philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

The Tobe Hooper Retrospective is FINALLY over!!!

Next up will be "The Omen" and "Child's Play" series (which I'll be reviewing alongside one another). In the meantime here are my personal top 6 favourites from Tobe Hooper's filmography. A lot of it was pretty good fun, but to be frank, I'm not in a hurry to track down his latest movie "Djinn".

1. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) - A+
Since I began with the intention of watching this particular franchise I probably ought to check out "Texas Chainsaw" (this recent addition to the franchise has dropped the 'massacre' part, which to be frank they probably ought to have done earlier). I'm not going to be rushing out to get hold of that the moment the DVD is released, but I suspect I'll get around to it eventually. In any case, "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" is a remarkable and haunting film that definitely represents Tobe Hooper's best work.
(Full review already posted here - scroll to the end for the review.)

2. The Funhouse (1981)

Turns out that this was another Tobe Hooper film to be placed on the 'video nasty' DPP list. "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" actually avoided being entered on that list because it was believed that it could be acceptable if there were sufficient cuts. As it was, all attempts at cutting The Texas Chain Saw Massacre turned out to be in vain, because no matter what they cut it never seemed to take away from the viscious atmosphere of the film. (Remember that there is very little gore to speak of in that film. It is very much the atmosphere that makes it what it is.) So Texas Chain Saw Massacre ended up being banned, but not prosecuted as a source of moral corruption in society. That honour went instead to Hooper's follow-up "Death Trap" (sometimes known as "Eaten Alive" but not to be mixed up with the cannibal movie directed by Umberto Lenzi). Meanwhile "The Funhouse" is actually pretty mild by comparison to either of those other Hooper films and it has been suggested that the censors may have mixed up "The Funhouse" with another video nasty movie which was sometimes sold with a similar title. Video nasties often had multiple names making it all the harder to keep track of them all.

Read more... )

3. Poltergeist (1982) - B+
I'm not quite sure how I feel about this one. I'm actually inclined to blame Spielberg for my misgivings about "Poltergeist" because my biggest issue was that it felt a bit like "E.T." (and I hated "E.T.", even as a child). Love the Ghostbusters style effects, love the creepiness, but not so keen on the "Close Encounters"-style hippy-logic. Overall I guess this is pretty awesome.
(Full review already posted here.)

4. Mortuary (2005)

Mortuary was not one I was expecting much from. It scores just 3.8 on IMDB and has no score to speak of on Rotten Tomatoes. However, this is far from Tobe Hooper's worst. In fact there's a lot of fun to be had here.

A single mother has transported her family an enormous distance to a new and unfamiliar home because it will give her an opportunity to set up her own funeral services. The place where she plans to work is massively run-down, but the idea is that the place should be a good fixer-upper and with a mortuary already built below, it could make setting up the business a lot easier. (Though it's clearly a lot more run-down than she was expecting.)

Read more... )

5. Invaders From Mars (1986)
Inevitably I need to begin by reviewing the original 1953 version. Remakes inevitably carry baggage and this case is no different.

Invaders From Mars (1953)
The first half of "Invaders of Mars" is simply brilliant. Although the acting isn't perfect, the mood is. There's an Invasion of the Body Snatchers scenario with tension building gradually and devastatingly.

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Invaders From Mars (1986)

There was something quite perfect about the opening half of the original Invaders of Mars and this remake doesn't quite live up to that. However, there are a few bits that are done very well. The arrival of space ship looks very cool. The alien-possessed parents are made extra creepy by the way they eat some seriously weird food (especially when the mother appears to be scooping up chunks of uncooked burger meat and covering them in heaps sugar before calmly eating them).

Read more... )
To Sum Up:
The first half of Tobe Hooper's "Invaders From Mars" remake doesn't feel quite as oppressive as the 1953 original, which is unfortunate since the first half of the original had a very impressive creepy atmosphere to it. However, Hooper still manages to make things appropriately bizarre and in the second half provides a much better paced and satisfying movie than the original provided. Also, in spite of keeping the original ending, somehow Hooper makes that work better this time around too. Not perfect, but a very worthy attempt.

