Archive for lucky mckee

THE WOMAN (2011) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, movies, USA with tags , , , , , , , on February 6, 2012 by goregirl

Lucky McKee’s 2002 film May was one of my favourite horror films of the past decade. McKee dazzled me again with his outstanding Masters of Horror (Season One) contribution Sick Girl. Needless to say, I was thrilled by the news McKee was working on a new film called The Woman. As a bonus it features the intriguing Angela Bettis, who also stars in McKee’s aforementioned duo. The cherry on top is horror author Jack Ketchum co-wrote the screenplay. Ketchum whose works of fiction and true crime has inspired such film adaptations as Red, Header, and the excellent but brutal The Girl Next Door (review pending). Ketchum knows a thing or two about bad-ass horror! It is so very rare that I actually get excited about new horror films. I was filled to the brim with anticipation about The Woman and I am fucking elated to tell you that McKee sure as hell did not let me down!

We first meet the Cleek family attending a neighborhood barbecue. Chris Cleek has a successful law practice in town, a dedicated wife Belle and three obedient children; Darlin, Brian and Peggy. The Cleeks appear to be living the American dream but appearances can be deceiving. Whilst hunting Chris finds a feral woman whom he traps and chains up in the basement. The dedicated family man insists the wife and kids participate in civilizing “the woman”.

I loved how the film opens with “the woman” running, hunting and dreaming in her environment. The introduction, although brief, gave insight that allowed me to have empathy for the character and her plight. The very next scene we meet the Cleeks; whose brief show of normalcy is quickly dashed. Daddy Cleek’s hunting trip and capture of the feral woman quickly launches us into The Woman’s twisted tale. The Woman is a film that demands multiple viewings. I watched it for the first time last week and felt I had to re-watch it before I could do a proper review. If I had to sum up The Woman with one word I would have to go with unsettling. Capturing a feral woman and gathering the family around like you just cut down the most awesome Christmas tree in the forest is a bloody disturbing scene!  The distressing transformation of the Cleek’s two teenage children Brian and Peggy is almost painful to watch. The films full frontal gory finale is pure insanity. At times it almost seemed like a documentary and the characters were aware they were being filmed. The Cleek family have secrets that are never divulged to us. What we do learn leaves you pondering on what other horrors this family has endured. The jet black humour used throughout almost made me feel guilty about occasionally smiling. I can only sum up by saying that The woman’s unsettling vibe is of the variety that crawls under your skin and stays there for days.

Sean Bridgers is strong as Chris Cleek. The heinous hubby and demented dad is cocksure, bombastic and pretty freaking unlikable. It is clear his family fears him, but we really don’t understand the depth of this fear until later in the film. Zach Rand plays the quiet and disturbed Brian. Clearly dad has had an influence over his son who seems willing to do anything to please him. Brian is well on his way to becoming his father. The Cleek women seem considerably less gung ho about dad’s “projects”. Angela Bettis plays wife and mother Belle. Bettis’ fragile frame and expressive face say so much without saying a word. Belle is clearly a sad and troubled woman who has no idea how to change her situation. She is both a sympathetic and frustrating character. There was more than one occasion I wanted to give Belle a good shake. But I understand there are abused women in every walk of life and fear keeps them in their situation. Lauren Ashley Carter plays Peggy who is shaping up to be just like mom. The pretty and once popular teenager is withdrawing herself from the world. Besides her troubling family life Peggy has a more pressing issue to deal with. Shyla Molhusen plays the cheeky and adorable Darlin; the youngest member of the Cleek clan. At this point bold little Darlin is the least effected by her circumstances. I adored the scene where Darlin sits by the cellar door with her little fisher Price radio so “the woman” could listen to music with her. I felt sadness for all of the film’s female characters. I had particular empathy for “the woman”. The woman can not communicate via words, but clearly emotes when she is hungry, angry or distressed. She is keenly aware of her surroundings and can sense someone in the vicinity unseen. There is no disputing “the woman’s” vicious killer instinct but her central motive is simply survival. Pollyanna McIntosh does an amazing job as the titular character. She is strong, intimidating, nasty, animalistic and unforgiving yet manages to be incredibly sympathetic. There is an awesome scene where “the woman” makes eye contact with Belle. “The woman” is pleading with Belle and it is clear Belle understands this and for a second we believe Belle might do the right thing. The Woman is definitely character driven but there is something here for the gorehound too.

