Archive for the ‘Horror comedies’ Tag

Wrong Turns of Events: Good Ol’ Boys Mistaken for Killers in “Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil”   Leave a comment

BURLY Dale (Tyler Labine) and shifty-eyed Tucker (Alan Tudyk) may look like bloodthirsty, banjo-playing backwoods cannibals, but they’re just misunderstood.

By C. Michael Forsyth

“Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil” is one of the best horror comedies ever! It would certainly have made my list of top ten films in the subgenre if it was available on DVD when I made my picks a while back.

In the movie, a car-load of dimwitted college students on a camping trip encounter two guys they fear are killer hillbillies – but are actually harmless good ol’ boys fixing up their summer house. What ensues is a wild comedy of errors with plenty of over-the-top gore.

Although I’m a fan of the “Scary Movie” series, I found it refreshing that this is not an “Airplane”-type spoof like that, but instead a classic screwball comedy. The humor flows from goofy but basically realistic characters responding to a situation that keeps going from bad to worse. The physical gags – often involving the idiotic college kids accidentally killing themselves in gruesome ways – are handled so deftly that however improbable, you buy them.

I like the reversal of stereotypes. Although Tucker and Dale aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer, they’re rocket scientists compared to the college kids, who have the survival instincts of barnyard turkeys. There is a sweet love story between one of the coeds and hulking, bearded Dale, played with charm by Tyler Labine.

The heart of the movie is the friendship between backwoods buddies Dale and Tucker (Alan Tudyk). The actors’ timing and chemistry makes them a great screen duo. I’d love to see a series of Tucker and Dale pictures, like the old Abbot and Costello comedies — perhaps battling vampires, zombies or other things that go bump in the night.

NUBILE coed Allison (Katrina Bowden) picks a bad time to go skinnydipping.

The author of this review penned Hour of the Beast , hailed by Horror Fiction Review as “a fast-paced, rip-snorting, action-packed, sexy college romp.” The book is available in hardcover and softcover at Amazon.com. But you can save $4 by clicking HERE! The Kindle version is just $7 and the eBbook is a measly $5. Be the first on your block to read this bone-chilling tale — before the movie comes out.

The 12 Greatest Horror Movies You’ve Never Seen!   1 comment

C. Michael Forsyth

There are great horror movies that even aficionados of the genre have missed and are often overlooked on top 100 lists. Here are a dozen rarely viewed films that gave me the willies:

A remote forest is home turf for a demon in “Equinox.”

EQUINOX, 1970

Four young people searching a remote forest for a missing scientist get more than they bargained for when they encounter the demon Asmodeus. Taking refuge in a cave, they come across an ancient book the evil being needs to spread destruction beyond his wooded domain. Heroically, the humans fight to keep The Book out of the demon’s claws, while trapped within his forest by a mysterious force field. Asmodeus sends a series of monstrous minions, including a giant ape-like creature with cloven hooves, to retrieve The Book.

Though shot on a shoestring budget, the movie makes create use of Ray Harryhausen-type stop motion animation. Plot-wise, it is a forerunner to “The Evil Dead,” and the filmmakers could show the producers of “The Blair Witch Project” a thing or two about telling an entertaining story with no dough.

A rustic European town harbors a terrible secret in “Vampyr.”

VAMPYR, 1932

Most horror buffs have seen the silent-era vampire film “Nosferatu,” an unauthorized adaptation of Dracula, but only hardcore enthusiasts have seen this 1932 picture from Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer. Though less well known, it’s every bit as creepy as “Nosferatu.” Inspired by a tale by Carmilla author J. Sheridan Le Fanu, it’s about a student of the occult who stumbles across a village under the curse of a vampire hag.

Although made in the sound era, it too is silent. It benefits from a haunting atmosphere and imaginative effects. Among the most striking, the vampires slinking around the deserted town are seen only as shadows.

A young woman rubs shoulders with history’s most infamous sadist in “Waxwork.”

WAXWORK, 1988

A group of students visit a wax museum featuring 18 villains from horror lore and history. Two are sucked into the waxwork displays, where they run into a werewolf and Dracula. Another two find themselves pitted against zombies and the infamous Marquis de Sade. The concept of universes within the displays struck me as quite original, and I loved how each one is depicted as real as our own. A kinky highlight of the film arises when the teenage girl drawn into de Sade’s world is whipped by the infamous sadist…and kind of likes it! Zach Galligan, who had vanished from the screen after “Gremlins,” does a smashing job as the young hero struggling to rescue her.

Homeowner Jesse (Ayre Gross, left) learns there’s more problems with his new digs than mice in the attic in “House 2.”

