After a string of embarrassingly low budget movies, I decided to review something with a little Hollywood clout.
You know, it’s not a bad movie, but it’s just so lukewarm compared to movies in its class. I’d compare this one to Stir of Echoes, and every time I do, I’m just going to end up saying, watch that instead. We can pretty much cut to the punch line here. Everything this movie does, Stir of Echoes does better, just with fewer shameless jump-scares.
This is the last stop on Reed’s history or shitty creature features. While none of them were particularly good, every one was a part of my childhood growing up and shaped the horror nut whose reviews you read today.
The worst offender in a long line of ‘Alien’ (1979) ripoffs…
This movie is so forgotten I practically had to do a deep web search to find a watchable copy. Seriously, just try to type it into the regular search and see if you can come up with a watchable copy. It won’t come up. In fact even major horror fan pages don’t mention this movie in their “complete list” of Alien themed movies. I have the distinct feeling this was a straight-to-video production. It took me forever just to find a bootleg copy that wasn’t dubbed in some language I don’t speak. When I finally did find one, the quality was so poor it was almost comical. Kinda like watching scrambled porn. The recording was clearly from an old VHS and the auto tracker kept popping on the screen in Spanish. If you know what either of those things are, you probably had some pretty kick ass horror movie memories like me.
What’s the point of spending hours trying to find this movie on the internet so I could watch it after all these years? You may remember from several of my older reviews from movies like Leviathan and DeepStar Six. I watched these when I was very young and I’ve had a hard-on for monster movies and horror ever since, so it’s nice to take a stroll down nostalgia lane and see if these, honestly terrible, movies still stand up to my childhood memories.
Xtro 2 was not one of those that stood the test of time. I mean, I liked re-watching Creature and a ton of other movies from my childhood, but this one was just plain awful. It was still great in the sense that it was riff-worthy material, and you could have a lot of fun with it just like that, but by no means was it good horror or even good-bad horror.
The acting was predictably awful, but it was even bad for horror, almost porno levels bad. The plot made no fucking sense. Hell, the gestation of the creature didn’t make any fucking sense. Most of the movie is pretty boring, with fleeting moments of excitement when the monster pops up, and that’s fucking criminal for a creature feature.
Beastie was neat though. Really loved the rubber monster design here. Just wish they could have done a little more with it in the actual fucking movie.
Riffers only, do not watch.
I can’t fucking believe that I didn’t know Nicholas Lea was in this movie! I guess it’s no surprise. I was like… 8… 6 when I saw this the first time and probably didn’t even know who he was? It would be almost another 16 years before I would watch it again. I guess your career had to start somewhere though, Lea. Still, he was probably the best actor in the movie even though it was a supporting role. Is that really a spoiler?… hmmm, I guess not.
How the fuck does this ‘interdimensional alien’ work? Scientists bring over an alien from another dimension that was using a woman’s body as a host. There was a gratuitous ripoff of the chest-burster scene from Alien, and then the rest of the movie is basically one long ripoff of Alien and Aliens after the next. But the alien came out of the woman’s body almost fully formed. I could see how it might have been able to hollow out a cavity and just pop out when it was big enough, but wouldn’t she just die?
So, you figure this thing needs to stick, Idontfuckenknow, larva or something into people like a wasp, but then in just lays like… Spores? Eggs? Something like that in the one guy and he pretty much explodes into a cloud of spore/egg thingies. Now, you could have just done that from the very start with the first lady, and maybe even had a more interesting concept that wasn’t a total blatant ripoff of the chest-burster scene. I guess in those days, getting the Aliens money was more important than maybe making a halfway decent movie.I could just say “Watch Alien,” as it’s a better movie with better actors. However, if you’re a hardcore riffer, this movie may be amusing.
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I figured I should pull up some horror movies from my childhood to sort of explain where my weird sense of appreciation for the genre stems from…
MAN, you know you’re the Kmart version of another franchise when the picture on IMDb is a faded crinkled movie poster, creases intact.
