Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Last Night In Soho (2021, Edgar Wright)


This Horrorfest us horror fans were blessed with multiple options via both streaming and the movie theater. I included Last Night in Soho because it only came to my area after Halloween and thus I eagerly watched it before it left my area. Edgar Wright has sort of done horror before with Shaun of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz definitely had some horror movie moments. His latest isn’t as good as those films-well maybe it equals Shaun-however it is still pretty great and is one of the year’s best films.

Thomasin McKenzie plays a young woman named Ellie who ventures to London to be a fashion designer. There she encounters snobby classmates, a friendly young man played by Michael Ajao, and ghosts. Well at least she sees them, which either hints that they are in her mind or they are very real. The first half of the movie plays out as an eerie drama, the second half very bleak psychological thriller. I saw Repulsion vibes in several scenes, and I’m sure other films influenced this one as well.

Having acting legends Terence Stamp and Diana Rigg in the movie was a fine touch, and I sort of guessed some of the twists but one of them snuck up on me a bit. I think had I viewed this at home I probably would have figured it out sooner. That doesn’t diminish the movie, though, as there are multiple exceptional scenes. Particularly one where Ellie sees the ghosts at a Halloween party. This film also captures London in the 1960s very well, and has a fantastic soundtrack. Silly me I forgot to mention how wonderfully despicable Matt Smith is in this movie as one of the people who exploits Sandie.

What’s also notable is how Anya Taylor-Joy’s Sandie steals the movie even though she’s not the main character. Ellie’s obsession with her goes pretty overboard, yet no one watching this movie can blame her. She captives both men and women alike in this film, and is a device for Wright to comment sharply on the male gaze and men’s creepy actions towards women. My complaint is that such themes get a bit left behind towards the end of the movie. Regardless I’m a fan of Last Night in Soho, and it left a pretty strong impression upon me. Thus closes out Horrorfest 2021, until next year cheers!

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: Just Before Dawn (1981, Jeff Lieberman)


Going forth with my wilderness adventure horror movie viewings, I watched Just Before Dawn on Shudder. Gregg Henry and George Kennedy both star in a movie that more than lives up to it’s title and the whole “Murder in the woods” aspect. A bunch of college kids go up into the mountains and discover all too quickly that murderous lunatics dwell amongst the lovely foliage and pretty outdoor shots. In fact the movie opens with a gruesome murder that drives the survivor insane. Deborah Benson also stars and is one of the best characters in the movie.

Kennedy’s forrest ranger warns the young folk that going up into the woods is a bad idea, so of course they ignore him. The murders in this movie are pretty brutal and the film takes itself rather seriously, which helps. Sometimes a movie like this should have very little humor, and the final confrontation is very suspenseful and well done. I think Just Before Dawn is one of those 1980s flicks that could become a favorite of mine, and it’s easily a film that would be great to view in a drive in setting.

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Rituals (1977, Peter Carter)


Rituals is a low budget 1970s wilderness horror thriller that was definitely inspired by Deliverance. Yet it has it’s own style and is mostly effective although parts of the movie was the director trying too hard. The final act drags on a bit too much also. Still I liked this movie and I realized midway through that I’m a fan of wilderness horror movies as a sub-genre. Hal Holbrook leads a cast of lesser known actors as they struggle to escape from a killer pursuing them in the Canadian wilderness.

This movie has some great outdoor shots, and Peter Carter puts both the characters and the audience through the ringer. This was a decent enough flick that I only saw thanks to Shudder. I’m not surprised that Steven King is a fan of this movie as many of his stories feature people dealing with extreme situations. Be prepared when you head out into the middle of nowhere and expect crazy people to show up is the lesson I got out of this movie.

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Halloween Kills (2021, David Gordon Green)


Say what you will about the new Halloween movie, we are blessed to have received another Halloween film. The Friday the 13th and A Nightmare On Elm Street series are dead and Chucky is a TV series at this point. As for Texas Chainsaw Massacre those involved keep trying to keep it alive for reasons that I don’t understand. Meanwhile Blumhouse took over the Halloween series and has so far in my opinion given us two good, solid entries that I liked and saw in theaters.

However I’m not sure if the latest Halloween is a good movie or not, yet it is a good Halloween sequel. I felt those in charge gave us one that combined Halloween II and Halloween 4, which is fine, although they definitely upped the gore in the series. The kills in this one make the film live up to it’s title, and the cast was good as well even though Jamie Lee Curtis was sidelined in this one, just like she was in Halloween II. Anthony Michael Hall is a good new addition, and Judy Greer plus Andi Matichak take charge in this one along with others.

While some characters make dumb mistakes in this movie I guess that comes with the slasher movie territory. Michael is more Terminator than human being in this one too, which matches the rest of the sequels and inspired some complaints. I have mixed feelings about the ending, yet I can grudgingly admire how Halloween Kills admitted it’s just set up for the next installment. I highly doubt that Halloween Ends will be the last one, although you never know. Evil dies tonight! Or during the next movie! Or when the box office goes down!

