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Horrorfest 2016: A New Beginning


Okay so at this point I’m just ripping off titles from the Friday the 13th series. Besides any good horror fan knows never to trust a franchise that promises the next installment is the “Last one, the final chapter, the main bad guy is finally dead!, etc.” I also am using this title because this year I’ve decided not to make any pre-viewing list this time. Instead I am just listing all of the movies I actually bother to watch from August to October, plus the few movies I usually grab to kick things off with. Reviews will still be posted, although they may be even more half-assed than normal. To the few readers of this blog I have a 40 hour a week job and thus don’t have the time I used to have to watch a million things. Plus I blame peak TV widely available online for a decrease in movie viewing. Enjoy regardless, and I hope to try and see more horror that I haven’t yet fully explored.


1. Splatter (2009, Slasher)-
2. Crimson Peak (2015, Ghosts)-
3. Coma (1978, Medical)-
4. The Old Dark House (1932, Crazy People)-
5. Murder Party (2007, Slasher)-
6. Jacob’s Ladder (1990, Crazy People)-
7. Hostel (2005, Slasher)-
8. Insidious (2010, Ghosts)-
9. Session 9 (2001, Crazy People)-
10. The Cars That Ate Paris (1974, Crazy People)-


11. Byzantium (2013, Vampires)-
12. Castle Freak (1995, Creature Feature)-
13. Darling (2015, Crazy People)-
14. The Others (2001, Ghosts)-
15. Goosebumps (2015, Monsters)-
16. Curse of Chucky (2013. Slasher)-
17. Holidays (2016, Anthology)-
18. The Hole (2009, Creature Feature)-
19. Demons (1985, Demons)-

Featured post

Music Log 2016


Okay let’s try this again. And I’m not bothering with months or anything. Just a straight list. Out of 10 score for all discs.

1. The Hurting, Tears For Fears-9.0
2. Secret Diary, College-9.5
3. The Cars, The Cars-9.0
4. Elvis Costello: The First Ten Years, Elvis Costello-9.5
5. Four, Bloc Party-5.5
6. El Pintor, Interpol-8.5
7. Vitalogy, Pearl Jam-8.0
8.  Emotional Rescue , The Rolling Stones-7.0
9. Neck of the Woods, Silversun Pickups-8.0
10. Tunnel of Love, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band-9.0
11. Next Day, David Bowie-8.5
12. Boxer, The National-9.5
13. In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, Neutral Milk Hotel-10.0
14. The Voyager, Jenny Lewis-9.0
15. Sandinista!, The Clash-10.0


16. Beggar’s Banquet, The Rolling Stones-9.0
17. Aladdin Sane, David Bowie-9.0
18. Young Americans, David Bowie-7.5
19. “Heroes”, David Bowie-9.5
20. Lodger, David Bowie-9.0
21. Kintsugi, Death Cab For Cutie-7.5
22. Centipede Hz, Animal Collective-4.0
23. Underneath the Rainbow, Black Lips-7.5
24. Low, David Bowie-9.0
25. Tusk, Fleetwood Mac-10.0
26. Especially For You, The Smithereens-9.5
27. Tell Me I’m Pretty, Cage The Elephant-7.5
28. Lungs, Florence + The Machine-8.0
29. Pablo Honey, Radiohead –7.0
30. Apartment Life, Ivy –9.0


31. Young & Old, Tennis –7.5
32. Human Performance, Parquet Courts –9.0
33. Abacab, Genesis –8.5
34. Brothers In Arms, Dire Straights –9.0
35. Yours, Dreamily,, The Arcs –8.0
36. Pioneers Who Got Scalped , Devo –9.5
37. Yeezus, Kayne West-9.0
38. Outlandos d’Amour, The Police-9.5
39. The Sound of The Smiths, The Smiths-9.0
40. The Mouse and the Mask, Danger Doom-9.5
41. Heartthrob, Tegan and Sara-8.0
42. Thank Your Lucky Stars , Beach House-9.0
43. Quadrophenia, The Who-10.0
44. This Is All Yours, Alt-J-8.5
45. Nashville Skyline, Bob Dylan-9.5


46. Human After All, Daft Punk-9.0
47. Untitled Unmastered, Kendrick Lamar-9.0
48. Fear Of A Black Planet, Public Enemy-10.0
49. Education, Education, Education & War, Kaiser Chiefs-6.5
50. Let England Shake, PJ Harvey-7.0
51. Random Access Memories, Daft Punk-8.0
52. Gossamer, Passion Pit-8.0
53. Midnight Sun, Ghost of a Sabertooth Tiger-8.0
54. Sunbathing Animal, Parquet Courts-8.5
55. Siamese Dream, Smashing Pumpkins-9.5
56. Toys In The Attic, Aerosmith-9.5
57. Violator, Depeche Mode-9.5
58. New Morning, Bob Dylan-9.0
59. Vacation, The Go-Gos-8.0
60. Paul’s Boutique, The Beastie Boys-9.0