Not even the Kmart version, this is like the AIMS or Bradly’s version. That shit they were schlepping right before they went out of business. I think I just dated myself…
Anyway, you may know that I’m a HUGE fan of circa 70-90s rubber monster creature features, and this movie delivered my favorite rubber monster as the Kmart version of Ridley Scott’s masterpiece Alien. I always had a soft spot in my heart for this obvious Go-Bot (Transformers impostors of the 1980s… man, I really am dating myself) and used to rent this movie frequently when I was about 10 to 12.
The plot was a direct ripoff of Alien, the crew was practically a ripoff of Alien. The setting might as well been from the discount H.R. Giger bin. The movie might as well be called Ridley’s Rejects… but I love it all the same.
I don’t know why I love it. Maybe it’s my giddy childhood nostalgia for the rubber monsters of my past, or maybe it’s the complete wash of obvious borrowed material that always gives me some level of glee, but I love this movie.
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!
Let me just start out by saying, there was a LOT about this movie that was testing my fucking patience. It really prayed on “Weaker Sex Syndrome” far too often, and for a hot second, I could swear they were doing “Gladiator Moments.” There was scene after scene of what seemed like completely unrelated artsy bullshit. Thank god I was wrong about that because I really wanted to like this movie just from the premise.
In the end, the random moments of esoteric bullshit did get tied in nicely and the movie almost (note that’s ALMOST) redeemed the “Weaker Sex Syndrome.” I guess I have to give them credit for trying, as it’s more than most in the industry do these days.
But here’s the thing. There are very few Lovecraftian movies that did the feel of the genre justice without getting into the artsy silent films. There was YellowBrickRoad, In the Mouth of Madness, Color from the Dark, and, of course Lord of Illusions (LOI), which this movie very much reminded me of. The one thing that LOI had that this didn’t was the mystery aspect of Lovecraft. The search for truth leading to the discovery of madness. That’s sort of essential to the Lovecraft genre and The Void picks up after that pretty much already over and done with.
Still this movie had amazing atmosphere, a storyline that was coherent, which is hard for this genre, character development that was somewhat decent, and acting that was pretty good, even for horror… so why did I almost stop watching?
JESUS FUCKING CHRIST THE IRRATIONAL WOMEN IN THIS FUCKING MOVIE!!! They cast all the female roles in this movie pretty much just to drive the plot by being completely fucking useless or even worse, idiotic. If it wasn’t the nurse’s assistant breaking down into hysterics every five fucking minutes, it was the headstrong independent woman who you KNOW is gonna Lois Lane herself into being the damsel in fucking distress. Then there’s the country bumpkin pregnant girl who is only in this movie to give birth to a tentacle beast. Fucking seriously? Where are my Ripleys? Where are my Black Widows? Where are the women at? You know? The real women with active grey matter who drive the plot by being a part of the story, not by being fucking “McGuffins With Legs.”
And the fucking main character. Jesus fucking Christ, it’s like he spends the first fucking 20 minutes either unconscious or getting the shit kicked out of him. Isn’t he supposed to be a fucking cop? I mean, I get that they wanted him to be portrayed as a dweeb, but FUCK. Every five minutes for the first 20 minutes, he either gets knocked the fuck out or faints. Look, he had to have some kind of training, right? Self-defense? Boxing? How the fuck did this guy even become a cop?!
So why did I like this movie? Fuck man, I’m not even sure. The beginning is rough and poorly conceived, but the rest is so captivating.
It’s not just the fact it’s a creature feature with tentacle beasts. I do love a good creature feature, but there was more in this. Now, as you can tell by me complaining about the three “McGuffins With Legs,” a lot of the story is forced. But it always leaves just enough for intrigue. You can’t just ignore the fact that the movie starts off with a cult surrounding a hospital, trapping everyone inside and just slowly erodes from there. You find out quickly that this all has something to do with the bumpkin’s baby. It starts out as s simple struggle for survival, but then the mystery starts to kick in.
Once you get through the bullshit, and the bullshit is livable, it’s actually amazing.
Kicking off the release of “In the Shadow of the Mountains” by Reed Alexander, one of the many movies that inspired it. Interestingly enough this movie was inspired by another fantastic work of horror fictions call “At the Mountains of Madness” by H.P. Lovecraft.
