April 02, 2004
They lurk behind every corner. They hide in the shadows. They seem to be everywhere. And when you least expect it, they strike -- from below, from above, from behind, or maybe from right in front of you. Most are too terrified to fight back, and those that aren't get ripped to pieces by their gigantic jaws and razor-sharp teeth. The really unlucky ones, however, are taken deep inside their lair and become the victims of their parasitic offspring. And in one agonizing burst from beneath their rib cages, the victims die as the new Aliens greet the world.
These slippery and sickening xenomorphs were first found on the planet LV-426 when the cargo ship Nostromo answered a distress call. Its crew discovered a race of extraterrestrials long dead along with other beings growing inside a field full of eggs. One of the crew came back to the ship with some kind of being attached to his helmet. It had crawled in and attached itself to his face. Days later, the being died and fell off by himself. For a while, the crewmember seemed fine until one fateful day when he was overcome with pain in his stomach. Moments later, an alien burst from his chest, killing him immediately and ushering in the age of the Alien.
Nostromo crewmember Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) would miraculously survive her ordeal with the alien, which shed its skin numerous times, transforming into a giant hideous beast that tore her crew apart. She blew the beast into space and retreated to a cryosleep chamber. 57 years later, she would be found, only to discover that LV-426 had been settled by colonists hoping to establish new cities on the planet's surface. And the Company involved with sending them there had recently lost contact with the colonists. A troop of Space Marines would be dispatched with Ripley aboard as an advisor to determine the problem. Sure enough, the Aliens had taken over the settlement and the Marines tried to fight them off. Eventually, Ripley would escape again, this time by blowing up the entire settlement in a massive explosion. But even back on the mothership, she'd have to defend herself from an Alien Queen one more time.
Time and again, Ripley would find herself at odds with an Alien, but the conditions of her surroundings (and herself) would be different each time. Ripley would crashland onto a penal colony planet to discover she had been "impregnated" with an alien before the crash. She would find herself fighting off another hideous alien before doing the only thing she could do to kill this final beast: jumping into a giant incinerator, committing suicide.
Though it all, the Company would be after their precious Alien specimen. Determined to be the ideal planetary weapon, the Aliens could kill in so many ways, using their physical strength, size, and survival instincts and abilities. They even had acid for blood, which made it more difficult to kill them (for risk one would die with them). But the Company would strike again years later, using a DNA sample from Ripley to clone her with the Alien beast inside of her. During the process, things didn't quite go according to plan and Ripley emerged with some of the Alien race's more subtle attributes, like senses of smell and increased strength. An Alien would be extracted from Ripley's body surgically, but once again, a race of aliens would wreak havoc for the scientists trying to control them.
Without question, the Alien is one of the strongest and most lethal villains in the movie universe. Even one - as it has been seen numerous times - can cause incredible hardship. Many of them working together are a total nightmare. And that's the thing: the Aliens do have the ability to work together, and certain specific members of the race have emerged. The Alien Queen, specifically, is quite large and powerful and has the ability to produce dozens, if not hundreds, of new eggs. So it would seem the only way to rid the universe of these beasts is to destroy their home planet and pray they haven't gone anywhere else. As one Space Marine once put it, it's "the only way to be sure."
INTELLIGENCE - 5: The race seems to act on instinct, and can understand some of the events going on around them. Not everything, though.
POWER - 9: Big and powerful with unquenchable appetites and acid for blood. Clumsy at times.
VILENESS - 10: The lucky ones are brutally killed in every way possible. The unlucky ones become alien incubators with chest-bursting results.
SWAY - 5: The aliens do communicate some elementary forms of influence, usually by hissing and showing their teeth.
PURITY - 10: There's no stopping them. They will keep coming until the last possible moment.
PHYSICAL - 10: Quite possibly, the most frightening-looking creature in motion picture history.
