Fiction and video game adaptations, slashers, witches, zombies…here’s a mish-mosh of crap from the first decade of the 2000s.
RIDING THE BULLET (2004)
Based on a Stephen King novella, Riding the Bullet will really only work for you if you look at it as cheap thrills in a carnival funhouse. There’s even a carnival funhouse in the movie. I was intrigued at the beginning, which presented a bunch of college kids, 1970s pop culture references, and some dark humor. But the film veers away from that course.
A young man finds out his mother—played by Barbara Hershey—is ill in the hospital, so he hitchhikes across country to be with her. He gets immersed in various creepy situations through flashbacks, dreams, and possibly reality. It’s hard to tell. Eventually, David Arquette picks him up and terrorizes him.
It’s an incredibly trippy movie that just assaults you with scenes instead of a concrete narrative and I began to lose focus.
Venom is a fricking classic slasher of its era in my mind. In the Louisiana bayou, after an old voodoo lady’s box of captured bad souls is unleashed during a car accident, the souls—in the form of snakes—get into the body of the local mechanic. He then turns killer zombie monster and pursues a group of kids in the swamps in his big mean looking truck, using a nasty hook on a chain as his weapon of choice.
The cast is loaded with horror faces:
Agnes Bruckner (The Pact, Vacancy 2, The Woods), who rox as the main girl.
Jonathan Jackson, hot off of Riding the Bullet.
Laura Ramsey – whose appearance makes up for her appearing in The Covenant and The Ruins.
DJ Cotrona – the gorgeous star of the From Dusk Till Dawn series (he gets shirtless here).
Monica Good – One Missed Call, Saw V, The Unborn.
Bijou Phillips – It’s Alive remake, The Wizard of Gore remake, Hostel 2.
Even rapper Method Man has a small role, a clear sign of this film’s time.
Plus, Venom has gore, cool kills, awesome chases, a human voodoo doll, an intense scene in a mausoleum, and a killer so intent on getting into a spell-protected house in which the kids are hiding that he will go to any lengths to get them out. Crazy fun shit! There’s even a gay character whose sexuality is really only mentioned once, along with a quip about dropping him off at Abercrombie.
People who can’t fathom how Tobe Hooper, the man who brought us Texas Chainsaw Massacre, could give us a mess of a movie like Mortuary seem to forget that he’s the same man who brought us the mess Eaten Alive. Personally, I think Mortuary is a hoot, tossing in as much crap as it can like some sort of Euro trash horror from the late 1970s/early 80s. Or, like Eaten Alive.
Pet Sematary mom moves her son (Cougar Town son) and little daughter to a ramshackle house with a morgue in the basement, where she starts her mortician business. There happens to be a cemetery in the backyard and a local legend about a deformed man named Bobby Fowler who roams it—told to Cougar Town boy by his new female friend and gay buddy. There’s a black mold vine slowly crawling its way through the house. And then corpses start re-animating as puking zombies, chasing the kids all around the house and cemetery.
It’s nonstop farcical horror insanity and I love it. Plus, the chick who played Rose’s bitchy daughter on The Golden Girls (she wouldn’t allow the girls to visit Rose in the hospital!) takes on a totally different role here, stealing the show with her comic performance. In fact, the whole movie has a darkly comic tone and never takes itself seriously. Mortuary would probably be considered a classic if it had been made in the 1980s (and no, it’s not a remake of the 1983 film).
MUSEUM OF THE DEAD (2004)
It’s Halloween night and two chicks score a pass to a party at a Museum. What they face once they enter is like something out of a low-budget Full Moon horror movie, complete with the same background set being used over and over again—even being mocked by one of the characters.
The museum is like a maze, there are portals—to the same set—there’s a hunky tribal demon in a loincloth, and there are zombies that do an awesome old school shuffle. They just don’t make zombies like this anymore. And while they are sporadic throughout the film, at the end, there’s an onslaught of them!
The highlight however is the fighting sequences. Our two leads, Native-American cutie Nathaniel Arcand and tough main girl Tanya Vidal (neither of whom is even listed in the cast on imdb), pull out the hardcore kickboxing skills for their battles against the hunky tribal demon.
And I must give a nod to the hilarious back and forth “Scooby Doo” chase scene near the end.
STAY ALIVE (2006)
The way in which Stay Alive captures the spirit of survival horror video games makes up for the overload of cheap jump scares. This one is best appreciated by horror video game fans.
When a guy dies after testing a new horror video game—just as he died in the game—his friends begin to suspect something cyber-natural is going on. Especially when they continue testing the game and more people die. They begin to research the development of the game and learn they are dealing with the real life focus of the game: Elizabeth Bathory!
This novelty film has some good gore and some man flesh, including a way too brief scene of a meaty butt, captured here for all eternity.
Plus there’s a cast of millennial faces, and even horror icon Alice Krige makes a brief appearance (shockingly, not as Bathory, which would have been the most obvious use of her devilish looks). Personally, I think her scene and a couple of the other “investigative” scenes should have been cut out. Don’t hand me the controller, get me into the groove of the game, then force me to hit pause for talk; many are the times my hubby has been ignored for doing just that.
ALONE IN THE DARK II (2008)
In this sequel to the movie based on a video game, Christian Slater, who played the hero Edward Carny, is replaced by Rick Yune. And his sizzling hot bod is the highlight of the film.
Well, that and the amazing, wasted cast: Zack Ward, Lance Henriksen, Bill Moseley, Danny Trejo, PJ Soles, Michael Pare, and Donna Summer’s daughter Brooklyn Sudano.
In trying to put an end to a witch’s curse, a group of people kidnaps Carnby and stabs him with the witch’s dagger. This gives him the ability to see where she is, since she’s pretty much just floating CGI ectoplasm. The people are hoping to destroy her using Carnby as their guide.
Endless choppy editing and lighting effects accompany a meandering narrative that gives little explanation as to what’s unfolding. And forget about any thrilling witch action. We never actually see her in full form. I used to wonder why this sequel never showed up on the SyFy Network. Turns out it’s too bad even for them.