Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tell Me Something (1999) - Film Review

I was pretty impressed with this Korean horror crime/thriller. It mines much of the same ground as Se7en and other high profile thrillers, but it's decidedly more gory and grisly (which I certainly appreciate). There seems to be a slight "giallo" influence as well (especially one of the killings, which had an Argento-esque feel to it). The story involves a serial killer terrorizing Seoul and leaving his victims' body parts in garbage bags throughout various public locations in the city. The garbage bags contain different parts from different male victims; and the special investigators task force, led by Detective Cho must piece together the human puzzles to determine the victims' identities.

Once the identities are discovered, the task force manages to link all the victims to a former lover, Su-Yeon Chae. Is she a suspect? Or is she the killer's next target? Watch and find out. It's a little slow in places but it does manage to build suspense; and the thriller aspect holds your attention to the end. The cinematography and look of the film is exceptional, and the soundtrack was also memorable. The acting is capable with no real stand-out performances. I only recognized one actor that I've seen in other films, Jung-ah Yum. She played the stepmother in A TALE OF TWO SISTERS, another exceptional Korean film. She also played a small part as the "vampire woman" in the opening scene of Park-Chan Wook's segment of THREE...EXTREMES.

Tell Me Something (1999) Rating:
3 and a half out of 5 Tombstones3 and a half out of 5 Tombstones
"Capable Korean Crime Thriller"

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Love Object (2003) - Film Review

I just watched this film again a couple days ago. I bought the DVD when it came out back in 2004, and I thought it was a very well done horror/thriller. What made me watch it again recently is because I just saw the movie LARS AND THE REAL GIRL. Both films have similar set-ups - a lonely introverted man buys a life-like sex doll for companionship. The introverts in both films are also attracted to a female co-worker. But this is where the similarity ends. LARS AND THE REAL GIRL is a decent, touching and lighthearted comedy/drama (and as such, it's not really my type of film). LOVE OBJECT on the other hand travels a much darker and more twisted path. The said introvert Kenneth (played by Desmond Harrington), becomes infatuated with female co-worker Lisa (played by Melissa Sagemiller). He orders a life-like sex doll from a website that lets you customize the doll. He of course endows it with all of Lisa's physical attributes. He also finds out personal information about Lisa (like what kind of music she likes, etc). When he finds out that she likes waltz, he goes so far as to buy a bondage harness from a sex shop so he can dance with the doll!

Love Object

If this sounds pretty creepy and disturbing don't worry - it gets even more twisted from here. I'm not going into the plot any further, because I don't like giving away too much. Those looking for gore won't find much here, and the sleaze-factor is held in check by the R-rating; but it's still an effective horror/thriller with some decent performances by all the actors involved. Speaking of the actors, Desmond Harrington will be familiar to horror fans as the male lead in the hillbilly splatter-fest WRONG TURN. There are also some great supporting roles, like Udo Kier as Kenneth's nosy apartment manager; and Rip Torn as Kenneth's boss. So if you've seen LARS AND THE REAL GIRL but thought that it could really benefit from some kink, sleaze, creepiness and dark humor then LOVE OBJECT is the movie for you.

Love Object (2003) - Trailer

Love Object (2003) Rating:
3 and a half out of 5 Tombstones3 and a half out of 5 Tombstones

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Der Golem (1920) - Film Review

An excellent silent film made in Germany and making great use of the expressionist style of filmmaking from that era. Made by the same studio that produced THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI that same year. It could be considered one of the first "monster" movies as well. This movie was a huge influence on James Whale when he made FRANKENSTEIN in 1931. It involves a Jewish community being persecuted by Christians. The Jewish rabbi uses "black magic" to bring a clay statue to life in order to protect them from the Christian emperor. The cinematographer, Karl Freund, would go on to lens Fritz Lang's METROPOLIS in 1927 and Tod Browning's DRACULA in 1931; and in the 50's he was the director of photography for the "I Love Lucy" show.

