October 28, 2009

Disturbing Behavior (1998)

Disturbing Behavior (1998)
Watched October 25, 2009

Warning: Some spoilers follow.
"In Cradle Bay, it doesn't matter if you're not perfect. You will be."

Steve Clark (James Marsden) and his family just moved to Cradle Bay. On the first day of school, Steve notices that there is a group, the Blue Ribbons, who seem a little too perfect. Steve and his friend, Gavin, stumble upon the fact that a crazed doctor is transforming previously unruly students into completely perfect teenagers. It's up to Steve, his new girlfriend Katie Holmes, and some random janitor character to stop the Blue Ribbons and the doctor before they all fall prey to his nutso scheme.

I think the 1990s were probably the worst time for horror in recent history. Sure, there were your Screams here and there that were awesome and are classics, but for the most part, the films were just kind of "eh". Case in point: Disturbing Behavior. The film is never particularly good, but never spectacularly bad. It's merely forgettable. It's merely "eh".

But, honestly, I'm going to give the film a little slack as it is one of the many flicks over the years that was butchered to pieces by its distributor. I haven't seen a "director's cut" of the film, nor do I have the DVD, so I cannot watch the deleted scenes. Therefore, I have to judge the film on the cut that was shown on MGM-HD. It's not the theatrical release cut, as that has a "deleted love scene" with James Marsden and Katie Holmes. So, I assume it's the cut from the DVD release, which is supposed to pale in comparison to the director's cut. But, the film wasn't too good to begin with, so I'm not going to watch it again just to watch the director's real vision. I figure it's more or less the same.

Enough about theatrical release cuts and the like! I am here to tell you whether or not you should spend your precious time watching Disturbing Behavior. But, the problem is I don't really know how to answer that question. At first, I would say no. But then I would regret that decision, and say yes. But then I would say that it doesn't really deserve a full recommendation. So I'm just going to compromise, and say maybe, if the plot appeals to you.

The acting is acceptable, with the best actors in the movie being Nick Stahl as the paranoid Gavin, and William Sadler as the janitor character. Even though the janitor character is really stupid and pointless (why is he going so far out of his way to help these kids, even going as far as to kill himself to stop the doctor's plot?), I must admit Sadler did a good job portraying him. And Gavin, the best character in the movie, is greatly helped by Stahl's acting.

Speaking of Gavin, I don't think the filmmakers did the right thing converting him into a Blue Ribbon halfway through the film. The character was probably the most interesting thing about the entire movie, and after he becomes a Blue Ribbon, the movie becomes less interesting.

Overall, the movie isn't very good. But it isn't horrible. I'm going to use my favorite word again, and say it's just "eh". Eh. If you do choose to watch the film, don't expect anything great, and don't expect to remember much of it in a couple of months. If you don't watch the film, you're not really missing anything. "Disturbing Behavior" gets:

3 out of 5 chainsaws (AVERAGE)

Paranormal Activity (2009)

Paranormal Activity (2009)
Watched October 24, 2009

I've been hearing about Paranormal Activity for a while now. I think the first time I read about it was the 2007 review on Horror Movie A Day (great site, by the way). The review was very positive, and I hadn't heard anything about the movie, so I was very intrigued. Over the next couple years, I kept reading sporadic reviews about the film, and with each one, I became more and more excited. But there was still nothing about a release date for the film. Until a couple months ago. Yes, to my surprise, the film I'd been hearing about for years was getting a theatrical release! When the film finally found its way into a theater near me, I jumped at the chance. So, last weekend, after a couple years, I finally saw the movie that people were calling one of the scariest movies of all time.

Did it live up to the hype? Well, no. But was it a damn good movie? Yep.

I can really honestly say there have only been two movies that ever terrified me. And those were The Ring and The Shining. But the reason that they were so terrifying, was because they were like the first two horror movies I ever saw. Since then, I've seen both those films again. The Ring hasn't held up that well for me, and while The Shining is still a fucking amazing film (one of my favs), it doesn't scare me anymore. I don't know if I should add Paranormal Activity to that list or not. I wouldn't say it terrified me, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't lose any sleep the night after I saw it.

For those of you who do not know the plot for whatever reason, here's a quick rundown. A guy buys a video camera because his girlfriend is experiencing some odd phenomena in her life, and she thinks it's paranormal phenomena. So, his idea is to set up a video camera in the bedroom, and try to capture some paranormal activity over the night. Well, the two of them end up getting a hell of a lot more than they bargained for.

