Saturday, April 17, 2010

Nightmare at 20,000 Feet

This is a creepy ass story that exists in three forms. It was originally written as a short story by Richard Matheson ( I am Legend, What Dreams May Come, The Legend of Hell House) and this version is by far the best, granted you have a good imagination. It was used as the plot to a Twilight Zone episode starring William Shatner (pre Star Trek) in 1959. This version kinda sucks, but we'll get to that later. When the Twilight Zone Movie came out in 1983, four old Twilight Zone episodes were remade for the big screen, this time it was John Lithgow that played the part. The story is a popular one without a doubt, and truly quite frightening. Bob is a man with issues. To begin with, he's returning home from a sanitarium, due to a severe nervous breakdown. He's chooses to fly home, despite the fact that his nervous breakdown occurred on a plane. Everything seems cool at first (after like 25 cigarettes), but then the plane begins to enter a storm, sending Bob's nerves totally on edge. Having sat in a window seat, Bob peers out the window, only to a see a strange human-like figure on the wing of the plane. Attributing this apparition to his nerves, he closes the window and pretends it's not there. Eventually curiosity gets the better of him and he again looks out the window and again sees the strange creature who is closer to his window now and can make out that it's definitely there and not his imagination. Having heard stories from war pilots about so-called "gremlins" that liked to sabotage planes, he assumes that is what he's seeing. He closes the window and takes an abundance of pills, thinking this will make it go away. His curiosity finally gets the better of him and he opens the window shade and the gremlin is right there staring at him... Bob freaks. He tries to alert several people of this creature who appears to be tearing up parts of the plane. Alas, every time someone besides Bob looks out the window, there's nothing to be seen, making Bob look even crazier. Bob decides that he must take action before the gremlin causes the plane to crash. He ever so nonchalantly steals a gun from a sleeping passenger (I guess gun laws were really different in the late fifties) and shoots the window. The suction of the cabin pressure is released and shit goes flying everywhere. Bob is sucked halfway out of the window, but still manages to get a few shots at the gremlin... to no avail. The plane manages to land safely, but poor Bob is toted away in a straight jacket on his way back to the looney bin. Everyone thinks this was just a crazy way of attempting suicide, but Bob knows better. Shortly after landing, the crewmen find a patch of the airplane that has been strangely damaged by something that might have had claws, leading us to believe that the creature on the wing of the plane was not entirely a figment of Bob's lunacy. The original Twilight Zone version of this story is pretty stupid. Shatner plays the part of Bob very well, but the appearance of the the gremlin is totally ridiculous. It looks sorta like a teddy bear with a scrunched up face, or maybe a teletubbie with a severe hormone problem. And the fact that it's on the wing of an airplane doesn't seem to affect it in any way, his "fur" doesn't even bristle with the blast of the wind. Now, the remake with John Lithgow is a fantastic rendering of this story. The gremlin actually looks like, well a gremlin. Kind of slimy, with fangs and demonic eyes... and much more aerodynamic. Pretty creepy stuff. There's even a "Simpsons" Halloween episode called "Nightmare at 4 and a half Feet" where bart sees a gremlin on the side of his school bus.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


This is a hilarious new movie by Troma that had me in stitches throughout the entire film. A military chicken fast food restaurant called "American Chicken Bunker" is built on an ancient indian burial ground (and we all know how pissed dead indians can get). A group of non-indian (with the exception of a "Chief What's His Face") protesters surround the restaurant with signs that say things like "Chicken Killers" and "I love Cock!" Arby is a huge dork who really just wants something to eat, joins in the protest, only to find his girlfriend Wendy there making a unique protest of her own... as a lesbian, making out with her new and very butch girlfriend Mickey. Specifically involved in a protest called C.L.A.M. (college lesbians against mega-conglomerates). To get her goat, Arby goes in and gets a job, hopefully making riches and bitches part of his long term goal. Soon strange things begin to occur in the restaurant. Instead of grade-A eggs, a bunch of green slimy pulsating vein-covered eggs are being served to the hapless customers. The restaurants representative "The General" shows up to do some damage control... and some shameless promoting. Restaurant manager Denny tries to keep things under control, but fails miserably when an employee name Paco Bell gets pushed into a "beaks and claws grinder" by a possessed chicken carcass and splatters the walls with blood, which Denny tries to convince people is artistic wallpaper. Pretty soon, anyone who eats at the restaurant becomes possessed by homicidal chicken spirits. The restaurant, now under siege has only Arby and Wendy to save the world from chicken zombies. Turns out that alcohol kills them. Wendy finds a keg and only after calling her a "fucking drunk", does Arby figure out her plan. Wendy melts the hoard of chicken zombies with her beer, they escape only to flee in a stolen car, hit another car, flip over and finally crash and burn. This really is one of Troma's better movies. There's lots of great cock jokes, plenty of gore, and ridiculous circumstances. And if you haven't noticed by now, everybody's names are taken from fast food restaurants... Arby, Wendy, Mickey (McDonalds) The General (The Colonel), Denny, etc. Oh, and did I mention it's a musical. Great fun!


