31 Days of Horror Part II: Day 21 [Bottom 100 Wednesday] – #31: The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)

 thebeastofyuccaflats1961a

Director: Coleman Francis

Cast: Tor Johnson, Conrad Brooks, Douglas Mellor, Barbara Francis, Bing Stafford

Screenplay: Coleman Francis

54 mins. Not Rated.

IMDb Bottom 100: #31 (as of 10/21/2015)

 

This week, I looked back at a classic (or anti-classic) of the science-fiction horror genre: The Beast of Yucca Flats. This film isn’t actually as bad as it seems. It still is boring as hell and very confusing, but when people have compared it to Plan 9 from Outer Space, I could disagree. Still a terrible film, but we’ll get to that.

thebeastofyuccaflats1961b

Joseph Javorsky (Tor Johnson, Bride of the Monster, Plan 9 from Outer Space) is a defecting KGB agent who has just been hit by a nuclear radiation blast and has now become The Beast, a monstrous man who is murdering the hell out of random strangers. That’s. About. It.

In this film from the terrible writer/director Coleman Francis (Night Train to Mundo Fine, The Skydivers), we get to see an underwhelmingly underdeveloped story with the notoriously terrible Tor Johnson at the forefront. This film doesn’t bother me so much with its many inconsistencies, but more so with the boredom I felt from its 54-minute runtime.

I have very little else to say about this piece of shit. So let’s cover the redeemability…possibly.

 

But is it Good?

No. Not the worst film of all time, mind you, but rather bad.

 

Can it be Fun?

I’d keep the MST3K version for fun. The film has almost no dialogue, so you can get the best experience.

 thebeastofyuccaflats1961c.jpg

The Beast of Yucca Flats is truly awful (Ed Wood levels of awful). Yeah. Real bad.

 

1.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

31 Days of Horror Part II: Day 20 – Monsters University (2013)

 monstersuniversity2013a

Director: Dan Scanlon

Cast: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren

Screenplay: Daniel Gerson, Robert L. Baird, Dan Scanlon

104 mins. Rated G.

 

Pixar sequels scare me. I wasn’t a big fan of Toy Story 2. I hated Cars 2. Toy Story 3 was great, but it felt like the exception that proved the rule. When Pixar announced that my favorite property Monsters, Inc. was getting a prequel, I was both shocked and intrigued by the concept. When I discovered that we would be seeing the story of Mike and Sully meeting in college, I was still very confused. Then, I saw it…

monstersuniversity2013b

In Monsters University, we get another look into the unique universe that Pixar created where monsters exist and get energy from the screams of children, where a young monster named Mike Wazowski (TV’s The Comedians, When Harry Met Sally…) experiences disapproval by his peers in his attempts to become a professional scarer. But he finds a new rival in fellow student Sully (John Goodman, TV’s Roseanne, The Gambler). When both students are kicked out of the scaring program, they decide to join Oozma Kappa, a failing fraternity, in an effort to win the Annual Scare Games and earn their way back into the scaring program, proving to their judgmental Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren, The Queen, Woman in Gold) that they have what it takes.

Pixar has great timing. Releasing Monsters University at a time when fans of the original film are entering the college portion of their lives is perfection, much in the same way they did with Toy Story 3 a few years previously. Great working of their audience.

The voicework here is phenomenal, getting great work from the veterans as well as new additions Helen Mirren and Nathan Fillion. Charlie Day absolutely steals his scenes.

"MONSTERS UNIVERSITY" (Pictured) SULLEY amongst other MU monsters. ©2013 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Monsters University is a perfect prequel, rarely feeling the need to fall back on referencing the original. For the most part, it blazes a new trail and knows it doesn’t have to embrace a cliché finale.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

For my review of Pete Docter’s Monsters, Inc., click here.

31 Days of Horror Part II: Day 19 [Happy 25th Birthday!] – Night of the Living Dead (1990)

 nightofthelivingdead1990c

Director: Tom Savini

Cast: Tony Todd, Patricia Tallman, Tom Towles

Screenplay: George A. Romero

92 mins. Rated R for adult situations/language, nudity, and violence.

 

Last year, we covered Night of the Living Dead, an incredible classic of the horror genre. This year, we’ll cover the remake, a less stellar but still interesting reworking of the zombie hit.

nightofthelivingdead1990b

Night of the Living Dead runs in much the same way as its predecessor. Barbara (Patricia Tallman, Army of Darkness, Atlas Shrugged II: The Strike) is out visiting her deceased mother’s grave with her brother Johnny. When Johnny is attacked and killed by a vicious ghoul, Barbara flees for the countryside, stumbling upon a farm house where she meets Ben (Tony Todd, The Man from Earth, Sushi Girl). Together, Ben and Barbara, along with several other survivors, attempt to make it through the night of the living dead.

