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DOCtoberFest 2014 Day 29: “Night of the Demons” (2009)

You had me at "Monica Keena."

I think my stance on remakes should come to no surprise of even the most-casual reader of Doc Splatter’s movie reviews and Gore Score comics. Rob Zombie’s “Halloween,” last year’s “Fright Night” and any number of movies with “Texas Chainsaw” or “Body Snatchers” in the title should serve as examples of needless wasting of resources and diminishing returns.

That being said, there are remakes that bring a little somethin’-somethin’ to the party: John Carpenter’s “The Thing,” David Cronenberg’s “The Fly” and even 1988’s “The Blob” all took 1950s drive-in thrillers, polished them up and made them all the better for it.

2009 (left) and 1988 (right)

I’m conflicted, because the “Night of the Demons” (2009) remake is both better and inferior to the classic 1988 splatterfest.

A quick primer for both movies: Goth hedonist Angela holds an epic Halloween party in a dilapidated mansion that serves as a portal for demons to possess the living and they pick off trapped partygoers one-by-one until the break of dawn and invariably there’s an awesome darkwave soundtrack, decent laughs, girl-on-girl makeouts, gruesome deaths and Suzanne shoves a lipstick into her boob (not a typo — trust me on that one).

One area where the remake succeeds over the original is the cast. Shannon Elizabeth (Angela) is joined by Monica Keena, Diora Baird, Edward Furlong and Bobbi Sue Luther. All are likable and bring something memorable and fun to the table; you actually kind of feel bad when they start to get their faces ripped off. In contrast, the original had only Linnea Quigley among a bunch of rookie actors and relative no-names.

On the other hand, the original had a certain charm about it, with its well-defined archetypes (the jock, the virgin, the tramp, the hood, the black dude, the cute couple, the bombastic jackass) and its sense of humor was complimented by its genuinely eerie and gory thrills.

While both have their share of good music (the original version uses one particular Bauhaus song to good effect), the remake’s soundtrack is second only to “The Return of the Living Dead” (1985).

Surprisingly decent, I would give it a recommendation and an A. Check it out on Hulu Plus.


DOCtoberFest 2014 Day 28: “Life After Beth” (2014)

I saw the trailer for “Life After Beth” (2014) earlier this year and thought it looked fun. I do heart me Aubrey Plaza, with her sanpaku eyes and her perpetual state of looking annoyed/disenfranchised, and figured she would be terrific in the role of a reanimated corpse. And I was right.

"I have to study for a test."

The gist: Beth Slocum dies on a solo nature hike and she’s mourned by her parents (John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon) and her estranged boyfriend Zach (Dane DeHaan) but a few days after her literal dirt nap, Beth is back, seemingly intact but maybe missing some recent memories. Not a big deal, except her folks have to keep her hidden from public. Because, you know, resurrected daughter. Zach and Beth get to spend some quality time saying and doing things Zach wish he had time for before Beth’s demise… which is really sweet and romantic and HEY WTF ISN’T THIS A ZOMBIE MOVIE OR WHAT??

Beth's downward spiral, seen here chained to her stove.

So yeah, things spiral out of control once Zach clues in Beth that she’s, well, dead. Not only does Beth begin to corrode physically and mentally but others start coming back from the dead. No one saw the “zombie apocalypse” coming… including me.

Zach tries to stop his brother from shooting Beth, who is still chained to the stove.

It’s surprisingly restrained on the gore, at least until the third reel. There are some really touching scenes, like Zach bonding with Mr. and Mrs. Slocum after Beth’s funeral, Mrs. Slocum feeding her own fingers to Beth because she’s a good mom, Zach’s final goodbye to Beth… good stuff. And the humor is pretty subtle and charming, too. “La-ven-derrrr”

Zach and Beth (plus her stove) finally take that hike together.

“Life After Beth” is the best rom-zom-com since 2004’s “Shaun of the Dead.” And before you argue that there haven’t been any rom-zom-coms since “Shaun of the Dead,” let me remind you of last year’s awful “Warm Bodies.”

Doc Splatter is pleased to give “Life After Beth” a hearty A+ and recommends it highly. Available for digital rental via Amazon and other vendors.


DOCtoberFest 2014 Day 27: “Fright Night” (2011)

(Click it to Brewster-size it!)


Not a review per se, but acknowledging “Fright Night” (2011) as another unnecessary remake of a classic. And hey, Internet research for panel 2!


DOCtoberFest 2014 Day 26: “Teeth” (2007)

Recommended by Cider via Eva Halloween’s online playground The Year of Halloween, I ponied up $3.00 and rented “Teeth” (2007).