I'm willing to bet a lot of the mainstream audience will find the movie boring. The first hour or so of the movie is basically just some loud noises and footsteps here and there. Not terribly exciting for the people whose favorite movie is "Transformers". But, honestly, there's something wrong with them anyways for liking a Michael Bay movie, so let's just forget they exist for a minute.

Honestly, yes, the first hour of the movie is a little slow-moving, but I never found it truly boring. I didn't find it scary, but I was pretty intrigued in what was happening. And the whole slow build-up thing was actually a pretty good idea. Because if the entire movie was like the last 20 minutes or so (when the actual scary stuff starts to happen), I'm willing to bet the film wouldn't have had the effect that it did. The whole slow-burn strategy worked very well in the film, as it allowed for character development, plus gradually making the movie scarier and scarier as it goes on makes the scares at the end that much more effective.

But, even without the slow-burn exercise, the last twenty minutes still would have been jaw-dropping. The last third of the movie is ridiculously well-done, and the last two nights the characters film are scary as shit. I'm not going to give away what happens, but trust me, it's damn awesome.

But, I think instead of like 70 minutes of build-up for 20 minutes of awesomeness, they should have made it like 60-30. Instead of the last two nights being truly terrifying, they should have made the last three nights that way. I just feel as if there was too much build-up. But perhaps I'm just nitpicking. I'm probably just nitpicking.

It truly amazes me that a film shot in a week for $10,000 can be ten times as effective as all of the horror blockbusters made for millions and millions of dollars. It just goes to show that to truly find good horror movies, you have to look to the independent scene. Horror isn't dead, you just have to wade through a lot of mainstream shit to get to the worthwhile stuff. Paranormal Activity is the aforementioned worthwhile stuff. I don't have anything more to say, except that Paranormal Activity is a really good, if overhyped, horror flick that you should all support and see in theaters. I don't think the experience will be the same on DVD. So go now.

And as a final note, I want to thank Paramount for making the right decision and actually releasing the original film and not making a piece of shit remake. Horror fans will respect you for it, and the box office numbers are proof you made the correct decision. "Paranormal Activity" gets:

4 out of 5 chainsaws (VERY GOOD, SEE IT)

October 25, 2009

Who Can Kill a Child? (1976)

Who Can Kill A Child? (1976)
Watched October 23, 2009

A man and his pregnant wife travel to an island where the children have gone crazy and killed all of the adults.

"Who Can Kill A Child?" is a creepy and disturbing Spanish film that deserves a hell of a lot more recognition than it is currently receiving.

I really dislike writing reviews for movies that I loved. It's the second worst kind of review to write, right after movies that you just thought were alright and have nothing to say about them. Because I could spend all day raving about the movie, but that wouldn't be very fun to read. I prefer to write reviews for movies I hated, or ones I liked but had numerous flaws. "Who Can Kill A Child?" is one of those movies I loved, so I'm not really going to have much to say about it, other than the fact that it's great, and you should probably get off your ass right now and see it if you haven't already.

"Who Can Kill A Child?", also known as "Quien puede matar a un nino?", "Death Is Child's Play", "Island of Death", "Island of the Damned", "Lucifer's Curse" (?), "The Killer's Playground", "Trapped", and "Would You Kill A Child?", is a killer child movie more along the lines of "Village of the Damned" than "The Omen", because instead of just one crazy-ass kid, there's a whole town full of 'em. On an off-topic note, why does every foreign horror movie of the 1970s have like 18 alternate titles? It really makes things fucking confusing.

Anyways, these kids have apparently killed every adult on the island, and now that a man and his pregnant wife are there on vacation, they're going to have to kill them too. So these tourist types are going to have to try to escape the island, but to do so may mean having to kill children. And who can kill a child?

I quite love the idea of this movie. Children are always portrayed as so innocent, and when they're batshit crazy, it's often times very disturbing. So is the case in this film. Watching a laughing young girl playfully beat an old man to death with his cane just drops your jaw. And then there's a scene afterwards that involves that same old man that is so freaky, that if you're not surprised at it, you're an android with no feelings. And I don't like androids.

