Horrorfest 2014 Presents: You’re Next (2013, Adam Wingard)


Adam Wingard’s You’re Next was the second Netflix Instant Viewing pick on Halloween night. After this I fell asleep watching Barton Fink and dragged my drunk ass into bed when I woke back up to use the bathroom. Good times, heh. This movie is literally Home Alone as a slasher movie, which honestly Home Alone felt like a slasher movie in the second one anyways. The kids version of one, to say the least. Wingard did better than this one later on but it’s still a pretty great modern horror flick.

Barbara Crampton headlines a really good cast that make up a rich family meeting at a remote estate that is of course not close to any major population centers. Sharni Vinson is also excellent in this movie as the heroine who battles the killers. This is definitely not a movie for the faint of heart or those who cannot handle gore, because there is plenty of that and most of the kills are quite brutal.

From what I recall I was a tad mixed about the final act, yet the cell phones being jammed was a decent touch. The killers wearing animal masks was cool although I’m sure other movies have done that before. Still the masks were really wicked looking and the last scene is funny in a pretty bleak way. This concludes Horrorfest 2014 finally although I will link reviews to the movies I didn’t get to back then as I watch them in future Horrorfests. Cheers!

Horrorfest 2014 Presents: Event Horizon (1997, Paul W. S. Anderson)


Back in 2014 I watched Event Horizon on Halloween after getting off of work. I drank most of a 12 pack of PBR so I’ll admit I wasn’t fully sober during my viewing, yet I still recall how disturbing this movie truly is throughout. I mean even when it’s not being pure nightmere fuel most parts are so creepy and just dig under your brain and stay there. Outer space horror has been done well before, however I think Event Horizon is one of the modern ones to properly execute how space can be utterly terrifying.

The cast surely helps as Laurence Fishburne and Sam Neill headline the unlucky group that ventures into the Event Horizon, a spaceship that went to places not even the Star Trek crew would dare explore. Kathleen Quinlan, Joely Richardson, Jason Isaacs and Sean Pertwee form up most of the also pretty talented secondary cast. Unfortunately there was a longer cut of this film that no longer exists which is too bad seeing as this cut would have been even more gruesome and would have given the film an even bleaker impact.

Despite some of the special effects being dated and the last scene having a silly jump scare Event Horizon remains one of the freakiest outer space horror movies. Say whatever about Paul W.S. Anderson, the man had a knack for making some pretty crazy and messed up horror films back in the 1990s and the 2000s. Oh and I’ll never forget eyeless Sam Neil or how bleak this movie ended up being in multiple parts. Many cite Alien as being a reason to never go into space yet I think Event Horizon is my answer to why one should remain on Earth.

Horrorfest 2014 Presents:  The Wicker Man (1973, Robin Hardy)


Due to it being a really old movie the twist near the end was unfortunately spoiled for me. However The Wicker Man still packs quite a punch and exists as a classic example of English folk horror that has stayed with me and others ever since. The casting sure helps, particularly as Christopher Lee gives one of his best performances in a long line of great ones, Edward Woodward as the policeman investigating a mystery, plus Britt Ekland and Ingrid Pitt in a smaller role. This movie fully embraces paganism and uses it as a horror movie device, similar to later horror films that this movie helped inspire. Considering how the film ends much of the movie has this eerie sense of foreboding, as if the audience and most of the characters know how it all ends save for one particular individual who is unaware of the dangers they face.

I don’t know Robin Hardy’s movie would be as effective if it was not made in the 1970s, as the movie fits in with the decade’s overall horror aesthetic. Woodward is both arrogant and yet likable as the police sergeant who thinks he knows what is going on but has no idea. Lee’s Lord Summerisle is both welcoming and clearly hiding many secrets. The Wicker Man seems to be a duel between religion and logic, although the island’s inhabitants would argue that both are intertwined and exist in the same sphere. I’m reminded that despite being a Christian I am fascinated by pagan beliefs, particularly ones concerning nature and the harvest.