61. Pretty Hate Machine, Nine Inch Nails-9.0
62. Moondance, Van Morrison-10.0
63. The 1975, The 1975-9.0
64. I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It, The 1975-7.5
65. Between The Buttons, The Rolling Stones-8.0
66. Marry Me, St. Vincent-8.5
67. A Quick One, The Who-8.5
68. White Light/White Heat, The Velvet Underground-9.5
69. Controversy, Prince-9.5
70. Blood Sugar Sex Magik, Red Hot Chili Peppers-8.0
71. Hands of Glory, Andrew Bird-7.0
72. The Pretender, Jackson Browne-9.0
73. Destroyed, Moby-9.0
74. The River, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band-9.0
75. Lazaretto, Jack White-8.5


76. Ocean Rain, Echo & the Bunnymen-9.0
77. Fleetwood Mac, Fleetwood Mac-9.5

Featured post

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: Demons (1985, Lamberto Bava)

Oh man the 1980s had some crazy horror movies. Demons is one of them and I love how outlandish the film gets at times. It’s the foreign reaction to The Evil Dead and other zombie films, even though this movis makes for a good companion piece with Night of the Demons. This film takes place in a West Berlin theater that is massive and a character onto itself. Two college girls decide to cut class and go see a movie that turns out to be a horror film. Ah the old “Movie within a movie,” bit. If you end up watching a horror movie in a horror movie, you are clearly in one.

The film within the film has a great bleak line in “They will make cemetaries their cathedrals and the cities will be your tombs.” Get scratched by one of these monsters and you’ll turn into a freak hungry for the soul and blood of the living. Like many 80s horror films this one has tons of gore and nasty violence, and at times it works more like an action flick than a horror movie. Does a samurai sword hanging around eventually get used? Of course. Is the dialogue mostly cheesy and the acting as mixed bag? Sure, but it’s part of the movie’s charm. Give me a film like Demons anytime. Oh and Demons has one of the most wicked horror movie soundtracks ever, featuring Mötley Crüe, Accept, Billy Idol and Rick Springfield. Nice.

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: The Hole (2009, Joe Dante)

Throughout his career Joe Dante has been good with child actors. He’s made successful films for both adults and kids, yet The Hole is aimed mostly at younger folks despite some adult themes. Dante for all of his faults never talks down to his audience and The Hole works as an exercise in what scares us. Literally.

Two brothers, Dane and Lucas, move into a new house in a small town with their mother. They befriend the local neighborh girl, Julie, and in the process uncovers a hole covered by a door in their basement. Opening the door leads to creepy things happening, such as Lucas getting attacked by the world’s scariest puppet and Julie facing a ghost from her past. Despite some flaws and the film taking a bit too long to become interesting, this is a fun and sometimes surprising flick. Plus it has cameos from Dick Miller and Bruce Dern, which is a nice touch.

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: Holidays (2016, Kevin Smith, Gary Shore, Matt Johnson, Scott Stewart, Nicholas, McCarthy, Dennis Widmyer, Kevin Kolsch, Sarah Adina Smith, Anthony Scott Burns)

From past experience I have enjoyed anthologies. Holidays is another fine modern entry into that sub genre of horror filmmaking, and this one has a batch of talented folks creating short films that range from excellent to slightly disappointing. Usually that’s how anthologies go, anyways. This one isn’t among the best ever but it’s still pretty good, maybe even almost great in some regards.

The first two segments are among the best in the film, which centers around, well, holidays. Valentine’s Day is equal parts Carrie inspired and dark comedy mixed with shocking bleak moments and a hilariously awesome ending. St. Patrick’s Day, which follows, is at first eerie and features a sinister ginger girl. Yet in this oddly wonderful segment, things are not what they seem.


The next two are less great yet stil work to certain degrees. Easter is creepy and makes you think twice about the Easter Bunny in a horrifying way. Mother’s Day is too much of a rip off of Rosemary’s Baby, yet I did like the payoff. However despite an ending that leaves one with more questions than answers the eerie and sinister Father’s Day is a nice unnerving recovery.

Despite being made by Kevin Smith his segment Halloween is a bit too crude and unsatisfying to be good. I liked some of the humor but I prefer his feature length film style, as he doesn’t seem to work well in short form. The film finishes strong with Christmas, which is a bleak comedic take on the holiday and stars Seth Green as a man who finds out what they mean by “Christmas is hell.” The last segment, New Year’s Eve is twisted beyond measure. I love it.


The film has an entirely feminist driven perspective that I found unique considering the horror genre is usually described as being aimed towards males. Ashley Greene is the other main star in this film, as most of the cast is relatively unknown to me. I would love to see more films like this that have a twist on famous days or certain aspects of American and world culture.

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: Curse of Chucky (2013, Don Mancini)

This movie kind of sucked. It’s a low budget mess that focuses more on hilarious kills than storyline or good acting. It’s shot in a manner that suggests the filmmakers could not afford a decent cinematographer. Curse of Chucky has its moments yet it pales in comparison to the original classic. I’ve only viewed the first one and parts of two and three. What I’ve seen so far is much better than this latest entry in a long running horror franchise. 

