlins, what are some of the best monster flicks you remember?

The Mad Scientist

These antagonists tend to be more misunderstood than anything. Usually acting under the idea what they are doing is for a greater good of some sort. Then again, sometimes they're just a little bit insane to begin with, right?

The Supernatural

Sometimes evil manifests itself, be it physically or otherwise. Rarely is this ever beneficial for anyone, but almost always is it entertaining to watch. We all remember the classics -- The Exorcist, Poltergeist, Hellraiser -- but what are some of your favorite modern supernatural stories?

The Undead

Nearly every horror fan's wet dream. Zombies. Vampires. The things that used to have a pulse and do more than go bump in the night. Next to ghosts, these are some of the oldest scary stories society has to offer.

The Woman Review

The Woman (2011)

Starring: Pollyanna McIntosh, Sean Bridgers, Lauren Ashley Carter
Directed by: Lucky McKee

Based on the novel written by Lucky McKee and Jack Ketchum, The Woman is a surefire disturbing mess. And I mean that in a good way!

In The Woman, a country lawyer jeopardizes the lives of his family when he captures and tries to civilize a woman who just so happens to be the final remaining member of a violent, cannibalistic clan.

I have to say, I need to read more Jack Ketchum. From what I understand, this is actually the third installment in a series. The second, The Offspring, will be reviewed soon and, well, I'll need to be brought up to speed on the first installment. If there's ever been an author who could disturb the hair off your arms, this is the guy to do it. And for those wondering, you don't necessarily have to watch the previous installments to be able to get into the movies. They work very well as stand-alone titles.

The Woman is easily one of my top favorite disturbing movies. The plot is multifaceted, focusing not just on the titular Woman, but also the various troubles plaguing the Cleek family: teen pregnancy, abuse, rape. It's a fucked up scenario.

I liked how the story arc, with all the characters and side plots, reveals the fact that it's not always the uncivilized that are the monsters. As a matter of fact, there is way more to this family than meets the eye and you don't get that until you think you've learned all there is to know about them already.

One of the best parts of this movie has to be the characters. For some of them, namely the father, Chris Cleek (played by Sean Bridgers), and the son, Brian (Zach Rand), there is a stark contrast between how you initially see the character versus who they really are. Chris's changes seem to come about early on, but capturing the woman (Pollyanna McIntosh) is merely the tip of the iceberg for this sicko. Sadly, Brian's deal is more so falling into line with the perverseness of his father, though a little bit less in the range of brutality and more sexually. They're both rather huge assholes, though.

The women of the family have their own issues to deal with as Peggy is showing textbook signs of pregnancy and Belle must struggle with the mental anguish of knowing her husband has captured a feral woman.

Darlin's just a li'l darlin', so that's at least good.

For the hour and forty-three minutes this movie runs, there is some of the best overall atmosphere you can get from a movie of this kind. Much of it is spent in the basement-turned-dungeon where the woman is kept. In this sick little torture dungeon, he essentially keeps her strung up like she's auditioning for a spot in Soundgarden's video for Jesus Christ Pose.

The juxtaposition of sanity between the perfect white bread homestead and the bat shit insane idea of forcefully trying to integrate the woman into society help add to the tension and atmosphere of the film. I personally truly enjoyed watching this movie move to a psychotic crescendo towards the end. It does begin a little slow for the first 20 minutes or so, but when it begins to pick up, it doesn't let any slack out at all.

There are some really good practical effects in The Woman. Much like its predecessor, it's rather gory when the blood flows. Early int he film, there's a scene where Chris gets a little too close and the woman takes a finger off. I loved watching her spit his wedding band out onto the floor. Just desserts and all. The gore really picks up towards the end of the film, though, but I won't spoil any of that. You'll just have to see the movie to understand.

Depending on how you view things, The Woman is definitely a disturbing film to behold. On one hand, it's just morbid, this family takes a woman from the wild and tries to force her to become a "normal" human. On the other hand, they themselves are far from normal. What they're doing is more barbaric than most anything one can really imagine, all in the name of normality.