Oh and Hardy makes the film into a bottle episode type movie of sorts, as all of the action takes place on the island and Howie (Woodward) is unable to leave in what is now a typical horror movie cliché. Never venture to an island without any backup, although I’m not sure it would have helped in this case. The Wicker Man also has one of the best uses of blasphemy ever in the “Oh Jesus Christ!” line, which is probably what the audience was thinking to at that part of the movie. The credits scene part which thanks the island’s residents for their cooperation was a nice touch, very cheeky indeed. Shudder has this movie as part of their folklore collection, and so a second viewing is in order. I believe I viewed this movie back in 2014 thanks to Netflix, when their horror movie collection was a lot better. What a picture.  

Horrorfest 2014 Presents: Halloween: Resurrection (2002, Rick Rosenthal)


Since I last saw this film years ago I revisited back in 2018 in time for the Blumhouse take on the series. In a nice Blu-ray box set that I got from Walmart. Man do they know how to take your money. Everyone hates Halloween Resurrection, yet I’m not one of them. Look I know it’s cheesy and that what the film does to Laurie is not cool, still I kind of enjoyed this movie. I dig that a bunch of dumb people decide to do a found footage style broadcast in Michael Myers’ old house. I mean how insane do you have to be to want to film at the childhood home of a mass murder!

Busta Rhymes and Tyra Banks headline the group of young adults who foolishly enter Myers’ domain in search of Internet webcam glory. Thomas Ian Nicholas, Sean Patrick Thomas and Bianca Kajlich are the main stars of the younger cast. The only thing that was really dumb was old Mikey managing to cut off someone’s head with a carving knife. Pretty sure that’s not possible haha! Rhymes yelling “Trick or treat motherfucker!” and trying out kung fu moves on an unstoppable serial killer was hilarious and I’m guessing that part was supposed to be intentionally funny.

Look I don’t loathe any entries in the series except 5 which was pretty dumb and very unnecessary. 6 wasn’t good but it had some decent moments and a solid atmosphere at least. Maybe it’s for the best that both Rob Zombie and David Gordon Green choose to ignore all of the sequels when they made their own entries in the franchise.

Horrorfest 2014 Presents: Visiting Hours (1982, Jean-Calude Lord)


The hospital setting is a pretty good one for Visiting Hours, which has a cool poster and a good trailer. Alas I was left mostly unimpressed by this early 1980s slasher, which bugs me since this should have been in my wheelhouse. The cast makes up for some of the weaker elements however-Lee Grant and Michael Ironside are both great in this movie-and it even has William Shatner randomly popping up later on.

The final act is really intense and quite brutal, yet most of this film is too slow and the scenes outside the hospital drag at times. I’m not sure if this movie is a feminist driven piece or if the director doesn’t like women considering the awful things Ironside’s serial killer puts the movie’s female characters through. I didn’t hate Visiting Hours, still I didn’t really like it either. This is sometimes the case with horror movies and cinema in general.

Horrorfest 2014 Presents: Black Sabbath (1964, Mario Bava)


Years later I finally viewed this movie thanks to Shudder (I believe it was in 2018, maybe). Black Sabbath is probably Mario Bava’s best film although a few others do qualify, and this also inspired a certain famous rock band that I am a big fan of as well. Black Sabbath is easily one of the best anthologies ever made, and although one of the stories is weaker than the other ones all of them are still pretty great and make the film a quality viewing experience. Bava wisely sticks to only three stories, and has the legendary Boris Karloff narrate and star in the film as well. The title of the three tales are The Drop of Water, The Wurdulak, and The Telephone.

Maybe it’s the copy I viewed or the Wikipedia page is wrong (shocker!) yet the version I watched had The Drop of Water story first. This tale is utterly terrifying and has an marvelously creepy finale that works incredibly well. A woman foolishly steals a ring off of a dead woman’s finger and discovers too late that you should never rob from the dead. The dummy featured in this movie is pretty freaky looking, and this story is a great exercise in unbearable tension. I feel this one was the best of the bunch honestly, and shows that Bava was a master of the supernatural, a strong element of most of his movies.

