Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Vicious Fun (2020, Cody Calahan)


This is a very meta film in some ways, which is fine. Vicious Fun channels the 1980s in a good way, and has a fairly solid premise: a self help group for serial killers. Which the movie’s hero, Joel (Evan Marsh) stumbles into at a restaurant while very drunk. Lucky for him Carrie (Amber Goldfarb) is around to help him out in a badass final girl way. David Koechner is the only actor I knew in this movie and he’s pretty funny, as usual.

Each of the serial killers are based on film and real life ones, yet it is Ari Millen as Bob who steals the movie. He’s a mix of Patrick Bateman, Ted Bundy and a literal chameleon. I enjoyed that Vicious Fun was not afraid to show blood or gore, yet doesn’t utterly depend on those elements to be highly entertaining. Also Marsh and Goldfarb are quite funny together, and yet the movie wisely doesn’t try to set them up as a couple.

I did think the movie worn a bit thin by the final act and there was an obvious set up for a potential sequel. Regardless Vicious Fun is a blast and is one of those slasher movies that would be great to show at a drive in theater. I think my favorite part is the killer taxi cab driver idea, just because The Bone Collector ran with it in the late 1990s.

Horrorfest 2019 Presents: Ready Or Not (2019, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett)


Perhaps the 2019 horror satire thriller Ready Or Not is too clever for it’s own good. Maybe the snappy jokes and the brutal kills overshadow the fact that the movie doesn’t quite flesh out it’s main premise enough. Perhaps Ready Or Not would have benefitted from a longer run time. Yet the entire movie is so much fun, and has a nice creepy aspect that underlines the proceedings. Also Samara Weaving headlines a fantastic cast that also includes Andie McDowell and Adam Brody. I ended up liking this movie a lot even if certain parts fail.

Oh and the commentary on the rich is only too relevant today considering how they run the country. Oh it’s not just the first family, as the funny Why Your Team Sucks articles keep informing me. No it is also billionaires owning football teams, the super rich funding right wing causes to avoid taxes while the climate burns. Ready Or Not at least dives into that aspect to a certain extent, particularly since Grace, the main character, is not rich.

Also the film reminds me of how those in charge benefit from servants all too willing to aid them. The butler in particular is all too willing to hunt down Grace, and another member of the staff even yells out her location. Never trust someone willing to give you up so they can keep cleaning the floors and serving tea. Without revealing more I think Ready or Not was very realiable and a good eerie horror flick.

Be Careful of Who You Invite Into Your Home


That single opening shot before the film’s title card is mysterious: a man runs along a dusty road. There are no clues about where the man is running to or what he is running from. The viewer is left wondering what is going on, and the mystery of the person who says he is named David lies at the heart of Adam Wingard’s cult film masterwork The Guest. I loved that establishing shot of the Peterson family residence because the pumpkin headed scarecrow echoes the freaky opening credits for Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and thus hints at what occurs later on in the film.

Throughout most of this movie is a harrowing intense feeling of doom. David gives off a charming likeable feel and yet he clearly masks something nasty beneath his icy smile and the forced chuckles. It’s creepy how a stranger like David can insert himself into a normal family and yet by acting as a demonic guardian he earns their trust. It’s fitting that Anna, the daughter, sees though David’s projection of himself as this nice guy willing to help out the family of his dead comrade in arms. Unfortunately for her this urge to ask questions results in a literally explosive final act that is equal parts thrilling and creepy.

This film has shades of classics such as Halloween and The Terminator, existing as a horror action thriller hybrid. It’s soundtrack is also 80s heavy and very cool, underlying the proceedings in full synthesizer glory. Dan Stevens is impressive as David, and I love how the film is kind of “Unstoppable Badass Sits Down to Dinner.” Also I figured out that Wingard offers even more of a twist on the slasher film genre here than he even did with You’re Next, another great film he’s made. Particularly with the eerie and tension filled high school sequence, a classic staple of slasher films.

Oh and the ending made me smile. A lot. Yes The Guest is rather simplistic pilot wise however I don’t care. Maika Monroe had a strong presence as Anna and at times was channeling Amber Heard, which is a good thing. The action sequences are all crisp and badass, and David always feels intense and relentless. When he finally drops his mask its a great shock and a reminder that in this world maybe its smarter to distrust people you don’t know.

It’s Hammer Time Presents: Frankenstein Created Woman (1967, Terence Fisher)


One of the best things about Peter Cushing is how no matter what the movie he appeared in he always gave his all to whatever role he played. The part of Baron Frankenstein suited him rather well, and in Frankenstein Created Woman the Baron is working with an older assistant named Dr Hertz, attempting to isolate the soul of a person. In doing so he will conquer death via a new means, so long as he is able to captain a person’s soul and essence. Finally the brilliant madman is able to achieve his goal without interference from others, yet human nature becomes his new problem.

Like many of the entries in this series there is a ghoulish and cruel opener. A man is the executed, and the repercussions of this action happen years later when his son is framed for murder by a trio of upper class thugs. His beloved, Christina (the lovely and talented Susan Denberg) kills herself in response after seeing her lover brutally executed, and Frankenstein realizes this his chance to prove his metaphysical theories. Of course this leads to that classic scene featuring strange machines at work, resulting in weird science happening.

Frankenstein Created Woman is a film with two halves: one a science fiction Gothic horror tale with tragedy, the other a slasher film. The Baron does create a monster that is beautiful and lovely, and yet due to having the soul of a vengeful man it proceeds to go on a rampage. Unfortunately for Baron Frankenstein and his assistant the authorities of the village come after him per the typical realization that he is responsible, and events come to a head. Particularly after the Baron and Dr Hertz realize what is actually happening.

Despite at times being cheesy and a little slow in the middle, Frankenstein Created Woman is one of the better sequels in the Frankenstein series. The conclusion is both sad and haunting, and this film is rather entertaining and intelligently made. I continue to enjoy viewing these movies, as its amusing to me how Frankenstein continues to survive and work despite everyone being against him.

Horrorfest 2013 Presents: V/H/S (2012, Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, Radio Silence)


Horror anthologies are often fun to watch but annoying to review since you have to look at each individual segment and then look at the big picture. Not to mention thinking about the wrap around story-the whole reason for the single stories happening in the first place. V/H/S is good yet I felt a little disappointed at the final product. This could have worked better as a shorter movie or a TV series.

However some of the stories were really good and one was actually great. There was one bad one and I wasn’t really impressed with the wrap around tale although that one had some creepy moments. The film also operates on nightmare fuel-particularly in the segment “Amateur Night.” What surprised me is that “Second Honeymoon”, the one Ti West directed was the worst of the bunch. Maybe he works best in a longer format, as he builds up atmosphere and slowly creeps out the viewer.

I also really dug “Tuesday the 17th” although I’m a sucker for slasher films and I thought it was a cool twist on the genre. “The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger” was solid-creepy but with a weak ending. The use of Skype on that episode was rather original and clever. Also the films ends on a strong note with the rather freaky and mysterious “10/32/98,” which is fitting considering that story is set on Halloween in a horror movie.

I did like that the main story, titled “Tape 56” was never fully explained. The questions left unanswered makes what transpired a tad unnerving even if the story itself is a bit lacking overall. Despite its flaws V/H/S still works as a semi-effective anthology. I am looking forward to viewing the sequel, which based on the trailer I saw appears to be more intense and crazier.

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