I enjoy movies of various genres (comedy, drama, science fiction, documentary, talking cat, talking dog, farting moose, tentacle porn, etc), but I mostly like horror, and since it's October--I call it "Shocktober" (wink, wink)--what better way to fill space on my blog than to post horror editions of my most popular/easiest to generate feature Last 3 Movies?!? I get to write about horror--which I would love to get paid to do if anybody important has stumbled onto this page and is currently reading this aside--and you get exposure to a genre you might not be that familiar with, but have been considering checking out. Also, you get to see how much sick, twisted entertainment I cram into my brain on a weekly basis and marvel at how well-adjusted I am.
Title: Rites of Spring (2011)
Synopsis: Mumblegore sweetheart AJ Bowen stars as one of a quartet of lowlifes who kidnap a little girl and hold her for ransom in an abandoned insane asylum. Want to guess what happens next? I guarantee you're wrong.
In another movie, a twitchy old man kidnaps two buxom 20-somethings, strings them up in his terror barn and prepares them for sacrifice. To what, you might ask? Well, that'll have to wait for Movie #3.
In Movie #3, Movies #1 and #2 collide in a sticky plume of blood and guts, when a crusty, yet surprisingly athletic, mummy crawls out of the barn cellar and chases everyone around with scythe for 20 hackneyed minutes.
Why did I watch this?: I've been on a big AJ Bowen kick as of late, in fact, it kind of crept up on me without me realizing it. I think I like him because he always comes across as a pretty nice dude. Sure, he's a kidnapper in this one, but he's the token one with the heart-of-gold. And, well, [SPOILER ALERT!!!] I guess he doesn't turn out to be an upstanding citizen in You're Next. [SPOILER ALERT OVER!!!]. But he's a helluva guy in The Sacrament. There you go.
I also like him because he's stocky and bearded, like me. He does have a beautiful head of hair, but I won't hold that against him.
31 Days of Horror-worthy?: I'm pretty confident you could find 31 better films to watch this October. I was more interested in the kidnapping/ransom plot than any of the weird "corn ritual" garbage, but even that was fairly unoriginal and dull. I liked how the the corn demon/gymnast mummy was dispatched by the film's final girl at the end, the classic place in a horror film for the final girl to make her last stand, but I also didn't care much about said corn creature because he doesn't get a whole lot of back story. He just kinda leaps out of the basement and starts scything everybody who gets in his way. There is simultaneously too much and nothing at all going on in Rites of Spring, so I can't recommend it. I do recommend the two other AJ Bowen movies I mentioned earlier though. They're both fantastic!
Lingering questions: What happened to the little girl? She escapes from her kidnappers and is last seen running off into the woods. Is there a deleted scene where she runs into Scythy, but he lets her go because he has a soft spot for children? Or was there a much ghastlier scene where the little girl gets her head split in half? Scythy doesn't come across as a sentimental chap from the short time we spend with him. Maybe it's better we don't know what happens to the little girl, I mean, her mom is dead and her dad's been chopped to pieces by a corn mummy. She's got a tough life ahead of her, and I don't need to see that.
Is the Stranger, the "clever" name given to the man conducting the nonsensical "rites of spring," which involved a lot of sponge baths and wrist slicing, the last survivor member of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre family, because I'm pretty sure he lives in their house? Maybe he bought it later. This question is going to haunt me for the next three seconds.
There we go. Over it.
Title: Banshee Chapter (2013)
Alternate Title: All Your Favorite Conspiracy Theories: The Movie
The Synopsis "They" Don't Want You To Read: Part found-footage, part documentary (quickly abandoned), all creepy sounds and jump scares, Banshee Chapter builds on the true story of Project MKUltra, a mind control program carried out by the CIA from the 1950's through the early 70's. It's also kind of based on an H.P. Lovecraft story. All I know is that I watched this in the comfort of my own bed, my wonderful wife sleeping peacefully beside me, the soft purr of my cat between us and a positive attitude in my heart, and I was creeped out the whole damn time!!!
Anyway, some guy disappears after ingesting an LSD-like drug supposedly used in Project MKUltra and his college friend, Anne, goes looking for him. Along the way she learns about number stations, encounters otherworldly beings in the dessert and hooks up with a Hunter S Thompson-like weirdo, played by Ted Levine, who gives the best-slash-most-distracting performance in the movie, to solve the mystery of DMT-19 and her friend's whereabouts.
31 Days of Horror-worthy?: Yeah. It's not terribly original and it doesn't make a whole hell of a lot of sense, but I was immensely creeped out the whole time. Numbers station broadcasts are right up there with killer ventriloquist dummies and masked home invaders when it comes to horror movie tropes that freak me out. And Levine is fun as Hunter S. Thompson, because, c'mon, that's who he's playing!
Not recommended for: Johnny Depp
Title: Axed (2012)
Alternate Title: Jerk Dad
Synopsis: A stuffy British dad gets fired from his job and chases his family around the countryside with an axe. The title is a fun play on words! Get it!?! Hooray!
The dad in question does a lot more than chase his family around with an axe, I guess. He also murders his boss after forcing his wife to simulate sex with him in front of the children; gives his son a gay porn mag and tells him to chop some wood; runs around screaming and axing everything and everyone in sight. Ugh. This movie is dull, repetitive and dumb. But, you know what, it's not that bad. I mean, it's got a lot to say about the world we live in today and lack of job security and how the daily pain of living can wear a middle-class, white man down and...
No, it sucks.
31 Days of Horror-worthy: Nope.
About the sound: Axed is remarkably well-acted and nice to look at considering it is a boring B-movie cheapie with little reason to exist. Jonathan Hansler, who plays the titular jerk dad, has fun with his role and is, in turn, fun to watch. Everyone's fine, actually. I wish these actors and the cinematographer all the best. What isn't fine are the sound effects. I'm not sure that's even the proper term when talking about movies. What's it called? Foley or something? I think sound effects are apropos in Axed's case however, because it sounds like a lot of the foley work was done using a Halloween sound effects CD. You kind of have to see it (hear it?) to believe it, but I will provide one example that never stops being funny. Several times throughout the film, Hansler's character will excuse himself to the attic where his boss is tied to an old bed. Hansler proceeds to punch the man in the head violently, over and over, during each visit. Each time Hansler's fist connects with his fellow actors face, we literally hear the sound of a basketball being dribbled. It is insane! And that's only one of many examples.
The most remarkable moment though comes much later in the film, during the obligatory "night chase through the spooky woods" scene, that goes on for way, way, WAY too long. The son character finally stands up to his dad and smashes him in the back of the head with a chunk of firewood. Dad loses his balance for a moment, then proceeds to lunge at his son with the axe. The axe and log collide several times, a moment a viewer who has already witnessed basketball head punches and pitchfork puncture sounds akin to that of a three-hole punch would expect to be accompanied by an appropriately inappropriate sound effect, like maybe the clang of sword upon shield or two raw chickens being tossed down an empty stairwell. Instead, we get nothing! No sound! So dumb.