The Wurdulak is Bava making a vampire story that is one of the best vampire stories ever put to film. Planet of the Vampires also shows that Bava has a knack for vampire films, and it’s a shame he didn’t make more of them. Karloff appears as the head of a family that has a serious and very unique vampire problem. There’s plenty of bite in this one hehe, not to mention those who end up becoming the undead turn on their own family members. Many consider this tale the best of the bunch, yet I feel it’s not as scary as Water is although the gore factor is certainly featured in this one pretty well.

Finally there is The Telephone, which although is the weakest of the bunch is still very suspenseful and well crafted. Michèle Mercier is a woman who is haunted by her former boyfriend, who she believes was in prison but has in fact broken out and is seeking revenge. It just occurred to me that each of the stories are very bottle episode in nature, as all of the characters are limited to one particular location. How this one concludes is rather bleak, although that can be said of all of the tales in this movie.

Although I’m not sure if Bava should have featured a wrap around story, I’m fine with how this works as a book style movie with different tales featuring new people each time. Black Sabbath is easily one of the best horror films of the 1960s, and is easily in my Top 100 horror movies.

Horrorfest 2015 Presents: Critteriffic


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Sure this was supposed to be part of my viewing from last year. Doesn’t matter because I do what I want anyways. Critters 3 and 4 came as a double bill part of a four pack that I found at my local library. Neither are particularly good, yet I actually dug one a little bit. I like to finish franchises anyways, for better or for worse. The series isn’t Oscar worthy but it is fun to watch. For some reason the 80s and 90s had a lot of franchise horror, although that seemed to be the norm for Hollywood, period.

Critters 3 is not a good movie. It’s easy the worst of the series and is mostly notable for featuring a young Leonardo DiCaprio in one of the main roles. As the son of a douche bag who wants to drive off his tenants so he can build a shopping mall or something. After having the Critters take over a farmhouse and a small town an apartment building is a huge step down. Imagine if this had been a big budget film where the Crites invade a whole city. Too bad that never happened.

Still this film does have its moments and the cast isn’t bad for a poor showing. They make this crappy movie watchable and I did like some of the kills. Also for some reason (SPOILER) The film ends on a cliffhanger. I like that Terrence Mann and Don Keth Opper appear in all of the series. That’s welcomed consistency.

Now oddly enough Critters 4 was a step up and works okay as an ending to the series. Well at least it was supposed to be, since nothing ever seems to end in Hollywood. Opper and Mann return along with new additions Brad Dourif and Angela Bassett as members of a crew that finds Charlie in space. I overlooked the obvious Alien/Aliens ripoff moments and sat back and enjoyed the fact that for the first time ever the Crites were actually in space. And that this movie has a few surprises, including one I did not see coming.

Even though like the rest of the series the low budget feel is quite apparent, I still enjoyed the fourth movie. The first two entries in the series are the best, however I still recommend even seeing the last two, just to see how things shake out. Also I am a fan of even bad sci-fi, especially since we don’t get too much of the actual stuff these days. Comic book movies don’t count.

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Horrorfest 2014 Presents: Dust Devil (1992, Richard Stanley)


Operating as equal parts The Hitcher (1986), vampire film and pure nightmare, Dust Devil is a fascinating exercise in style that also mediates upon feminism, urban legends and the past coming back to haunt the present. Richard Stanley sets the film in the obvious dusty setting of Namibia, a place that becomes a strong aspect of the film and turns the movie into a quasi-horror western. The western aspects are particularly strong concerning the Dust Devil, who operates as a mythical killer who feeds upon the life force of those he kills. This ritual is explained by the film’s narrator, Joe, the film’s narrator, in the movie’s eerie opening. The Dust Devil is played with utmost sinister quality by Robert John Burke, who menaces the film’s heroine, Wendy Robinson, played by Chelsea Field, who acts as the film’s survival girl. Although the movie at times features the Dust Devil actually sparing her or expressing a twisted love for Wendy, thus offering a slightly different take on the slasher villain/survival girl dynamic. One can argue that in all slasher movies the villain has a murderous obsession with the unlucky woman that has managed to not be murdered by him (or her, in certain cases). Also I love that this film has cult film and horror actor Zakes Moake as Sgt. Ben Mukurob, a South African police officer who is convinced that the Dust Devil is a supernatural being despite others not believing him.