Rec (as in "record", because the entire film is seen through the eye of the camera man) is a total thrill ride of a movie. Made in Barcelona, it's a spanish film, hopefully with subtitles, that revolves around a local TV reporter named Angela Vidal and her camera man Pablo as they document the night shift at a local fire station. It starts out innocently enough, with interviews with the bomberos (firemen), the shift manager, and out of boredom... the reception desk occupied by the only mujeras (women) in the station. Suddenly, a call comes in about a person possibly trapped in her apartment. Since Angela and Pablo have been given permission to follow two firemen named Alex and Manu, wherever they go in order to get a good story about how firemen do their jobs, they unwittingly follow the firemen into the scariest adventure one could possibly endure. Once they reach the apartment building that the call came from, they find all the residents gathered in the atrium of the building. Accompanied by police, they investigate the source of the call, an elderly woman that has been screaming bloody murder for some time now. When they bust her door down, they find her just standing there frothing at the mouth. Suddenly she attacks one of the policemen and bites a huge chunk out of his neck. When attempting to get the policeman out of the building to a hospital they discover that the front door has been blocked off by the Center for Disease Control, and absolutely no one is allowed out of the building. Determined to show the world what is happening, Angela orders Pablo to record everything. When trying to get the injured policeman help through a back door, they are greeted with soldiers with machine guns. A loud speaker informs them that they are not to attempt to leave the building and will be shot on sight should they try. Fireman Alex, who has stayed upstairs to watch over the old lady, comes plummeting down the staircase with massive facial injuries. Both Alex and the injured policeman are moved to a back room, while there, heard again is the loud speaker that a BNC protocol (biological, nuclear, or chemical threat) has been put in place, and that a health inspector will soon be entering the building to assess the situation. While waiting for this to happen, Angela and Pablo take the opportunity to interview some of the buildings residents, which consist of an old couple that bicker a lot, a bitchy woman with a sick little girl whose father is forbidden to enter the building with the antibiotics he was out getting for his little girl (Jennifer), a suave wisecracking ladies man, an intern, and a japanese couple that constantly scream at each other. When the health inspector finally arrives, he inspects the injured, just to have the injured come back into conciousness and become as violent as the old lady. The health inspector locks the infected in the back room and is then forced by Manu to tell them what the hell is going on. He explains that a vet had a dog brought in with an unknown illness. The dog showed an extreme viciousness and attacked all the other pets at the clinic and that within minutes all the other animals showed the same king of aggression and the dogs collar led them to this building. It just so happens that the sick little girl had a dog taken to the vet a few days prior. This casts huge suspicion on the little girls illness even though her mother vehemently protests that it's only tonsillitis. Soon the girl starts puking blood and eventually becomes a screaming banshee and runs upstairs. While upstairs looking for her, they are once again attacked by the old lady who is finally taken out by the fireman's sledgehammer . Also while upstairs, the infected manage to break out of the back room and start attacking everyone. Everybody that gets attacked and bitten, becomes another bloodthirsty "infected". One of the last remaining uninfected residents explains that there might be a way out through a sewer drain in the buildings basement... all they need is the key. After scouring the concierges apartment for the keys, they soon learn that Manu is nowhere around, and without his protection, Angela and Pablo are on their own. The option to go down to the basement becomes impossible because everyone, including Manu, are all infected. They instead run upstairs to the attic apartment which we were told earlier was owned by a man from Madrid, but who hasn't been there in years. With this in mind, it's assumed that no one is in the attic. Upon looking around the apartment, it's apparent that some sort of scientific testing has been conducted, and strangely the entire place is filled with religious artifacts. Many news articles cover the walls. Upon reading these articles with such titles as "Vatican investigates the possible possession of a Portuguese girl" , "Portugal is moved by possessed girl" and "Hospital denies releasing Medeiros girl who disappeared during the night". A tape recorder is found and when Angela plays it, it turns out to be a diary left by the man from Madrid, about a possessed girl that he was testing and experimenting on. Apparently, he was trying to use here to create some sort of vaccine to combat demon possession. He goes on to say that the virus has mutated and has become contagious (explaining just what the "infected" are infected with). He also says that he must leave, and that he plans to seal the girl inside until she dies of starvation, which instantly eradicates the idea that they may not be alone in this apartment. Determined to escape, the inspect the attic space for a possible way out when something hits Pablo's camera, breaking the light. He turns the night vision on and to his horror see something moving in the darkness. It soon becomes visible as an emaciated girl carrying a hammer and clad only in the most disgusting underwear in existence. Roaming around in the dark, the girl (obviously still possessed) cannot see Angela and Pablo. That is until Pablo accidentally knocks something over making a noise. He is instantly attacked and drops his camera. When Angela finally finds his camera, she uses the night vision and sees Pablo being eaten by the possessed girl. She screams and is subsequently attacked, drops that camera and falls to the floor with the camera pointed in her direction. She slowly crawls toward the camera and just before reaching it, is dragged away by her feet, screaming. The End. It's truly a frightening movie, and about 2 years later was remade into an american version called "Quarantine" starring Jennifer Carpenter. A good remake (with a few more believable explanations) but Rec is still far superior. A sequel to Rec has just been finished and should reach american theaters in a few months. The sequel is supposed to take place a mere fifteen minutes after the first movie ends.