Sunday, May 29, 2011


***(out of 4 stars)

I've seen some of my favorite horror films on the big screen. I'm talking classics too! Man, in the past year I've seen (in 35mm print) Halloween, Gates of Hell, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Zombie, Alligator, Pieces and most recently, Audition.

The experience is great, that is the first thing about it. The second great thing is that the people who pay their hard earned dollar to see these films know what they're getting into. They (WE) are there to see some great horror from yesteryear and we don't put up with loud mouthed punks talking about what they did earlier in school, or the asshole down below you who keeps insisting that his texting is more entertaining than that of the film, or how about the moron who has seen the film and loves to crack a joke right before a peculiar scene comes up. Yeah, we don't deal with these assholes who just seem to enjoy throwing money away so they can have a two hour texting conversation with their equally asinine friend.

Enough ranting. I saw Takashi Miike's Audition on Friday evening. The experience was what I thought it would be - great. Great and kind of disturbing.

First, let me tell you that this film is slow. It's slow, but don't let that sway your decision about seeing it. Trust me, it's a good flick. The slow burn helps to tell a compelling and very disturbing tale about love, acceptance, betrayal, loss, death and torture. Yeah, confusing right? Watch the film and try wrapping your brain around what you see. Guarantee you'll have to watch it a second time. Guarantee it!

After the death of his wife, Shigebaru Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) is lost and left devastated. His colleague, producer and friend, Yasuhisa (Jun Kunimura) suggest that they have an Audition to find him a new bride. After numerous auditions, the plan seems to fail. That is, until a shy and beautiful woman named, Asami (Eihi Shiina) wins over Shigebaru with her audition. Shigebaru is enchanted and intrigued by this young women and he can't stop thinking about her. But underneath all the facade, lies a more dark and sinister women. After Yasuhisa does some investigating, he finds that Asami's past is suspect.

Takashi Miike builds on a solid story first. Much of this film plays on character development and delves into the psychosis of those characters. But once Miike takes us to the meat and potato's of the story, we are introduced to some barbaric and disturbing images.

There's one scene in particular that gets me every time. Ryo contemplates calling Asami over and over. Once he does make that call, we see Asami, kneeling down in her living room, whilst a big burlap sack lies next to her. What in the world could be in that sack? Miike doesn't show us right away. He's too smart of a director. Instead the questions lingers and later it is finally revealed as to what is really in that sack. When it is revealed I'm repulsed every time.

The ending is the most startling part of this film. This is where we really get to see what kind of person Asami really is and what her intentions really are. Wait for her to smile and whisper the words, "deeper, deeper, deeper".

But there are other elements and sequences of this film that have another kind of horror. We are shown through flashbacks as Asami's ballet teacher burns her inner thighs when she was a young girl. Her teacher is creepy. He sits in a wheel chair and has artificial feet. He literally is wearing the feet of some other person. Later and through flashbacks, we get to see how he meets an unfortunate, yet fortunate demise.

The flashback sequences do remind me of Lynch. Although Miike's flashbacks do help to tell the story in a cohesive manner. Sometimes, unlike that of Mr. Lynch. The flashbacks offer a glimpse as to what we've just witnessed for our entire stay at the theatre or in front of the TV. Masterful story telling. This is a horror film that won't soon be forgotten.

If you ever come by this film and you're staring at the cover, trying to decide whether to watch it or not, just remember my recommendation. Stop by and thank me later.

Starring: Ryo Ishibashi and Eihi Shiina

Directed by: Takashi Miike

Written by: Daisuke Tengan

115 mins


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Friday the 13th: Part 3

****(out of 4 stars)

Steve Miner returns to direct Friday the 13: Part 3. This film was made in 1982 (the year of my birth) and was originally shot in 3-D. As a child, I had very fond memories of all of these films, but with Friday 3-D we finally see Jason (Richard Brooker) in his infamous hockey mask. Originally, the script called for Jason to wear an umpire's mask. Thankfully, the hockey mask idea stayed. For Jason would become a famous, pop culture figure of the 1980's.

