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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Guest06:58 AM -- Fri October 9, 2015

The Guest

My Review: This is not necessarily a horror movie. It’s pretty iffy, but hey, it’s probably good that you can’t always nail movies into specific boxes. I declare the massive overabundance of jack-o-lanterns to justify it as a BHE review. Anyway, in this movie, a soldier shows up at a family’s house and says he was friends with their son, who was a soldier that died recently. They invite him in to get to know him and practically adopt him because they’re a little odd. Turns out, he’s evil.

Towards the end, the movie kind of transforms into a crazy military action showdown with all sorts of machine guns and walls getting blown apart, but with Jason/Michael Myers as one of the sides in the conflict, practically. It’s a little different. I thought this whole outcome was relatively disappointing (and the final twist even more disappointing - it was the kind of twist that really says “the movie shouldn’t end here, but hey, our run time is up!”), but it was still pretty fun. It seemed like the mystery of this clearly weird soldier who insinuated himself into their lives, and taught their kids some really dark lessons, should’ve come out to a more interesting resolution. But what they did works, it’s an okay story. It’s just not amazing, and definitely didn’t melt my brain with shock and surprise. Oh, and the soundtrack was straight out of an 80’s movie (it turns out the music was made with the same type of synthesizers as John Carpenter used for Halloween 3, so there you go!).

My Rating: 3/5 Butterfly Knives.

My Movie Idea: Okay, this is a very transgressive idea that would never be allowed by Hollywood, and probably will deeply offend half the people reading this. But I’m going to share it because it is actually the idea that came into my head while watching this movie. In my movie, there’s a kid in high school who is badly bullied and mistreated, and he’s all goth and sullen and withdrawn. And angry. The classic profile of a school shooter. Which is exactly what he intends to be. He is secretly obtaining an arsenal and making plans with a buddy or two who are similarly abused, preparing to shoot up the school and kill whoever they can before dying themselves. Yeah, it’s dark.

Anyway, before they get the chance to enact this plan, something big and bad goes down. There are a lot of things it could be, from a military invasion like Red Dawn to an alien invasion, but I think what I want it to be is that there are demons who are entering the world through a portal to witness the shooting to come (you can see a premise like this in Odd Thomas, by the way). Normally such demons are invisible and of no import, they just enjoy the killing and move on, but another goth kid at their school happens to be into witchcraft and fools around with the wrong spells, causing the demons this time to fully enter our reality, and they start going on a rampage of their own, murdering people and eating brains and whatever demons like to do. So guess what? Redemption, that’s what! The school shooter crew is very heavily armed and entirely prepared. They go in and wipe out the demons and in the process, they learn to care about other people, have self-esteem, and have empathy and become heroes as well. It’s a happy ending.

Oh and they get in huge trouble afterwards since all their guns and homemade bombs are highly illegal. Ooh, maybe the movie is framed with the homeland security interviews of them after the fact, and it goes back in flashbacks, so at first you think maybe they did shoot up a school.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Blood Lands09:40 AM -- Thu October 8, 2015

The Blood Lands

My Review: What an exciting title, right? Surely this is some epic adventure into a nightmare world. Well, SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT!, here is the entire plot of this movie in a single sentence leaving out not a single important detail: This British couple buys a house in Scotland, then a group of guys in pig masks show up during the night and chase them down, kidnap them, and dump them back in England somewhere. The end.

I think they were going for “ooh, what a twist, they aren’t trying to kill them at all!” But who cares? I’m not okay with people stalking me to violently kidnap me either. Those people aren’t going to get up and say “Oh, those crazy fellows! Gee whiz!” and let the pig-men keep their house! The unfilmed aftermath is pretty straightforward: Police will go to the house and arrest all the guys who are now squatting there, and the people get their house back (which they’ll quickly sell, seeing as how they know now it’s a pretty bad neighborhood). Nobody wins! Everybody is unhappy.

But regardless of what a crappy plan it was, it’s just a crappy movie. It was tense and suspenseful, in the sense that the people were trying to escape through the woods and the pig-men were looking for them, but not much point in suspense by itself. There has to be a plot, and they didn’t bother with that. It just seemed like half of a movie. It seemed well-crafted, but it’s like if somebody crafted a Teletubbies movie really well. I still wouldn’t watch it. I was extra-mad because of the title and because I had been expecting ghosts (just guessing from the brief plot description). Nope, just pig men.

My Rating: 1/5 Potato Sacks.

