Friday, April 19, 2013

Attack of the Killer Refrigerator - The Icebox Cometh

Attack of the Killer Refrigerator
Directed by Michael Savino
Written by Michael Savino, Mark Veau
Starring Lori Regonini, Christina Murphy, Michael Savino

Tag Line:
Oh No!!  I Just HATE Cold Cuts!!

Alternative Title:
Attack of the Killer Refridgerator

Yep....This is gonna be GOOD!

This little gem was a staple at Mom & Pop video stores across this great land of ours, and of course, my beloved Video Paradise was no different.  The cover art is pure cheese and it really ignited my young and impressionable imagination.  I wanted desperately to see what a killer refrigerator movie was like.  Sadly, the film vanished from the shelves before I was old enough to rent it myself.  That title stuck in my head for a long time though and it was only recently has it come back to haunt me.  I sat down tonight to watch this little SOV cheddar-fest and at long last, after nearly 25 years, I was able to see a refrigerator go on a killing spree.  My life is now complete.


So what's up with this film....what's it like?  It's like....really....really.....REALLY cheap.  And I love it.  The film opens with a college party.....a guy is telling his girlfriend about how ever since they de-iced the freezer in the refrigerator, they've been getting a weird vibe from it.  There are strange noises that the neighbors are complaining about as well.  DUN DUN DUUUUUNNNNNNN!!!!!

Om nom nom nom nom nom

The party clears out leaving our two heroes (?!) to retire to their respective bedrooms with their girlfriends.  This is when our evil fridge strikes.  One by one, the kids are killed by the vengeful appliance.  Limbs are ripped off, there's an impalement by door handle, and apparently the refrigerator has some psychic abilities as well, because it's able to psychically push one guys against the wall with a decent amount of force!  The ending of the film is at once completely ridiculous and absolutely, brilliantly hilarious.

He can totally.......HANDLE this!

While researching this film a bit, I found out that it was actually made in my hometown of Worcester, MA by some students at Worcester State University.  It was shot in 1984, and then managed to get a VHS release (along with another of the Student's films, The Hook of Woodland Heights) in 1990.  I'm currently trying to track down Mr Savino for an interview.


Body Count:  We get a total of four here, which considering the films 15 minute runtime ain't half bad!  There is some gore as well, such as the aforementioned limb ripping and impalement.  The blood is pretty cheap looking, but that really adds to the SOV charm of it all.

Nude-O-Meter:  Well, there's no boobs, but we do see Michael Savino's naked rear end.

Monster's Gallery:  There's a Killer Refrigerator! Or Refridgerator, if ya wanna spell it like they do on the title card.  This is one mean piece of kitchen appliance.  It's got psychic powers, it's got a powerful jaw like door that can't rip limbs off.  It can use it's door handle like a horn and impale it's victims with it.  There is some odd colored smoke and light that emanates from it's insides as well.  Maybe it's some kinda college kid attracting pheromone ...who knows!  Point's a dang killer!


I had an absolute blast with this.  First of all, it's a scant 15 minutes, so there isn't much time to get to know the characters.  They are simply canon (fridge) fodder.  It doesn't take long for the killings to start, which means that there isn't much time to get bored.  The killings are creative enough and like I said above, the gore is cheap as all get out, which really lends to some of the charm of the film.  What really intrigues me is the fact that this is homegrown horror that got itself a VHS release.  I will continue to dig up info on this and (hopefully) get in contact with Mr. Savino for an interview.

Three out of Five Pizza Rolls

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Must Be The Season of the Witch

As I'm sure you know, cinema is cyclical in nature.  Once something catches on, a whole cycle of films has to run it's course before the next big thing hits.  This is especially true in the horror genre.  You've got your 80's slasher boom, for a time in the early 2000's vampires were all the rage....and of course there is the endless onslaught of zombie films that are still clogging up Netflix.  So what's the next big cinematic baddie?  I think it's going to be Witches!  Not cute little British moppets.....I'm talking Witches.  Nasty, mean, horrible witches.