Whether you wear those blue and red 3-D glasses or not, this film hardly seems 3-D at all. It never worked for me anyway. Instead, and still adequately portrayed, you get a bunch of in-your-face shots. Shit is just flying into the camera at all times.

This film takes place just days (possibly hours) after part 2. Chronologically, if you're doing your math, the teens don't show up until Sunday the 15th, but who cares. After the murder of two store owners, Jason is ramped up and ready to kill any unsuspecting teen that dare venture in his woods. Now, Rick (Paul Kratka) and his girlfriend, Chris (Dana Kimmell) are headed back to Crystal Lake. I guess it some kind of therapy for Chris, because years earlier she was attacked by Jason while in the woods sleeping. So she comes back to face her fears.

Along with them are some other friends including a pregnant chick, a hippie-stoner couple and the annoying prankster, Shelly, (Larry Zerner) who actually might play one of the most important roles to date. If not for Shelly and his constant, and somewhat morbid attempts to get some attention, we'd never get the hockey mask to begin with. Shelly brings along the mask to the camp, but it's later stolen by Jason. And don't let me forget the unforgettable biker gang with some outlandish names like, Ali, Loco and Fox. What a hoot these three are.

The kills are just fine in this installment, although most seem to be borrowed from the original film. For example, there's a character killed the same way as Kevin Bacon's character in the original. This time it's a machete throw the chest, rather than an arrow through the throat. And much like the original ending to the first film, Chris, our survival girl is in a canoe, but this time it's Mrs. Voorhees jumping out of the lake to grab and pull her under. Martin Becker is credited with the special effects. Like I said, although they seem borrowed (or playing tribute) from the first film, they're still good for any gore hound or Jason loving fanatic. One of the most memorable kills is when an arrow is shot through the eye of Vera. This is a very effective scene and yes, my favorite kill for this film. Another worthy mention is when Rick gets his head crushed and his eye pops out at the screen. Loved that shot too!

Richard Brooker is great as Jason. He's got the right build and is quite menacing. He's not quite as clumsy as the potato sack Jason, and he's much more effective. He shows power and dominance; a hulking figure. Due to him being a little to skinny for Steve Miner's liking, Brooker was wearing extra padding under his costume. All in all a very effective actor to play such a role.

This film is better (in my opinion) than the first two. This film embarks that pivotal transition where Jason becomes a mammoth, unrelenting beast. One that we'll continue to see for the majority of the rest of the series. Another fun film to watch at anytime, day or night. If you're a Jason fan you get the gist of my meaning.

Starring: Paul Kratka, Dana Kimmell, Larry Zerner

Directed by: Steve Miner

Written by: Martin Kitrosser and Carol Watson

95 mins


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Friday the 13th Part 2

***1/2(out of 4 stars)

With the success of Friday the 13th, Paramount Pictures went ahead and green lit a sequel that would open on May 1st, 1980. Friday the 13th Part 2 would follow that same formula that brought its predecessor so much success. Sex hungry, naive teens, running around all sexy getting picked off one by one.

But with Pamela Voorhees out of the way, who could possibly be causing such havoc in the middle of nowhere? Could it be that her son, Jason would exact the same revenge because of the death of his beloved mother?

Alice (Adrienne King) is having horrible nightmares months after the incident with Mrs. Voorhees. Through her dreams, we are shown flashbacks from the first film. Alice is now quietly living in a peaceful neighborhood, far from where all her fellow camp counselors were murdered - at camp blood. But Jason has different plans in mind, and with the same vengeful mindset as his mother - he kills Alice rather quickly with an icepick.