Although the film presents some apartheid and racial politics unfortunately the film does not properly dive into that issue, choosing instead to be more of an ominous and heavily intense slasher film. This is too bad considering the cast involved and the fact that this movie came out in 1992, yet it still does not prevent me from enjoying the film and considering it to be an underrated cult gem from the early 1990s. Despite the decade’s lack of consistency when it comes to horror movies the 1990s still had some great films to offer, and Dust Devil is one of those. I also loved how towards the end the film references the Mad Max series, and that it does not journey into a cliched finale. I wonder how much Stanley borrowed from The Hitcher, although tales of creepy murders being picked up by unsuspecting victims is an old tale, and there are other films I have not seen that also deal with slightly similar concepts. Furthermore I actually would have liked this film to get a sequel, which is a rare thought considering how so many second films do not always live up to the original installments. I wanted to know more about the Dust Devil, and the last shot is curiously open ended.

PS: I found the so called director’s cut, as the film was originally gutted by the studio that released it. I believe that version is the one on Netflix that I watched.

Horrorfest 2014 Presents: Child’s Play (1988, Holland)


While I still have yet to view the rest of the series I doubt any of the entries measure up to the original Child’s Play, directed by famous horror filmmaker Tom Holland. Despite the ridiculous nature of the film’s premise Holland never lets the material get out of hand or stop being really creepy. Everyone knows who Chucky is by now so the surprise of him being the killer is long gone, however this film was well directed and executed to the point where that didn’t matter. I’m reminded of Friday the 13th (1980) where in the modern era you know who the killer is and yet the film is suspenseful enough that having prior knowledge is mostly irrelevant to the film’s success. Also Brad Dourif brings Chucky to villainous life in a manner that only a good actor can do-after all, playing a doll is tough work. The film also benefits from the Chicago setting, which is utilized properly and adds to the film’s eerie atmosphere.

Plus this film has a great cast: Chris Sarandon in a rare good guy role, Catherine Hicks as Andy’s troubled mom, and of course Dourif plus Alex Vincent, who is one of those child actors that isn’t annoying in a horror movie. Even though killer doll movies aren’t the most scariest in the world, Child’s Play manages to be a really spooky and entertaining horror film with a chilling finale. I look forward to viewing the rest of the series even if my expectations will be lower-I have heard that the second one is rather underrated. The 80s has some really quality horror films and I think that Child’s Play is certainly one of those, even if it falls short of being a truly great horror film.

2014 Horrorfest Presents: Big Ass Spider (2013, Mike Mendez)


Despite being rather low budget and feeling as if it was a SyFy movie of the week Big Ass Spider is pure, dumb entertainment that had plenty of good moments to offset the noticeably poor acting and cheap special effects.  Greg Grunberg’s Alex and Lombardo Boyar’s José have great chemistry together and are one of the reasons why this film even works in the first place, multiple homages to classic gigantic killer insect movies aside. And it does always help to have Ray Wise, who doesn’t seem to mind that he’s in a movie where the characters have the look and feel of people reacting to a clearly CGI-ed monster rampaging through some city. Naturally it’s Los Angeles, which has seen it’s fair share of being destroyed in countless movies over the past century, and will probably be continued to destroyed long into this century and into the next. Hopefully for the people who live there an actual natural disaster never happens again, yet I highly doubt it will be gigantic killer mutant spiders. No, those are more likely to strike the Midwest….crap….

The story here is kind of flimsy and the dialogue isn’t the best, yet I laughed at a lot of the one liners and I was never bored, which is a good thing. What amuses me about giant killer bug movies is how ridiculous they are, and the best ones seem to embrace the outrageous elements of such a concept. Although it’s not a great film by any means I still liked Big Ass Spider, and I wouldn’t mind if they made a sequel where hapless Alex and Jose continue to battle the super insect creatures that threaten mankind. I’m surprised that more movies don’t exist where an exterminator has to defeat a huge bug-after all, they deal with the little ones on a regular basis. 

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