Of course, I also thought the same thing when The Blair Witch project came out.....turns out that was the start of the found footage craze instead.  But I digress.....witches seem to be on the upswing.  First we had Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.....which took an action Snow White and the Huntsmen type approach to the Hansel & Gretel story.  Sam Raimi's Oz The Great and Powerful gave us not only the origin of the great and powerful wizard, but also the tragic beginnings of the Wicked Witch of the West.  Opening this Friday is Rob Zombie's Lords of Salem, which is set to open this Friday (April 19th) and looks like it's going to be a wild, witchy ride.

In February, there was also the teeny bopper flick Beautiful Creatures....which (WITCH!  I did it again!) is essentially a Twilight wannabe for the tween audiences.  But still, that translates into buckazoids in Hollywood, which translates into more Witch flicks for us!  So, I suppose it's a necessary  evil.

There is also a whole slew of broom flyin' flicks comin' our way in the upcoming months and year:  Abigail's Giant, Bell Book & Candle, Bell Witch, Man-Witch (Sloppy Joe, the Man-Witch?  HEY-OH!), A film adaptation of Wicked  and a remake of The Witches are all coming down the pike soon with no release dates announced.

Lords of Magic and The Seventh Son both come out later this year, both dealing with the dark arts....and at some point in 2014 we get The Last Witchhunter.

Whew!  That is a shit ton of warts and cauldrons comin' at us!

Also, the upcoming third season of American Horror Story apparently carries the subtitle of Coven, which (Witch?!) is leading me to believe it will be a witchcraft based story.  I've gotta tell ya, I'm pretty excited by the idea of Witches making a comeback in cinema.  I loved all the witchcraft movies of the 60's and early 70's and there's nothing like a well told witch story.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go watch Black Sunday.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

I've Finally Decided My Future Lies Beyond The YELLOWBRICKROAD

America is full of creepy legends.  Tales of curses and mysterious vanishings.  Perhaps one of the most unsettling is the story of the Lost Colony of Roanoke.  You know the entire settlement vanishes without a trace and the only clue is the word "Croatoan" carved into a post.  I can vividly remember the icy chills running down my back when I first learned of this in school.  I remember walking home from school with my best friend and discussing what we thought may have happened to the Colonists.  Our minds concocted all sorts of horrifying scenarios.  It was a Friday afternoon and it was overcast and drizzling on our walk home.  I remember this strange feeling in the pit of my stomach that stayed with me long after the school bell rang.  It was an unsettling mystery that I just couldn't get out of my head, and I became addicted to the unexplained.

So what does that have to do with this film?  In a sense, everything.  The film starts in documentary fashion as a narrator informs us, over a series of black and white stills, that one morning in 1940, the entire population of Friar, New Hampshire abandoned their town, their homes and their belongings (even their dogs....just tied them up and left them!) and started up a mountain trail.  They just left without any explanation and they did not return.  Search parties found some of the townsfolk dead from exposure.  Some where horrifically murdered and mutilated.  Some were not found at all.  There was one survivor, but he was completely mad and of no use for an explaination.  The mystery of Friar, NH was quietly swept under the rug, so to speak, and life returned to normal.

Flash forward to present day when our protagonist Teddy is searching for answers to the missing Friar residents.  Unclassified documents are released to him by the town and he puts together an expedition in the uncharted wilds of New Hampshire to discover what happened to the townsfolk seventy years before.  They've got the latest and greatest in equipment and they are ready for anything....or so they think.

Once our intrepid explorers get to town, they are confused and angered to discover that the coordinates to the trail that they are given lead them to the town cinema, where they don't get a very warm reception.  Apparently no one in town is very happy that these folks are dredging up the past.  It seems that the trip is over before beginning until Teddy talks to with the popcorn girl.  Apparently her Grandfather used to spent some time in Friar before the incident and he told her stories and he also told her where the trail was.  She will lead the group to the trail if they let her tag along.

