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Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of ‘Event Horizon’ (1997)

Not given enough respect by its director

I’ve always wondered to myself why Event Horizon isn’t higher on my list of top 10 horror movies. It’s not that I don’t firmly stand by my current position for it at #7. It’s just that I never considered why it wasn’t better as I haven’t bothered to go back since I started reviewing movies. So, by this day, November the 14th, year of our lord 2019, eight years after having started my career as a movie critic, I returned to one of my all time favorite movies to give it a closer look.

It’s here I figured out what’s wrong with this movie. The directer phoned it the fuck in. He had something special, but it was delivered by trash studio Dimension Films who lost their cred and simply didn’t take production seriously. There is so much about this movie that was flat out lazy. Paul Anderson must have been siting on his fucking thumbs, blowing bubbles the whole time. Or maybe he was just always a hack. Look at his track record. AvPMortal CombatResident Evil. This man is the king of shameless cash grab, trash films. I feel like the only time he got anything right, it was by accident. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that everything he’s had a hand in almost has a signature sense of over processed laziness.

And it’s a damn shame too because this movie was fucking amazing regardless of how carelessly it was handled. The cast was epic. I mean, Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Kathleen Quinlan, Joely Richardson? There were fewer names I didn’t know than names I did know. The acting was just fucking marvelous. Not quite award winning but damn good all the same. The set and FX were amazing, the atmosphere stunning, and again, I really don’t believe the director was even trying. Thank fucking god his set crew was. The design and attention to detail was every bit as impressive as Alien (1979). I wish they’d used more modeling as apposed to CGI, but it was still really fucking good. The ship Event Horizon, was constructed with agonizing care that you can seriously feel. And the story is just fucking griping.

I have a feeling writer Philip Eisner is a Warhammer 40k fan. What’s presented by the design and function of the gravity drive for the ship is in many respects similar to the gravity drives in the 40k universe. It’s not a new concept, one that was even used by the TV series Babylon 5, but one that isn’t used often and certainly never to this degree. More on that in the spoilers.

This movie was something truly special. Everything came together perfectly like the stars were fucking aligning or something. Sadly, it was largely overlooked by audiences when it came out. But again, it was Dimension Film. Hellraiser: Bloodlines had come out the year before and largely destroyed their reputation. Bloodlines was a highly anticipated film in a beloved franchise that turned out to be an obvious thoughtless cash grab which deeply disrespected the fans. For that reason, fans largely spurned Dimension Films, and rightly so. I almost didn’t see Event Horizon in the theaters because I took one look at it and wrote it off as the ‘new Hellraiser in space.’ I was dragged by a friend and good damn thing too. I did not regret it the way I expected to.

Like I said, the fact that it was a hit seemed like almost an accident. When I watched it this time, it was like every scene I found myself saying “That’s the take you went with?” Not that it was bad but the cutting just didn’t have the same level of care as the acting, the FX, the design, the set, or the writing. It just felt like the director didn’t give a shit. Like some of the forced comic relief from two of the characters. Like the director confused the concept of good horror, and ‘So Bad Its Good’ horror. Like Richard T. Jones who played the role of Cooper. He seemed like he was supposed to be a stand in for Ice Cube from the movie Anaconda. He did an amazing job, which is significant, because his role was nigh embarrassing, completely irrelevant to the plot, and mostly existed for comedic filler. But he’s one of my favorite characters from the movie because he owned that role and made it work.

But I digress, even with the director seemingly making no effort in this movie, it’s #7 on my all time top 10. That’s a feat in of itself. Had there been proper care put into this movie, it could have been #2 or #3. Everything about it was right. So much so that it didn’t matter it wasn’t perfect.

This movie is a must watch AND required viewing for Horror Heads. It delivered on something Dimension Films clearly had no intention on delivering ever again and haven’t sincen.

SPOILERS!!!

It was such a fascinating concept which easily spans both horror and Sci-Fi. The idea that, if there is a point in space beyond space, what is it and what’s in it? As I mentioned before, the concept was touched on in the Warhammer 40k back in the 80s. A concept that was simply called ‘The Warp.’ The bridge between points in folded space was another dimension altogether, and in every respects, what we call hell. Only the Event Horizon doesn’t have the special field to protect it from the demons in the warp like the ships of Warhammer 40k. The ship becomes possessed, seemingly alive, with its own persona and motivations. It appears to have killed its former crew and is back for another one.

