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The Box Set Project

Halloween Resurrection

index.jpgI’ve never completely understood all the hate that Halloween resurrection gets. Admittedly, this is not up to the quality of the original, but that’s not really what I’m expecting from a late series sequel to a slasher franchise.

It could be because Jamie Lee Curtis is so prominently featured on the cover and that fans were expecting her to be a central component to the film– in all fairness that is a bit of bait and switch. Her prologue in this movie is really nothing more then A dire epilogue to H20 and dispatching her at the beginning (A demand she had written into her contract) surely left a bad taste in certain peoples mouths– much like the way the survivors from Aliens were treated in Alien three.

Nevertheless the idea of turning the Myers house into a bizarre reality television competition, it was actually timely and clever – a twist that we haven’t seen before… OMIGOD IS THAT KATEE SACKHOFF??? Seriously. I love Katee Sackoff  – in everything but BSG. indexI’d totally fogotten aboyt Tyra banks here too. She’s cringeworthy here and there, but her real job is to be cute as the producer of the show. Busta Rhymes also seems wierd casting, but again, we forget how huge this dude was at that moment – he literally had 15 minutes of fame and then vanished from the scene. And you know what? He’s better than he gets credit for.

It’s a paper thin plot with the main characters set up with body cams and exploring the Myers house, but as Michael arrives and starts to slash his way through the hapless contestants, I’m actually quite well entertained – it’s a better entry then some of the late series sequels, most notably my first Halloween film, number six with the curse of Michael Myers (I know that’s a little bar to clear, but when you’re this deep into the series it’s really the way you should be measuring it). Myers kind of lacks motivation outside of his territory being invaded (and that’s more a Jason Vorhees trope. Perhaps someone got them confused) but the third act twist of someone watching the webcast being able to communicate with the final girl inside to help her is actually pretty clever. The whole thing might have been better served as a stand alone or in another franchise (this would make a dynamite Scream sequel). Honestly, this greatest sin is being largely generic and out of place (almost like a fan film or a TV episode) and ultimately forgettable.

But forgettable isn’t the same as BAD.

At the end of the day, you’re either a fan of this or you’re not. It ‘s almost more of a sidequel and perhaps should be held to a different standard. It really doesn’t belong in this continuity (specifically the timeline that skips 2-6, and picks up at H20) I don’t think anything I’m gonna say is gonna change your mind, but if you’ve never seen it – I do encourage you to check it out. It’s a fun watch once you turn your brain off, and having it on DVD is a great reason to grab the set.


Roman

indexRoman starts with a guy welding at steel mill then coming home, lighting up a cigarette and watching for the girl next door at his window. It’s awkward and creepy with a very indie feel to it, setting the tone for what’s to come.

Roman doesn’t have a television, so his room is set up around that window – his chair and table facing it where he can stay here and watch for the girl next door come out. It’s unnerving and we see how awkward he is, and for the life of me I can’t imagine how they’re going to squeeze 90 minutes out of this.

He dreams of her, dancing nude and backlit against random sets of images – in working, eating, flowers and sparks.

The guys at work make fun of him for not having a television, so he draws one on the wall and pretends to watch it – the girls voice coming from it.

index2Everything changes when he meets a real woman, as he hangs out on the top of his apartment building roof drinking beer – he is surprisingly articulate for such an introvert, but awkward as it is, it’s a charming interaction and now she knows him. A co-worker gives him an old black-and-white TV and he talks the girl over for drinks. This could almost be a romance, at this point… Which is how you know everything is about to go wrong.

Now, he has a secret – and when the next girl comes knocking at his door, it becomes a problem, fueled by his awkwardness and inability to know how to act with other people. (and you know, for being such a social misfit, he sure does attract the cutest women).

indexThere is a lot to love here, from the chilli dogs at the cemetery, to the porn loving superintendent to the beers and holding hands with the severed palm. The movies strangely engrossing and I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. Even being crazy, I really want things to work out for Roman – the closest thing I can compare it to is Adam Green’s Spiral, A similarly awkward head trip with a gawky dude and a cute girl and a dark twist.

Star Lucky McKey would go on to make some of modern horrors more disturbing thrillers such as May and The Woman. This is an interesting project to watch with him, especially seeing him as an actor instead of a director. It’s definitely a high recommend, with an ending I did not see coming, and makes this box set with the purchase price just for this film alone.


Paranormal Entity

index.jpgWithout even looking at the credits, I knew that with a name like paranormal entity this would bean Asylum film. It opens with the 911 call “they’re all dead! My sister is dead! “, before switching to a handheld camera. We get the premise that they were advised to set up cameras in the house to capture the activity, and then cut back to a black screen that gives us a Blair witch type description; This footage was down in their attic a year later, et cetera, et cetera

Back to the handhelds as the narrator introduces us to where the cameras are supposedly placed in the house. It’s a kind of smart idea to give us an idea of what the space looks like and feels like, before we plunged too far into this story. They tried to inject some creepiness right away by introducing us to the slightly catatonic mother – staring at an old stuffed animal. We get a placard telling us that it’s “night one” and start watching footage that has been tinted green to look like nightvision. We go back and forth between this and and daytime footage of annoyed characters who don’t seem too pleased to see the camera. They talk about who they think might be in the house… or might be haunting it, and slowly e to things start to happen – a glass breaks, the television turns on, and a cross falls off the wall – at this point you can tell it’s going to be a slow burner. We get a peek inside the diary, with a plea for God to help the writer. They also sneak in what is meant to be a creepy sketch along with the question “why am I seeing this?”.

Sleepwalking begins at night three around 25 minutes in – and ominous message is written onto a glass coffee table. Around the same time, the wife starts talking about her feelings that something is there – something in the room with her when she goes to sleep, something pressing down on her and trapping her.

