Chopping Mall (1986)

Directed by Jim Wynorski [Other horror films: Not of This Earth (1988), The Return of Swamp Thing (1989), Transylvania Twist (1989), The Haunting of Morella (1990), Sorority House Massacre II (1990), Hard to Die (1990), Scream Queen Hot Tub Party (1991), 976-Evil II (1991), Ghoulies IV (1994), Sorceress (1995), The Wasp Woman (1995), Vampirella (1996), Storm Trooper (1998), The Bare Wench Project (2000), Raptor (2001), The Bare Wench Project 2: Scared Topless (2001), Project Viper (2002), Wolfhound (2002), The Bare Wench Project 3: Nymphs of Mystery Mountain (2002), Cheerleader Massacre (2003), Bare Wench Project: Uncensored (2003), The Thing Below (2004), The Curse of the Komodo (2004), Gargoyle (2004), Komodo vs. Cobra (2005), The Witches of Breastwick (2005), The Witches of Breastwick 2 (2005), Bare Wench: The Final Chapter (2005), Cry of the Winged Serpent (2007), House on Hooter Hill (2007), Bone Eater (2007), Vampire in Vegas (2009), Cleavagefield (2009), The Hills Have Thighs (2010), Dinocroc vs. Supergator (2010), Camel Spiders (2011), Piranhaconda (2012), Gila! (2012), Scared Topless (2015), Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre (2015), Legend of the Naked Ghost (2017), CobraGator (2018)]

In many ways, Chopping Mall is a pretty simple movie, taking common elements and meshing them together decently well. It’s not special, and it’s not even particularly memorable, but it’s digestible fun, which counts in it’s favor.

Apparently far more based on Gog (1954) than it was Short Circuit (which came out a year before), the film follows security robots going awry and chasing down eight teens who stay after hours and party in a furniture store (a spiritual prequel to Hide and Go Shriek, some might say). The variety of the kills isn’t really that high, but you do get the ever-classic head being blown off by a laser, which was actually repeated during the beginning of the credits. The electrocutions were sort of cheesy, but still fun. Oh, and there was a slit throat, so there’s some “chopping” for you.

Kelli Maroney (Night of the Comet) was solid as a more-reserved teen who quickly became one of the best fighters this group of kids had. She was fun, occasionally adorable, and easy to root for. Few of the other seven teens stand out, though. Tony O’Dell was okay, Suzee Slater had quality breasts (and a fantastic death scene), and even Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator, From Beyond, and most famously, Beyond the Gates) was just eh. No one else stood out aside from Dick Miller, who had just a single scene, but as always with Miller, it was a lot of fun.

As one would hope, the soundtrack is pretty fun (albeit somewhat generic) 80’s synth, but even more fun were the multiple references to other movies. Obviously the posters of The Slumber Party Massacre, Galaxy of Terror, and Forbidden World were visible toward the beginning, but you have Miller’s character being named Walter Paisley (the same name of a character he played in A Bucket of Blood), and then there’s Roger’s Little Shop of Pets (of course referencing The Little Shop of Horrors). Some characters were watching Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957) early on before the fun with the robots began. They even threw in some characters from Eating Raoul (a movie I didn’t particularly like, but hey, whateves), so overall, this was fun and playful.

What wasn’t fun or playful was that scene in the pet shop, though – tarantulas probably have very good souls, but they terrify me (just as they did in Deadly Blessing), and that scene in which they’re crawling on Maroney’s arm just freaks me out. That was legit the hardest scene to watch in the film.

With plenty of fun lines, such as Maroney’s final one-liner, and a good, quick pace, Chopping Mall is a movie that got it’s job done and done well. Sure, there’s only one really memorable death scene, and few other scenes really stand out (though I do love the silhouette of the killbot snapping it’s pincers), but even knowing that, Chopping Mall is fun, and it has been since I first saw it years back.

Thank you. Have a nice day.