Can a movie be too intellectual to be scary?
This was a damn good movie. It’s definitely not for everyone. I’m not sure what kind of crowd this would appeal to but it hit all my buttons. It was just such an intelligent movie. The characters, step by step, logically addressed the illogical. It’s based on Lovecraft’s “The Mountains of Madness.” It doesn’t follow the actual story of H. P. Lovecraft, but rather supposes what happened before “The Mountains of Madness” kicks off.
But can I recommend this to Lovecraft fans? It has some of the feel of Lovecraft, but really is a lot more like John Carpenter’s The Thing in stylization. One could argue that John Carpenter had a Lovecraftian style, but Lovecraft was more subtle, J. C. was pretty in your face. But it doesn’t have the same brutality as J. C., so can I recommend it to fans of The Thing?
I could almost recommend this movie to fans of anthropology. Of course the anthropological discoveries are all fake, but they go over them in such amazing detail. The archaeology builds the mythos so deeply you can almost believe it. It does get a little strenuous sometimes but it really pulls you into the setting. It gives it such amazing life.
The acting is fantastic and brilliantly thought out. When the writer and the actors connect like this, it make for the best movies. Every reaction is in step with what makes the most sense. The story just flows out of the actors naturally. A little too naturally at times. Dialog turns into needless banter occasionally, but for the most part is really solid. And the atmosphere. Man, isolationism is really the strongest setting for any horror. I mean, it’s easy, but also easy to fuck up. The wrong lighting, the wrong filters, and a set that’s supposed to feel a million miles from civilization instead feels next door to a major metropolitan area. But this movie was so dark. I’ve been talking about this in some of my recent reviews. It’s dark to the point you have to turn the lights out just to see the screen. The darkness feels alive.
So, who do I recommend this movie too? I think it’s a must see for Horror Heads. It’s certainly required viewing for fans of Lovecraft and J.C. But I think the people who would be the best target audience are those ancient aliens nuts.
This movie promised me parasitic cephalopods! I WANT MY FUCKING CEPHALOPODS! What do I get instead? A couple undulating tumors. Now, don’t get me wrong, creepy rolling tumors are cool, but only because something is supposed to pop out of them. The characters talk about this mutagenic infection that’s causing tumors which turn into cephalopods, but you never get to see one. How fucking cool would that have been? A corpse bursting into dozens of squirming octopus like critters. That’s the kind of shit horror fans live for. Maybe they didn’t have the budget? It was just a disappointment.
They did have fun with the crew’s slow descent into madness. That’s what this movie was really all about. Though I’m not sure if slow is the right word. It’s not fast but the curve is pretty steep. First a dead cat, then the work crew disappear, then a guy vomits black ichor. The next thing you know, they’re hacking off a guys arm because something is moving around under the skin, and another character is talking to some strange looking anthropomorphic dear creature from the darkness. It starts off as a slowly building simmer that last for such a long time, but then suddenly and violently, shit hits the fan.
I don’t understand the motivations of the dear creature. You get the feeling that it’s trying to propagate the spread of it’s cephalopod tumors, but then it’s constantly having the crew do thing counteractive to the success of the spread. It infects a guy then has another guy kill him. Then it doesn’t try to infect anyone else, it just starts convincing them to kill each other. So, it doesn’t want worshipers, it doesn’t want to successfully spread the parasites. What the fuck does it want? It tells the crew that it’s not bound to the dig site, but it doesn’t seem interested in leaving to spread it’s infection. So what the fuck is it doing? Pretty much just admiring the stars and brutally murdering any dumb bastard that wanders by.
The ending is actually kinda disappointing, but it did do one thing right. Say it with me now, in your best Morbo impersonation! “THERE WERE NO SURVIVORS!!!” I mean, if this is supposed to be the incident before “The Mountains of Madness,” then no one can survive. Two guys effectively die from the infection, most of the rest wind up killing each other, but the last guy is what bothered me. The last guy dies by getting stuck in a bear trap. Really? Is that all? We’re just going to have it end with some guy dying of bad luck? That’s just fucking lame.
But yes, I do recommend this movie. It’s not just good, it’s fascinating.