Der Golem (1920) Rating:
4 out of 5 Tombstones: A Bone-A-Fide Crypt-Licker
"Influential German expressionism"

Destroyer 666 (In Concert/Charlotte, NC-9/30/09)

Australian thrash/black metal band Destroyer 666 are on tour and will be playing live in Charlotte, NC on September 30, 2009. I'll more than likely be at this show. Here's all the info:

Destroyer 666 w/
Rapheumets Well
Shadow of the Destroyer

Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Charlotte, NC

at Charlotte's Underground
4205 Monroe Rd.
Charlotte, NC 28205

Doors open: 8:PM
Show starts: 9:PM

$20 in advance
$25 at the door
18 and over

To purchase tickets online

Destroyer 666 - I Am the Wargod

Doormouse / Venetian Snares - Skelechairs (Hexenkult's Edit)

This is a breakcore track by Doormouse entitled "Skelechairs". It was remixed by Venetian Snares. I tampered with it further and the full title should be Doormouse / Venetian Snares - Skelechairs (Hexenkult's Sample Massacre Edit). The video was (painstakingly) edited using still shots from Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974).

Catacombs (2007) - Film Review

It could have been (and should have been) so much better. Set among the underground catacombs of France, it should have at least been able to create a creepy claustrophobic atmosphere (like THE DESCENT), but it fails to generate any suspense or scares. And the twist ending just came off as ridiculous to me. In fact most of these types of horror films with the tacked on twist endings are just becoming too cliched now. Oh yeah, this was made by the producers of the SAW films. Blah! That's really all I have to say about this one. Just skip it. It's not even worth an in-depth review. For much more effective excursions into claustrophobic creepiness, check out the afforementioned THE DESCENT and Christopher Smith's 2004 film CREEP, set in the tunnels of a London subway station.

Catacombs (2007) - Trailer
Just watch the trailer, then you don't need to waste your time on the movie

Catacombs (2007) Rating:
1 and a half out of 5 Tombstones: No Meat on These Dry Bones
"A Wasted Opportunity"

Friday, August 14, 2009

Celtic Frost - Morbid Tales / Emperor's Return (1984/1985) - Music Review

Morbid Tales/Emperor's Return CD Cover

The "Morbid Tales" EP (1984) was the first release of pioneering first wave black metal band Celtic Frost, following the split up of Hellhammer. The line-up was Tom G. Warrior (guitar/vocals), Martin Eric Ain (bass), and Stephen Priestly (drums). In 1985 their second release was an EP called "Emperor's Return". Stephen Priestly was replaced on drums by Reed St. Mark.

Emperor's Return EP (1985)

The excellent cover art on "Emperor's Return" was done by Phil Lawvere. Like Ed Repka, he did artwork for various album covers, mostly metal bands, including Kreator's "Endless Pain", "Terrible Certainty", and "Pleasure to Kill", as well as Vendetta's "Go and Live...Stay and Die". This CD I'm reviewing combines both the "Morbid Tales" and "Emperor's Return" EPs. It includes such classic songs as "Into the Crypts of Rays" (with lyrics based on the deeds of the infamous French aristocrat Gilles de Rais), the doom-laden metal masterpiece that is "Procreation (of the Wicked)", and the eerie horror movie atmospherics of "Danse Macabre" (the twisted-sounding lullaby voices in this track remind me of something out of a Dario Argento film). And of course you can't forget tracks like "Circle of the Tyrants" and "Dethroned Emperor". Whether you like doom metal, black metal, thrash metal, or death metal, Celtic Frost was a huge influence on all these emerging genres; and for those not familiar with them, this is the best place to start. An essential addition to any metal collection.

Celtic Frost

Celtic Frost - Into the Crypts of Rays (Live 1985)

Celtic Frost - Morbid Tales/Emperor's Return (1984/1985) Rating:
5 out of 5 Tombstones: An Absolute Ghoul-Feast
"Influential Metal Classic"

Thursday, August 13, 2009

À l'intérieur [aka Inside] (2007) - Film Review

Before I had heard anything about this French horror/thriller, I actually saw it sitting on the shelf of my local DVD outlet. I picked it up read the back and it seemed interesting; but it was released on the Dimension Extreme label here in the US, and their titles are pretty much hit or miss. I decided to wait. After having it recommended to me many times by various friends, I finally picked it up. I shouldn't have waited. Believe the hype! This movie delivers big time.