7.5/10

The Evil Dead (1981)

Directed by Sam Raimi [Other horror films: It’s Murder! (1977), Crimewave (1985), Evil Dead II (1987), Army of Darkness (1992), The Gift (2000), Drag Me to Hell (2009)]

Probably one of horror fandom’s more beloved movies, The Evil Dead succeeds in possessing a strong atmosphere and special effects that go beyond, far beyond, expectations. So of course, in typical Jiggy fashion, it’s never been a movie I’ve ever been overly fond of.

Which isn’t to say that it’s not okay. I could sort of see myself watching this one every couple of years (though at what point in my life I’ll be revisiting a movie that often, I really couldn’t say), and it definitely has enough going for it to be a movie that horror fans should at least give a shot once, but from the first time I saw it, it’s never been my particular cup of tea.

Part of this (and an admittedly small part) might be because, while I find Ash’s character development sort of interesting, he’s not a character that really stands out to me. Sure, he seems the everyman that you’d expect, sometimes too scared in tense situations to jump into action (I certainly can’t blame him there), but even when he really starts fighting back (about an hour or so into the movie), I just don’t feel much in the way of interest for him.

Another thing is that while this movie is primarily a dark story of demonic forces possessing and thus torturing the last remaining character, there are some occasional lighter elements thrown in (the demonic mocking, over-the-top violence at times). Now, this is upped to 11 in the second film, but the amusing thing is that it felt more consistent in the second movie, and I personally find myself gravitating more toward that one than I ever did this.

But like I said, none of this is to say the movie is by any means bad. It’s obviously a film that has a place in the heart of a lot of people, and I certainly respect what Raimi and Campbell were able to due with a limited budget (those gore scenes themselves, from the pencil stabbing to the epic finale, were well-worth watching the movie for), and again, the atmosphere is great.

As for the cast, the only name that really need be mentioned is Bruce Campbell, who starts off as a pretty unassuming character but, of course, over the course of the film becomes more willing to stand up and fight. Campbell was in a variety of films after this point (such as Maniac Cop, Moontrap, and Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat), and you can see why. If there was anyone else who might deserve a mention, it’d be Ellen Sandweiss, who was my personal favorite character, and it’s a shame she went the way she did (especially after that tree rape).

And speaking of that tree rape, what a disturbing scene. It’s not even all that explicit (though it does provide one of the two scenes of nudity in the film), but it is a scene that stands out and probably remains one of the more unforgettable sequences of the film.

I do admit to finding the ending a bit of a cop-out, but I won’t deny that it has an element of charm to it. Which can really be said for the whole of the film – though it’s not and never has been a movie I really cared for, it’s still charming, and it does enough right to merit it’s status. It’s just that The Evil Dead doesn’t do near as much for me as it does so many others.

6.5/10

The Stand (1994)

Directed by Mick Garris [Other horror films: Critters 2 (1988), Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990), Sleepwalkers (1992), The Nightmare Begins Again (1993), Quicksilver Highway (1997), The Shining (1997), Riding the Bullet (2004), Desperation (2006), Bag of Bones (2011), Nightmare Cinema (2018, segments ‘The Projectionist’ & ‘Dead’)]

This rather lengthy mini-series (four episodes, clocking in at a total of just over six hours) based on Stephen King’s longest novel is definitely something that you need to invest in, but I find it generally an awarding experience.

It’s also a mini-series that I’ve seen quite often as a child. While this didn’t leave near as much an impression as 1990’s It (also, of course, based on a Stephen King novel), I saw this plenty of times as a kid, and I remember my father requesting this one when we rented the VHS (which came with four tapes, of course) from Blockbuster, so it certainly holds good memories.

That said, until this recent rewatch, it’s been at least ten years since I’ve seen it, so I was curious as to whether it would hold up. What made the question more interesting was that this would be the first time since I’ve seen the mini-series since finally reading the novel, and I was also curious as to how close this adaptation was.