This is a very good film, regardless of how you take it in, so at that, I would suggest it to all Jack Ketchum fans, all horror fans,, all fans of disturbing movies, goddammit, everybody needs to see this movie! As I said before, it's part of a trilogy, but works as a stand-alone feature. You will not be disappointed by the gore, the dialogue, the twists. It's all good in this neighborhood!




Special Effects

Overall Rating: Down To The Bone

Don't Blink Review

Don't Blink (2014)

Starring: Brian Austin Green, Mina Suvari, Zack Ward,
Directed by: Travis Oates

This movie is why I believe in keeping a spare can of gas in the trunk. I'm just saying...

In Don't Blink, when ten friends set out for a stay at a secluded resort in the mountains, they find the place completely deserted. Due to a lack of gas, they are stranded and forced to stay and investigate.

I think initially, this movie gave me a "Phantoms" kind of vibe. Everyone's happy-go-lucky headed to destination "X", but when they get there, there's nobody to be found. Or animals. There's no animals, either. Full meals are just sitting around as though everyone just left halfway into eating, so on and so forth.
The difference, though, is that was a whole city, and this is just a mountain resort. Still, it's a shitty situation to be had, right?

I did like Don't Blink for its relatively unique take on horror. Instead of being gory or over-the-top with visuals, it's more cerebral. The characters don't die as we are used to, they simply vanish into thin air as soon as they are out of sight. As an example, during one scene, two characters are playing strip poker. When one of them ducks under the table to remove his underwear, he simply disappears. The last you see is his head dipping below the table. There is absolutely no indication he was ever there. It even happens again when as one character is trying to make sandwiches, of all things, and the others look away for just a moment.

This is definitely a movie that focuses on suspense and mystery, which I think should be appreciated, given the genre.

The characters in Don't Blink aren't bad. I did have a favorite, namely Alex (played by Zack Ward). He was essentially the dick character, but at the same time he was more funny and interesting than the rest. Again, the acting isn't bad, I just felt more favored toward his character. Could be a bit of a bias, too, as I'm a Zack Ward fan to begin with. Hey, at least I'm honest about it, right? And on that note, I've never been a huge Brian Austin Green fan, but I did find his performance as Jack to be pretty solid and enjoyable.

What pulls this movie together for me is how the atmosphere works with the setting. There's literally nothing; no people, no bugs, no animals, nothing. The tension grows rapidly as they begin to disappear as well. I don't know if I would exactly call it riveting, but it kept me very thrilled and interested in the plot.

The best part about the special effects in Don't Blink is the simplicity. I love gore when applied right, but with how this movie moves, it wouldn't have fit at all. The majority of the film is characters disappearing Houdini-style. Only once is a disappearance actually "shown" and it's literally as simple as one could expect. The only other special effects are gunshots and a suicide death that actually adds to the mystery.

Overall, Don't Blink is a movie that probably wouldn't be best for gore hounds or torture porn addicts, but it definitely rates high in my book of modern horror. I feel a lot of general horror fans would find the change of pace to be both refreshing and satiating. I'd recommend it to anyone willing to give in to the thrill of a good mystery that doesn't require copious amounts of blood and gore to be good.




Special Effects

Overall Rating: Hurts So Good

31 Days of Horror!!

31 Days of Horror!!

Day 1: The Woman

Day 2: The Offspring

Day 3: Chain Letter

Day 4: Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero

Day 5: Pumpkinhead

Day 6: The Possession of Michael King

Day 7: The Rage: Carrie 2

Day 8: Friday the 13th Part II

Day 9: Supernatural

Day 10: Re-Animator

Day 11: Playback

Day 12: Exempt. I got married!

Day 13: Repo! The Genetic Opera

Day 14: The Hills Have Eyes

Day 15: You're Next

Day 16: No Tell Motel

Day 17: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Day 18: Unrest

Day 19: Mine Games

Day 20: The Caller

Day 21: Dead of Winter

Day 22: The Horror Show

Day 23: All The Boys Love Mandy Lane

Day 24: The Town That Dreaded Sundown

Day 25: Creepshow 2

Day 26: Monkey Shines

Day 27: Odd Thomas

Day 28: Amusement

Day 29: The Reeds

Day 30: Hellraiser 4: Bloodlines

Day 31: Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers

The Lost Boys