Archive for October, 2010

With Halloween just around the corner, it’s time to get your spook on. But who wants to watch Halloween for the 75th time? Maybe it’s time to try something a little different. So, with that in mind, I came up with a list of some of my favourite off-beat horror movies. They are flicks that you might not be aware of and a lot of them are foreign* (so you can pretend you’re uber-continental when you talk about them with your friends). I’ve done my best to include descriptions and trailers below, so check ’em out and see if you might be able to find a new holiday favourite!

1. Silver Bullet
Genre: Werewolf
Notable Stars: Corey Haim, Megan Follows, Gary Busey.
What It’s About: Corey Haim and Megan Follows are a precocious brother and sister growing up in an idyllic little town . . . until mutilated corpses start showing up. Will they be able to uncover the truth about these deaths and discover who is responsible?
Why You Might Like It: Corey Haim has an epic chase scene on a motorized wheelchair! Gary Busey harnesses his inner survivalist loon and helps the children devise werewolf traps! Anne of Green Gables does something other than pine for Gilbert Blythe! Awesome!
Trailer? Yes.

2. Night of the Comet
Genre: Zombie/Apocalypse
Notable Stars: Bunch of random people, but the most notable is Mary Woronov.
What It’s About: A comet crashes into the Earth and destroys almost everything except two valley girls who are left to fight LA’s remaining zombified population.
Why You Might Like It: Who doesn’t want to see a cheerleader fight zombies? Also, the one liners are pretty great. “Daddy would have gotten us Uzis!”
Trailer?: Yes.

3. The Convent
Genre: Zombie/Possession
Notable Stars: Adrienne Barbeau, Coolio.
What It’s About: College students break into an abandoned nunnery and become possessed by demonic spirits.
Why You Might Like It: It has a Leslie Gore soundtrack! Adrienne Barbeau is awesome! There are day-glo monster nuns!
Trailer?:  Yes.

4. Dance of the Dead
Genre: Zombie
Notable Stars: None.
What It’s About: Zombies invade a small town on the night of the high school prom.
Why You Might Like It: People slash up zombies in prom dresses! A rock band keeps a horde of the undead at bay by playing music! Hormonally charged zombie makeouts!
Trailer?: Yes.

5. Eyes Without A Face
Genre: Mad Scientist
Notable Stars: A bunch of French people!
What It’s About: A crazy doctor kidnaps girls so that he might use them to fix his daughter’s disfigured face.
Why You Might Like It: It’s a slow burner, but it’s actually really beautifully shot. The music and the cinematography make it very haunting to watch.
Trailer?: Yes.

6. Phenomena
Genre: Creepy Crawlies/Psychotic Killer
Notable Stars: Jennifer Connelly, Donald Pleasance.
What It’s About: A young girl can communicate with bugs and uses her ability to help solve a murder.
Why You Might Like It: I have written about this one before and the thing about it is that it is truly insane. Bug talking! Monkey nurses! Psychotic pig face boys! It really has to be seen to be believed.
Trailer?: Yes.

7. Brotherhood of the Wolf
Genre: Werewolf
Notable Stars: Vincent Cassel, Monica Bellucci
What It’s About: A noble man and his Indian sidekick team up to investigate the killings of mysterious beast in 18th century France.
Why You Might Like It: It’s like a period piece monster whodunit! Plus, the Indian dude knows kung fu and Monica Bellucci has heaving bosoms**!
Trailer?: Yes .

8. The Happiness of the Katakuris
Genre: Haunted House/ Zombie/Musical (This one is really hard to define)
Notable Stars: A bunch of Japanese people!
What It’s About: A scrappy little Japanese family buys a run down hotel near Mount Fuji with the idea they will turn it into a thriving bed and breakfast. Unfortunately, all their guests start dying.
Why You Might Like It: This movie has everything. There is singing. There is dancing. There are puppets. There are zombies. Basically, the whole thing is insanely surreal and deserves to be watched.
Trailer?: Yes.

9. Strait-Jacket
Genre: Axe murderer (literally)
Notable Stars: Joan Crawford, George Kennedy.
What It’s About: Years and years ago, Joan Crawford killed her husband and his lover with an axe. Now she’s out of the insane asylum and cured . . . or is she?
Why You Might Like It: Joan Crawford wears jangly bracelets and shouts! Greasy looking George Kennedy gets killed! Hammy looking axe murders!
Trailer?: Yes.

10. Dog Soldiers
Genre: Werewolf
Notable Stars: Kevin McKidd, Sean Pertwee.
What It’s About:  A bunch of army dudes get dropped in the Scottish Highlands for a training exercise, but they are not alone.
Why You Might Like It: Do you need a reason beyond army dudes fight werewolves? Because if you do, I don’t think we can be friends.
Trailer?: Yes.

