Horrorfest 2019 Presents: Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl (2016, A. D. Calvo)


As much as I liked Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl I felt certain aspects were a bit too slow burning even for someone like me who enjoys slow burn movies. Oh and I am not sure if this was really a horror movie or not, although it does build up a nice eerie atmosphere that almost suffocates the viewer. I understood the themes of alienation and well, loneliness, yet the relationship between Adele and Beth (Erin Wilhelmi and Quinn Shephard, both who are excellent in this film) goes from being one of equals to Beth exorcising extreme control over Adele’s life. The film’s bleak looking tone was a good touch, as is a few good jump scares that work effectively.

I am not a big fan of the last act however, yet I still think the movie is pretty well made and is really good. Perhaps I was left a bit unsatisfied and I felt that the rest of the movie did not completely support what happens. I enjoyed the quiet moments when Adele and Beth seemed to connect, the parts that felt at home in a movie that would be quite different from Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl. I also was reminded of the cult classic Let’s Scare Jessica To Death, which is a good thing. Based on that final scene A.D. Calvo could make a sequel, yet I like it when horror movie directors decide one is enough and move on to something new.

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: The Others (2001, Alejandro Amenábar)


Tragic, eerie, and semi channeling The Innocents, The Others is a movimg horror drama. It’s anchored by Nicole Kidman, who reminds us how talented of an actress she really is, at times carrying this movie. Also it helps that the kid actors are good, and that the film has style and grace. It guilds up its atmosphere slowly and carefully.

There are also strong religious elements, as Grace home schools her children and is devoutly Catholic. Her servants are led by Mrs. Mills, who is equal parts charming, creepy and grandmotherly. Without saying anything truly spoiler filled this movie offers a unique and fascinating take on the ghost haunted house style flick. Few movies like The Others come along in a while, and when they do its best to tune in.

Horrorfest 2015 Presents: Dead Silence (2007, James Wan)


 

Poor Jamie (Ryan Kwanten). He escaped his home town yet he is forced to return because of grisly events. Upon coming back he finds out that the homecoming is also ugly: hardly anyone is left. His father, Edward (Bob Gunton) is wheelchair bound and just as evil as he remembers. Also the ghost of Mary Shaw lingers over the town, existing as a mystery that Jamie must unravel. He needs to recall one thing: “Beware the stare of Mary Shaw / She had no children only dolls / And if you see her in your dreams / Be sure to never ever scream.”

James Wan’s Dead Silence suffers a bit from plot holes and some weak acting. Yet it’s still a relatively creepy and even scary movie that thrives on people’s  (myself included) fear of puppets. Mary Shaw (played expertly by Judith Ann Roberts) though is terrifying herself: after all, she had herself made into a puppet after her death. I also dig Wan’s 1970s horror ascetic and Donnie Wahlberg chews scenery as a detective who is the center of normal in this crazy movie. I also loved the ending despite many critics not liking it or the film at all. That’s too bad since Wan has a unique style is and is a gifted horror filmmaker. Oh well.

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: Night of the Demons (1988, Kevin Tenney)


Thanks to Scream Factory I was able to view another 80s cult film, this one being titled Night of the Demons. By the late 1980s the horror film genre was tired of slasher movies, and so films like this one were more the norm, although of course a group of teenagers wander into some abandoned building and get horribly murdered. However “Night” has a more slower pace, as it builds up the tension until events really get out of hand. And naturally a film like this has a morality tale of sorts included, offering up why one should not mess with forces beyond our world, or something like that. Not really a complex message, although this movie is pretty straightforward, which is part of its charm. Also the opener is darkly humorous, as it features an old man preparing to lace his candy apples with razor blades. How that side story concludes, is um, with a quite gruesome surprise.

This is the type of horror movie where you have character names such as Angela, Judy, Helen, Max and Roger. Although of course you have a guy like Stooge, who by the end of the film truly lives up to his human pig reputation. Most of the film doesn’t contain humor and is a suspenseful movie, turning into a chase style trying to escape movie by the conclusion. Despite having some cliches “Night” has some surprises, and I was entertained despite the film’s low budget limitations. I also liked that the film saves its gory elements for later on, and doesn’t become too campy, the bizarre plot aside. Oh and the film has a really good soundtrack, with one of the tracks being sang by Bauhaus, who also contributed a track to the 1980s horror classic The Hunger. I’m not sure why or how this film spawned multiple sequels (plus the typical horror remake) although by the 1980s franchises had become the norm for anything halfway successful or notable.

Horrorfest 2014 Presents: Phenomena (1985, Dario Argento)


Jennifer Connelly had a busy year with both Labyrinth and Phenomena, both strange films although only one is a Dario Argento horror film. This is one of the stranger Argento movies, even by his standards, because in this film Connelly’s Jennifer has the ability to communicate with insects. This ability is established early on when a bee lands on her finger and does not sting her, as if it has become her friend. Of course this film also opens with a typically horrific and startling Argento style murder, and in a way this film reminded me of Suspiria since both movies take place at boarding schools for young women. Naturally both involve the supernatural, too, something that Argento also touched upon in Inferno and some of his later movies, too.

