Made in Vancouver: Horror Films
While some of us will be spending this coming All Hallows’ Eve engaged in acts that would make a thousand dollar a night hooker blush like a nun, there are those who prefer a quiet evening indoors with the lights turned low and the 60 inch LCD cranking out cinematic horrors till the wee hours of the morning. The following is a selection of some of the best and worst horror films to have come out of Rain City and a great way to spend the witching hour no matter what day if falls. This list is by no means complete and includes only the films I, myself have watched as research for this post.
2009′s It-Girl, Megan Fox, basically plays herself in this story of a bitchy, popular high school girl who comes back as a demon after being killed during a botched ritual sacrifice by a hipster band desperate for fame and fortune. Amanda Seyfried plays Needy, The titular character’s best friend and lipstick lesbian quasi love-interest. It’s a warped take on girl power from ex-stripper turned flash in the pan screenwriter, Diablo Cody. Make sure to keep your peepers peeled for scenes filmed at the Sutton Place Hotel, Sasamat Lake, and pretty much all over the Fraser Valley.
An homage to late 70′s Cronenbergian horror, this 90 minute romp through fields of entrails may very well have you puking your guts out as a small town sheriff tries to keep his wits and other body parts about him when an alien parasite infects the townspeople of Abbotsford. Home grown action hero, Nathan Fillion plays the wisecracking lawman. With tons of extras playing zombified rednecks, you may recognize a face or two getting blown away in a spray of blood and slime.
A shitty plot, plus shitty performances apparently equal a winning box office formula. Perhaps it’s the dozens of creative ways the producers of the FD franchise have come up with to dismember, crush, chop, stab, grind, pull apart, poke in the eye, laser, and pretty much obliterate the attractive, yet incredibly stupid adults playing teenagers who somehow have cheated “Death Itself”, and are left to scramble about like feeder mice in a snake pit. Play the “Spot the Vancouver Landmark” drinking game, and you’ll be passed out in a puddle of your own vomit about 20 minutes into the show.
Pretty much a horror fanboy/girl’s wet dream. This flick pits two of the 80′s greatest horror villains against each other as they plow their way through reams of finest looking adult teenagers. Forgotten by the families of his victims, legendary child killer, Freddy Krueger resurrects the shambling, murderous, unstoppable mess that is Jason Voorhees to scare the crap out of a band of asshole kids, too jaded to believe in anything but their next fix or lay. Of course, Jason, being the strong silent type, doesn’t take kindly to Freddy’s plan (or cheesy one liners) and goes on his own rampage. Needless to say, shenanigans ensue and lots of people get killed in the meantime. Water loving viewers will probably recognize Buntzen Lake. That is, if they weren’t drunk out of their minds like I was the last time I went out there.
Former skateboarder, Jason Lee gets it pretty much right at the beginning of this story based on Stephen King’s novel about four childhood friends who take their yearly trip to the cabin in the woods, only to find themselves fighting for their lives when an ass ripping alien parasite decides to pay them a visit. Morgan Freeman phones in his role as General Curtis, but his crazy white eyebrows are worth the price of the rental, or the time it took you to download this film. See if you can recognize Steveston, ’cause I sure as hell couldn’t.
The always awesome Betty White is a foul mouthed farm widow, harbouring a gigantic crocodile who lives in the lake on her property. While not so much a bona-fide horror, film rather than a dark (ish) comedy, this little gem will have viewers rolling in their graves as they watch Ms White drop f-bombs like they were going out of style. Bonus points for Oliver Platt who does his best to steal the show from Bridget Fonda, who should have taken fewer valiums, but didn’t. Again, viewers may recognize Buntzen Lake or Mission or even a snippet of Vancouver proper!
Ok, I got to see this piece of shit for free, and I still wanted my money back. Amanda Seyfried is the virginal yet sexed up Red Riding Hood, who rides nothing except a horse. (because they rode horses back in the day) Anyways, there’s this wolf killing townies and Gary Oldman comes by with his silver fingernails to try and hunt it down. He gets eaten and it it’s up to Red to save the day, because all the men in this story turn out to be fucking morons who can’t get their shit together enough to kill a giant super intelligent psychic werewolf who’s also one of their own. Twilight director and tween centric porn producer Katherine Hardwicke is basically sucking the life force out of anyone who watches this dreck. There’s a special place in hell for people who make films like this. Skip it entirely.
