Men In Black 2 (2002, Barry Sonnenfeld)

Hey, I never saw this, always wanted to, but heard it was bad. Just the thing The Last Ten Minutes was invented for. The two mismatched partners are joined by Rosario Dawson with nuclear jewelry and pursued by Evil Lara Flynn Boyle till she’s eaten by a subway monster. Jones tells Dawson she’s the fifth element, Smith is attacked by shockingly subpar effects. Did you know there was a part 3? Neither did I.

[Rec] 3: Genesis (2012, Paco Plaza)

Previously watched [Rec] 1 and remake-sequel (remaquel?) Quarantine 2. Can’t find [Rec] 2 on netflix because their search is ridiculous, so let’s pick up here. Loving couple is trapped in kitchen by encroaching zombies until loudspeaker bible recitation stops them. Dude has a sword, which actually seems like a smart zombie weapon. Girl is bitten by an elderly fellow (bad hearing, immune to loudspeaker), guy cuts off her arm but he’s stupid and slow, and they both die. From one of the directors of the first one, but not shot first-person, so the title doesn’t make sense anymore. The girl was in Ramin Bahrani’s Man Push Cart.

[Rec] 4: Apocalypse (2014, Jaume Balagueró)

Oh, this is from the other director of the first one, and looks a lot worse. Stars Angela from parts 1 & 2. A guy with bad hair helps Angela kill zombie monkeys with a boat motor. Why does the bad guy have a snake-tongue? A boat explodes!

The Interview (2014, Goldberg & Rogen)

Those two guys are trying to escape N. Korea. Cue the loud action scenes. Katy Perry soundtracks the fiery death of President Randall Park (Danny Chung in Veep), then we get an anticlimactic escape from the country. One of the directors wrote for Da Ali G Show.

Horns (2013, Alexandre Aja)

The one where Harry Potter is a demon, from the director of the great Hills Have Eyes Remake. Dang, no horns, Harry must’ve had them cut off already (a la Hellboy?). His brother (Joe Anderson of Across the Universe) is sad, so Harry goes walkies with Max Minghella, and there are guns, and wow, Harry sprouts wings then turns into a full flaming demon and has homicidal maniac Max brutalized by snakes. I think Harry’s dead girlfriend is alive again but I stopped watching because my roomie locked his keys in his car. Is this Wolf Parade over the ending?

The Sacrament (2013, Ti West)

Sorry Ti, but after two-and-a-quarter disappointments you join Aja in Last Ten Minutes purgatory. Joe Swanberg in death cult compound is running from gunmen, everyone is dying, and it’s shot first-person a la [Rec] 1. Isn’t this the same plot as one of the V/H/S/2 segments from the same year, which West and Swanberg were also heavily involved with? Joe semi-rescues AJ Bowen (of every Adam Wingard movie) with the shakiest shaky-cam I’ve ever witnessed. Ends with unnecessary solemn title cards. Boo.

Maniac (2012, Franck Khalfoun)

Fuuuck, this is also shot first-person – and out-of-focus, no less. Co-written by Alexandre Aja. Khalfoun made P2 and acted in Aja’s Haute Tension – they’re as close as the West-Swanberg-Wingard crew. I think Elijah Wood kidnaps Nora Arnezeder then she stabs him with a mannequin arm and runs him over. Then she dies, so he marries a mannequin. Most of these movies are very bad, but this one looks unusually, especially, very very bad.

The Conspiracy (2012, Christopher MacBride)

Grainy first-person pinhole camera with blurred-out faces. Why do all these movies hate cinema? Dude wakes up in the ritual sacrifice room, then is chased through the dark woods while wearing an animal head. Finally a series of talking heads dismiss whatever conspiracy theory the hunted/murdered cameraman presumably uncovered. MacBride has made no other movies and hopefully it’ll stay that way.