I was going to try to write this review in Latin. I got as far as vagina dentata because that’s the elevator pitch right there. Then I was going to say carpe diem, tempus fugit, caveat emptor and hakuna matata. Actually, some of these make sense in the context of a movie which features a chaste high-school girl whose *ahem* “rose has thorns,” which puts several mashers in the ER or morgue.

It's pretty much exactly what it looks like is going on.

I gotta tell you, except for the unbelievably awkward pelvic exam scene (above), it was a lot of fun to watch. It’s a coming-of-age teen drama with no shortage of gallows humor or mutilated man appendages. I think it would pair nicely with “Pitch Perfect” for some reason. Great production values yet low budget (all the effects looked practical, except the suspicious CGI twin cooling towers looming in the background of this small Texas town), fine acting, convincing portrayals of terror, guilt and OMIGOD YOUR JUNK JUST ATE MY JUNK!

And wait ’til you see what Mother does.

Bravo for making this the squirmiest gynecological body-horror show since David Cronenberg’s “Dead Ringers” (1988). The Doc gives it an A. Available as an online rental via Amazon Prime.


DOCtoberFest 2014 Day 25: “The Taking of Deborah Logan” (2014)

This one comes to Doc Splatter with a glowing recommendation from Splatter Intern James Not Jackson, so I fired up the Netflix and here’s what I got.

From the onset, “The Taking of Deborah Logan” (2014) looks like another mockumentary/found footage thrillride, but it has two massive faults that seem to plague this genre.

Why, gramma — what SATANIC EYES you have!

First, if you want to trick the audience into thinking this is an Alzheimer’s documentary but then you switch gears and turn it into SURPRISE! a demonic possession movie, maybe tone down the LOOK AT THE OLD LADY POSSESSED BY SATAN movie poster. Just a suggestion.

Why, gramma — what an ANATOMICALLY IMPOSSIBLE, UNHINGED SNAKE JAW you have

Second, in “found footage,” you don’t get to add scary music when you see a shadowy or out-of-focus figure duck out of screen. When you take an iPhone video of a friend walking into a closed door, you don’t hear “wop-waaa” (sad trombone). No. You hear “thud” and maybe an epithet or two. That’s all. Leaving out music or “BEY-OOON!” scary sounds in “found footage” is not only necessary but it’s mandatory. Tsk, tsk.

Those two massive disappointments aside, this is plenty creepy and actually has a modest body count of maybe 2-3 people. Jill Larson did a great job as the title character, at times both heartbreaking (if you know someone with Alzheimer’s) and unapologetically twisted. They did bad math on keeping track of the days that had gone by, but that’s just me being anal retentive.

I’m giving Debby Logan a B+. You can check it out on your neighbor’s Netflix account.


DOCtoberFest 2014 Day 24: “Infection” (2010)

You know how sometimes the trailer is like a thousand times better than the movie? Like “Prometheus?” Remember the tense feeling you got in your chest during the trailer? Then when you actually saw it, it was like finding a dog turd made its way to the floormat of your car even though you were really careful at the dog park and made sure to look everywhere you stepped but it had either rained or the sprinklers were on overnight and there was a lot of mud and you still tried to stay on the grassy areas?

Like that.

Well, how about when the movie poster is a thousand times better than the movie?

That’s “Infection” (2010). In fact, I don’t know if it has a movie poster! This image is from the DVD packaging.

For this movie, I confess I started to watch it, but by the end of the opening credits I had mentally checked out. BUT instead, I whipped through the whole movie in like 2 minutes by dragging the fast forward bar on my iPad. And here’s what I saw:

Woman in a Smart car visits an old lady who is very clearly a young blond actress in laughable old-lady makeup who seems to retell a tale of the distant past (now) where she was a waitress and there’s a small-town cop and a tough guy and mysterious circumstances and some bad lighting and a couple people having seizures and a stereotypical nerdy science guy and it looks like only the blond, the tough and the nerd can save the town from I don’t know parasites? and then there’s a posse to get the parasites and it ends with some of the worst special effects ever and if you think I’m joking just trust me on that and then we zoom to the future because “old” blond actress is done with her story and oh my god I can’t believe I wasted all this time on this piece of shit I’m calling it an F and getting on with my day.


DOCtoberFest 2014 Day 23: “The Fourth Kind” (2009)

For my review of extra-terrestrial thrill ride “The Fourth Kind” (2009), I’m doing it all in memes.


DOCtoberFest 2014 Day 22: “The Collector” (2009)

Well, color me surprised.

Seems familiar

Apparently yesterday’s crapfest “The Collection” (2013) is a sequel to “The Collector” (2009). Presented with this new information, I decided to watch “The Collector” and I’ll say it was a spectacularly dreadful heap of shit. But compared to its sequel, it was a masterful tour de force by a team of filmmaking virtuosos and wunderkinds.

