Blood Creek, Directed by Joel Schumacher, 2009
I make no secret of the level of animosity I feel toward Joel Schumacher. His butchering of my favorite comic book hero of all time is more than enough to solidify his admission to my shit list. But Blood Creek's plot description alone provided enough enticement for me to set aside my contempt and give it a spin. I'm so glad I did because I loved the hell out of Blood Creek. In the late 1930's a Nazi agent is sent to a Virgina farm to find a Viking rune stone of enormous power. But when he does find it, he becomes something even the Third Reich can't control. Flash forward seven decades and the area around that same Virginia farm becomes notorious for missing locals. One such missing person returns home to employ his brother for a mysterious mission; a raid on that farm. What they find there is something more horrific than they could have ever imagined.
I harbor a bilious displeasure with the fiasco surrounding the changing of the guard at Lionsgate. The petulant, childish pettiness of incoming CEO toward the former head of the studio lead to several great films getting dumped into a handful of dollar theaters in an effort to bury them. Blood Creek, like The Midnight Meat Train, was one such film and, as much as I enjoyed The Midnight Meat Train, I liked Blood Creek even more. The story is fascinating, the horror elements are not only effective but also unique, and Michael Fassbinder shines as the undead Nazi. The kills and the gore elements are also fantastic as is the overall atmosphere. I highly recommend owning this artifact.
Cabin Fever, Directed by Eli Roth, 2002
I am ashamed to say this week marked my first viewing of Cabin Fever. My buddies, all of whom are unsurprisingly mega horror geeks, all seem to love it and it of course introduced the world to Eli Roth. The plot is simple but effective. Five recent college grads head off into the woods for a week of much-needed relaxation and debauchery. While at the cabin, they are beset by a man with a mysterious disease who attempts to break into the cabin and then also steal their car. During the skirmish, the man dies and his corpse falls into the reservoir. Needless to say, those who drink the water for the next few days fall prey to the same nasty disease. I really liked Cabin Fever for its simultaneous adherence to genre tropes and its wild, willful deviations from those same tropes.
We get the adolescents in the woods living under elastic moralities and the threat that picks them off one by one in rather nasty fashion. Once we understand the threat will be a virus and not a slasher, Eli borrows heavily from The Thing but with enough of his own flair so as to not be terribly derivative. Where the movie truly stands out however is in Roth's blissfully non sequitor wackiness. It starts with a general store patron who launches out of mute stoicism into a slow-motion, parkour rage. The ending of the film is also about the most insanely silly, but utterly satisfying, endings to a modern horror film ever. The difference, in many cases, between an enjoyable 80's horror film and horror films of this decade is that where the former thrived on unassuming entertainment value, the latter tends to take itself way to seriously. I feel like Cabin Fever is Roth's reaction to that attitude and that, along with some sharp, crassly amusing dialogue and beautiful gore sequences, is what makes Cabin Fever so great.
Psycho III, Directed by Anthony Perkins, 1986
Based on a recent Terror Tuesday screening, I have all but gushed about Psycho II. In many ways, it is a pitch-perfect blending of cinematic eras and a very fitting sequel to one of the greatest films of all time. It was also one of my first forays into horror so it carries a good deal of nostalgic credit with me. But for all the detractors at the time of Psycho II's release that criticized the film as an apaling insult to the greatness of the original, the film they should have saved that thrashing for was Psycho III. Don't get me wrong, I am a fan of all the Psycho films, but where my love for Richard Franklin's second entry is based on my feeling that it is legitimately good, my love for parts III and IV are more ironic in nature.
Once again behind the counter of the Bates Motel, Norman finds himself hosting a runaway nun who reminds him of a certain curly-haired blond he once...murdered. Still dealing with his own shaky sanity, and yet another interloper out to prove he is not as reformed as the law would believe, Norman must also reconcile the inclusion of Emma Spool into his family tree. The film is dingy, ugly, and far more exploitative than part II. It is in many ways VHS horror fodder that operates more under hack-and-slash rules than at anything resembling atmosphere. That being said, it does progress the mythology toward its inevitable conclusion and features some very entertaining kills. It also features an odd denouncement of organized religion that seems a bit heavy-handed and hackneyed. What I find interesting about Psycho III is how much the opening of the film borrows from Vertigo, with the nuns and the falling from bell towers. It was as if Perkin's wanted to try to pay homage to Hitch in a very different way from the way Richard Franklin did with Psycho II. If he really wanted to pay tribute, perhaps he could have just directed a better film.