Once on the trail, things start to go south pretty quickly as their equipment starts to fail.  In this day and age of constant reliance on our handy technology, this is not a good thing.  Soon, the group starts to hear strange sounds emanating from the forest.  When the sounds first started, I (and the characters) could not quite figure out what I was hearing, but it very quickly becomes focused and it is clear that we are listening to 1940's style pop music.  Which, is quite odd considering that they are about 5 days out from civilization.  The music becomes it's own character and this is the real catalyst for each character's mental unraveling.  

I don't want to ruin this film for you, because it truly is best experienced without knowing too much, but I will tell you this:  You need to go into this movie with an open mind.  It is a slow burn and it does a fantastic job of slowly ratcheting up the creep factor.  By midway through the film, I was incredibly unsettled and it just got more intense from there.  The music is used to fantastic effect and in one scene is almost unbearable.  
This is not a cinema-verite style film, but instead the camera makes you feel like you are one of the expedition and at times wonder if you yourself aren't going mad.

I finished watching this movie about eight hours ago, and I've still got an unsettled feeling lingering from it.  After we finished watching (on Netflix) we decided to toss a comedy in to cleanse our cinematic palette, which I am quite glad we did.  The film is quite haunting and you will mull it around in your head for hours after you've seen it.

Highly recommended.
One last note:  The film brilliantly pays homage to The Wizard of Oz in many ways.  A lot of fun can be had trying to catch all the references.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Unexpected Horrors - Part II

It's time for Round 2 of Unexpected Horrors!  Yes, those little bits of cinematic terror that spring out at you when you're lease expecting them.  Let's jump right in, shall we?

Superman III - RoboVera

Holy hell...this scared the ever lovin' crap out of me when I was a kid.  There i was, cheering on The Man of Steel....he just finished fighting his own evil self (which was kinda creepy in it's own right....and probably the closest we'll ever get to a cinematic Bizarro!) and he was back in bright colors fighting for truth, justice and the American Way.  He tracked Ross Webster and gang to their Supercomputer hideout and things start to go sour.  The computer (designed by super-genius Gus Gorman!) basically goes all Skynet and takes on a life of it's own.  Unfortunately for Ross's sister, Vera, she's snagged by the computer's tracker beam and turned into a horrifying cyborg with some computer super powers.  I was horrified.  That damned robotic nightmare plagued my dreams for weeks.  

The Princess Bride - R.O.U.S

Rob Reiner's seminal fairy tale has it all:  Adventure, Revenge, Love......and the dreaded ROUS's.  What's an ROUS?  Rodent Of Unusual Size, if you must know.....denizens of the dreaded Fire Swamp!  After Wesley (whom we just found out was alive!) and Buttercup roll down a giant hillside, they escape Prince Humperdink's forces by running into said Fire Swamp.  Immediately after she asks him if they should be worried about the ROUS's, Wesley replies he does think they exist.  Que a big ol' nasty ROUS jumping and attacking Wesley.  These rats freakin' huge and nasty and if you get scared by a li'l ol' rat in a sewer, you are completely screwed if you come across one of these!

Oliver! -  Bill Sikes

If you've seen the wonderful 1968 film, then you know exactly what I'm talking about.  The inimitable Oliver Reed plays the incredibly creepy Bill Sikes.  This man makes your skin crawl from the get-go, but as the film wears on, you realize that this guy isn't just a hard ass criminal....he's a bad man....he's a very bad man (to quote Billy Mumy).  Towards the end of the film, Bill goes full on Jack the Ripper and we're fully well aware that we are in the presence of a man who will do horrible things to anyone who gets in his way.  

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Evil Dead (2013) Oh Yes, There Is Blood.....So....Much.....Blood.