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman (2000, Michael Cooney)


Look I enjoyed the first Jack Frost even if it wasn’t a great movie. The sequel is hilariously awful in a fun way that still means it sucks. Yet I didn’t hate this movie cause it made me laugh and I found the whole thing to be watchable in a bad fun movie way that requires booze. I didn’t have any booze at the time though. Also the reason for Jack Frost still being around is dumb in that usual slasher movie villain way.

Too bad that this sequel lacks the self aware comedic value of the first movie. Yes the kills are fun and this movie wisely follows the sequel rules of a higher death toll. However I can’t recommend this flick even to die hard slasher movie fans. It’s that bad and really it’s not surprising they never made a third movie. Which is also for the best if this is what they cobbled together for the sequel.

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: The Descent (2005, Neil Marshall)


The Descent has a good female cast and the creatures that attack them look cool. However I feel it takes way too long to get going and there were parts where I couldn’t see anything so I didn’t find them to be scary. Oh and the Tubi version was the US one, which contains the lesser ending. The UK one’s ending is more realistic and bleaker, which I prefer instead. Regardless I found this to be merely decent at best and not really deserving of the high reputation it gets from others.

Shauna Macdonald and Natalie Mendoza are the main highlights of the cast, and the creature attacks are pretty effective. I can admire what Neil Marshall was trying to do, even if this just feels as if he redid Dog Soldiers with female actors instead. Also some aspects felt a bit predictable, although that couldn’t be helped, I guess. I will admit that wilderness movies are pretty cool and definitely my kind of thing, and maybe this would benefit from a second viewing.

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Psycho Goreman (2020, Steven Kostanski)


Every once in a while there exists a fun cult movie that I fully embrace, and this time it’s Psycho Goreman. PG shows up on Earth and ends up controlled by a sociopathic girl named Mimi who along with her brother Luke end up bounding with an alien capable of destroying their whole planet. This movie is literally if a darker version of ET existed and mated with the Power Rangers.

One of the best parts is a garage rock band fueled montage scene that is darkly hilarious. Is this a horror movie? Maybe, or kind of in a way. This is mostly sci-fi and action, with lots of gore and very funny, twisted humor that may offend some and leave others like me laughing a lot. The special effects in this movie work really well and without them some of the elements wouldn’t have been as effective.

It also helps that both Nita-Josee Hanna and Owen Myre are great as the two kids who should probably be way more afraid of PG than they really are at any given moment. The family dynamic in this movie is also really strong, and I’m hoping that we get a sequel with more Psycho Goreman exploits. Even if we don’t there is still a movie worth viewing more than once. All hail PG!

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Demonia (1990, Lucio Fulci)


Sadly by the 1990s it seems that the horror master Lucio Fulci had lost his touch, as evidenced by Demomia, which I was hoping would be a cool evil demon nun movie. Alas, it was a bad TV movie style flick where nothing interesting happens until the middle of the movie. Considering the rest of the movies I’ve seen from him are definitely not boring, this is disappointing. Plus this flick tries to be a slasher movie midway through instead of sticking with the killer demon ghost nun bit. Weak.

Even worse is that after years of good or at least decent leading ladies in his movies, Meg Register is really bad. I mean on a level that’s bad even for horror movie acting. She drains any energy this flick had in every scene she is in. I’m really bummed this movie wasn’t good, and I got that sad feeling when one sees a movie from a director they like that stinks. I’m glad I saw this for free on Tubi because if I paid to see this in theaters, I would have been really angry. As it stands it didn’t get a theatrical release, which is a good thing.

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: The House That Screamed (1969, Narciso Ibáñez Serrador)


Although The House That Screamed is a slow burning movie, the movie still has plenty of violence and mayhem to satisfy fans of giallo and slasher movie type films, of which this movie is clearly both. I’m glad that I was unable to guess the identity of the killer, and I really liked this movie despite the characters being the user paper thin clichés that populate these types of movies. The boarding school setting works very well in the movie’s favor, and this flick is probably best known to fans of Elvira, as she featured the movie on her show back in the 1980s. Unfortunately this movie due to including a mother smothering her own son resulted in The House That Screamed being unfairly compared to Psycho, which is silly considering the two films are quite different in style and in tone.

The murders in this movie are pretty brutal, and there is one shot that is particularly gorgeous. You have issues of voyeurism, lesbian overtones and the oppression of those in charge of the school, all which come to a head at one point or another. I’ve seen better foreign slasher movies sure, yet The House That Screamed is a good slow burn and offers a fantastic and super creepy finale. I’ll never forget that ending, that’s for sure. Oh and I’m pretty convinced that Narciso Ibáñez Serrador’s film inspired or had an influence on multiple later, better slasher movies down the road. Alas there is a lack of house screaming, which is made up for human screams. Lots of human screams.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