Hellraiser: Inferno, the Burning Thorne

Hellraiser: InfernoYou know what? Each Hellraiser movie past the first (Hellraiser: Inferno included) has less and less to do with the Cenobites. They tend to focus more on the subjects, illustrating their slow descent into despair and insanity as a result of opening the Box. And how is it that EVERYONE knows how to open the box when they first see it? Rub the little golden circle on the top. If you were a detective doing cocaine and sleeping with a sleazy hooker, would you really do that? I suppose I don’t know if cocaine would make you do that, so… Whatever.

Joseph Thorne is a terrible person. He’s a detective, a married man with a daughter. He does cocaine and sleeps with hookers frequently, which he says is so he’ll keep coming back to his wife. Despite these lame excuses, he’s aloof, irritable, and generally very unpleasant. When the hooker he slept with is brutally murdered, he plants items from his partner to cover his ass. What a nice guy, huh?

Prior to this, Joseph made a terrible mistake during an investigation. A man he knew in high school is murdered brutally, with two major clues placed near his body: The Box, and a child’s finger. He begins to link things together, and discovers that an individual known as The Engineer has been organizing all the morbid crimes that Joseph encounters. Even worse, at each scene, a freshly severed child’s finger is left in plain sight; a taunt to Joseph from The Engineer himself.

Hellraiser: Inferno“If you hunt The Engineer, The Engineer will hunt you.” And oh, how he does. Joseph is quickly and thoroughly haunted by freaky looking Clive Barker demon chicks, torso imps, evil kung-fu cowboys… I guess… and a faceless creature that seems to be burning the child’s fingerprints with its black tongue. Is it The Engineer? Maybe. No. It’s one of The Engineer’s tools, and it consistently causes Joseph to freak out and attack people. It’s the stereotypical, “I’m not crazy!” movie bullshit, but this time around, it’s a little different. Nobody likes Joseph, and he neglects the only people who would.

I suppose you could call this a psychological thriller, but it’s really just Pinhead enjoying himself by screwing with an immoral cop. From the moment Joseph opens the Box, everything goes wrong. Pinhead starts showing him flashbacks of his childhood, how he was once innocent, and how he’s managed to kill every last bit of innocence left within him. Strangely enough, they’re from Joseph as a child. Each one cut represents another failure to stop the growing corruption within him, and eventually, his slowly withering goodness sends him to Hell.

Hellraiser: InfernoWhat that means, basically, is that he has to confront his demons over and over and over again until he finally understands what he’s done wrong. Since he’s a major disloyal, sneaky, conniving, obsessive asshole, he gets to stay in Hell forever until Pinhead grows bored of him and tears his soul apart. Knowing Pinhead, that won’t be for a very, very long time. After all, Hell isn’t some inferno. It’s just a repetition of his life, or rather, playing back the things he did wrong. He even shot himself in the head to escape it, but only to begin all over again.

So, overall, as the fifth Hellraiser movie… I give Inferno one “not bad.” My only issue is that it doesn’t pay so much attention to the Cenobites and demonic imagery as it does the life of Joseph Thorne and his gradually increasing insanity. It’s not one of the better Hellraisers, to say the least, but it’s good enough to be worth watching.

Waiter, There’s an Alien in My Ship

AlienI’m not apologizing for that joke. Ever.

Before there was Alien versus Predator, and Alien versus Jason, and Jason versus Jesus and Cthulu and shit, there was the original movie. The movie that was likeable, original, and didn’t need to play off prestige to be watched. This is one of those movies. One of those VHS tapes that you really missed after your VCR ate it up. You got it on DVD, but without that film grain, it’s really not the same. I know how you feel, and this is the review of the good old-fashioned original Alien movie. Classics rock.

This is generally the movie that got us 1990’s babies noticing Sigourney Weaver and her film career. When we see her in Ghostbusters, or on Avatar, we’re not taking her for the role she’s playing. Oh no. We’re remembering how she “blew the alien out of that goddamned airlock.” The Alien series is what provides Sigourney with all her crowning moments of badass, in my perspective. Let’s do a quick rundown of the plot of Alien.