Anyone it can kill on the ship basically becomes a part of its retinue. It uses their guilt to control and manipulate them while they’re alive. It can mess with their minds in deep and meaningful ways. The crew of the Lewis and Clark aren’t killed by the Event Horizon, so much as they systematically get themselves killed due to their frantic missteps and hallucination. The only crew member that the ship directly attacks is Justin, when it sucks him into the gravity drive’s gateway. Even still, Justin goes mad from his encounter with ‘hell’ and tries to kill himself. You could argue that the ship possessed him to do it, but ultimately, Justin blows himself out an airlock.

It finally gets hold of Neill’s character Weir, and has him go on a killing rampage. As a mater of fact, only one character dies before Weir starts killing the rest. The rest of the blood and gore is mostly cut scenes and video scrambles; setup for the rest of the movie.

I really do recommend this film. Its special almost because it was nearly destroyed and still managed to be amazing. Imagine that I’m this harshly critical of this movie and yet it’s still #7 on my all time top ten. Absolutely watch this.

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Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of ‘Mandy’ (2018)

‘Going Full Cage: The Movie’

With The Color Out of Space soon to be released, I figure I’d give Cage one last chance, and see if he has what it takes to pull off Cosmic Horror the likes of H. P. Lovecraft. I wrote an article a little while back, skeptical of Cage’s ability to do the genre any justice. You can read that article at the following link: Nicholas Cage: What Does He Contribute to Horror?

However, at the time I wrote the article, I’d yet to see Mandy. Lovers of the Lovecraftian genre hailed it as the best in a long time. And I’ll admit, I instantly noticed similarities to some of my favorites Lovecraft styled movies. Most notably was Lord of Illusions. The cult leader, Jeremiah is styled similar to the cult leader Nix, and his second in command is even named ‘Brother Swan’ which seemed like an intentional head nod. Director Panos Cosmatos must have also felt a little upstaged by Rob Zombie’s Lords of Salem, as the two movies have a very similar feel. Until Rob’s throws with the brown acid, Panos firmly held the title of ‘horror weirdo’ with his movie Beyond the Black Rainbow.

Technically Mandy failed my 30 minute rule, in that nothing really happens in the first 30 minutes of the movie. Every scene was irritatingly drawn out to the point where one scene was even in slow motion, and another scene was devoted, no shit, to waiting impatiently. It’s like Panos knew he was being a dick by making the audience wait, akin to the Family Guy gag where Peter Griffin skins his knee. And that was the first 45 minutes of the fucking movie. Needlessly drawn out setup, that seemed to intentionally punish the viewers, and go abso-fucking-lutely nowhere. It’s like Stanley Kubrick who always had two distinct movements in all of his movies… except annoying and not at all clever.

Going Full Cage

What’s worse, this movie started out pretty riffable, and for the most part, actually enjoyable because of how hammy it tended to get. It’s caused my wife to coin a new trope she calls ‘ForeCaging.’ It’s like foreshadowing, except rather than hinting at plot to come, it hints at riff worthy material to come. I was promised that I’d get Nicolas Cage, completely untethered and further out of his mind than I’d ever seen him. But what I got was actually pretty good acting for horror. That’s not what I expect from Cage, I expect him to deliver the ham of godly proportions. For a short scene, there was ton of ‘ForeCaging’ setting up all sorts of quintessential Cage moments that he frankly failed to deliver on. I’m waiting for something well beyond ‘Not The Bees’ and what I got was standard hammy horror acting.

Some of the acting was actually even good. Richard Brake and Bill Duke made spot appearances that really amped things up a notch. The cultists and Mandy herself were even pretty solid actors, including names like Ned Dennehy.

