Horrorfest 2017 Presents: Final Destination 2 (2003, David R. Ellis)


Everyone went nuts over Final Destination, yet I was not one of those people. I thought it was a decent flick with some good kills that did have a nifty premise. I actually prefer Final Destination 2, which I think works better as a movie while still having wicked death scenes and also better characters. The first one did have the better cast, as the second installment is anchored by the return of Ali Larter and has A.J. Cook as the person this time who sees the horrible demises of everyone. Besides I find the car crash scene in the second flick to be way more horrifying and memorable, as people keep on referencing it to this day anytime they drive on the interstate. These movies are just slasher films with Death as the killer, and you don’t really watch them for the thin plots anyways-you view them to see awful things happen to nice people. Which is ghoulish and may describe most horror movies anyways. Maybe there’s something wrong with us horror fans? Nah….um…no…possibly…wink wink.

Sure there is a gruesome crushing death in this movie that’s probably the best part of the film, however I found the elevator death scene to be tragic and haunting the most. That poor lady died hoping someone would save her. Other death scenes are way more inventive and resulted in the people dying in ways that lead to cruel jokes about how one little thing can cause a massive chain reaction that ends with a horrifyingly memorable demise. I mean there is a car accident later in the movie that results in the deaths of several folks in a moment that can best described as awfully darkly comedic. Death sure has a lot of time on their hands if these movies are to be believed. Oh and I’m totally viewing the rest of the series. I’m also amused that Tony Todd is literally the mascot of these films, which is pretty cool.

Horrorfest 2017 Presents: The Manster (1959, George P. Breakston, Kenneth G. Crane)


The Manster is a weird late 1950s movie that seems to be a later, more modernized take on the kind of mad scientist monster movies that Universal Studios popularized in the 1930s and 1940s, and which Hammer Studios built off of around the 1950s. This one isn’t as good as any of those although certain aspects of the movie are entertaining. I mean the finale literally involves a man fighting himself, or a monster version of himself, and the experiments scenes are quite freaky for a 1950s movie. The Japan setting is also really neat and used to good effect, as the scientist responsible for transforming a journalist into an ugly beast is also Japanese. The movie only has a limited number of killings due to being an older movie, plus due to the limited budget, of course.

Larry (Peter Dyneley) is an American journalist who ends up interviewing Dr. Robert Suzuki (Tetsu Nakamura), who’s laboratory is located on top of a volcano, which is very Bond villain to say the least. The doctor and his assistant, Tara (Terri Zimmern) use this opportunity to experiment upon poor Larry and turn him into a creature with two heads! Things get out of hand quickly in this goofy and pretty dumb movie that at least has a decent conclusion. This is another horror movie that if they remade it no one would mind, and one would be best to skip this and watch a Hammer Studios movie instead. I also don’t remember if I watched this on a streaming service or not.

Horrorfest 2017 Presents: The Night Monster (1942, Ford Beebe)


The Night Monster is the kind of silly, fun early 1940s attempt at being scary monster movie that used to be big first in its own time and then later when featured on late night horror movie shows. Incidentally I viewed this flick on MeTV’s very own Svengoolie, and thus I saw the movie for free instead of on a streaming service. I didn’t think the movie was all that good, yet I wasn’t left bored and aspects of the flick were entertaining enough to keep my attention. Plus the cast features horror movie legends Bela Lugosi and Lionel Atwill.

The movie has it’s fair share of murder and mayhem, and the finale is pretty exciting although the movie takes a long time to get there and too many scenes drag. Compared to the other, better horror movies from the 1940s this one is much weaker, and I was left mostly disappointed. I wonder if perhaps a modern remake would be a good idea, or a movie that took this film’s concepts and tackled them in a much better fashion. The Svengoolie stuff was great though and he’s a fun horror host-the good ones always make me tune in no matter what the movie is every time.

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: V/H/S/94 (2021, Timo Tjahjanto, Simon Barrett, Chloe Okuno, Ryan Prows, Jennifer Reeder)


Made years after the disappointing third installment in the series, V/H/S 94 is a welcome return for the franchise. The wrap around is a bit weak, yet I really enjoyed most of the segments and some of them were really strong. Particularly the first one, which could have been a full length movie. In this case the use of the found footage shooting style works very well and is really appropriate since the latest movie is set in 1994, a period where VHS was king.

Storm Drain is the first segment, popping up after we witness a SWAT team raid a cult group compound. This one is my favorite of the bunch and is the strongest one as well. Raatma is terrifying and what happens both scared me and disturbed me. The creature effects are fantastic and I loved how the segment ended. HAIL RAATMA indeed, haha oh God. This is one of those shorts that would be an excellent movie and it would be cool if this would be fleshed out more in the future. Even if that doesn’t happen this remains the most talked about and memed part of the movie.

Indeed!