Remakes get a bum rap these days.  The second a remake is announced, internet trolls the world over flock to their computers and start their campaigns against said film.  It happens every time and this film was no different.

Personally, I don't mind remakes.....which puts me pretty much in a class by myself, from what I can tell.  I thought the '03 Texas Chainsaw Massacre was brilliant.  I really enjoyed the '09 Friday the 13th reboot.  The '10 re-imagining of A Nightmare on Elm Street, while not my favorite film, still had it's moments.  I will admit that I didn't like the '05 remake of The Fog.....the ending just killed it for me.  But there were still some fun moments in it.

Okay so, now you know....I like remakes.  This one is no different.  I had an absolute blast with this film.  It is everything that I expected it would be.....which is wall to wall gore in a dirty little cabin in the woods!  Holy hell....director Fede Alvarez certainly did not spare any of the red stuff!  Though I will say that I have seen bloodier....but more on that in a bit.

In this edition, we five five twenty-somethings gathered at the now infamous cabin to help their friend, Mia kick her drug habit cold turkey.  Her brother, David has even shown up to help.  He's a bit estranged from the group....something that isn't quite explored....but to be honest, if I wanted a character study, I'd watch something else.  We do find out that this isn't the first time that Mia has tried to quite her drug habit.  The last time, she caved after only a few it is decided that no matter how she begs and pleads, they will not allow her to leave.

I don't want to give away too much here.  I think a big part of the fun of this film is seeing how they've come up with new ways for things to happen.  Suffice to say they find the book (and a in the basement.  It's covered in a garbage bag and completely wrapped in barbed wire.  Written in the pages are warnings:  Don't Read The Words....... Don't Speak The Words...... Don't Hear The Words.  So what is the first thing ya wanna do?   READ THEM WORDS OUT LOUD!

Well, that's just what Eric (who is a science teacher?!) does.  Yup.  He's THAT guy.  Way to go dude.  Sadly Mia is the one who runs afoul of the demons first....which her friends mistake as withdrawal hallucinations and ploys to get away from the cabin.  By the time they realize that it's too's too damn late!

There are some really fun nods to the original films, such as Ash's car rusting out back.  Is it Ash's?  Nobody said it was......but nobody said it WASN'T either!  The cabin looks great and the surrounding woods are equally the film a very dismal atmosphere.  Nothing nice happens to anyone in this film at any point in time for it's 91 minute running time.

Now what's this about all the blood you've been hearing about?  Well, my little gore-hounds....if it's blood you want, it's blood you shall get!  In spades!  All the weaponry you would expect is here...chainsaw, machete, electric carving knife, nail gun, crow bar,!  The last 10 minutes of the film are a sight to behold.  Quite possibly one of the goriest climaxes that I've seen in a long time.  Is it the bloodiest film ever?  Probably not, but there is PLENTY of the crimson goods on display here.

I'll be looking forward to the Blu Ray release, which I'm hoping will feature an unrated cut, upping the gore quotient (cause I'm a sick dude like that).  Now if you'll excuse me, I have a weekend in the woods to plan.....

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Problem With Horror Elitists and the Self Appointed Critics or, Roger Ebert Would Be Ashamed of You.

“It's easy to attack and destroy an act of creation. It's a lot more difficult to perform one.”  
 ― Chuck Palahniuk

If you know me, then you know that I have long harbored a distaste for critics.  I have never been able to wrap my mind around the idea that someone can cut apart a work of art that he or she has not created to begin with.  Sure, it's fine to have an opinion about something and it's perfectly fine to not like it, however I don not think it is fine to rip apart someone else's work and make statements that you are not qualified to make.

Isn't Midnight Cinephile a review site, henceforth, aren't you a critic?  Well, yes, it is.....but do I view myself as a critic?  No, I do not.  I am a fan of cinema, and I enjoy talking about it.  However, I see absolutely no merit in blatantly insulting a movie that I do not like just to seem witty.  If I don't like a film, that's just fine.  It doesn't make it a bad film, necessarily.  It makes it a film that I don't care for.  People have different tastes, end of story.