Tony Todd makes a great Ben. Patricia Tallman makes a better but not great Barbara. Tom Towles (Halloween, Miami Vice) does okay as Harry Cooper, who only has one goal: protect his wife and sick child (a goal that would prove to be less on his mind as our story progresses). Performances all around are passable.

The real divergence from the original is the screenplay from George A. Romero (The Crazies, Bruiser). Many won’t notice the differences between the two stories, and in fact, there are but few. Barbara’s character arc alters, and the film omits several plot points from fellow screenwriter John Russo, who originally wrote the screenplay with Romero. I prefer this script, but I prefer that movie. Just saying.

nightofthelivingdead1990a

There isn’t a whole lot wrong with the film. Tom Savini’s directing is still very novice here, but it works well enough. Night of the Living Dead has the potential to keep you up all night. It does. You just need to get over a few bumps along the road.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

31 Days of Horror Part II: Day 18 [Happy 30th Birthday!] – Re-Animator (1985)

 reanimator1985a

Director: Stuart Gordon

Cast: Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Barbara Crampton, David Gale, Robert Sampson

Screenplay: Dennis Paoli, William Norris, Stuart Gordon

104 mins. Not Rated.

 

I think I genuinely avoided Re-Animator growing up, though I don’t entirely understand why. It matters not in the grand scheme of things. I eventually did see it, and I couldn’t stop raving about it. The beautiful concoction of quirky strange horror with comedic elements absolutely mesmerized me.

reanimator1985c

Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott, TV’s Dark Justice, The Prophecy II) has a new roommate in Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs, The Frighteners, Beethoven’s Treasure Tail), an unstable med student with an interesting emphasis: he wants to re-animate the dead. When West revives the dead cat that belongs to Dan’s girlfriend Megan (Barbara Crampton, You’re Next, We Are Still Here), the young doctor-in-training joins Herbert West and the two dig themselves into the questionable territory separating the laws of man from those of God.

Director Stuart Gordon (From Beyond, Edmond) plays his film like an episode of Tales from the Crypt, enjoying the strange and eclectic tale based on the story by H.P. Lovecraft. Jeffrey Combs does possibly the best performance of his career, and he gets great backplay from David Gale (Guyver, Savage Weekend) as Dr. Carl Hill, a professor at the school who seems out to destroy West and his career. On the flipside, I wasn’t entirely impressed by Abbott’s portrayal of Dan, although he is raised by the terrific work of his costars.

Then there is the real star of the film, and that is the use of practical effects, which elevate the craft by being as real as possible. These effects still work amazingly well even 30 years later.

reanimator1985d

Re-Animator is just about a damn near overlooked classic of the horror genre. It features a perfect performance by Jeffrey Combs and the masterful directing of Stuart Gordon. If you haven’t seen this terrific display of strange horror, please do yourself a favor soon.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

31 Days of Horror Part II: Day 17 – Beetlejuice (1988)

 beetlejuice1988b

Director: Tim Burton

Cast: Michael Keaton, Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Jeffrey Jones, Catherine O’Hara, Winona Ryder

Screenplay: Michael McDowell, Warren Skaaren

92 mins. Rated PG for adult situations/language and violence.

  • Academy Award Winner: Best Makeup

 

I remember really enjoying the animated Beetlejuice television series as a kid. When my mother finally introduced me to the idea that it was preceded by a live-action film, I just about went crazy. When she told me that it was going to be on television that night, I lost it. I saw it. I loved it. I still love it.

beetlejuice1988d

Meet the Maitlands: Adam (Alec Baldwin, The Departed, Aloha) and Barbara (Geena Davis, Thelma & Louise, In a World…). They just died and now confined to an afterlife in their home. But when Charles (Jeffrey Jones, Sleepy Hollow, 10.0 Earthquake) and Delia (Catherine O’Hara, The Nightmare Before Christmas, A.C.O.D.) Deetz move in, accompanied by outcast daughter Lydia (Winona Ryder, Black Swan, Homefront), they are forced to go to extreme situations to haunt the Deetzes into moving out. In steps Betelgeuse (Michael Keaton, Birdman, Minions), a bioexorcist who specializes in getting people to move out of their dwellings, but the self-described “ghost with the most” has an agenda of his own, and the Maitlands have just gotten in too deep.

Beetlejuice came after director Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands, Big Eyes) greated great success as director of Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure and used his clout to reveal his true genius with the visual medium as a gothic director of merit. Beetlejuice is an excellent exercise in tone, cinematography, storytelling, and excitement.

