Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008)

Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman [Other horror films: Saw II (2005), Saw III (2006), Saw IV (2007), Mother’s Day (2010), 11-11-11 (2011), The Devil’s Carnival (2012), The Barrens (2012), Angelus (2014), Tales of Halloween (2015, segment ‘The Night Billy Raised Hell’), Alleluia! The Devil’s Carnival (2016), Abattoir (2016), St. Agatha (2018), Death of Me (2020), Spiral: From the Book of Saw (2021)]

So I’ve seen this about three times, and it’s still not really my go-to when it comes to horror musicals. The style is something I don’t care too much for, and some of it’s just a bit too slapstick for me, but at the same time, I do think it’s a movie worth experiencing at least once.

A big issue I have with Repo! The Genetic Opera is that I don’t really care for many of the songs. Many are in a very industrial style, and one’s randomly an Avril Lavigne-inspired punk song. Still, there are some I rather enjoy, such as ’21st Century Cure,’ ‘Genetic Repo Man,’ ‘Inopportune Phone Call,’ ‘Zydrate Anatomy,’ ‘Chase the Morning’ (my favorite song by far), ‘Let the Monster Rise,’ ‘I Didn’t Know I Loved You So Much,’ and ‘Epitaph’. That may seem like a lot of songs, but there were quite a few that I didn’t enjoy at all. Part of it was how half of the songs were more spoken than sung, such as ‘Shilo Wake,’ which I just found awkward.

The cast here, though, is pretty solid, save for some characters I didn’t care for. Alexa Vega (who I know best from Spy Kids, a series I watched when I was a kid) did very well with her character, and her songs with her father, played by Anthony Head, were highlights of the film (especially ‘I Didn’t Know I Loved You So Much’). Head was amazing, his tragic back-story was on point, and the two sides of his personality were fantastic.

Terrance Zdunich cracked me up with his ‘GRAAVVVEEESSS’ line from ’21st Century Cure,’ and I also really liked his style in ‘Zydrate Anatomy’ (some mighty fine print). I sort of wish his character was more involved in the plot, but he was fun regardless. Another solid casting choice was Paul Sorvino as the main antagonist, Rotti, who didn’t have any standout songs, but had a great character. Sarah Brightman’s last scene was great, as was her portion of ‘Chase the Morning,’ but her character wasn’t really on my radar most of time.

What bothered me most insofar as the cast was concerned were Rotti’s three children, played by Paris Hilton, Bill Moseley, and Kevin ‘ohGr’ Ogilvie. Technically, the acting was fine, but I really didn’t like the over-the-top nature of these three, especially Moseley. Otherwise, like I said, the cast is fine, but boy, these characters just got on my nerves.

Obviously, what with the repossession of organs being prevalent to the plot, there’s some decent gore here, but much of it is more for slapstick value than it is shock. It’s done decently well, and though not often the focus, does occasionally stand out, especially in a scene toward the end regarding eyes and an iron fence.

Having seen this musical multiple times, it’s still not something I find myself enjoying as much as I wish I could. Some songs are great, but others are just sort of there, and that combined with some ridiculous characters really brings this down. If musical horror is something you’re interested in (and there’s not many other choices save Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street), I’d give this a look, but you may not be blown away.

6.5/10

Another Son of Sam (1977)

Directed by Dave Adams [Other horror films: N/A]

What a poor, poor film. Sometimes called a proto-slasher, I was expecting quite a bit more from this, but I got oh so little.

The cinematography here is whack, and I mean whack. Some freeze-frames with dialogue of a different scene running (seemed to be a delay, or something), some slow-motion, rather inept editing that makes a few scenes difficult to really get a handle on. Pretty much everything about Another Son of Sam screams amateurish.

It’s also dull, which is in large part due to the procedural route this movie went past a certain point. The last forty minutes or so are spent in a dormitory (that looks nothing at all like a dormitory), and nothing very interesting happens. Nothing interested happened before, so it wasn’t a big loss, but even so, it’s just disappointing that a psychopathic serial killer can take down half a SWAT team and it’s still boring.