My Movie Idea: I couldn’t really formulate any creative ideas while watching since this movie sapped all creativity from the room, but off the top of my head, if you’re gonna make “The Blood Lands”, how about some kind of epic adventure where a heavily armed ninja nun goes into a demonic underworld to recover her daughter’s soul that Satan has stolen? Also she has to battle demons (with machine guns and martial arts naturally) which we later discover are actually manifestations of her own true inner demons (she wasn’t always a nun, folks!), and in the end none of it is real, it’s just representative of the mental journey she’s going through in rehab as she gets clean to save her daughter from the abusive father who now has custody because she’s in rehab. And the very end of the movie is her in the real world doing nothing magical but standing up and being strong and getting him arrested and getting her daughter back. I mean come on, the three words of the title are the most creative thing in this movie.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Jug Face06:31 AM -- Wed October 7, 2015

Jug Face

My Review: This is the story of a really weird backwoods village somewhere in the South. The people there worship a pit - an actual pit. It’s a dirty hole in the ground with muddy water at the bottom. But apparently it has healing powers, provided they feed it a person’s blood every so often when it asks for some. How does it ask? Glad you asked! It sends a psychic vision to a guy in town who sculpts a jug with the face of a villager on it, and that villager is the one they have to sacrifice. That’s just the backstory though - the actual story is about a girl who finds a jug with her own face on it, and hides it so she doesn’t have to get killed. Things go badly.

This movie is really well done. It effortlessly creates this fantasy world and pulls you right in. It just all makes sense and builds together into a totally real world without holding your hand along the way and insulting your intelligence. You have to figure it out, but it’s easy to do. There are only two downsides that I see to an otherwise excellent cinematic experience: First, the shunned boy is initially very creepy, until he opens his mouth at which point he’s like Mr. Friendly Exposition Man. It’s downright odd, and I feel like they could’ve easily kept him far more cryptic rather than just blabbing out whatever the girl needs to know, in plain English. He even comes when called and answers questions directly. It’s so improper. That is not how ghostly messengers are allowed to work!

SPOILER PARAGRAPH! Secondly, and this is the big problem, the ending of the movie is garbage. All that great buildup, I just know it’s coming together into something amazing, and... nothing. If there is a moral to this story, it’s not a very good one (like “don’t buck the system” - not a good message!). It’s just weird. And dramatically, it’s just a flop. There needed to be some element of change at the end, something happening, not the equivalent of “this was just a rough patch, things are back to normal now.” That’s what makes a story!

So great movie, right up until the last two minutes! I say make up your own ending. I was having such a great time up until the end.

My Rating: 4/5 Jugs With Faces.

My Movie Idea: I couldn’t think of a movie while watching this one because I was too busy boggling at the fact that this movie is so similar to a story I already created! I wrote a short story a few years ago, and it was about an Inquisitor in a nazi-type world who goes to visit a remote village, where it’s his job to look for people who aren’t properly following the culture (in this world, culture is dictated by the totalitarian government - you WILL listen to Bieber!!). He ends up stumbling across, you guessed it, a big muddy pit in the woods behind the village, which the villagers worship because of the gifts it brings them. It’s almost an identical setup, right down to many of the specifics, though this movie is from a villager’s perspective while I brought in an outsider. And I had less jugs and more tentacles. I would share the story with you, but it’s much too long for here, and it was just a first draft so I assume it’s absolutely terrible and I’m not going to check for myself or I’ll even ruin my own memories of it. But anyway, what’s up with that? Brainjacked again.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Rigor Mortis06:27 AM -- Tue October 6, 2015

Rigor Mortis

My Review: First of all, let’s note that this movie is in Cantonese and is deeply steeped in Chinese culture, so I know that a lot of it was way over my head. But from what I did understand, it’s the story of a guy who moves into a really depressing apartment building and hangs himself within the first 5 minutes of his arrival (literally). He’s cut down before he dies by a very spry old man, and ghosts swirl around the two of them as mystical kung fu occurs. There’s a bunch of that in this movie, and when I say mystical kung fu, I don’t actually mean any kung fu at all, which was kind of surprising. In truth, the few fight scenes in this movie would’ve been cooler if they had actually done serious kung fu in them, but it was much more about the mystical - they threw a punch or two, but mostly they’d scrawl bloody symbols on their hands and touch the enemy, or tie them up with bloody string (blood was definitely a big factor). So don’t get me wrong, it’s not a kung fu movie, it’s more of a violent-exorcism movie.

Anyway, back to the plot: there’s an old guy who dies falling down the stairs, whose body is used as a vessel for the twin ghosts who almost possessed our hanged hero, and he becomes a vampire. And yes, this is China, so vampires hop! The few people who are still alive at the end (including a retired vampire hunter) have to battle the vampire with crazy mystical powers, and it’s quite a special effects extravaganza.

SPOILER PARAGRAPH! There’s a final ending tacked on after our hero sacrifices himself to beat the vampire, which possibly reveals that he did die when he hanged himself, and actually the rest of the events were more of a dying delusion than reality. The guy was a famous actor and he was sort of wanting his death to be the heroic stories he played in movies, rather than a mundane forgotten fade-away. At least that’s my interpretation. It definitely added a layer to the movie, though it also felt seriously tacked on, since it only occupied about one minute of running time.