It seems as though everyone knows their place in this film, from Baldwin and Davis playing the timless Maitlands to the big city quirky Deetzes, and especially an often overlooked performance from Glenn Shaddix, who plays the smug and cynical Otho (after Shaddix’s death in 2010, the famous Day-O from the film played at the end of the funeral). Otho’s role in driving the plot with his hubris-filled attempts at showing his wide array of skills gives the story so much flavor.

beetlejuice1988c

From a storytelling perspective, Beetlejuice proves that you don’t have to explain away the mysteries of your film. The script from Michael McDowell and Warren Skaaren was rewritten from being a straight horror film with several cliché plot points into the afterlife character study that it is today. It is arguably one of Tim Burton’s finest works, and is easily viewable to any audience in any time, even if some of the effects have not dated well.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

For my review of Tim Burton’s Batman, click here.

For my review of Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow, click here.

For my review of Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows, click here.

31 Days of Horror Part II: Day 16 – Big Ass Spider! (2013)

 bigassspider2013a

Director: Mike Mendez

Cast: Greg Grunberg, Lin Shaye, Patrick Bauchau, Ray Wise, Clare Kramer, Lombardo Boyar, Ruben Pla

Screenplay: Gregory Gieras

80 mins. Rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence and gore.

 

Apparently Mike Mendez (The Gravedancers, Tales of Halloween) fought like hell to keep the title Big Ass Spider! He was right, though unfortunately there is little else to draw one in.

bigassspider2013b

Alex Mathis (Greg Grunberg, TV’s Heroes, Super 8) is an expert exterminator (ignore the part at the beginning where he is bit by an apparently lethal spider). His expertise comes to great importance as the hospital that he’s in has an extremely dangerous spider that quadruples in size at an alarming rate. Now, Alex and his de facto partner Jose (Lombardo Boyar, Happy Feet, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) attempt to stop the mammoth bug while a team of government agents led by Major Braxton C. Tanner (Ray Wise, RoboCop, The Lazarus Effect) attempt to blow it out of the sky, putting millions at risk.

This title brought me in. The film put me out. I actually really like Greg Grunberg but I don’t feel like he is ready to lead a movie, even one like Big Ass Spider! He is joined by Boyar who plays off as a cliché token Hispanic. The only man who plays to this film’s strengths is Wise, who delivers a goofy satire of the by-the-numbers Major. I also enjoyed the “cameo” by Lin Shaye (There’s Something About Mary, Insidious: Chapter 3).

Big Ass Spider! has some actually engaging effects, but the screenplay didn’t move along in any way that actually interested me, choosing to embrace its B-Movie possibilities rather poorly.

bigassspider2013c

All in all, get a laugh out of the fact that somebody actually made a movie called Big Ass Spider! No, you don’t actually have to watch the movie.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

31 Days of Horror Part II: Day 15 – The Faculty (1998)

 thefaculty1998a

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Cast: Jordana Brewster, Clea DuVall, Laura Harris, Josh Hartnett, Shawn Hatosy, Elijah Wood

Screenplay: Kevin Williamson

104 mins. Rated R.

 

I always find it strange when a director known for writing and directing his or her own work decides to take on a project written by someone else. When the writer is well known too, it really increases my excitement. Of course, The Faculty came out when I was eight years old, so none of that really mattered, but still, something to think about.

thefaculty1998c

The teachers of Herrington High School are acting a bit strange, and young Casey (Elijah Wood, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Last Witch Hunter) and Delilah (Jordana Brewster, Fast Five, Home Sweet Hell) have just discovered their secret: they aren’t exactly from our planet. Now it rests on several students to stop the impending alien invasion before their school is overrun.

The Faculty is a rather fun little sendup to alien invasion stories like Invasion of the Body Snatchers from director Robert Rodriguez (Grindhouse, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For) and screenwriter Kevin Williamson (TV’s The Following, Scream 2). Rodriguez gathered a rather impressive group of young actors for his film also including Josh Hartnett (TV’s Penny Dreadful, Black Hawk Down).

I found the various faculty members were portrayed by some impressive genre performers like Robert Patrick, Salma Hayek, Piper Laurie, Daniel von Bargen, and John Stewart. Sure, the film itself has problems that stem from it being a studio horror film, but overall Rodriguez is able to apply his mythical sense of the macabre to this film, keeping the style mostly high but not perfectly so.

thefaculty1998b.jpg

I enjoyed The Faculty at age eight. I also did at age twenty-five. It has aged pretty well. Check it out.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

For my review of Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller’s Sin City, click here.

For my review of Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, click here.

31 Days of Horror Part II: Day 14 [Bottom 100 Wednesday] – #24: Hobgoblins (1988)

hobgoblins1988a 

Director: Rick Sloane

Cast: Tom Bartlett, Paige Sullivan, Steven Boggs, Kelley Palmer, Billy Frank, Daran Norris

Screenplay: Rick Sloane

88 mins. Rated R.

