Thursday, January 28, 2010

80s Horror Nerdgasm!

The House of the Devil - 2009 - Dir: Ti West
Location: The Comfort of My House - VHS!

I went to see Ti West's first feature, The Roost, at a theater back in 2005. I didn't really enjoy it, but I also don't remember much about it now. After seeing his newest entry I'll definitely be revisiting it, as well as seeing his direct-to-DVD sequel Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever (due out February 16th). In this throwback to 80s horror a college girl answers a babysitter wanted ad and soon finds out this is not your normal babysitting gig. On the night of a full lunar eclipse Samantha heads out to a large house in a rural area to learn there is no child but an elderly woman, not to mention plans for some Satanic ritual goodness.

This is an 80s horror flick in every way. While set in the great decade, you are not beaten over the head with 80s references or zany fashion but everything is fairly subdued. The film is rather slow, but watch it in the dark and you will be rewarded. West shies away from cheesy jump scares in favor of heavy atmosphere and a slow build of tension. This is the kind of horror which sticks with you and when the last act arrives it is all the more effective. Casting is great with the couple in need of a sitter played by genre veterans Tom Noonan (Robocop 2, Manhunter, The Monster Squad) and Mary Woronov (Chopping Mall, Night of the Comet, Death Race 2000). There is even a cameo in the first scene by the one and only Dee Wallace from such epic greatness as E.T., The Howling and Cujo.

I know it's only January, but this already has my vote for home release gimmick of the year. Sure there will be tons of special editions in 2010 but no other film will come out and try to further capture that 80s charm than getting an old school big-box VHS release! And if they do, we'll all know they copied this. Everything on this box, from the faux "New Release" sticker to the caution warning on the back, takes me back to wandering the aisles of my local mom-n-pop video shop. There is even a Gorgon Video label, and intro. 80s horror nerdgasm! I also like that for this VHS they did the retro thing where it's in widescreen for the opening credits and then switches to full frame. It has been years since I've watched a film that did this and I was giddy the entire time.

I will definitely be buying this on DVD, or Blu, when it comes out on February 2nd. You can pick it up on Amazon in either Blu-Ray, standard DVD, or the awesome DVD/VHS combo pack!

Pandorum - 2009 - Dir: Christian Alvart
Location: The Comfort of My House - Blu

Missed it in theaters because of poor reviews. Decided I would check it out at the dollar theater and that didn't happen either. Finally saw it at home on Blu and wish I would have gone to the dollar theater because I liked it. Just didn't like it enough for full price. The idea is great, with a couple of crew members waking up on a spaceship without any memory of what is going on and no one around to tell them. They piece together that this ship was carrying 60,000 humans to a new planet to colonize, but something went wrong. From there Corporal Bower (Ben Foster) and Lt. Payton (Dennis Quaid) separate and Bower tries to make his way to the nuclear reactor power source so they can get power everywhere, but he finds they are not alone. There are inhuman looking creatures on the ship trying to kill him fast and furiously.

My big problem with the story is the way they split the tension between two "evils." There are the creatures but there is also the movie's namesake, pandorum is a type of psychotic breakdown due to deep space travel where the victim violently attacks those around him. The latter sounds so much more interesting than all of the quick cut, shaky cam jump scare moments with the creatures. At least the make-up FX look cool.

Aside from that I still had fun watching this. Foster has yet to disappoint me and there are some really interesting twists and turns with the story. Since the film takes place sometime after the year 2193 there is some great technology shown. My favorite is in the very beginning, a razor that has no blade but sort of incinerates the hair off Bower's face with a bright light. Yeah, I have a beard but it's still pretty damn cool.

Pandorum isn't near as good as films like Alien but really, what is? Worth the watch for some great performances and a decent horror/sci-fi excursion. Grab the Blu-Ray here, or the DVD here.


btsjunkie said...

Bah! How did you get the VHS early??

btsjunkie said...

Also I look forward to seeing HOUSE OF THE DEVIL though I have this stupid feeling I won't like it. I like my 80s horror CHEESY. Wish it was more of a throwback to 70s horror. It's a small, but important distinction. Will be ordering the STANDARD DEF since you can't get the VHS bundled with Blu (asinine).

Damon said...

I got the VHS for reviewing porposes through Good ol' Pop Syndicate. :)

btsjunkie said...

Blast! I'm never quick enough to sign up for good stuff on there!

Post a Comment