And frankly a lot of the stuff in this film was too campy to even merit decent actors. There are these four bikers, who are actually more like mudders, or what I jokingly referred to as The Four Mudpuddlers of the Apocalypse. They were clearly intended to be serious antagonists, even perhaps demonic, but came off more like ‘The Plague’ from Hobo With a Shotgun. It’s cool, and pretty metal, but its also rather silly. As a mater of fact, a lot of this movie came off as a sort of half-cocked, death-metal video. Some of it was even seemed to be a head nod to the animated classic, Heavy Metal. It was the sort of thing I expect out of an episode of Metalocalypse. Brutal, but impossible to take seriously.

Were it not for the scenes that were just impossible to take seriously, this movie would have been visually stunning. The lighting, filters, and practical FX were all very compelling. It made for a deeply gritty and murky atmosphere that forces you to turn off the lights, just to see the movie. Normally I’d applaud this, but then I go back to The Four Mudpuddlers of the Apocalypse, and it just ruins it.

All of that being said, this should have made the movie so campy, it should be riffing gold. But it’s like they tried to make a movie that was both intentionally good and intentionally bad at the same time. A sort of “Let’s make a movie out of some young metalhead’s wet dream, but try to make it serious.” Those two things just don’t mesh.

I don’t think I can recommend this movie to anyone. Me and my wife did enjoy riffing it, and she really didn’t pull any punches, but too often it left us bored and it underwhelmed at the end. I can’t even recommend it to Riffers.

SPOILERS!!!

I think the problem with this movie is, at its core, it’s really just lame revenge porn. Mandy and Cage’s Character, Red, are taken by a cult. The cult leader, Jeremiah, fails to seduce Mandy, burns her alive, and leave Red to bleed out. Red survives and goes on a murderous rampage intent on killing, not just the cult leader, but the ‘biker’ gang that helps the cult. Yeah, Panos tried to have the same kind of feel as Beyond the Black Rainbow, and yeah, there is clearly something otherworldly going on in the background, but all of that is lost in the dull overarching plot.

And for revenge porn that’s supposed to be revolutionary, it brings nothing new to the table. The kills are even in the wrong order. Cage’s character fights The Four Mudpuddlers of the Apocalypse in the first go, leaving half of the lame cultists to fight next. Yeah, there’s a chainsaw fight, which is both a head-nod to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, and Phantasm 2, but its nothing new or even special. I mean, if they were going to go with a lame ripoff of ‘The Plague,’ they might as well have hired actor Robert Maillet, strapped a logging chainsaw to each of his arms and stepped the chainsaw fight up a notch. Make a real effort to go full death-metal.

Instead, what should be the biggest fight is at the beginning, followed by a slow culling of the cultists, interrupted by the usual chainsaw fight, and ending with a monologuing Jeremiah, who even offers to suck Red’s dick in an effort to save his own life. There’s no demonic presence that tries to repel Red, there no Nix like manifestation. Whatever the supernatural element is supposed to be, it just disappears completely. At least it wasn’t ‘the flying eye poke’ from Lord of Illusions, but it’s still pretty lame.

There is nothing in this movie to give me hope that Cage won’t fuck up The Color Out Of Space. If anything, it proves that when Cage is given permission to go ‘Full Cage,’ he can’t even do that right.

Give this a pass.

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Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of ‘Lovely Molly’ (2011)

A creative look at America’s cult of victim blaming.

Ehh, erm… uhhhh… yeah I can give it a pass. I have to admit, it took me a couple of attempts to get all the way through this movie. However, something kept pulling me back to give it another shot. And while it may have taken four overall sittings, I have to admit, it was at least interesting.

Continue reading Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of ‘Lovely Molly’ (2011)
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Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of ‘The Possession of David O’Reilly’ (2010)

‘What’s Eating David O’Reilly’

A pretty solid indi horror that got largely looked over.

Everyone who’s a fan of my reviews, knows I’m not a fan of ‘Shaky Camera.’  There are exceptions to this, as with all things, but I feel it’s a band wagon most studios need to start falling off.

Continue reading Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of ‘The Possession of David O’Reilly’ (2010)
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Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of ‘Residue’ (2017)

Time is an illusion, your life is meaningless and nothing is real.

Kicking off out last Lovecraftian horror before the release of my new novella “In the Shadow of the Mountain,” already available for pre-order, we’ll look at an absolute fantastic b-rated Lovecraftian style movie, that is creepy, cerebral, and silly. Order it here!

Continue reading Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of ‘Residue’ (2017)