HOUSE 2

This horror comedy is a rare case of the sequel surpassing the original. Charlie and Jesse, a pair of yuppie pals, move into an old mansion Jesse has inherited. Rummaging through the basement, Jesse finds a picture of his great-great grandfather in front of a Mayan temple holding a crystal skull. The buddies soon learn that the house has been transformed by the skull his ancestor swiped and that each room is a doorway across space and time. The guys must keep the skull out of the hands of evildoers, while their mettle is tested in a series of harrowing adventures on the other side of these portals. Jonathan Stark, best known as the vampire’s henchman in the original “Fright Night,” is great as the goofier member of the duo. And look for an appearance from a smartalecky young Bill Maher.

A visit to the family crypt reveals clues to an awful curse in “The Undying Monster.”


THE UNDYING MONSTER, 1942

Mystery and horror combine in the curious case of the Hammond family which has been cursed since the Crusades and whose members frequently die under strange circumstances. When the latest Hammond heir is slain by an unidentified creature, intrepid private detective Robert Curtis and his plucky sidekick Christy are summoned to investigate. An early clue is a very peculiar statue in the Hammond family crypt.

What delights me about the film is the successful blend of genres. Curtis brings the logic of a Sherlock Holmes to the case and his relationship with Christy is reminiscent of Nick and Nora of “The Thin Man” fame. The detective takes a scientific approach, which makes the increasingly uncanny events all the more alarming. In one memorable sequence, he uses a microscope to examine a strange hair and it vanishes before his eyes!

Boris Karloff is a father who returns home from a vampire hunt and brings terror with him in “Black Sabbath.”

BLACK SABBATH, 1963

This anthology film boasts some truly terrifying segments. My favorite, “The Wurdalak,” is drawn from a common theme of vampire folklore rarely depicted on film: that when the undead return they first prey on their own relatives.

In 19th century Russia, a young nobleman on a long trip stops at a small rural cottage to ask for shelter. He learns that the family patriarch has disappeared for five days while searching for a vampire, or “wurdalak” as the locals call it. At the stroke of midnight, Dad — Boris Karloff at his creepy best — shows up at the cottage. His disheveled appearance and odd behavior lead his sons to suspect he’s joined the ranks of the undead. The situation makes for a rather tense evening.

“I tell you, I’m not crazy. Now get that hand off my mouth.” Michael Redgrave is a ventriloquist with a sinister dummy in “Dead of Night.”

DEAD OF NIGHT, 1945

Another chilling anthology film, it includes the granddaddy of all evil-ventriloquist-dummy stories and a chilling yarn about a haunted antique mirror. The frame story itself (often laughable in such movies) is truly unnerving. In the frame story, a man arrives at a country house party where he reveals to the assembled guests that he has seen them all in a dream. They begin to tell various tales of the supernatural and the uncanny. The frame story climaxes with a haunting twist ending.

“I don’t much like the look of that.” Peter Cushing, right, finds that a fellow scientist has created a deadly new lifeform in “Island of Terror.”

ISLAND OF TERROR, 1966

The great Peter Cushing stars as a scientist investigating the peculiar case of a farmer found dead on a remote British isle without a single bone in his body. He and his companions learn that a researcher working on the island accidentally created a new lifeform from the silicon atom while searching for a cancer cure.

The tentacled creatures, dubbed “silicates,” kill their victims by injecting a bone-dissolving enzyme into their bodies and are virtually indestructible. Trapped on the isolated island, the heroes battle the monsters with guns, Molotov cocktails, dynamite and other weapons to no avail. In one hair-raising scene, Cushing is grabbed by a silicate. With a stiff upper lip, the Englishman sternly instructs a companion to chop off his hand with an ax before its too late.

Wicca is for wimps. These witches are the real deal in “Horror Hotel.”

HORROR HOTEL, 1960

A college coed visits a small Massachusetts town to research the witchcraft trials, unaware that her landlady is the reincarnation of an infamous witch burned at the stake in the 1600s. The accused witch wasn’t innocent – not by a longshot. She and her evil cohorts practice virgin sacrifice in order to remain immortal. Christopher Lee as the missing girl’s professor and her friends must solve the mystery of her disappearance before an unholy ritual on Candlemass Eve. Look for one of the most startling heroic rescue scenes in horror cinema history.

A madman (Patrick O’Neal) doesn’t let a disablity stand in the way of exacting bloody vengeance in “Chamber of Horrors.”

CHAMBER OF HORRORS, 1966

Cesare Danova, the suave actor with the sexy foreign accent that made him a ubiquitous TV guest star, plays the proprietor of a wax museum and amateur sleuth, aided by a dwarf sidekick. When a deranged man named Jason Cravette murders a woman and marries her corpse, Danova helps police bring him to justice.

Unfortunately, the killer escapes from a manacle by amputating his hand and vows vengeance on everyone involved in his capture and trial. In place of his hand, the madman wears an array of deadly weapons. He associates his foes with body parts – for instance, the cop who arrested him is the “arm of the law.” So after each revenge killing he makes off with that body part. The wax museum owner has a special incentive to stop the culprit, because he solved the initial murder and Cravette has indentified him as “the head of the law.” Gulp.