And you know what? For a television production (which is pretty noticeable at times, especially in regards to the special effects), not only does it follow the novel decently well (and certainly better than many, if not most, other King adaptations), it’s also pretty solid, and while I wouldn’t call it great, The Stand is a pretty good time.

Just now, I took a deep breath, and that’s because we need to talk about actors and actresses. And believe it or not, given the mini-series is about six hours long, there’s a lot of them. And what makes it even better, most of the central performances were damn good.

Let’s start with Gary Sinise (who I really don’t know outside of this mini-series, though he did have a long-running role on CSI: NY), who played Stu fantastically. He really felt like that generic all-American man, and Sinise pulled off the role as well as anyone could hope to. With a little more of a complex character, Adam Storke did well as Larry, and by the end, you likely couldn’t help but hope for the best.

Ray Walston (Galaxy of Terror) was one of the top-tier performances as Glen Bateman, though his somewhat more critical look at society (as a sociologist, who could blame him?) from the novel was toned down. Peter Van Norden as Ralph was good too, though like the novel, we’re not given too much insight into his character.

Others that definitely need to be mentioned include Molly Ringwald (Office Killer) as Frannie, who wasn’t great but wasn’t quite as bad as some others make her out to be, Ossie Davis (Bubba Ho-Tep) as the Judge was very solid, and one of the best smaller characters. There’s also Miguel Ferrer (The Night Flier) as Lloyd, who took a little to get there, but ended up a fine character. Corin Nemac as Harold also took time to grow, but his decently complex character turned out decent, I thought.

As the Trashcan Man, Matt Frewer was a sight to behold, especially toward the end with the special effects they had. Being mentally unstable, Frewer didn’t have that much to go on, but again, I definitely thought he did the character justice. Truth be told, Kellie Overby as Dayna is memorable for just a single sequence (her getting caught and brought to Flagg), but she was so badass that I had to at least mention her. Shawnee Smith’s (The Blob, Saw) character was memorably crazy, so there’s that.

Finally, let’s talk some of the most memorable performances.

Rob Lowe (The West Wing and 2004’s Salem’s Lot) did amazingly as Nick, a deaf-mute. Fantastic character and performance, Lowe really made Nick someone worth remembering. Jamey Sheridan as Randall Flagg was a sight to behold, fantastically hammy and always fun. Laura San Giacomo (Pretty Woman) as Nadine was an interesting performance, and I thought she definitely strutted her stuff come the finale of her character.

A lot also has to be said about Bill Fagerbakke’s Tom Cullen. Until this day (3/09/2021 should history ever be concerned), I had no idea that the guy who played Tom was the same guy who voiced Patrick on Spongebob Squarepants, and while I never watched a lot of Spongebob, as a 90’s kid who consumed both that cartoon and this movie, I feel it should have clicked before. Here, he has an amazingly solid performance, and as corny as some of his lines are (“M-O-O-N, that spells deaf and dumb”), he’s definitely a character with feeling.

The best performance overall has got to be, though, Ruby Dee as Mother Abagail. She’s quotable (“mayhap she is, mayhap she ain’t) and wholesome in every way. Now, as an atheist, I can do without her religious mumbo-jumbo (and it’s worse in the book), but even so, she’s just great in pretty much every scene she’s in.

Given that very little was changed, and almost none of it was dreadfully important, it’s hard to criticize this adaptation for leaving things out. Sure, I think the way Flagg was more interacting with some of the characters before his time (such as trolling Lloyd on the telephone pole) was a bit off, but like I said, it doesn’t really negatively impact the story, so I didn’t mind that much (though I do think the overly-dramatic scene about Mother Abagial’s departure – entirely unlike the novel’s approach – was somewhat laughable).

What is probably the biggest hurdle for modern-day audiences are the special effects, which become noticeably aged in the last two episodes (those face shifts of Randall Flagg a good case in point), and as even a fan of the mini-series, those instances of iffy effects do hurt, but I don’t think it’s an overly damning quality.