IMDb Bottom 100: #24 (as of 10/14/2015)

 

Man, I really though Hobgoblins would be better.

hobgoblins1988b

In Hobgoblins, from writer/director Rick Sloane (Blood Theatre, Vice Academy Part 6), we meet Kevin (Tom Bartlett), a new night security guard keeping watch over a movie studio containing several forbidden hallways. However, one of the halls leads to a vault which has been opened, and out have spilled dozens little hobgoblins, creature that kill while making you believe that your innermost dreams are coming true. Now, Kevin is off to stop the little creatures from taking over his small town and steal his girlfriend (who doesn’t even appear to actually like him, just a thought).

I kind of thought that Hobgoblins would be better. Not that I don’t get that it isn’t universally enjoyed. I just thought the tiny creature feature would be a bit of hyper-fun. It still was mildly enjoyable for being such an awful movie, but I wanted more.

Firstly, the performances are terrible. None of these actors ever went on to anything worthwhile and there’s a reason for that: they aren’t any good. Now, they play very well to the horrendous tone of the film. I enjoyed watching them struggle throughout the film, especially Steven Boggs who plays Kyle, a phone sex addict.

Rick Sloane has made many films, and Hobgoblins surprisingly isn’t the worst one. But it isn’t very good either. I’m not entirely sure it belongs on this list.

 

But is it Good?

Not good, no. But it isn’t the worst film you’ll ever see. Just close.

 

Can it be Fun?

I think the film is mild fun, but I would suggest viewing it in the MST3K edition.

 hobgoblins1988c.jpg

Hobgoblins is one bonkers film. Bonkers in the sense of bad. There’s little more I can say to sway you on this matter.

 

1.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

31 Days of Horror Part II: Day 13 – The Conjuring (2013)

 246460id1c_Conjuring_INTL_27x40_1Sheet.indd

Director: James Wan

Cast: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ron Livingston, Lili Taylor

Screenplay: Chad Hayes, Carey W. Hayes

112 mins. Rated R for sequences of disturbing violence and terror.

 

James Wan (Saw, Furious 7) is THE horror director of today. The man is known for creating tone and utilizing it perfectly to create a terrifying atmospheric experience. He also shows that he can learn from mistakes, and nowhere is that more apparent than what is likely his best work, The Conjuring.

theconjuring2013d

Carolyn (Lili Taylor, Say Anything, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials) and Roger Perron (Ron Livingston, Office Space, Vacation) are loving their new home. But there is a presence in the home, and it is taking its toll on Carolyn. In steps Ed (Patrick Wilson, TV’s Fargo, Insidious) and Lorraine Warren (TV’s Bates Motel, The Departed), two paranormal investigators (demonologists, technically) who are looking to solve the family’s dilemma. But this demonic force isn’t willing to go lightly, and wants to take the Perrons, and perhaps the Warrens, with it.

The screenplay by Chad and Carey W. Hayes (House of Wax, Whiteout) is where it starts. This screenplay combines that perfect mixture of horror with lightheartedness and humor that James Wan thrives on.

What also helps Wan thrive is the perfect blend of great actors and professional genre performers that blend into such a realistic and thrilling experience.

IMG_0278.dng

James Wan’s previous film Insidious was great but had issues, namely the overuse of music and the overappearance of the big villain. In The Conjuring, he learns from these mistakes and excels here with pure vision. The Conjuring is a pure modern masterpiece in just about every way.

 

5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

For my review of James Wan’s Insidious, click here.

For my review of James Wan’s Furious 7, click here.

31 Days of Horror Part II: Day 12 – Infernal (2015)

 infernal2015a

Director: Bryan Coyne

Cast: Andy Ostroff, Heather Adair, Alyssa Koerner, Jose Rosete

Screenplay: Bryan Coyne

99 mins. Not Rated.

 

Hey there everyone. Just stepping in tonight to tell you about the new film I saw today. It’s called Infernal, and it’s just awful. It stars Andy Ostroff and Heather Adair as newlyweds Nathan and Sophia who we flash forward to eight years later in their marriage. They have a daughter, Imogene (Alyssa Koerner) and life has gotten more difficult. Imogene shows signs of possible possession, but what can Nathan and Sophia do to save her, and can she be saved?

infernal2015c

Infernal is awful. Starting with the characters. Ostroff and Adair have no chemistry for a couple who should be together for eight years. Neither one can really act either, especially Ostroff, who vomits his lines as if to get rid of them rather than speak them. When the guy playing the Gollum-ripoff demon is the best character, you got a problem.

Also, is this film found footage? I just don’t know. There are times when it feels like found footage, and there are times when it doesn’t make any sense. Then, there are times when it’s painfully obvious that they are trying to say, “hey, there’s stuff going on here, check it out.”

Who picked the music for Infernal? It felt as though it was picked up for the reasonable resemblance to public domain music. Ugh, utterly terrible.

infernal2015b

There just isn’t anything that works in this film. It dredges on for what feels like hours. This film belongs in hell.

 

1/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