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A Couple Horror Films You May Have Missed

Posted in Doctor's orders with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 17, 2011 by Doctor Gash

Okay gorehounds, I see a LOT of horror info while on the job for Dread Central and it has occurred to me that the best horror you’re going to get these days is nowhere near your local mega-plex. Horror, at its finest, is dirty, uncomfortable and unpredictable. Those are three things Hollywood  traditionally tries to distance itself from. That’s why the best horror sometimes takes a little effort to find. But, oh boy, is it worth it!

Let’s be honest, nine times out of 10 you KNOW the horror movie you just saw 15 commercials for on prime time television is going to suck. Whether it be a remake or one of an endless series of sequels, if it’s getting big publicity, it’s probably going to be watered down and lame. Sure, you get the occasional exception to the rule, but that’s what they are, exceptions. Since I get a chance to check out a bunch of indie stuff, I just wanted to bounce a couple off you that you may have missed.

First, I can’t say enough about Stake Land, a great vampire apocalypse film that almost feels like a dramatic version of Zombieland. For horror-comedy, I’ve never seen it done better than in Tucker and Dale vs. Evil. Easily one of the funniest horror films, ever. Extra helpings of laughs and gore. Excellent offering!

Released on the same day, but unfortunately overshadowed by the infinitely disappointing Cowboys vs. Aliens was another alien encounter film entitled Attack the Block. Excellent! And going back a bit earlier this year, Troll Hunter and Hobo With A Shotgun were beautifully creative and unique flicks.

And we can go on and on…from incredibly controversial A Serbian Film to the over the top outrageousness of The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence), horror is on a roll. Don’t ever listen to anyone who says all the genre has are remakes and sequels…those people just don’t know where to look. With OnDemand and ever growing streaming video services, it’s easier than ever to find those hidden horror gems. Take a look. Tell ’em Doctor Gash sent ya!

 

Tip of the Scalpel–A Gash tribute–to Bill Moseley

Posted in Tip of the Scalpel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 2, 2011 by Doctor Gash

“The boogeyman is real, and you found him.”

It was those words that transformed our tip of the Scalpel recipient, Bill Moseley, from a ‘one-hit wonder’ to an iconic figure in modern horror.

Moseley has been in a number of films, but it’s two roles in particular for which he is recognized here.

He skyrocketed to prominence in the horror community in 1986 with his role as Chop Top in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. Although moviegoers were standing in line to see Leatherface up to his old tricks again, it was Moseley’s portrayal of Chop Top which completely stole the show. From the original look of the character with the “Sonny Bono wig,” to his unveiled head wound, plate and all, Chop Top was an unsettling sight. However, Moseley was able to make the character even more disturbing with his spot on delivery of some of the most memorable lines of 80’s horror. Who could forget the Chop Top-isms “Music is my life,” “You’re my faaaave,” “Incoming mail!,” “E-X-I-T…exit. Goodbye,” or the unf0rgettable “Lick my plate you dog dick!” All these and more (“Dog will hunt!”) as well as the creepy, at times nearly orgasmic, head wound scratching with the heated coat hanger all came from one brilliant horrific performance. And then, as quickly as he arrived, Moseley disappeared from the spotlight.

He could be spotted in smaller roles from time to time, appearing in remakes of The Blob and Night of the Living Dead and even Honey, I Blew Up the Kid. But it wasn’t until 2003 when he returned with a character that was even more memorable than his first.

I clearly remember sitting in the theater when the first trailer for House of 1,000 Corpses ran. The audience was staring at the screen in rapt attention. No one spoke until the name “Rob Zombie” appeared. An audible intake of breath could be heard as moviegoers collectively gasped at the prospect of a Rob Zombie directed horror film. Then the final scene of the trailer, a tight shot of a man pulling a mask off his face. He stares into the camera and says “…the boogeyman is real…and you found him.”

I recognized the face, but I couldn’t immediately place where I’d seen him before. Then it clicked…”That’s the dude from Texas Chainsaw 2!” I gave quick mental kudos to Zombie for casting him as I instantly remembered what a fantastic job he had done the last time I’d seen him.

Unfortunately, it would be awhile before we ever got to see House of 1,000 Corpses as Universal Studios did not release the film, fearing an NC-17 rating. However, Lion’s Gate stepped in and House of 1,000 Corpses made it to the big screen in 2003. It was well worth the wait.

And once again, Moseley led the way. His character, Otis B. Driftwood, was by far the most disturbed of the Firefly Clan (and that’s saying something). Already assured of being a horror convention mainstay with his Texas Chainsaw 2 performance, Moseley made himself into a horror hall of famer by bringing Otis to life. And as excellent as his portrayal was in House of 1,000 Corpses, he raised the bar again in the sequel, The Devil’s Rejects. Stripped away was the comic undertones of House of 1,000 Corpses, leaving Rejects with nothing but raw power and nowhere was it more evident than in Otis’ “let’s go get the guns” scene where he puts a permanent end to “The Banjo and Sullivan Show” and returns with a horrific trophy.