The movie was filmed as a pilot for a series to be called “House of Wax,” but it was deemed too gory for TV. But I would have tuned into such a show every week!

The devil is afoot in Merry Old England in “Blood on Satan’s Claw.”

BLOOD ON SATAN’S CLAW, 1971

This movie is set in village in 17th century England, where a series of bizarre events suggest to superstitious peasants that the devil is afoot. The trouble begins when a farmer plowing a field uncovers a deformed skull with one leering eye. Later, young townsfolk begin to sprout patches of fur and other odd markings on their bodies. It’s up to the local judge, a rational man who is initially skeptical of the supernatural, to stop the epidemic and solve the mystery. High production values and convincing period dialogue elevate the film. It’s like watching a version of “The Crucible” in which Satan really is on the prowl.

Dinner is served! An army officer resorts to cannibalism in “Ravenous.”

RAVENOUS, 1999

The always compelling Guy Pearce ( “L.A. Confidential”) stars in this film, which offers a unique take on cannibalism.

The story takes place during in 1840s California during the Mexican-American War. Pearce plays a U.S. Army captain who comes across the aftermath of a Donner Party-like disaster. The sole survivor, a Colonel Ives, is now hooked on human flesh. According to a Native American legend recounted in the movie, a man who consumes the flesh of his enemies takes their strength but becomes a Wendigo, a demon cursed by a hunger for man meat. Turns out the Indians were right. Col. Ives has cured himself of tuberculosis and turned himself into an invincible superman through cannibalism. Worse still, he gets others addicted and is bent on turning our hero Capt. Boyd into a cannibal too.

I found the notion of cannibal as a sort of vampire thought-provoking and appreciated the film’s dark humor. With great performances from Pearce and Robert Carlyle as the sinister Colonel Ives.

The author of this article also wrote the acclaimed horror novel Hour of the Beast. In the opening chapter, the unthinkable happens. Then things get out of hand.

Hour of the Beast is available in hardcover and softcover at Amazon.com. But you can save $4 by clicking HERE! The Kindle version is just $7 and the Ebook is a measly $5. Be the first on your block to read this bone-chilling tale — before the motion picture hits the big screen.

THE 100 CRAZIEST ZOMBIE MOVIE TITLES OF ALL TIME   1 comment

Watch the skies!

By C. Michael Forsyth

There are basically two types of zombie movies. The kind that sound pretty good so you go see them and the kind that have such ridiculous titles you HAVE to see them!

Below is a list of the 100 wackiest zombie movie titles of all time:

Wiseguys vs. Zombies
Mark Of The Astro Zombies
Dead and Too Stupid to Know It
Retardead
Juan of the Dead (Cuba)
Holy Virgin Vs. the Evil Dead
Stag Night of the Dead
Jesus H. Zombie
The Legend of Zombie Road
Zombie Commando
Zombie Cheerleader Camp
Brunch of the Living Dead
Zombiegeddon
Die You Zombie Bastards!
Zombies on Broadway
Dorm of the Dead
Swamp Zombies
The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed Up Zombies
The Quick and the Undead

“You’ll sleep with the fishes…again.”

Zombie Dearest
The Worst Horror Movie Ever Made
Vampires Vs. Zombies
Zombie Farm
ZA: Zombies Anonymous
Zombie Brigade
Zombie Honeymoon
Zombie Island Massacre
Zombie Women of Satan
I Was a Zombie for the F.B.I.
Invasion of the Not Quite Dead
Dead and Deader
Zombie Campout
Big Tits Zombie
Ninjas vs. Zombies
Redneck Zombies

Give me a Z…

Zombies Gone Wild
Zombie Strippers
Boy Eats Girl
Zombie Roadkill
Zombies, Zombies, Zombies
A Virgin Among the Living Dead
Dr. Terror’s Gallery of Horrors
Kung Fu Zombie
Enter the Zombies
Mutant Vampire Zombies from the ‘Hood

No exploitation here.

Violent Shit III: Infantry of Doom
Zombie Vegetarians
Zombies Vs. Mardi Gras
Vengeance of the Zombies
Zombie Ninja Gangbangers
Wrath of the Zombies
Silent Night, Zombie Night
Trailer Park of Terror
Ghouls Gone Wild
Giant of Evil Island
Tombs of the Blind Dead
Schoolgirl Apocalypse
Summer Among the Zombies
Space Zombie Bingo
Romeo & Juliet vs. The Living Dead
Punk Rock Zombie Kung Fu Catfight
O.C. Babes and the Slasher of Zombietown

Looks like C. Thomas Howell’s career isn’t coming back from the dead anytime soon.

Oh! My Zombie Mermaid
Rising Up: The Story of the Zombie Rights Movement
Motocross Zombies from Hell
Flesh Eating Mothers
Night of the Living Babes
Nudist Colony of the Dead
Night of the Living Heads
Eat the Parents
Entrails of a Beautiful Girl

Can she make a dead man come back for more?