A few other things that can definitely be appreciated include the mini-series’ approach to horror and the soundtrack. Toward the end of the first episode, there’s a dream sequence in a cornfield with a quality scare. What made that really stand out to me was that there was no rising music to indicate tension – there was just a guy walking through a cornfield, and BOOM, his shoulder is grabbed by a demonic figure. It’s that low-key style that really stuck out to me.

The soundtrack too is good. Sure, it’s nice hearing “Eve of Destruction” and of course, “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” by Blue Öyster Cult made for a fantastically memorable opening, but the rest of the score too really brings back memories, such as the music when Mother Abagail is walking away from the Free Zone. The music isn’t as good as, say, Storm of the Century’s score, but then again, little could be.

For being a television production, and definitely feeling tame in some aspects, I was pretty impressed revisiting this mini-series after reading the book, as they really did keep quite a bit of it as it was in the novel. The performances were pretty great overall (even if you consider Ringwald a weak spot, you have Ferrer, Fagerbakke, and Dee to make up for that), and while it’s not a short watch, I do find the experience worth it (corny Hand of God thing at the end notwithstanding).

8/10

May (2002)

Directed by Lucky McKee [Other horror films: All Cheerleaders Die (2001), The Woods (2006), The Woman (2011), All Cheerleaders Die (2013), Tales of Halloween (2015, segment ‘Ding Dong’), Kindred Spirits (2019), Deathcember (2019, segment ‘They Once Had Horses’)]

I don’t have a lot to say about May, because my feelings for this film, both the first time I saw it and just now, can be boiled down to the simple fact that I find the movie uncomfortable and don’t at all enjoy it.

Which isn’t to say the performances are bad – I think that Angela Bettis (who played Carrie in my favorite adaptation, the 2002 television movie) gave a great performance, and really sold May’s awkward tendencies. Jeremy Sisto (Wrong Turn, Hideaway, and Population 436) didn’t wow me, but Anna Faris (Scary Movie) was fun in her own way.

What’s not fun in it’s own way is the story, though, which I just find awkward. It’s uncomfortable and awkward for much of the running time, and when things that I’m more interested in finally get going (let’s say the final thirty minutes), it’s really already too late, because though the ending was much better than the first two-thirds, it wasn’t even all that great.

Certainly there are some scenes here that stick out a bit more, the sequence which most comes to my mind is the classroom scene with the blind children (I think what really elevates that sequence is the choral music in the background). Aside from that, everything else is awkward, uncomfortable, and I’m really not interested in seeing it. I already live an awkward and uncomfortable life – I don’t need to see it in a movie for pleasure.

And that doesn’t even need to be the case. Love Object (2003) had it’s own share of awkward moments, but was also a film that (while it took a few viewings) I legitimately enjoyed. Here, I’m just watching May’s uncomfortable life unfolding uncomfortably and wanting it to be over, deriving little to no pleasure from much of it.

May is a movie that has found a decent fanbase, and I have some friends in the horror community who quite enjoy this film. After seeing it again, though, I’ll just admit that it’s not for me, rate it lowly, and move on.

4/10

The Food of the Gods (1976)

Directed by Bert I. Gordon [Other horror films: Beginning of the End (1957), The Cyclops (1957), Attack of the Puppet People (1958), Earth vs the Spider (1958), War of the Colossal Beast (1958), Tormented (1960), Picture Mommy Dead (1966), Necromancy (1972), Empire of the Ants (1977), Burned at the Stake (1982), Satan’s Princess (1989), Secrets of a Psychopath (2015)]

For the longest time, this has been one of those films I’ve been aware of and have wanted to see. I didn’t have any delusions that, upon my finally watching it, I’d have discovered a forgotten classic, but I was always hoping for at least an enjoyable film, and I have to admit that I didn’t really get that.

I think this film highlights some of the biggest potential problems with movies from the 1970’s, specifically, in this case, just how dry some of them can be. Certainly other 70’s movies suffer the same problem (one that immediately comes to mind is It’s Alive!), but this is one of the worst cases I’ve seen.