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You know, I don’t know why I like this movie so much. Maybe because it’s not just horror, but survival horror. It has that “brink of madness, human limits tested, sense of dread” that I love so much about zombie movies (when they’re done right). Kind of like The Road. That wasn’t horror, but it’s just an epic long, grueling march, right into the grave. It’s just fucking brutal. *cue Nathan Explosion*
And the Award for Creepiest Child Actress Goes to…
Jesus fucking Christ, Jete’ Laurence is fucking creepy. Can we take a minute to appreciate, that at no point, did she fuck this role up with a Silent Hillmoment? That speaks volumes for her talent as a little actress. Hope she carries it.
Speaking of acting, what a fantastic fucking cast. John Lithgow, Amy Seimetz, fucking forget about it. Those two alone could have carried this movie with their performance. Throw in Jete’, and it’s just acting overkill.
So the lingering question, that I’m sure has been on all you filthy mutant’s fucking minds… Is it worth the remake? Is it better? Well, no, not better, just different. Look, we can’t talk about this movie without bringing up the original, and we can’t talk about the original, without admitting to ourselves that it was kind of fucking cheese. Look, the original has a soft spot in my heart (that could be necrosis), but it was cheesy as fuck. The acting was cheese, the atmosphere was cheesy, shit, the creepy little Gage was kinda cheesy. But, that’s why we loved it. It was cheesy, creepy, and fun as all fucking hell.
This one was just more serious, and that’s where it is both better but also kind of fails to be better. Serious is good, if you can really nail it home. Now, as mentioned before, the acting was just spectacular and really fucking drives it home. The dialog was also just fantastic and the emoting by the actors in the dialog was fucking gripping. However, it was a bit over the top. It was like everyone was just fucking crying all the damn time and it did get a bit draining.
The atmosphere, for the most part, was fucking solid. The problem is, when they breach the barrier into the Wendigo swamps, it gets really fucking cartoonish. Here’s the thing, they must have known they fucked it up too. If you saw the previews, you’ll notice the swamps look gritty, dark, and forbidding. But, when you watch the movie, they’re just fucking cartoonish. They don’t feel real, or even surreal, they just feel fake.
What pisses me off about this is how solid, real, and fucking creepy everything else feels, but then you get to the swamps and it’s like they phoned it the fuck in. Now, this isn’t the only thing they fucked up, but I can’t get into the rest outside the spoilers. Here’s the thing, I mentioned in an interview with Madness Heart Press, that the directors were little known and I was really familiar with anything under their belt. Frankly, they were too green and they made some rookie mistakes.
So, is it better than the original? No, it’s not better or worse, it’s just different. Is it worth watching? Yeah, I highly recommend this to general audiences. There’s enough good movie here for even casual viewers to enjoy. Not a must watch by any means, but definitely worth watching if you give it a chance.
I’m not sure if the motivation of Victor Pascow really tracks. Also, does “black guy dies first” count if the actor gets to live on as a ghost? I mean, they gave Obssa Ahmed plenty of screen time, but why have a black actor if you just pigeon hole the guy into the same ol’ horror stereotype. And this is the second place they phoned it in. Not by killing him, but by giving him shit dialog and crappy FX. This was the second thing that felt cartoony in this movie. It’s like they didn’t even try with the FX. Worse, it was practical FX, and that’s not something a major Hollywood production has any excuse fucking up. It’s a rookie mistake, once again proving the directors just weren’t ready.
You know what I did appreciate in this remake that I feel was missing in the original? They really got solidly into the motivations of each character. While Jud from the original was just like, “Every kid should have their animal raised from the dead at least once in their life,” this Jud was like, “I wanted to make the kid happy, but it plays on your emotions, calling you back, using it against you.” Now that’s really deep stuff. Not to mention they just layer on the history with Rachel Creed’s sister. And, MY FUCKING GOD, that is jut some brutal portrayal of abuse. It got me straight up shook. Good body horror too with the FX on her sister. So, please fucking explain to me how they got that right, but fucked up Victor Pascow?
All in all, outside of its failings, it was a pretty solid movie and I’d recommend it to anyone.
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