Posted by Destro at 09:03 AM
October 20, 2003
Nobody in the world can go into a hardware store and not pass the power tools section without seeing a chainsaw and thinking of one thing: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, one of the most controversial and bloodiest movies of all time. The movie has become as ubiquitous as its star character, Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen). Adorned with a stitched together mask made of the faces of his victims, he prowls the inside of his family home and waits for the next unlucky lost driver to stop by. Together with his deranged family, Leatherface and Co. are the clan from Hell.
In the original 1974 film, a young girl and her disabled brother are heading out to their grandfather's burial place because of the reports of vandals desecrating the area. Together with three other friends, they drive out, meet up with a crazy hitchhiker (who they soon drop off), and soon find their way out to the grandfather's deserted farm. From there, a path leads to the dark and mysterious home of that same hitchhiker, and Leatherface, who introduces himself to one of the nosy youths in a sudden and deadly manner. One by one, the other kids fall into the trap of entering the home and lose their lives, except for Sally, who manages to survive a surreal dinner with the family and finds her way back to the highway where she gets saved by a passer by.
In the new 2003 remake, the kids are on their way to a Skynard concert when the hitchhiker blows her head off, prompting them to call the sheriff (who is also a Leatherface family member), and before you know it, the chainsaw is being fired up. In this new version, a backstory for the 'Face is revealed: his real name is Thomas Hewitt, and a rare skin condition, never properly treated, has destroyed part of his face, leaving the young man alone and in the dark, away from the taunting and embarassment delivered by strangers. He wears a mask to hide his face, but it's made out of dead people, strangers he's killed who strayed too closely and had to die. And in his spare time, it kinda looks like he works at the meat packing plant across the street. (One incredible addition to the remake, by the way, is the crime scene investigation and what the cops discover.)
Regardless of the version you watch, Leatherface has stood the test of time and will continue to do so. Perhaps it's because he's a little more real than the nearly immortal likes of Freddy or Jason. Perhaps because his story is based on a true one. Or maybe it's the chainsaw, with the distinctive sound and inherent fear that comes with it. All totalled, he is relentless, demented, and the kind of boy next door that would send you running for the hills... just as long as those hills aren't in Travis County, Texas.
INTELLIGENCE - 5: He's a good boy. He's just misunderstood. VERY misunderstood.
POWER - 8: Appears to be stronger than the average man.
VILENESS - 10: So much blood... So much gore...
SWAY - 3: The chainsaw does all the talkin'.
PURITY - 9: Albeit completely insane, deep down he is a human being and feels pain, unlike what Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers have become.
PHYSICAL - 10: With the macabre face he wears, he's the neighborhood butcher from Hell.
Posted by Destro at 10:00 AM
August 21, 2003
Dr. Christian Szell
Dr. Christian Szell (Lawrence Olivier) was once known as the "White Angel." It had to do with the large crop of bright white hair on his head, but had nothing to do with his skills as a doctor or dentist. During World War II, he ran the exexperimental camp in Auschwitz, and would bargain for the release of certain Jews in exchange for the gold in their teeth. Eventually, he would demand their entire fortunes - and diamonds - instead.
In 1945, he managed to escape Germany with his brother. While Szell laid low in Uruguay, his brother travelled to the US and stashed the diamonds. Years later, Szell learned that his brother was killed in a freak accident, so despite the efforts of authorities to locate him to prosecute him for his WWII hate crimes, he came to New York City to collect the family jewels.
In the middle of all this is Thomas "Babe" Levy (Dustin Hoffman), whose brother is a government spy involved with the efforts to find Szell. When his brother is killed by Szell, Babe is taken hostage by Szell because he needs to know what his brother told him, if anything. Szell simply wants to know if it is safe for him to go to his brother's safe deposit box to pick up the diamonds, and he goes to extreme torturous lengths to find this out. "Is it safe?" No, not with this maniac running around.
Ultimately, it's not the feds that Szell has to worry about, but the countless souls he tortured and mistreated in Germany all those years ago. After grabbing the diamonds, Szell is forced to run again after being spotted, but Babe Levy has unfinished business with him and his gang. Greed plays a big part in Szell's demise, and after a showdown with Babe, Jews everywhere can feel a little... safer.