Overall, it was pretty interesting, and the people on IMDB seem to think that if I understood Chinese culture and mythology, I would’ve gotten a lot more out of it. There were plenty of things I didn’t understand, that’s for sure, though for the most part the mythology was delivered in a pretty clear way, just as it would be in a movie that made up its fantasy for itself.

My Rating: 3/5 Coin Masks.

My Movie Idea: You know how in some movies, there’s a building that’s been around a hundred years and people check out the blueprints and realize that it was designed from the ground up to be some sort of demonic temple, or spiritual resonator, or other evil thing? Ghostbusters is one example. Those movies always take place years later, when the building is done. In my movie, we have the story of such a building being created, in the early 1900s. Maybe we flash-forward to after it’s built sometimes too, but the real story is about the creation. All the intrigue and backstabbing (and satanic rituals) as the crazed megalomaniac funding the creation keeps different teams working on different parts and never revealing the full picture to anyone, so they can’t piece together what is actually happening.

Our hero is one of the contractors working directly under the owner, and he figures things out gradually. In the dramatic finale, the building is finished, an apparent success, which is bad news for our world, as the madman summons a demon in the penthouse. He expects it to go flying off and kill stuff or whatever, but it turns around and eats him, as we cut to the contractor in a coffeehouse elsewhere (perhaps he was telling this story to a friend in voiceover the whole time?) who says “Yeah, I did my job alright. I mean, I cut a corner or two, I guess, but hey, what contractor doesn’t?” And we probably get a cutaway view into the floorboards where we see the steel pentagram under the floors is missing one piece, which is where the demon got out.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Would You Rather?06:23 AM -- Mon October 5, 2015

Would You Rather?

My Review: This is an entry in one of my favorite genres: the rich guy who invites a bunch of people to participate in a “game” which actually entails very bad things for them. In this case, he offers them enough money to solve any problems they may have for life, if they can win an unspecified game against a bunch of other people who also need money. It turns out the game is “Would You Rather”, as in “Would you rather stab the person to your left in the thigh with an icepick, or whip this other guy 3 times with a whipping stick?”

Of course it gets very brutal and unpleasant, and also of course they shoot anybody who won’t decide or tries to leave. There’s only one part I couldn’t watch though, when someone is forced to cut their own eye with a razor blade. No eye stuff for me. No way. So it was actually pretty entertaining all around, wondering what would come next or how they would get out of this. And it has a pretty standard twist for an ending, but it was still fun. I enjoy these kind of movies as long as they focus more on the psychology and less on watching people be tortured. That is not my interest.

My Rating: 3/5 Water Barrels.

My Movie Idea: You’d think I would want to make an entry in this genre myself, and there are many such I would love to do, but in this case, something else came to mind in the early scenes of this movie. In my movie, there’s a megabillionaire philanthropist. Somebody like Bill Gates who is so rich that he makes millions (billions?) just from the interest on his money sitting in the bank. He doesn’t have to do anything, all his time is free, and he has limitless funds. So he is a truly amazing human being - he spends all of his time on charity work, and donates billions of dollars to every worthy cause. Every step of the way, you see that this is all completely sincere and real - he absolutely is giving all of his time and money to help others. He is a fantastic person, who is directly responsible for saving hundreds of thousands of lives with his charity work.

Ah, but there’s the twist. Since he has saved so many lives, in the after hours, he truly and honestly (and just as sincerely!) believes he can kill people if he wants. It’s not even balancing the scales, it’s just a tiny drop on the bad side compared to an ocean on the good side! He’s kind of like Batman, except instead of fighting crime at night, he stalks and murders people, maybe torturing them even. Maybe they’re people he thinks deserve it - others from his social circle, super rich people who don’t help others with their money. Or maybe not, maybe they’re just homeless people who won’t be missed, but that seems counter to his helping-people thoughts. Either way, he is totally above suspicion as how could this guy possibly ever commit a crime?

Maybe the story is about one cop who is onto him and pursues him relentlessly and gets no support because of how loved the guy is. Something like that. It’s something of a character study, of a really twisted character who truly believes that he is just having one tiny little vice on top of all the great stuff he does. And probably there’s a bit in there about “okay, maybe he does kill somebody once a week, but if we lock him up, he won’t be helping thousands every week. Is it really better for the world?” And in the end, the cop probably has to shoot him to save someone. So he saved one life, but now the whole charity train is dead (maybe his will gives all his money to his good-for-nothing nephew instead of to charity as you might expect for a guy like this) and on balance, a lot more people will suffer than be helped. Weird and scary.
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