Horrorfest 2022/Let’s Get Criterion Presents: The Devil’s Backbone (2001, Guillermo del Toro)


This was the last movie I watched for my Horrorfest, and I choose wisely. The Devil’s Backbone is a haunting, tragic and bittersweet picture set amongst the horrors and violence of the Spanish Civil War. As I viewed this movie I was reminded that some monsters are very human, which I think runs through a lot of Guillermo del Toro’s work. The man is a master craftsman of dreams and nightmares, fully unafraid to wield magical realism in his cinema. It’s a shame it took the Academy so long to praise his efforts.

Fernando Tielve takes the main character’s role of Carlos and fully runs with it all the way. He is left to survive in an all boys orphanage, bullied at first yet earning the respect of the kids there. Particularly Íñigo Garcés’ Jaime, who he forms a bond with and who is hiding a secret. A ghost is rumored to lurk on the grounds, all while an unexploded bomb sits quietly in the middle of the building. So many metaphors, only so much screen time.

The adults running the place range from saintly, nice, haunted, and wicked. You have Marisa Paredes’ Carmen who runs the place and deals with both scars hidden and obvious. Federico Luppi as Dr. Casares, who cares deeply for both Carman and the boys, yet is older and thus weaker as a result. Irene Visedo plays Conchita, who loves Jacinto (Eduardo Noriega) yet fails to realize he is not a good person until it’s too late. It is the adults who set in motion perilous events that threaten everyone in the orphanage, not the boys who only try to survive.

The ghost scenes in this movie are so effective because they lure you in and then pop up right in your face. There is a keyhole scene that rivals Black Christmas’ one in terms of supreme creep level, and the finale is very suspenseful. I’ll be dwelling on this one a while, and it’s easily one of del Toro’s best movies. It also clearly inspired other later movies, and is a welcome addition to my Criterion collection of Blu-ray’s.

Dead People Aren’t Much Fun: Horrorfest 2022


Still hilarious

Whew it took me a few months after October but I finished all the reviews. I’m not doing this many movies next year haha or this many months either. Thanks for reading, see you all next year for Horrorfest 2023!

I’ve run out of title ideas. That or I’m just tired these days. Yet I press on to another Horrorfest even though at some point I’ve got to be getting too old for this sort of thing. Anyways on with the show!

July (Monsters Oh My!):

Those folks rock.
  1. Creature with the Atom Brain (1955, Edward L. Cahn), Arrow Films Video Blu-ray Creature Feature
  2. The Werewolf (1956, Fred F. Sears), Arrow Films Video Blu-ray Creature Feature
  3. Zombies of Mora Tau (1957, Edward L. Cahn), Arrow Films Video Blu-ray Creature Feature
  4. The Giant Claw (1957, Fred F. Sears), Arrow Films Video Blu-ray Creature Feature
  5. Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary (1975, Juan López Moctezuma), Shudder Vampire
  6. Who Saw Her Die? (1972, Aldo Lado), Shudder Giallo
  7. Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion (1970, Luciano Ercoli), Shudder Giallo
  8. Tombs of the Blind Dead (1972, Amando de Ossorio), Shudder Undead Knights Templar
  9. Eat Brains Love (2019, Rodman Flender), Shudder Zombies
  10. Mosquito (1994, Gary Jones), Shudder Creature Feature
  11. Without Warning (1980, Greydon Clark), Shudder Aliens
  12. Invaders From Mars (1986, Tobe Hooper), Shudder Aliens
  13. Dark Angel/I Come In Peace (1990, Craig R. Baxley), Shudder Aliens
  14. Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge (1989, Richard Friedman), Shudder Slasher

August (Things Aren’t What They Seem):