AlienThe deep space mining vessel, Nostromo, jolts its crew of 7 awake after detecting a mysterious distress signal on a desolate planet. Three are sent out to investigate, and they discover a crashed alien ship that has been infested with a vast quantity of unusual eggs. While investigating, one of the crew members, Kane, is afflicted with one of the parasitic newborns from said eggs. With finger-like limbs, it grips his skull, and maintains this cling with its incredibly muscular tail. While feeding him oxygen via two breathing sacs, it delivers a special infant alien into his stomach, where it gestates and grows. Little to the rest of the crew’s knowledge, of course.

What they do discover is that the little face-hugger has concentrated acid for blood, making removing it equivalent to sentencing both it and its host to a horrible death. Amazing, right? A while after leaving, the alien seemingly dies and drops off of Kane’s face of its own accord, leaving him dazed but apparently okay. It doesn’t take long for the worm-form of the alien to explode out of his chest during a meal, scaring everyone to death and (you don’t have to guess) killing the crap out of Kane.

Up to this point, all of the characters seem to play rather neutral roles, no-one really coming off as the obvious survivor type. Personally, I find that rather admirable of the makers of this film. It doesn’t focus specifically on one survivor archetype while leading the rest into gruesome and obviously pre-meditated (in the obligatory film sense) deaths. It’s interesting and exciting because every single death matters. While Dallas, the captain of the ship, may seem to be the heroic and assertive space-warrior that conquers all adversity, he meets an unfortunate end while scouting out for the grown alien in the ventilation shafts.

AlienYou know, I was considering not disclosing the spoiler regarding the crew member Ash, but I’ve given enough away already, and reviewing a classic as if no one has ever seen it is akin to saying, “Hey, have any of you guys ever heard of this Twilight thing?” This actually introduces the Company, an apparently corrupt and scientifically militaristic organization hell-bent on procuring a sample of the incredibly dangerous Alien aliens. Ash is a robot sent by the Company to make sure this alien mission is a success, even if he and the entire crew dies in the process. Barely related, he gives the maintenance guy one hell of a nurple, and my god his reaction is hilarious.

If you don’t remember any of that, it’s either been too long since you’ve last seen it, you don’t like sci-fi, or you just suck. I’m sure it isn’t that you suck. It’s an old movie, no doubt, definitely slow-paced, but worth seeing by all means. I know you young whipper-snappers like the flashy action movies with the squeaky shiny suits and doodads and whatnot, but try to respect the origins, alright?  Get it on DVD and give it a gander. You won’t be disappointed.

The Shining: Abridged Yet Complete

The ShiningA word of warning to the younger generations: This is an old movie. I mean, REALLY old. Jack Nicholson is pretty young in this one. Also, it’s a Stephen King movie, and those are usually hit or miss, so I just thought I’d let you know.

That said, however, The Shining has got to be one of the best horror novel film adaptations I’ve ever seen. It uses elements of isolation and macabre surreality to create a psychological thriller under the guise of a horror flick. Due to the book to film compression, some of the plot aspects become rather obligatory, thus lose some of their suspenseful thrill. The foreshadowing becomes much more conspicuous when not presented alongside several other secondary plot aspects.

A bit of background on The Shining, though. The story revolves around the illustrious and fictional Overlook Hotel in Colorado. During the winter, a caretaker must remain there in isolation to keep everything fit and functional when guests begin to arrive again in spring. In Jack Torrance’s interview with the hotel manager Stewart Ullman, he discovers that the last caretaker succumbed to cabin fever and murdered his family, then soon after killed himself. That, coupled with the disclosure that Jack is a rehabilitated alcoholic, kind of clues the audience in that Jack’s gonna be the next one to go nuts.

The ShiningHOWEVER.

Ol’ Stephen King’s not so willing to leave it so simple. As it turns out, the Overlook Hotel was constructed on top of an ancient Indian burial ground (King’s answer to all spirit matters) and as such is home to myriad malevolent spirits. To add to that, Jack’s son Danny is gifted with an incredible psychic power called The Shining, that allows him to read minds and see things that normal people can’t see. Addressed in the book though not the movie, the Overlook spirits desire to absorb Danny’s powerful Shining in order to augment their own power for an unspoken purpose.

This leaves Jack’s wife, Wendy Torrance, as the only non-Shining, non insane character left in the Overlook. While Danny begin to notice Jack’s growing madness and the ill will lingering about the hotel with relative ease, Wendy doesn’t begin to notice until Jack is almost entirely gripped. Soon after this point, the spirits begin to manifest and take more direct action against the family, with Jack as their weapon.