For those of us who prefer a more cerebral form of fear, devoid of the crude trappings inherent to modern schlock, this ghost story starring the dearly departed George C. Scott, is the progenitor of the whole “child ghost seeks to reveal true nature of his death to family man who just lost everyone” genre. Based on the apparent real-life experiences of playwright, Russel Hunter while living in a haunted mansion in Denver. There, the spirit of a crippled boy acted as a poltergeist to reveal the truth about the circumstances of his death. Featuring the Orpheum Theatre in better days, maybe watch this one with the lights on.
Another real creeper on our list, this film, based loosely on the 1976 case of Anneliese Michel, who died during her own exorcism, stars Dexter Morgan’s creepy TV sister and creepy real life wife, Jennifer Carpenter as Emily, a young woman going batshit insane due to possible extreme demonic possession. The story takes form as a series of flashbacks in the testimony of a priest on trial for killing Emily during the exorcism mentioned above. Warping faces and monstrous sound effects combine with Jennifer Carpenter’s own bodily contortions to create some disturbing, if not down right frightening scenes. UBC will never look the same after you watch this lil screamfest.
For production design buffs, this 2001 action horror is the cat’s ass, and the naked girl from American Pie takes a distant second or third place behind the full size transforming glass house which is the real star of the show. Blood and guts show up perfectly from every angle as a down on their luck family gets trapped in the middle of Academy Award winner, F. Murray Abraham’s plot to unlock the secrets of hell with the aid of 12 murderous spirits in various states of graphic decomposition. Based on a 1960 movie of the same name, the only common element between the two films was the inclusion of “spectral viewers”, allowing the characters (and viewers) to see the ghosts. Rumor has it they built a life sized model of the house way out in Surrey. Of course, all interiors were shot in a Burnaby studio.
Four stories about Halloween featuring a mostly sort of all star cast including True Blood’s insufferable Anna Paquin as a virginal co-ed dressed as Red Riding Hood who gets chased around by some guy in a vampire getup. Written to be a clever harvest yarn, the hamfisted dialogue is so expository that even the most cretinous of viewers will figure out the twist ending. Filmed almost entirely in Vancouver’s residential neighborhoods, you’re bound to see your house. And I guess that’s pretty neat, even if the movie isn’t so much.
Real life weirdo, Crispin Glover plays Willard, a social outcast living with his feeble yet domineering mother. Having no friends to speak of, Willard begins to train the colony of rats living in his old mansion. After suffering many humiliations at the hands of his boss and mother, Willard then uses the rats to commit murder, but not before engaging in a power play with Ben, the giant rat leading the colony. Of course, not everything turns out the way it’s supposed to and horrible things happen to one and all. Filmed at Lions Gate Studios, this movie can also fall under the “not really horror, but kinda.” umbrella, since the use of gore and violence is limited. However, the depiction of the peculiar relationship Willard has with the rats, his mother, and boss, is unsettling enough to be vaguely uncomfortable.
The first Alien VS Predator movie was a total dog. Rated PG-13, it crushed the dreams of comic book nerds around the world with its lack of gore, restrained violence and a stubborn refusal to show blood of any kind other than fluorescent green. Not to mention a bullshit storyline that deviated completely from the original material published by Dark Horse Comics in the 90′s. The only good part of that first film was at the very end where the hybrid Alien/Predator is revealed. But directing duo,The Brothers Strause, have taken a dog and taught it to hunt. Armed with a big fat fucking R rating, Aliens VS Predator: Requiem is a child’s chest bursting, acid blood face melting, baby eating, skull crunching, nuclear holocaust of a good time. Filmed in Langley, Vancouver, PoCo and Coquitlam, it’s easy to recognize familiar haunts. Those with sensitive stomachs and standards of decency should avoid this film. Those without should hit play as soon as possible, sit back, and let the bodies hit the floor.
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