Zombies of the Stratosphere
Confederate Zombie Massacre!
Onechanbara: Zombie Bikini Squad
Hood of the Living Dead
Z: A Zombie Musical
ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction
The Naked and the Living Dead
Nudist Camp Zombie Massacre
Nympho Zombie Coeds

 

“We no make Olympic swim team, but we make plenty zombie kill dead.”

Oasis of the Zombies
Female Mercenaries on Zombie Island
Hamilton Carver – Zombie P.I.
I Eat Your Skin
Urban Scumbags vs. Countryside Zombies
Living Dead in Denmark
Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead
Platoon of the Dead
Gay of the Dead
Attack Girls Swim Team vs the Undead (AKA Inglorious Zombie Hunters)
Knight of the Living Dead
Teenage Zombie House Massacre
I Spit on Your Rave
Hard Rock Zombies
Atom the Amazing Zombie Killer
Hot Wax Zombies on Wheels
The Harvard Zombie Massacre
Erotic Nights of the Living Dead

Thomas Haden Church battles an implacable and furry foe.

Flight of the Living Dead: Outbreak on a Plane
Graveyard Alive: A Zombie Nurse in Love
Fast Zombies with Guns
The Corporate Zombie Killers
Biker Zombies from Detroit
Devil Fetus
Deadheads
Gangs of the Dead
The Drunken Dead Guy
Mad Doctor of Blood Island
The Horror of Party Beach
Dead Clowns
Beverly Hills Bodysnatchers
Die and Let Live
Night of the Living Schlong

Bad enough they don’t shamble anymore. Now they’re carrying freaking GUNS?

Chopper Chicks in Zombie Town
Night of the Living Dorks
The Curse of the Screaming Dead
Gory, Gory Hallelujah
Dong of the Dead
The Bloodfest Club
Paris By Night of the Living Dead
Bloodsucking Nazi Zombies
The Book of Zombie
Gore-Met, Zombie Chef from Hell
Bong of the Dead
Bachelor Party in the Bungalow of the Damned
Attack of the Flesh Devouring Space Worms from Outer Space
BFF Zombie
The Aliens and Kong Kong Zombie
Zombie Beavers

You can count on my former bosses at Troma to make a contribution to the schlock zombie flick genre.

 

 

If you enjoyed this article, check out C. Michael Forsyth’s collection of news satire, available on Kindle and in other eBook formatsBizarre News Cover 5.

The author of this article also wrote the acclaimed horror novel Hour of the Beast. In the opening chapter, the unthinkable happens. Then things get out of hand.

Hour of the Beast is available in hardcover and softcover at Amazon.com. But you can save $4 by clicking HERE! The Kindle version is just $7 and the Ebook is a measly $5. Be the first on your block to read this bone-chilling tale — before the motion picture hits the big screen.

What Lies Beneath “Cabin in the Woods” ?   Leave a comment

RULE No. 1: Never visit a remote cabin with no cell phone reception. Rule No. 2: Never go in the basement. Curt (Chris Hemsworth) and his pals commit horror no-nos.

By C. Michael Forsyth

Ever wonder why characters in horror movies choose the worst possible time and place to have sex? Why they descend into the pitch-black basement of a house that’s obviously haunted? Split up so they can be picked off one by one? All these questions and just about every other you’ve asked yourself while munching popcorn are answered in The Cabin in the Woods.

Produced and co-written by Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Cabin in the Woods is a tour de force that works as a horror film, workplace comedy and genre-demolishing satire. It’s Westworld meets Wrong Turn meets Evil Dead, to mention just three of the innumerable movies to which it plays loving homage and/or gleefully skewers.

In the movie, five young college students fitting neatly into recognizable types vacation in an isolated cabin where horrific events begin to unfold. Unbeknownst to them, everything is being orchestrated by a cadre of puppet masters in a vast underground complex. The staff includes managers, technicians, accountants, maintenance workers and even geeky interns. (I don’t consider all this a spoiler since it’s revealed within the first three minutes — if you didn’t already figure it out from the trailer).

MONSTERS, INC. Horror is all in a day's work for company guys and gal Richard Jenkins, Amy Acker & Bradley Whitford.

The film derives much of its humor from the high jinks of these Dilbert-type drones. At one point, the bored-out-of-their-skulls staffers organize a betting pool on what horror the hapless vacationers will face first. En route to the cabin, the students ignore the cryptic warnings of a creepy old gas station attendant. When the guy later calls in to report, the staff puts him on speaker phone and giggle as he continues to drone on ominously.

WHO watches the watchers? Holden (Jesse Williams) happens upon a one-way mirror as Dana AKA The Virgin (Kristen Connolly) strips.

