Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Home Sweet Home (1981)

Come celebrate Thanksgiving on A Ghoul Versus... as we try to find a movie about the red headed stepchild of holidays!”

You ever notice there is a dearth of movies about Thanksgiving in the same vein that there are a trillion Christmas and Halloween movies? Hell, even freaking PRESIDENT'S DAY, the lamest holiday of all time, got its own damn movie! Sure, there's stuff like Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, Dutch, and the Ice Storm, but in those Thanksgiving is more a plot device than the actual focus of the story. There is last year's animated Free Birds, which features turkeys TRAVELING BACK IN TIME to prevent turkeys becoming the main course of Thanksgiving dinners everywhere, which is certainly batshit crazy enough to qualify for this blog buuuuuuuuut... I don't know, I have no desire to watch that.

Since I already screwed up this holiday review by already doing Liam Neeson's Unknown, as it was took place during Thanksgiving, I made a list of all movies associated with the holiday to find something else. I found most of them were comedies and immediately crossed them off, since those are just no fun to review for reasons I've mentioned before.  Naturally I found myself left with horror movies because OF COURSE I FREAKING DID. No matter how hard I try, I just can't escape horror movies. What, was that a whopping THREE movies I managed to watch without a horror one? GO ME!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Melancholia (Part 2)

Click here for Part 1!

The screen fades to black and is replaced with a title card reading “Part Two: Claire”. It's been an undetermined amount of time since the wedding, I would guess a few weeks at most. Justine has come to stay with John and Claire, and we see she's regressed to an almost catatonic state as she can't do ANYTHING by herself. As they wait for Justine's taxi to arrive, John and Claire discuss Melancholia: a rogue planet that is due to fly by the Earth in five days. Claire worries it'll hit the Earth, but John assures her it's completely safe and it'll pass them by.

Justine can barely even walk, Claire forced to guide her to the bathroom and bathe her. John is just DISGUSTED by all this, and again I say: GET HER SOME FUCKING HELP! A few days later Justine is beginning to get more functional, Claire taking her riding again. Just like last time, Abraham will not cross the bridge so Justine begins to SAVAGELY beat him with her riding crop until Claire intervenes. Mmm, there goes all that sympathy I had for Justine. Will that damn planet get here already? That same night Claire sees Justine walking outside, almost in a trance. She follows her, finding her lying naked on the ground and basking in the moonlit grow of the approaching Melancholia.

A Ghoul Versus Melancholia (Part 1)

"Dueling Movies: Another Earth Vs. Melancholia!"

Click here for the Another Earth review!

To say that Lars Von Trier is a polarizing director is like saying smoking cigarettes are bad for you: it's a fundamental fact. An experimental Danish filmmaker that LOVES to push buttons in both his films and his endlessly entertaining interviews, Von Trier has been creating critically divisive films since the late 1970s. You can always tell you're reading a review of a Von Trier film because critics will break out their biggest and fanciest words to either praise him or decry him, a lot of these reviews often turning into miniature theses that you just might need a dictionary to decipher.

After several little known releases, Von Trier really put himself on the map with 1996's Breaking The Waves, which served as his introduction to a larger portion of the film viewing world, including myself. Personally, I was spellbound by his SHARPLY unique visual style and deep storytelling, while at the same time finding the film very accessible compared to a lot of the foreign films I'd seen up to that point. Really, Breaking The Waves is solely responsible for opening my tastes up and getting me interested in films deeper than ones such as Star Wars or Horror Franchise #8,409.

Von Trier likes to make his films into trilogies, but based about themes instead of a continuing storyline. He started with his “Europe” trilogy detailing Europe's dark history, then followed it up with the “Golden Heart” trilogy, which was launched by Breaking The Waves and showed us three women with kind hearts being put into awful circumstances. His next trilogy, “USA: Land of Opportunities” remains unfinished as the third film, Wasington, will likely not get made at this point but one can always hope.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Mike Cahill & Brit Marling's Another Earth

Dueling Movies: Another Earth Vs. Melancholia!”

I had never heard of Another Earth in my life... err, afterlife before starting out to watch it. The only reason it came to my attention is recently was having a 50% off sale on all their blu-rays so I stocked up LIKE A BOSS! Being that I'm constantly on the hunt for intriguing films that have slipped under the radar of most people, my attention was immediately drawn to this one as it looks like a unique take on the concept of alternate worlds. It also stars Brit Marling, who I only know from her guest appearance on an episode of my favourite TV show Community, where she played a woman named Page that Britta befriended only because she thought she was a lesbian. She had a really good presence in that episode, so I'm curious to see what she can do in a feature length movie.