As we go further into the film, it stumbles into the typical pitfalls of a found footage haunting film – phenomena and that largely unseen or unremarkable, sounds in darkness that come off as stagehands banging on the walls of screen or actors simply screaming because it’s in the script. Even when they come up with a clever idea like footprints on the ceiling (and ultimately, where they come from), it’s undermined by immediately transitioning over to the mundane stuff like doors slamming and televisions turning on. They fail to reinforce those things with even creepier images . Moreover, the shaky cam work is haphazard and unfocused – even found footage works better when you storyboard and plan your shots. Someone had the beginnings of an idea here, and there are a couple of fun moments – such as  when the mother and wife run off and discover the ghost indexhas followed them, or when we get the revelation of where the footprints come from, there’s even one haunting that where the hits come fast and loud enough to keep you off balance, but not enough for a complete movie – There is a good way of making these kind of films, but this isn’t it.

This film maybe okay if you’re in the mood to do a found footage marathon with a bunch of different indie films or burning through a box set collection like this, but it certainly wouldn’t be the centerpiece and isn’t worth going out of your way for.


Live Animals

index.jpgLive animals starts with the radio report of a missing girl in a rural area as a rancher picks up the feed for his animals. We shift to young people at a bonfire, somebody cloaked in darkness taking photos of them from the car. As the couples break apart from the group to go get busy, we see hands grabbing equipment – a gun, drug darts and needles – and a creepy rubber mask… Oh I’m so happy! These kind of movies are always more interesting when we have a creepy masked killer rather than just some dude walking around with an axe or something! The night atmosphere is beautifully lit, dark with just enough light to make out characters and details but will be enough to create dread. Despite the gun, the killer has the rough and deliberate movement that you see in Jason Vorhees. His murderous rampage makes for a surprisingly long opening sequence, eating up well over 15 minutes at the beginning of this 84 minute film.

index.jpgThings don’t let up though, we had back to the psycho’s place to find people chained up in the stable. He announces that they are all his property now, and that just like a horse, they need to be… broken. We spent the next 20 minutes watching them be tortured and abused, and then a car pulls up to the stable; A prospective buyer. The unlucky girl chosen, is created up in a wooden box and shipped out.

Overall, live animals is standard torture porn fair, a little on the light side when it comes to gore (with the exception of a couple of scenes towards the very end). I suppose I indexshould be grateful that the rapey parts are merely suggested, but all in all the films a drag and I’m not digging this one. I ended up watching the last third of this on fast forward because there’s not really enough dialogue to make a difference. Indeed, I almost wonder if this was a case of the filmmakers having a location –  the stable – and then because they have a location they build a story around it . I almost wonder if this would’ve been better off as a short, there doesn’t feel like there’s enough for to really be a full feature. In any event, it really doesn’t work for me – even with the attempt at a slight twist ending . It may be the first real misfire in this set. Not a big recommend.


Puppet Master

index.jpgYou know, that first puppet master film really is something special… From the moment we start with the dissonant carnival music and the close-up shots of the puppet faces, there is something inherently spooky about everything. Richard Band knew what he was doing when he scored this and Charles Band was really about to find his destiny.

Toulon, The creator of the puppets, is a great character – honest and multi layered.  There is also the brilliance of starting the film out from puppet Blade’s perspective – the lower angle chattering as the bad guys arrive at the scenic hotel. It’s quite bold of this low-budget production to start things off with the introduction being a period piece before moving the modern day – yet again is this a sense of scope and a lush atmosphere that the film alone may have lacked otherwise.

As the group of sensitives attend the funeral of their fellow psychic in this very hotel, they encounter the murderous puppets – the story is as simple as that. But simple works, indexand through it Charles Band has crafted his most enduring creation. In this first installment, more care is given to the puppets – both in personality and in animation… Indeed, in later installments We get a lot less stop motion and more close-ups, with clips from this film used repeatedly. Still, it’s great as a standalone or part of the series – and it’s another one where the opportunity to get this on DVD was worth the three dollar price of this collection!


The Prophecy 2

index.jpgOkay, Jennifer Beals and Britney Murphy. This looks like it just might be an interesting cast – and then I see Glenn Danzig listed as one of the angels – and now I feel fear.

The Prophecy 2 is an interesting follow-up to what was a fairly mediocre movie made particularly interesting by the inclusion of Christopher Walken. In general I’m a fan of Christian mysticism, however, the Prophecy never seemed franchise worthy to me though, so I never followed it up and as a result, don’t know what we’re going to see with two – other than the fact that Walken is here, and joined by Eric Roberts and Glenn Danzig – somewhat bizarre choices.

We begin the film with a shot of someone writing ancient texts dissolving into clouds dissolving into the city and getting us into the modern day setting. Then a person crashes down into Jennifer Beals car window, it definitely wakes me up and gets my attention.

Elsewhere, all monastery, dies in a room covered in papers in writing. It feels very non-Sequitur, is. I cut to a man in a black coat that rests into birds before the city concrete splits reminders for them. I read below emerges from underneath the concrete and between flashes of blood, hands reach out, clawing at the dirt and a muddy body street and read it self out before the concrete back together again. Face risers and we recognize Christopher Walken is back.

Because it’s a  sequel, they don’t waste any time with world building. A priest discovers the prophecy and is driven mad, then a dark angel open the gateway to hell to bring us index2.jpgthe fallen archangel back – and this is all before we even hit the nine minute mark.

Back at the hospital, Beals visits the man who crashed into her windshield, and sits with him in his hospital room as an angel watches on across the street. The man is getting better, and regaining his humor, entertaining children by jumping up and bouncing on the edges of the beds. He wants her home, and because pulling into somebody’s windshield is kind of like a first date, she probably takes him upstairs and gets knocked up.

Back of the monastery, Christopher Walken pays a visit to the monks, it’s a site that receives visions, and walking is sure they’ve seen the person that he is here to get. Seems uncooperative, but fire cleanses all.