Face forward a few years and once again unsuspecting camp counselors are back out in the woods. They just don't get it, do they? Stay out of Jason's woods. Plain and simple. Actually the camp they're opening isn't the original camp where all the murders took place years ago. Instead, this camp is situated right next to the dreaded camp blood. Paul (John Furley) is the owner of the new camp and is training the new counselors. As far as he's concerned, the incidents with Jason and his mother are all in the past and should stay there. Mistake numero uno!

Our survival girl is Ginny, (Amy Steel) Paul's assistant. In my opinion she's a better survivor than that of Friday the 13th's, Alice. Many hardcore fans of this franchise thinks she's the best and I won't disagree. Ginny has it all - she's smart, sexy and isn't ignorant of the legend of camp blood. In a sense she feels sorry for Jason. You know, after seeing his mother decapitated, who wouldn't? Ginny has the typical make-up to be the soul surviving girl. Amy Steel does a fine job in this role.

As for our villain we have Jason. Long before he would don his famous hockey mask, he simply wore a potato sack over his head. Yeah, I really like this Jason. The hillbilly, redneck Jason. Isn't that what most people refer to the killer in part 2? He's kind of retarded in a way. He's just not all there. As we move along in the franchise, you'll notice how in control Jason seems to be in. In part 2, circa 1981, he was just a rookie. He's sloppy in his attack and easily taken down. Of course, he's only got one hole to see out of in that sack of his. I guess his vision would be off. Warrington Gillette is credited with playing Jason, but Steve Daskawisz is the Jason in the stunt scenes and throughout most of the film. At one point in the shooting, Daskawisz was injured and rushed to the ER where he received stitches. In the scene where Jason and Ginny are in the shack, Ginny tries to kill Jason by bringing a machete down upon his head. Daskawisz's was supposed to block the blow with the pick ax. Their timing was off as the machete came down; thus cutting his fingers. Daskawisz would later return to set and like a trooper finished the scene in the same night.

Tom Savini would not return to do the effects as he was busy on another known slasher called, The Burning. With Savini's absence, the effects aren't horrible, but they certainly lack that brilliance that Savini brought to the table. One notable kill AND my favorite (in this film) would be that of the character Mark. He's the tough guy confined to a wheel-chair after a motorcycle accident. With his kill all we see is a machete to the head, then, the wheel-chair rolling down the stairs with him in it. That one moment is one of my favorites in the franchise. I loved that kill and for some reason I find myself jumping a bit when that machete connects with Mark's head. You just never know when it's coming. Great effect, great kill!

Lauren-Marie Taylor who played the character Vicky is one of my favorites in the entire Friday franchise. For some reason, I've always found her quite attractive. Her character doesn't really do much, in fact, she actually tries to make it with the dude in the wheel-chair. That seems to be her entire goal. Making it with Mark the invalid. But, uh, he dies. Then she's stabbed by Jason, and I begin to cry every time.

The only real problem I have with this movie is the end. Paul and Ginny escape harm from Jason and retreat back to one of the main cabins. They hear a rustle at the door but it's only a cat that had gone missing earlier. Suddenly Jason jumps through the window and grabs Ginny. Paul is fine. When Ginny wakes up, she's on a stretcher and being taken off in an ambulance. She's still alive and asking where Paul is. Paul is no where to be seen. So it's never confirmed if he's dead. Presumably he must be.

Don't know what else to say. Loved this film more than the original, even though the ending is rough.

Starring: Amy Steel, John Furley and Adrienne King

Directed by: Steve Miner

Written by: Ron Kurz, Phil Scuderi

87 mins


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Friday the 13th

***(out of 4 stars)

From a script that was inspired by the success of Halloween, Friday the 13th is one of those must see slashers. It's clearly a staple to the slasher genre and any one person into horror or slasher films has seen this film. If you haven't seen it, you may have been living under a rock for quite some time now.