Upon doing the briefest of online research before writing this introduction, I discovered it had a plot very similar to another film that came out a few months after it: Lars Von Trier's Melancholia in that both films involved a planet being discovered very close to our own Earth. I'd been planning to review Melancholia sometime early next year, but this discovery changed all my plans especially since I haven't done a Dueling Movies feature in quite some time. A Ghoul Versus..., a place where plans are as fickle as Sir Anthony Hopkins questionable role choices!

A Ghoul Versus William Eubank's The Signal

"Can you recall for me the first time you encountered The Signal?"
"Yeah, I was sitting on my couch watching it and getting more ticked off by the second."

Do you realize the last SIXTEEN movies I've watched have been horror movies? 17 if you count David Fincher's Gone Girl, which I saw by sneaking into the theater in a lowered hat and a trenchcoat thanks to their oppressive “no flesh eaters” policy. Ironically, Gone Girl was scarier than all over those movies combined and multiplied by ten, but we'll get to that when it comes out on home video. Regardless, I am BURNT THE HELL OUT on horror so it's time for some variety on this site.
As a reward to myself for enduring a month of nothing but Hellraiser movies, I'm going to review a good movie. At least I hope it's good, it sure looked amazing from the trailer I saw. The movie in question is The Signal, the second feature film from writer/director William Eubank. Like a lot of directors, he got his big break making music videos and transitioned it into a film career where he has become known for having a very distinct visual style.

I don't really know anything about the film's plot, but that's undeniably the best way to enter an abstract looking story like this one promises to be. Let's try and erase the Godawful atrocity that was Hellraiser: Revelations out of our eyes and minds, because it's time for A Ghoul Versus William Eubank's The Signal!

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Hellraiser: Revelations

Previously on Hellraiser: Hellworld...

Evil went online. Or did it? You know, if you sit down and think about it the internet barely even figured into the events of Hellworld. I mean, Adam killed himself because of the game for reasons that were NEVER explained and everyone got their invitations to the party via a computer game, but that was it. The rest of the movie was just Lance Henriksen playing mind games with a bunch of idiots, which was OH SO satisfying to watch.

Movies, like nearly everything in life, aren't exempt from contracts. Contracts lay out the numerous legal provisions and rights involved in the production of a movie, one of the aspects involving the expiration date of said contract. That is to say if a movie isn't made in a certain amount of time the rights expire, and either go back to the original holder or can go up sale so anyone can buy them.

This isn't usually a problem for most franchises, as the Sequel Train is the strongest force alive in Hollywood besides greed and Nicholas Sparks movies featuring pretty white people.  But in some extreme cases a movie can't be made during the agreed upon time frame, so to keep the rights the producers will make what is commonly known as an “ash can copy”. This term originates from the world of comic books where publishers would throw together a cheaply made comic book (usually with unfinished art and lettering) to maintain their copyright on a certain character or title and then throw all the printed copies away into the “ash can”.

A Ghoul Versus Hellraiser: Hellworld (Part 2)

Click here for Part 1!

The movie takes a break to play a music video called “Welcome To Hell” because I'd like to see YOU think of a way to make a movie feature length. What's that? Write a coherent story that doesn't need endless padding? Have you been READING these reviews so far? Surprising me yet again the police do show up, Chelsea banging on the window to get their attention but she's now joined the ranks of the invisible people so they don't see her. She pulls out her phone and calls 911 again, getting patched directly to one of the officers but he still can't see her in the window so thinks the whole thing is a stupid prank and leave. You COULD try breaking the window Chels...

Mike takes his new friend into the basement to have sex, but she pushes him into the remains room and locks the door. He finds Derrick's body and has the appropriate response, his horror cut short by a random Cenobite that kills him with a giant hook. I call BULLSHIT on this one! I saw Man of Steel, there is NO WAY a hook could pierce his super strong skin. You know the WORST thing about this though? Cavill ruining the tone by having a comical reaction to the Cenobite by quipping “Not good!” when he sees him? No, it's the fact we just lost the only interesting character in the movie not played by Lance Henriksen and there's still THIRTY MINUTES to go in this damn thing.

A Ghoul Versus Hellraiser: Hellworld (Part 1)

Previously on Hellraiser: Deader...

Ever since the third movie, the Hellraiser movies have had a pattern of the odd numbered ones being decent(ish) and the even numbered being atrocious. Hellraiser 7: Deader was no exception, as the movie started off GREAT and even though it fell apart like all these movies do, it still didn't make me all that mad like Hellseeker did. Going off that criteria, that makes it one of the best Hellraiser movies ever!