With a plot about some mysterious natural growth serum causing insects and rats to enlarge, you might hope for a little bit of hokey fun, and while I won’t dispute that some of the action may well fall under the category of ‘hokey,’ I don’t think this film has a whole lot of fun ingrained within. Even similar films like Night of the Lepus (which also took itself too seriously) feel a little more enjoyable, and you’d sort of hope that any “nature gets revenge on humankind” movie would have more going for it.

Of course, that may just be my view, but this felt almost entirely dry from beginning to end. You maybe got a little fun out of Ida Lupino’s character, and maybe a pinch of laughs from Ralph Meeker’s insensitive actions, but that’s really all there is, and it’s definitely not enough to keep my interest.

In fact, I actually nodded off not once, but twice, and one of those times was during a giant rat attack (which, by the conclusion, felt far more repetitive as opposed to horrifying, not that they ever once felt horrifying). Perhaps admitting this says more about me and my consistent lack of sleep, but there you go.

I don’t think I really cared much for Marjoe Gortner (of Mausoleum fame) or Jon Cypher here. Neither one really had much feeling to them. It’s the same with Tom Stovall and Belinda Balaski (The Howling) – just more dull characters. Ida Lupino was only remarkable due to having such goofy, old-fashioned beliefs, and Ralph Meeker played a selfish dick, so he was sometimes a hoot. Perhaps best of the cast was Pamela Franklin (The Innocents and The Legend of Hell House), who’s character’s love interest in Gortner’s was just ridiculous but at least Franklin was almost sometimes okay.

Certainly the cast felt uninspired, but I think that has more to do with the film itself. Give these actors and actresses a good story, and I suspect most of them will give decent performances, that’s my motto. And that didn’t happen here, alas, which is more the shame, as this is based (loosely) on a 1904 novel by H. G. Lewis.

The special effects were laughable, but that’s okay, because anything to give this movie a little extra boost is always appreciated, even if it didn’t work. And I have to say, this movie really needed something, but The Food of the Gods never got it. I just didn’t have fun at all – it felt tedious and dry from beginning to end, and I just can’t see myself wanting to give this one another shot anytime soon.

4/10

Poltergeist (1982)

Directed by Tobe Hooper [Other horror films: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), Eaten Alive (1976), The Dark (1979), Salem’s Lot (1979), The Funhouse (1981), Lifeforce (1985), Invaders from Mars (1986), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986), Spontaneous Combustion (1990), I’m Dangerous Tonight (1990), Night Terrors (1993), Body Bags (1993, segment ‘Eye’), The Mangler (1995), Crocodile (2000), Shadow Realm (2002), Toolbox Murders (2004), Mortuary (2005), Djinn (2013)]

Very much a classic of the genre, Poltergeist isn’t my go-to when it comes to horror, but it’s a fantastic film that has a lot going for, and well-worth a look if, for whatever reason, it’s gone under your radar.

Honestly, there’s very little that I could say about this film that hasn’t been said already. Along with such films as Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Alien, and Iced, this is one of those horror films that has reached such a mainstream status that virtually everyone who has existed has likely heard of the film.

The cast is pretty solid. While I’m not deeply moved by Heather O’Rourke’s performance (don’t take it personal – very few child performers impress me), much of the central cast is fantastic, from Craig T. Nelson to JoBeth Williams, Beatrice Straight to Zelda Rubinstein (Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon and Anguish), though I have to say, she did a shitty job cleaning that house.

While not particularly a large part of the story, I did enjoy Dominique Dunne in the film. As many know, she was killed in late 1982, and this was her only feature film. Though far from any focus, it was nice having an older kid in the house, and I think it’s a shame that, while giving a solid performance, she wasn’t used that often (though certainly, one can understand her character’s desire to get out of the house).