Friday the 13th came around the time when slasher films were at their most successful, the 1980's. In fact, it was made in 1980! The film's charm, if you want to call it that, is renowned for its excessive gore and high body count. Although some may call it a blatant ripoff to Halloween, Friday has garnished its own following and has been ripped off itself. Any slasher film you see today, is in some way inspired by this film and most slasher films follow Friday's same formula - a group of teens, in the woods, being picked off one by one by a maniacal serial killer. It should also be fair to note that although many credit Halloween as being the film that inspired Friday, Mario Bava's Bay of Blood was also a very inspirational film for Friday the 13th. Just look at Bay of Blood and you tell me if you can't see the remarkable similarities with both films.

Produced and directed from Sean S. Cunningham, Friday the 13th is the film he'll be remembered for. Initially, Cunningham put out ads in New York to see if the film had rights previously owned by another person. The film hadn't even begun production when he did this. Of course, no one had any rights to it, but many who saw the adds were intrigued. So Cunningham went ahead with the production of the film.

Here's the rundown. A boy drowns in a lake because camp counselors are too busy having sex and not paying any attention. Fast forward to 1958. Two other counselors, making love (of course), are killed by an unseen person. After this, and some years later, Steve Cristy wants to re-open the camp for business. A group of teens are helping with the camp and one by one fall victim by a serial killer, even after they're warned by the town crazy, Crazy Ralph, that the camp has "A DEATH CURSE".

The one thing that stands out with this film is the inventive kill scenes. Each teen falls victim with brutal deaths. The kills are constructed by special fx master, Tom Savini. My personal favorite is when Kevin Bacon's character gets an arrow through his throat. You may ask why? Because apparently Kevin Bacon has disregarded this film. It seems that he's a bit "too good", for this type of movie, seeing that he's suddenly Mr. Hollywood. All I have to say is, remember your roots kids, remember your roots.

The score is equally iconic as Halloween's theme. Harry Manfredini's violin score sets the right tone for this film. It's blatantly obvious that when you hear that score, teens will die. I still find it effective so many years later. The score is so important for films like this and Manfredini's score would continue to play throughout most of the franchise.

Long before Jason would emerge onto the scene, his mother Pamela Voorhees, was the real reason for all the mayhem and blood shed. Her reason for revenge is simple: her undying love for her son. A son who died because of a few irresponsible teens. Now, every camp counselor will pay because of her son's death. And pay dearly. One by one she mows through the teens until the climatic ending.

Our heroine is Alice played by Adrienne King. She's not one of my favorite survival girls in the franchise, but I liked her character. (After the film's release, King would find herself in a real life horror story because of some fan stalking her.) After all her fellow counselors are murdered, she's the only one left. After a long battle with Mrs. Voorhees, Alice ends up decapitating the vengeful mother with a machete. I might add, another great effect by Tom Savini. She wakes in a canoe floating upon the lake. Some "soothing" music is playing and all seems well and over. Until young Jason emerges from the waters; pulling her below the surface.

She wakes up in the hospital. She learns that all the other counselors died. She asks a cop about the boy that grabbed her by the lake. The cop tells her that they didn't find any boy.

The film was a financial success but critics hated it. Most notable critic, Gene Siskel, went as far as saying that director Sean S. Cunningham was a horrible human being for making it. Boy, talk about not getting it!

I'm reluctant to give this film four stars because it's not my favorite of the franchise. But a solid three stars will do. This films is definitely a staple in modern horror, especially from a slasher stand point. It should be recognized on its merits as an exploitation film. With most of the Friday films, you can watch them any time of the season, any time of day; no matter what you're doing. These films are just plain fun. Give it a watch, if you haven't already.

Although most of the kills are memorable, here are some of my favorites.

1. Arrow through Kevin Bacon's throat.
2. An axe to the face of Marcie's character.
3. Annie's throat being sliced.

Starring: Kevin Bacon, Adrienne King, Betsy Palmer

Directed by: Sean S. Cunningham

Written by: Victor Miller

95 mins


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

One Year Old!