The ShiningI’m sure you’re all familiar with the concept of an axe-wielding maniac, and the phrase, “Here’s Johnny!” shouted through a broken door. The Shining was the movie that canonized these little horror flick concepts into fame and glory. It was, after all, a very well known horror movie in its time.

I do have some grievances with the movie The Shining, though. A few things that could have been done better, the book-to-movie negatives already factored in. There was no turbulence shown between Jack and Wendy’s marriage, and the character Dick Hallorann is merely an expendable secondary who gives Danny Torrance a cautionary tale about the evil room 217, and a lesson on his Shining ability. When I say expendable, I mean he dies. You won’t miss him. In the book, his role is pivotal and aids to the conclusion of the tale. In the movie, he’s just another face.

Those negatives pointed out, I don’t think that they’re prominent enough to drag my opinion of The Shining down. For an older horror movie with only marginal effects, everything settles well, from aesthetics to characterization. You really can’t go wrong with horror classics, I think, especially with a “shining” example like th- Hah, sorry. Couldn’t keep a straight face with such a crappy pun. Go watch the Shining and crap yourself when you get to the part with the dead woman in the tub. I saw that part when I was bloody five. Had me scared of bathtubs for weeks. Really great.

The Blair Witch Project versus Satan

Blair Witch ProjectSatan made a bunch of devils that do really nasty things to humanity. Blair Witch Project spawned a series of god-awful (pardon the pun) shit shockumentaries that do even worse things to humanity. So which is worse? You be the judge.

In all seriousness, The Blair Witch Project was actually a very good movie, using cinematic gambits uncommon to most films at the time. The movie was meant to seem real; everything that happened in the movie could happen in real life. The cameras bounced and bobbled, the characters were crude and informal, and the film student scenes were overly dramatic and ironically funny. It really did seem like the whole thing was the result of a film project gone horribly wrong.

The premise of the movie is exceedingly simple, the effects are primitive, but the overall impact the movie has on its watchers is strong. It scares you, because it looks like you’re watching a home movie. Three students, Heather, Mike, and Josh, go into the woods looking for a graveyard so they can shoot a scene for their documentary about folklore. They hear about the Blair Witch a bit in town, but not enough to deter them from carrying on. As the days in the woods progress, they begin to notice strange occurrences, such as piles of rocks placed around their tent, little wooden stickmen hanging from trees, and eventually… Things get much worse.

Blair Witch ProjectSomething attacks them in their tent. Josh goes missing. They find a derelict house in the middle of the woods, and the horrific conclusion is reached. What was it? What had audiences tense in their seats, goosebumped and staring? Was the legend of the Blair Witch true? You can’t know until you see the movie. And just so you know, a disturbing number of viewers didn’t know if the movie was real or not for the longest time. It started the shockumentary craze for a reason.

There really isn’t a lot to say about the movie itself, what with it being modeled after real life from a horror perspective, so I’ll reveal a little bit of the movie’s making. The three actors were placed in the town of Blair with money and instructions on how to do their documentary. They didn’t know the people they interviewed, they didn’t have an exact plan. True to the basic nature of the shockumentary, they were only there to wing it and react when the horror aspects kicked in.

Blair Witch ProjectDuring the “lost in the woods” portion of the movie, the actors were only given a water bottle, an energy bar, and an apple each day. What the director was going for was realistic fear that could only be seen through systematically wearing down the actors through eerie events and slight starvation. All of it was true to the movie, and in the conclusion, Heather actually wound up hyperventilating for a solid half hour after the final scene was filmed. That’s not something every movie can say of itself, that its actors legitimately experienced the emotions that they were meant to portray. That’s what made it so frightening the first time it was shown. It’s easy to recognize cinema fear from real fear, and any moviegoer who went to the first showing would recognize that in an instant in the Blair Witch Project.

Now, I’m not saying this movie will appeal to everyone. It is a different take on the cinema. I’m just saying that it’s a unique and creative movie with charm and a sense of sincerity. If you feel like giving it a try, go for the DVD version. That way you can listen to the commentary and see how everything worked. It’s fascinating how they went about the making of the Blair Witch Project; it gives you a better perspective on the first shockumentary, and really helps you appreciate just how much work went into production. Do enjoy yourself, and try not to be bothered by how many times the fuck word is used. It’s realistic. Don’t hate.