Automata (2014, Gabe Ibáñez)

It’s balding trenchcoat dudes with shotguns vs. slow, clunky robots. The robots are talking wise, getting themselves shot, when a fully bald Antonio Banderas arrives. His plan of action is poor but he still kills two guys and the third is dispatched by a Short Circuit lizard. Weird/nice to see a robot-future movie where some of the robots (not the lizard) are actual props, not people or digital effects.

I, Frankenstein (2014, Stuart Beattie)

From the trailer this looked like epic nonsense, but it’s actually more coherent than most of the others I just watched. Bill Nighy! The final battle: Frankenstein Eckhart vs. angels, gargoyles, a merman, lots of fire, men in suits, poor digital effects and Bill Nighy! Meanwhile there’s a bunch of computer progress bars and “access denied” messages. Progress bars are always a great source of tension in movies, eh? A massive Matrix-like chamber full of bodies begins to self-destruct. Eckhart (is he the monster or the doctor?) defeats demon-Nighy, saves some lady from a fiery apocalypse and collapsing castle. Beattie wrote the Pirates of the Carribean movies (and Collateral), his cowriter was an actor in Men In Black 2.

Series of short twist-ending horrorshows. Quality was higher than I predicted. I watched in small batches over the course of the month – this 2+ hour collection is probably more wearying to watch all at once.

Apocalypse
Woman violently kills her husband, apologizes for not doing it more peacefully but she’d run out of time due to impending apocalypse. Nacho Vigalondo also directed the fun Timecrimes.

Bigfoot
Babysitters make up story of Mexico City heart-eaters. Story is true! Babysitters’ hearts are eaten, little girl lives. I must’ve missed where Bigfoot came in. Adrián García Bogliano made last year’s Here Comes the Devil.

Cycle
Doppelganger strangles his other, ad nauseum. Reliant on shock music. Ernesto Díaz Espinoza is known for action stuff like Kiltro and Mirageman.

Dogfight
Slow-mo, dialogue-free man-vs-dog underground fighting ring. Marcel Sarmiento made a good-sounding abandoned-asylum movie called Deadgirl.

Exterminate
Lazy dude keeps getting bitten by the same spider. We see the dude from spider POV sometimes. Then baby spiders hatch from his ear. Not as good as the Creepshow episode. Angela Bettis is a Lucky McKee collaborator, directing Roman and playing the lead in May.

Fart
The one about Japanese girls farting. Nothing to see here. Keep moving. Noboru Iguchi also made Zombie Ass and Bad Butt – I am sensing a trend.

Gravity
Surfer with first-person camera dies. Not as good as the Cuaron version. Andrew Traucki made a shark movie called The Reef.

Hydro-Electric Diffusion
Live-action cartoon WWII soldier dog fights nazi stripper fox. Even better than it sounds! Thomas Cappelen Malling’s only other credit is Norwegian Ninja.

Ingrown
Kidnapped, tied-up girl is injected with Cabin Fever virus, dies. Awful high-pitched whine on the soundtrack. This is the worst. Jorge Michel Grau did the well-reviewed We Are What We Are.

Jidai-Geki
Executioner cannot focus on his head-chopping job because the dude committing harakiri keeps making funny faces. Yudai Yamaguchi worked on Tokyo Gore Police, directed two comedy-horror baseball movies and something called Meatball Machine.

Klutz
Animation is nice but it’s about a sentient, murderous piece of poop. Anders Morgenthaler made the enjoyable Princess.

Libido
New definition of torture-porn? Jackoff competition, loser is killed with a stake up the ass. One guy makes it to round 14 then finds himself on the wrong end of the contest as a girl has sex with him while chainsawing him to death. Odd. Timo Tjahjanto made the suicide/devil-cult segment of V/H/S/2.

Miscarriage
The shortest segment, and nearly the second in a row to be toilet-based. Ti West has been all the rage since House of the Devil.

Nuptials
Huge relief because it stars a colorful parrot who does not get killed or hurt. Talking parrot gives away dude’s affair during his proposal, he gets knifed. Banjong Pisanthanakun made horrors Shutter and Alone.