Poor Nica is wheelchair bound and trapped in a house with Chucky, who mysterious shows up at her home and starts killing people again. The film has some moments yet overall I was left disappointed, even though I liked the ending and I thought the movie ties in well with the original series. I’ve seen worse films than this one, and it’s availability on Netflix is why I watched it in the first place. 

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: Goosebumps (2015, Rob Letterman)

Look this film needed more monster blood. Come on people how do you make a Goosebumps movie and not have monster blood? Oh well at least this film was entertaining and had Slappy. Also R.L. Stine has a cameo so brief that you will miss it if you aren’t paying attention. I also loved Jack Black playing Stine because he is hilarious and it works perfectly. The film is a bit hit and miss at times but that’s okay.

Also the main trio of kids made smile. Zach, Hannah and Champ come off as normal kids who become wrapped up in extraordinary situations. Stine reveals that he not an average person after a funny egging on by Zach and Champ where they compared him to Stephen King. Plus Slappy appears and unleashes all of the characters from Stine’s books, leading to chaos in the town and monster attacks.

Despite some elements not working this was still a mostly funny and enjoyable flick. Black is great in multiple roles and the kid actors are likable and not annoying. Plus the last act owes a bit to Army of Darkness, which is fine. Too bad I didn’t bother to go see this in theaters as I love the book series and I’m hoping for a sequel.

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: The Others (2001, Alejandro Amenábar)

Tragic, eerie, and semi channeling The Innocents, The Others is a movimg horror drama. It’s anchored by Nicole Kidman, who reminds us how talented of an actress she really is, at times carrying this movie. Also it helps that the kid actors are good, and that the film has style and grace. It guilds up its atmosphere slowly and carefully.

There are also strong religious elements, as Grace home schools her children and is devoutly Catholic. Her servants are led by Mrs. Mills, who is equal parts charming, creepy and grandmotherly. Without saying anything truly spoiler filled this movie offers a unique and fascinating take on the ghost haunted house style flick. Few movies like The Others come along in a while, and when they do its best to tune in.

Darling (2015, Mickey Keating)

When a suspicious elder lady (hey look it’s Sean Young) tells me that the last person she hired met a bad end, it would be enough to make me run the other way. Darling (Lauren Ashley Carter), a young woman, is desperate enough for cash that she ignores the warning and agrees to house sit a freaky house in New York City. Without that you don’t have a movie that is creepy, eerie, and full of surprises. All shot in glorious black and white, and featuring some freaky hallucinatory moments that add to the film.

I also like how tightly paced and well made Darling is, which works to it’s advantage. The film is also divided up into chapters, and manages to pay homage to Roman Polakski’s classic horror films and The Shining. It has a lot in common with a few others but those influences, which the director Mickey Keating builds upon, shape the film while also feature Keating putting his own stamp on the horror genre. The visions are scary and I almost waited until daylight to finish this one. I’m always glad to find a hidden gem during my Horrorfests, and this is one such film.

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: Castle Freak (1995, Stuart Gordon)

How to know you’re in a horror movie: you have been blinded in a car accident, your parents are played by Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton, and Combs’ haunted ex professor is moving the family into a huge Italian castle. This is Stuart Gordon’s Castle Freak, an exercise in slow burning fear that, although a bit too slow, is still creepy and entertaining.

I mean you have a movie where a deranged monster escapes and the family hangs around, because…why not? Sure later on they can’t leave but the minute I found out the castle had a rather serious issue I would be running far, far away. Yet when the blind daughter, played by Jessica Dollarhide, tells her parents someone is in the castle they dismiss her as hearing things. The fact that her parents are fighting only complicates things and adds to more problems later on.

One thing I like about Gordon’s work so far (I’ve seen his two other Lovecraft inspired films from the 80s) is that he embodies his movies with a sense of dread, plus gore. The creature effects here are nasty and brutal enough, and the last act is suspenseful. Despite its flaws Castle Freak is a solid entry in the “Don’t go in the house” type of movie, which by the 90s seemed to be on life support for some reason.

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: Byzantium (2013, Neil Jordan)

Every vampire movie focuses on the cost of immortality, as the creatures of the night live forever by subsisting on the blood of the living. Neil Jordan has made horror films before, and his elegant and stylish Byzantium, while good feels a tad familiar. As if it’s a female based version of his 1990s vampire epic Interview With the Vampire, a film I did enjoy. Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Arterton play daughter and mother vampit’s who are forced to move from place to place.

What Ronan’s young Eleanor mistakenly does is establish a connection with a young local man who falls in love with her. Its clear that her mother, Clara is controlling yet wishes to keep her safe matter the cost. This is conveyed also through rather compelling flashbacks which also feature Jonny Lee Miller and Sam Riley.

However Byzantium has the same problem and issues that Interview did, although I prefer Byzantium slightly. Each movie is a bit too cold and moves too slowly at times, and certain scenes don’t work even though the cinematography is stunning. Later day vampire movies have raised the bar a bit, and so I might not be properly appreciating this movie enough. I doubt it, though.

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