I’ll give a little props for a few cute girls (didn’t catch their names, but one might be Bonnie Schrier) and one solid scene of the killer’s hand coming up from beneath the bed of an unsuspecting victim. It was almost creepy, which is more than what I can say about anything else in the film.

Easily, I could see this movie, rough as it is, making it’s rounds in drive-in theaters toward the end of the 1970’s, and it may have even entertained some people. It does possess proto-slasher elements, and though very little is executed well, there’s a little here. It doesn’t matter, though, because Another Son of Sam has very little going for it. It’s not even a particularly gritty or gory film – it’s just dull, and certainly not worth another watch. It was barely worth the first watch, and I can’t, in good conscience, recommend it.

3/10

Jaws 3-D (1983)

Directed by Joe Alves [Other horror films: N/A]

The story here isn’t that great, but it’s 3-D, guys, so we cool?

Alas, the answer is no, and Jaws 3-D, while not necessarily God-awful, is pretty mediocre, especially after the second film, which I found quite a bit more enjoyable than the first.

Here, the idea is interesting, but there’s about an hour-long set-up, and then even once things seem ready to go, we find out it’s another shark that’s cause for concern, not the one we dealt with for most of the past hour-and-a-half. All of that could be excused if much of it was worth seeing, but I don’t believe that’s the case.

It’s no fault of the performances, though, most of which are at least decent. True, Dennis Quaid’s a bit dull and doesn’t really do that much, but Bess Armstrong and Lea Thompson (Back to the Future-fame) were attractive enough to make up for that. I wasn’t feeling John Putch as Sean at all, but I did like the animated characters portrayed by Louis Gossett Jr. and Simon MacCorkindale (I have no idea who MacCorkindale is, but he was really fun here). Lastly, P.H. Moriarty was solid here, and had a fantastic emotional scene toward the end which I really appreciated (although it was likely lost in the shit 3-D).

Truth be told, I don’t know if the 3-D here is really that bad – I opted out of wearing one of the many pairs of 3-D glasses I have lying around the apartment, but it definitely didn’t seem great, or anything to really warrant the format (which can likely be said for most movies made in 3-D during the 1980’s). The ending possessed atrocious 3-D action, along with a laughable slow motion scene, so kudos there.

As mediocre as this is, though, I don’t think it’s quite as bad as the current IMDb score indicates (right now, this movie sits at a 3.7/10, and #77 in the Bottom 100 movies). It’s not good, but is is really that bad? I don’t see it, because as much as the story bored me, some of the performances really brought some life to the film, such as MacCorkindale, Armstrong, Gossett Jr., and Moriarty. Was it sometimes a bit much? Sure, but if any movie needed it, Jaws 3-D did.

Had the story been better written, I think the movie could have had some potential. At the same time, after two somewhat decently successful Jaws movies, I don’t really think they needed to make a third one, especially a 3-D addition. I don’t begrudge the solid performances in the film, but the movie itself isn’t particularly good. In all honesty, though, I don’t think it’s near as bad as many seem to think it is.

6/10

Rogue (2007)

Directed by Greg McLean [Other horror films: Wolf Creek (2005), Wolf Creek 2 (2013), The Darkness (2016), The Belko Experiment (2016)]

Having never seen this before, I wasn’t necessarily sure what to expect, but I was hoping for a fun film. Well, this is no Alligator or Lake Placid, but a decently serious tourist-trip-gone-bad, and while I enjoyed some of the film, I will admit to not being thrilled with the movie as a whole.

Most of the cast is perfectly acceptable. Radha Mitchell (2006’s Silent Hill and The Crazies remake) and Michael Vartan worked well together, and other stand-outs include John Jarratt (Mick Taylor from the Wolf Creek series), Mia Wasikowska, Caroline Brazier (who reminded me a bit of Sara Gilbert), and Sam Worthington. Stephen Curry’s character seemed to have the potential to be more important near the beginning, but it never really went anywhere.