Like I said in the last review, Deader and Hellworld were filmed back to back in Romania. Since all of these straight-to-video sequels are just repurposed scripts, instead of trying to create some kind of interesting two part story (like the Romanian-filmed Prophecy movies did) the filmmakers just went with another totally unrelated script. This was wasn't even a script, but simply a treatment called “Dark Can't Breathe” that was written by Joel Soisson and turned into a screenplay by our old friend Carl V. Dupré. Soisson's name should ring a few bells, as he directed both those aforementioned Prophecy movies.

I've always maintained this is a huge lost opportunity, because with basically the same guys working on both series, how the hell did this not result in a Prophecy/Hellraiser crossover? It's things like this that just go to show Hollywood doesn't get “it” and is afraid of taking any chances, especially when we're talking the realm of straight-to-video. For crying out loud, Dimension Films owns the right to both franchises!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Hellraiser: Deader

Previously on Hellraiser: Hellseeker...

I don't want to talk about it. I don't even want to be reminded that movie EXISTED.

Romania has slowly become one of THE go to places in Hollywood to make a movie. Thanks to the insanely low costs of shooting there, combined with its varied landscapes and endless pool of citizens that'll work for peanuts, it's the new Canada. While it had yielded some B-level 1990's fare such as Dark Angel: The Ascent (a personal favourite of mine), Highlander: Endgame, and a couple of the Trancers movies, it wasn't until 2003's Civil War era blockbuster Cold Mountain was filmed entirely there did the floodgates open and filmmakers began trampling over each other to shoot there.

Primarily horror films were made there thanks to its oppressive looking architecture leftover from its Communist days that really lends itself to the genre, but it's also produced comedies like Van Wilder 2 and Rian Johnson's The Brothers Bloom. Action blockbusters? It has those too, giving us Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance and the third Expendables movie. In 2005, two movies near and dear to my heart (well, near at least) were filmed there back to back in the form of the Prophecy: Uprising and the Prophecy: Forsaken.

Both of these starred Kari Wuhrer, who was already a veteran of the Romanian film scene thanks to today's film, Hellraiser: Deader, which she filmed right on the heels of the Prophecy films. And just like those films, two Hellraiser movies were filmed back to back but Wuhrer only took part in the first one. I guess even she has her standards, because TWO Hellraiser straight-to-video films is too much to ask from anyone.

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Hellraiser: Hellseeker

Previously on Hellraiser: Inferno...

Hellraiser: Inferno was a nightmare, literally. The whole damn movie was a nightmare experienced by Detective Joseph Thorne, so at least the series has hit rock bottom and has nowhere to go but up, right? Right? Hey, where are you going? Get back here!

Now that Hellraiser is straight-to-video, these movies are going to be coming out much faster than the past few ones did. Hellseeker came out in 2002, only two years after Inferno did. Taking over direction this time is Rick Bota, who would go on to do the next three films in the series until it was mercifully put out of its (and our) misery for a few years. Before landing this gig, Bota was mostly a cinematographer who did a lot of television shows but also had the celluloid gems Barb Wire and the House On Haunted Hill remake under his belt. Yikes and double yikes.

Writing duties fell to Tim Day and Carl V. Dupré, the latter name should sound familiar if you remember a little film called Prophecy 3: The Ascent because he co-wrote that as well. Their script was not written to be a Hellraiser movie (which, just as I suspected, was the same case with Hellraiser: Inferno), but Dimension Films had it rewritten to throw some Cenobite action in and BOOM! Instant sequel. BUT there's some really good news to help balance the rest of this out: this movie marks Ashley Laurence's return to the series that REALLY went downhill after she left. Not that it started on that high of a hill, but you get my point.

I no longer have any optimism left in me for this series, but if anyone can change that it's Scream Queen Kirsty Cotton. Let's get ready to seek... Hell?, because it's time for A Ghoul Versus Hellraiser: Hellseeker!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Hellraiser: Inferno

Previously on Hellraiser: Bloodline...

Studio executives meddled with Hellraiser so bad the director bowed out and left us with an Alan Smithee movie. That's really all there is to say about that one, because I've forgotten almost everything from it already due to it being so “memorable”. Oh right, Pinhead was in outer space on a space station. Hellraiser!

Fast forward to the year 2000, the dawn of a new millennium. What better way to celebrate than by releasing another Hellraiser film? This time the honours went to relative newcomer Scott Derrickson, who would go on to turn a career of mostly high quality horror films (including The Exorcism Of Emily Rose and Sinister) into a HUGE opportunity as he'll be bringing us Marvel Comics' Doctor Strange in 2016. In addition to directing Inferno, Derrickson co-wrote it with his longtime friend Paul Harris Boardman, who has worked with him on pretty much every movie he's ever done.

