My reviews are short and to the point. They cover movies, conventions and other horror events. I will try to never give out SPOILERS in any of my reviews. I'm not a professional critic. I just like what I like. I hope you agree. I also post links to other reviews around the net. If you have a review of a horror related event or movie, send it to me and maybe I'll post it for all to see.
For archived reviews click here.
****Updated February 19, 2002****
Queen of the Damned (Read the review here)
The Mothman Prophecies (Read the review here)
Halloween: Homecoming (Read the review here)
Buffy: The Musical (Read the review by clicking here).
The Location: Paramount's Great America, Northern California
The Players: Gyro's World of Terror
I've been a huge supporter and critic of Gyros over the years. They went from a really huge haunt in the early 90's to a more scaled back tent haunt back to a multiple maze attraction. I felt that when they were a tent attraction they focused way too much on just gore and the scares went away. I can't comment on the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds days because I was living in L.A. at the time and didn't attend. So how does Scream Factory measure up in 2001? Good but not great. (Note: I didn't see the Haunted Castle IMAX movie so I can't comment on it)
The Highpoints: No lines. I went early in the season so lines were minimal. I'm sure they'll pick up closer to Halloween.
Amusement park rides. Many rides were open in the park so it was a huge plus to actually go on some great coasters without waiting more than 5 minutes.
2 out of the 3 mazes were pretty good. The Maniac Midway in 4-D was a lot of fun and creative. I like the clown theme. Psychotic Episodes was all gore - but that's okay because it was it's own separate haunt. It's not for the squeamish.
Superstition. A really fun simulator ride (I don't think Gyro's produced this) with Elvira as your host.
The Letdowns: The Horrorwood Theater maze was just stupid. No scares. No creativity. Just a waste of time.
The Price. $30 bucks is a lot of money for only 3 mazes (sorry, the outdoor Bad Mojo Bayou doesn't count) especially since one was just no fun. Plus the $10 bucks to park is rediculous. Like I mentioned before, if the rides weren't open, this would have been a big bust in the price department.
Stage Fright. It had pyro. It had stunts. So what's wrong? It was the loudest and silliest stage show I've ever seen.
And Another Thing: Bad Mojo Bayou. Hey guys, where were the live actors waiting in the shadows to jump out and give us a scare? I think I saw 1 or 2.
And Finally: Overall I had fun because I had access to many rides with no wait and 2 of the mazes were really fun. Gyro's I feel needs to add at least a couple more mazes to really justify the cost.
Monsters, Inc. (Read the review by clicking here).
The Plot: Demon needs to eat parts of its victims to sustain itself.
The Players: Gina Philips & Justin Long
This movie had been praised as the best horror film this year. It certainly had the makings of a modern classic...for the first 40 minutes or so. Two college siblings are coming home and happen across someone dumping bodies down a sewer pipe out in the middle of nowhere. The shadowy figure leaves. They investigate. Bad idea.
The Highpoints: The first 40 minutes or so have a creep factor of 10 and I was loving it. It was dark and creepy. Very scary stuff. I thought it couldn't get any better than this. I was right. Could it get worse? Oh yea. I did like the fact that the ending wasn't all happy. Ended in the same tone as A Nightmare on Elm Street. Decent performances by the leads.
The Letdowns: The rest of the movie. It isn't crap but it just turns into another slasher/killer type. It's Freddy Krueger without the one-liners. The biggest letdown of all was letting us SEE the baddie. After that, any of the steam it had was lost. It looked cool but I would have rather seen it in a different movie. It didn't fit.
And Another Thing: This movies had a little of Terminator, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the Thirteenth and others thrown in.
And Finally: What started out as a great horror film ended up being an average at best monster movie.
2001 Fangoria Weekend of Horrors
The review I was going to give you would not do the event justice. I was nable to check out many of the things going on because of my involvement with Hauntorama and helping with that. So here's a review of the event over at Creature Corner.
Planet of the Apes
The Plot: Mark Wahlberg falls through an electromagnetic storm in space and lands on a planet ruled by Apes.
The Players: Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Clarke Duncan, Paul Giamatti, Estella Warren and many more.
This is a great re-imagining of the original film. Lots of great action and an ok story. Tim Burton's direction was great as usual and the set design was really nice. It gave off a great atmospheric mood of the ape city. Think of it as a cross between Sleepy Hollow and the Ewok village in "Return of the Jedi".
The Highpoints: Charlton Heston as Thade's father in a really great cameo. Some great inside jokes paying homage to the original. A great battle sequence near the end. The Makeup effects by Rick Baker are top notch. Expect at least an Oscar nomination. Paul Giamatti as the ape Limbo was just too funny for words. A nice if twist ending that may confuse some.
The Letdowns: As I said earlier, the story was just ok. The pacing was fast and I sometimes felt it was rushed. Maybe this movie could have been 15-20 minutes longer eventhough the film runs 2 hours. Mark Wahlberg didn't really have the 'heroic' charisma I felt he needed. Kris Kristofferson was pretty much wasted in his role. Anyone could have played it. Estella Warren had too much makeup for a 'primitive' human.
And Another Thing: The ending is in constant debate as to what it all means. If you are really confused and need closure you can read this article. If that's not enough go here to read a 23 page essay that ties all the movies (old and new) together. Post your thoughts on my Planet of the Apes Forum.
And Finally: Go see it! Get a big tub-o-popcorn and enjoy yourself.