The concept is thought-provoking. What we generally think of as stereotypes – the Virgin, the Whore, the Jock, the Brain, the Comic Relief — are elevated to archetypes. It’s the best deconstruction of the horror genre since Scream, on a level that would impress Bruno Bettleheim, the celebrated analyst of fairytales.

RULE No. 3: Never allow yourself to be trapped in a siege situation.

Some critics describe the movie as an allegory for the process of filmmaking itself. How can you argue? The staffers even call their mysterious boss “The Director.” Beneath that layer of meaning, there’s also a wry commentary about our surveillance society. Marty, the wisecracking pothead paranoiac and “The Fool” of the group, points out that “Society isn’t falling apart, it’s coming together.” As he puts it, the “cracks are filling in” as technology devours privacy and living off the grid becomes increasingly impossible.

DUMBED DOWN: Jules (Anna Hutchinson) shows poor judgement after going blonde.

Tropes of the horror genre are simultaneously observed and lampooned. Sexy pre-med student Jules (Anna Hutchison) has just dyed her hair blonde when the story begins and it’s later revealed that a chemical secretly placed in the dye makes Jules, AKA “The Whore” act stupid.

While not likely to make you quiver in fear, the movie meets the basic requirements of a horror film: Suspense, characters you root for, formidable dangers and enough gore to satisfy fans of traditional horror flicks.

POTHEAD Marty (Fran Kranz) wields an unlikely weapon.

Brawny Chris Hemsworth (Thor in The Avengers) delivers a winning performance as Curt, the brave Jock. Fran Kranz earns plenty of chuckles as Marty, the Fool. He fills the position Shaggy did in Scooby Doo and looks the part as well. But the real stars here are Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins as the world-weary managers of the operation. Whitford, best known for his role as White House Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman on TV’s The West Wing sends up his in-control, seen-it-all image with obvious relish. And Jenkins, looking like a worn-out NASA engineer, is even more droll and cynical than he was as the disembodied dad in HBO’s Six Feet Under.

The climax of the film is in keeping with its blend of humor and horror — way, way over the top, in a good way.

SPEAKING OF JOSS WHEDON…

HORROR and comedy were perfectly blended in Joss Whedon's TV series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

No one mixes comedy and horror better than Joss Whedon, as I’m learning right now as I watch TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the first time on Netflix. Somehow I managed to miss the series when it debuted in the late ’90s. I’m blown away by how good it is – one of the handful of TV series, along with Highlander, that is far superior to the film that inspired it.

The playfulness is pure joy. In the episode I saw last night, Xander believes Willow has turned into a vampire and thrusts a crucifix in her face. When she fails to recoil, he shakes it like a flashlight that might need its batteries jiggled.

WHEN Angel was good he was good and when he was bad, he was very, very bad.


But drama is equally well handled. The brilliant storytelling is displayed when Buffy loses her virginity to good-guy vampire Angel. Following convention, love might cure him of vampirism. Instead, in an inversion of Beauty and the Beast, he becomes evil, his soul ejected from his body. In the hands of a less talented writer, the next scene would be Angel bursting into Buffy’s room, fangs bared. Instead he simply acts like a jerk, humiliating her by showing her the night of passion meant nothing to him. Far more sadistic. And, since this is an experience many a young woman will recognize, it helps to ground the series in reality, keeping it a coming of age story as well as a butt-kicking action/adventure show. The more you watch Buffy, the worse Twilight looks by comparison.

The intensely dramatic and horrific is always leavened by wit. In the episode in which fellow vampire slayer Kendra dies tragically she first gives Buffy her “lucky stake” — which she has nicknamed “Mr. Pointy.” In the same episode Buffy’s watcher Giles sheepishly admits that he’s been using the crystal orb that can restore Angel’s soul as a paperweight.

BOYFRIEND PROBLEMS weren't the only things Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) had to worry about.

I’m only midway through Season 3 and have already met so many wonderful characters, most memorably Spike, the cockney vampire with the Billy Idol hair and penchant for puppy love. By turns terrifying and laughable, James Marsters is absolutely magnetic in the role. (He won the poll of Sexiest Male Screen Vampire on this site by a landslide). Speaking recently to a publisher who uses Marsters for a lot of audio books, I was surprised to learn the star isn’t even English!

Spike (James Marsters) is the bloodsucking blond British punk you love to hate in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

I love how characters are allowed to evolve. A pitfall of many series is that characters remain exactly as originally written and are unaffected by the events that befall them. Most infamously Dana Scully in X Files, who is skeptical of werewolves even after battling vampires.

DROPPING his English reserve, Giles became a father figure to Buffy.


Buffy’s mentor Rupert Giles (Anthony Head) could have been a thankless role: a character like Bosley in Charlie’s Angels who does little more than provide exposition then step out of the way to let the girls swing into action. Instead, he develops a tender father-daughter relationship with Buffy that is the backbone of the series. He’s allowed to have romances. And the shy British librarian is not above opening a jar of good old English whup ass to save Buffy’s bum from time to time.

