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Oct 212015

I’ve seen a good amount of zombie movies before, but none come as weird and/or creative as Zombeavers. After a large canister of toxic waste accidentally ends up in a river, it floats downstream and spills on some beavers turning them into wild monsters. I could easily tell that the beavers were fake before they got exposed to the stuff.

Soon after, three gorgeous college girls, Mary (Rachel Melvin), Zoe (Courtney Palm), and Jenn (Lexi Atkins) head out to the woods and stay at a cabin for the weekend. It seems like a nice getaway but not for long when the girls discover that their cell phones don’t work in the area. I’ve never seen anyone get so upset about not being able to text.

For a while I thought this “teens in the woods” story would be different with just the three girls. That soon changes when their boyfriends Sam (Hutch Dano), Tommy (Jake Weary), and Buck (Peter Gilroy) arrive at the cabin, even though they weren’t invited.

Eventually we get to see the result of the monster beavers. They’re actually wild rabid zombies that are fast and hungry for blood. Unlike regular zombies that have human teeth, the beavers’ buckteeth can chew through anything, and I mean anything.

If that weren’t bad enough, the zombie virus spreads very easily. The people they attack become wild zombies with buckteeth and tails. Even a bear gets infected. The effects are creepy and gross but also pretty cool.

The beavers are also smart. They cleverly take out the phone lines and cut down trees to block the roads in order to trap their victims. The way they dig their way from the floorboards is smooth while the teens hit them like a Whack-a-mole game. In this case it’s Whack-a-beaver.

This was an interesting horror film. Another item I’d like to point out is the opening credits sequence that used neat animation. The only other horror movies that I’ve seen which have that are, Saturday the 14th and Night of the Demons (1988 version). It definitely helps set the mood for what’s to come.

Sep 232015

In honor of Mel Brooks voicing the role of Count Dracula’s father in the upcoming Hotel Transylvania 2, I thought I would blog about one of his earlier horror comedies, Young Frankenstein. This take on the classic horror novel is about Dr. Fredrick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder), the grandson of the original mad scientist, resuming his grandfather’s experiment in reanimating the dead.

At first Dr. Frankenstein is against the idea and prefers that his name be pronounced “Fronkensteen”. I remember when I saw this movie years ago, I didn’t understand why that was. Now I see that it’s because the doctor wanted nothing to do with his family’s heritage.

Of course, fate would have it that Dr. Frankenstein inherited his great grandfather’s castle in Transylvania. Upon arrival the doctor meets Igor (Marty Feldman), who pronounces his name “Eye-gore”. Unlike other versions of Igor, this one doesn’t talk with a creepy slur and is a total goofball. His antics leave me laughing.

Dr. Frankenstein also has a lab assistant named Inga (Teri Garr). She has her funny moments too, like when the two of them find a secret passage in a bookcase. It’s hilarious when they struggle with the sensitive candle trigger while shouting, “Put the candle back!”

Inga eventually becomes Dr. Frankenstein’s love interest even though he’s already engaged to Elizabeth (Madeline Khan) a tightly wound socialite. Although Elizabeth is devoted to him, she keeps resisting his advances as though she’s taking full control of the relationship. It certainly makes you think.

An interesting running gag involves the housekeeper Frau Blucher (Cloris Leachman). Whenever anyone says her name the horses get scared. Though the reason for that is not explained, it arouses suspicion.

Eventually, Dr. Frankenstein finds his grandfather’s journal and becomes so fascinated he decides to do the experiment to reanimate a corpse of a large criminal (Peter Boyle) that was just executed. Though it’s a success, the new monster has a huge fear of fire. What I don’t understand is why no one caught on to that.

Part of that might have also had to do with the brain Igor picked out. A classic highlight includes when he mentions that the brain was from someone named Abbey Normal, even though it was really labeled “Abnormal”.

Another classic item is when Dr. Frankenstein and the monster perform Puttin’ on the Ritz. This movie was when I heard that song for the very first time, believe it or not.

Though I must point out that Young Frankenstein is a bit darker than some of the other Mel Brooks classics like Spaceballs, High Anxiety, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, and Dracula: Dead and Loving it and that this is one of few films that Mel Brooks directed that he isn’t actually in. However, it’s certainly a good one just the same.