Not only do you have horror icon Donald Pleasence playing a professor stuck in a wheelchair but you also have Argento veteran Daria Nicolodi as Jennifer’s chaperon. Plus there is even a ridiculously smart chimp named Inga, who assists Pleasence and proves to be important later on in the film. You have numerous nasty murders, Jennifer summoning up insects after the students foolishly mock her, and a cool traveling sequence where Jennifer puts her bug powers to investigative use. All set to a wicked soundtrack featuring Goblin and songs by Iron Maiden, Motörhead, Bill Wyman and Andi Sexgang. Even though some of the movie doesn’t quite work (a few of the scenes come off as silly, not magical or creepy) this is still a wonderfully eerie and well made film. Oh and I’m naturally biased in favor of movies with a monkey as one of the main characters for some reason. Perhaps they amuse me.

Horrorfest 2014 Presents: The Ninth Gate (1999, Roman Polanski)


Although more of a thriller than a horror movie, The Ninth Gate is rooted in both the supernatural and reality, something that Polanski did with Rosemary’s Baby, The Tenant and Repulsion. Johnny Depp portrayals a book dealer and collector who is hired by a rich collector named Boris, played by Frank Langella to prove his copy of a book written by the Devil is not a fake. Even though the reasons are never revealed, Depp’s Corso presses on with the search, brushing past increasing dangers and witnessing horrible things in the process.

This, like all of Polanski’s films is rather well made and is engaging throughout. However it almost falls apart in the second act and the ending is a tad unsatisfying, and the film could have been shortened by at least 20 minutes. The mystery woman (the rather gorgeous Emmanuelle Seigner)  that aids Corso is a little too convenient and the film itself dives into silliness in certain parts. Yet I was still mostly entertained and the film has the hallmarks of many of Polanski’s best works. A much better modern Polanski thriller is The Ghost Writer, a film that has a better cast and is more tightly paced.

 

Horrorfest 2014: Still Not Quite Dead


Since 2008 I have watched horror movies from August to early November ever year. Its a grand tradition, one that I will probably keep on doing until I’m finally tired of horror movies…..or more likely run out of the free time necessary to binge every year. There is no set schedule this time, and the theme is horror franchises. Buckle up folks: its going to be another fun ride.

The Dry Run:

1. Zombie (1979, Lucio Fulci)-Zombies=https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/08/07/horrorfest-2014-presents-zombie-1979-lucio-fulci/
2. Phantasm II (1988, Don Coscarell)-Supernatural=https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/08/08/horrorfest-2014-presents-phantasm-ii-1988-don/
3. A Field In England (2013, Ben Wheatley)-Crazy People=https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/08/18/horrorfest-2014-presents-a-field-in-england-2013-ben-wheatley/

Netflix Instant Viewing Films:

1. Phantoms (1998, Joe Chappelle)-Creature Feature=https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/horrorfest-2014-presents-phantoms/
2. The Ninth Gate (1999, Roman Polanski)-Satanic=https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/09/08/horrorfest-2014-presents-the-ninth-gate-1999-roman-polanski/
3. Red State (2011, Kevin Smith)-Rednecks=https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/10/17/horrorfest-2014-presents-red-state-2011-kevin-smith/
4. Sharknado (2013, Anthony C. Ferrante)-Creature Feature
5. V/H/S/2 (2013, Simon Barrett, Jason Eisener, Gareth Evans, Gregg Hale, Eduardo Sanchez, Timo Tjahjanto, Adam Wingard)-Anthology=https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/10/29/horrorfest-2014-presents-vhs2-2013-simon-barrett-jason-eisener-gareth-evans-gregg-hale-eduardo-sanchez-timo-tjahjanto-adam-wingard/
6. Ravenous (1999, Antonia Bird)-Crazy People=https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/10/31/horrorfest-2014-presents-ravenous-1999-antonia-bird/
7. Below (2002, David Twohy)-Ghosts-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/12/09/horrorfest-2014-presents-below-2002-david-twohy-2/
8. Wishmaster (1997, Robert Kurtzman)-Supernatural-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/12/09/horrorfest-2014-presents-wishmaster-1997-robert-kurtzman/
9. Grabbers (2012, Jon Wright)-Aliens-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/horrorfest-2014-presents-grabbers-2012-jon-wright/
10. Candyman (1992, Bernard Rose)-Slasher-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2015/01/22/horrorfest-2014-presents-candyman-1992-bernard-rose/
11. Orca: The Killer Whale (1977, Michael Anderson)-Creature Feature-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/horrorfest-2014-presents-orca-the-killer-whale-1977-michael-anderson/
12. Nightmare City (1980, Umberto Lenzi)-Zombies-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2015/01/30/horrorfest-2014-presents-nightmare-city-1980-umberto-lenzi/
13. Humanoids From The Deep (1980, Barbara Peeters)-Creature Feature-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2015/01/30/horrorfest-2014-presents-humanoids-from-the-deep-1980-barbara-peeters/
14. Black Sabbath (1964, Mario Bava)-Anthology-Horrorfest 2014 Presents: Black Sabbath (1964, Mario Bava)
15. Visiting Hours (1982, Jean-Calude Lord)-Slasher-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2022/01/14/horrorfest-2014-presents-visiting-hours-1982-jean-calude-lord/
16. Dust Devil (1992, Richard Stanley)-Slasher-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2015/08/26/horrorfest-2014-presents-dust-devil-1992-richard-stanley/
17. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920, John S. Robertson)-Creature Feature
18. Event Horizon (1997, Paul W.S. Anderson)-Instant Viewing-WTF
19. You’re Next (2011, Adam Wingard)-Slasher/Crazy People
20. Big Ass Spider (2013, Mike Mendez)-Creature Feature-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2015/06/12/2014-horrorfest-presents-big-ass-spider-2013-mike-mendez/