ANY role in which you get to wear an eye patch ain't all bad. Nicholas Brendon as Xander.

In fact there are no thankless roles in Whedon’s world. Xander, initially merely a goofball, becomes an increasingly heroic figure, always willing to charge into battle though lacking any special powers. This “geek” eventually gets to kiss almost every girl on the show. Wesley Wyndham-Pryce (Alexis Denisof), who briefly assumes the role of Buffy’s watcher and is even stuffier than Giles, is insufferable. And rich-bitch Cordelia is intractably airheaded. Yet even they get a chance to evolve into heroes themselves in the Buffy spinoff Angel.

ANNOYING Wesley and Cordelia developed into interesting characters in the spin-off series Angel.

Though the show premiered nearly 15 years ago, it doesn’t seem dated – you barely notice that the teens don’t text. Some aspects of high school are universal. You will always have good girls, snobs, class clowns and nerds. As in Cabin in the Woods, there are some archetypes that just don’t die. Or sometimes die violently.

Copyright C. Michael Forsyth

C. Michael Forsyth, the author of this article, has written a critically acclaimed horror novel Hour of the Beast. Plans for a major motion picture are now in the works!

To check out Hour of the Beast visit Amazon.com or save $4 by clicking HERE. The Kindle version is just $7 and the eBook is a mere $5.

The REAL Evil Dead: Nazi Zombies Raise Hell in “Dead Snow”   Leave a comment

THE FROZEN DEAD: Nazi zombies — I hate those guys.

By C. Michael Forsyth

Nazis are scary and evil. Zombies are scary and evil. Nazi zombies are twice as scary and evil, right? Not necessarily, as the movie “Dead Snow” demonstrates.

The Norwegian zombie flick is about a group of young medical students who take a fun holiday break in a mountain cabin – unaware that the snow-covered peaks are infested with the reanimated corpses of German troops who froze to death there during World War II. It isn’t long before the murderous Nazi zombies blitzkrieg the campers, who must fight for their lives.

The movie isn’t particularly frightening. Turns out that Nazis don’t become any worse by virtue of being walking corpses – they’ve already maxed out. And zombies aren’t any more evil because they’re Nazis. Regardless of their politics, zombies pretty much all do the same thing: Kill, disembowel and eat people.

The filmmakers had an opportunity to come up with a neat mythology explaining the German soldiers’ return from the dead. We know the Nazis were devotees of the occult. Or perhaps a Gypsy cast a curse on the mass-murdering troops. But no explanation is offered.

JUST FOLLOWING ORDERS: Nazi stormtrooper takes no prisoners.

Story logic is thrown out the window: The cabin has been in the family of one of the women for decades, yet she has no clue there’s anything dangerous about the area. In fact, she elects to get to the cabin by cross-country skiing instead of joining the rest of the gang in cars. The campers are warned about the Nazi menace by a creepy old geezer who stops by the cabin – yet he camps out in the middle of snow at night, only to become zombie fodder. The Nazis are drawn to their missing gold (an interesting, if not entirely original angle). Yet the attacks begin before the campers discover the gold. The zombie colonel (yes, the goose-stepping undead stormtroopers are still just following orders) commands hundreds of his men to rise from their snowy graves at once. But inexplicably, he waits till the end of the flick to do this, after dozens of the zombies have been picked off one by one.

The most original thing about the film is the setting, that forbidding snow-enshrouded wilderness. The landscape allows for set pieces I’ve never seen in a horror movie before. That scene when the undead horde suddenly rises from the snow on the orders of their mottled leader is especially effective. And you have to give the movie makers credit for braving the 15-degree weather, dangerous crevasses and foot-deep snow of the Scandinavian mountains to bring us the film.

ZEIG HEIL! Colonel Herzog is even more evil dead than he was alive.

The director Tommy Wirkola said in an interview with Cinema Junkie that he was imitating the style of Sam Raimi, creator of the slapstick-filled “Evil Dead” movies. The movie, he explained, was basically a chance to show Nazi zombies being killed in as many gory, over-the-top and humorous ways as possible.

“We tried to do Sam Raimi but in a new way and we just wanted a really fun, fun film. That’s it,” he explained. “We really didn’t bother too much about the rules.”

Sure, okay. I grew up on “Hogan’s Heroes”. I know how hilarious those bumbling Nazis can be.

Certainly there are some funny moments: After one of the campers is bitten on the arm, he hacks it offf with a chainsaw (a tribute to Bruce Campbell in “The Evil Dead”). As he stands there grinning triumphantly, a zombie emerges from the snow and bites his “wedding tackle.” He and his companion trade dismayed “Oh, oh, what now?” looks.