If you're into splatter and gore (especially the realistic variety), then do not hesitate to get this movie. But it offers more than that. The story was very involving, the cinematography as well as the soundtrack was excellent, there was tension and suspense in some scenes, the actors performances ranged from adequate to excellent, and the ending didn't suck. The twist ending is nothing new to the horror/thriller genre, but ever since SAW was released outlandish twist endings have become de rigueur. And speaking of twist endings another French gore movie comes to mind - HIGH TENSION. I loved HIGH TENSION and I thought the ending was interesting, but it came so far out of leftfield that it became implausible and left lots of plot holes in the story. I'm thankful to say that INSIDE manages to avoid the outlandish twist ending cliché for the most part. A very astute viewer might be able to figure out where the ending is going, but I didn't see it coming; and when it did come it was believable enough. Béatrice Dalle was fantastic and very menacing in her role as the antagonist.

Beatrice Dalle in INSIDE (2007)

For another incredible performance by her, you would do well to seek out the French indie drama/shocker, TROUBLE EVERY DAY (2001). In closing, INSIDE is a very rewarding experience for jaded gorehounds (like myself) and for adventurous arthouse lovers (with strong stomachs).

À l'intérieur (2007) - Trailer

À l'intérieur [aka Inside] (2007) Rating:
4 and a half out of 5 Tombstones: A Bone-A-Fide Crypt Licker

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cop Killers (1973) - Film Review

This is a plodding but somewhat entertaining '70s grindhouse/exploitation action flick. A couple of small-time drug runners are making a trek across the Arizona desert, carrying a bag full of cocaine that they plan to sell for $80,000. Along the way they kill some cops (oh, and an ice cream vendor as well). They also take a female hostage along, who ends up falling for one of the drug runners. It stars Bill Osco and Jason Williams as the drug runners. Bill Osco was also a co-producer of the movie (as well as co-producer for other exploitation gems like FLESH GORDON, THE BEING, and the Herschell Gordon Lewis tribute film BLOOD DINER). Jason Williams acted in a string of exploitation films from the '70s up to the '90s. He's probably best known for playing Flesh Gordon.

The acting in the film consists of bad acting, over-acting, and some really bad over-acting. And the dialog is unintentionally funny in many places; but for those who love '70s grindhouse cinema, you already know that this adds to the charm of these movies. This film is also of note because it marks the debut of special make-up FX genius Rick Baker (who would go on to win an Oscar for his work on AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON in 1981). As far as the FX on this film, it's pretty minimal; mainly consisting of the aftermath of gunshot wounds. There's a couple of blood squibs and a spurting neck wound for good measure.

The most gruesome effect is when one of the drug runners stomps on a cops face, breaking his cheek open and then proceeds to stab him in the chest a few times with a stiletto (the knife not the high-heel). Another highlight involves the theft of an ice cream truck (I guess they're not too worried about remaining inconspicuous). They end up making their deal in the middle of the desert with a bearded dashiki-wearing hippy dude and his two horny hippy-chick girlfriends. Right on!

Cop Killers - Trailer

Copkillers (1973) Rating:
2 and a half out of 5 Tombstones
"Look Man, I'm Uptight and Wasted!"