So yeah, it's disturbing, it's very well-made, has very good performances by its leads (and the ninos) and it should be a hell of a lot more well-known than it is at the moment. It's one of the best, if not the best, killer kid movies ever made and needs to be seen by you. Right now. Put it on your Netflix queue. Buy it. I don't have anything else to say. I'm dragging as it is. I give "Who Can Kill A Child?":

5 out of 5 chainsaws (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)

October 24, 2009

Cemetery of Terror (1985)

Cemetery of Terror (1985)
Watched October 24, 2009

Half-slasher, half-zombie-movie, this Mexican flick follows a group of teens who happen to revive a psycho killer with some sort of ability to raise the dead and throw people around with his mind.

"Cemetery of Terror" isn't bad, but it's pretty forgettable and it suffers from bad pacing.

This is my first review for I Watch Horror Movies since June. I don't really even know why I'm trying to revive the site, because I don't have enough time to do so, but I have had over 2,000 visitors in the last few months, and I figure that's pretty good. So what better movie to revive my awful site with than a forgotten Mexican slasher flick that 99.9% of people don't give a shit about? Yay!

"Cemetery of Terror", released in Mexico under the name "Cementerio del terror" in 1985, is partly a rip-off of "Halloween" and partly a rip-off of "The Evil Dead". The first half of the movie is a bunch of dumbass teens who find a black book in the attic of an abandoned house, and decide to revive a dead man with the chants hidden inside it. Of course, the dead man they steal from the morgue turns out to be a psycho killer who may just be a demon from Hell. And so the teens are hunted one-by-one.

The second half of the movie follows a bunch of kids who somehow got the bright idea to go trick-or-treating in a graveyard (?) and end up trapped in said graveyard, with revived corpses chasing them around.

And then there's a doctor who is running around, yelling about he needs the black book to somehow kill the psycho.

"Cemetery of Terror" isn't technically a bad film, it's just that it's completely underwhelming, and you've seen it all before in the films it ripped off. That being said, it's pretty solid if you forget about the fact that it presents no original ideas. It's got some pretty good gore and kills here and there, and even manages to be suspenseful for brief periods of time. The 2nd half, the half with the zombies, isn't as good as the 1st half, but that's only because the zombies seem practically incapable of doing anything of use. For God's sake, they can't manage to kill one little stupid kid, not even the 10-year-old wearing the comically large Michael Jackson jacket.

I think the main problem with the movie is the pacing. For 40 minutes, nothing really happens. There are six ridiculously underdeveloped teenagers (Horny Guy 1, Horny Guy 2, Horny Guy 3, Scared Girl 1, Scared Girl 2, Scared Girl 3) that you have to follow along for a while. The whole point of this forty minutes is to basically show you that these guys are so horny, they are willing to steal a body from the morgue and hold a black magic ceremony just so the girls will get scared and maybe possibly have sex with them. This is a lot of work just to get laid.

But after that 40 minutes of nothing, suddenly there are six kill scenes in 15 minutes. That's like a kill every two and a half minutes. What really pisses me off is that there wasn't really even any point to the six teenagers, as they just walk around for forty minutes and then get killed immediately after they revive the killer. They could have stretched this part out a little more...

The kills are pretty gory, but they're never really that interesting. Almost every kill (if not every one) in the movie is the killer dude scratching people up to death with his nails. I don't know how the hell he makes his fingernails so deadly, but they're almost as effective as Freddy's razor gloves. If you want really inventive kills, "Cemetery of Terror" isn't the place to go, but there's enough gore to make them interesting.

Then, after the teenagers are dispatched, you meet some even more ridiculously underdeveloped characters, this time in the form of kids. Since they're kids, they don't even get the adjective of "horny" to describe them, they're all just scared. Doesn't make you particularly interested in the characters if all their characterizations are exactly the same. Then, the useless zombies are revived. Even though the zombies look pretty cool, like I said, they're completely useless and never accomplish anything in their part of the movie.

I feel like I'm dragging on a bit. Basically, this is just a "Halloween" rip-off (doctor tracks down his ex-psychiatric patient who happens to be a psycho killer) with some zombies thrown in to keep things interesting. Completely underwhelming and forgettable, but I've seen a lot worse, and if you're interested to see what a Mexican slasher would be like, this is one of your best bets. I'm giving "Cemetery of Terror":

3 out of 5 chainsaws (AVERAGE)