The difference is “The Evil Dead” trilogy truly worked as both comedy and horror. The stories unfolded logically and you truly rooted for Bruce Campbell’s character Ash to survive. In “Dead Snow” the supernatural story simply doesn’t come together and you’re not particularly invested in the characters.

So, while there is some gory fun here, I’m afraid I can only give “Dead Snow” a two out of five swastika rating.

MORE FROM THE AUTHOR OF THIS STORY …

Through January 27 only "The Identity Thief" is FREE on Kindle! (Usually  $5.99)

Through January 31 only “The Identity Thief” is FREE on Kindle! (Usually $5.99)


The tables turn on an identity thief in the latest thriller by C. Michael Forsyth. To check it out, click HERE.

The tables turn on an identity thief in the latest thriller by C. Michael Forsyth. To check it out, click HERE.

The author of this review has written a critically acclaimed horror novel. The Horror Fiction Review raves that Hour of the Beast is a “rip-snorting, action-packed sexy college romp.”

You can check out Hour of the Beast at Amazon.com, or save $4 by by clicking HERE. The eBook is a measly $5!

Laugh Until You Die: The Ten Best Horror-Comedies of all Time   5 comments

by C. Michael Forsyth

 We love movies that scare us. We love movies that make us laugh. Movies that do both can be among our favorites. Below are my picks for the best horror-comedies of all time.  I’ve kept off the list movies that are unintentionally funny, or so-bad-they’re-good, like “Plan Nine From Outer Space.”  At the bottom is a poll asking which is your choice for THE best horror-comedy ever.  In chronological order:

 1) “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” (1948) – One of the first of this genre, it sets the bar high for future horror-comedies. Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney Jr. reprise their roles as the classic Universal monsters Dracula and the Wolfman respectively. (Boris Karloff refused to return as the Frankenstein monster, but personally trained a lookalike). What makes the film so brilliant is that they play their roles absolutely straight. The humor comes from the reactions of America’s most famous comedy duo. Favorite scene: Costello searches for Lon Chaney’s character Larry Talbot in his hotel room, unaware that the Wolfman has transformed. The werewolf keeps diving for him – and missing!

LOOK INTO MY EYES: Bela Lugosi plays it straight as he puts the whammy on Lou Costello

 2) “The Fearless Vampire Killers” (1967) – Just as Abbott and Costello spoofed the Universal horror movies, director Roman Polanski sends up the Hammer pictures of the  ’60s. With loving attention to detail, he recreates the look, the atmosphere — and yes, those heaving bosoms. Polanski himself proves himself quite an adept comedic actor as the buffoonish assistant to a Van Helsing-like vampire slayer. As one might expect from the master director, there are plenty of artistic touches. In one scene, a human woman dances at a crowded ball in a vampire’s castle, then it is revealed in a mirror that only she casts a reflection.  Adding to the creepiness of the film, the leading lady is Sharon Tate, who two years later would meet her end at the hands of real life monsters – the Manson family.

HAPPIER TIMES: Roman Polanski comes to rescue Sharon Tate from bloodsuckers

3) “Young Frankenstein” (1974) –  Mel Brooks, the comic genius who created “Blazing Saddles” and TV’s “Get Smart,” affectionately parodies the early Frankenstein movies. He perfectly mimics the sets, lighting and costumes – and even got his hands on actual laboratory equipment and props uses in James Wale’s 1931 masterpiece “Frankenstein.” The movie was shot in black and white, a highly unusual choice at the time, especially for a comedy. The dead-serious look of the film makes the antics of Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman and the rest of the cast all the funnier. My favorite scene: Wilder, as Dr. Frankenstein’s descendant, demonstrates his new creation’s abilities in front of a theater full of colleagues – by joining the Monster in a tap-dancing rendition of the musical number “Putting on the Ritz,” complete with top hats and tails!

IS HE ALIVE? Gene Wilder and Teri Garr inspect The Monster (Peter Boyle).

 4) “Love at First Bite” (1979) – Throughout the 1960s and until the tail end of the 1970s, George Hamilton was a perennial favorite on talk shows and one of the most famous movie stars in the world – without ever having had a starring role in a major motion picture! He was one of those celebrities like Zsa Zsa Gabor, who was famous for being famous, a handsome, amiable fellow with a terrific tan. But here, in his role as Dracula, he demonstrates a surprising  flair for comedy. Hamilton followed this movie up with the lesser known but equally funny “Zorro and the Gay Blade,” one of the few comedies that literally made me laugh until I cried.

NO TAN: Who knew George Hamilton was funny?

5) “Ghostbusters” (1984) – Bill Murray is at his smirking, wiseass best, while fellow “Saturday Night Live” alumni Dan Ackroyd earns laughs with his trademark mock-serious delivery. Rather than spoofing any prior film, “Ghostbusters” introduces a highly original – and hysterically funny — concept: a  ghost-hunting team that operates like a pest-control company. Ackroyd, himself an armchair paranormal sleuth, wrote the first version of the story and his genuine interest in psychic phenomenon lends an air of loony authenticity to the jargon. As he often does, Murray ad-libbed many of his one-liners. My favorite is when confronting a possessed Sigourney Weaver, he  says, “This chick is toast!”

