"Disturbing Behavior" Starring Katie Holmes and James Marsden


Released in 1998 and following the lead of "The Faculty" comes another high school horror film called "Disturbing Behavior".  Mostly known as Katie Holmes first major film role.  She had a bit part a year earlier in Ang Lee's "The Ice Storm".  "Disturbing Behavior" is directed by David Nutter who mainly directs in television and most notably from episodes of "The X files".  So you would think this would be the perfect fit right? Wrong.

The story centers on Steve one of the newest students to Cradle Bay High School.  He is played by James Marsden who looks likes he's about 28 or so.  His younger sister Lindsey is played by Katherine Isabelle, who later stars in the 2000 cult favorite movie "Ginger Snaps".  They have moved to Cradle Bay from Chicago for a "new start" after their brother had died.  Steve gets acquainted with a few of the Cradle Bay outcasts/stoners in Gavin and UV an albino kid.  At lunchtime, Gavin points out all of the typical high school cliques.  The geeks, the motorheads, the skaters and then there are the blue ribbons.  The blue ribbons are like the cool kids in a 1950s movie.  They are the ultra preppy, letter sweater wearing creeps that really lay on the phony charm just a little too heavy.  We are then finally introduced to Rachel or "Rae" the dark-haired, truck driving wanna be bad girl played by Katie Holmes.  She is wasted in this role and is pretty much limited to eye candy which is not a bad thing ( just watch "The Gift") but she is barely in half the movie, what the hell?

After a number of violent outbursts from members of the blue ribbons, who are mostly football Cradle Bay meatheads" as Rachel puts it.  This is true and Gavin and Steve are out to stop it, although we are not really sure what it is.  While in the boiler room for some reason Steve runs into the apparently crazy and unhinged janitor who is waging war on the school's rat problem.  A gigantic WTF.  He has cobbled together a sort of high-frequency radio box to drive the rats out but wouldn't you know it comes up big just as the third act rolls around.  This movie is also about the absent parents and their inability to control their kids.  When an easy but ominous solution comes along the parents all blindly follow it, thinking its for the best. 

"Disturbing Behavior" tries to be a lot of things and utterly fails on all fronts.  It tries to be an extended episode of  "The Twilight Zone" as well as a 50s style conspiracy movie, but with a hip 90s attitude.  Its poorly cast and only exists to profit off the teen movie craze of the moment.  Even though I rip on it now I did see this in theatres and thought it was alright at the time.  It has steadily gotten worse.  However, if you are so inclined to check it out, even if it only to see Holmes, it's available on DVD and on demand from Amazon.

"The Faculty" by Robert Rodriguez is 90s Teen Horror Fun


While in high school did you ever think your teachers were aliens from a different planet?  That's the premise behind Robert Rodriguez's 1998 film "The Faculty".  Piggybacking off the massive success of the "Scream" movies, teen horror in the late 90s was the hottest thing going.  "The Faculty" has a great ensemble cast featuring Josh Hartnett, Elijah Wood, Selma Hayek, Usher, and many others.  Also in a bit of strange casting John Stewart in his pre-Daily Show days plays a science teacher named Edward Furlong who played John Connor in "Terminator 2".

We are introduced to the students of Harrington High School in proper stereotypical form.  There is the smart, drug dealing Zeke (Hartnett) who is repeating his senior year.  The bullied and tormented Casey (Wood), the tough goth like rebel girl Stokley (Clea Duval), then, of course, the cutesy blonde haired new girl with a sexy southern accent, Mary Beth.  Rather than being a terrifying and gory horror film, it is more fun and entertaining blast of nostalgia.  Taking hints from movies like "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" and 50s style monster movies.  These movies are also brought up by the characters and follows the formula of "Scream" in being self-referential. 

Starting with the insanely intense football coach the entire faculty becomes infected by a shrimp-like creature that goes in through your ear and wraps its tentacles around your brain to control you like a robot.  The aliens need a great deal of water to survive and the water cooler becomes a popular hangout in the teachers' lounge. 

Casey finds a small pod like thing on the football field and brings it to Mr. Furlong who finds that it   Casey and the editor of the school paper Delilah (Jordana Brewster) start to investigate things and then witness the turning of the school nurse Rosa (Hayek).  Just think about that for a moment the school nurse is Salma Hayek, needless to say, that office must be constantly overflowing.  Anyway, Zeke the cool kid deals this white powder stuff that's made up mostly of caffeine pills that he puts in clear pen tubes.  They find out that this powder kills the aliens when they stab Mr. Furlong in the eye when he turns on them.  Then the shit starts to get real.   The group of students hideout in Zeke's garage where they need to prove they are not aliens by taking a hit off the powder.  A scene similar to the one in John Carpenter's The Thing.  They figure out that to end this they need to find and kill the lead alien.  Eventually one by one they get infected until Casey in one his own and has to save the day.
jumps to life when introduced to water.