6. Salem's Lot (1979) - C-
One of the few tv movies from Hooper I chose to include. Some parts are really well done, while at other points this dragged. All in all the pacing is a real problem, but the high points are just so great that it's difficult not to be impressed.
(Full review already posted here.)

(For some slightly less good Tobe Hooper movies click here.)
(For my very least favourite Tobe Hooper movies click here.)
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
This is the second post counting down to Tobe Hooper's best movies. To see what I viewed as the very worst of Tobe Hooper's career, look here.

13. The Mangler (1995)

Okay, so this film is utterly stupid from beginning to end. Still, I didn't feel like it was taking itself quite so ridiculously seriously like Tobe Hooper's other film "Spontaneous Combustion". Which is fortunate, because "demonic laundry press" is an exceptionally silly premise...

Read more... )

12. Spontaneous Combustion (1990)
It has been said that Tobe Hooper considered even his original Texas Chainsaw Massacre to be a comedy. Certainly the ridiculousness of it was part of the charm. "Spontaneous Combustion" has to be Tobe Hooper's most ridiculous film yet, but it still seems to take itself a little too seriously overall.

Read more... )

11. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)  - D-
(Full review already posted here.)
Sequels often cannot live up to the promise of the original, not least because the last thing audiences really want to see is a pale imitation of the original. There's some indication that, before studio bods decided they weren't happy, Hooper was in the process of making a horror comedy here. That being said, Tobe Hooper apparently felt the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre was hilarious, so his sense of humour is a little twisted to say the least. There are admittedly some great moments in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, but they don't make up for the problems with the film as a whole. The scene where the female lead decides to use sex appeal to get Leatherface on her side felt particularly misjudged.

10. Lifeforce (1985) - D+
(Full review already posted here)
One scene in this movie pretty much sums this up. The protagonist has been revealed as the last survivor of an attack by space vampires. He now appears to have some psychic connection with the main vampire, who seems to be roaming the countryside in the form of a naked woman, but also appears to be hypnotically as well as sexually attracted to the vampire (as appear to be most men, and some women, who come into contact with her).

So with all this in mind, the protagonist's visions lead them to a psychiatric ward. Once there, the protagonist starts slapping a woman they've decided to question. He asserts that no one should be concerned about him physically assaulting her because "she's a masochist, she wants me to do this to her" (and heck, he's psychic donchaknow?). The detective from Scotland Yard turns out to be quite happy with this explanation, sitting straight down on the sofa, crossing his legs and asserting just as confidently and seeming just as bizarrely calm: "I myself am a voyeur".

This film is apparently written by the same guy who wrote "Alien" which seemed to have sexual ideas in its subtext. Here however there is no such subtlety, with characters openly announcing their sexual proclivities to each other in a rather bizarre way, yet showing complete ignorance of how a masochist/sadist relationship would actually work.

That being said, the idea of space vampires sucking out people's souls works pretty well and there's some great atmospheric moments. But overall this film is pretty damn trashy. It seems like the filmmakers thought they were being a great deal subtler and more intelligent with the subject matter than what actually comes across to the viewer in the final product.

9. Death Trap! (1977) - D+
(Full review already posted here.)
Very low budget and occasionally featuring the obnoxious central murderer ranting to himself. There's also a few points with gratuitous nudity which felt unnecessary. However, once the film finally gets going the situation becomes somewhat farcical (albeit in a kind of twisted way) so there's some enjoyment to be had from watching the characters get picked off one by one. For once, Hooper's odd sense of humour actually seemed to shine through properly. That being said, this is a very seedy movie that seems much more worthy of its position in the video nasty list than many others (not that any film truly deserved the kind of vindictive and nannying moralism that sparked the creation of the video nasty DPP list).

8. Toolbox Murders (2004)

Tobe Hooper made a bunch of controversial flicks during the video nasty scandal, so perhaps it's not surprising, after a slew of less successful films, that he should choose to remake a video nasty from that era.

