What Lisa and the Snarkalecs Watched Last Night #92: Scarecrow (dir by Sheldon Wilson)


Last night, the Snarkalecs and I watched the SyFy original horror film, Scarecrow.

Why Were We Watching It?

For the first time in several months, SyFy was actually showing an original film on Saturday night (as opposed to episodes of Sinbad).  Since the Snarkalecs have sworn to protest SyFy’s decision to make Thursday movie night, we were naturally very happy to have a movie premiering where we felt it belonged.  Needless to say, there was no way that we weren’t going to watch Scarecrow and tweet the hell out of it, if just to let SyFy know that there is an audience for original movies on Saturday.

What Was It About?

A high school teacher takes the Saturday morning detention crew out to a deserted farm so that they can perform a community service by taking apart an old scarecrow and transporting it back to town.  However, the scarecrow has other ideas…

What Worked?

Overall, Scarecrow was a surprisingly effective little horror film.  The filmmakers didn’t attempt to reinvent the genre but that’s okay.  They may have told a familiar story but the important thing is that they told the story well.  In the best SyFy tradition, Scarecrow moves quickly and is a lot of fun to watch with a group of friends.

As I watched Scarecrow, I quickly came to realize that the filmmakers understood something very important.  Farms — especially deserted farms that sit abandoned out of the middle of nowhere — are inherently creepy.  When I was little, my family lived near (and occasionally on) several farms and, as my sisters delight in reminding me, I would get scared anytime we walked or drove by a barn.  Can you blame me?  Barns, after all, were big, dark buildings that were maintained by taciturn, unsmiling men.  Anything could be living inside of a barn, just waiting to reach out and grab a little redheaded girl as she tried to walk by.  (Not to mention that barns were full of hay and dust and were not the best place for a girl with severe asthma to be near.)  The barns in Scarecrow were just as creepy as the ones from my childhood and they contributed nicely to the film’s horrific atmosphere.

The Scarecrow, itself, was a surprisingly effective monster.  Considering the film’s limited budget, the Scarecrow was scary and, even more importantly, believable.  He was the type of monster who could have easily popped out of one of my many farm-related nightmares.

What Did Not Work?

This was another one of those horror films in which one of the major characters was essentially responsible for getting almost the entire cast killed off.  And yet, nobody ever said, “Hmmm…y’know, that person really screwed things up…”  Seriously, if we don’t start to hold people accountable then what hope do we ever have of stopping scarecrows from committing mass murder?

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Whenever I watch a movie like this, where a group of people end up getting killed largely as a result of their own stupidity, I realize that I probably would not survive a horror movie.  Seriously, if I was ever confronted by an axe-wielding maniac, I would so be the type of girl that everyone makes fun of whenever they watch a horror movie.  I would be the girl who would end up trying to escape by running up a flight of stairs.  In the case of Scarecrow, I guess I would the one who would end up running off into the cornfield by herself.

I also appreciated the scene where two future victims start making out on the school bus.  It brought back a lot of memories because, as fun as it was to go to speech and drama tournaments and on field trips, you still had to find some way to pass the time on the bus.

Lessons Learned

Farms are creepy!

Scarecrow

6 Horrific Trailers For A Horror Month


Hi!  Welcome to the first October 2013 edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Film Trailers.  This month, of course, is horror month and therefore, all of October’s trailers will be taken from the horror genre.

Today’s edition starts with a Mummy, finds some room for Dracula and Karen Black, and ends with Frankenstein.  Enjoy!

1) The Mummy (1959)

2) The Mummy’s Shroud (1968)

3)  The Scars of Dracula (1970)

4) Fangs of the Living Dead (1969)

5) The Pyx (1973)

6) Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell (1974)

What do you think, Trailer Kitty?

Halloween Trailer Kitty

Horror On TV: Hammer House of Horror Ep. 3 “Rude Awakening”


Originally broadcast in the UK on September 27th, 1980, this episode of Hammer House Of Horror deals with a sleazy real estate agent (played by Denholm Elliot) who finds himself besieged by dreams about seducing his assistant Lolly (Lucy Gutteridge) and murdering his wife Emily (Pat Heywood).

Featuring an outstanding lead performance from Elliot and strong direction from Peter Sasdy, this is a good one.

Ten Years #21: Emperor


Decade of last.fm scrobbling countdown:
21. Emperor (1,301 plays)
Top track (119 plays): I Am the Black Wizards, from In the Nightside Eclipse (1994)

I don’t know that I would call Emperor the most influential band in black metal, but Ihsahn and Samoth’s brainchild definitely ranks among the top 5. Without ever abandoning the sinister, aggressive atmospherics, nor dropping the tremolo guitar, blast beats and double bass, or shrill, shrieking vocals standard for the style, Emperor managed to infuse black metal with a level of technical expertise and creative song structure that appealed to listeners far beyond the isolated genre. Their progressive rock and classical flares drew in a broad fan base that never had the time for Bathory’s viking tendencies or Darkthrone and Mayhem’s bm in the raw. They were certainly one of the first black metal bands that caught my eye, at a time when their contemporaries just sounded like noise to me. It’s no wonder that at this point they’ve ascended to 21st on my decade-spanning last.fm chart.