"The Faculty" is a very familiar story, but it knows what it is.  I saw this way back when it was in theatres and really liked it then and still do.  As with all teen movies, it does tend to date itself and loses a little something in the process.  So if your feeling nostalgic for the 90s take a look at Robert Rodriguez's "The Faculty".  Also look for its bastard stepchild "Disturbing Behavior" in my next review.

"Henry: Portrait of Serial Killer" is a Character Study in Violence


To quote Homer Simpson "Oooh portrait sounds classy".  This movie is the chilling and brutal story of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, who along with his accomplice Otis killed an unknown number of people.  Also known as the confession killer for taking credit for hundreds and hundreds of killings.  Henry's actual number of victims is unknown, but he was convicted of 11 murders and sentenced to life in prison.  He died in 2001.

Directed by John McNaughton on a shoestring budget of $100,000,  "Henry" was filmed in Chicago with unknown actors in late 1985 and early 1986.  It marked the screen debut of Michael Rooker, who plays Henry, has gone on to have a prolific career.  Most currently playing Merle Dixon on "The Walking Dead".

Henry is loner living Chicago and is a part-time exterminator of bugs, then at night an exterminator of humans.  He lives with Otis another sleazebag loner who isn't too bright.  They met while serving time and now share a small prison-like apartment.  Otis also has a sister, Becky, who left her husband and has come to live with the serial killer odd couple.  Henry and Becky spark up a relationship and he protects her against the verbally and physically abusive Otis. 

McNaughton opens the movie on a close up of one of Henry's victims (the orange socks girl) that was  We then see a few more gruesome crime scenes of Henry's work.  His tableaus of carnage.   This movie is not your typical horror movie, it's more of a pitch black character drama about violence.  Rooker is amazing in his performance as the remorseless and soulless killer.  Although Henry mostly killed by himself, he let Otis tag along and they became a team until Henry ultimately killed him too.  The movie is not a truly accurate account of actual events and some things were changed to make it a better movie.

"Henry" was completed in 1986 but wasn't released until 1989 as it had an epic battle with the MPAA over the film's rating.  Originally given an X rating, which was mostly reserved for pornography. "Henry" was one of the movies that led to the creation of the NC-17 rating (which is still a rating death sentence).  Meaning that the movie contains intense adult themes, but is not pornography.  Once released it really polarized critics, it received several rave reviews from critics like Roger Ebert (R.I.P).  It's an intense and unflinching look into the darkest corners of humanity.  Dark Sky Films released a 2 disc special edition in 2006 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the film.  It has a commentary track from the director, an hour long making-of documentary, and much more. Check it out!

Let "Slither" Slide Across your Screen and Thank Me Later!


In the spirit of the cheesy monster movies of years, past "Slither" is quite an enjoyable film.  It's as funny as it is disgusting and bizarre.  Directed by James Gunn, who previously worked at famed B-movie studio Troma, brings the same attitude and felling to "Slither" although with a much bigger budget.

Taking place in Wheelsey, South Carolina this movie has a deep southern feel to it.  Starring Elizabeth Banks as Starla a young southern belle married to the much older Grant, whose last name is also Grant, played by the intense Michael Rooker.  The town sheriff Bill Pardy is played by genre icon Nathan Fillion.  Many other movies come to mind while watching this like "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", "Night of the Creeps" and many more.

We open with a meteorite crashing down in a wooded area of Wheelsey behind Bill and his partner's squad car as they whittle away an extremely slow and boring night.  We see  Starla and Grant have an argument and he heads off to the bar and picks up a local chick name Brenda.  There is also has another woman in the bar singing karaoke to "The Crying Game" which is pretty funny.  Grant and Brenda wander into the woods where he stumbles upon a giant slug-like creature that upon investigation shoots him with a sort of worm dart that takes control of his brain.  This also begins about his slow and gruesome transformation.  He now has an insatiable hunger for raw meat.  The next night while Starla waits for Grant at the big Deer Cheer dance she reconnects with Bill whose had a crush on her for years.  Grant is a no-show at the dance and Bill gives her a ride home as they talk and bond

Probably the funniest character, although not initially, is the douche bag mayor Jack MacReady (MacReady was also the name of Kurt Russell's character in "The Thing").  He is an arrogant jerk who gets all of the best one-liners and his reactions to all of the mayhem are priceless.  Grant "impregnates" Brenda with his alien appendages who is then stuck into a barn and turns into a giant and I mean giant blob, who eventually explodes releasing tons of slithering slugs that go in through your mouth a turn you into a brain dead zombie.  Many of the locals get zombified and it's up to our heroes Bill, Starla and a teenage girl named Kylie, whose family was also turned, to save the day.  Grant is now a giant Jaba the Hut like creature with tentacles.  The final showdown is nothing too special but the movie as a whole is pretty crazy fun to watch.  "Slither is currently available on Netflix watch instantly.  The DVD version also has a commentary if your into that sort of thing.