Friday, October 12, 2018

Schlocktober Fest 2018, Vol. III

Here are the rules, again:

1) It has to be a horror film (loosely defined by yours truly)
2) I have to watch one movie, per day (31 days)
3) In case I haven't made this clear yet, it cannot be something I have already seen (you'll just have to trust me)

October 7, 2018
The Chamber (2018)
Viewed on: Shudder
Key contributor: every action film where characters argue about dire situations, in the history of film

Here's a picture that would fall under the "loosely defined" as horror characterization.  I'd go so far to suggest that this should be "loosely defined" as a film.  Set off the coast of Korea, here's a movie that does not devolve into monster movie mayhem or some other type of science gone wrong, horror-ific shenanigans.  The United States Military loses a sub which contains valuable data.  It sinks to the bottom of the East China Sea.  There is then a race to destroy the downed submarine before the North Koreans can get their hands on it.  Only, there is totally not a race.  We never see the other perspective.  All we get is a black ops team commandeering a tiny civilian submersible and then bickering with, and murdering, each other for 90 minutes.  A fun time was certainly not had by all, especially not by me.

If you saw The Meg (abomination that it was) you might remember the tiny submersible from the beginning of that picture.  It fit 3, uncomfortably (though,  one of them was a giant).  They use the same submarine in this one.  There are somewhere between 7-9 people on board.  I wrote down one name in my notes, Captain Loomis.  If memory serves, I called him Loomis because he vaguely resembled Donald Pleasance.  He does not go on the voyage and is never seen again after the picture is 5 minutes old.  The main character, mission leader, the CO, is a woman.  I wish I knew more about her.  She bickers as well as any man.

Here's an example of one, snappy, exchange:

Disgruntled Crewman:  'This wasn't part of the plan, the plans coming loose!"
CO:  You're coming loose!"

A few submarine tropes (bursting pipes, bolts, bickering seaman, straw drawing, a drowning seaman, etc) later and the picture mercifully approached it's ending.  There is zero reason for it to exist.  Every scene has been done before and done much better.  Pick a submarine movie.  Any submarine movie.  The one with Kelsey Grammar perhaps would even suffice.  Zero stars.  Were in this movie.  And that's also my rating.

October 8, 2018
Hell House LLC (2015)
Viewed on:  Shudder
key contributor:  Paul, the painfully dated camera guy

Typically, I tend to ignore most found footage because the whole gimmick seems played out.  We're 20 years since Blair Witch.  There's not much new that can be done.  Characters get in a sticky situation and keep filming, while arguing, until the camera falls to the ground because the last guy or girl finally died.  That's like 90% of them.  Then there are the hidden camera ones, I guess.  This is one that I heard a rave about (a solitary friend raved) so I figured I'd give it a shot.  I'm sort of glad that I did.

The setting (the Abaddon Hotel, in Abaddon, NY, couple hours north of NYC) is not at all unique.  It's a house that seems geographically mangled, architecturally unsound, and...a little more than a little creepy.  Into this setting arrives Hell House LLC, a haunted house company ready to scare the bejesus out of the good (maybe awful) people of Abaddon and any hipsters that make the drive up from the city.  As we learn at the beginning of this particular picture this all leads to something called the "2009 Halloween Haunted House Tour Tragedy" (could use a little work, maybe let's not trademark that just yet).

So, we got, basically, a movie within a movie.  The person making the documentary about the "Hell House LLC Tragedy" (better name) and the found tapes of the Hell House LLC film crew as they prepare the hotel for the big night.  Along the way we got some clowns, some gradual cracking up, some murders, suicides, and haunted house "malfunction" that may leave, I don't know, 12 people dead?  More?  Less?  This is a good one.  The scares are evenly paced throughout (and they get bigger and scarier).  It's not one of those found footage pictures where nothing happens nothing happens nothing happens nothing happens everyone's dead the end.  Also, I kinda liked some of these characters or at least I didn't outright hate most of them.  Recommended even if you think you've seen your last found footage film.  This is more of a schlockumentary anyway.

October 9, 2018
Island Claws (1980)
Viewed on: Amazon Prime
key contributor: Trouble the dog
Co-contributor: Irish Whiskey

Well, shit, if this isn't the greatest picture I've seen all month and probably in my entire pathetic life.  What did they call Grizzly?  "Jaws with Claws"?  Fuck it if this picture didn't just steal that tagline right out from under Grizzly which will now, heretofore, for absolutely forever be referred to as "Jaws with Fur".  This movie is incredible.  A whizzed-on-by Floridian nightmare steeped in moonshine and regret (for myself, not having seen it sooner).

What we have in this picture is a plucky blonde reporter, aptly named Jan Rains who returns home (I imagine this is the Gulf Coast) to cover world hunger for her newspaper.  Wait, what?  Yes, world hunger.  So, of course, she latches onto the regionally renowned scientist Dr. Legs Macneil and his handsome young lab assistant, Dr. Peter Adams.  Why, you may ask?  Well, they're researching the local crab population...and, by researching, I mean experimenting on the local crab population.  We're talking injecting them with some kind of super growth hormone.  You see, bigger crabs means more food for Africa or something like that.   They were so busy wondering if they could they never stopped to ask if they should (is what some smart guy totally wonders in this film long before it was ever wondered in any other film).

Also, there's a Nuclear power plant disaster, a near iconic bar scene that goes on near forever ("You missed the big crab race" and. oh dear god, that banjo player), and a fairly prescient side-story involving Haitian immigrants being mistook for giant crabs that all serves to enhance the film while also deterring would be haters from labeling this thing a mess.  It's a god damned mess-terpiece.  Also, the scene where the female jogger goes toe to toe with a giant claw (unseen by us) and loses an arm.  I mentioned Trouble, the dog.  The Irish dog.  He puts up a good fight, standing up for the Haitians.  Maybe he comes out in a single piece,  I don't know.  This is a classic.  They built a giant crab model (see photo up top).  We see it at the end.  Like Jaws, it probably worked terribly.  Sometimes, less is better.  I could go on and on about this crab that goes "rawrrrrrr" like a jaguar, but I ran out of notes.

No comments: