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Horror Movies

Witches of the Water (The Mermaid’s Curse)

Witches of the Water begins with a couple going at it on the beach, until the siren song lures the man away and the mermaid begins to chew through his neck. Then she turns on the woman. 

It’s a simple enough make up, latex obscuring the  face of a woman clad in a long white gown. She screams and intimidates just fine. On the other end of the title card, we have two men talking about disappearances and and in the area. There’s an old sailor sitting nearby them in the coffee shop who warned them it’s nothing human behind these disappearances. Young man from the paper followed him but can’t get any more information. But on the beach, he sees him, and he can hear her song. Unfortunately, the seller gets it while the reporter is discovering that his ex is sleeping with his friend.

He goes to the beach to mope, and while he’s doing so, he finds a mermaid – though he thinks she’s just a girl on the beach. So he brings her home to try and help, she revives in the bathtub and goes and eats his roommate. In the meantime, the ex-girlfriend wants to make nice and try and make up for the indiscretion… I’m personally hoping that the mermaid eats her next. Useful though, helping us find a website that talked a little bit about the disappearances in the area… It’s the agent Coulson of the Louisa Warren films! The same YouTube that gave us exclamations in some of her other movies. Meanwhile, still searching for the truth, he’s starting to fall in love with the mermaid… Little does he know, she’s not the only siren in these waters, and in love or not, she still can’t control her desire to feed.

So while the reporter’s waking up in bed with a predator, the girlfriends chatting up the sailor again. He encountered them back in the day, and he knows their true origin. You see, there’s a reason why this movie was originally called Witches of the Water insted of the incredibly misleading (but easier to sell) mermaids curse. Think Salem with trials. Something like that. They weren’t trusted by the community. There were rumblings among the populace that they put a spell on the men folk, and then,- trials and execution. They say the women were convicted, though, there’s rumors that the men had their way with them before they drowned them, and this caused such anger and pain and fury that these witches invoked a curse which allowed them to come back and devour the living. I love this origin, almost as much as I love the origin from Louise Warren’s leprechaun. She’s taking very basic mythology and giving it a far more interesting twist and backstory. 

But now, reporter is in thrall and it’s actually up to the ex girlfriend to try and rescue him and banish the witches in the water… an action that might just have longer lasting consequences than she realizes.

This is actually a fascinating character study, with a brilliant new take on the idea of mermaids. I really wish they hadn’t renamed this, because while they’re mistaken for sirens, they’re really not. They’re more Witch than mermaid, and the actresses in these roles know how to emote and communicate without ever saying a word in the film. It’s one of the more effective make ups and monsters that I’ve seen from the director, and a story that sticks with me, far more than a lot of her previous work. It’s good stuff and a serious growth as a filmmaker. Well shucks, now I want A trilogy of THESE movies!





We have the US and Mexico border there’s a special team there just to do investigate possession demonic activity. Our story starts in the maternity ward near there,  a very sinister looking nurse locks the door and goes all Stabby on the babies, before cutting her own throat.

OK, you have my attention.

Five years later. School shooting, being investigated by Detective Emanuel, one of those who lost a child at the baby massacre. Mother of the shooter describes an account of her son had with one of them something bad is about to happen… And five more of these incidents were to come. Outside, reporters swarmed the detective, and in the distance, Tobin Bell watches.

The cops asked for help, and in come The paranormal forensics team. In the meantime, we get a second killing, with a spaced out janitor jumping into the public pool with jumper cables attached to her and the electrical outlet

There’s strange things going on at the crime scenes. curious sounds, and prints all over the walls, it’s enough that the detective is beginning to soften and listen to the paranormal forensics team

They consult a psychic, and it all goes spectacularly wrong. A tarot reading, somehow, all the cards come up as the devil. Generally you’re not supposed to take these things literally, but when every one of them is the devil and that’s followed by massive psychic disturbance, knocking and flying things… It may be time to suspect some diabolical influence. It’s definitely enough to spook Detective Emmanuel to the point where he’s sleeping with a gun under his pillow.

The next incident, a bombing at a movie theater, right after a couple of guys, including bell, snatch a kid and runoff in a unmarked van.

Their investigation rules them through a creepy area, tagged with graffiti reading children’s slayer, crazy priest. The investigator asked the detective “do you have faith?“
“In Mexico, even the atheists are believers.“
“The belief isn’t the same as faith… And if things keep up this way, we’re going to need both.“

That’s a great quote. Worth the price of admission all by itself.

In the ruins of the church to find strange markings, things designed to torture demons, and the remnants of an insane priest.
A carriage moves by itself and a babies laugh rings out. Children’s voices chant, and lead them deeper into the building. A broken crucifix comes to life, and a demon speaks through the crumbling statue, as it struggles to free at self from the nails in his hands and feet “It’s almost time for my son to walk the earth” but it’s willing to make a deal… The life of one child and she’ll go away for 1000 years. Or is it just tempting them? It is a spectacular set piece with an explosive climax, leaving them drained and frustrated.

Interestingly enough, it’s Tobin Bell who comes to the rescue. He’s was there to explain the plot. Once every thousand years, the Messiah is reincarnated. And every time, the devil attempts to destroy him as a child, just as he did with Jesus Christ. Bell suggests that the first time he was returning, the child was killed during the crusades. But this time, they have him. Still, the devil is trying to destroy everything around him… Killing the baby that would’ve reincarnated as John the Baptist, reincarnated as Saint Paul. And now his entire mission is to protect this child, that he says is the reincarnations Christ. Get them across the border to a safe place… A monastery that he can grow and develop his power.

Seems to me like that’s the queue for our third act to begin.

Decide the best bet to get the kid to safety is to go through smuggler blue lid and confusing as labyrinth. Full of Catholic skeletons, statues, and nightmares. It is an unholy place, which leads to the detective been possessed.

Tobin Bell initiates the most chill exorcism I’ve ever seen. (but don’t worry, The second try to goes full on gonzo crazy) He’s cool low-key performance consistently conveys more power than any amount of bluster. The lighting plays with the sinister look of the demon possessed Detective forgives Chase as the mother and the Messiah flee into the climax of the film.

It’s a smart film with a lot of interesting ideas. There’s certainly some misreading of the Bible here, but catholic mysticism in the horror movie is always kind of its own thing… Without a lot of resemblance to reality.

Tobin Bell is shockingly good here, in an understanding performance. When is almost tempted to suggest he’s under Used, but really… I think it’s just enough. I’m honestly not quite sure what to make of Joaquin costume. At times he feels wrong as a detective, but he’s exactly the sort of Hawking threat that we need towards the end of the film, and his arrogance and bluster really sell the character.

It’s a good film. It’s exactly the sort of thing that you sign up for Shudder for.

Cowboys vs Zombies

The first thing about cowboys versus zombies that strikes me is that it’s not a old Western. It’s set in modern times. It’s still in the remote western town, but the modern setting definitely isn’t what I was hoping for.
After a brief introduction with one of the main characters burying a body, we switch to a house of ill reputed to try and touch base with the rest of our cast.

Despite being modern day, it’s trying very hard to hit all the western tropes. A shoot out in the street, Mysterious mercenary drifter, drunkin Sheriff, even those swinging half saloon doors.

Still, it’s a very talky first half of the movie, and the zombies themselves are wandering on screen towards the town for at least 10 minutes before anyone notices, but when the zombies finally do attack, it’s a welcome relief. The Cowboys pull out guns and blast away in a brilliant fire fight. The digital blood gets distracted from time to time but trick shots and constant gunplay make for an entertaining spectacle. The muzzle flash is a real, and we have a bit of bone and blood in brain spatter across the screen as they retreat back into the saloon where they discuss the backstory.

While I will admit I groaned a little bit when somebody pulled out of katana, the movie was worth a dollar I paid for it. It’s fun for the zombie battles And the third act is bonkers, a relentless and unending zombie battle. but feels like it falls short and its potential.



85% of the cast is under 25

Bad CGI (common, afterFX, same old blood packs)

Cover misrepresents the movie

Copyright free name that sounds like another franchise (Cowboys vs Aliens)


Zombies vs Strippers

box halfMan, I cannot believe that full moon pictures mockbustered me. When I looked at this package, I mistook this film for zombie strippers – the one with Robert England andmv5bmtk5nza5oduwml5bml5banbnxkftztcwnda1njg2oa-_v1_uy268_cr30182268_al_ Jenna Jamison. When the full moon pictures logo came up, I knew I was in the wrong place.

Full moon is a staple of indie movies, and usually bring surprisingly good quality, but they never ever had a budget that could afford someone like Robert England (maybe Jenna Jamison cameo but I’m not even sure about that!). Still, with a Full moon film, you know exactly what you’re going to get. They play it straight, they take it seriously. However, they also know when exactly to add some humour and lightness.

This is not the sort of zombie movie that is going to change the world, but that doesn’t keep it from being fun. The movie is entirely set at a strip club, though we occasionally get glimpses of the parking lot, for the most part it’s inside the club.the owner is depressed because businesses bad – indeed throughout the entire movie we never see more than a couple of patrons – and he is planning on selling it. In fact, the paperwork has already gone through and tonight is the last night. It probably wouldn’t have any customers at all, if not for the zombie outbreak… Its early stages and no one knows what’s going on yet. A couple of people show up here because the strip clubs they were at descended into chaos, but they are saying is just your normal Friday night. We get further description of what’s going on outside through news reports and our patrons tales of what happened at the previous clubs they attended. Beyond that, it’s very straightforward – zombies show up, somebody gets bitten, zombies beaten back or hidden from, zombies show up again, someone turns… It’s all extremely by the numbers. The zombies here are also very much what we’ve seen before – shambling mumbling “brains! “.

There is nothing new here, but don’t let that turn you off. While you don’t get the social commentary of George Romero, or the gritty post apocalypse of the walking dead, they still take themselves seriously enough to not tip over into the wackyness  of evil dead. While the movie doesn’t really add anything to either the catalogue or the zombie mythology, it also doesn’t take away from it. A box set like this is exactly where it belongs… part of an anthology perhaps. In a set like this it’s going to get more attention than it would on a streaming channel or doing a broadcast on SyFy – in those cases, I can just change the channel. On the other hand , Being a collection like this you won’t feel bad about possibly paying too much for this movie the way you might have if you had bought it for $5 in the dump bin at Wal-Mart.  If this were something that I had rented for a dollar at the local video store on a Saturday night, I’m confident to say I would have walked away satisfied that I enjoy this, and it’s definitely a good sign if this is what I have coming up in the rest of the set.



85% of the cast is under 25

Mostly one location

Copyright free name that sounds like another franchise (Amityville, Ouija, ect)



Halloween : The Curse of Michael Meyers

I was still in college when Halloween : the Curse of Michael Myers came out. I remember that I was working at a Wendy’s at the time, and one of my coworkers came in just raving about how great the movie was.

“Michael Myers doesn’t play!“ He gushed about the blood and gore and how scary The film was. Now, I’ve never been a Halloween guy. Michael Myers doesn’t do much for me, I’m far more the Freddy Krueger. Still, with this ringing endorsement from my burger flipping compatriot, I was sold on giving this franchise a chance. So I went out and got a copy of Halloween six. (I always confuse this and think that it’s Halloween 5 for some reason… It’s really the first one without a number behind the title, and it is indeed the fifth Michael Myers adventure, perhaps that’s why).

In any event, this is really not the movie to introduce Michael Myers to someone. Also, my coworker and I had different standards for “lots of blood and gore“. Still, Michael is brutal enough here and there, and as a newcomer I just assumed the whole “cult of thorn” thing was always part of the mythology (actually, it’s sort of is. If you’ve ever read the novelization of the first movie, you’ll find the author spends a good third of the book tying Michael into some dark northern mythology, as a repeating ghost and the avatar of a cult. It’s not hard to see where they got the idea from.)! I have no idea who Tommy Doyle was though, and while I could infer who this old dude chasing Michael down was, he seemed like an odd choice for the action hero of the piece.

The Curse of Michael Myers is really about trying to delve into some sort of backstory for Michael. It begins with a young woman running out of some underground bunker, having just given birth. Michael
Myers follows her, in his slow methodical walk. A tattoo of a Celtic rune is on his wrist. She flees to a bus station but there’s no buses coming, only Michael. She hides the baby, just before Michael finds her and goes all Stabby on her. In the meantime, there is no Halloween in Haddonfield and yet in his lonely upstairs apartment, Paul Rudd prepares for the festival, and watches the Myers/Strode house just in case an estranged masked visitor shows up. Indeed he does, shortly followed by his pursuer, Dr. Loomis and now it’s time to try and put Michael away for good… In the meantime discovering the origin of his invincibility and white coat keeps coming back- A druidic order called the cult of the thorn.

Of course the real reason to watch this movie… There’s two really. First and foremost is Paul Rudd in a very early appearance. Like I said, I was in college when this thing came out. 20 years later, Paul Rudd is playing Ant-man and he has an aged a day. Maybe he’s the one secretly rejuvenated by a Celtic cult hmmmmmm? He’s not at the height of his powers yet. Not quite as funny as we used to him, but his easy-going charm is definitely present here, and the film goes out of its way to exploit it. He’s turned into an almost immediately trustworthy character, which helps as we join his quest to destroy Haddonfield‘s least favorite son.

The other reason to watch this is obviously Donald Pleasence recurring his role as Dr. Loomis… and doing so for the final time. The presence of pleasance always manages to elevate even the most meger fair… even when he’s phoning it in as he does here. But Moore importantly, much like the Phantasm films eventually turned into sort of, family reunions… A chance to hang out with Reggie and Mike and Bill and Don and Angus… So too, the Halloween films have absorb the same quality. It’s a chance to hang out with familiar faces in old friends like Donald Pleasence.

Of course, a lot of his old friends were absent. And that’s really The dilemma of this film. If you’re new coming in here, this is a terrible entry point. But if you’re a veteran of the Halloween series, you’re likely to be kind of pissed about what they’re doing here. The supernatural origins for Michael don’t really sit well with a lot of purists, and to see Jamie Lloyd so brutally destroyed and discarded, it’s heartbreaking. Even more so when you consider they’ve thrown some no-name actress in the role instead of bringing back Danielle Harris.

Halloween six is an uneven film at best, at worst it comes off a lot like some weird fanfiction that somehow made it to the screen. And yet, I can’t entirely dissuade you from seeing it. For fans, at least it’s one more ride, one more adventure. It’s another trip to the well, even if the water in that well has gone a little stale.


Pagan Warrior

Pagan warrior begins with a boy playing in a castle and then heading out into the woods, playing with his ball. He loses it in the forest, and comes upon terrifying creature. The year is 1812, and this boy, much like other Vikings have gone missing in the woods. Some say it’s an animal, some say it’s a monster, a demon from the underworld… one that wakes every year for one day to claim a life.

It is three days from yule, and the Vikings are coming to sack the castle. They meet opposition in the woods The family is slaughtered and the daughter taken, and the raiders move on.

The body of the king is found in the woods by a couple of healers  who manages to bring him back, even as the Vikings take over castle Sussex.  They tell him that they could summon him help. a monster… They call Krampus. 

He will demand a price… The price that will be paid equal to the service he  renders, and paid 10 years hence. 
He walks out into the clearing, in a genuinely good makeup that  looks like a orc with horns and the voice of Frank Welker.  Under all that latex, he’s still delivering a great performance. Still, we’ve had to wait a long enough. With the exception of that brief appearance at the beginning, we’ve had to wait over half the movie for Krampus to arrive.

He does go about his bloody work and it’s quite interesting to see him out there and killing. He is a terrifying spectacle as he carries out the curse, accidentally killing a few people that weren’t on the list… A weird pumpkinhead-like mixup, and the king wants to terminate the contract. That isn’t going to happen so 10 years pass, and we’re back to that prologue… Remember? It’s a great way to book end this movie and how to make it genuinely poignant.

Big problem here, is all of Warren’s medieval films really look so similar. It’s the same woods, the same cast, the same pagan huts, the same cast. The color grading and the composition is the same, and at this point Warren is really overusing those overhead drone shots of the English countryside. I feel like every establishing shot is one of these overheads, and they come every five minutes. They’re beautiful, but they were beautiful the first twenty times and now I’m seeing this shot too often. Still, the Krampus makes for one of the best monsters I’ve seen any of her films… Which makes the title “Pagan Warrior“ all the more confusing.

When I think pre-Christian soldier, I may think Viking and Northern, but I don’t think Krampus. And he does appear to be the titular pagan warrior of the film. It’s not a particular Christmassy film though , so perhaps that’s why they chose not to use the name Krampus in the title. Still it seems like it would give it a little more push. In any event, I enjoy seeing him as part of Warren’s pantheon of monsters, and I’m genuinely hoping will see a return of this creature in a modern day setting, alongside her scarecrows and mermaids and leprechauns and tooth fairy.


Daughter of Darkness

box halfOIPI certainly can’t fault Daughter of Darkness for starting in a graveyard. Not only do we have a funeral, we have Ferris Bueller’s girlfriend (The fact that the character is from Chicago just abuses me all the more) chasing a black robed figure into a bolt that transforms into a long handled chamber… Between this opening in the knowledge that Anthony Perkins is going to show up in a second, I’m totally on board.

For a TV movie, this has got a good opening scare, and I kind of dig the Dark Shadows font on the credits. They’re setting it in Romania (actually filming it in Bucharest, Hungary) you know the Stuart Gordon is going to make the most of that landscape!

There in Romania, Mia Sara dreams of more black robes, and mysterious shops, and people catching on fire. She awakens from the nightmare, so it only makes sense for her to pop on down to the American Embassy, manned by Jack Coleman from Heroes… (Or more importantly Nightmare Café ). She’s looking for her father, the only family she has left.

As she searches through Romania for some trace of her father or his work, she discovers the glassworks he used to work at, inhabited now by Anthony Perkins… who introduces himself as her father’s old apprentice. Perkins also informs her that her father is dead. She just can’t believe it, and decides to stick around a little while longer to investigate.

As we learn more about her father’s background, his work as a reformer and his flight from the secret police, one can almost forget that I’m watching a vampire movie … OIP (1)except for Sarah’s dreams, and a brief scene with one of the club kids…   but as we get into the second act, we’re definitely about to be plunged into vampire madness. Sara starts to fall for a vampire club kid, but at the same time attracting the attention of the Romanian government who claim her father didn’t exist. Indeed, when the exhume the grave, that’s not her fathers body there, but that of an old woman. Moreover, she discovers that the necklace she wears is the crest an old family, rumored to be vampiric. She is determined to find their family strong hold, which resides of course, in Transylvania.

The castle is now a tourist attraction, but a statue in the courtyard catches Sara‘s attention. It’s the black cloak to figure from her dreams and it’s pendant matches hers. It’s about here, at the halfway point of the film, that the vampire cult catches up with her, and she discovers that Perkins himself is in fact, her father.

It seems like a missed opportunity when she calls him a maniac… She should’ve OIP (2)called him a psycho. Just saying.

While Mia Sara is inprisoned with other vampire victims, the vampire council debates her fate… and it’s the first time I really feel like I am in a TV movie. We’ve got some of these councilmembers pulled straight out of central casting chewing the scenery. Still the entire subject matter is quite a bit spicier than what I expect to see on a CBS movie of the week, and it’s still lit with shocking skill. Stuart Gordon has his fingerprints all over this.

The plan is to breed Sara, to create a hybrid vampire… A race that could in fact, walk in the light. The club kid tries his best to seduce her, two woo her, but she’s not having any of it. Her father to, would not wish that life upon her. He  springs her, and spirits her away. The cult however, isn’t willing to relinquish their prey quite so easily, and reach out through their vengeance on her father.

It’s such a strange collection of actors and actresses, that in of itself makes the film feel eclectic. But the mixture of Stuart Gordon and television production values is another one of those things that really makes us curious oddity. It feels like exactly the sort of film that should’ve been a regular rental at Blockbuster, like the Patrick Stewart vehicle Safehouse, or the Curse of the Blair Witch. In many ways, Gordon infuses the fun that I usually find a full moon feature, perhaps with just a touch less lunacy in a bit more sterility. Moreover, he’s come up with a curious twist on the vampire. Indeed, Stuart Gordon has given us most unique creature designs I’ve ever seen for a vampire… completely out of left field  and way more creative than anything you expect from a TV movie. I almost wonder what this would be like if Gordon hadn’t given the option to do this as unrated or R rated. But honestly, I can’t see it making a huge amount of difference. The film stands on its own and acquits  itself well. It’s actually the best feature in the set.

Way Of The Wicked

Way of the Wicked begins with Christian Slater investigating a schoolyard fight. The young victim didn’t really hit any of the bullies, and yet one of the bullies ended up choking on his own blood. The priest is concerned, but the mother chases them away.

Five years pass. There’s a new boy in town, who’s got a thing for The local detectives daughter. Turns out it’s the same kid from that case all those years ago. Strange things start to happen, when he gets into a fight with a girl‘s boyfriend, and the boy bursts in blood. Later, if I get murdered, run over by a combine in the dark… After he got a little Handsy with her. All the while, the priest lurks in the woods around the school… Watching.

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting scanner vibes.
The priest catches up with the detective and explains that there’s something demonic going on here. But time is not on their side, the kid knows. On the schoolyard, suspicions grow and he becomes increasingly isolated.
Bullies get the scanners treatment when they try and attack a kid, complete with a mirror shattering into one’s face and blinding him.
While we’re generally short on gore here, the film does love it’s nosebleeds.
Of course things get really complicated when the detective finds his daughter making out with our demon boy. We get a kind of “Daddy I love him!” read, and she runs off, texting the boys she needs to see him… And she wants him to come to the graveyard! This is a bad thing, because the priest of prophecy… “Two angels must be crushed for the wicked to arise“ and there’s a Stone angel there in the graveyard… That’s the first. The detectives daughter will be the second. Now it’s a race against time to get to her before the demon boy does.

It’s a fairly anticlimactic ending.
It’s a beautifully filmed movie.  They really lean into  Shots of the beautiful mountain countryside. They know how to lighted at night to create eerie atmosphere, and fully exploit the majesty during the daylight hours. It never feels like a small town, but it’s certainly more isolated than usual.
Christian Slater is fairly unremarkable here… I’m surprised considering how much I like him. But it’s Vinny Jones who really carries the film. I find that interesting because my main exposure to him is playing opposite Nicolas Cage in gone in 60 seconds… In a role that is largely mute. He’s very good here, able to be a caring father when he needs to be and a hard as rock detective at other times.

Sadly, the film doesn’t really pass the watch test. At 91 minutes, it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome, but it’s very talky, with a lot of macho puffery from the various bullies, and not quite enough blood or catholic mysticism for my tastes. Also, Christian Slater’s ever-changing cross… It seems to get bigger in each scene, becomes a distraction. I’ve got admit as well, I have a hard time really sympathizing with the pretty, popular blonde teenage girl who keeps blowing off her dad. She feels like a high school social climber… Even though they’re trying to make her come off as more grounded. It doesn’t quite work In those skimpy or sexy outfits.

Where do I get is OK. Extremely average… Right down the center. The problem is, I feel like I’ve seen this movie before and I’ve seen it done better.

Lady in Black

Our main character awakens from a vision of his death, and visions of murder… And there is a lady in black to be seen.

I did something I don’t usually do with this movie, I watched the trailer before watching the film. The trailer seems to suggest a sort of crime thriller with a premonition edge. That’s not what the cover looks like. Obviously the covers meant to evoke the image of the woman in black, and was released around the same time as the Daniel Radcliffe film. I get the distinct impression that I’ve been bait and switched.

What you’re getting here is essentially ghost whisperer mixed with CSI. Our hero is acting as a consultant to the detectives and the local murder case, trying to convince him of his premonitions and go from there.

I’m afraid this movie is not my bag, but if you’re into thrillers with a mystery and police edge, this might just be perfect for you. Don’t get fooled by the cover. This isn’t a ghost story.





85% of the cast is under 25

Copyright free name that sounds like another franchise (Amityville, Ouija, ect)


Renamed by marketing to sound like a mainstream horror title/series

Cover patterned after a current mainstream movie

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

Killer Tomatoes franchise

Attaindexck of the Killer Tomatoes begins a housewife doing dishes in a Suburban Housing Development. She discovers a tomato in the sink which escapes and rolls towards her menacingly. It’s possibly the greatest pre-credits sequence ever.

We launch into the instantly recognizable theme song, over shots of tomatoes being smashed against the camera. Don’t let the song distract you though, the credits themselves are loaded with gags and we’re off to a perfect start.

On the other side of the credits, we’re already in the middle of a siege film, with cops and Military mobilizing against the Tomato Invasion. The Tomatoes bring down a helicopter, and you watch them slowly roll towards the cops as they unload their shotguns!

Military I’m downstairs secret weapon for dealing with the mutated Tomatoes – a cyborg name bruce! Needs some work but they’ve got a crack team ready to go out and deal with the Tomato problem. Meanwhile, the tomatoes take to the Seas!

imagesThe government is doing its best to keep the media out of it, but the papers and television keep trying to find out what’s going on.

We’re about halfway into the film before the tomatoes start to swell and grow giant size. That’s when things start to get interesting, and they begin to pick off the team, and the master of disguise infiltrates them, disguised as a tomato. There’s senate sub committees, full on musical style showtunes and  tomato treachery. The people fight back and finally corner the tomatoes in a stadium where they destroy them with music.

It’s a bizzare spectacle and a cult classic, but to be honest, I’m a way bigger fan of the sequels it would spawn…more of them than you might have guessed!

Evil Dead Rise

When the last Evil Dead movie came out, I made a big deal about how I didn’t hate it. It wasn’t a remake, and as far as I was concerned, it could easily be in the same universe as The original spirit different cabin, may be the book landed there after all the shenanigans come,

This particular one it’s real nicely with that philosophy. We’ve got a complete change of scenery, with the possessions happening at an old decrepit Apartment building instead of a cabin in the woods. It’s a good change of ocalcoma this particular setting allows for marvelous set pieces And interiors. Indeed, you can see a heavy shining influence on the whole thing. It never overwhelms, but you It is there.

It’s one of those things that also does tend to distract me a little bit. In Evil Dead 2013, I never doubted for a moment that that was Evil Dead. It was absolutely That series, that genrer and that whole franchise. I could feel it. In this one, we lose it for a little while. It’s subtle at the beginning, and almost completely vanishes for most of the 2nd act in favor of the whole “Mommy loves you to death” schtick. We spend maybe a little too much of this movie as a solo possession act. That’s not really what Evil Dead is. Evil Dead is the evil coming in and taking over Not just you, but all of your friends too.

Nevertheless, it comes back with a vengeance in the 3rd act. We get the references that I want. We get the chainsaw. We get “dead by dawn” and “I’ll swallow your soul”. We also get a gorefest that is trying its best to top the previous movie. This It’s no mean trick. Indeed, I think they may have pulled it off, with one of the most bizarre monsters that I’ve seen outside of the Reanimator.

Even the earlier acts though are peppered with call backs. We see Henrietta’s pizza stamped on one of the boxes, we see an eyeball gag that feels a whole lot like the original series. We’ve got a economic con data a slightly different and more biting one And presentations on a record. It all works.

We got a perfectly good new cast as well. I’m not really spending a whole lot of time on them, bbecause while we did get some setup and character developments , they’re really here for us to burn through. Fresh meat. And they do that Just fine. We get to know them just enough to care about them before putting them through the meat grinder.

I think the only thing that is missing here would be a Bruce Campbell cameo. There really should be one… a sort of Stan Lee cameo from here on out. He would make a big difference. However, I’m ready to embrace Evil Dead without Bruce. I know there’s some fans that aren’t. I understand. That’s why you got 3 seasons of ash vs Evil Dead that you can watch again and again. On the other hand, if this isn’t necessarily a sacred cow to you, and you enjoy the things That are actually in evil debt, the blood, the Gore, and the style, you’re gonna Really like this period go to the theaters right now to see this period by it when it comes out. Let’s make sure the thing gets enough ticket sales, because I want more!

Don’t Kill It

DollarindexDon’t Kill It has a cover that was obviously formatted for Netflix. You can see with the bold blue colors in the background and the close-up of Dolph Lundgrin carrying a very large gun, with a determined look on his face. Nevertheless, Dolph Lundgren killing monsters is pretty much a good enough Pedigree for me.

Don’t Kill It places Lundgren as a Demon Hunter chasing a particular diabolic entity that jumps from host to host, possessing people until they’re killed, and then moving into the body of whoever killed its last host. It’s a brilliant conceit, and it’s a shame this premise didn’t get more attention. Lundgren‘s bounty hunter not only has to defeat this thing with the only weapon that he has, (that is, somebody’s suicide) but convince the small town that he arrives in that the rash of unexplained murders sweeping the place is the work of their local demon. It’s got plenty of action and plenty of gore, and deserves a much wider appreciation. I grabbed this at the local dollar store and continue to buy up copies whenever I see them just so I can hand them out to other people. This one’s a definite buy if you see it at Walmart or record exchange etc.

Amityville : Mt. Misery Road

The Amityville Franchise

Mount misery Road is one of those movies with a remarkable premise… It’s brilliant. A haunted road in upstate New York, one that people vanish from, where there’s ghosts and hauntings… Great stuff.

And they do absolutely nothing with it.

We have the writer/Director and his young trophy wife planning a trip to this road to ghost hunt, despite the doomsayers trying to warn them off. It’s enough to give the hot young wife a nightmare where she’s haunted by a cheap Halloween decoration.
I know that doesn’t sound like much, but it’s honestly more than the first half of the film.

Once they arrive there, We switch from stationary cameras and third person, to first person found footage and handheld consumer great turns into an unintentional parity of the Blair witch Project. They really want the tension and hype, finding black crosses hanging, and stones that are the ruins of an old insane asylum there in the woods, But it’s just so dumb. They keep talking to the camera and saying things like “that’s so spooky!” It doesn’t help that it’s basically all filmed during the day. Fourths can be very eerie at night, much less so in broad daylight. We’re not even trying day for night, it’s just them tramping around a very light words Dash about as dense as the one you might find between your backyard in the local school house… And occasionally throwing in video glitches to show the haunting.
Suddenly the Director holding the camera is struck from behind… We know that because the camera falls to the ground. Trophy wife picks it up and runs through the woods calling for him, screaming, whimpering and pleading to go home. The problem with the scene, is it lasts for 15 minutes! Nothing happens, we don’t even get any real proper haunting or ghost citing… Not until the second before the credits, after the movies over and everyone’s dead anyhow. It’s not just that it’s a disappointment, it’s such a wasted premise. This really could be so good, but it’s such a cheap exploitation cash grab… The word Amityville, is actually superimposed over the credits in a font that doesn’t match anything else. It’s that crass of a rename.

This one’s a pass. Honestly, the dollar I paid for it was too much, I think I might be OK with it if I had discovered it as part of a collection, but this? Useless.

Cyber Bride

There’s a real wisdom in starting off the movie with them people building the robot. It’s feeling a lot like Doctor Who but on the other end of the credits we got recently separated man who is in the process of divorce and everything is just ugly. It’s frustrating now that he just takes it out on his robot… One that looks like his wife. At least, until she tosses a hairdryer in his bath!

After some establishing shots, we finally get to a young man who is henpecked by his older sister who seems to be there almost enough to be a roommate. It’s enough that he’s considering life with a robot, and he discusses it with the roommate all while watching one of Louisa Warren’s scarecrow movies. (interesting bit of self referential Easter egging but I can’t decide if it’s cute or self indulgent. Our universal YouTuber is there too, giving advice.)

There’s a couple of texts while new girlfriend is being built, and eventually, she arrives in a large box full of plastic popcorn. There’s a surprising amount that needs to be assembled on site. It’s a nice touch… Considering the amount of effort I had to put into assembling my new 3-D printer, I totally relate!

He fires her up, patterned after an old girlfriend, and behind the scenes we can see the previous personalities in there.
It’s gonna be slow going as she starts to normalize… He’s warned as much by the manufacturer. We get a quick flashback to some of the murderous malfunctions, but surely, it’ll be OK this time, right?

Also, it really doesn’t like pets.

We start to suspect something might be wrong when one of his friends stops by too… almost… deliver a warning but it doesn’t matter, he’s invested in this replica of his ex. This is important, they spent a lot of time establishing them emotional connection to this robot…  there’s a connection here… But it’s awkward. Off.

In the background though, the robots are confused about the fact that humans kill… And kill each other. This robot is asking those questions. And it is this very kind of misunderstanding that leads to the killing in the third act.

Ultimately, it may be a little bit more simplistic in its thought process of why a robot goes wrong, but it also goes it’s own direction and that really is to its benefit. I wasn’t expecting horror here, but we got a nice balance between that and the side story, and it ends up being a story it’s really well done. It still feels kind of like a dollar tree movie, but one of the superior ones that makes me happy when I see them.




Evidence of Haunting

boxhhindex2Evidence of a Haunting tells you flat out at the beginning that this is another paranormal investigation documentary. I appreciate that, because I like these kind of movies but I also like knowing that that’s what I’m going into as opposed to a spooky ghost story.
We get introduced to all the investigators, and see the camera angles in the house knowing that this is a possible demon infestation.

Except… It’s not. As the characters start their investigation and start talking, the editing and the lighting is too slick. The haunting is too obvious and intense, and this is obviously fiction, attempting at a sort of mixed found footage gag.

Still, once we get upstairs and see the demon possessed girl speaking in distorted tones, it’s startling enough to make me jump. The exorcism is profane and disturbing, but derivative. I’ve seen all these bits before, and more effectively deployed. Still, it all makes for a pretty exciting and eventful first 10 minutes. The psychic of the group is convinced that it was a ghost, not a demon. But on their final walk-through they declare the house clean.

We cut to the backstory of the person narrating the story, who had a bad experience with the paranormal when she was a child. This leads into a TV credits sequence, not unlike any of the ghost hunter shows you’ll see on Travel Channel any given night of the week.
With that house cleansed, they’re onto the next target… The house of a single father with two little girls. The father tells them that soon as the family moved in and things started imagesto get active, and they set up the cameras, ready to figure out what’s going on that night at midnight. Once we hit 3 o’clock, the hour they designate as the “hour of the dead”, floorboards creek, TVs turn themselves on and they just happen to discover an Ouija board underneath the bed. The spirits are angry, tossing silverware in the kitchen as if it were confetti. The kids explained that the Ouija board came in the mail from an anonymous source, they played with it and then hid it… which is what’s causing all the problems. The theory is, only way to rid yourself of a Ouija board spirit is to mail the board to someone else and hope they play it. I’ve never heard this theory before, but I’m actually impressed at the movie showing the Ouija board as a gateway to trouble. They build a fire, and destroy it with interestingly heroic music playing in the background. It’s all cool and episodic, and does serve to establish our characters and their bona fides, but ultimately this entire first act has been nothing but establishing groundwork. It leaves me wondering when we’re going to get into the meat of the story.

We get extra background and research on the next target, as they head down into some subterranean tunnels under the local community college (pretty common, our local one has them to) where they’ll be locked in all night. We also use our research time (held at the local bar) to try and flesh out these characters, get some backstory and relate to them as more than just stereotypes heading into a dire situation for the last act of the film…and by last act, I mean last 30 minutes. I don’t think this is properly broken out into a three act structure, but rather has our cast drifting from set piece to set piece (though during  the climax they do manage to pay off a brief reference from the beginning. It’s index3clumsy, but an A for effort).

I got to give them some props, once we have the cast finally locked into those tunnels below the college, it’s a wonderfully creepy and atmospheric set. Even if I hadn’t spent my college years working in the same kind of tunnels doing janitorial work for the local haunted library, the claustrophobia and gloom would be enough to keep me happy. add to this, a threat that is built on the backs of a creepy story told by the janitor about a pregnant student who is murdered in these tunnels by professor… A story that echoes the dreams are narrator is having.

This low budget film benefits from the cramped spaces and the lack of CGI, having to instead rely on sound and visual cues to creep you out and heighten suspense as our intrepid band of ghost hunters go on the hunt of their life, managing to create a genuinely scary climax.

I have to admit, I really enjoyed Evidence of a Haunting. They’re not trying to be Grave  Encounters, they’re not trying to be Digging up the Marrow. It’s a much simpler and streamlined concept than that. They’re taking the ghost hunting reality shows and placing them in a heightened reality where we might actually see the sort of evidence and hauntings that we all actually watch these things hoping for. While the actors are stilted and amateur, but director Joey Evans knows what he’s doing, and we can occasionally see that in the framing and in several of the action shots towards the end. What starts off as a very low rent production, still ends up being quite effective and makes this a definite recommend, wherever you can find it.

Reality TV/Ghost hunter show

Ouija board

85% of the cast is under 25

War of the Worlds part 2!

War of the Worlds was actually The Asylums first mockbuster. In fact, they’ve gotten started on their movie first… A low budget reinterpretation of the HG Wells book. However, around that same time, Steven Spielberg started on his big budget version… And as a result, they sound really leaned into the whole Mockbuster aspect, producing their first film to really piggyback on a major Hollywood release like that.

This, is the sequel to that movie.

C Thomas Howell(The big brother from E.T. ) is hiding with his son… in some of refugee hovel, scrounging for food and survival while the Martian tripods outside and blast people.
Howell heads out to visit scientists to share his findings. They think there may be a vortex starting to open between their world and earth, and that’s how they’re getting here. They’d really like Howell to join them in their freedom force bunker. But he’s worried for his son.
Still, they give him a tour of their work… Fighters to the alien ships, and one of the martian ships itself. It’s organic… Perhaps alive..

The aliens get back to Howell‘s house before he does… He arrived just in time to see the blast his son. At this point you know it’s gotta be a teleport. That’s it. Howell has had enough, and goes and gets himself blasted.

He finds himself inside one of the ships, and starts to explore while the freedom forces work to launch an attack. They better. Because the full-scale attack on earth has begun. The whole spaceship bainvasion and battles are well done, CG shots of the mothership in the air, and the walkers on the ground in the middle of the city. They don’t linger on it, that would be too expensive. We get just enough to get the point across.

These ships actually Remind me a lot of the Claws of Axos from Doctor Who. Very curtain heavy doubling for organic tissue. Mist and smoke in the air, with some latex covered strands around.

Weird. I just saw Murray Sawchuk… The magician… get blasted in the junkyard around the freedom force base.

Inside the ship, they discover if you touch the walls, you get sucked in. They discover weird teleportation vortexes floating around as well. But where does it take them? I guess we’re not gonna find out until after we see the freedom forces attempt to attack the mothership, all Independence Day style. They get close, but the vortex swallows them a lot. The ships and selves drifting above a red planet.

Howell on the other hand seems to be back on Earth (or IS it????). He’s searching for one of the people that he met in the ship… But everything is abandoned. Car batteries are dead, no people in the streets. He discovers that aliens are kidnapping people so they can drain their blood… Find a way so the human microbes and viruses don’t harm them anymore. It’s actually an environment created on Mars… Like a petri dish. A place where they can purify the humans.
Meanwhile, in the skies, the human ships prepared to do battle with the aliens… On their home turf. Back on the planet, Howell has found his son… That means it’s time to deliver a virus into these alien villains well he’s trying to escape.

I’ve got to hand it to them. For an Asylum film, this isn’t terrible. We have an interesting premise here, where we’re basically reversing the previous film… They came to us last time, this time we’re going to them. That’s ambitious considering the resources we usually have from Asylum. But somebody’s put a lot of work into their CGI, to make sure we’ve got more than enough shots of the alien ships, the human ships, and the space battles. The alien tripods actually look pretty good. The interiors aren’t great, but forgivable because the rest of this film is trying so hard. What I thought was going to be an eye rolling pass, actually ends up being recommended. Well, not by itself… But if it’s playing on Syfy, you could do worse on a Saturday afternoon

Ouija Resurrection

Ouija Resurrection is a follow-up to Ouija Experiment… And begins the film recapping the last film, then revealed that they were at a theater, in the middle of a screening of the film.

