Horrorfest 2020 Presents: Scare Me (2020, Josh Ruben)


Oh hey look a 2020 horror movie that as far as I know didn’t hit theaters. It’s just not the same. Scare Me is mostly a comedy anyways, and the last act rips off several non horror movies that were dramatic thrillers. I really liked this movie when the two characters were telling scary stories, and they even let the pizza man in on the fun.

My issue is that both main characters come off as a bit insufferable. One wrote a successful book yet still is fine with taking ideas, the other is insecure and let’s their ego ruin what could have been something good. I don’t remember their names, I just enjoyed watching them tell scary stories. The film suffers from too much plot, a criticism that I believe came from Roger Ebert.

I wonder if he would write that in his review. Perhaps. Still this is a good film, and I liked it anyways. The acting is good, which helps. I think the story about the old man was my favorite one, and I do appreciate that Scare Me was trying to do its own twist on the anthology movie. Shudder presents modern original films all the time, and as with older horror movies I’m not bound to love all of them. Sometimes merely liking one is good enough.

Horrorfest 2017: Dead Can Dance!


Image result for Dead Can Dance gif
Go Zombie Michael, Go!

Okay enough Friday the 13th homage titles. If you have not listened to the band Dead Can Dance, do so. Anyways its time for more horror films, as I have fallen into the old habit of viewing them every year. Plus writing reviews, which I plan to do much faster this time. My public library (three separate branches in town) has enough to get me started, and I am finally making the switch to Blu Ray after years of slumming it with DVD’s. So for my few readers, time to get scared…again.

PS: Long overdue reviews being written now. Also unfortunately this one was a rare bust due to life issues, lack of streaming, etc.

Public Library Edition Planned List (in alphabetical order):

1. Bite (2015, body horror)
2. The Black Torment (1964, gothic horror)
3. Blair Witch (2016, duh)
4. Blood For Dracula (1974, duh again)
5. Bram Stroker’s Dracula (1992, DUH)
6. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935, creature feature)
7. Crawlspace (1986, crazy people)
8. A Cure For Wellness (2016, crazy people)
9. Drag Me To Hell (2009, demons)
10. Flesh For Frankenstein (1973, creature feature)
11. Final Destination 2 (2003, DEATH)
12. Fright Night (2011, vampires)
13. The Girl With All The Gifts (2016, zombies)
14. Green Room (2016, crazy people)
15. The Horror Show (1989, evil spirit)
16. Krampus (2015, duh)
17. Legion (Exorcist III Director’s Cut, 1990, demonic)
18. Leviathan (1989, creature feature)
19. Lights Out (2016, evil spirits)
20. Little Shop of Horrors (1986, creature feature)
21. The Neon Demon (2016, crazy people)
22. Prison (1988, evil spirits)
23. The Quiet Ones (2013, evil spirits)
24. The Ring (2002, pissed off spirit)
25. The Tall Man (2012, urban legends)
26. Wrong Turn (2003, cannibals)
27. 31 (2016, seriously crazy people)

Other:

28. Night Monster (1942, creature feature)
29. Mother! (2017, crazy people)
30. The Manster (1959, creature feature)
31. Raw (2017, cannibals)
32. The Satanic Rights of Dracula (1974, yep)
33. Urban Legend (1998, slasher)
34. It (2017, Pennywise the Dancing Clown!)
35. Pieces (1982, giallo)
36. Alice, Sweet Alice (1976, giallo)

Halloween:

Rewatch: Return of the Living Dead (1985, zombies)

37. Jennifer’s Body (2009, demonic)
38. Salem’s Lot (1979, vampires)

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: Bad Milo (2015, Jacob Vaughan)


If you cannot stand ass jokes, or gross out moments, or extreme gore in a film where a literal monster emerges from a guy’s butt and goes on a murderous rampage, this film is not for you. But if you think this sounds funny and entertaining, well then you, like myself, are a prime candidate to enjoy Bad Milo. Despite having some limitations story wise I still found this to be an awesome and quite memorable experience. I also cannot recall the last movie I saw with this type of premise, although I am sure there are many other body type horror films like this out there. I hope they are just as remarkable as this entry from Jacob Vaughan, who recognizes that comedy and horror can be great bedfellows if done just right. Oh and I think all of us one way or another can empathize with the down on his luck main character.

