Horror

Horror films, traditional 80s movies from the slasher boom, to supernatural, found footage, cannibal, comedy horrors and zombie films.

Horror Express

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[CHECK OUT OUR HORROR EXPRESS PODCAST!]

When you gaze up at the stars, you are looking back in time. So too, apparently, if you gaze into the ocular fluid of a primitive creature unearthed from a Manchurian cave. Science!

Horror Express is an oddball film to say the least, set in the claustrophobic confines of a choo-choo a la Jamie Lee Curtis’ Terror Train, albeit with a conveyance that looks like a wide-body 747.

Train travel for a time was glamorous, then became unglamorous,  and has remained largely that way, at least in North America. Here, the train looks positively fabulous, with nice curtains, loads of amenities in the form of lots of booze, and ways to whittle away the hours chugging through Siberia, with sociable pastimes like chess. Too bad about the killer creature on board.

Christopher Lee is Dr. Saxton, an anthropologist whose giant crate is occupying space that probably should be used for luggage aboard said train. Its contents: along with a bunch of fossils, the head of monster that looks like something Lucio Fulci would puke up. The curiosity of everyone on board is piqued and a rival anthropologist (Peter Cushing as Dr. Wells) pays off a porter to drill a hole and take a peek inside.

Bad move.

Peter_Cushing_Christopher_LeeWith passengers ending up dead, complete with creepy milky opaque eyes, a capable lawman gets involved. Just kidding. It’s Captain Kazan, played by a truly terrible Telly Savalas, chewing the scenery with such gusto, he’d need a breath mint thereafter.

He declares that the “devil fears an honest Cossack,” before declaring everyone on board under arrest. Is that the way habeus corpus works on the Russian steppes?

Horror Express is absolutely hilarious, complete with ludicrous science, mumbo jumbo about yogic mystical nonsense and some dryly British wit courtesy of the two giants of Brit horror, Cushing and Lee.

And it turns out that the killer missing link has within its eyes, at a molecular level, imprinted memories of its journey from outer space. We shit you not. There’s even a mad Rasputin monk to add to the proceedings, which makes this can’t miss Amicus.

***1/2 (out of 5)

Child’s Play 2

childsplay2With a nasty disposition and a hairstyle that’d be the envy of Keith Urban, Chucky thrust himself into the public consciousness in 1988.

A mere two years later, Child’s Play 2 picks up where its understated, and it should be said, fairly spirited predecessor left off, with the killer ginger doll on the hunt for  young Andy (role reprised by Alex Vincent).

Little orphan Andy has been taken in by doll aficionados, the well-meaning Chicagoan foster family Phil and Joanne Simpson. (Is there any more prosaic a name for a dull suburban dad than Phil? It’s a tradition carried on by the stellar and heartfelt ABC comedy, Modern Family.)

It’s in the Simpson homestead that the spirit of the Lakeshore Killer, Charles Lee Ray, still trapped in a freckled doll, pummels his “Hugs to the end” “dollppelgänger” Tommy with a rare porcelain statue.

Why is Chucky back? In addition to the fact that first Child’s Play film grossed $45 million you mean?

Well, in a toy lab, Chucky’s unscrupulous creators at Play Pals have rebuilt him from the ground up to prove there are no manufacturing defects. And thanks to that ever-popular deus ex machina known as lightning, the spirit of Chuck is back to make another buck, asphyxiating the Play Pal CEO’s personal assistant and going on the lam.

The Simpsons are less than thrilled with the ever-unreliable narrator Andy’s claims about a sentient doll and worry if they can look after the psychologically troubled youngster. Naturally, Andy’s troubles at home extend to the classroom, and it’s there that Chucky sets up Andy by drawing profanity on his homework. And later, Chucky wails on poor homeroom teacher Miss Kettlewell with a wooden ruler.

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Andy tries to subdue his nemesis doll in the basement with an electric knife, but Chucky is on to him, hooking poor Phil Simpson in the foot and chucking him to the concrete.

Mostly disjointed, Child’s Play 2 does come alive at times, although not frequently enough to match the first one, Tom Holland’s opus.

Overall though, it lacks the quirk, the punch and the novelty of the first film, relying increasingly on the doll’s ever sassy barbs. Still, there’s enough to chew on to justify its existence (and that’s saying something given the state of horror sequels).

*** (out of 5)

[Be sure to check out our Child’s Play podcast]