11. Night of the Living Dorks
Genre: High School/Zombie/Teenage Sex Romp
Notable Stars: A bunch of German people!
What It’s About: A group of nerdy high school friends perform a voodoo ritual and then die in a car crash . . . but they don’t exactly die.
Why You Might Like It: It’s kind of a cross between American Pie and Night of the Living Dead. Also, watching the nerdy dudes in high school take back their power with superhuman strength is kind of awesome. Take that, stupid bullies!
Trailer? Yes.

12. The Devil’s Backbone
Genre: Ghost
Notable Stars: A bunch of Spanish people! (It was, however, directed by Guillermo Del Toro who did Pan’s Labyrinth some years later. I think this is better!)
What It’s About: A young boy comes of age at a haunted orphanage after the Spanish Civil War.
Why You Might Like It: It is subtle but spooky as hell! Just the right kind of ghost story.
Trailer?: Yes.

13. Let The Right One In
Genre: Vampire
Notable Stars: A bunch of Swedish people!
What It’s About: A troubled young boy befriends the new girl next door, but little does he know his new friend has a very big secret.
Why You Might Like It: I know they’ve done an American version of this, but do yourself a favour and see the source material. It watches kind of like a bizarre version of My Girl . . . if, say, Thomas Jay hadn’t been killed by bees and instead was Vada’s undead friend.
Trailer?: Yes.

If you don’t like any of those, here are some other movies I enjoy:

–         Return of the Living Dead. My ex introduced me to this and even though we are long done, I still love it.

–         The Thing. Can you believe I just saw this a few months ago? The special effects are still really good and they’re as old as me.

–         Near Dark. *singing* Adrian Pasdar fighting some vampires, one is Bill Paxton, so it won’t end well.

–          Frailty. I cannot believe Matthew McConaughy is in something I like. Go figure.

–          Black Christmas. By which I mean the 1974 version. Do not even talk to me about that crap-ass, cookie baking remaking.

–         Suspiria. To be honest, it was a toss up between this and Phenomena for my list, but I figured more people would have seen Suspiria. Also, I don’t know why, but whenever I see the preview for Black Swan, it reminds me of this movie.

–          Witchboard. This was the very first horror movie I ever saw. I was both intrigued and mildly traumatized to see Patch from Days of Our Lives get his ass kicked by a supernatural entity.

–          Ginger Snaps. I really liked this movie but I hated that they had to milk the concept with sequels. Just let sleeping hormonal werewolf girls lie!

–         Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? I know this is supposed to be scary but the first time I ever saw it, I laughed my ass off. Joan Crawford and Bette Davis trying to outdiva eachother is priceless.

–          The Bad Seed. My mother shares the same name as the villain in this one so she always loved it growing up and she introduced it to me when it was on TV.

–          Army of Darkness/the assorted Evil Dead movies. I would be lying if I said that part of the reason I loved these movies wasn’t because of the musical version. However it does also have Bruce Campbell which is pretty awesome. BRUCIE!

–          28 Days Later. This was one of the first movies that brought zombies back into the spotlight. Also, I think Cillian Murphy should always have a shaved head because he looks much hotter that way.

–          Dead Alive. Zombie baby!

–         The Lost Boys. The Coreys at their finest. Now if only Feldman would stop making direct to video sequels. You’re legitimizing garbage, Corey!

–          Fright Night. Chris Sarandon . . . Mmm . . .

–         Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. A big part of the reason I love this is because of the Dokken theme song. DREEEAAAAMM WARRIORS!

–         Dead Heat. Treat Williams and Joe Piscopo are a zombie/cop team (and it also has a crazy theme song).

–         The Exorcist. It’s still scary but the two failed prequels were awful.

–          Jamie Lee Curtis in pretty much everything. Except the later Halloween movies, because, yuck. Even my mammoth Joseph Gordon Levitt crush can’t keep me from watching H20 without cringing my ass off.

 If you enjoy horror movies and horror movie coverage, I encourage you to check out Stacie Ponder over at Final Girl and Brian Collins over at Horror Movie A Day. They both have good genre taste and will introduce you to even more good stuff.

Also, if you want to add a regular dose of horror to your viewing schedule, AMC (the same station that brought you Mad Men) is premiering The Walking Dead on Sunday. I’ve loved the graphic novel series for years so I am pretty stoked that the show looks so fantastic. Hooray zombies!

What say you, bloggerinos? What are your favourite horror flicks?

*Whenever possible, please do yourself a favour by avoiding horrible dubs and watching in the original language with subtitles. Trust me, it’s much better that way.
**Actually, I am trying to think of a movie where Monica Bellucci doesn’t have heaving bosoms, but I can’t come up with one. Maybe that’s not such a novelty after all!