Gordy’s home!
  1. (15) Nope (2022, Jordan Peele), Theater Viewing Aliens
  2. (16) The Stepfather II (1989, Jeff Burr), Crackle Family Psycho Man
  3. (17) Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957, Roger Corman), Crackle Creature Feature
  4. (18) Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959, Bernard L. Kowalski), Crackle Creature Feature
  5. (19) AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004, Paul W. S. Anderson), Hulu Aliens
  6. (20) Needful Things (1993, Fraser C. Heston), Shudder Devil
  7. (21) Head of the Family (1996, Charles Band), Shudder Mutants
  8. (22) Uncle Sam (1996, William Lustig), Shudder Undead Soldier
  9. (23) The Wolfman (2010, Joe Johnston), Tubi Werewolf
  10. (24) The Toolbox Murders (1978, Dennis Donnelly), Shudder Slasher
  11. (25) Son of Dracula (1943, Robert Siodmak), Tubi Dracula
  12. (26) Bloodsuckers from Outer Space (1984, Glen Coburn), Tubi Vampire Zombies
  13. (27) Color Me Blood Red (1965, Herschell Gordon Lewis), Tubi Slasher
  14. (28) La Semana del asesino aka The Cannibal Man (1972, Eloy de la Iglesia), Shudder Crazy People
  15. (29) The Predator (2018, Shane Black), Public Library Blu-ray Aliens

September (Murder, and Lots of It):

Always bring a flashlight in case you lose your phone
  1. (30) Nadie oyó gritar aka No One Heard the Scream (1973, Eloy de la Iglesia), Shudder Giallo
  2. (31) Watch Me When I Kill (1977, Antonio Bido), Shudder Giallo
  3. (32) Meatcleaver Massacre (1977, Evan Lee), Shudder Demonic
  4. (33) The Wizard of Gore (1970, Herschell Gordon Lewis), Tubi Murder Wizard
  5. (34) Mansion of the Doomed (1976, Michael Pataki), Shudder Mad Doctor
  6. (35) The Oracle (1985, Roberta Findlay), Shudder Possession
  7. (36) The Fall of the House of Usher (1928, Jean Epstein), YouTube Edgar Allen Poe
  8. (37) Storm of the Century (1999, Craig R. Baxley), Hulu Stephen King
  9. (38) Barbarian (2022, Zach Cregger), Theater Viewing Don’t Go In The House
  10. (39) Day Shift (2022, J. J. Perry), Netflix Instant Viewing Vampires
  11. (40) Blood Hook (1986, Jim Mallon), Tubi Killer Fisherman
  12. (41) Pearl (2022, Ti West), Movie Theater Viewing Crazy People Prequel
  13. (42) Blades (1989, Thomas R. Rondinella), Peacock/Tubi Killer Lawnmower
  14. (43) Blood Beach (1981, Jeffrey Bloom), YouTube Killer Beach Monster
  15. (44) Cementerio del terror aka Cemetery of Terror (1985, Rubén Galindo Jr.), Shudder Undead Satanic Serial Killer
  16. (44) Abby (1974, William Girdler), YouTube Demonic Blaxploitation
  17. (45) Grave Robbers (1989, Rubén Galindo Jr.), Shudder Demonic
  18. (46) Fright Night Part 2 (1988, Tommy Lee Wallace), YouTube Vampire

October (Forever Haunted):