Oct 292014

This Halloween I thought I would cover the most famous vampire in pop culture, Count Dracula. There’s no doubt that this vampire is so iconic because there have been so many versions. Whether it’s about his own story, or if he’s part of a group of other monsters, the role of Count Dracula has been played by more actors than any other vampire. Here are the versions I remember best in chronological order, even though most of them are highly obscure.

Dracula (1932): Frankly, who doesn’t remember the original movie with Bela Lagosi as the Count. This may be a classic horror feature, but it’s not one I was hugely into compared to the following films and TV appearances, even though he was the inspiration behind the Count from Sesame Street.

Mad Monster Party (1967): Normally when the classic movie monsters are together, Dracula is the one in charge because he’s the toughest in the bunch. Although he’s quick on the attack, Dracula tends to fumble especially since Frankenstein’s monster is stronger than he is.

Electric Company (1970s): Believe it or not, one of Morgan Freeman’s reoccurring characters was Dracula. He has a mysterious presence that can scare people, but isn’t dangerous. It seems that this Dracula’s favorite pastimes include drinking vanilla malts and taking a bath in a casket.

Ghostbusters (1975): This version of Count Dracula, played by Billy Holms, is very goofy and as a bat he tends to bump into walls. What really stands out are his fangs since they look so fake. Luckily his wife Countess Dracula is with him to keep him in line.

Ghostbusters (1986): Although this version of Count Dracula looks a lot like the Dracula from Groovy Ghoulies, he’s actually a lot tougher than many of the evil spirits the Ghostbusters ever faced. His ambition is to take over Transylvania by taking human slaves with his hypnotic power instead of a bite. He also hates mirrors as well as garlic. A little strange, don’t you think?

Castlevania Games (1987-1991): Dracula has appeared on video games before, but the best known is in the Castlevania franchise as the main villain. Instead of the Van Helsings fighting Dracula, it’s the Belmont family. It goes to show that the Count always returns no matter how many times he’s been defeated.

Captain N: The Game Master (1989): The animated version that’s based on the video games is a warlord trying to take over the world of Castlevania. Though I must admit that the Count has a creepier look.

Monster Force (1994): As the main villain in this series, Dracula prefers to be called Dracule. Even though he has a charming persona, don’t be fooled. Dracule is very powerful with his metamorphosis, hypnotic spells, and other magical abilities, which gives the Prince of Darkness an edge over humans and monsters alike.

Leslie Neilson as Count Dracula

Dracula: Dead and Loving it (1995): I remember when I first heard about this comedy classic. After discovering that Leslie Nielsen was going to star as Dracula, I knew from the start that it was going to be a good one. This Dracula is clumsy and his shadow has a mind of its own, but don’t take him too lightly. He’s powerful in the ways of mind control, sometimes even more than he realizes.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (2000): Dracula’s only appearance on this show was in the season five episode Buffy vs. Dracula, where Rudolf Martin played the role, but he did leave his mark during his time in Sunnydale. He seduced Buffy, made Xander his Renfield, even Spike remembers Dracula as an old rival before he got famous. This certainly covers a lot of ground on how Dracula stands out from other vampires and it’s hilarious when Buffy slays him… twice.

Van Helsing (2004): Richard Roxborough plays the role in this movie. As the main villain once again, he introduces a new skill that vampires have and that’s the ability to walk up walls and on the ceiling like it was nothing. Though Dracula is both strong and deadly, it’s really his three wives that stand out as big favorites to me.

Hotel Transylvania (2012): Adam Sandler voiced the most recent animated version of Count Dracula. Unlike other Draculas, this one is actually one of the good guys. After losing his wife to a group of angry villagers, Dracula created a hotel resort as a safe haven for monsters. However, he also became an overprotective father and control freak. Dracula is also funny, especially when he tries to tell humans that he never did say, “Bleh, bleh, bleh”.

Oct 152014

Following the success of Mad Monster Party there was an animated feature called MAD, MAD, MAD MONSTERS. In this prequel, Baron Von Frankenstein creates a bride for the Frankenstein Monster and invites many of the classic monsters to the wedding at the Transylvania Astoria Hotel.

The Baron’s assistant Igor wants a bride of his own, but the Baron refuses to grant his request. All that did was make Igor jealous and he makes attempts to take the Monster’s bride for himself. Why couldn’t the Baron at least consider Igor’s wish?