Next up is The Empty Wake, which I also liked even if this one is a tad vague. A woman looks over a coffin containing a body, yet things are not what they appear. Some of this was creepy, yet the ending is too abrupt for my liking. This one also has good special effects that seemed really practical and thus realistic to me. Which is a nice touch.

Following this part is a really gory, very Tetsuo the Iron Man style part called The Subject. A mad scientist experiments with people, only for a cop team that shows up to stop him. However things go utterly sideways and two of the subjects proceed to battle one another and the police. Even if this feels a bit repetitive I was entertained by the crazy shit happening on screen, and the conclusion was pretty satisfying. Particularly since this one felt a tad out of place with the others all things considered.

IT’S ALIVE!

Terror is the second best one of the bunch, and is really cool and unique to me. How many vampire militia short movies can anyone think of? No other ones come to mind. A group of right wing nut jobs out in the countryside plan to use a vampire’s explosive blood in the daylight to blow up a federal building. Naturally this goes wrong in all of the most graphic and insane ways. The vampire itself once unleashed is properly freaky and the ending is karma itself, really. Messing with nature is never a good idea.

As for the wrap around, Holy Hell, I thought the ending for it was alright. I’m not sure how any of it ties into the other movies, and while it was necessary to have one I wasn’t too impressed with it. Regardless I prefer this film above the first and the third one, with the second one being the best. If they want to do more down the road that would be great, and I salute Shudder for being the platform that it was released on. Man 2021 was a good year for horror, which all things considered sadly makes sense.

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Malignant (2021, James Wan)


After doing big time Hollywood franchise movies, James Wan returned to give us another freaky horror movie. In this case I’m not sure if Malignant is a great bad movie, a good movie, or a complete mess. However I dug this movie a lot, and it managed to creep me out and even scare me at times, which is more than I can say for a lot of horror movies.

Madison (Annabelle Wallis) begins to have nightmarish visions of murders in Seattle. Her sister, Sydney (Maddie Hasson) decides to investigate, and what she uncovers is both shocking and disturbing. James Wan creates a horror movie that is equal parts giallo, supernatural thriller, and body horror movie in one crazy, glorious package.

This movie should be viewed for the cop station scene alone, and also because it’s a giant homage to the films that clearly inspired James Wan. Plus George Young is actually really good as the one cop who mostly believes Madison, and the final act is utterly insane. Some may not enjoy this movie, yet I feel many such as myself will champion it years from now.

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: The Dead Pit (1989, Brett Leonard)


This randomly popped up on Shudder and so I decided to check out The Dead Pit, a late 1980s horror movie. This flick is a much a supernatural Americanized giallo as it is a slasher movie. These blending of elements work in the film’s favor, as does it’s likable main characters. The Dead Pit isn’t a great film, however it is very well paced and is very satisfying. The asylum setting is pretty good, and is very unnerving. The entire movie is appropriately bleak.

The Jane Doe, played by Cheryl Lawson, arrives at an old crumbling asylum with amnesia. Aided by a fellow patient, Chris (Stephen Gregory Foster), she tries to uncover the mystery of her memory loss. I liked how this movie was shot, using lots of green and building up a general sense of menace, hinting at nasty, dark hidden secrets.

Danny Gochnauer is fantastic as Dr. Ramzi, the movie’s evil sadistic villain, matched by Jeremy Slate as  Dr. Gerald Swan. The finale even goes full blown Fulci with the undead, which is cool. Chris is one of those awesome secondary movie characters, and Lawson is a good sympathetic main character. Check this flick out on Shudder while you still can.

Somewhere In The Mountains of Wyoming (Brokeback Mountain, 2005)


“I wish I could quit you.” Sure make all the jokes about that line yet in the context of Brokeback Mountain it cuts quickly and to the core. Jack yells it at Ennis, then instantly regrets ever saying such a thing in the next minute as Ennis breaks down. This occurs at the movie’s heart and almost towards the later part of the film, a scene that is brutal and heartbreaking. I regret ever joining the other idiots in 2005 who made jokes off that line. I plead ignorance however that’s little to no excuse.

Ang Lee by 2005 was an established director, and even after gifting us with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon he had more wonderful surprises up his sleeve. One of them was Brokeback Mountain, a film that reminds me of Delmer Daves’ westerns, those startling picturesque melodramas created in an era long gone by. Also I thought of films such as Black Narcissus, where the characters are unable to properly fulfill their own longings. Even though Jack and Ennis have a decades long relationship neither man due to society and their own separate lives cannot find happiness with each other.

That and each man goes along with societal expectations, well at least Jack does. Ennis fails to hide who he is from his wife, although the film never quite says if his kids picked up on him being in love with a man or not. Ennis has a temper that is on display multiple times, particularly during an awe inspiring fireworks scene that literally reflects the fireworks going on his own life.