The special effects were generally solid, but there were a few scenes that just didn’t look great, such as the first time we see things flying around the room (and while sort of funny, that scene just struck me as too playful, too whimsical), or the delusion Martin Casella’s character has. Certainly the latter was decently violent (and really, about the only violence in the whole of the film), but boy, it looked a bit on the fake side.

Despite that, most of the movie provides a fun time. We never really know too much about exactly why this is going on (sure, they moved the tombstones but left the bodies, but why not strike out before this?), but it doesn’t really take anything away, especially given how great some of these sequences are.

As decent as the clown scene toward the end is, I personally have to rank the night of Carol Anne’s abduction higher. You have a tree attacking a kid, a horrendous storm (which included a charming tornado), and general chaos. The finale was great too, with skeletons and tombs popping out of everywhere, with that pool scene in specific a highlight. Hell, even that early table scene is A+. When this film went all out, it certainly went all out.

It is accurate to say that some of the movie felt more whimsical than I’d maybe hope for, such as Rubinstein’s “You’re right. You go” line. Other scenes felt more on the fantasy realm than they did horror, but given Steven Spielberg’s involvement, I think that can be expected, if not condoned.

Also, on a small side-note, I do love the parents in this film. Though firmly in the middle class, they have time to enjoy the pleasures life has to offer, and I’d definitely smoke some joints with them, as they seem a chill couple.

Regardless of the small flaws the film has, Poltergeist is a very solid film for plenty of good reasons. It’s not my usual jam, as the kidz say, but it’s a movie I’ve always enjoyed, and despite almost being two hours, it’s always worth the watch.

9/10

Vampire Chicks with Chainsaws (2006)

Directed by Carlos Don Diego [Other horror films: N/A]

A couple of Octobers back, at the time of this writing (February 2021, for the record), I first saw this film, and from what little I remembered, it struck me as a joyless experience. After seeing it again, I can confirm, indeed, that ‘joyless’ is a pretty good description of this movie.

Certainly the quality is, at best, iffy. A lot of times, lower-budget films don’t bother me, and I like to think that this one doesn’t bother me due to the budget itself, but I won’t say that the evidently low budget wasn’t problematic, mostly in terms of the pitiful camerawork, some of which was downright painful to watch.

The story also isn’t my cup of tea – basically a group of vampires are warring with aliens referred to as “Outlanders” and there’s a traitor vampire who loves a human hillbilly, and this guy in question has a first-person narration thing going on. But it’s not just normal first-person narration, it’s sometimes goofy, ‘humorous’ first-person narration said in a serious tone, because that makes it better.

And that, of course, was a joke, as it just makes the dialogue throughout the film painful. Not that the movie wasn’t already painful (even at 80 minutes, Vampire Chicks with Chainsaws feels quite a bit longer), but the script was laughably inept, which is a shame, as I think that’s where this movie was trying to provide most of the ‘fun,’

Which is another interesting thing, now that I think about it. Despite the almost-fun title, this movie just feels drab and bland. Even the color palette seems drained and muted. I don’t know where this was filmed, but the landscape just seemed so bleh. If the story and script had been better, that probably wouldn’t matter, but as it is, it just adds another weakness to the film.

I was not wowed by either Adam Abram or Jenna Lisonbee. I certainly don’t blame either one’s performance for how the final product turned out, but at the same time, I can’t say that they were great. What I can say is that they’re the only ones who really stand out in any conceivable way. Their growing attraction to each other didn’t interest me, nor did the end, nor did anything else, but at least they stood out.

There was also a dearth of quality death scenes. It wasn’t helped by the fact that the Outlanders had green blood, but even with that in mind, and even with plenty of chainsaws and hideous fight sequences, there was almost nothing here. Most of the blood came from vampire chicks biting their wrists, so that’s grand.

Vampire Chicks with Chainsaws was a painful movie the first time I saw it, and seeing it again, I can fully say that it’s an experience almost-entirely void of joy, which is something I don’t say lightly. This was a poor film, and definitely not one I’d care to experience again at any point.