Where the movie succeeds is in building each of the characters into sympathetic beings, what with the mother battling cancer, or the man who came to spread the ashes of his loved one (that scene was rather touching, and perhaps my favorite of the film), or the American tourist who just doesn’t want to be eaten by a crocodile. It’s an hour and forty minute film, so they have time to show different sides of these characters, and I think they do a good job.

Otherwise, though, while I liked the tense sequences sprinkled throughout, I thought the final fight went on a bit long, and at times during the film, I was bordering on disinterest. I feel that 15 minutes could probably have been cut safely, so an 100-minute movie wasn’t necessary.

The gore, when it popped up, was solid. The only instance where it really made an impact was during a scene in which a character’s hand got impaled by the crocodile’s tooth, but even so, the movie, while not focusing on this aspect, didn’t shy away from occasional bloodshed.

Overall, though, I wasn’t deeply enjoying Rogue. I think it was well-made, and I think the characters really add to the film, but the ending, again, felt like it dragged, and I didn’t find myself as engaged throughout as I wish I was. It’s an Australian movie worth seeing, I’d say, but there are better ones out there.

7/10

This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast – listen below, if at all interested in a time of mirth, as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this flick.

The Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007)

Directed by John Erick Dowdle [Other horror films: Quarantine (2008), Devil (2010), As Above, So Below (2014)]

While not amazing, The Poughkeepsie Tapes is a decent found footage-type film, utilizing many different techniques, from footage to interviews, news reports, etc., in telling the story of a serial killer who has avoided capture for years. It’s not particularly gory or that visceral, but it is a bit disturbing at times. I just don’t know how memorable it really is.

There’s no doubt some quite unforgettable scenes here, such as a creepy crawling the killer once did, or a second toward the end revealing the depths of the killer’s brutality. Some of it is hard to watch, such as the ending in which a victim of the killer’s was found alive but completely screwed up mentally, giving a rather heart-wrenching interview.

But is it truly that memorable? Truthfully, I don’t really think so. It’s certainly engaging in the moment, but I don’t think it has the staying power required of a found footage movie to be recalled that often, despite the decent plot and solid presentation.

For what it’s worth, I would say that the film’s probably worth seeing, but I’ve seen it twice now, and I’ve not really been particularly moved either time. It’s not a bad movie by any stretch, but I just don’t think it’s great. But hey, maybe I’m off-base, and it’s your type of thing, so take it and fly.

7/10

This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast. If interested, listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this one.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)

Directed by Renny Harlin [Other horror films: Prison (1987), Deep Blue Sea (1999), T.R.A.X. (2000), Mindhunters (2004), Exorcist: The Beginning (2004), The Covenant (2006), The Dyatlov Pass Incident (2013)]

Ah, The Dream Master, when the Elm Street series starts going bad. It’s a mild deterioration at first, though, because while The Dream Master is a far cry from Dream Warriors, it’s still a decently fun movie, but then it veers to some really goofy stuff that doesn’t really work for me, and leads to a conclusion that just wasn’t great.

Disappointingly, Patricia Arquette decided against reprising her role as Kristen, and instead Tuesday Knight play her. Knight’s perfectly fine, but given that the others from Dream Warriors returned (Ken Sagoes and Rodney Eastman), it felt like a loss. I do think Alice is a solid character, played by Lisa Wilcox, but more interesting was her brother, Rick, played by Andras Jones (though he had one of the weakest kills in the series). I didn’t care much for any of the side-characters though, such as Toy Newkirk (Shelia), Danny Hassel (Dan), and Brooke Theiss (Debbie). Nice seeing Robert Shaye (long-time producer of the series) as a teacher, though.

Robert Englund is about as good as he always is, though some of his material is a bit questionable. I didn’t think he needed to wear sunglasses, or suck someone’s soul out by kissing them, or much of what he did here. My favorite kill is probably one toward the beginning, with things kept simple as he just gut-stabs a character with a killer line. He’s not as cheesy here as he later becomes, but it’s in this film where it’s more noticeable (no doubt, he was a little silly in the third, but that just felt darker overall than this one did).