I just noticed that yesterday marked the first year of existence for this blog, Something's Lurking. For those of you who venture over here, I would like to take the time to thank you for your constant readership. My goal for the next year is to get more eyes on this blog. Help me spread the word if you will. If you don't wish to do that, then your reading this blog is all that really matters anyway. Here's to a great summer!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Creature from the Black Lagoon

****(out of 4 stars)

For years I've deliberated on what universal monster film was my favorite. I'm a big fan of Frankenstein and I adore The Wolf Man. However, I never really knew which one was my favorite. That question kind of bothered me for some unknown reason. I'm not sure why, but it did.

Some years ago, in the fall of 2003, I attended a horror convention in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. It was called Monster Mania and it's still alive and well to this day. At that years Monster Mania, I had the great opportunity of meeting the lovely Julie Adams, along with the Gill-Man himself, Ben Chapman. Not only was it an honor to meet these two individuals, but it also inspired me to check out Creature from the Black Lagoon. So, later that same day I bought the film from one of the vendors.

The film's title has always tantalized me a bit. Creature from the Black Lagoon does catch the eye and it did with me right away. This was not the original title though. Through many of the phases of writing it donned different titles. The original treatment for the story was penned by Maurice Zimm and was called The Sea Monster. After some rewrites, screenwriters, Harry Essex and Arthur Ross finally completed a shooting script. This time with the title simply called, Black Lagoon. Soon thereafter, director, Jack Arnold took on the project and thus you have the birth of one of the best creature flicks of all times. Creature from the Black Lagoon.

The inception of this film all came from a dinner party at the home of Orson Welles. There, a South American cinematographer named, Gabriel Figueroa told stories about myths that half fish, half men races inhabited the Amazon River. From that point on, Creature from the Black Lagoon would turn into a continuing labor of interest for a few screenwriters and a competent director.

The film is about a group of scientist that load up on a boat called, The Rita. Among the group are a young scientist named, Dr. David Reed (Richard Carlson) and his lovely fiance, Kay Lawrence (Julie Adams). They're in search of a creature from the Devonian age. Fossils were found and they believe that the creature must exist somewhere in the Amazon. The fossils resemble that of a sea-like creature with webbed hands. With them, is Dr. Mark Williams (Richard Denning) who is funding the expedition. Dr. Carl Maia (Antonio Moreno) and yet another scientist, Dr. Thompson (Whit Bissell). The boat's captain is the eccentric Lucas (Nestor Paiva) who seems to know the most about the Amazon.

The crew lands on a camp and discover that an entire research team has been killed. This is just the first of many deaths at the hands of The Creature.

The films ending is typical Hollywood fare for that period. Although it's open for possibly a sequel, which two did emerge later. Our young and beautiful Kay is abducted and taken to an underwater lair. She's rescued by her man when the creature is shot repeatedly. The creature disappears below the surface, assumed to be dead, but we know better.

If you don't already know, Julia Adams steals the show for me. Her beauty and competent acting wins me over. She's compassionate; and adoring. Yet, she's a bit adventurous as well. At one point in the film she decides to take a swim in the river. From underwater we see the creature stalking her. These are some of the best underwater sequences I've seen. I wonder if Mr. Spielberg watched this before he made Jaws. There's quite the resemblance with the way Jaws stalks that very first victim taking a night swim in the opening scene of the film.

The rest of the cast equally play a major role. However, I feel that there are just too many to keep track off. This is a big cast to say the least. Dr. Mark Williams is more interested in killing the creature as opposed to Dr. David Reed, who holds the opinion that keeping it alive will better the chances of them learning about it. Throughout the film, both men engage in somewhat of an ego clash.

The film was originally in 3-D. This ploy was in hopes of regaining that standard of film-going experience. Indeed, Hollywood had garnished some success with other films in the 3-D format. So, why not try it out for this type of film?