Orgasm
The great Cattet & Forzani explore new realms of color and slow-motion with a woman receiving oral sex and blowing soap bubbles. I hope they make another movie soon.

Pressure
Prostitute in financial trouble accepts job to be videotaped stomping kittens to death. Kinda the saddest one. Simon Rumley is known for Red White & Blue and The Living and the Dead.

Quack
Director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett decide their segment will stand out for featuring a real death, and plan to kill a caged duck on camera, but they don’t know how guns work and end up shooting each other. By far this is my favorite Wingard movie.

Removed
Hospital prisoner/patient has valuable movie film under his skin, but also has subcutaneous bullets for self-defense. Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat features prominently, and it rains blood at the end. Hunh? Srdjan Spasojevic’s only other credit is snuff-movie thriller A Serbian Film.

Speed
Notably bad acting and editing. Mad Max dystopia turns out to be fantasies of dying druggies. Jake West does DVD-extra docs for horror movies including the feature Phantasmagoria on the Phantasm series.

Toilet
Fantastic claymation. I was nervous since this is the third toilet-based short in the series but it’s completely wonderful. Lee Hardcastle has 20 credits from the last 3 years, and they’re all clay remakes of horror movies.

Unearthed
Death of a vampire, from the vampire’s first-person perspective, in just a few takes. I’ve seen most of Ben Wheatley’s movies, most recently A Field in England.

Vagitus
Sci-fi population-control short looks ike a video game cutscene, super slick, no idea what happened because I turned the volume down but someone was executed in the name of the government and someone else exploded. Kaare Andrews is the second director here after Ti West to have made a Cabin Fever sequel.

WTF!
Brief Metalocalypse-looking animation becomes making-of segment, freewheeling live-action ideas that start with W (includes an Insane Clown Posse magnets reference), then the whole thing turns brutally insane and hilarious. Jon Schnepp directs/designs/edits Metalocalypse.

XXL
French people super-taunt an overweight girl until she goes home and cuts herself thin with knives. Xavier Gens made Frontier(s).

Youngbuck
School janitor is a pedophile, a young victim takes revenge. No spoken dialogue, set to upbeat 1980’s montage music. Jason Eisener made Hobo with a Shotgun and Slumber Party Alien Abduction.

Zetsumetsu
Dr. Strangelove-referencing nazi race-war sex-melee dystopia, ending the anthology in an orgy of bad taste. Yoshihiro Nishimura directed Tokyo Gore Police, obviously.

Not the kind of movie I was looking for. It has realistic lighting instead of movie lighting, which makes all the difference. Also I’m not sure that it was a horror movie. Depends what happened, who any of these people were, and whether the one bloody action montage (preceded by a girl dancing topless in a wolf mask, but with poor lighting) was supposed to be actually happening, or was the movie they’re shooting, or something else.

Sheil:

Swanberg (his own lead actor, just like Polanski, except not at all like that) is casting a werewolf movie, frustrated with moviemaking, says it’s crap if it’s just filmed theater, that we need new forms (I suggest he watch some Guy Maddin). I think he’s casting a girl in his movie who makes his girlfriend uncomfortable. He goes on about how movies (making/watching them) doesn’t make him happy, and right now his movie isn’t making me happy, so I’m off to the IMDB. Interesting thing is this one stars two experienced actresses – Amy Seimetz (Upstream Color) and Kate Lyn Sheil (all the Alex Ross Perry and Ti West and Adam Wingard movies) – plus at least three four film directors – Swanberg, Ti West, Larry Fessenden and Antonio Campos – but I’m not sure who anyone played or what was going on. Maybe I could’ve paid closer attention. Anyway, first movie I’ve seen by Swanberg (not counting a V/H/S episode) and I was hoping I’d love it since he has made a hundred more.