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Boy and I both have kind of boring jobs sometimes, so to break up the day, we’ll send each other crazy hypothetical e-mails. This is one such exchange:

Boy: You’re attending a dinner party with a number of cute puppies: a schnauzer, who is a professor of Linguistics at Harvard, an English bulldog who was a Colonel during the great war, and a brash Beagle puppy from the Americas. During a brief blackout your host, an Irish wolfhound puppy, is shot and killed. Who killed him?

Me: Question: What is the Irish Wolfhound Puppy’s background history?

Boy: The Irish Wolfhound Puppy opened a small glassworks factory, and during the summer of ’02 his finely crafted serving dishes became all the rage among upper class ladies of West Yorkminstershireton, allowing him to become a veritable titan of industry. With his newfound wealth he built himself a huge mansion filled with servants, whereupon you have found yourself presently engaged.

Me: I believe the correct answer is the Schnauzer. He met the Wolfhound puppy at an upperclass party in West Yorkminstershireton. At this point, the finely crafted serving dish business was but a dream, but the Schnauzer saw the opportunity for a major windfall so he invested money in the business and helped the Wolfhound make the right connections to ensure its profitability. However, things quickly got complicated as it turned out that the Wolfhound had been embezzling money from the company (in which the Schnauzer was a silent partner) to fund his addiction to Snasauges and backalley crotch lickings from Carlotta, a rather saucy chihauhau, on the East side. Distraught at this betrayal, the Schnauzer took matters into his own paws, faked the blackout and shot the Wolfhound before depositing the gun in the nearby dumbwaiter during the ensuing chaos.
(Also, the Schnauzer couldn’t stand having competition for the cutest scruffy puppy title, so two birds with one stone.)
Your theory, Mr. Park.

Boy: Holy $h!T. I was going to say it was one of the servants, because they have opposable thumbs, but now I’m starting to think that’s just what the Schnauzer wanted me to think.

Me: Genius, isn’t it?

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(If you’re not reading my blog title to yourself in a Jackee Harry voice, then you’re not doing it right.)

I’ve been really bad about posting lately, but my lovely friend Amber over at Ambergontrail (Hi Amber!) gave me a little blog award

Oooh! Shiny!

and asked me to share seven things about myself that most people may not know. So here goes nothing!

Here we go!

1) I posed for some cheesecake photos last year. My friend Jack was starting to build a portfolio of his photography, so I volunteered to model. This was a really huge thing for me because it involved partial nudity and I had issues with body image left over from my accident. The best way I can describe it to someone else is that, kind of like being anorexic, my own conception about how I looked had been really distorted by the fact that I had been so sickly. Immediately after the accident, I would actively avoid looking at myself in the mirror because I didn’t want to have to see how gross I looked. However, the experience ended up really good for me. I felt more comfortable in my own skin and I got to see myself more objectively. Would do it again in a heartbeat.

2) The year after I finished school was the most depressing year of my life. I was never really the popular and pretty chick, but I was good at school, so I always worked really hard to get attention that way. In high school, I won the photography and senior English awards. In college, I won a CALL writing award for one of my short stories, a Southam Magazine Writing Award and a Columbia School of Journalism Award for articles I wrote and I was one of the youngest editors ever of the third year Journalism review. In fact, the edition of the magazine I edited went on to win the Golden Apple Award at the 2003 Columbia Journalism Conference in New York. But then, after I graduated from college, with honours of course, no one would hire me. I went to interview after interview being rejected and it made me feel like crap. I mean who wants to think of themselves as washed up at 20? So I started to do some destructive things like smoke pot on a semi-regular basis and date horrible (well . . . horribler?) guys. It took me almost a year to snap out of it and shortly thereafter, I met my husband. But man, not happy times for a while there.

3) I love my cat, but I really also secretly want a dog too because I love animals so much. I want to get a mini Schnauzer puppy and give him a distinguished older gentleman name that will suit his little mustachioed face. (Yes, I am a dork, but that is something you probably already knew if you read this blog.)

4) I actually really love horror movies. Not creepily graphic torture porn movies, because I think those are gross, but like plot centric horror movies where there’s a good story/mystery to it. I used to have this tradition with a friend of mine that we would have sleepover nights where we watched one horror movie and one ‘80s teen movie and we would see which was scarier. Our first double bill was The Breakfast Club and The Exorcist. The Exorcist won and is still one of my most feared movies.

5) Back when I was younger and single, I found dating kind of difficult. I think this had a lot to do with the fact that I grew up being friends with guys and I always had a very straightforward attitude when talking to them. So when I got to dating age, I thought I could just continue to do that. However, I didn’t realize that a lot of dudes are expecting this kind of coy, reserved attitude from girls and that my three-pronged attack of:
1) “I think you’re cute”;
2) “I like you”;
3) “Let’s go make out”;
would be kind of a disaster. I remember back when I was in the 10th grade, there was this guy I really liked. We were friends and we’d flirt and occasionally he’d walk me to my locker etc. So after about a year and a half, I just got freakin’ impatient and decided I couldn’t wait anymore for things to happen, so I called him up and told him that I liked him. He was stunned into silence for a minute before he stuttered out something like “Oh, that’s nice, thank you” and got the hell off the phone. Eventually, I learned to be a little more subtle, but for a while, it was kind of a trial and error process.