INTELLIGENCE - 6: Szell has been patient for many years, but the recent events have forced him to make new plans very quickly.
POWER - 5: He's older and weaker, but still got tricks up his sleeve (literally).
VILENESS - 10: If the Nazis liked his torture methods...
SWAY - 9: Cold and stern, Szell is a frightening figure with a foreign accent.
PURITY - 9: Years removed from the concentration camps, he's still a ruthless killer and torturer.
PHYSICAL - 3: An old man with a permanent frown, and anyone that remembers him from Germany will give him away immediately.
Posted by Destro at 09:22 AM
August 13, 2003
11-year old Jason Voorhees was attending summer camp when he presumably drowned in Crystal Lake. Mom blamed the camp counselors, but Jason's body was never found. He would return from his watery grave, however, to become one of the greatest figures in horror history. Jason would exact revenge on the same kind of campers and counselors who put him in danger, and his acts were ones of quiet rage and calculation. After ten films and over twenty years, the hockey mask has become an icon of blood-curdling terror.
Throughout the entire Friday the 13th series, Jason has offed over 100 people on screen with a vast array of fantastic devices. Consider this list of weapons used (which is by no means complete): icepick, barbed wire, straight razor, spear gun, cleaver, pitchfork, fire poker, surgical hacksaw, corkscrew, axe, broken bootle, tree branch, dart, tent spike, party horn, electric guitar, syringe, steam pipe, wrench, pencil, car door, deep frier, barbecue skewer, liquid nitrogen, and, of course, the machete. Yup... with versatility comes longevity.
As the years have passed, the movies and plots have become more jumbled and confusing, at times involving demonic possession and large leaps of logic (and in Jason X, a journey into space and the future). Now, in Freddy vs. Jason, he will finally match up against another horror icon, Freddy Krueger. After being manipulated by Freddy to kill some Elm Street residents, will Jason move aside for Freddy? My guess: not without a BIG fight.
After so many movie appearances, one thing remains true about Jason Voorhees: superstitious or not, everyone feels a slight twinge of uneasiness whenever Friday the 13th comes around. For that, you can thank the guy in the hockey mask.
INTELLIGENCE - 5: Don't know about anything else, but the man does know knives (and all other manner of cutlery).
POWER - 9: Shows great strength and staying power.
VILENESS - 10: Like his slasher film counterparts, Jason's strength is slicing, dicing, and impaling.
SWAY - 5: Let's his mask and machete do all the talking.
PURITY - 10: Nothing stops this guy. Dumb dudes, hot chicks, and everyone in between are all prospective victims.
PHYSICAL - 8: The hockey mask is a horror icon, and as Jason gets rattier in every sequel, so does the face underneath.
Thanks to House of Horrors for helping me research this bio.
Posted by Destro at 11:54 AM
October 31, 2002
Happy Halloween. For so many cinematic trick-or-treaters, this holiday is no longer a happy time for eating goodies, either because they're dead or have been forever scarred by encountering a psychopath by the name of Michael Myers. On Halloween night 1963, six-year old Michael brutally murdered his older sister and ended up locked away in the county sanitarium for the next 15 years. On Halloween night 1978, Michael came home... and the rest is movie history.
Michael's primary targets would be found in his own family tree, his rage seemingly fueled by the abandonment for so many years. His sister Laurie Strode, Laurie's psychic daughter Jamie, and Laurie's son John were among subsequent targets. Myers' focus was always "dead on," but anyone - and we mean anyone - who got in the way got dead quickly, and usually in a creative and disgusting way. Getting impaled on something unnaturally was usually the grossest and most effective way to go.
However, no foe was quite as determined to rid the planet of Michael Myers as the legendary Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence). Over a handful of sequels, the good doctor continued to pursue the dark legend, and he became more and more haunted as the bodies continued to pile up. After emptying six bullets into the body of Michael Myers in 1978 and watching him survive, Loomis would never ever give up until the very end.