Two men played the Gill-Man. Ben Chapman wore the suit in the land scenes and was said to have over heated in it a few times. Ricou Browning worked the underwater shots. There are stories that the two men had some animosity as to who should have been credited more. One story suggests that Ricou actually signed a photo that Ben Chapman had been in while wearing the creature suit. Chapman supposidly was mad as hell! Nonetheless, both men did their jobs adequately.

The Creature's design was more of a collaborative effort. Disney animator, Millicent Patrick come up with the conception even though Bud Westmore has often been credited as coming up with the design. Jack Kevan created the body suit and Chris Mueller Jr. sculpted the head.

This film is genius. I've been watching it non-stop for the past week. Each time the viewing is better and better. The experience is unmatched. There has been exhaustive discussion on a remake. For some reason that's never came to be... yet. I won't comment more about the remake until concrete news becomes evident. I will admit though, that I'm not particularly excited about it. Yes, I enjoyed what they did with the Wolf Man in 2010, but can they go back to back? If it's not plagued with CGI,then I'll remain slightly hopeful. If they do remake it, which they probably will, I want to see practical effects. You know, like another rubber suit. The art of special make up fx needs to stay alive.

Starring: Richard Carlson, Julie Adams

Written by: Harry Essex and Arthur A. Ross

Directed by: Jack Arnold

79 mins

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tales from the Crypt Episode: Carrion Death

****(out of 4 stars)

Carrion Death is a Tales from the Crypt episode from the third season. The original airdate was in June of 1991.

Earl Raymond Digs (Kyle MacLachlan) has escaped prison and death row. He robs a bank and kills an officer. After fleeing the scene, a cop on a motorcycle (George Deloy) gives chase through the desert. After a game of "Chicken", Digs shoots out the back tire of the cop's motorcycle. The cop is catapulted off the bike. The bike is still in motion and runs into Digs' getaway car. There's an explosion but Digs escapes before the car erupts in a blaze.

With the cop out of the way, (momentarily) Dig's next move is to cross the Mexican border to freedom.

The cop regains consciousness and begins to follow Digs on foot through the hot, sun scorching desert. Meanwhile, an annoying vulture is following both men. Perhaps hoping to dine on one of the two men? Or both?

Digs runs into an abandoned beer shack. I guess it's a shack, or maybe a store. It's clearly abandoned and not open for business. Once inside the shack, the cop finally catches up with Digs. A fight ensues and the cop handcuffs himself to Digs. In an act of desperation, Digs shoots and kills the cop. With no bullets or anyway to free himself, he's forces to continue on his journey to Mexico, with the dead cop draped over his shoulders.

Later, Digs gets an idea. He makes an axe-like concoction out of the cop's badge and a stick. If his plan works in his favor, he can finally sever ties with the dead cop. With blurry vision, he brings the axe down hard, chopping half of his hand off in the process. He falls back; dangling over the edge of a cliff. With the weight of the cop proving to be to strenuous, Dig's hand is severed and he falls from the cliff. He lands on his back and is horrified to realize that he's now paralyzed. The vulture, hungry for his prey, circles above him. Digs knows he's in a real tough situation as the vulture lands next to him. At the end we see the vulture pulling the eyeball from the head of Digs. The hungry vulture continues to feast as the scene fades to black.

This episode is one of my favorites. I remember this one always sticking with me. This was the one that freaked me out the most as a kid. The thought of knowing that you're paralyzed and unable to fend for yourself is frightening enough. But having a vulture rip out your eye in the process! That's utter madness. I do feel that poor old Digs did deserve what he had coming to him, but geez, that's a bit much isn't it? Kyle MacLachlan does a great job as the lewd and crude, Earl Raymond Digs. A little over the top with the acting, but it fits well with the show and the character. The fx for the time were really well done and still hold up today. If you want some good, quick fun, then hunt this one down. It's a great episode.

Starring: Kyle MacLachlan and George Deloy

Screenplay and Directed by: Steven E. de Souza

Original Airdate: 6/15/91