Talent and attention did not necessarily go hand in hand in early 90s black metal. Mayhem’s music left a lot to be desired, and Burzum’s discography bears some major flops. Emperor are more the exception than the norm in that they achieved a fairly professional level of quality while actively participating in Euronymous’ circle of murder and arson. Part of that, I suspect, stems from Ihsahn’s ability to keep his hands clean in the midst of it. Ihsahn managed to say out of trouble–or at least not get caught–while Samoth, Faust, and Tchort were all doing time. Persistent similarities from In the Nightside Eclipse all the way to Ihsahn’s most recent solo works suggest that he might have done the lion’s share of the song-writing all along. (Their final album, Prometheus, was composed by him exclusively.) Whoever wrote it, the refreshing originality of Emperor’s discography has had significant consequences. They didn’t set the standard for what black metal in the 90s ought to sound like, though plenty of bands copied them. Rather, they set the standard for how the genre might progress. Emperor took a very formulaic split-off from thrash and demonstrated time and again that it could be one of the most diverse, open-ended genres of music on the market.

Horror Review: The Colony (dir. by Jeff Renfroe)


TheColony

“You’re going to need every bullet.”

The Colony was this little-seen horror film that came out in early 2013. From the trailers shown it looked like it was going to be a decent looking post-apocalyptic, scifi-horror that looked to evoke the sort of icy desolation and paranoia that Carpenter’s The Thing did so perfectly. Under Canadian-filmmaker Jeff Renfroe’s command the film’s high, lofty horror goals didn’t exactly come to fruition.

The film itself wasn’t awful by any stretch of the imagination, but it does suffer a lot from having it look like it was one of those mid-2000 SyFy film productions. At times some of the sequences even looked like it was copied off from one of those the SyFy “New Ice Age” disaster flicks starring Dean Cain. Yet, there’s some genuine tense moments in The Colony that should make this film a look-see if there’s nothing else to see.

Yes, the film is about the planet going through a sort of artificially-created Ice Age due to weather tampering. It’s a story that could’ve been lifted from early Twilight Zone episodes. Humanity barely survives inside spread out colonies using former factories and government bunkers. These colonies don’t just have the danger or dwindling supplies, simple diseases and the cold weather to deal with, but as we soon find out there’s now a new danger that’s much closer to home.

The Colony’s ad campaign and trailers have focused on it’s two American stars in Laurence Fishburne and Bill Paxton to sell the film. Both actors do some workman-like performances which helps anchor the ensemble cast’s performance. It’s the cast’s performances that elevates The Colony above it’s SyFy counterparts and one of it’s few saving graces. The other being the filmmakers’ success in creating a sense of freezing isolation through the use of arctic-like location shoots and some very well-done CGI icy landscapes.

The horror part of the film comes from the so-called “other” survivors who have adjusted to the scarcity of food by turning on the only abundant source of nourishment left in a world where there are no more growing things. Yes, The Colony tries to revive that old horror staple of the late 70’s and early 80’s which we know of as the cannibal-subgenre.

Cannibal films never truly went away but they remained mostly in the very outer fringes of the horror scene. They tended to be quite awful affairs that went for extreme shocks to bring in the horror crowd, but that only works when there’s a semblance of a narrative to explain things. With The Colony the film does a good enough job to try and explain why some have turned to a diet of the so-called other “white meat”. To add a new wrinkle to these feral antagonists the filmmakers they decided to update them for the modern audiences by giving them free-running skills that makes them seem more than human once they enter the screen. If the film has any sort of lesson to impart it could be that eating “long pig” might just give one parkour-like abilities.

The Colony definitely tried to be one of those scifi-horror that wanted to elevate itself to something beyond it’s grindhouse and exploitation roots, but it’s trying to be somethng it wasn’t meant to be that became it’s biggest flaw. The set-up of an Ice Age created by man is a time-tested story and the reintroduction of the cannibal thread to the film’s storyline was ripe for a grandg uignol-like production that could’ve been done using practical effects. But the filmmakers tried to mimic the CGI-smorgasbord of the Roland Emmerich-style, but they just barely distinguished themselves from what amounted to be an enhanced SyFy-production.

It’s a film that has enough entertaining moments, but overall it was a nice try that that just failed short of it’s goals.

Horror On The Lens: Invasion of the Saucer Men (dir by Edward Cahn)


Invasion of The Saucer Men

The poster above pretty much epitomizes everything that I love about old B-movies.  Between the aliens and the poster’s promise that we’re being given the chance to “SEE (the) night the world nearly ended…!,” it’s hard to resist the temptation to give Invasion of the Saucer Men a chance.

First released in 1957, Invasion of the Saucer Men is, in many ways, a standard alien invasion film.  Aliens land in a small town and cause a lot of inconvenience for a bunch of all-American teenagers who are just looking for a place to make out.  What sets Invasion of the Saucer Men apart is that it’s meant to intentionally humorous and the aliens totally kick ass.

So, here is today’s edition of Horror On The Lens: Invasion of the Saucer Men!