Chiller TV is killing it with their made for TV movies. Last summer saw the release of Larry Fessenden’s Beneath. A throw back to 80’s creature features, Fessenden didn’t make a perfect movie, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I had a hell of a time with it. What I dug most was the film didn’t go the SyFy Channel route. No crappy CGI or washed up 90’s sitcom stars. Fessenden played it straight and it was damn nice to see. A made for T.V. movie that wasn’t a schlocky gimmicky with zero substance (Sharknado!). Chiller TV had me on board. I was happy to know my son would be able to grow up knowing what a decent made for T.V. horror flick was about. BUT does turning out one decent horror flick give Chiller credit for a life time of movies? No it does not, but I was curious to see what they followed up with. A couple of weeks back we got a chance to find out with Brett Simmon’s The Monkey Paws. A modern take on W.W. Jacobs classic tale (almost plays like a sequel).
Ever stay out late on a Thursday drinking real hard and right before you crash on your buddy’s futon you polish off a sack of 10 from White Castle’s. Then the next day at work after having explosive diarrhea your finger tears through the asswipe and your left with a funky smelling finger all day. No matter how much scrubbing you do that smell is there. That awful feeling you have all day knowing that you hand smells like ass and at any moment someone will discover it. Jake Tilton (C.J. Thomason) life is like that day only it’s everyday for him. No money, no car, shit job and mother dying of cancer. To make matters even worse his manager at said shit job is now married to his ex-girlfriend. In retrospect I would rather have a hand that smelled like shit than Jake’s life…
After a night of drinking and bitching ( my two favorite pass times!) Jake and co-worker Cobb (Stephen Lang) come into the possession of a severed monkey’s paw (ooohhh! Now I get the title!). Said paw gives who ever possesses it three wishes. Jake is warned of the paw’s power but thinks nothing of it and really who would. A wish later Jake has a crashed muscle car and dead Cobb (Life lesson: Never drink and wish!). Being a man of great logic and sound thinking Jake decides to not call for help, but instead wish Cobb back to life (smart bet for anyone in that situation). Well the wish works and Cobb is back. Only now Cobb wants Jake’s last wish and will nothing or no one will stop him from getting it.
I went into The Monkey’s Paw half expecting a morality tale about being thankful for what you have and not dwelling on what was lost. Surprisingly what I got was a fun cat and mouse game between Jake and Cobb. Cobb is a one man killing machine that is hellbent on making sure Jake has nothing (or no one ) left to wish for so he can get that last wish. Stephen Lang really is the star of the movie and Brett Simmons gives his character some depth and reason for wanting that wish. You almost end up feeling sympathy for Cobb, but after killing half of New Orleans and even a terminal cancer patient it’s easy to keep things in perspective. Lang is a seasoned actor who was born to play villains. The guy has that chews iron and spits nails look to him and I would not want to go toe to toe with this motherfucker. Not to mention a soulless, undead Lang.
While this is a made for TV flick we get some pretty graphic deaths. Nothing in the lines of a Saw film, but enough to satisfy us harden gore hounds. Most notably is the head in a vice scene (Pictured above). The same can be said about the acting. Again we aren’t getting oscar worthy performances, but light years ahead of what I remember as a kid. As the late great Bob Dylan (pretty sure he’s dead, but I can’t google now. Don’t want to break my flow!) would put it “The time they are a changing”. With shows like The Walking Dead and American Horror Story pulling in huge numbers it’s a good time to be a horror fan. I think we can expect more solid ‘R’ horror to come.
Brett Simmons has proven that horror movies on T.V. can work. If you haven’t checked out his previous flick Husk, get on that. Quite possible the best SyFy Channel flick I have ever seen and yes I have seen a lot. It’s weird seeing solid actors, directors and special effects on TV, but I ain’t hating it. Hell, bring it on! I can’t wait for more.