Played in the original by the guy who directed The Last Starfighter (Nick Castle), The Shape's shoes are often filled by career stuntmen who enjoy taking an ass-kicking, absorbing various stabbings, electrocutions, gunshots, fire, windows, and other usually-fatal acts of mankind. His physical resilience is downright fascinating, and his obsession with revenge is neverending. It seems that no matter what you do, Michael Myers manages to survive... and prepares to return next Halloween.
INTELLIGENCE - 6: Myers' plans are plain, simple, and usually effective. And he knows how to drive a car.
POWER - 9: Deceptively strong for a guy his size, and absolutely impervious to pain.
VILENESS - 10: Impaling and slashing people has rarely been done better, and with such silent contentment.
SWAY - 5: As a large mute psychopath, Myers can only intimidate non-vocally. Saves him from spouting bad puns, though: "What a cut-up! Ahah, get it?"
PURITY - 9: His obsession with murdering every last remote member of his family is admirable.
PHYSICAL - 5: While the albino Shatner mask is off-putting, most people don't get scared when they see The Shape, even up close.
Posted by Destro at 03:27 PM
April 10, 2002
All you really need to know about this Mofo comes from the mouth of its last victim, captain of the Orca, the beloved scurvy sea-hermit Quint. He'll tell you about how the fish is either "very smart or very dumb" knowing in the back of his mind that the former means he's in for a long day of fishing, but that the latter would've gotten itself caught days before.
He'll tell you that a Great White Shark like the one in Jaws will swim around with their giant black eyes, like a "doll's eyes," until they attack. And he'll show you his scars from attacks from his years of encounters and relate his terror after the USS Indianapolis sank in shark-laden waters during World War II, knowing full well that those guppies paled in comparison to the rogue Chief Roy Scheider has been dispatched to drive out of town.
But this "eating machine" is unlike any shark that Quint or any other inhabitant of Amity has had the displeasure to meet. It's bigger, smarter, more vicious, and more deadly. It's threatening not only the welfare of the tourist industry of this small New England town around the Fourth of July, but the lives of its people as well.
One canister of oxygen and a lucky shot later, our mechanical beast lovingly known as "Bruce" is no more. But his presence will forever be felt in Hollywood and at beaches nationwide forever.
INTELLIGENCE - 6: Shows originality by surprising boat-lovers and jumping into and capsizing their vessels. Beats ramming them.
POWER - 10: This eating machine is virtually unstoppable when it comes to enemies in the form of humans or boats.
VILENESS - 7: Men, women, and children: beware! He doesn't care what you are or how many pieces of you he leaves behind.
SWAY - 1: It's a big fish with big teeth and a big appetite: it ain't foolin' anybody.
PURITY - 7: Just doing what nature tells him? Yes, and more. Seems to want to eat and destroy more than the usual shark.
PHYSICAL - 10: There is nothing scarier in the water, not even if Rosie O'Donnell jumped in... naked... on fire.
Posted by Destro at 10:59 AM
March 28, 2002
You can't fault a Mofo for intensity, but in this case, you can certainly make fun of him.
The immortal Black Knight has been the subject of many tales and movie line quotations in high schools and colleges across the land. So much so that many forget that he was quite the villain (read: Mofo) and actually scores pretty decently on the big board here.
King Arthur was riding through the forest when he suddenly happened upon this dark figure in his way. The King was intimidated but stood his ground. The mysterious warrior in his path fought with his last ounce of strength until defeated. Or, you could say, he got decapitated and Arthur just got bored with the fight.
Either way, there's not much to say beyond the Knight's memorable scene other than the fact that he is (and should be) committed.
INTELLIGENCE - 2: "You're a loony."
POWER - 6: He looks strong, but his agility and skills with the sword are no match for the King.
VILENESS - 5: Threatens to "bite yer legs off." Indeed, he is prepared to kill in any number of ways.
SWAY - 5: It's plausible to believe that no one has ever called him on the "none shall pass" decree before.
PURITY - 10: Even after being knocked down to eye level with a tree stump, the Black Knight fights on. He'll never stop.
PHYSICAL - 8: The black armor. The steadiness. The quiet intensity. Such are the elements of a successful villain.
Posted by Destro at 03:55 PM