The Monstress looks nothing like the original Bride of Frankenstein or the Monster’s mate from Mad Monster Party. In fact, she actually hides her face through most of this feature. I guess it’s for the purpose of mystery.

Of course what monster comedy would be complete without frightened humans who try to be skeptical. The main human in this feature is Harvey the postman. After delivering the wedding invitations, he sees a doctor who tells him that the monsters he saw were not real and that he should change jobs. What are the odds that Harvey becomes the new manager of the Transylvania Astoria?

Luckily, Norman the bellhop helps Harvey cope by convincing him that the monsters are actually Hollywood celebrities. Norman is also efficient since he has to take over many of the duties after the rest of the staff was scared off.

Here are some additional twists. The Invisible Man has a wife named Nagatha who nags a lot, and the Wolfman’s name is Ron Chanley. I always thought his name was Lawrence Talbot.

After a hilarious bachelor party, the Baron has Igor take the Monstress to the hills and keep her safe until the wedding. Oh, sure. Have the guy who wants the bride for himself be the one to protect her. How can the Baron trust him not to steal her?

Igor does as he’s told, but trouble strikes when the Monstress gets kidnapped by Modzoola. He’s supposed to be a knock-off of King Kong even though he’s a giant purple furry monster.

I really enjoyed this feature, especially for its fast paced humor. It’s amazing what you’ll find among the special DVD section on Halloween.

One last note: There’s also a bonus feature about Jack O’Lantern, which is an interesting tale about how the jack o’lantern first became a big Halloween icon. I never would’ve thought that it involved a leprechaun within a pumpkin shell.

Jun 252014

There have been quite a few good vampires in pop culture, but Vamps brings it to a whole new level. It’s about two socialite vampire girls Goody (Alicia Silverstone) and Stacy (Krysten Ritter). They are best friends living the good life in New York City while working as exterminators, which is appropriate since they live on rat blood.

Other than the fact that Goody and Stacy refuse to feed on humans, there are some new things revealed about vampires in this film. First off, they prefer to be addressed by the term ELF, which is an acronym for Eternal Life Form. Secondly, there are upper level vampires called stems and only they have the ability to turn people into vampires. The lesser vampires are slaves to the stems and once the stem is slayed, those vampires become human again at their true age. That sure is a lot to take in. I don’t think Buffy the Vampire Slayer would have ever used that method of vampire terminology.

Here’s an added twist. There are actually support groups for vampires. Even Vlad Tapish (Malcolm McDowell) the impaler goes there and is also portrayed as a good vampire.

Goody and Stacy’s stem is Ciccerus (Sigourney Weaver). She’s an evil vampire that’s reckless when it comes to feeding on humans and forces Goody and Stacy to model clothes because of the “no reflection” issue.

Of course being immortal isn’t easy because they have to quickly adjust to the many changes as time goes by. Originally, both Goody and Stacy asked to be turned because they were both on the brink of death when they were human. However, it was during different time periods. Stacy was turned in 1992, but Goody was turned in 1841. Goody is scared to reveal her real age to Stacy because she fears that Stacy would think less of her for being so old.

Things really start to become complicated when Goody meets up with Danny (Richard Lewis), her old boyfriend from the 1960s. Vampires are supposed to keep their identities a secret from humans and can usually do it by hypnotizing them, but luckily Danny was able to take it well, even after Goody reveals the truth.

Meanwhile, Stacy has a new love interest, Joey Van Helsing (Dan Stevens) the son of Dr. Van Helsing (Wallace Shawn) the vampire hunter. What are the odds, right?

Stacy meets up with them and it gets awkward, especially after Joey sees her walk down the outside wall. It’s pretty creepy how she does it, like it was something right out of The Exorcist.

Soon new complications arise. Although Joey warmed up to Stacy, she ends up pregnant and in order for Stacy to have her baby and have a future with Joey, Ciccerus must be slayed. Goody gets Dr. Van Helsing to help, but the battle becomes intense now that Ciccerus has gone insane, killing people. It’s about time we get to see some vampire slaying action.

This was an interesting movie that reminds me of Clueless, mainly for its romantic comedy factor. In case you were wondering, Vamps is nothing like the Twilight films in that sense and I think that’s a good thing.