The plot revolves around an older, Southern plantation-style house and how it was raped by a masked jackass with a fetish for bondage, torture and death traps. This house had to endure its living room being violated with tripwires, razor wire in the kitchen, bear traps in the foyer, knives in the chandelier, nail traps installed within the walls, steaming quick-cure cement (no doubt from ACME) in the guest bedroom, its windows being boarded up and broken out, bathroom door being bashed open with a human head, a kid’s room being turned into a makeshift electrocution chamber, etc.

And please keep in mind all these death traps were installed by one guy in one evening in the space of maybe three hours.

Here’s a SPOILER: the kid survives, as does the sadistic Mr. Collector Guy and the dude who looks like Rick Grimes from “The Walking Dead” (duh, because they’re both in the sequel).

Watching this insufferable torture porn made me hate this movie, hate myself for wasting time watching this movie, and hate the sequel even more. A remarkable achievement in filmmaking.

In fact, the sequel is 33% more lame because they didn’t even use a different photo for their poster. Check it out.

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

What did I give the sequel— an F, right? Well, this one is marginally better, so Doc Splatter gives it an F+. Apropos since it’s available on Hulu Plus.


DOCtoberFest 2014 Day 21: “The Collection” (2013)

Remember when you were in 10th grade? Invariably, there was always this one kid who was really deep into heavy metal and would draw band logos all over his Pee-Chee folder. And then in art class, study hall or lunch, he’d bust out his pens and draw all these gnarly, twisted death traps (usually with girl classmates and teachers as victims).

OK. Got that guy in mind? Good.

Now imagine his dad works in Hollywood. Director, writer, producer, it doesn’t matter. He’s in a rush to a meeting and doesn’t notice his kid’s doodles shuffled under his work papers, and when he’s about to make a pitch to the Hollywood Powers That Be, his kid’s doodles slip out onto the conference table. Before Hollywood guy can explain, The Powers That Be grab them, look them over and say “Perfect! Let’s go with it! There’s no plot, no story, no logic and nothing even remotely redeeming about this. Let’s fast-track this bad boy!”

And that’s likely the untold story on how “The Collection” (2013) got made.


This “movie” (a loose term, at best) is really nothing more than a series of preposterous death traps — seemingly from the imagination of an emotionally stunted 15-year-old headbanger — stitched together with all the writing skill of an emotionally stunted 15-year-old headbanger. Someone please tell me how a middle-aged psychopathic entomologist has the wherewithal to secretly rig a dance club into an elaborate Rube Goldberg-esque death machine consisting of 3,000 feet of tripwires, hydraulic “crush rooms,” wall-mounted switchblades the size of katanas, automated locking doors, and a 60-foot-wide, ceiling-mounted, steam-powered retractable thresher that turns a dance floor into three tons of chum?

"Huh huh huh. That's cool."

Doesn’t matter.

How about a guy who escapes the psycho entomologist’s Death Machine Dance Club, breaks his arm jumping out a window, is rushed to the hospital, gets his arm set and put into a plaster cast (along with x-rays, I’m sure), gets his myriad other injuries patched up, is bathed/cleaned up by hospital staff, is arrested and his hospital room is under police protection, receives a Get Well card and vase of roses from the killer entomologist, orders his visiting wife to hide out at her mom’s house, then is visited by a black-ops squad who enlist him to track down this psycho entomologist who kidnapped Shooter McGavin’s daughter at the Death Machine Dance Club. Sounds like a busy week, right? No, this apparently happens in ONE EVENING.

Why do I think this? Because we see the kidnapped girl still locked in the trunk she was stuffed in at the Death Machine Dance Club, showing no signs of being in the trunk for any longer than a few hours. No exhaustion, no bloodied hands from trying to escape, no pee pee or doo doo in the trunk.

Doesn’t matter.

From there we get to the psycho entomologist’s hideout — a gigantic, abandoned hotel still with power and water, apparently right there in the city limits — and then we get another hour of death traps, torture porn, attack dogs, drugged-up-victims-turned-attack-zombies, insanely large plot holes, and incredulous, logic-defying situations. This had all the subtlety, acting chops and clever narrative of a carnival House of Horrors ride. I checked out long before the end of Beavis’ wet dream. This “movie” is a death trap for the audience.

I’m giving this a Flying F. I’m not even going to tell you where to find it.


DOCtoberFest 2014 Day 20: “ATM” (2012)

And here’s my twitter review of “ATM” (2012).

I still had a bunch of characters left over, too!

Abysmal. Tedious. Motarded. At least I didn’t hear anyone say “ATM machine.” Then I would’ve chainsawed my flat-screen in half.

I give it a generous F. Available on a Netflix near you, if you should feel the urge.


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