I was especially excited to see this film because stars none other than the wonderful Angela Bettis, who I've mainly seen in films directed by Lucky McKee (e.g. "The Woman" and "May"). She's an absolutely fantastic actress and she serves to elevate the material here.

Read more... )

7. Crocodile (2000) - D+
(Full review already posted here)
A cheap low-budget attempt to cash-in on the success of Lake Placid with mostly poor actors, yet somehow I preferred this to "Lake Placid". Sure it's not a good movie, but it has a real sense of charm. Once the story gets moving, this gets extremely watchable, even if it IS utterly stupid and trashy.
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
While "The Mangler" is possibly Tobe Hooper's least well-received film I felt that had some remote level of charm (at least in the final moments).

Below are the films I think showcase Tobe Hooper's worst ever work.

Why is "John Carpenter's Body Bags" included here? Well while I absolutely loved that movie, Tobe Hooper's contribution to it was utterly dire.

14. Body Bags (1993)
This was a special treat since it was a film that really ought to been in my Carpenter/Cronenberg marathon. Two out of the three short films are directed by John Carpenter, but also John Carpenter actually does the in-between sections himself!

Now one might easily imagine that John Carpenter shouldn't really be trying to act in his own movie. He's a great director, but he's not ever played any acting roles in any of his other films. However, in this role he doesn't have to react to anyone else. He's a strange man alone in the morgue drinking formaldehyde out of a cocktail glass. Carpenter gives such an enthusiastic, hyperactive and wonderfully eccentric performance that I wonder whether his sections weren't my favourite part of the film.
Read more... )

15. Night Terrors (1995)
Robert Englund appears in the background throughout the film as the Marquis de Sade, as well as de Sade's modern descendant. Oddly, it seems that the identical descendant of an upper class frenchman is an American living in the middle east.

Read more... )

Masters Of Horror episodes (16 & 17)

As with John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper has his own short films made for the Masters Of Horror series. Unfortunately they really do not represent his best work. In fact they represent some of the worst work of his entire career!

Read more... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
Tobe Hooper Review: Crocodile Madness!

The film review pairing makes a little more sense this time. I have paired Tobe Hooper's "Crocodile" with another crocodile movie, "Lake Placid", which was released just the previous year. It seems likely that Tobe Hooper's film was intended on a low budget cash-in on "Lake Placid"'s success. I'd always been told that "Lake Placid" was a horror comedy, so it seemed vital that I should see it. However, surprisingly I think I would steer people towards Tobe Hooper's offering instead.

Of course, we've already had one movie from Tobe Hooper featuring a man-eating crocodile in the video nasty "Death Trap" (or "Eaten Alive!"). This time, however, the crocodile is not a pet...

Crocodile (2000)

A lot of actors in this that have not been in anything else, but I was particularly surprised that Chris Solari had nothing else in particular on his resume. He's done some little bits of tv stuff here and there, but nothing much. While much of the acting here was nothing special, it was generally passable and most of the actors delivered their lines about as well as could be hoped. However, Chris Solari manages to showcase quite an interesting character arc and I really appreciated what he did with the role. Perhaps it was the writing, perhaps it was the directing, but acting definitely had to play a part and most likely it was a combination of at least two of those (probably not the writing).

Review for Tobe Hooper's "Crocodile" under the cut... )

Lake Placid (1999)

I decided to follow up watching Crocodile by watching "Lake Placid". I'd been meaning to see "Lake Placid" for years. With my recent craze for horror comedies it seemed particularly important because I'd heard that this film does not really take itself seriously.

Review for Lake Placid under the cut... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
Tobe Hooper Review: A Video Nasty
As per my previous few Tobe Hooper marathon instalments, I've paired this particular film review with another movie of a similar type. This time around both films reviewed were placed on the UK's censored 'video nasty' list in the 80s for being a corrupting influence on the nation. On the one hand we have "Death Trap" (otherwise known as "Eaten Alive") from Tobe Hooper. This was his follow-up to "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre". On the other hand we have a low-budget zombie film called "The Living Dead At Manchester Morgue".