Please remain seated until the plane has finished crashing.
  1. (47) Sole Survivor (1984, Thom Eberhardt), Shudder Watches The Dead
  2. (48) Lady In White (1988, Frank LaLoggia), Shudder Ghosts
  3. (49) Lust for a Vampire (1971, Jimmy Sangster), Tubi Karnsteins
  4. (50) The Vampire Bat (1933, Frank R. Strayer), Tubi Old School
  5. (51) Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986, Brian Gibson), Tubi The Beast
  6. (52) Poltergeist III (1988, Gary Sherman), Tubi Supernatural Skyscraper
  7. (53) Shaun of the Dead (2004, Edgar Wright), Movie Theater Viewing Zombie RomCom!
  8. (54) Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors (1965, Freddie Francis), Tubi Amicus Anthology
  9. (55) Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990, Jeff Burr), Tubi The Saw is Family
  10. (56) I Like Bats (1986, Grzegorz Warchoł), Shudder Polish Vampire
  11. (57) The Munsters (2022, Rob Zombie), Netflix Instant Viewing Family Fun
  12. (58) The Ritual (2017, David Bruckner), Netflix Instant Viewing Creature Feature
  13. (59) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003, Marcus Nispel), Tubi Remake
  14. (60) The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here! (1972, Andy Milligan), Shudder Werewolf Family
  15. (61) Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022, David Blue Garcia), Netflix Instant Viewing Requel
  16. (62) Werewolf by Night (2022, Michael Giacchino), Disney+ Werewolf? There, wolf!
  17. (63) Prey (2022, Dan Trachtenberg), Hulu Comanche vs Predator
  18. (64) A Blade in the Dark (1983, Lamberto Bava), Shudder Giallo
  19. (65) Oculus (2013, Mike Flanagan), Hulu Killer Mirror
  20. (66) Fangs (1974, Art Names), Shudder Killer Snakes
  21. (67) Godzilla vs Spacegodzilla (1994, Kensho Yamashita), Hulu Monster Fight
  22. (68) Trick ‘r Treat (2007, Michael Dougherty), Movie Theater Viewing Halloween Anthology
  23. (69) Watcher (2022, Chloe Okuno), Shudder Paranoia
  24. (70) Roadgames (1981, Richard Franklin), Tubi Trucker Blues
  25. (71) The House of Seven Corpses (1973, Paul Harrison), Tubi Undead Manor
  26. (72) Elvira’s Haunted Hills (2001, Sam Irvin), Shudder Elvira Fun
  27. (73) Manhattan Baby (1982, Lucio Fulci), Shudder Egyptian Evil
  28. (74) Aenigma (1988, Lucio Fulci), Shudder Psychic Revenge
  29. (75) The Raven (1963, Roger Corman), Tubi Sorcery
  30. (76) The Flesh Eaters (1964, Jack Curtis), Tubi Creature Feature
  31. (77) Deathdream (1974, Bob Clark), Tubi Undead Soldier
  32. (78) Häxan (1922, Benjamin Christensen), Criterion Blu-ray Witchcraft Through The Ages
  33. (79) Onibaba (1964, Kaneto Shindo), Criterion Blu-ray Demon Hag
  34. (80) The Cremator (1969, Juraj Herz), Criterion Blu-ray Evil Incarnate

Coda (Can’t Stop Won’t Stop):

  1. 81 Halloween Ends (2022, David Gordon Green), Movie Theater Corey Kill Em All
  2. (82) The Devil’s Backbone (2001, Guillermo del Toro), Criterion Blu-ray Spanish Ghosts

Top 10:

1. The Cremator (1969)
2. Nope (2022)
3. The Devil’s Backbone (2001)
4. Häxan (1922)
5. Barbarian (2022)
6. Sole Survivor (1984)
7. The Raven (1963)
8. Pearl (2022)
9. Onibaba (1964)
10. Storm of the Century (1999)

HM: The Fall of the House of Usher (1928)

Horrorfest 2020 Presents: Edge of the Axe (1988, José Ramón Larraz)


Edge of the Axe works best when it is brutal and unflinching, showing bloody and horrific murders onscreen. I did not care much for the final act, even though the closing shot is neat. However I rather liked this movie even if I feel certain aspects didn’t work for me. Also that opener is both shocking and well done, making one paranoid about being in a car wash. I guess even in one’s vehicle you are not safe. The killer’s mask is a fine inhuman, freaky touch indeed.

The Arrow Video transfer looks great of course, and I am reminded of why I upgraded to Blu-ray about four years ago. I like that the Spanish decided to create in the 1980s their own slasher movie, and they did the genre justice. My favorite part is when a woman makes the mistake of reaching for shotgun shells and pays dearly. Check this out even though it may be a tad dated. Also hey I can’t think of any other slasher films that depend on computers this much. That’s a fairly original touch.

Horrorfest 2013 Presents: [Rec] (2007, Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza)


Alright so found footage horror movies might be my weakness seeing as I’ve liked every one I’ve viewed so far. However most of them have been easy to defend and in the case this 2007 zombie film that was quickly remade only a year or two later what we have here is a great and scary film. Its been a while since a zombie movie has scared me and this due to the last couple of them being more focused on parody and comedy.

The film’s short run time works in its favor as the movie is intense and goes from being slow to rapid and terrifying. The firefighting crew sent to investigate with a reporter and cameraman in tow quickly discover the awful situation they are trapped in. Things only get worse from there, as the truth emerges and the tenants of the apartment complex begin to panic.

[Rec] has some flaws, sure-I wasn’t a huge fan of some of the last act-yet it is still a great film. It properly utilizes its format and sticks to the found footage style of film making without fail. Also its incredibly frightening to the point where I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue. Few horror movies have ever done that to me. I’m amused that they not only remade this film but that both the original and the remake have sequels. I doubt any of them live up to the original yet I still want to check them out regardless.

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