Veteran character actor Ken Marino gets a chance to shine as Duncan, a middle class fellow with a loving wife in Sarah (the always great Gillian Jacobs) who is beyond stressed out, by well, everything. His job is driving him nuts (Patrick Warburton is hilariously deadpan as his jerk of a boss), Sarah is pregnant, which scares him, and he has serious gastric problems. All which manifests itself in the nasty little bugger of a creature he comes to name Milo, a problem that he uncovers thanks to visiting a highly unusual therapist, played by Peter Stormare. The creature effects in this film are surprisingly well done, which I did not fully expect. Most of the jokes in this film range from witty to flat out potty humor, and I rather liked the film’s outrageous last act. Even if this isn’t high art I still like Milo, and I look forward to whatever Jacob Vaughan does next.

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: The Invitation (2015, Karyn Kusama)


The Invitation and Starry Eyes are both slow burning horror dramas that despite their weaker elements are still solid and worth seeing. They both deal with how damaged people are easily manipulated into going along with concepts and ideas that are harmful to others and to themselves. Both have endings that are a big payoff, and both feature at least one character who realizes what is going on long before anyone else figures it out. I do wonder if maybe it’s California’s history with cults and violence that has resulted in so many horror films being set in that particular area. Noirs such as Chinatown also present the area’s dark side, usually hinting at evil lurking beneath.

Yet The Invitation reminds us also that evil is not so black and white, that is rests in the hearts and minds of people. They can be our friends, loved ones, relatives or people we are acquainted with. Will, the film’s haunted protagonist, understands that all too well in the end. He is cursed with figuring out the reason why his friends and him are at his ex wife’s house, a place that used to be his long ago in a different life. Too bad that he only figures it out later, and that of course the others present don’t believe him. One scene I liked was when Will is screaming in pain, only its internal. His suffering becomes tangible, present to the audience.

While this film takes too long to get going, when it finally does it has a presence that is very engaging. I often wonder if a terrible incident would be enough to push me into coming under the spell of a manipulative individual. Yet I realize that in one way or another it’s easy to be manipulated, to have the illusion of control. That’s a far more unnerving thought than any horror film.

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: We Are Still Here (2015, Ted Geoghegan)


Barbara Crampton is the official actress of my Horrorfest. She’s been in a lot of famous and notable horror films, one of her latest being the creepy modern classic horror flick We Are Still Here. This film is one big wonderfully gory and frightening homage to 1980s horror films. I also love how this movie utilizes empty and quiet spaces, reminding the viewer how the mundane and the everyday can be truly unsettling.

Anne (Crampton) and Paul (Andrew Sensenig) are a grieving couple who lost their son in a car accident. Moving into an old New England house is supposed to aid then in grieving, yet instead it leaves them open to attack from dark forces beyond the grave. It’s interesting how this film also manages to move across different horror sub genres with ease.

Oh and that last act is truly something else. I didn’t expect this film to be so violent, and I was also amused by Larry Fessenden, one of the few directors to be a decent actor. We Are Still Here is tragic, comedic, terrifying and memorable. I’m a sucker for haunted house movies. This one is more than just that, in spades.

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: Hush (2016, Mike Flanagan)


Imagine if you have been deaf since childhood. Then you choose to move out to the middle of nowhere for the peace and quit, which is strange for a person who can’t hear. While trying to finish a novel you are made aware via smartphone that a murderer lurks outside and is stalking you. Things are not looking good. Oh and course he’s cut the power. Even worse. Welcome to the modern horror film Hush.

Created by Mike Flanagan and his wife Kate Siegel, who stars in the film as Madison, Hush is an intense nightmare style film that works as an exercise in terror. We never find out anything more about The Man (sporting a great freaky looking mask) who has decided to hunt Madison, using a crossbow to ensure she can’t make a clean get away. He also cleverly taunts her in various ways, knowing very well that she is deaf.

Even though the last act has some pacing issues I really dug this film. It’s smart, carefully made and is a great modern slasher. Films such as Hush show that the slasher genre can be more than just dumb people being killed in the woods by a maniac, although granted I enjoy those flicks, too. Oh and I liked Siegel-I hope to see her in more horror films, as she has a good screen presence.

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: Session 9 (2001, Brad Anderson)


Like many films set in creepy places, Session 9 is a well made slow burn that gradually builds up to events unforgettable and terrifying. There is one scene that reminds me of The Shining, and another that made me think of The Haunting (1963). Also one scene is a great reminder of why fear of the dark is man’s greatest fear. Brad Anderson turned from romantic comedy to horror with ease, and this is a well assured modern horror classic

Gordon (Peter Mullen) and Phil (David Caruso) are asbestos removal company workers tasked with clearing an insane asylum. The asylum has been closed for years and Gordon, desperate for money, agrees to clean it out in a week. Others employed are Mike, Hank (Josh Lucas) and Jeff, Gordon’s nephew. The asylum is eerie by itself, but coupled with the team members’ fragile emotional states the place becomes a house of horrors, again. The inmates run the place now, it seems.