He’s recently appeared in Repo! The Genetic Opera, Tortured and the upcoming Night of the Living Dead: Origins 3D reprising his role as Johnnie but it was that initial role of Chop Top that made us fall in love with him and he solidified his place in horror history with Otis, perhaps the most notable slasher of the new millennium.

For more on this actor/musician, check out his website, but for today, we thank him for all the memorable performances and recognize Bill Moseley with a Doctor Gash Tip of the Scalpel.

Doctor Gash’s Top 10 Horror Movies…ever! #9 “The Blair Witch Project”

Posted in Doctor Gash's Top 10 Horror Movies...ever! with tags , , , , , , , on March 21, 2011 by Doctor Gash

Perhaps the most polarizing film on the Doctor Gash Top 10 Horror Movies…ever! is Number 9-The Blair Witch Project. I’ve heard many people talk about how they detested this film, that nothing happened, it was a waste of time. Not only is The Blair Witch Project undeserving of these criticisms, it was one of the most influential and profitable films of its time. On a budget of approximately what a decent luxury car costs, Blair Witch ended up bringing in nearly $250,000,000. Not a bad return on your investment. On top of the earnings, it solidified the “found footage” sub-genre of horror and best of all, thanks to a groundbreaking viral marketing campaign, many people thought the whole thing was real.

Much like the Number 10 film, Scream, The Blair Witch Project does not earn it’s spot solely for the content of the film. Thanks to an absolutely brilliant marketing campaign which included a Sci-Fi (Not yet Syfy) “documentary” about the missing filmmakers (which even included interviews with their “parents”) before the release of the film and an Internet buzz that surrounded the movie, The Blair Witch Project had audiences in the palm of its hand before it had even hit wide release. Some movie-goers actually thought they were going to see real footage that had been discovered by the police. The people behind The Blair Witch used the Internet as no one in Hollywood had before. And by doing so they had audiences ravenous to see their film. It’s a marketing strategy that is envied and copied relentlessly to this day.

And the trailblazing of The Blair Witch does not stop at its marketing campaign, it only begins there. The film also solidified an entire sub-genre of horror, the ‘found footage’ genre. This wasn’t the first film to use idea of ‘found footage’ (material discovered by police while investigating a crime scene). Cannibal Holocaust used the same idea in 1980 and there were a few films scattered between then and The Blair Witch that tried it, but it never really took. After the success of The Blair Witch Project we’ve seen countless movies that use this technique and do it well. Just a brief glance of the “found footage” film list reveals such impressive offerings as Diary of the Dead, Paranormal Activity/Paranormal Activity 2, Cloverfield, The Last Exorcism, [REC]/[REC]2 and August Underground’s Mordum. An entirely new way of presenting the story to the audience was embraced after Blair Witch.

So after the great marketing and creative presentation, what do we have? We have a film that is a study in tension. I feel the best horror films give you a balance of tension and payoff. You have your buildup scenes and then your payoff scenes. A few minutes walking through a strange dark house, paid off by a killer jumping from the closet and doing nasty things. Blair Witch was so adept at creating the tension, they never gave the payoff, and it didn’t matter. The movie taught us that great horror wasn’t about seeing the gruesome monster or the knife plunging right into the victim. It taught us that the journey was just as, if not more, important than the ending. Blair Witch was so tense with it’s creepy sound effects and strange occurrences that you were cringing in your seat waiting for something to happen. Well, it never really did, but does that mean you were never cringing? The Blair Witch Project scared us, but people rail against it because it never showed the antagonist. Would it have been better if we saw what was making all the crazy noises and toying with the filmmakers? Probably not. No filmmaker can create something scarier than we can conjure in our own minds. Only we know our own fears and it’s through this that we fill in the blanks for Blair Witch.

Overall, the film is amazing. As they are lost in the woods it has an incredibly claustrophobic feel, even though they are outdoors and completely free. Stephen King has proven time and again that being ‘trapped’ is the most horrific scenario. He’s used the idea repeatedly (Misery, Gerald’s Game, Cujo). And our three filmmakers are trapped, unable to find their way back to the car. Walk south all day, guess what, right back where you started and you’re in for another night of strange noises and freaky happenings. Welcome to the world of the Blair Witch.

The Blair Witch Project is a basically improvised piece of work, adding to the authentic feel of it. The director/producers really challenged the actors physically during filming (rationing food, keeping them in the elements) to enhance the tension. It worked. Their ad-libbed dialogue felt real. It worked perfectly. It all worked so perfectly.

Although it has its critics, The Blair Witch Project was groundbreaking. Not only for it’s unique filming style, but for its brilliant marketing campaign that has been and will be copied for years to come. The movie was so masterful at building tension that it never had to give the “money shot,” audiences were uncomfortable enough with what was happening to the lost movie makers that no further aggravation was required. However, when they got to the basement of Rustin Parr’s cabin and Mike was standing in the corner, an iconic image was created. For ’90’s horror, this was your moon landing, your Zapruder film. It’s the culmination of a perfectly original horror experience. An amazing ending for one of the most unique and effective horror movies ever.

Doctor Gash’s Top 10 Horror Movies…ever!–Number 9–The Blair Witch Project

Click for #8…on Doctor Gash’s Top 10 Horror Movies…ever

Click for #10 Scream