Contents of the Crypt

À l'intérieur [Inside] (2007)

Catacombs (2007)

Cop Killers (1973)

Guinea Pig 2: Flower of Flesh and Blood (1985)

Last House on Dead End Street (1977)

Love Object (2003)

Tell Me Something (1999)

Untraceable (2008)

Supernatural Horror in Literature (1927)

Celtic Frost - Morbid Tales/Emperor's Return (1984/1985)

Death - Scream Bloody Gore (1987)


5 Tombstones: An Absolute Ghoul-Feast

4 Tombstones: A Bone-A-Fide Crypt-Licker

3 Tombstones: A Meat-E-Ogre Midnight Snack

2 Tombstones: A Meal Fit Only for a Maggot

1 Tombstone: No Meat on These Dry Bones

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Antaeus - Sono l'Antechristo (Custom Video by Hexenkult)

The music track is Sono l'Antechristo by French black metal band Antaeus , from their 2006 "Blood Libels" album. It's a cover of a song originally recorded by Diamanda Galas in 1986. This track is not listed on the packaging of the CD, but it starts at about 9 minutes into the last track. The video is still frames that I edited together featuring witches as the theme, mostly medieval woodcuts and some still shots from the 1922 film Haxan.

Antaeus - "Blood Libels" (2006)

MmK, lead vocalist of Antaeus

Supernatural Horror in Literature (1927) - Book Review

Written by: H.P. Lovecraft

This is quite simply one of the best essays ever written on the history of horror literature. It was written by Lovecraft over a three year period from 1924-1927, on the request of fellow writer W. Paul Cook; and first published in a folio-sized magazine called "The Recluse" in 1927.

The Recluse (1927)

Lovecraft continued to make revisions to the essay throughout the '30s, until his death in 1937. It was published with these revisions, posthumously, in 1939 by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei's Arkham House and included in "The Outsider And Others". It was published again in 1945 by Ben Abramson with a Foreword by August Derleth. This current edition that I'm reviewing was originally published by Dover in 1973, and replaces the foreword by Derleth with an Introduction by E. F. Bleiler. In this 128 page essay, Lovecraft not only exposes his influences, but shows a fine critical sense as well. This work provides a virtual checklist of classic literature for horror fans to seek out. Some of the authors covered are well known like Bram Stoker, Joseph Sheridan LeFanu, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Charles Dickens, Mary Shelley, Henry James, and Edgar Allan Poe (who has a whole chapter devoted to him). Others are lesser known today (at least in the mainstream market), but just as important to horror literature; like Charles Robert Maturin, Lord Dunsany, Arthur Machen, and Algernon Blackwood. "Supernatural Horror In Literature" is broken into 10 chapters, arranged chronologically, beginning with the earliest tales of supernatural occurences and continuing up through modern writers that Lovecraft admired.
The chapters are as follows:
2-The Dawn of the Horror Tale
3-The Early Gothic Novel
4-The Apex of Gothic Romance
5-The Aftermath of Gothic Fiction
6-Spectral Literature on the Continent
7-Edgar Allan Poe
8-The Weird Tradition in America
9-The Weird Tradition in the British Isles
10-The Modern Masters.
For Lovecraft fans this is an absolute must, to see the threads of influences that Lovecraft used to sew his own unique vision of cosmic horror. Even for those who are not particularly fans of Lovecraft's style of horror, this is still a fascinating read that traces the supernatural element from man's first written works all the way up to the 1930's.

Supernatural Horror in Literature (1927) Rating:
5 out of 5 Tombstones: An Absolute Ghoul-Feast

Untraceable (2008) - Film Review

This movie didn't really do much for me. It's a police procedurial suspense/thriller which tries to appeal to the SAW/HOSTEL crowd with a few somewhat gruesome torture/death scenes.

Untraceable (2008)

Someone is abducting people and broadcasting there torture and death live over the internet by use of a webcam. The cast are capable, but there's no real stand-out performances. I guess it may be somewhat of a diversion for suspense/thriller fans, but I found it too tedious and derivative of the films it borrows from. Here's the ingredients for the film:
1 part SEVEN
1 part SAW
1 part HOSTEL
By the way, the whole premise for this movie was done before by Dario Argento in his 2004 giallo THE CARD PLAYER. I'm probably biased towars Argento, but I enjoyed his film much more.

Untraceable (2008) Rating:
2 Tombstones: A Meal Fit Only for a Maggot