A werewolf with a gun is twice as deadly:

It’s a nice change that Ti West makes old-fashioned, slow-moving, simply-plotted horror films, but I think he goes too far in that direction. I didn’t like House of the Devil either, but at least the ending of that one was overall less lame. Here he gives the lead girl an inhaler (assuming nobody in the audience has ever seen a movie before), allows crappy, predictive string-drone music to detract from the decent cinematography, and sets up a boring haunted-hotel scenario with dense characters who do things like go down to the basement when they’ve been warned not to.

Claire and McGillis:

Claire (Sara Paxton of Last House on the Left Remake) costars with Pat Healy (a Ford brother in The Assassination of Jesse James), who was the one character I kinda liked, because he’s so flaky. He runs a terrible-looking website about hotel ghosts, but he’s lazy as shit and doesn’t seem too excited about ghost-hunting (turns out he invented all his ghost stories). And at the end, after declaring his love to Claire and saying he’ll do anything for her, he flees the hotel in terror, leaving her to die alone (from ghosts? or asthma? we’ll never know!)

1980’s starlet Kelly McGillis plays a surly washed-up actress and spirit-healer, Tiny Furniture‘s Lena Dunham has one scene as the annoying girl at a coffee shop, and George Riddle, looking like a death-bed Gene Hackman, is an old man who wants to die in the room where he stayed on his honeymoon.

Claire stalked by undead Gene Hackman:

The Haunting In Connecticut (2009, Peter Cornwell)
Unhappy teen tears his walls apart with an axe, finds plentiful dead bodies and flashback shock cuts. Is formaldehyde flammable? Apparently so, and unhappy teen lights the place aflame, pausing to transform into a green ghoul for a few seconds. I hope Martin Donovan is still alive. Oh nice, here he is along with Elias Koteas. Mom rushes in as the house, which seems to have literally been built out of dead bodies with writing on their skin, burns around them, blowing away ghosts with her mighty prayers. Nothing dumber than a true-story ghost movie, but I liked the poster art for this one. The director made cool stop-motion horror short Ward 13, one writer did The Typewriter, the Rifle and the Movie Camera and the other created Revenge of the Nerds.

.com For Murder (2002, Nico Mastorakis)
Haven’t seen a thriller with VR glasses since The Lawnmower Man – or maybe these are the Silence of the Lambs night-goggles that this Tarantino-chinned quip-happy stalker is wearing. First she tries the Rear Window flash-photo trick, but he says “I’ve seen Rear Window too,” then gets blinded by lightning and falls down the stairs. Coda: Huey Lewis plays a cop! I don’t get where the dot-com part comes in. Mastorakis did other video nonsense like Ninja Academy and Death Street USA.

The Forgotten (2004, Joseph Ruben)
I really wanted to see this (and the similar-sounding Flightplan) when it came out but the bad, bad reviews finally led it here instead – shame. Julianne Moore just wants her son back, and Gary Sinise won’t help, but some boring guy admits that the son was kidnapped as an experiment to see if parents can forget their missing kids. Oh but the boring guy is an ineffective memory-erasing alien special-effect, and after she defeats him by endlessly repeating that she has a son, he’s sucked into the sky. Julianne gets her son back, and as a bonus, Dominic West. Director Ruben made Return to Paradise, which I liked, and writer Gerald Di Pego did Burt Reynolds flick Sharky’s Machine.

The Crazies Remake (2010, Breck Eisner)
Ah, the ol’ knife-scrape-against-the-wall tactic. Trying to steal a truck, Timothy “Dreamcatcher” Olyphant and Radha “Surrogates” Mitchell are laid low by gun-toting crazies. Movie has a good look to it, and not as schizophrenic as The Haunting In Connecticut. As the couple escapes, the town behind them is nuked (shout out to Return of the Living Dead, the original town-nuking Romero ripoff), but they survive inside the fridge, err truck, and aren’t blinded at all from looking directly into the blast. From the writers of Pulse Remake and Amityville Horror Remake.