Death Trap! (1977)

Straight after "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" [sic] Tobe Hooper made another low budget horror. This one was timed right to get onto the Uk's Video Nasty list. Hooper's original Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie oddly avoided being placed on this list, though that was little consolation when the film was banned by the BBFC anyway.

Like many video nasties this has more than one title, often known instead as "Eaten Alive!". But just to make things awkward, there is another video nasty also titled "Eaten Alive!"; a cannibal-rape film directed by Umberto Lenzi. Unlike in Umberto Lenzi's film there's no cannibalism here. Also, though the threat of rape crops up a number of times, it tends to be only implied if it happens at all. (Though it's still possible that the version I watched had some cuts.) Certainly I should warn all readers that violence against women is fairly prominent in this film.

Read more... )

The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue (1974)

My other video nasty I'm pairing up with Tobe Hooper's also has a number of alternate titles. In fact there are a hell of a lot of them including: "Let Sleeping Corpses Lie", "Don't Open The Window", "The Living Dead", "Breakfast with the Dead", "Brunch with the Dead" and "Weekend with the Dead".

It seems that the DVD must have been remastered, since while this is clearly a low budget seventies zombie flick, the picture looked really crisp. We open with an antique store owner grabbing a set of items and then getting onto his motorcycle and making his way into the countryside. He starts out in Manchester city centre and, while still in traffic (seemingly because it's some kind of unwritten mandatory law for low budget video nasties) we have some unnecessary nudity from a flasher needlessly running naked across the road through the unmoving cars. He then reaches the open road with some gorgeous-looking intensely green English countryside being taken in expertly by the camera.

Read more... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
Tobe Hooper Review: The Sci-fi Horror

For this feature, Tobe Hooper teams up with Dan O'Bannon, the writer of Alien, to bring us what has been labelled by some as "lesbian vampires from outer space". It's actually more bi-sexual than lesbian (or possibly simply bi-curious), it's not really vampires as we understand them (though they're more like vampires than the immortals in Highlander were admittedly), but still the "outer space" element is definitely true.

I also Kind Of have a review of Hellraiser: Bloodline (not a Tobe Hooper movie, of course). I say "kind of", because I found something rather cool on Youtube. A re-edit of the movie including deleted scenes (some of them very rough). At some point I intend to watch the typical theatrical cut, but I had to share this altered version.

Lifeforce (1985)

This does not start off well. We begin on a spaceship with a crew whose acting talent is negligible. In particular, a woman operating a monitor appears to deliver all her lines in an irritating monotone. On the ship they discover three naked figures contained in some kind of pods, two of them male and one of them female. The two males play a much smaller role in the rest of the film. They also discover frozen bat-like creatures.

Read more... )

Hellraiser IV: Bloodline (1996)

Reviews for previous Hellraiser films found at the following links:
Hellraiser (I changed my mind on this one and would now give it a C+ i.e. 3.5/5)
Hellbound: Hellraiser II
Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth

Okay, so this review is tackling a form of the Hellraiser movie that has never been released. A particularly industrious Youtuber has been involved in a neat little project to reconstruct the movie with deleted scenes and rough-cut footage and shift the timeline to make the plot clearer. I haven't seen the original theatrical version so I have no idea how this compares, but having become a fan of the series upon watching the sequel "Hellbound: Hellraiser II" I can definitely recommend this version.

The Youtube channel is here.

The first video out of 8 parts is here.

And while I'm on the subject of Hellraiser stuff online, the original short story "The Hellbound Heart" can be found as a pdf at this link here.

As I understand it, the original theatrical cut starts in outer space. This version takes a very different approach. The earliest scenes from "Hellraiser IV: Bloodline" used in this version are back in what must be something like the 18th Century. These scenes involve LeMerchant first making the infamous puzzle box of the series known as "The Lament Configuration".

