Sweet Suffering Pt 4 (Hellraiser: Bloodlines, 1996)

Hellraiser_BloodlineSo, Bloodlines was one of those cases of “This is the last one”. I mean, they did not actually make the mistake “the Final Chapter”…but this film seems to have been intended as a last hurrah for Pinhead and his band of merry cenobites. And they throw it all out there…the origin of the Lament Configuration is here.  It was made by a toy maker hired by man interested in dark magics.  The act has cursed his family line ever since, and the film is divided into three parts.

The film actually opens on a space station, where Dr. Paul Merchant is being held prisoner and is being interrogated. He has summoned Pinhead to finally bring an end to their feud once and for all. He was interrupted by security and finds himself having to tell the story of his family and their connection to the dark world of the Cenobites.  This of course goes back to the origin of the Lament Configuration. Pinhead makes no appearance in this sequence, so points for consistency.

In this story, a demoness is called forth in a spell that ties her to the Lament Configuration. Her summoner is betrayed by his power hungry protege Ben Wyatt. This moves us to the next story, set in the present day of 1996. Ben Wyatt is apparently still alive and has grown bored and complacent. The Demoness, named Angelique, wants to journey to America and find the toy maker’s descendent John. He is an architect and has designed a building that contains the visual inspiration of the Lament Configuration.

The attempt to build a coherent mythology within the series is an understandable move. But honestly, it never seems to feel like it fits all that nicely into the series. It ends up with a couple mentions down the road…but it is not really a game changer. On the other hand, since the finale is set in the future, it presents no trouble with Cenobites popping in and out of future films.

The film works with both practical and digital effects, and the digital effects are…well, okay.  The practical makeup looks nice though.  Bloodline is okay…but it also seems unsure with what it wants to do with Pinhead.  He is not the leader of hell or anything, defeating him might mean he is gone…but what greater evil are they really stopping? At the same time, Pinhead seems to be playing a role more like the first two films, where he is a guy doing a job. But this is certainly not the most exhausting film of the franchise.

How to Be a Dad (Little Evil, 2017)

little_evil_posterGary’s life seems to be going pretty good.  He just married his dream girl Samantha and he is working to get to know his new stepson Lucas.  Lucas is a special child.  As in, he is the spawn of Satan.

Gary does not, of course, accept this right away.  But mysterious events and death seem to give signs that Lucas is not all right.  Little Evil is a comedy brought to us by the same guy who made Tucker & Dale vs Evil.  That film was a funny send-up of  slasher films ranging from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre to the Wrong Turn franchise.

One might question where the humor is in the religious horror of satanic kids…but writer and director Eli Craig finds the spot where they can intersect.  Ans as with his previous film, does so with some sweetness and heart.

After an Omen-like incident at school, Lucas and Gary are sent to counseling.  For Gary, this means a support group for fathers (which is attended by his friend Al…a lesbian struggling with her stepson’s lack of athletic ability).  There, he is initially assured that these types of things are normal.  But as deeper research finds, there is a lot of tragedy that seems to follow Lucas.  And so Gary struggles to find a way to stop the son of Satan.

The cast is a strong comedic group.  Led by Adam Scott (Parks and Rec) the character  of Gary remains largely sympathetic throughout the film, which is important for those moments when he “veers off the path of good parenting”.  Bridget Everett’s Al could have stayed in it’s “Butch Lesbian” stereotype lane…but she brings such an exuberance to the character that Al stands out and of course, brings plenty of humor.  Evangeline Lilly (Ant Man and Lost) has a role that could get overshadowed, but she brings the appropriate heart to the role.

Little Evil is a lot of fun, though it does not quite reach the levels of insanity of Tucker & Dale Vs Evil.  This is partly due to the narrow nature.  They are really parodying the Omen here.  Unlike Tucker and Dale, where there was an homage a minute to some slasher film, Little Evil is more restrained.

If you liked Tucker and Dale, you will more than likely enjoy Little Evil.  And I would dare say that as long as the subject matter does not make one too uncomfortable? Non-horror fans may enjoy it as well.  The film has not gory, and the visuals are not terribly frightening.  Afterall, the goal here is not scares.  It is laughs and maybe a bit of sentimentality.

Fishies Pt 4 (Piranha 3D, 2010)

piranha_2010_posterIt is spring break in Lake Victoria and the kids are hear to party…get drunk, flash people, have sex…you know regular spring breakin’.  The local sheriff (Elizabeth Shue)is trying to keep things in control, and needs her son Jake (Steven R. McQueen) to watch his younger brother and sister.  Except he has been hired by Derrick (Jerry O’Connell) to take him and his crew around to the best Spring Break Locations.  Derrick runs a website called Wild Wild Girls* and wants to take advantage of the crowds at Lake Victoria.  Jake schemes, leaving his sibling home alone so he can hang out with Derrick and his group (including two Wild Wild Girls).  Unexpectedly, the girl he has a crush on, Kelly, gets brought on to the boat.