1/10

Eraserhead (1977)

Directed by David Lynch [Other horror films: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992), Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces (2014)]

I think I’m somewhat forthcoming about my dislike of more experimental films, and many of them I see (with a few exceptions, such as Hausu) I end up disliking. I’ve seen Eraserhead once before (hated it), and seeing it with fresh eyes, I still hated it.

This isn’t something I want to spend much time on, mainly for the same reason I didn’t want to spend much time on My Boyfriend’s Back – this film isn’t aimed at me, and I knew that going in, so I don’t feel particularly great about giving it a low score (and believe me, Eraserhead is getting a low score). I know it’s not my type of thing, but it’s also a movie that I had seen before, and as such, had to rewatch, so here we are.

I’ll give this film props for a dark atmosphere, banging background score, unsettling imagery, and befuddling ideas. I found much of it repulsive and didn’t enjoy almost a second of it, but it was certainly trying something different, which is something I guess you can trust Lynch to do.

Of course, I can imagine that there are a hell of a lot of interpretations for this movie out there, and I’d guess that most of them are equally valid. I have no idea what this movie was trying to say, if anything, but as to not be left out in the cold, I’d just argue that it tries to expose what working-class isolation in a post-industrial society, following the results of an Atomic bomb dropped by a Western African nation in the grips of an unending civil war, can do to a man’s fragile psyche. Sounds close enough.

Jack Nance had an interesting look to him. Charlotte Stewart (who later popped up in Tremors, of all places) was certainly something. Allen Joseph could smile creepily with the best of them. And that’s pretty much it for the cast.

The story was disjointed and moderately confusing, including dream sequences about pencils and some hideous mutant child and a woman who lives in a radiator, which is also Heaven, maybe, or something like that.

Yeah. Eraserhead has a 7.4/10 on IMDb as of this writing, and I just don’t understand it. From my perspective, while elements of this surrealistic film are interesting, it doesn’t make it good, and I had a thoroughly unenjoyable time with this, and if I’m lucky, I’ll never have to sit through this trash again. It’s not my type of movie, which is good riddance, as far as I’m concerned.

1/10

The Entity (1982)

Directed by Sidney J. Furie [Other horror films: Doctor Blood’s Coffin (1961), The Snake Woman (1961)]

The Entity is a decently strong film with somewhat harrowing subject matter, and while I think a case could be made that it runs a tad long, it may well be worth a look.

Based on a novel by Frank De Litta from 1978, I’ve seen this one once before, at least eight years ago (at the time of this writing), and I think my views are pretty consistent. The special effects are impressive when they pop up (Stan Winston’s involvement may have something to do with that), the story has its strong moments, and some scenes have fantastic suspense.

On the flip-side, it’s probably longer than it needs to be (at two hours and five minutes, it’s not a quick walk through the park), but for the most part, I think the content awards it if you can deal with it’s run-time.

Barbara Hershey (who pops up quite some time later in the Insidious series) does fantastically as the central character, and the scenes in which she’s raped are actually somewhat hard to watch. Though little is ever shown, save a specific scene or two, the performance is so real that it feels legitimately uncomfortable. I don’t know Hershey from many other things, and aside from the aforementioned Insidious, she hasn’t really been in many horror films, but her performance here is top-notch.

Most interesting to me was Ron Silver. Firstly, his character was entirely wrong about the situation that Hershey’s character was going through throughout the whole film, and yet he’s arguably one of the few who legitimately cares for her (though, I think, to the detriment of her mental well-being). On Silver himself, though, ever since I finally watched through all of The West Wing (a show in which Silver occasionally pops up on), I’ve been intrigued when I see him in other places, such as the made-for-television horror Shadow Zone: The Undead Express. His performance here is the best I’ve seen, and it’s quite riveting stuff, especially since his character is quite interesting.