Some of the finale here doesn’t really work for me. I thought the time-reversal was a bit weak, and overall, things felt a bit more disjointed toward the end. Also, Freddy’s demise here didn’t wow me, largely because I don’t believe for a second he’s never encountered a mirror since becoming the lovable dream demon he is. Unless it only works if he’s in a church, or some stupid thing like that. The whole final confrontation here lacked the special feel that was present in the first three movies (yes, even the second), and Alice sort of had easy sailing. Flash a mirror, and boom, she’s pretty much fine.

Of course, I can’t help but feel a bit nostalgic in regards to this film. Obviously, I was born in the early 1990’s, so I never saw this in theaters, but I saw portions of this when I was a kid, and some of the scenes I liked then, I still think are special (such as the last moments of Kincaid, where the whole of the Earth seems to be a junkyard, which looked so fake, but still held appeal). Even so, this is when I believe the series starts losing it’s grasp on the subject, and if they had ended it here instead of embarrassing themselves with The Dream Child, perhaps that would have been ideal.

The Dream Master isn’t a bad film, but I do think it feels a lot more average than the three previous entries, and overall, I just find the film about middle of the road.

Just remember, tell ’em Freddy sent ya!

7/10

Scream (1996)

Directed by Wes Craven [Other horror films: The Last House on the Left (1972), The Hills Have Eyes (1977), Stranger in Our House (1978), Deadly Blessing (1981), Swamp Thing (1982), Invitation to Hell (1984), The Hills Have Eyes Part II (1984), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Chiller (1985), Deadly Friend (1986), The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988), Shocker (1989), The People Under the Stairs (1991), New Nightmare (1994), Vampire in Brooklyn (1995), Scream 2 (1997), Scream 3 (2000), Cursed (2005), My Soul to Take (2010), Scream 4 (2011)]

I won’t say that Scream is a perfect movie, but I will say that it’s close. A deeply enjoyable and meta slasher, Scream did pretty much everything right, and it’s always a blast to see again.

Wes Craven did a fantastic job revitalizing a dying subgenre of horror, being slashers, and brought a very self-aware, dark comedy aspect with it, combining everything to make Scream a pretty unforgettable experience. The cast works, most of the humor works, the plot works, and really, were it not for his previous film, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Wes Craven could easily have crowned this one his best.

Pretty much all the main performances work here. Neve Campbell, who was only in a few films before this, including The Dark and The Craft, did great as the focal character, one who is both attractive and highly sympathetic. Matthew Lillard, who is generally too goofy for me (check out Thir13en Ghosts), does absolutely brilliant here, and I pretty much love everything about him throughout the film. Others who merit a positive mention include Rose McGowan, David Arquette (like Lillard, pretty much all of Arquette’s scenes were golden), Courtney Cox, Henry Winkler, and Skeet Ulrich (a name I don’t know, but does quite decent here).

The comedy here really adds something to make the film stand out a bit more. Seeing the killer consistently get knocked down by the would-be victim never fails to cause some laughter. It makes the killer seem human, which is something that many slashers before didn’t do, or if they did, they didn’t do it that well.

Scream is a classic, and for good reason. There’s little to dislike about it aside from some of the annoying teenagers, and the mystery and finale are well worth watching.

9/10

This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this one.

The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

Directed by Roger Corman [Other horror films: The Beast with a Million Eyes (1955), Day the World Ended (1955), It Conquered the World (1956), Not of This Earth (1957), Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957), The Undead (1957), War of the Satellites (1958), The Wasp Woman (1959), A Bucket of Blood (1959), House of Usher (1960), Creature from the Haunted Sea (1961), The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), The Premature Burial (1962), Tales of Terror (1962), Tower of London (1962), The Raven (1963), The Terror (1963), X (1963), The Haunted Palace (1963), The Masque of the Red Death (1964), The Tomb of Ligeia (1964), Roger Corman’s Frankenstein Unbound (1990)]

A somewhat classic movie, The Little Shop of Horrors is a rather black comedic horror film that is probably more enjoyable than it should be, though it’s not altogether amazing.