The washed out look of the film gives it a rawness that lent much to the films vibe. If you are in it for the gore you will have to be patient. When the gore does come, McKee makes it count. The ending is a no holds barred cannibal gorefest of entrails and bloody violence. The effects are nauseatingly well done. Also commendable is the makeup used on “the woman”. Thanks to McIntosh’s hearty performance and the excellent makeup you will not question for a second that feral women exist and live in our forests. I thought that “the woman” represented the strength every female is capable of but rarely taps into. The one and only complaint I have about The Woman is its soundtrack. Peggy is never without her iPod and it is her playlist that becomes the soundtrack for the film. The music works very well at times. The song used while Chris Cleek is hunting is too perfect but by the end of the film some of the angst-ridden selections got on my nerves a bit. Much of the film’s music was just not my cup of tea. That said, it didn’t alter my feelings about The Woman.

The Woman is like a festering boil that gets bigger and uglier until it finally bursts. The Woman is my favourite type of horror film, the kind that gets under your skin and makes you think. The gore is merely a plus for those of us who dig such mucky-muck. The Woman gets my highest of recommendations.

Dungeon Rating: 5/5

Directed By: Lucky McKee

Starring: Angela Bettis, Sean Bridgers, Lauren Ashley Carter, Pollyanna McIntosh, Shyla Molhusen, Zach Rand, Lauren Petre

THE MASTERS OF HORROR Series – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, movies, USA with tags , , , , on June 30, 2009 by goregirl

Masters of Horror is Thirteen, one hour long tales of the macabre, filmed by some of Horror’s greatest directors. How could I not be excited about this?!! The Showtime series lasted two seasons and 26 episodes. I haven’t had cable for years so I eagerly anticipated the series arrival on DVD. The first disc I rented had two episodes, Dreams in the Witch-House and Cigarette Burns. Even after having seen all 26, these are still two of my favorites. So I was hooked right off the bat. I
ended up renting the entire season and watched them all in a matter of days. Now I was going to have to wait forever before Season two came out! Unfortunately, after much anticipation, I found the second season overall, pretty mediocre. Yes, there are a few duds here, but there are also some outstanding examples of horror done right. When you have thirteen directors with different visions and styles you are going to get a pretty mixed bag of goodies. Everyone is going to have their personal favorites. Below is a list of every episode and who it was directed by as well as the Dungeon’s TOP 4 episodes. Honorable
mentions should go out to Larry Cohen’s ‘PICK ME UP’ and Takashi Miike’s ‘IMPRINT’, which features one of the most vile and ugly scenes of torture and humiliation I have laid eyes upon.


Incident on and Off a Mountain Road – Directed By: Don Coscarelli
Dreams in the Witch-House – Directed By: Stuart Gordon
Dance of the Dead – Directed By: Tobe Hooper
Jenifer – Directed By: Dario Argento
Chocolate – Directed By: Mick Garris
Homecoming – Directed By: Joe Dante
Deer Woman – Directed By: John Landis
Cigarette Burns – Directed By: John Carpenter
The Fair Haired Child -Directed By: William Malone
Sick Girl – Directed By: Lucky McKee
Pick Me Up – Directed By: Larry Cohen
Haeckel’s Tale – Directed By: John McNaughton
Imprint – Directed By: Takashi Miike


The Damned Thing – Directed By: Tobe Hooper
Family – Directed By: John Landis
The V Word – Directed By: Ernest R. Dickerson
Sounds Like – Directed By: Brad Anderson
Pro-Life – Directed By: John Carpenter
Pelts – Directed By: Dario Argento
The Screwfly Solution – Directed By: Joe Dante
Valerie on the Stairs – Directed By: Mick Garris
Right to Die – Directed By: Rob Schmidt
We All Scream for Ice Cream – Directed By: Tom Holland
The Black Cat – Directed By: Stuart Gordon and Stuart Ortiz
The Washingtonians – Directed By: Peter Medak
Dream Cruise – Directed By: Norio Tsuruta