Oh look, we’ve gone meta.

The cast is reunited for a screening in a haunted theater and as people ask questions, we get weird flashes of things happening. It turns out that the screening is just a pretense, and excuse for the theater to give out a haunted tour (while still bringing back the original cast!) Which sets up the main thrust of the film.

Backstage, boyfriend from the first movie is getting his Mac on with one of the local groupies. They find the board from the first movie (really smart move designing it with a unique and distinctive planchette by the way) and it gives him a chance to re-cap the rules. Never ask how they died, always say goodbye. In the gloom of the theater, they start to mess with the board. They get interrupted by the stage manager and just wander away. Any of it, so there’s no real bother to say goodbye. But once they’ve left, and the plan shit starts to move on its own.

There’s a definite upgrade in FX this time around. Mist  or smoke here and stuff like that plant shut moving on its own takes a little bit extra muscle. Theater itself is a great setting as well, dark and shadowy with wonderful atmosphere. As we move into the second act, the ghost is already active. It’s a CG nightmare, but perfectly capable of delivering a jump scare. You can see the directors taking some chances here and experimenting with shots and the extent of their technology.The blood seems to flow a little bit more freely this time around as the theaters down get picked off.

I’m sure the town shows up the next morning as the doomsayer, giving the filmmakers attitude for holding a haunted tour. they are undaunted and start to prepare for evenings activities. It turns out, the girls are getting ready too.

The halls of the theater have been transformed into a sort of cheesy haunted house, part of the nights event, with the filmmakers set up at a table towards the exit trying to hock their movies. However, when the haunted house closes, the lucky winners of the previous nights contest get to hang out for what they are billing as the overnight tour! The actors split up, taking your place is ready to scare the guests… But of course that makes it easier for the girls to take them out. It also means that when the guests find The dead body of one of the filmmakers, they just pass it off as being a prop.

Deep in the heart of the theater, the Ouija board makes a return appearance, as our group begins their own Ouija session. The board instructs them to head to the balcony, and they run up there… But things start to go wrong and when they return to the basement, is another dead body.

Things completely spiral out of control when the cops arrive

This is actually a really good example of a sequel done right. The crew has been entrusted with more a bigger budget and that allows them to use new techniques and go in different directions. There’s a genuinely smart balance between even old, giving us more of what we’ve seen before still going in a new direction and trying some different things out. Admittedly, there are times when it feels like they spent too much time experimenting with their new special effects… They get overused here and there, but overall there’s an effective vision hear that guys the whole thing. It’s also interesting to see how they lean into the gore here. While the previous film was largely bloodless, they’ve got the money and affects to be able to actually show some torn bodies and ripped flash this time and they go for it. Just enough to be satisfying, without going completely gratuitous.

If there’s one weakness, it’s the attempt at a big reveal at the end of the film. While the previous film mixed some mystery into the Haunting, this one plays pretty straightforward… Until the last 15 minutes where they present the solution to a mystery we didn’t even know was referenced. It feels a little ham fisted, but I understand the attempt to retain that sort of connection to the previous film. Overall it’s a satisfying sequel and a really well done sidestep creatively revisiting the material while still giving us something new and fresh.



85% of the cast is under 25

Haunted House attraction

Haunted theater

Ouija Board

Scarecrow’s Revenge

Scarecrows revenge opens a little differently this time. Louisa Warren has a flair for bloody and exciting precredits sequence, but this one maybe one of her best. A nice overhead drone shot of sun soaked corn fields, and a man farming and working out there. Bloody rags amongst the stalks near a scarecrow, changed this time with more of a face on the mask, and prodigious claws extending from the hands. The garb of the farmers is medeval, leather Jerkins and corsets. They are gathering corn for the local Nobel and getting ready to head to his castle.

Then, just out of eyesight, the farmer spies a dark shape moving within the rows of corn. Out of the green, come to the dark scarecrow, with a scythe to cut down the farmer, and come for his daughter.

The credits announced at 1810 in southern England. Oh my God, it’s going to be a period piece! This makes sense, she’s just come off of some Viking movies, so the resources were there. Still, it’s quite ambitious, and absolutely not what I was expecting.

Outside the village, one of the renegades, a homeless low iq type assaults a girl. He’s banished and tied to a scarecrow… And at that point I realize what’s happening. We’re seeing the origin of the monster. A witch helps him escape,… Beautiful effect, with her face slightly shifting constantly. She’ll grant him vengeance in exchange for his soul, and his body is payment for the company (That’s not the double entendre it sounded like), and unleash the curse.

The woods are no longer safe, because that’s where the scarecrow dwels.

This variation works really well. Surprisingly so, because I would’ve expected transplanting into a different era to feel gimmicky. But because we know the history, it really only enhances the story… And the scarecrow itself looks more terrifying than ever in the medieval garb. Louisa Warren is successfully pulling an army of darkness here, creating something that looks and feels very different from the rest of her franchise, and yet fits in perfectly. And they don’t lack for kills. However, I’m very glad for the greater lore here. It’s a trend that Warren would start to follow from here on out, with expansive and interesting backstory for all of her monsters.



Sharknado 2

DollarindexSharknado 2 is one of those movies that I could only really justify buying at the dollar tree. That’s not to say it isn’t fun, in fact just watching the grimaces on my kids as they roll their eyes at me as I pull it out makes it worth the price of admission.

On their way home on the airplane, Tara Reid and Ian Zierling find themselves caught up in a Sharknado, one of them bites off Reid’s hand in what may well be the greatest instance of chekhov’s gun ever. They arrive in New York to the family and it starts raining sharks.

That’s all you really need to know about this movie, there’s great bits at the baseball stadium and on the ferry and all throughout the city. It’s all great CGI goofy fun, packed with cameos like Judd Hersh, Kelly Osbourne, Matt Lauer, Richard Kine, Al Roker, Perez Hilton, Kelly Ripa, Andy Dick and a whole bunch more that either went over my head or imagesI just can’t remember. For my part, I personally was stoked to see Tiffany Shepis show up as well as Kari Whurer. It’s a couple of scream queen appearances that will go right over the heads of most casual viewers, but delights me to see.

We end up with a huge climax that helps to set us up for the next one, and that’s about all there is to say for it. The DVD actually has some surprisingly good special features including commentaries and behind the scenes stuff which is what really makes it worth the buy, especially if you’re into any of this series.

Turn of the Screw

I must say, the BBC logo doesn’t inspire the confidence that it used to… Especially after last year‘s a Christmas Carol. And since I’m looking for horror not drama, I’m not sure when I’m going to find here. Especially with that trailer for a miss Marple mystery before hand… I’m hanging onto a vain hope that the Turn of the Screw will be a creepy film, and not just another period drama. I’m happy it’s only 89 minutes though.

The theme from Phantasm pervades as a young woman In an asylum tells her story through flashbacks to her time as a governess at an English country estate. Creepy little blonde girls and vast Gothic mansions to make for a good ghost story.

Heavy breathing outside the mansion however, it’s just creepy.
Shortly after the arrival of us and, young master Miles has been expelled from school, and returns to the mansion… And doesn’t seem too happy about it either. Our sister however, is overjoyed to see him and they share their secrets on the way home. It perplexes governess and, but she has bigger things to worry about.

Anna has visions, and in particular she starts to see the ghost of an old houseguest, Peter Quint, who lies buried in a graveyard, in a looming church behind the mansion. It was a Scrooge on the household, and the maids believe he’s come back… For the children. Indeed, it’s doors of the ghosts of the old governess, imploring Miss Anna to protect the children, well some other force throws the more chatty maid from the window. A mans laughter echos  through the house.

The great problem in trying to protect the children, is that the kids know about the ghosts, but they want them to come back. They want Quint, they want the old governess… And the ghosts… They want the children. They desire them as vessels to possess, and see them as a new life for themselves.

As we head into the third act, the possession is taken hold, with the children speaking in their voices and fighting back in earnest. The battle itself seems almost hopeless… governess will fight… On her own.

Tooth Fairy (and not the one with The Rock)

My first impression was to winder if this movie had anything to do with the 2003 film Darkness falls. The look of the monster on the cover is very evocative of the Tooth fairy from that movie and you never know with sequels. However, this production has nothing to do with the 2003 film. It’s a very different kind of movie and definitely it’s own thing (and don’t put too much stock in that cover either. The actual monster looks very little like it)

the Tooth fairy begins with a family running from something – a dark, shape changing entity entity that has come for their family and can only be sated with a sacrifice – in this case the mother. It’s a moody and creepy intro, as we push through the credits and fast forward to the present. the little girl who witnessed this is a grandmother now, but estranged from her daughter; partially because of her hard drinking, partially because she still scared of the demon – the Tooth Fairy.

Daughter Carla returns home to the family farm (you may recognize her and the farm from Bride of the Scarecrow) to connect with her mother (who looks young enough to be her sister, rather than her mother). She’s mostly here to collect her son’t birth certificate, and isn’t intrested in visiting. She’s got a lot of baggage. Mom sent her and her sister away for some unknown reason (hint, it has to do with a certian demonic tooth fairy returning) when she was younger. The sister came back and died, and Carla holds all of this against her mother.

Hunky boyfriend shows up (You may remember him from his role as Hunky boyfriend to the same actress playing Carla in Bride of the Scarecrow as well.) to whisk Carla away into town and provide some distraction (and plot twists – you see, he was in love with her twin sister back in the day….) When she gets back, Carla discovers several eviction notices – Mom’s in trouble. the farm is falling apart and she’s about to be kicked out. Despite her ire, some concern starts to creep through. There’s bigger problems afoot though. In the gloom of the stables, the Tooth Fairy begins to rise.

The killings begin off the farm – she manages to slip into places looking like a trusting face. A nun. A girlfriend.  And she leaves a bloody scene behind. The neighbors beginning to realize what’s happening and coming, but there’s family drama going on back at the farm, blinding them. but as night descends, the Tooth fairy comes calling…and the only thing that can repel it is sugar.

And the only thing that can destroy it is fire. But is there a sacrifice?

I so amused to see the cast of the first Scarecrow movie coming back to the same set as that film to face down a different monster! It’s still early days for Warren and unfortunately her Tooth Fairy looks pretty awful. It feels like a repainted off the shelf mask from the Halloween store and it doesn’t do her story justice.

Still, there’s plenty of disturbing teeth cracking gore – enough that my wife had to leave the room, and a story that feels like it should be bigger. like there more potential for lore here. The twist of using sugar insted of salt for protection is just brilliant and there’s some really good ideas here. It’s well done enough to make me want to look up the other films in this series – and just my luck! They’re streaming on Tubi! We’ll be back!




Return to Sleepaway Camp


Sleepaway Camp franchise

I’mreturntosleepawaycamp_dvd not sure what to think of Return to Sleepaway Camp. They’re not trying to be subtle here, with camp air whack in big bold letters at the beginning. We get shots of newspaper articles concerning the murder over some rather loud metal music, end it seems A little too . Still, it’s reassuring to know that Felissa Rose and Jonathan Tiersten will be back for this installment. They are even joined by Paul D’Angelo, who played Ronnie, the hunky camp counselor in the original movie. 25 years later, he’s still massive, with biceps bigger than my head and pecs you could bounce a quarter off of! He’s ditched the belly shirts, but still wears plenty of tank tops to let you know that he’s still ripped.

Joining them is Vincent Pastore who, while probably best known for his role in the Sopranos, actually has some horror credentials, previously appearing in John Fasano’s Black Roses. Where things start to get inexplicable though, is bringing in Isaac Hayes as the camp chef. He’s basically playing exactly the same character as his Chef on South Park… and seriously, this is probably not what he wanted as his last on screen credit. Moreover we have a cop wandering around all throughout this movie using a voice box… Again, almost a carbon copy of the character Ned Gerblanski (especially with the sunglasses and patchy beard) from South Park. This stuff is extremely off putting, appropriate for a parody, but this movie is supposed to be equal parts sequel and homage and this stuff seems just a little bit too hokey for me to really take seriously.

The film opens with camp kids lighting farts, until the bully Alan grabs the lighter and takes it too far with a aerosol can. We have established him as sweaty and smelly and the bad seed in the group, One of those types of a compensates for being socially inept. We’ve also traded hunky camp counselors for angry aggressive ones As Brye Cooper gets in Alan ’s face. He’ll be one of the evil counselors throughout the movie, although he index2never gets developed as much as he really needs to be. With that taken care of,  it’s time to move on to breakfast. It’s a rowdier or group of kids than what we remember from the other films, and Pastore is not shy about yelling at them and telling them how they’re ungrateful, good for nothing and disrespectful. It’s a younger group, not the thirteen year olds of the original, but not the eighteen year olds of the sequels. These kids fall somewhere in between, probably averaging sixteen years old. That, and generational differences create a very different dynamic for this film.

Back in the kitchen, Isaac Hayes has a loud and obnoxious assistant chef, Mickey, who’s not having any of Alan’s nonsense. When Alan tries to swipe an ice cream sandwich from the freezer, Mickey drives him out of the kitchen by throwing eggs at him, and Alan images1response by throwing a huge butcher knife at him and flees.

In the woods, Alan’s brother Michael chases after him and tries to bring him back, but he’s in the woods throwing a tantrum and complaining that everybody’s picking on him and nobody likes him. He’s right. Even I don’t like him. Alan insists he’s not going back, and goes as far as to pull a knife on his brother. Michael gives up, declaring “I don’t care WHAT you do anymore!”

Back in the kitchen, Mickey’s cooking up hamburgers and fries. Suddenly, somebody sneaks up behind him and grabs his legs, treating him to a close encounter with the deep fryer. The bubbling hot grease makes for a horrific kill, reminiscent of (but not a copy of) the first murder from the original Sleepaway Camp. It also telegraphs something important… That this film is trying very hard to get back to its roots, and we’re going to be left guessing who the killer is until the end. It’s not gonna be just another slasher like the previous two installments.

It’s over to the canteen for some antics where Alan is alternately bullied and bullying others enough to establish who’s probably going to get it next. In the back, the stoners are getting baked. Even these guys are picking on Alan, feeding him a bad joint full of index11cow dung. One of the counselors comes to his rescue, spiriting him away, even as he flips the guys the bird when she’s not looking.

One of those stoners is the next victim, Tied up and burnt alive while half passed out. It’s a kill that reminds me just a tiny bit of one from the second film, but it’s cleverly done, using one of his own joints to light the gasoline.

The next morning, he’s found,  and the camp owner chats with the head counselor as well as one of the cops, complaining that every time something like this happens people always think back to the events at Camp Arawak. He warns the head counselor Ronnie, he doesn’t wanna hear another word about this Angela crap. He wants this hushed up.

The next morning, it’s time for games and outdoor activities. Softball and croquet and other sports are going on, and Alan is running around, interfering, getting in the way, annoying folks and generally making a nuisance of himself. He comes across the girl he’s sweet on and begs her to come out and see his secret hideout. Standing in the middle of her and her friends croquet game, He insists he’s not going anywhere unless she goes to see it with him, and finally she relents, for the good of the group. She’s only going though, if she can bring somebody with her! Alan agrees to her terms and runs off.

All of these shenanigans make him late for paintball, which means he doesn’t adequately get himself geared up… Too bad for him, because pretty much everybody has it out for him at this point. They lure him into the woods and everybody blasts him, lining up like a firing squad and then advancing, both groups going after him. The two teams chase him down until they finally circle round him and cover him in paint ball on the ground.

Elsewhere, the cop tracks down Ricky from the original film to question him about his cousin Angela. He’s still belligerent, and doesn’t have time for this, shutting the cop down cold. Ricky tells the cop that Angela’s been locked in a rubber room for 20 years, he should know because he’s the only one who goes to see her. The cop asks if he’s sure, and Ricky storms off and a huff.

Back at Alan’s secret hideout the girls are appalled because it’s filled with dead frogs… index121and Alan has a meltdown. Turns out a couple of the other campers snuck over to kill his pet frogs, and freak out the girls. It works, as they run off screaming.

Alan’s evening at the canteen doesn’t go any better. After just about getting into a fight with one of girls, The camper boss accuses him of messing with his pet bird, and the popular kids then trick him into a humiliating trap behind the stage, stealing his clothes and sending him out in his underwear. Again, Alan is rescued by one of the counselors, and Head counselor Ronnie is livid, demanding the others find out what happened, and find out now!

In the back, Ronnie finds Alan with the counselor who rescued him. He can’t help but notice that every time Alan gets in trouble, she seems to be there to take care of him…and index1her dark hair is bringing up old memories.

“Every time he gets in trouble, you’re always there! Who are you? Where do you come from?”

Ronnie flips out, accusing her of being a fugitive Angela. He advances on her and only stops when the cop and  the camp owner show up to try and calm him down. Outside the cabin, the kids taunt Alan and he freaks out, running out of the cabin and into the night, screaming and distraught.

It’s been a while since we’ve had a murder, and the camp owner is next. Trapped with his head stuck in his birdcage, the killer releases rats into it to create a bloody mess. Not satisfied with that though, the killer makes their way Through the dorms and into the woods behind where the angry counselor is trying to make time with his girlfriend. It’s image2srope and castration for him, and barbed wire for her.

The hits come fast and furious now. A stake for one camper, A bunkbed iron maiden for another, and hanging for yet another, with the suspicion firmly on Alan. Or maybe Angela’s back. No one is sure. All they know is that it’s happening again, it’s time for the final showdown.

Here’s the thing, I want to like this. It’s directed by Robert Hiltzik, The creator of the first film and it’s supposedly taking the whole thing seriously as opposed to the campy slashers we previously got. The biggest problem is that he never makes anybody in this entire cast all that sympathetic. There’s an attempt to re-create the fraternal bond that Ricky and Angela had with Michael and Alan, but Alan is such a jerk that even though he gets picked on… You kind of feel like he deserves it. We’re definitely not on his side (actor Michael Gibney would quit acting after this role. Can you blame him?). Even Ronnie, who should be the protector in this series just feels over the top in his panic in outrage. All the kids are jerks, and even if Alan’s got it coming to him, none of them are any better. There’s genuinely no one here to root for or invest in. There’s an attempt at something like a twist ending, but again, you can’t top that twist from the original Sleepaway Camp. Indeed, it seems futile to even try. That combined with the goofy characters throughout this film, it makes it very hard to like.

Probably the best thing to say about it is that there’s a few good and creative kills towards the end, though you have to wait an awful long time to get to them (as well as imageswaiting a long time between most of the murders). It’s also a joy to watch Felissa Rose, Jonathan Tiersten and Paul D’Angelo back together on screen. The film makes sure that we get some scenes with the three of them together, and if you’re a fan of the original, then this is what you’re watching this movie for.

Hiltzik delayed the release of this film several times, first insisting he needed to get the effects right, and then tinkering further and further with it. Ultimately, the delay really failed to generate any additional buzz or excitement, and the movie was released to great indifference. It may have been better off left on the cutting room floor.


The Viking War

I have to admit, I haven’t really been looking forward to the Viking movies. Nothing that I’m interested in, but I did ease in with Scarecrow three, so I still hope that this will be good

We get a early spoken prologue describing the Vikings and their fighting process, as well as the berserker ability to practically go into a trance and rampage. These berserkers have set up tournaments, a battle where any Viking that beats their challenger may walk free, but no one has succeeded… Until now.

We have a family that was confronted by the beserkers. They fight and they lose. Mother and Father were dragged away into captivity but the children are on the run. The first stop is a castle that should be friendly, but was overrun by the beserkers a day earlier. Meanwhile, back at the berserker camp father is trying to teach his son to be a warrior and to avenge the death of the battle. His son wants nothing of it and is nervous. All they have now, is rage. Rage, for revenge. Still, in the meantime they play their games with the prisoners, making them fight for their freedom. And elsewhere, they stalk the woods, like an ever present malevolent force, as pervasive as the trees.

Back at the camp, son breaks, and helps the Family. He frees the wife and attempts to escape but it goes badly and she is killed. With her last breath, she tasks him to go find rest herfamily and warn them… And protect them.

If the fighting and family saga isn’t enough, there’s subplots going on here as well. Strife inside the berserker clan, with one of the women warriors trying to steal the pack leader from his wife, and his son slowly falling in love with the daughter of the family on the run. It’s actually the sort of thing I think I would really love when I was younger. The low budget necessitates them spending most the time in the woods, but the Vikings them elves are noble, and the fighting more than adequately choreographed. I think if you were looking for something like the Vikings series on AMC, you may be disappointed. But if you’re going to this just looking for a fun, low budget adventure… A dollar tree movie, I think you could really enjoy this.



Baba Yaga

Baba Yaga : Terror of the Dark Forest has an absolutely gorgeous cover and put out by shout shout factory, so I’m holding on some real hope for this thing. The recap an explanation of what the Baba Yaga is is very well done… Chilling and matches the cover art, so I’m really digging it.

We kept to a child walking in the middle of the street on a foggy night, beautifully lit and just dark enough to be unsettling. A woman comes out of the fog… No, a girl. A dream. And in modern times, a boy wakes from a nightmare.

The whole private school and development community vibe I get here reminds me a lot of the fright night we met. Identical houses and plastic people, with the occasional bullies. Oh, and the girl next-door that our boy is falling in love with.

Did I mention that dude’s infant sister has a new and wholly creepy nanny?

Of course, because there’s a new nanny, dad has decided to put the cameras up… Right? Except… Some of the things we see on the security cameras can’t be seen in real life… Like that person sitting in the chair by the crib… Or the gnarled black hand that reaches up… We get a good and proper jump scare less than 20 minutes in, just saw the movie and let us know it’s not playing around.

The vibes totally change for me once the boy and the girl get chased in the woods by bullies… What are the strange red cords that the boys trip over? They surround small house in point Grille find… It’s old… Dirty, ramshackle and dangerous. The inside is dim blue lighting, like the torture room in hellraiser. It’s got mysterious shapes and mechanism in it, and seems bigger on the inside than on the outside. Voice whispers to the boy… Even as his mother nets with red yarn in the babies room, And drops into the strangest dreams.

OK, now you’re into nightmare on elm street vibes. Seriously, this thing manages to evoke the feeling sensation of all sorts of different horror films, will never directly on margin or copying any of them. There’s a certain brilliance to that… And I’m saying that while still fully immersed in the first act. They are still well over an hour to go here! 

The most settling thing here is that inside the ancient hut… That’s odd enough, but things actually get weirder once kiddo arrives home…. And now, the mother and father have forgotten never had a baby… Much less noticed that that baby is missing. 

And why is the old babysitter his crushes piano teacher???

But it’s not just the teacher, all of the parents have gone insane… Even the crush has turned into an Alice demonic… Until our boy shakes the evil out of her and brings her back to reality.

Oh crap. Do you know what’s worse the bullies? Possessed bullies. Now we’ve stumbled into it territory.

They want to burn down the shack… Which seems to me to be a good idea… But it also may be kiddos only way of getting his sister back. Also, they’re bullies, so he’s reluctant to exceed to their demands. Inside, there’s photos of all of them, and a Maps… And a watcher in the woods keeping track of them all.

Turns out, the wanderer in the woods is much like a hero… He lost something… A child perhaps, but he couldn’t quite remember it. That’s how he knew Eve had to come to the city. He’s kind of playing the role of doomsayer for us here, that and folklorist.

Even as he’s being murdered by a shadow, they make their way back to the hut to embark on an arcane journey. Our hero runs into the furnace, parts of the wires or vines, and then find himself sucked into a whole different world… Girlfriend and bully her right behind him, even as they are pursued by whatever evil stalks them. 

It’s one of those mirror universe deals… Where everything is lit different, and nothing feels quite right… because right about now, this film is prepared to completely mess with your sense of reality, lunging us towards an ending that feels very green light… Very light the silent hill film.

It gets weird from here on out. I mean weird same time, marvelous. This isn’t just a good film, this is a shockingly good film. This thing was not a blockbuster theatrical release just saddens me to my core. If you still see this on the shelves at Dollar Tree… Grab it immediately. It is great innovative unbalanced horror that makes you think, makes you care, and makes you scared. It’s brilliant stuff, and gets my highest recommendation.