Horror Bites - Meow Mix

CAT'S EYE (1985)

Another day, another Stephen King anthology. Now while I probably complained about Creepshow 2 enough already on here in one guise or another, I promise to be more genial this time around. Sure this still only has three chapters, something I can never entirely forgive in a series of vignettes no matter how interesting they are. But with a little working out and some good pacing they can still be enjoyable. Like in Three Faces of Evil this collection has its qualities distributed rather unevenly, but they're still well worth your consideration.


Horror Bites - Don't Say The Z Word

CONTAMINATION / NIGHTMARE CITY

While these sort of marathons are generally a fairly satisfying sort of length, there are always a few that manage silly genre movies that slip past due to time or other factors. There are always more. Which is fine, since a quick jaunt into the vaults of Italian horror is hardly something I need an excuse for these days. We've got some zombies lined up, but first off we have a story about alien visitors with Luigi Cozzi's 1980 Alien rip-off Contamination.


Horror Bites - The New Taste Sensation

BAD TASTE (1987)

There's always a feeling in the back of my mind that this is just a rough first attempt, rough draft kind of deal. My recollection of Peter Jackson's debut is that it's a test run on the road to his grand zombie outbreak comedy Braindead. However that might be a bit too judgemental, since on repeat viewings the enjoyment factor is always surprisingly high. It's not a high quality production, sure. But there's always a certain pleasure in seeing this kind of ultra low budget story unfold. Perhaps it's just because you can feel the energy involved. It's the sort of thing I'd imagine most of us can picture putting together at a certain age if we had the right equipment and a little twisted inspiration.


Horror Bites - Vault of Horror

CREEPSHOW (1982)

As we slip into the season of the witch it's probably quite appropriate to revisit such a classic blend of horror and comedy. After all, the combined talents of Stephen King and George A. Romero are what bring us this outing into the macabre. The idea to simultaneously create a throwback to the old style anthology movie while at the same time writing a fond love letter to EC Comics from the 1950s is pretty much a master-stroke. It's a winning combination of elements even before we look at the cast listing which features plenty of period talent and familiar faces for anyone into kind of thing. So get yourselves comfy as we turn the pages and enter a world of people turning into weeds, zombies demanding cake, and mysterious boxes under the stairs.


Horror Bites - The Guest

VISITOR Q (2001)

Takashi Miike's films often go from one bizarre shift in tone to another, sometimes within one film and sometimes inside of a series. This is the case in both something like the Black Society Trilogy where the horrifying sleaze in Shinjuku Triad Society switches to the restrained and dour melancholy of Rainy Dog as well as the the classic bait and switch reveal in stand-alone nightmare Audition. The ease at which things move from sickening to sickly sweet is integral in his body of work, which remains startlingly diverse today. However when the boundaries of genre and tone are less obvious things become rather more unsettling. Enter Visitor Q.


Review Roundup - Replicator

BLADE RUNNER 2049 (2017)

In what must be the apex of reviving brand names for the whole 1980s nostalgia trip crowd, this is a direct sequel to Ridley Scott's original cyberpunk noir. After all it's a cult favourite rather than something that was a hit in its own time. In a time when reboots and fraudulent sequels made decades later are all over the place, this is one that I had no real interest in visiting. But at the same time my interest was piqued after seeing that this was going to be from the director of Arrival and Sicario. Is this another arresting detective story in a believable world where the high tech causes a lower quality life? Or is it just a visually stunning but cold and detached story that pushes a simple tale to an overly long running time?


Horror Bites - Mr Driller

TETSUO TRILOGY

A bespectacled man sits waiting to meet his train at the station. There's a big plaster on his face, covering over a cut he made after finding a weird metal shard growing out of his cheek. He's really not having a good day. Then just as things seem to be normal he gets chased by a fellow commuter, a crazed woman whose arm has grown into a writhing mass of rusted scrap metal and junk. After a bizarre chase through the building he escapes, but later that day his own body starts to turn into a similarly grotesque collection of tubes and wires.

Why? Because of reasons. Well why not I guess. After this the really weird stuff begins. Tetsuo, sometimes subtitled with its English translation The Iron Man is a dark and bizarre nightmare sequence in black and white. It's full of strange imagery, crazy music and ear piercing industrial sounds. It's also a lot of fun despite some outlandish and disturbing sequences of sex, violence and metamorphosis. As an example of the Japanese take on the cyberpunk genre, it has a lot of unique and entertaining ideas.

 

Horror Bites - Contamination

ALIEN: COVENANT (2017)

Call me crazy, but in the five year gap since the release of Prometheus, I was kind of expecting them to have come up with some really great story material for a follow up. It's a long time to wait for a sequel in an era where every franchise entry is treated as a stepping stone to the next money spinner. More and more focus is given to connected stories these days. However for whatever the reason, this latest instalment feels surprisingly hollow. Maybe it was something to do with the cancellation of Alien 5, or the studio pushing for more recognisable series motifs and creatures. There are certainly elements here that feel far more like action schlock than they should, perhaps clashing with Neill Blompkamp's ideas. Whatever the reason the outcome is just the same, this is a weak and uninspired addition to an already pretty shaky brand.


Horror Bites - The Divorce

POSSESSION (1981)

A lot of films like to try and avoid categorisation, branching away from horror into other realms of drama. They usually lose something along the way, sticking more closely to one genre than another. This is one of those. However for all the non-horror elements ... it is generally still pretty horrifying. Unlike late 1970s classics like Suspiria that assault the viewer with eye watering visuals and crazy nightmare music, this is a sensory barrage of an entirely different kind. Despite familiar names like Sam Neill appearing in the main cast there's nothing really to latch onto that makes any of this seem comparable to other releases from this era. Even the title is a kind of red herring, and the story itself breaks away from anything expected right out of the gate.


Horror Bites - This is what you pay for...

HARDWARE (1990)

Okay I hate to say it but this one is really disappointing, after hearing a lot of promising details. Sorry Mr Roboto wherever you may be today, I just don't agree. I'm well accustomed to cheap b-thrillers and ultra low rent science fiction fare. When done right they can be vastly better than the kinds of mass produced Hollywood popcorn fodder out there, and they can have heart and charm. So I was kind of excited to see that this one had been given a shiny new high definition re-release. I was all set for for some low grade acting and mechanical mayhem in a story about killer robots gone awry.


Horror Bites - Secret of the Ooze

PROMETHEUS (2012)

This is one of those releases that I really didn't feel like experiencing. I put it off for a while in fear of it being detrimental to some of the mystique held by the original Alien, but in the end it doesn't really change it a whole lot in the long run. Of course I also felt it could be a massive, crushing disappointment, so I was anxious about that at the same time. While this isn't the immense failure of writing and plot problems it could have been, overall it does feel slightly pointless. It's a strange mixture of great wide landscapes, expensive effects shots, and unexpectedly hilarious b-movie splatter.


Horror Bites - Road Rage

PET SEMATARY (1989)

Well it's that time of year again. Where better to kick things off than with a 1980s adaptation of a Stephen King story? Will this one rank somewhere up there with the likes of Misery or will it slip into the realm of those which are simply forgotten? Well, the screenplay is by the man himself, which may be either a good or a bad sign. After all, many of the most memorable big screen versions changed a lot of things. He's also in this. But then the same can be said of anthology classic Creepshow. There's a nice simple premise, a catchy title and a spooky setting. But how these elements come together is questionable as this is all too often guilty pleasure material.