CIGARETTE BURNS (Season One, Episode Eight)

cigarette burnsDirected By: John Carpenter
Starring: Norman Reedus, Udo Kier, Gary Hetherington, Christopher Britton and Zara Taylor

A theater owner, who specializes in rare films is haunted by memories of his wife’s recent death. He is approached by an eccentric collector who wants him to track down the only existing copy of an obscure French film. The film was only shown once, and the audience become violent and it was never shown again. Low on funds, he decides to take the job and becomes entrenched in a horrifying mystery he had not bargained for.

Mr. Carpenter is indeed a “horror master” but his films from the last several years have really lacked. This is the best work I’ve seen from him in a long time. This brilliant little hour long film is reminiscent of the directors earlier work. It is well filmed, well directed, and has an intriguing story that keeps you in suspense. It also horrifies with some
beautifully executed scenes of blood and gore. Norman Reedus who plays the main character was perfect in this role. The film builds up a great momentum and doesn’t let up. The freaky finale left me thoroughly fullfilled. This one is the creme de la creme of THE MASTERS OF HORROR SERIES.

HOMECOMING (Season One, Episode Six)

homecomingDirected By: Joe Dante
Starring: Jon Tenney, Thea Gill, Wanda Cannon, Terry David Mulligan and Robert Picardo

It is election time in the US. Political consultant David Murch comments during a television interview that he wishes that deceased soldiers were able to come back from the grave and vote. In a bizarre turn of events, his wish comes true and soldiers do indeed come back from the dead. They don’t want brains though, just the right to vote.

It’s been a long time since Dante has done a horror film. I wouldn’t exactly say that ‘HOMECOMING’ is a return to the genre. This is smart, funny, political satire…with zombies. If you are expecting a straight up horror film, you are not going to get it here. These aren’t your run of the mill entrail eating zombies. This really is an imaginitive and crafty screenplay. It is often humorous, a bit campy and extremely clever. Those who lean left as well as zombie fans should be able to appreciate this one. Extremely entertaining and completely original.

DREAMS IN THE WITCH-HOUSE (Season One, Episode Two)

dreams in the witch-houseDirected By: Stuart Gordon
Starring: Ezra Godden, Jay Brazeau, Campbell Lane and Chelah Horsdal

A socially inept college student rents a cheap room in an old house. Strange neighbours who pray at the top of their lungs, strange sounds in the wall and a single mother with a baby who is being terrorized by a persistent rat are just some of the fun and frivolity. Then there is the bizarre nightmare about a witch and a rat with a human face. His cheap room turns out to be no bargain at all.

I love Stuart Gordon. His films are Funny, creepy and outrageous. The man certainly does love his H.P. Lovecraft and this is one of many adaptations he has brought to the screen. It is more the mythos he brings from Lovecraft than true adaptation. He definitely bends it to his will, but does so with respect. He is obviously a fan and has a genuine respect for the man’s work. It doesn’t take long for the story to get rolling and keeps up an energetic pace throughout to its wonderfully bloody ending. For a man always working on a snug budget he always offers some great visuals. The witch is great but I really loved that crazy rat!

SICK GIRL (Season One, Episode Ten)

sick girlDirected By: Lucky McKee
Starring: Angela Bettis, Misty Mundae, Jesse Hlubik, Marcia Bennett and Mike McKee

Ida Teeter is a shy scientist who is obsesssed with insects. She receives an anonymous package on her doorstep containing an insect from brazil. A blossoming new relationship with a young woman named Misty is dampened considerably when she is bit by Ida’s new insect friend.

If you loved May, you absolutely should see this. Not only does Lucky McKee team up again with Angela Bettis but the story is equally as twisted, tragic, fun and original. Bettis is such a facsinating woman to watch and is excellent as the scientist. A large killer insect is the catalyst for the action but the story is really about the relationship between Misty and Ida. A solidly entertaining episode with a great story and great performances.