Read more... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
As part of my series of Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie reviews, I'm also trying to work my way through the rest of Tobe Hooper's backcatalogue. As with last time, I finish this post up with a bonus review, so on top of reviews for "Salem's Lot" and "Poltergeist" I have also written a review for George Romero's "Creepshow".

If you missed the Texas Chainsaw Massacre reviews, I review the first film here (after the poll results) and I review the second and third films in that series here.

Salem's Lot (1979)

I’m generally missing out made-for-tv films in my selection, however an LJ friend had a review of this, albeit a moderately negative one, but one of the vampire LJ icons she created at the end of the review had me pretty intrigued. “Salem’s Lot” is about a house where mysterious things are happening. A writer who has returned to the town is planning to write about it, convinced that the building is an evil place that attracts evil forces towards it. This is a Stephen King adaptation which tries to tie the vampire mythology to an everyday modern setting.

Read more... )

Poltergeist (1982)

I’ve heard plenty of people saying that this film is basically a Spielberg film and that Tobe Hooper’s task was mainly pointing the camera occasionally. I don’t think that is fair at all. This was released in the same year as E.T. and I personally cannot stand E.T. I can see some similar touches in the way this film has been made, but I feel like much of it is due to Spielberg's role as editor (at which stage Hooper was not involved).

Read more... )

Creepshow (1982)

Okay, here's an unrelated extra. Salem's Lot was a Stephen King adaptation and Poltergeist had elements of comedy, so on a similat theme I present George Romero's "Creepshow". It's a combination of horror comedy stories, including one particularly awesome one actually featuring Stephen King in a central acting role. Turns out that he's really good too!

Read more... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
You may remember, a while back I organised a poll to decide the next horror series to review and Texas Chainsaw Massacre was the winner. In the post where I counted down the votes I also reviewed the very first of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies. Now it's sequel time!

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)

The DVD cover is entirely taken up by Dennis Hopper, but it looks like that may have been a later decision, rather like the prominent position of Jennifer Aniston on the front of the DVD for "Leprechaun". Sure, Hopper wasn't exactly unknown when Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 was released, but his main credits up to this point had been as the quiet and heavily bearded guy in "Easy Rider" and admittedly his brief but significant appearance as the journalist in "Apocalypse Now". However in the very same year as Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 was released, Hopper was to make a big splash with his central role in Lynch's "Blue Velvet" so the decision to make him seem like the undisputed star of the film may have come pretty quickly. However, in the film the character the audience is really supposed to relate to is a local radio DJ calling herself "Stretch".

Dennis Hopper's character is more of a mysteriously outsider, but unfortunately Hopper doesn't appear to exude the same manic and unhinged performance that I so enjoyed in "Speed" and which I suspect can probably be found in "Blue Velvet" too.

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Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990)

The last one had Dennis Hopper. Now this one has none other than *drumroll* Viggo Mortensen. I have as yet to see any DVD cover take proper advantage of this star power and certain Mr. Mortensen was not the big star he is now when he made this film. However, his move from Lord Of The Rings to a number of David Cronenberg films seems rather less odd now.

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The Loved Ones (2009)

Yes, I know I said that I was going to be reviewing Tobe Hooper films (and I do have some reviews coming up for other Tobe Hooper films), but watching these Texas Chainsaw Massacre films finally gave me the guts to finish "The Loved Ones", an Australian film that I had found myself too disgusted to finish. I had actually got pretty far it turns out, but a particular element was just too much for me. Having never seen "Hostel" this was the first movie that I could really call "torture porn". However, watching it now it feels like a more fitting successor to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Even watching the original, I found myself comforted by the fact that "The Loved Ones" had already been much more shocking.

Read more... )
philosoraptor42: (Default)
Heya! Thanks to everyone who voted. With a total of 28 votes (with the opportunity for each person to vote twice) that means that at least 14 people voted on this poll. Finally, here are the results....

Seventh Place: Critters

With just a single vote, the movie series featuring the cuddly ravenous monsters from outer space take the lowest place in this poll.

Read more... )


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