Do you angel purchase on the edge of the bed come and watch his feels sleep… And goes back to importance. That. It’s around this time though, that Glenn Danzig shows up and attacks him, mid air. Our boy prevails, but now is on the hunt.

Walkin for his part is looking for Jennifer Beals since she’s pregnant with an angel baby- A somewhat confusing situation. Angel babies grow faster than regular ones and in just a few days, the doctor informs her that she’s in her second trimester.  She searches for answers while Walkin searches for her to prevent her nephilim from being born. He grabs a suicidal Britney Murphy for a sidekick (He needs help because he can’t drive a car or navigate DOS on the computer – can you blame him?), keeping her from being able to die (a trick we saw in the previous film as well). She’s weepy and you can tell that we’ve got a very talky fifty two minutes ahead of us.

In the meantime, Beals visits the corner, to view the body that she suspects is her angel baby daddy, now a stiff, thanks to Walken. The main purpose of this scene though, is for Kenny Banya to make his appearance and explain the plot… describing the angels that he had here in the mortuary for years ago.

Her next stop is the monastery of visions where the teacher continues information dump, this time updating us on angelic script and angels in the second war in heaven, for anybody who missed the first film. It’s here that we first find out about the

In the meantime, Beals visits the corner, to view the body that she suspects is her angel baby daddy, now a stiff, thanks to walk in. The main purpose though is for Kenny Banya to make his appearance and explain the plot… Describing the angels that he had here in the mortuary for years ago.

Her next stop is the monastery of visions where the teacher continues information dump, this time updating us on angelic script and angels in the second war in heaven, for anybody who missed the first film. It’s here that we first find out about the nephilim .

Back in the city, Brittany Murphy hacks computer and gets Jennifer Beals address for Walken, allowing him to arrive there before her.

“You have no idea trouble you got there,”  he tells Beals as he puts his hand on her belly. “Nothing personal, just business.”

Her angel baby daddy, not dead after all, crashes through the window to rescue her but Walkin stakes him, and then runs out to Brittany Murphy, waiting behind the wheel of the car to race after Beals. It’s amusing to note that they’re driving the same kind of car that Sam Raimi refers to as “the classic” in the Evil Dead films, just a different color. Our Angelic hero spirits her away to the monastery, hoping she’ll be safer there, as he attempts to get her to the archangel Michael and real protection.

Walken finds them  of course, but bills in the angel manage to escape while Walkin blunders into a crowd of cops all who all blow him away. He’s not gonna stay dead long though, and revives while the police are questioning Murphy. He collects her and heads out on his way, revealing to us where the final showdown will be held… Eden.

It’s no longer a garden, but rather in industrial hellscape which opens its gate up to Beals and her angel. They navigate through the steamy maze of pies and hot metal until they finally come across the Archangel Michael… This time played by Eric Roberts.

It’s fairly epic to see Walken and Roberts face off across the rusty gate beneath a tumultuous cloudy sky with the occasional angel soaring through it. As Walken gains entrance, it’s time for angelic melees as he sends Murphy to assassinate Beals, but pretty shortly, will all discover just how hard it is to kill the mother of a nephilim .

If you’re a fan of this series, it may be a worthwhile entry, but it doesn’t stand on its own for me (which makes it out of place in the Masters of Terror box set I got it in) and ultimately I found it a little slow, predictable, and boring… This one is probably a pass.


The Nurse

index.jpgCan I just say, I’m really excited to see Lisa Zane in The Nurse – it’s the only name I recognize, but I actually kind of dig her from not only Freddy’s dead but also her appearance on the Human Target. She’s front and center as we begin with an emergency situation in a hospital.

After suffering a family tragedy, she pays a visit to the man she holds responsible – unfortunately he’s already in a coma and there’s not too much she can do… Or is there?

It’s odd, I’m not used to seeing Zane as the villain, but as she goes all stalkery, she inhabits the role with relish. She plays  unhinged very well – it shouldn’t be a surprise, we saw her start to break down her sanity a bit in Freddy’s dead, but here she is able to really let it all hang out, devilish and brilliant.

indexAfter murdering the man’s nurse, she cozies up to the son and gets herself hired on as his personal caregiver. Once there, she plots the death of his entire family – a way to torture him before she dispatches him herself.

It makes for an interesting and suspenseful film, but ends up being a little overblown – the whole thing feels like a TV movie of the week. It’s certainly not the movie that the box cover would lead you to believe it is, but it’s a great entry for Lisa Zane’s acting real. It’s kind of exactly the movie that belongs in a set like this, and is fine as part of this collection though I wouldn’t seek it out on its own.


Dracula 3

lussierindex.jpgWe’ve got a trifecta on this entry – a Box Set category, a Director’s Spotlight, AND a franchise focus!

I like Patrick Lussier, and I’m pleased to see Roy Schneider, Gary Tunicliffe and Rutger However, but that stupid Gothic font worries me. I know that Dimension shot a bunch of these in Romania back to back, along with a couple of Prophecy and Hellraiser films. On the other hand, I rather like a lot of the productions Dimension has done this way so let’s see what we’re in for. Jason Scott Lee is the lead in this film, and that’s not a bad thing either… He was excellent as Bruce Lee in Dragon, I remember really digging that as a teenager when I saw it in the theatre. He is also of course, the voice of David, Nani’s boyfriend in Lilo and stitch.

images3.jpgAs I’ve mentioned before, Dracula 2000 is actually one of my all-time favorite vampire movies, but it was also one of those movies that I never thought should have been turned into a franchise. It stands alone really well and doesn’t lend itself all that well to further installments, however this isn’t a direct sequel anyhow. It’s more in the spirit and style of 2000, attaching itself as a sort of alternate universe sidequel film much the way Fulchi’s Zombie attaches to Dawn of the Dead as a sequel. Despite saying West Craven presents, Craven have nothing to do with this film.

We start off with vampire action in what looks like an abandoned subway and it’s good stuff – modern and slick and cool. They’re taking a cue from John Carpenters Vampires with cool vampire weapons and a militant priest. The fact that Lussier directed all three of these Dracula movies helps create a uniform feel. In addition to some modern sensibilities, he still manages to infuse the film with at least a touch of Christian images2.jpgmysticism, possibly the reason our protagonist is a priest.

After despatching the two bloodsuckers he returns home for more support

Roy Scheider is just phoning in his role as the Cardinal of the order, but even that’s enough to elevate this film a bit. We get sweeping dramatic shots of the train heading to Bucharest and the now-defunct priest continuing his journey and his mission to rescue his beloved Julia and destroy the vampire plague. It’s an occupied country, and the soldiers and equipment create a tense atmosphere. They take full advantage of the Gothic and stone look of Romania in crafting their film – it’s an effective use of limited resources.

This film has an interesting origin for Dracula as well, establishing a terminology – they’re correct that the name Dracula is not a proper name but rather an honorific – and aspirational one to be one of the dragons, the priest tells us he’s had many names over the years and has existed for a long time under many guises – it’s actually a really well images4.jpgdone recap.

The further they get into the city, especially at night the more abandoned things get, unfortunately instead of coming off as creepy, it just shows the lack of budget. A handful of extras wandering around in the background may have actually helped (but they may have needed to save those for later scene in Dracula’s feeding pit). Nevertheless the blue fog and eerie lighting provides a perfectly creepy horror movie setting for them to kill vampires in.

Like John Carpenter’s Vampires, what we get here is basically a horror tinged action movie with some interesting looking bad guys. The stilts vampire has to be seen to be believed. It’s a film that I think is actually strong enough to stand on its own without the name Dracula, and I almost wish they had, but they needed the brand recognition and I’ll admit I probably wouldn’t have found it without that myself so I completely understand. Dracula 3 : Legacy is full of action, intrigue, infections and has a genuinely well thought out story. Much to my surprise, it’s one to recommend


Dominique is Dead

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indexDominique is dead it’s one of those movies that’s full of people that I feel like I should at least be peripherally familiar with, folks like Simon Ward and Jenny Agutter and Cliff Robertson. It starts off on the eve of dinner party, with the wealthy couple that are obviously having friction. The husband just fired the chauffeur and the wife is in a generally bad humor.

That evening, the wife, Dominique is depressed and scared and pleads with the new chauffeur driver to help her, but he’s just kind of weirded out by it and sends her back off to her room. She plays piano a lot. Her husband wakes up, and heads out to the patio to find her hung by a noose in a blue moonlight.

Watch Check; we’re nearly a full half hour into this thing! This chick better start haunting us, and quick like!

Husband comes home, lights a cigar and sits back, very satisfied. He does a quick check of the house before heading to bed and just stares at the piano. I’ve got a bad feeling about that piano.

index1The next day, a gravestone is delivered to the cemetery… It’s a gravestone with his name and the date of death is… Soon. He tracks down the manufacture, who talks about it being ordered by a woman in black, and said she was a mourning for her husband. She paid cash so there’s no trace, but when the husband comes home the piano is playing by itself and distant echoing footsteps ring out through the gloom of the house. Indeed, there is a figure and black walking through the halls, figure that disappears just as swiftly as it manifested.

Over the next day or two similar events occur, and it’s enough to send the husband after the cemetery to dig up the grave and discover whether or not his wife is truly Dead. Dead or alive, the grave is empty.
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I figure in black. In the house, outside the house, outside the office, in the street. He has a vision of his wife hanging again conservatory, but he’s convinced it’s a plan… a conspiracy to drive him mad.

Soon, the grave has a death date etched in its stone surface, and that date is tomorrow. The piano place itself as the husband rises from sleep with a gun in his hand and stocks the house, shooting at the ever present spectral figure. The bullets miss of course and the driver comes out to find out what’s wrong. Wracked with guilt, the husband admits he drove Dominique to her death, then fires the chauffeur.

Now he’s all alone.

I don’t think I will spoil the ending here, because this is a genuinely good film that I’d really like you to seek out and watch. I’ve noticed it in several places, not the least of which is YouTube.
The thing is, the movie is so understated that there are times when I could almost mistake this for a TV movie. It’s not, it’s just the way things looked in 1979 when you’re dealing with this sort of Gothic thriller, but despite the sometimes slow and sometimes flat delivery, it’s a masterful mix of classic mystery and ghostly horror. They get the mix just right, and managed to keep up a sense of dread through a lot of the movie. The trick is to get past that slow first half hour, because the last 2/3 of this film are stellar.

Cruel Will

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indexCruel Will starts with a news report at the scene of a gruesome murder before flashing us back two weeks earlier. A man sits alone in his apartment, smoking and going through bills before having a sudden heart attack. The credits roll, and I still know nothing more about where this song is going and I did when I pushed play

It turns out he’s the father of a young woman, Lily, who has just moved into a new home with her husband Paul. She’s already behind on her exams, and this is only gonna push her further back. It’s also causing a strain on her relationship, considering there was bad blood between Paul and the father. Indeed, we have a kind of bait and switch here as we focus more on paul now, who starts having visions. Visions of the white Lilly possessed, and strange things happening

Out of nowhere, a mysterious man drops off a package for Lilly, it’s a recording from her dead father promising that he’ll come back for her.

Paul thinks he’s going crazy, and gets pissed at his shrink that he won’t prescribe him anything. The doctor is convinced that it’s all in his head and that everything was OK. Nevertheless Paul finds himself sinking into madness, the more he feels as if his father-in-law to haunt him.

It doesn’t help Lily’s teacher has the hots for her and is slowly trying to move in on her. It all culminates into a violent confrontation between Paul, now fully crazy and everyone else as he siezes the urn with the father‘s ashes and runs away, plunging his entire life into an unraveled mess.
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It’s a very personal haunting, a very personal madness. I keep using both words because even by the time I hit the end of this movie, I’m not entirely certain what happened. I’m not sure if Paul was crazy, possessed perhaps, or genuinely being haunted and tormented by a ghost. Same goes true for the wife Lily. It’s not nearly as pronounced with her, for most of the film she’s just trying to cope, but once in a while we see something crack.
Ultimately though, the film is slow and that combined with it’s ambiguous nature, is a bit of a turn off for me. I’d like to have more answers at the end, and the entire movie plays like a CW show… brief moments of action punctuated by long stretches of attractive people talking about their feelings and hallways. It almost feels padded in this way, and this particular subject matter might’ve been better served in a short film that could’ve better made use of what is a thin plot. This one probably would’ve been a pass if it weren’t part of a set like this. However this sort of collection is exactly work in the midst of. A strange curated collection.


Kill Baby Kill!

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indexAs Kill Baby Kill starts, I have no idea what’s going on, a young woman running out of a gothic environment and somebody getting skewered while we get little girl laughing in the background… Even if this wasn’t a bava film, I’d pretty much be on board from this point.

A doctor arrives in a desolate patch of Italian wilderness, surrounded by gorgeous ruins. In the distance people carry the coffin to its final destination as a doctor finds the local pub to meet up with the local inspector so he can perform the duties of coroner.

It’s a superstitious village, and the inspector suspects a murder, but the investigation is going to be an uphill battle.

And autopsy determines that a coin had been inserted into the dead girls heart, it follows local legend about those who die vilently. Still, it doesn’t actually help them figure out whether it’s murder or suicide.

On his way home, the doctor is attacked by two gravediggers who object to the exclamation. The assult is stopped by a mysterious woman who vanishes as suddenly she appeared, leaving the doctor weary and broken to stumble into the inn he is staying at.

Elsewhere, the mysterious woman performs a rite on a young girl, lashing her so death will not touch her. She declares to the doctor that the entire town is under a curse. It index1certainly looks like it, with the foggy ruins, and atmospheric cemeteries. She directs him to the third household to discover his answers.

The house is old and sprawling in empty, covered by cobwebs. He finds a cranky old woman who demands he leave, as well as a ghostly child and bouncing balls floating in the halls. Meanwhile, his assistant is haunted by nightmares and visitations of a creepy doll. Across the street, the bell tolls in the abandoned Church and the assistant is convinced that the devil is here. They’re all bad portends, because the curse of the town is anyone who sees the dead little girl is the next to die, if they’re not buried immediately, the rise like a zombie.

Very much a “kill the outsider” kind of film, as a town is being supernaturally punished for it’s one hidden secret, much like Children of the Corn or the Wicker Man. There’s an undertone of dread and black magic that pervades and feeds right into the highly atmospheric visual style that Mario Bava infuses the film with. It’s worth a watch if for no other reason than just to lose yourself in the lush visuals, and immerse yourself in this dark ghost story.

The Devil’s Partner

boxevilindexIt might be easy to mistake the Devil’s Partner for a redneck, hillbilly film. You got an old mountain man bringing out a sheep in the wilderness, but then we get a good look at the arcane document that he is writing in its blood and see a hand reach over to help him and my faith in the occult thriller is restored.

Our credits go over a bus on the road headed to the flats, and a lone passenger getting off in a rumled suit to pop in to the local café. He’s way out of place in the small town restaurant. And he announces he’s looking for his uncle, the place clears out And the cops show up.

They suspect foul play in his death, he wasn’t very liked in the community.
As our hero Nick inspects the spell written on the floor, the dog mauls the local mechanic Dave, coincidentally opening up a job for Nick so he can stay in town. He takes employment at local garage, catching the eye of the girl who runs the local restaurant. The real horror here though, is that he’s wearing a bowtie in the shop! Also he’s picking up the local drunk for more arcane rituals. He gets trampled by a rabid horse.

It’s really not good to be an animal in this movie.

index2After discovering the body of the dead drunk,the local sheriff pops over to the shack Nick has been staying in, discovers the spell written underneath the rug, while his Yorkie sidekick digs up a goat bone on the side of the building. The sheriff starts to think there’s more going on here than meets the eye, and contrives a way to trick Nick into revealing himself.

Despite being a B feature from 1961, The Devil’s Partner is actually a pretty solid flick. It would be perfect horror host fodder, and I’d be completely content to stick around at a drive-in to watch this after the main feature. It’s flooding around YouTube and has popped up in several collections, it might just be worth your time.


19 Doors

boxevilindex19 Doors starts off with a screen writer meeting with her producer. He’s found her a location for thier next film, an old rooming house above his friends local bar, and it’s perfect for a horror movie. It’s a good efficient preamble and leads into some unique looking credits. Not too flashy not over the top, not the same animation I’ve seen a hundred times befre. That leaves me with a good feeling about this movie despite the shot-on-video resolution.

After scouting a location, the writer locks herself up in a hotel room, and it’s spooky enough to drive her out of her room to go explore some of the rest of the place. She starts to have visions of the place’s brothel history. Ghostly children wander up here and that’s around the time she breaks out the Oujia board.

She brings up a cop, she brings up a priest, but the visions keep coming every time she’s alone, and when the priest comes to bless the building, black cloaked entities command him to leave. The priest suggests about time the writer move out.. before the haunting turns into a possession
The thing about 19 doors  is that it’s just so flat. They try with the lighting, but overcompensate, creating, instead of mood, just a harsh contrast. The music is canned, and none of the scares actually frighten and it just fails to be affective. Good story, with some good ideas, good gags, good characters. I bet this was a great script. However the resulting film is just so bland that instead of creeping you out, it ends up just being boring. Sadly, this one’s not worth your time.

Backwoods

box10movieMV5BMjE4NjkyNTQ2Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTE3NDI2Mg@@._V1_UY268_CR5,0,182,268_AL_.jpgReading the description or backwoods, it’s got me thinking this is probably going to be a knock off of “The Hills Have Eyes”. They waste no time getting into action with the generic couple abducted while on vacation. Unfortunately our backwards baddies don’t appear to be monsters, just a evil family.

I suspect I’m going to complain to the entire movie about them not being mutants.

Anyhow, a company sales team rents out the woods for a paintball match – one of those obnoxious team building exercises we occasionally hear about. The teams promptly get themselves raided and lost. While one team discovers the damage of the campsite, the other finds a derelict old house where they encounter our villainous backwoods family

Once everybody is captured, the real fight begins. There are elements of religious cult in here as well as some Saw influence. But it almost feels like they didn’t commit fully to Either. They really needed to choose one or the other – heighten the religious horror, heighten the hillbilly horror or focus on the torture. Still, the way they mash all of these elements together makes for a solid film, as long as it’s in a vacuum – that is, it’s good but only if you’ve never seen any other backwoods film. At the end of the day, there are way better options out there if you’re in the mood for hillbilly horror, but for a quick fix,  this’ll do just fine.


Feeding Grounds

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indexFeeding grounds starts off in a barren desert gas station – the sort of place you expect to see in the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” or in “Pumpkinhead”. Carrion lies ominously in the middle of the road.

Everything feels micro budget and amateurish, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The opening stinger leaves me confused though. What was it that made our first two victims sick? What was it that got them? It seemed like it was just a dude in a cowboy hat, but really I’m not sure what’s going on. After the police come, we move swiftly on.

We are introduced to our main cast. The guys seem more douchebag than normal, with some non-descript pretty girls and one chick wielding a video camera. They’re heading out to a cabin, and roll past a wooden sign – “Doom Desert”.

Hmmm. That’s just a little bit too on the nose.

Still, nothing happens until the hour mark when somebody finds an ear. Beyond some rocks falling it’s the most exciting thing happen yet in the film and I find myself itching for some action.

Down the road a bit, we find a bunch of human remains – mostly bloody chunks, and these send our cast running back to the cars. The film begins to slow down now because Feeding.Grounds.2006_3because someone needs to get sick. Almost imperceptibly, we get a glimpse of a bite or injection or something one of the characters… and it means that whatever things out there, they are watching. Still, at this point I feel like I’m watching “Cabin Fever”, but on the road. The sick turns into madness and anger as one of them ominously informs the rest of the group;

“The more you fight, the quicker they’ll come”.

In the end, there are some good ideas here – by I wish they had gone over the script a couple more times to bring in the action and the atmosphere sooner. For an 81 minute movie, there’s no excuse for this to be so talky(and yet it still fails to explain the roles of this world and its illness and unseen creatures) and slow as it is. Despite a near-perfect moment in the last shot of the film, this is Syfy Channel fodder at best.


The Dark

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MV5BMmIxNTZmNmItODM3Zi00N2QyLWJjODMtNmY4MTBiODYyOTc3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjExODE1MDc@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_I’m going into the dark kind of blind but the first thing I see is Neve Campbell and Byron James in the credits so I kind of know what kind of film this is gonna be. It starts in a graveyard, with James and his partner hunting something, so it’s definitely a good start. Gunfire and severed hands. Yeah I think I’m gonna like this.

The gravedigger and his son head back to the graveyard to do the job while nearby at a cafe teenage waitresses are asked about what happened.  In the background we hear they going to being investigated as well. I’m hoping all of your storiescome together in the second act

Some interesting daytime action at the graveyard, as a tombstone shakes and is pulled into the ground. We see tunnels underground, reminding you a great deal of Nightbreed was digging up – I’m digging the creature feature vibe.

index.jpgSpeaking of the creature, we get on first glance of it and about the halfway mark – beautifully realized when kept in the shadows. Of course, I have no idea what it is or how it ties in, but the grave diggers are justifiably terrified. Time for the director in the leather jacket to step in (that’s obviously a pellet gun by the way, kind of shame them trying to pass it off as a real one)

As we enter the third act, it seems like there are tunnels throughout the whole town – you never know when something is going to reach up and grab you. The creatures are  made all the more are terrified by their pervasive infestation, much like in Aliens. The teeth evoke a primal fear, and as long as they’re kept in the dark they are brilliant. Unfortunately, as we get further into the movie and we get more light on them, they actually look less threatening – even comical at times. In any event, it’s at this time Brian James arrives back on the scene save the day.

At the end of the day, it’s a mixed bag with multiple influences but really ends up being tremors with a lower budget – and no desert. Well-made and a lot of fun. It’s movies like these that are the reason I keep buying these sets!


Dark Spirits

box10movieindexDark Spirits takes place in a nice warm locale – I’m not sure exactly where, but it sure feels Eastern European. IMDB say Czech republic and Prague, and you can see they are making the most of the visual splendor of thier locale. It’s a good thing, because I recognize that font they used for thier credits and while the end logo does have a nice style to it, the familiar font and transitions make it look cheap. The locale counters that nicely. Once we’re introduced to our heroine, we are plunged into a nightmare sequence with the atmosphere heightened by surprisingly affective use of high contrast filters that desaturate. In the dream, she sees The death of her sister, and when she wakes she discovers that indeed, her sister is dead. She is called into an investigation where she finds circumstances wern’t exactly the same as in her dream, but is haunted none the less.

In the street from a distance she spots what she thinks is your sister – and in her apartment, small disturbances begin to happen, and shadowy figures abound.

The biggest problem here is that the film is paced like a European art film – a lot of talk, lots of coffee drunk out of teacups and a lot of build up. That’s fine except this isn’t a European art film, it’s a horror movie, and we need the pace to continue at a quicker clip to get us to that climactic final five minutes where everything pays off. If you catch this one…just keep your thumb on the fast forward button


Netherworld

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MV5BNTU3YzE5MjUtOWUyZS00MDMxLTgyMjYtMWQzMDg4YmIxOTRmL2ltYWdlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjQ2MjQ5NzM@._V1_UY268_CR1,0,182,268_AL_It starts off well enough, production values are professional and the locale is slightly wet –  Hard to tell if it’s Flordia or Louisiana (It’s supposed to be Louisianan) But description promised voodoo and it’s not apparent immediately despite the lovely young African-American Lauren who leads our hero to a remarkably sterile house of ill repute. The joint remind me of the stark hallways we see in the projects of “Candyman” and the KEEP OUT sign on one of the doors is a little too on the nose. Instead of being obvious it just looks cheap. There is definitely something eerie going on behind that door though. When, from the depths of the cathouse a flying hand appears out of nowhere, I definitely feel like I’m in Charles Band territory. We have blood within the first 10 minutes and a nice intro as we switch into the story property in matters mystic and a nice 80s synth score.

After we’ve had some time to get used to our characters we are sent into a dream sequence which reminds me a great deal of the serpent and the rainbow. I like abstract dream sequences and for the sake of art and pure freakiness. It’s a bit of an attempt to imageselevate them a tad higher than it deserves, but it’s fun. We spent the first act talking a lot about the main characters father and how he believed he had discovered a method for raising the dead – it’s all good backstory, but it makes me really long to get the second act started in earnest. BTW, these people are far too pretty to be voodoo masters, but man, I can’t argue with that 80s spiral perm.

When the third act arrives, it doesn’t disappoint – though it does seem like this is an attempt to be more intellectual than we are used to in a Full Moon Film. It’s very traditional supernatural horror, and there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just I was hoping for a little bit more proper voodoo. Nevertheless, it’s inventive enough to remain entertaining andengaging, with a parting shot that’s a proper sendoff. Full Moon rarely dissapoints. Indeed, I’m not even sure what is doing on this collection – I checked there is no more from that studio but it was worth it just for this one.


The Shadows

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MV5BMTcwNjc0NDU5M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDU0NDM1Mw@@._V1_UY268_CR6,0,182,268_AL_.jpgOn the surface, this film is technically on point. It’s grainy and dirty like an 80s horror movie. They know how to light it too – with stark blues and occasional fog, with creepy atmosphere all throughout. They’ve assembled a reasonably competent cast as well, dressed them in dirty clothes and got the girls really skimpy (after all, a pretty girl is the cheapest special affect out there).

So why does this suck?

It’s a story of bunch of young people whose boat crashed. They take shelter in the Lighthouse which happens to be heated. We don’t see the boat crash or anything mind you (We don’t have NEAR that kind of budget!), the kind of just tell us what happened. There is some stock footage for it, panning around the Lighthouse itself and ominous clouds outside but it’s choppy and pixelated… Almost at a diffrent frame rate.

What really surprised me was that the sound mix was all over the place. These filmmakers have a passable idea and a great looking set, but they lack of technical expertise to put this together properly and honestly it just kills the film. I don’t know what’s going on half the time because I can’t understand characters. The choppy inserts drop me right out of the film.

And the monsters? Pirate suits and white contact lenses. Not even some grease paint and cobwebs – just plain old guys in pirate suit with contacts. Kind of like the blind dead made by somebody who’s never actually seen those films. Not that we get a lot of monster time anyhow. Towards the end they are replaced by actors in black velvet suits… The titular shadows of the film. They attempt to build up suspense and develop relationships but because of the wonky sound mix and poor pacing it just doesn’t work, and by the time we get halfway through, I just don’t care about these characters. That’s a shame too, because once we hit the third act, their bickering at the Lighthouse and turning on each other just like in “Night of the Living Dead”.  The influences are pretty glaring. Thing is, it would work if I were invested in these people – the quiet moments are just too quiet, and the story is just too shallow.

And that’s just the thing, I feel bad for having trash this movie. You know what? I wanna do over – I wanna see the same film makers, altered by experience and time make this film again because there is potential here, and it’s just got sunk by it’s production values


Asylum

box10movieindex.jpgI’m a fan of Malcolm McDonald, which is really why am watching this. Robert Patrick is always a plus, though I haven’t seen him in a whole lot of things other than Terminator. Deborah Gordon was a nice surprise, I was an admirer of hers back from her Mad TV days. That goes double for Henry Gibson, who frequently used a pop-up on Sabrina the Teenage Witch as a frozen judge. Even Sarah Douglas, from Superman II, is getting in the act here as the asylum psychiatrist!

Robert Patrick is playing an interesting character investigating insurance claims and stuff like that, going in to cover and catching people in the act of fraud, until friend of dies. This kicks off his personal investigation into the death at the asylum.  To that end we see him getting him self thrown into the asylum and It’s then that McDowell finally appears – in a bizarre wig and scraps. Threre’s kind of a Dream Warriors vibe going on here, and don’t think I missed that one patient named Alucard!

Patrick prowls the offices it mate, looking for evidence – and bumping into that weird Looney Tunes Malcolm McDowell again – It’s enough to make me wonder if this is more index2.jpga thriller and mystery than it is a horror movie.

Eavesdropping on a board meeting, Patrick hears about patient abuse and discovers a file on the various patients. Malcolm McDowell is the first page of the stack. That’s where the mystery really kicks off. We’re treated to a lot of the expected tropes – abuse of guards reading the female patients, A day room scene right out of one of the Cuckoo’s nest, and various antics from the inmates.

This is actuIf there’s any flaw here, it’s the slow burn at the beginning, with us not exactly knowing where this is going. I needed more leading up to this, however it has a great reveal and a good concept, well executed. Definite watch, especially if it happens to be on TV. Perfect in a set like this.


Blood Predator

box10movieindex.jpgBlood Predator starts off with some nice CG – somebody knows their way around after Effects. The mini DV look of the film worries me, although I have enjoyed a lot of these kind of movies at CW. So I’m staying cautiously optimistic.I thought better though I saw how creepy the interior of the set was.

After the obligatory first shot, we are introduced to our characters shortly before their plane crash. You can almost fit the stereotype out by the numbers that are carried streamlined. On way to the creepy house, seems to have increased if that’s possible – the discovery of only adds to the atmosphere.

By the way, creepy dark house… Don’t go to the basement! It’s just common sense and if you find human vertebrae in the basement, don’t keep going further into the basement!

The film uses location extraordinarily well – and you know something is creeping around here, although unless you’re at the back of the box you won’t know exactly what’s pointing the house or what it is I castaway trying to survive. Definitely stick around until the third act, it’s well worth it.

Blood Predator is well paced, well shot(even if it is on a cheap camera) extremely atmospheric and entertaining. It’s the sort of thing I’d really like to see more of on the Syfy channel – no budget in the productions with heart. I can only imagine what it would index2.jpglike if it had some money, especially for the creature FX. It would have been wiser not to show too much of it, because it’s so uneven. When it’s well lit and well pupped, it looks dynamite… But other times when it’s over in bed and clumsily moved, it looks like utter trash. Same is true of the CG version. There is some amazing third act gore, and some wonderfully composited shots. when it’s good, it’s very good, but when it’s not…

In the hands of a more talented puppeteer and with better CG, it be terrifying. Still, if I pulled this off the rack at the video store in 1988, I’d be pretty impressed.


Living in Peril

box10movieMV5BMjA1NzEwNDQyOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTMwNDMzMQ@@._V1_UY268_CR3,0,182,268_AL_.jpgFirst let’s make this clear this is not a horror movie. Its at best a rear window, basic instinct thriller. At worst, it’s a TV movie with f bombs. Seriously, if it weren’t for language I swear this was a lifetime film.

Rob Lowe plays an architect who is driving up to some California area to design a building for Jim Belushi. On the way there, he’s almost run off the road by crazy tracker. Once he arrives in his apartment strange things begin to happen… Rats in the apartment, drawings destroyed, a dead body in his bed.

I don’t really care one way or the other for Rob Lowe, but I usually enjoy Jim Belushi and I adore Richard Moll. Moll is criminally underused here, usually he brings a little bit of light into the production. He just sleepwalks through this movie. I think it’s just a cheap job for a lot of people. Dean Stockwell was a delight – when he’s not chewing his cigar, he is chewing the scenery as the grumpy landlord of Lowe’s apartment building.

At the end of the day, it’s your basic television mystery with a dash of paranoia. They never really manage to build up the suspense,  I never really feel like we are… Living in Peril.


Legacy of Evil

box10movieMV5BMjAzNjAzMDExOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzU2MDcyMQ@@._V1_UY268_CR7,0,182,268_AL_Legacy of the Evil begins with a shot of a man in the wilderness, wandering into a bar where he is surrounded by the laughter of the somebodys  voices.The walls begin to shake and I’m pretty sure this is supposed to be ominous.

Still, I have some hot progress even though the credits once again look like this is a television production… I’m eager to see what Phylicia Rashad does here. She’s a little underrated as an actress. Bill Cosby casts a long shadow, but Creed was a great remider of just how good she is. The psychiatrist role she is billed in seems like something different than what we’re used to seeing her in. Sadly, it ends up being her playing her usual type – it almost becomes a distraction from the horror.

Visions continue as the stepfather here settles into life with his new family. Something outside the window actually managed to elicit a jumpstart from me. Our stepfather runs index.jpgout of the house to discover the family greenhouse on fire – and I’m genuinely getting a Amityville vibe here. That makes sense, the box bills this as a possession flick. Even the way smoke and stuff billows around the corner from the stairs that the house is set up with, the design language speaks to amityville. Sadly possession far too often in this film looks like dodgy CGI. They get credit though, they spend a lot of time exploring slow descent into possession from the perspective of our stepdad who is being taken over – it’s a technique we don’t see often, but one that worked extremely well in the “Exorcism of Emily Rose”. index2.jpgOf course we see him less as the possesion deepends and we do get a explanation for the flashes – those are flashbacks to his previous marriage. Turns out, possiesion has been slowly taking hold for a very long time. Despite a television budget, they managed very creepy moments that create an effective atmosphere, and I really dig their explanation for where the exorcism team comes from.

You’re going to have to track down the movie yourself to see both that and how they finally banish the spirit though! Seriously, this is a nice solid creepy film – and exactly The sort of hidden gem that is the reason I buy these box sets!


DeVour

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index.jpgDevour starts off with a college birthday and some ominous foreshadowing – a gun being thrown into the lake, quick cut flashes and a mysterious email.Work, party, email – it seems like a typical college drama.That is, until our hero is introduced to a creepy website. It’s a game – not a video game, but rather one where you put your information in and they send you tasks and favors. After he’s fired from his job the next day, the game calls and offers to help him get even. And we’re off to the races.
If this seems tame to you, I assure you, as the tasks become more extreme the visions become more terrifying and the gore ramps up…because the hero isn’t the only one involved in the game – his best friend and (sorta)girlfriend are too – and the stakes seem deadlier for them and the bodies begin to pile up. The end twist is a bit weak – it’s not set up early enough, but that’s index3.jpghonestly my only quibble here and it’s a minor one at best.
Devour is intriguing and intelligent. Smart enough to rely on weirdness and suspense, but wise enough to be generous with monster effects and blood. Throw in a dash (just a pinch) of satanic cult action and you’ve got a satisfying balance and almost certainly the best film in this set.