A research team headed by Novak (Parks and Rec’s Adam Scott) arrives to investigate a recent earthquake.  With the help of the Sheriff, they discover the earthquake opened an underground lake and has freed carnivorous fish.  And then the race is on to find the fish and stop them.

Of course, you know they will not succeed and spring break is an all you can eat buffet.  The fish work their way through the winding lake until they get to gorge themselves on swimmers.   In spite of not being shown for critics, the critics were pretty generous with this film.

The reason is, the film does not take itself seriously.  It is gleefully trashy and has fun with that.  There is no message about ecology or anything.  It is just about big and hungry fish.  And people in swimsuits.  The big sequence is a ridiculously over the top gore sequences as the Sheriff and Novak work alongside the deputies trying to save the Spring Breakers.  The effects are largely very good (though some digital moments are pretty obvious) and the film is carnage candy.

The movie has a very firm tongue in cheek attitude.  This is shown in it’s cameos, which are pitch perfect.  Eli Roth is an obnoxious Wet T-Shirt Contest Host.  Christopher Lloyd is a Doc Brown styled ichthyologist and the film opens Richard Dreyfuss slyly portraying his Matt Hooper character from Jaws.

The performances are really fun.  Ving Rhames is enjoyable Shue’s right hand man Deputy Fallon.  Paul Sheer is a goofy crony of of Derrick’s.  And Derrick?  O’Connell has one of the best lines of the entire film.  He plays Joe Franc-uh Derrick with no fear of the edge of the ledge.  I am a big fan of Adam Scott, and he is a lot of fun…it is kind of like he is playing a Action Ben Wyatt.  Kelly Brook’s performance is no major star turn, but her character Danni is likeable and seems keen on getting Jake and Kelly together as a couple.   Jessica Szohr is a lot of fun as Kelly, who is the kind of person to step up to the plate when challenged and when it is suggested she is maybe a bit uptight, shows Jake she is more than willing to cut loose.  Probably the supporting cast member to get the short end of the stick is Crystal, played by Riley Steel.  She has very little personality and pretty much is there to look good in a bikini.

This film should fall squarely into terrible, yet it has a lot of personality and makes for a real fun “Guilty Pleasure” movie.




*Girls Gone Wild creator Joe Francis wrote an angry letter to the producers and Jerry O’Connell repeatedly said he was playing Francis…upon threat of a lawsuit, O’Connell changed it to “For Legal reasons I play someone loosely based on Joe Francis”.

No Santa (Krampus, 2015)

krampus-winter-posterThe Krampus is a part of Christmas folklore largely unknown to the U.S., he is not part of our tales of Santa.  It is a popular bit of European folklore though.  But, as the film states, he is the dark shadow of Santa.  Santa rewards goodness, but the Krampus condemns the naughty.

It only makes sense that there would be a Christmas film for the Krampus.  Christmas horror stories have been around for quite some time.  A Christmas Carol is a Christmas horror story.

Mike Dougherty, most well known as a screenwriter of numerous super-hero films, this is his second feature as Director.  His first was the very entertaining Halloween themed Trick R’ Treat.  And now he returns to the holiday theme with a Christmas Monster movie.

Young Max is frustrated that his family Christmas is not like it onvce was.  There is fighting, cruel put downs and tension.  After being humiliated with his letter to Santa, Max is angry and heart broken, tearing up his letter to Santa.  He does not realize he has called forth a terrible wish.

The family wakes to discover there was a terrible snowstorm and they are out of power.  And that is not the really bad news.  what follows is the family discovering they are in for a terrible night.

The Krampus and his minions work to take the family to hell.  The thing about Dougherty is he has a skill with letting a horror film have the right amount of dark humor.  The monsters are wonderfully whimsical and creepy, which results in some enjoyable laughs.  I mean, the giggling evil gingerbread men cookies were crazy enough.  The designs are terrific.  The Krampus is almost like a melted Santa…his skin hanging loose, like ill fitting cloth.

The use of a frigid winter and snow are well used.  It is harsh and unforgiving.  The cast (including Toni Collette, Adam Scott and David Koechner) are great.  I genuinely found myself wanting this family to succeed, stop the Krampus and get out alive.

Krampus is a fun and enjoyable ride.  It won’t be winning any awards, but it was great fun for a horror fan.

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