Despite getting burnt by being excited to see the last film, I'll admit to being somewhat excited here because it's always fun to see the early works of directors before they got big. Let's cue up some cautious optimism because it's now time for A Ghoul Versus Hellraiser: Inferno!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Hellraiser: Bloodline

Previously on Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth...

Director Anthony Hickox tried to put us to sleep for an hour, and then pushed the OVERDRIVE button as everything got more awesome than the Lego Movie. We had Cenobites shooting rockets out of their eyes, killer CDs out of their chests, and one of the best club scenes I've ever seen. Storywise, Pinhead got banished to Hell but that's never exactly stopped him before, has it?

Based off the last movie, I was already pumped for this one. But then my personal overdrive button got pressed when I saw it's an Alan Smithee movie! For those who don't know, Smithee isn't a real person but instead is a pseudonym used by a director when he or she does NOT want their name attached to a movie. This is usually because of a dispute with the studio or some such reason, bottom line is the director is ASHAMED to be associated with the film.

So what happened with Hellraiser: Bloodline? The film was directed by Kevin Yagher, who is one of the most famous special effects wizards alive. He created Freddy Krueger, Chucky, and the Crypt Keeper, as well as doing the effects for movies as varied as Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure to Face/Off to Adaption. Despite his pedigree of knowing his shit, the studio clashed with him constantly over the direction of the movie and what should happen in it. He finally had enough and walked off the set before it was even done, Dimension Films bringing in Joe Chappelle to salvage the whole thing. Chappelle was one year removed from helming the DISASTEROUS Halloween 6: The Curse Of Michael Myers, but that's a story and a review for another day.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth

Previously on Hellbound: Hellraiser II...

Our intrepid heroine Kirsty Cotton became besties with Pinhead and the Cenobite Crew, who then all went on to get slaughtered by a guy with a vagina tentacle growing out of his head. Also a mute girl did stuff... I think, honestly I have absolutely NO IDEA what happened. Sure looked cool, though.

The second Hellraiser movie came out in 1988, amidst its distributor New World Pictures having major financial issues that resulted in a massive slash and burn on the budget. Fast forward four years later to 1992 and New World Pictures had completely gone under, and the rights to the franchise now resided in the hands of famed Dimension Films. They brought back director Tony Randel and writer Peter Atkins to make a third movie, but decided Randel wasn't experienced enough so replaced him with Anthony Hickox. Hickox was famous at the time for directing the horror series Waxwork, a moderately successful series that was a borderline parody of the genre.

Atkins was kept on to write the script, which I'm not sure is a good thing considering how mind bogglingly absurd his previous one was. However, he did end that movie on a cliffhanger of sorts so maybe he had a bigger story in mind that'll tie up all the loose ends from- HAHAH, I couldn't even say that with a straight face. Buckle up folks, it's time for A Ghoul Versus Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth!

Friday, November 7, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Hellbound: Hellraiser II

Previously on Hellraiser...

We entered the world of Clive Barker's Hellraiser. A very dull and confusing world in which nothing made sense or was even remotely explained, but hey the Cenobites sure looked cool!

Flash forward to a year later, and a sequel was given the green light based off the success of the original's first week box office. Barker didn't return to the director's chair, instead handing the duties over to his friend Tony Randel who had helped edit the first movie. Barker wrote the film's story, with his good friend Peter Atkins turning it into a screenplay. Fun fact: Barker, Atkins, and Doug “Pinhead” Bradley were once a theatre group in the 1970s. Bet those were some very interesting performances.

Before we get underway, I want to address two messages I got concerning my last review. One was that I was WAY too hard on the first movie, but I stand by what I said: it's a fantastic premise with some very poor execution and direction. Second was what the hell is Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II, which I described as a cult classic. Yes, it IS a sequel to the Jamie Lee Curtis classic slasher film, which would go on to spawn three weird ass sequels. It's actually a lot like Saw, where the sequel was a vastly different movie they repurposed into a sequel to build off the success of the original film. They went a supernatural direction, introducing ghosts and alternate worlds, but unlike a lot of horror films it WORKS. It's far from perfect, but I give it a strong recommendation because it has some amazing visuals.

Speaking of sequels, it's time to see if the Hellraiser sequel can bring some much needed sense to the franchise. Grab your favourite bondage gear, forget your safe word, and get ready for A Ghoul Versus Hellbound: Hellraiser II! Why isn't it called Hellraiser II: Hellbound like it should be?