Cabin Fever 2 (2009, Ti West)
Two heavy bleeders flee the school dance (I think) – the boy is detained and the girl is picked up by Mark Borchardt. Elsewhere a stripper spreads the Fever in various real gross ways. Now a poor cartoon with too much fake film-weathering effect shows the disease spreading throughout the world. No main characters, then? I continue to not share the internet’s love for Ti West.

Skyline (2010, Bros. Strause)
A sweet grey sparkly alien demon is threatening two tenacious teens (Eric Balfour of Texas Chainsaw Massacre Remake and Scottie Thompson), but fighter jets intervene. Nice 360 pan of the aliens winning, then the two kiss while being tractor-beam abducted. It’s all Matrix inside the ship, the muddy humans having their brains sucked out one by one. It’s gooey and neat looking, but the alien made from the apparently-pregnant girl’s dismembered boyfriend’s brain saves her. Seems super dark, with the end of humanity and all, despite the final teen-love-conquers-all message. The Strauses are renowned effects artists but unfortunately, so are the writers.

Frankenstein (2004, Marcus Nispel)
Michael Madsen as “Harker” (wrong novel) aims to kill a woman with a melon baller but shotgun-toting detective Parker Posey scares him off. Flashlight chase scene in an abandoned factory, booo-ring. Hulking hooded guy (Frankenstein? Vincent Perez of Time Regained) dispatches Madsen, later turns up at Posey’s house to set up a sequel that never came. From the director of Texas Chainsaw Massacre Remake, Friday The 13th Remake and Conan The Barbarian Remake.

I was under the mistaken assumption that this would be a great movie. I remember everyone talking about it because it’s shot on 16mm in the style of an early 80’s horror movie, promos were sent out on VHS and it has a retro-looking poster. But I guess people get excited over anything that references the 80’s, and under all that excitement lay a blandly average horror movie.

Samantha (Jocelin Donahue of The Burrowers) is a starving college student with no apparent knack or affinity for anything besides her walkman with orange-padded headphones. Is it just me, or do the period-specific details of movies set in the recent past always seem like they’re trying to be funny (I’m thinking Donnie Darko, The Big Lebowski, etc)? Obviously a college student in 1983 might have that exact walkman, but to me it automatically feels like a gag. I wonder if that’s how people who were my age in the early 80’s felt watching films set in the 60’s. She also wears oven mitts as gloves, but I don’t remember that part of the 80’s. Maybe I wasn’t cool enough at the time. Anyway, Sam rents a room from Dee Wallace (The Howling, The Frighteners) to get away from her sex-crazed dorm roommate, then answers a babysitting ad so she can begin to be able to pay for the room. Her less-poor, patient, understanding friend Megan (mumblecore star Greta Gerwig of Baghead) gives her a ride, then is shot in the head Harry Brown-style by a creepy Zach Galifianakis lookalike (AJ Brown of The Signal).

Hallo, Greta:

At the spooky house (on the night of a lunar eclipse – the most boring kind of eclipse), Sam meets friendly, old-fashioned Tom Noonan (Wolfen, Robocop 2, Frankenstein in Monster Squad) and wife Mary Woronov (TerrorVision, Warlock, The Devil’s Rejects). Tom gives her $400 and tells her the job is really to watch the house and make sure his aged mother upstairs doesn’t get into trouble. No baby no problem… except that Tom, Mary and Zach are a satanic-cult family who poison her pizza and tie her up in their pentagram-decorated attic. She kills two of ’em with a knife, tries to shoot herself in the head, but ends up alive in a hospital, impregnated by the devil.

Mary and Tom:

I suppose Ti West (who later made Cabin Fever 2) perfectly captured the spirit of the original Halloween, wherein fuck-all happens for the first 75% of the movie. I just didn’t expect that Harry Brown would be a better Shocktober movie than House of the Devil – it was more tense, bloodier and even funnier.