Being a Roger Corman movie, it would shock no one that the film is really campy at times, and the humor is, more often than not, over-the-top. This is evident in multiple scenes, such as the ones starring the dentist, or any scene with Myrtle Vail (also in A Bucket of Blood, from 1959). Hell, even the carnivorous plant is over-the-top, with his constant clamoring to be fed and his silly voice.

Performance-wise, Jonathan Haze does decent as the main character, and Jackie Joseph as his love interest, but there are more interesting and amusing faces here. Mel Welles, who played a foreign florist shop owner, cracked me up with most of his lines (he also appeared in one of Corman’s earlier movies, Attack of the Crab Monsters). Also, there are two faces that I just love to see, being a young Dick Miller (following his starring role in the aforementioned A Bucket of Blood, also directed by Corman) and a younger Jack Nicholson (this is his sixth credit, and fourth movie). Also, if you’re into the JFK assassination, the name Karyn Kupcinet may mean something to you, and she appeared in this movie also as an annoying teenager.

If you can stand a goofy plot, The Little Shop of Horrors may be worth looking into. There’s not really any gore of note (this isn’t H.G. Lewis), but there are some body parts being fed to a carnivorous plant, so occasionally the film comes across as more graphic than you might expect for the age. I don’t find The Little Shop of Horrors an amazing movie, but I’ve seen it quite a handful of times, and have been consistently entertained.

7/10

This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this one.

Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2 (2011)

Directed by Robert Hall [Other horror films: Laid to Rest (2009), Fear Clinic (2014)]

Well, the first Laid to Rest wasn’t amazing, but it did enough to keep the movie memorable. This movie had the gore that you might hope for, but the story wasn’t that great whatsoever.

I don’t care for organizations of killers, so when we find out Chromeskull has backers and a small group of people working for him, my interest in this sequel went down to about zero. Make no mistake, the gore is decently solid, and there were some rather gruesome scenes here (such as the face reconstruction at the beginning), but unlike the first movie, which had a story that fit with the killer, this one threw in elements I didn’t care for at all.

Honestly, that’s about all I have. The gore was fine, but I didn’t like much about the story. Few characters really stood out, and I thought the post-credit scene (starring the Wife of Chromeskull) was just pointless, bordering on idiotic.

The first movie isn’t great, but I think it far surpasses this one, and I probably wouldn’t recommend this one to anyone. It’s not even a particularly poor movie, but I didn’t care for the story, and no amount of gore can make up for that.

5/10

This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast. If you want to hear Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this one, please listen below.

Jaws 2 (1978)

Directed by Jeannot Szwarc [Other horror films: The Devil’s Daughter (1973), Bug (1975), The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1986)]

GODDAMN, SON, THAT’S HOW YOU KILL A FUCKING SHARK!

Personally, I enjoyed this film a lot more than the first Jaws, and I’m not entirely sure why. Whereas the first often felt dry and almost procedural, Jaws 2 generally feels a lot more soulful and tense. This isn’t to say the second half of the first film wasn’t great, but Jaws 2 was fun all-around fun, and the drama was top-notch.

One of the best scenes in the film has to be when Roy Scheider’s character comes home drunk after getting fired as police chief. He’s drunkenly telling jokes and making toasts while his wife and second-in-command have some of the saddest eyes I’ve ever seen. That scene really blew me away with how touching it was, and while there was nary a fin in sight, this was the highlight of the film.

There’s solid shark frenzies, though, especially that first one with the sailing teenagers. Talk about carnage and utter tension. Even when things wind down, the scene of the kids trying to help out the young boy (in-movie, Schieder’s youngest), was rather touching.

And that ending? Read the first line of the review again to see my enthusiasm toward the fantastic finale.

Roy Scheider’s pretty much the only performance that matters here, and he does a great job. From the breakdown on the beach to that city council scene, Scheider did just amazing here, and you really felt for his character. I know I did, especially after he was fired. And while he’s not there a whole lot, Murray Hamilton, who also appeared in the first movie, was nice to see again, though his character, that of the mayor, was pretty atrocious.

Jaws 2 hit the spots in a way the first movie was unable to, and I really got a kick out of this one. Pretty much a fun ride from beginning to end, this is a sequel that did it right.

8.5/10