The Franchises:

Listed are only ones that I have not seen yet. I might think of more later. I’ve viewed most of the Halloween series and all of the Friday the 13th films so they will not be featured.

1. A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989, Stephen Hopkins)=https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/09/18/horrorfest-2014-presents-a-nightmare-on-elm-street-5-the-dream-child-1989-stephen-hopkins/
2. Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991, Rachel Talalay)=https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/09/30/2014-horrorfest-presents-freddys-dead-the-final-nightmare-1991/
3. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994, Wes Craven)=
https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/horrorfest-2014-presents-wes-cravens-new-nightmare-1994-wes-craven/
4. Child’s Play (1988, Tom Holland)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2015/06/24/horrorfest-2014-presents-childs-play-1988-holland/
5. Child’s Play 2 (1990, John Lafia)-Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Child’s Play 2 (1990, John Lafia)
6. Child’s Play 3 (1991, Jack Bender)
7. Bride of Chucky (1998, Ronny Yu)
8. Seed of Chucky (2004, Don Mancini)
9. Curse of Chucky (2013, Don Mancini)
10. Halloween: Resurrection (2002, Rick Rosenthal)-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2022/01/14/horrorfest-2014-presents-halloween-resurrection-2002-rick-rosenthal/

Other Films:

1. Body Bags (1993, John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper, Larry Sulkis), Public Library-Anthology=https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/10/18/horrorfest-2014-presents-body-bags-1993-john-carpenter-tobe-hooper-larry-sulkis/
2. Perfect Blue (1998, Satoshi Kon), Public Library-Crazy People=https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/10/21/horrorfest-2014-presents-perfect-blue-1997-satoshi-kon/
3. Opera (1987, Dario Argento), Slasher-YouTube=https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/10/24/horrorfest-2014-presents-opera-1987-dario-argento/
4. Phenomena (1985, Dario Argento), YouTube-Slasher=https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/phenomena-1985-dario-argento/
5. Night of the Demons (1988, Kevin Tenney), Public Library-Demonic=https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/11/03/horrorfest-2014-presents-night-of-the-demons-1988-kevin-tenney/
6. The Innocents (1961, Jack Clayton), Netflix-Ghosts=
https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/horrorfest-2014-presents-the-innocents-1961-jack-clayton/
7. The Wicker Man (1973, Robin Hardy), Netflix-Satanic-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2022/01/22/horrorfest-2014-presents-the-wicker-man-1973-robin-hardy/
8. The Premature Burial (1962, Roger Corman), Netflix-Revenge
9. The Masque Of The Red Death (1964, Roger Corman), Netflix-Satanic-Horrorfest 2020 Presents: The Masque of the Red Death (1964, Roger Corman)
10. Tales From The Crypt (1972, Freddie Francis), Public Library-Anthology=https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/10/14/horrorfest-2014-presents-amicus-double-bill-tales-from-the-crypt-1972-freddie-francis-and-the-vault-of-horror-1973-roy-ward-baker/
11. The Vault Of Horror (1973, Roy Ward Baker), Public Library-Anthology=https://madman731.wordpress.com/2014/10/14/horrorfest-2014-presents-amicus-double-bill-tales-from-the-crypt-1972-freddie-francis-and-the-vault-of-horror-1973-roy-ward-baker/
12. Prom Night (1980, Paul Lynch), Netflix-Slasher-https://madman731.wordpress.com/2015/02/15/horrorfest-2014-presents-prom-night-1980-paul-lynch/

Favorite Songs: Part XVII


I became a fan of Kavinsky thanks to “Nightcall” off of the Drive OST and YouTube lead me to this fantastic and groovy electronic driven piece that I love a lot. Especially since “Pacific Coast Highway” tells the story of a driver with supernatural abilities who eludes the police at every turn. Cool.

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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