No others really stood out all that much. I liked Margaret Blye, and how her character was one of the first to really believe what Hershey was going through. As much as I wished otherwise, neither of the parapsychologists stood out that well, though their superior, played by Jacqueline Brookes, wasn’t too shabby. Also, though not that relevant to the story, Alex Rocco (Moe Greene in The Godfather) randomly popping up was interesting.

The story does get a bit iffy around the hour and twenty minute mark – it’s around this time that the central character has parapsychology students swarming her house, and seems more invested in getting evidence of the entity on camera or pictures as opposed to her own well-being (though I don’t doubt that validation too would be helpful). It does lead to a somewhat interesting debate, though, between the harder sciences of psychology versus the pseudo-science of parapsychology, and those debates are always fun.

I don’t think The Entity is a great movie because elements of the conclusion could have been tightened up a little (I like much of the mock-house experiment, but I wanted more out of it), but it is a decent movie, and if supernatural phenomena is your thing, and you’ve not seen this movie, treat yourself.

7.5/10

Multiple Maniacs (1970)

Directed by John Waters [Other horror films: Pink Flamingos (1972), Female Trouble (1974)]

Before going into this one, I knew that I was almost certainly going to dislike it, and I did. This really isn’t my type of movie at all, and while it’s not entirely void of entertaining portions, Multiple Maniacs was just torturous for me to sit through.

Primarily a gritty, almost counterculture crime/black comedy, with some horror thrown in toward the finale, this movie had a vibe I just couldn’t dig. There were certainly some amusing lines, and it was funny listening to the terrible dialogue at times, but more often than that, I was bored.

Take this, for instance: after the main character, Divine, is raped, there’s a 15-minute sequence of her going to a church, meeting some random lesbian, becoming seduced by said lesbian in the church, all while Divine’s rambling about religious crap and the other woman is giving a long speech over the Stations of the Cross (which, if you don’t know, and I didn’t, it’s a sort of spiritual pilgrimage following the path of Jesus’ supposed moments prior to the ending of his life).

Hearing about this via some random lesbian as she’s anally pleasuring an overweight drag queen with rosary beads wasn’t quite the spiritual experience for me, though.

Certainly this type of tasteless humor has it’s place, and I can imagine that, if I had been a practicing Catholic, that scene would have mortified me, but as I’m not, I was just bored, and found the whole 15 minutes tedious.

Divine was an interesting character. Despicable, unlikable, and pretty much all-around awful, it was close-to-impossible to care about her, even when she’s getting attacked by a giant lobster. David Lochary was sometimes amusing, but terrible. Mink Stole and her extreme unction’s just annoyed the hell out of me. Cookie Mueller was also awful, but at least had respectable politics. The worst of the bunch was probably Mary Vivian Pearce, who played Lochary’s girlfriend and she too, like Stole, just got on my nerves.

I don’t really think I’ve ever seen a film as intentionally tasteless as this one, which isn’t a bad thing, but when that’s coupled with amateur camera-work (I’m guessing that a tripod was either outside of their budget or outside of their intended “artistic style”) and a plodding story that randomly throws in a giant lobster, followed by ten minutes of the worst conclusion I’ve ever seen, it’s not a good time.

“He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” made an appearance at one point, which I will admit to finding amusing, especially given the context, and the film ends with “America, the Beautiful” in an almost parodic way, which I certainly can respect, but aside from that, most of the music and other dialogue is either so mind-numbingly repetitive or just off that two okay moments can’t off-set it.

I’m not sure the intended demographic for this movie, but I do know that I’m not it. I taped this off TCM because, at the time, I was recording any and all horror movies TCM played that I’ve not yet seen and reviewed, and so, like anything else, despite knowing I’d likely dislike this, I recorded it.

And of course, I hated it. It has a high rating on IMDb (currently a 6.7/10 at the time of this writing) and a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes (not a site I ever really pay attention to, but this score just blew my mind). If you’re into John Waters or shock cinema, it may be worth a look, but this is a mug of steaming coffee, to be clear, and not my cup of tea.

2/10