Aside from the finale, which I was not a fan of, I thought this movie was fantastic. I’m still behind on modern horror and this was a blind spot for me for years. Sometimes it’s good to find a horror film that gives a window into the dark recesses of the human mind and soul.

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: Insidious (2010, James Wan)


The opening shot is grainy, as if out of focus, centering on a children’s bedroom. The camera pans away from him sleeping blissfully, going towards the closet, quietly detailing everything happening. Only to rest on a freaky older lady, not moving, staring into the darkness. The music picks up and the title card slams onto the screen, violently. INSIDIOUS. From this point on I was bloody terrified. James Wan is a master of horror, crafting nightmares with ease.

Poor Renai and Josh (Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson) are parents dealing with their son being in what appears to be a coma. In a great twist on the haunted house genre he is in fact haunted, which means that the family is still in trouble no matter where they move. Wan is offering his own take on classic horror films such as Poltergeist and Burnt Offerings, movies where a family unit comes under attack from malevolent spirits. One scene where Byrne deals with a man invading her room left me scared to the point where I stopped the film midway through.

If anything the main complaint about this film is that by the last act you are so numb to the frightening elements that the film stops having the scare effect on you. There is a demon ghost that reminded me of the infamous face from The Exorcist and several other moments that encouraged me to sleep with the lights on. Oh and one hell of an ending that I did not see coming. This is probably his best film, even though I still have one other horror (this film’s sequel) and several other non horror films to see from Wan. I’m glad he’s become famous yet I’m bummed that he’s going away from horror.

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: Hostel (2005, Eli Roth)


Literally this is a nice homage/quasi remake of the 1974 classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, with some notable twists. A trio of friends travel to an Eastern European hostel and discover unknown terrors. Jay Hernandez is the main leader of the trio which also includes one other American and a guy from Iceland named Oli. Eli Roth lures us in with the first, quiet fun half, only to dive into a second, brutal act.

One scene that is blood curdling is when a man proceeds to cut a girl’s toes off. You don’t see it happening, though, and the scene is shot in a way that pays homage to the famous Chainsaw Massacre moment when Leatherface clubs someone and slams the door shut behind him. Another scene involves creepy and brutal torture, displayed in unflinching realism. Which is what the film got unfairly criticized for, along with other similar movies of that time period.

maxresdefault-2

I’m sure that better writers have dived into Hostel, Saw and other horror films that depict torture as being awful and morally wrong. Others, however, argue in favor of these movies being a mirror into American horror after 9-11 and the use of torture on terror suspects. I feel that such movies are, for better or worse, in line with the later. Particularly with the movies commentary on Americans, consumerism, and even class and social politics. Even if such thoughts are obvious or not quite well illustrated.

Despite this film’s flaws I think Hostel is an engaging slasher film with more bite than many of its breatheren. The slasher was mocked for being dumb so Eli Roth and James Wan, among others, decided to make the genre leaner, nastier and smarter. I think they succeded, and I would prefer more films like theirs than usual mindless fare, even though I do enjoy the dumb ones, too.

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: Crimson Peak (2015, Guillermo del Toro)


Gorgeous and elegant, with a grand cast and a creepy score Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak is another fine example of his ability to make a good horror film. This one happens to be in the tradition of classic gothic horror, with ghosts mostly accepted as being real or possible by many of the characters. Furthermore there is a great sense of dread prevailing through the entire movie, one that never lets up even after the credits roll.

Even though the plot is rather simple I did not mind figuring out what would happen later on. Del Toro channels many past horror films effectively while also bringing his own style to the picture. At times del Toro does not get enough credit for being a talented director, and I always look forward to whatever new project he is working on. This film benefits from his ability to paper over some of its flaws and to account for certain scenes that don’t work as well as others.

crimson-peak-jessica-chastain-screengrab-0002

Having a marvelous cast sure works in his favor-even Charlie Hunnam, the weak link, is good as the kindhearted and smart doctor Alan,  who has a crush on Mia Wasikowska’s young budding writer Edith. Unfortunately for him she falls under the spell of British aristocrat Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and his eerie sister, Lucille (Jessica Chastain). Despite warnings from both Alan and her father, Edith decides to wed Thomas and move to his crumbling mansion overseas. Anyone who’s ever seen a horror film could guess where this is going.

Yet there are plenty of creepy moments as previously noted, and the house’s presence is so notably made that it’s as if it’s part of the cast itself. Also the third act did take me by surprise in a few regards and was very tense. Some think that “Peak” is not a horror film, yet I disagree. It’s a good addition to the “Don’t go in the house” genre.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