Jurassic Park 3 Before I go into this I just want to say that I am going to try and give better, more comprehensive reviews (without giving away too much). I know my reviews are really not reviews but just quick opinions on my movie going experience. So here goes...
The Plot: Group goes to island for a rescue operation from dinosaurs only to find that they are in need of rescuing.
The Players: Sam Neill, Tea Leoni and William H. Macy
I had fun with this 3rd installment but it did fall short of my expectations. It wasn't as scary as it was hyped. It wasn't nearly as graphic as we were led to believe. The actors were fine but I felt that they really couldn't do anymore with a script that had plot holes the size of moon craters and logic that would have Mr. Spock going "Scanners" on himself.
The Highpoints: "The Aviary". A really great sequence that made me think back to the Raptor encounter from the first film. The Plane sequence was nice. The "infamous" cell phone - kinda funny and kinda dumb at the same time. Laura Dern cameo. A couple of good jokes.
The Letdowns: The much hyped Spinosaurus. I just wasn't all that impressed. The T-Rex vs. Spinosuarus battle is TOO SHORT! The ending was kind of a cop out but I didn't hate it as much as others did. The film was too short. A couple of bad jokes.
And another thing: Too many people (including critics) are making way too much of the "talking" Raptors. Did you idiots forget in "Jurassic Park" about the Raptor calling his buddy in to make a meal out of the kids in the mess hall. Sam Neill's character was not privy to this and that's why he was so amazed that the Raptors could communicate. So all you children and especially you so called "critics" shut the hell up!!!
And Finally: Overall a fun "monster" movie with no plot and lots of action. The film could have been maybe 15 minutes longer to maybe develop more suspense in dino situations.
Scary Movie 2 I had high hopes for this one. I knew it was going to be very low brow humor (which I love). The humor was low brow...and very unfunny. Very few of the jokes in Scary Movie 2 gave me even a chuckle as my wife and I waited for it to get better. It didn't. The first mistake was to base the story off of a not so good horror movie (The Haunting) and throw in horror references that were either too obscure or 20 plus years old. Do they realize who there audience is? The only good stuff was the opening parody of The Exorcist. James Woods was great but I would have rather seen Marlon Brando do this stuff. Now that would have been "Scary".
The Mummy Returns. Did you like the 1999 film? You'll love the sequel. I however, didn't care for The Mummy and although I was entertained and thought this sequel is superior, the film is really a rehash of the same old stuff. No real acting. No compelling story. The battle scenes mirrored the end battle in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. What it lacks in story is made up of almost non-stop action sequences that are pretty cool, but I was iritated by the all too CG look of the film and some bad compositing sequences. WWF wrestler, The Rock was in about 3 or 4 minutes of the beginning of the film and we don't see him again until the end...as a computer generated character that looked oh so bad. The Mummy Returns was cheap fun, but like Chinese food, it left me hungry for something more substantial.
Hannibal. I knew going in that this film was going to be very different from Silence of the Lambs. Believe me, if you go in trying to compare the two, you may be in for a let down. I really liked this movie. Just not as much as it's predecessor. It has a very comical and dismal sense of humor that wasn't in Silence. Anthony Hopkins was excellent as Lecter. No one can play Hannibal better. Gary Oldman put in a terrific but way over the top performance as a vengeful billionaire. Julianne Moore may not be Jodi Foster, but she holds her own very well. Direction by Ridley Scott was gorgeous as usual. With gore galore and a climax that will have you talking for days, Hannibal is a must see cinematic experience.
Home Video Reviews
Y2K came and went. What happened? I got so busy I never reviewed any films that were released in 2000. So Here, for all to see is Haunted House Dave's Horror Video Review.
Pitch Black. More of a sci-fi film that pure horror, Pitch Black is a cool little B grade "Alien" flick. Made for around $30 million, Pitch Black has all that money on the screen where it belongs. For those that don't know the story, Pitch Black is about a group of people stranded on a desert planet. What they don't know is that once every century there is a total eclipse that lasts a VERY long time. When this happens, these flying creatures come out to feed. That's the concept. Gilligan meets "ALIENS". It's fun to watch, kinda scary and a great crash sequence in the beginning of the film make this a fun late night popcorn movie.
Scream 3. The third installment of the Scream franchise finds more of the same but I liked this one better than #2. David Arquette has a great moment a the foot of a staircase but this film is really just mre of the same. If ya liked Scream 1 & 2, you'll probably enjoy this enstallment.
What Lies Beneath. A great ghost story with highly influenced by the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. Michelle Pfiffer and Harrison Ford are great together on screen. I don't really want to go into any detail, just see this movie. Lots of chills with a very cool ending. What more could you ask?
Scary Movie. A take off of several horror movies but borrowing heavily from the "Scream" franchise, "Scary Movie" is a laugh out loud hoot but definitely not for everyone. Lots of gross out humor will mostly entertain those that want just dumb laughs. My favorite character was Doofy, a spoof of the Dewey character in the "Scream" films.
Hollow Man. What can I say about this. It's an $80 million dollar "B" movie and I loved it. Kevin Bacon plays the scientist that becomes invisible and consequntly nuts. Elisabeth Shue is his gal pal and co-worker. Spectacular computer effects and a ton of blood, Hollow Man was brought to us by the director of Robo Cop and Starship Troopers. This movie is nothing more than a blood splattering monster movie and doesn't try to be anything else.
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