Despite being focused on the two male leads the movie still has time for others, also concentrating on the women in the men’s lives. Alma grows to resent Ennis for not being around enough and uncovers his secret all too easily. Meanwhile Lureen either seems all to willing to ignore who Jack is or she focused too much on her business. Either way she seems the clichéd dutiful wife focused primarily on her business. I thought it was interesting how the movie only really showcases Ennis’ one daughter of the two, Alma Jr., although perhaps that’s due to only having so much time I suppose.

Jack on the other hand mostly keeps himself almost under wraps, only truly showing blatant emotion several times. The two men seem to be apart even when they’re together, and yet in a different time and place maybe things could have worked out. Perhaps that may have been the case, yet no one knows for sure. Life has an awfully funny way of working out, typically not in our favor.

Ang Lee has created a modern classic, one that still affects the viewer 16 years later. He adds to both the western and drama genres, and he reminds me of what I discover as a young man: Wyoming is so beautiful words cannot describe it at all. I can relate to Ennis’ struggle to find a meaningful relationship and connection with someone, and clearly the only person he ever landed with happened to be Jack. That’s something anyone straight, gay or otherwise can relate to easily.

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Night Tide (1961, Curtis Harrington)


Night Tide may be more of a psychological horror thriller than a supernatural one, and yet it operates as both quite well. This is a tightly paced film that still has wonderfully lyrical and also eerie moments, often within minutes of each other. Dennis Hopper is a lonely sailor desperate for love and companionship, this settling on a woman that may be a mermaid. Or thinks she’s a mermaid. Well she plays one at the local carnival, anyways.

Linda Lawson is the alluring and mysterious woman Mora, who may or may not have killed her previous lovers. Hopper’s Johnny learns of this, yet in typical horror movie fashion he doesn’t believe it and he continues to see her. Love sure is blind. There is a dream sequence that looks even more fantastic in the movie’s black and white cinematography, and that sequence leads into an ocean scene that is pure 1950s melodrama.

While the movie probably could have been longer, oddly enough, Harrington was limited by his budget and he smartly wraps up the picture under 90 minutes. Parts of Night Tide definitely had to have been an influence on The Lighthouse, and I’ll be thinking about this one for quite a while even if I didn’t give the movie a perfect score. Harrington’s early 1960s movie, much like Cat Peope and Carnival of Souls, offers up people haunted by a past that endangers their future. I would love to see the ocean at night, as long as I don’t stare too hard into those black, deep waves…

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Patrick (1978, Richard Franklin)


Great SpongeBob almost ruined my ability to enjoy a good cult movie. I keep hearing that stupid but funny “No this is Patrick!” scene the show did. Anyways Patrick is one of those not great, yet still good and solid horror movies I often end up watching. The movie could have used more violence however there is one scene that is rather electrifying, if you know what I mean after you watch this movie.

This flick also has a pretty good pool scene that is well shot and executed. If you build a drinking game everytime Susan Penhaligon’s Kathy says Patrick, you might get pleasantly drunk by the end of the movie. Maybe even before the final scene. Check this out for the early unexpected death scene, stay for the mind powers and a coma patient becoming obsessed with his nurse. The Australians sure have some wonderfully unusual horror movies.

My Sister is a Werewolf (Ginger Snaps, 2000)


I originally wrote this review back in 2011 when I first saw Ginger Snaps. The Last Drive In prompted me to repost it here.

Even though there are women directors, when it comes the horror genre it has the feel of being largely dominated by men instead. So when a strongly feminist, women oriented movie such as Ginger Snaps comes along, people take notice. In this case the movie is quite possibly one of the best werewolf films ever made, taking some of that particular sub-genre’s mythology and using it to articulate ideas about adolescence, womanhood, and even growing up.

Two sisters who are incredibly close are the main focus here. Bridgette, the younger of the pair, and Ginger, the oldest, do not fit in at all. They are picked on in high school, misunderstood by their parents, and get in constant trouble with their teachers. So when Ginger is attacked by a werewolf, their problems only get considerably worse. Naturally Ginger denies that what tried to take a large chunk out of her arm was actually a person who turns into a hungry wolf creature when the moon is full, but B (as she is known) from the start is unconvinced.

Feeling left behind by Ginger completely turning into a different person, B turns to a fellow student for answers, who also happens to be the guy that made the previous creature roadkill. They quickly discover that the mythology they thought they knew is only half correct, and the girls find out that seeking a cure quickly becomes the least of their worries.

Its remarkable how quick things spin out of control in this movie, and the last act is rather freaky. There is a great deal of blood in this movie, maybe even more so than most horror movies, and despite the creature effects looking a bit fact its rather cool that the movie’s director choose to forgo CGI and roll with practical special effects and actual makeup. The movie’s unflinching use of gore is also quite notable, although not surprising considering that werewolves are usually a rather violent animistic bunch.

Driven by great acting from the two lead actresses Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins, a neverending sense of fear, and its femine take on werewolves, Ginger Snaps is a rather unique movie. Whether or not the film’s sequels are as good remains to be seen. Still, when it comes to the genre this is one of the better horror movies to be released in the past 20 years.

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