WE AIN'T AFRAID OF NO GHOSTS: Harold Ramis, Bill Murray and Dan Ackroyd take on pesky poltergeists

6) “Return of the Living Dead” (1985) – A direct sequel to George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead” that ignores previous follow-ups, this black comedy has become a cult classic in its own right. The premise is that the zombie outbreak of the original film actually occurred (in slightly different form), but was covered up by the government. When a pair of bungling employees at a medical-supply warehouse accidentally release toxic gas from a barrel containing zombie remains, all hell breaks loose. The movie owes much of its success to the wonderful comic timing and dead-pan delivery of Clu Gulager – an actor I’ve never seen before or since — as the warehouse owner. My favorite scene is when he’s asked by a suspicious cop what’s in a garbage bag full of squirming body parts. He replies, “Rabid weasels.” A bonus is the appearance of scream queen Linnea Quigley as a skanky punk girl who is stripped and ravaged by a gang of male zombies. She emerges as a ravenous zombie and remains nude for the rest of the movie, her perfect body inexplicably – and gloriously – intact.

OUCH! Zombies can take a licking and keep on ticking.

 7) “Army of Darkness” (1993) – In the final installment of the “Evil Dead” trilogy, director Sam Raimi continues the progression from nightmare-inducing horror to comedy. Bruce Campbell’s protagonist Ash, little more than a pointy-chinned hunk in the first movie, here emerges as a full-fledged comic character, a cowardly hero of the classic Bob Hope variety. Macho, blustering and alternating savvy and stupid, Campbell is a joy to watch as a modern-day American trapped in a medieval kingdom beset by a horde of demons.  There are genuinely scary scenes, such as when an old serving woman suddenly becomes possessed in the supposedly “safe” castle. But the real appeal of the film comes from Ash’s wisecracks and the slapstick comedy. At one point, Ash engages in an eye-poking Three Stooges routine while battling a skeleton. My favorite line: A woman in the S-Mart where Ash works turns into a horrifying demon, and the shotgun-toting hero tells her,” Lady, I’m going to have to ask you to leave the store.”

GIVE ME SOME SUGAR BABY! This poster captures the film's goofy high heroics.

 8) Scary Movie (2000) — Keenan Ivory Wayans, creator of the hysterical sketch-comedy show “In Living Color,” directs this “Airplane”-style parody of Wes Craven’s “Scream.” The most pleasant surprise here is that his kid brothers Shawn and Marlon are actually funny, for the first time on film. The spoof of the super-successful slasher flick brings on the gags fast and furious. My favorite scene: the heroine Cindy (Anna Faris) is terrorized over the phone by the masked killer – then, when another call comes in, puts him on hold to babble girl talk to a friend.

CURVACEOUS Carmen Electra takes time out from fleeing a knife-wielding maniac to flaunt her gorgeous figure.

9) “Scary Movie 3” (2003) – Number 2 was a disappointment, but the series gets back on track in the competent hands of director David Zucker, co-creator of “Airplane” and “The Naked Gun.”  The movie spoofs “Signs” and “The Ring,” combining the plots imaginatively. Like “Airplane,” and as in the case with the best comedies, the plot makes sense. Indeed, this parody actually comes together more logically than “Signs.” If you recall, in that M. Night Shyamalan thriller, the invading aliens are capable of interstellar travel yet incapable of getting into a boarded-up house; they had plotted their attack for decades, but neglect to wear suits to protect them from water — which kills them on contact!

WATCH THE SKIES: Anthony Anderson, Simon Rex and Charlie Sheen prepare to do battle with aliens.

10) “Shaun of the Dead” (2004) – If you’ve only seen Simon Pegg as Scotty in the “Star Trek” reboot, you missed out on one of Britain’s finest comedic actors. Look for him in movies like “Run, Fat Boy, Run,” and “Hot Fuzz.” Here, he’s engaging as a loser who rises to the occasion when England is overrun by zombies. Though funny as hell, the movie actually works as a zombie flick. My favorite scene occurs when Pegg, as Shaun, proposes to a group of survivors that they take refuge in the oaken-doored bar where he took his girlfriend the previous night. His snooty love rival shoots back, “How can you put your faith in a man whose idea of a romantic nightspot and an impenetrable fortress are the same thing?”

FAUX ZOMBIES: Shaun (Simon Pegg) and fellow survivors attempt to "blend in" with zombies.

Copyright C. Michael Forsyth. All rights Reserved.

NO LAUGHING MATTER: C. Michael Forsyth's novel opens with a scene of unimaginable horror.

To hear the shocking and controversial opening of Hour of the Beast read by the author, click HERE.

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