6) Any time I get really bored with my looks or any time I am going through a situation of emotional turmoil, I will dye my hair. I do not know why I do this, but it’s like some sort of instinct/defense mechanism.

7) When I was a kid, a bunch of my friends were in Brownies so I begged my mom to go to Brownies too. But when I actually went to Brownies, I discovered it was kind of annoying. I didn’t give a damn about earning badges or making friendship bracelets or selling cookies and I really wasn’t a joiner, so mostly, I just sat there being bored. I remember one badge earning day, one of the mothers who chaperoned our group (I think they were called owls or something?) got annoyed with me and basically bullied me through a braiding test so I would earn a badge. I quit Brownies shortly thereafter (and I still don’t really remember how to braid).

Now I am supposed to tag people I think deserve this award, so for fun, I’m tagging:

Jenny from Geek in Heels
Nadine from Two Chicks Nest
Brooke from Claremont Road
Amy from Playing House
Nick from Exercising Monsters

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My late Grandmother, my mother’s mother, was a very awesome lady.  She lived through 2 world wars. She was one of the first women drivers in Quebec. She had breast cancer in the 1950s, but worked her ass off to survive it*. She had a child in her mid-forties and effectively raised her by herself, and she helped raise me until her death in 1989. Though I don’t remember her that well (I was in the first grade when she passed away), I like to think that she still kind of lives on in me in the small ways she influenced my life. She taught me to like pink Smarties, she taught me how to appreciate Night Court and she taught me to love Charles Bronson.

The Charles Bronson thing is probably one of the things I find funniest about my grandmother. You see, Grandma was a very quiet tiny woman. She was tender and sweet with everyone and she was a big giver of hugs. But under her soft exterior was an avid Death Wish fan. Now if you haven’t seen the series, let me just give you a quick rundown:

Charles Bronson plays Paul Kersey, a solid mustache rocking dude who served in the Korean war but who now lives in New York and works as an architect. He has a nice wife and daughter and lives a happy life until some hooligans break into his apartment. They sexually assault his daughter, beat his poor wife and leave them both for dead. Paul’s wife later succumbs to her injuries and his daughter is left catatonic from the trauma of it all. So of course Paul is very upset by this and doesn’t know what to do, especially when he is told by police that the chances of catching the horrible men who did this are slim to none. So to keep from feeling helpless, Paul decides that the best thing to do would be to hit the streets and dispatch his own brand of justice.

Bronson: The man, the myth, the legend (and I believe my grandmother's secret movie boyfriend.)

Now you might think that a petite senior citizen and an angry mustachioed vigilante don’t exact seem like a match made in heaven, but Grandma loved these movies with a passion. She rooted for Charles and displayed a disturbing bloodlust while watching that only grew with each installment. She wanted Charles to get ’em, and she wanted him to get ’em good.

And in this way, I kind of feel like Grandma and I have something in common. Not only do we both love ridiculous action movies, but we also have an serious sense of right and wrong, a feeling that justice always needs to be served. Yeah, it’s kind of bananas and old testament of us, but seriously how satisfying is it to see a jackass get smited? 

Anyway, I got to thinking about this this summer when Boy and I were going through some particularly hard times. We were in the worst of it when someone we both knew and trusted did something kind of crappy to Boy and it got my hackles up.

I’m not going to get into the specifics of who it was or what exactly happened, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t picture this person being ground into a fine dust and released on the wind, never to be seen again. So yes, I was ferociously grumping around the apartment cursing this person’s name until Boy managed to calm me down and . . . I realized I am kind of the Charles Bronson in our relationship. It’s not rational and it’s probably not the best use of my energy, but if you’re an active part of my life, that means I love you, and if someone wrongs someone I love, well that PISSES ME OFF and I want justice.

Thankfully enough, eventually everything worked itself out and my anger did fade, but I still have that initial Charles Bronson reaction to things that I don’t think will ever fully go away. Truth be told, I’m not sure I ever want it to because I’ve come to see there’s some value in that emotion. I’m never going to off someone Bronson-style, but to feel such love and loyalty for a person that you want to defend them, to help them, to root for them, to make things right for them after something goes wrong is kind of a good instinct. At the very least, it’s a lot better than everyone just walking around doing self-serving $h!t all the time. 

I like to think Grandma would approve.

A family snapshot. Death Wish loving Grandma is the one in the rose coloured dress.

*Seriously, the lady went for radiation treatments on her lunch break and headed back to work afterwords. Grandma was hardcore.

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