Now I must come clean here about something:  Back in November of 2012, I published a scathing review of the film ATM.  I just re-read it and I must say that I am thoroughly ashamed of that review and I have subsequently removed.  Suffice to say that I did not like the film.....but that is no excuse for the review that I posted.  It was downright nasty and mean spirited and I would like to apologize to the filmmakers for the comments that I made, as they were uncalled for and completely unprofessional.  So to David Brooks (Director) and Chris Sparling (Writer) I am truly sorry.

I feel better getting that off my chest.

“[If] you are ready enough to pull my knitting to pieces, but provide none of your own, the only sock is a sock in the jaw!” 
― J.R. Ackerley

So what's going on here?  What's with this rant?  Well, I'll tell you what it's about:  The Evil Dead remake.  I have been been absolutely and completely disgusted with the venom that has spewed forth in the wake of the films premier.  Now this certainly isn't the first time that a film has received a severe backlash after it's release....but this one really bugs me, so here I am on my soap box, shaking my fist and defying self righteous cynical elitist horror snobs.  Yeah, that's right, I said elitists.  I am so tired of these keyboard cowboys sitting upon their high horses and spitting out the same sarcasm and trying to seem oh-so-witty while tearing apart the latest horror films.

Even worse than this are these so called critics who outright insult the people who enjoy said films in question, saying such things as their unhappiness with the "unprecedented willingness today of fans who celebrate utter shit and meaningless tripe" and asking questions such as "who over the age of 30 actually expects one of these remakes to be any good?"  I find that extremely insulting.  So because I'm over thirty and I enjoyed the film, I'm immature?  Well fuck you very much!

What disgusted me even more than this was when a positive review was posted by a well known horror magazine editor, he was blatantly attacked and called a sell-out.  This is purely disgusting and I cannot stand to be associated with such acts of contempt and ineptitude.

To be honest, if I get myself too wound up, this post will never end....and life is too short to keep all that negativity flowing.  However, I found that each time I tried to review Evil Dead, I started to veer off into rants and tantrums about these negative forces in the horror community and was unable to get to the meat and potatoes of the film.  So henceforth, you get this this rant.

And so I will leave you with this quote from J.R.R. Tolkien.  I think it sums everything up quite nicely.  Quite simply put:  No matter what form of art it is: film, music, literature, paint, sculpture, etc....someone put themselves into it.  It means something to them.  Maybe it doesn't speak to you personally, but that does not diminish the art in any way shape or form.  Hurling vile insults at it only shows your shortcomings and your own weaknesses.  Until you can produce a piece of similar art that can defy harsh criticism, shut the fuck up and get off your god-damned high horse, you self righteous bunch of whiny little bitches.

Okay.  That oughta do it.  Here's that quote I promised you:

“A man inherited a field in which was an accumulation of old stone, part of an older hall. Of the old stone some had already been used in building the house in which he actually lived, not far from the old house of his fathers. Of the rest he took some and built a tower. But his friends coming perceived at once (without troubling to climb the steps) that these stones had formerly belonged to a more ancient building. So they pushed the tower over, with no little labor, and in order to look for hidden carvings and inscriptions, or to discover whence the man's distant forefathers had obtained their building material. Some suspecting a deposit of coal under the soil began to dig for it, and forgot even the stones. They all said: 'This tower is most interesting.' But they also said (after pushing it over): 'What a muddle it is in!' And even the man's own descendants, who might have been expected to consider what he had been about, were heard to murmur: 'He is such an odd fellow! Imagine using these old stones just to build a nonsensical tower! Why did not he restore the old house? he had no sense of proportion.' But from the top of that tower the man had been able to look out upon the sea.” 
― J.R.R. Tolkien, Beowulf and the Critics