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The Box Set Project

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.


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.

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

Children of the Corn 666

boxhhChildren of the corn 666 is actually one I’d been anticipating, mostly because it features the return of the actor who played Isaac in the first film. The return of an old villain always generates buzz and excitement. The problem is, it’s also usually a desperate move to salvage a failing franchise. Seriously, think back over different franchises and tell me when this has ever worked? It’s not like Phantasm or Nightmare on Elm Street or Hellraiser where the same actor is portraying the villain consistently through pretty much the entire series. Think of house 4 – with the return of William Katt. Think pumpkinhead 3 with the return of Lance Henriksen. This sort of thing generally does not bode well.

I also can’t help note the tagline on the poster is “latest and most horrifying chapter”. This is almost the exact same tag line that they used on Hellraiser; Hellworld, and seem to be a variant of the same thing dimension was slapping on all of their late series direct to video sequels at the time. I also can’t help but note that this one was released in 1999 – a mere year after children of the corn five. Until then we had a pretty consistent gap of 2 to 3 years between sequels. They were putting them out regularly but this short gap tells me they probably filmed five and six back to back and then staggered the release. Children of the Corn 666  is the story of Isaac, the preacher kid from the first movie waking up from his coma just in time for our ingénue to roll into town. Somewhere around the third act he begins to gather the grown-up grandchildren and try and rebuild his cult.

The big problem with this entry, is it takes itself so seriously. Every frame is dire, and none of it is earned. The budget limitations are also on full display – we don’t get near the amount of blood and gore that we’ve seen in previous entries – one bloody corpse dripping and hanging from a tree nonwithstanding. They make do with the only real special fact that they have – namely the ingénue in her underwear – and there are plenty of shots of that. I also find myself still missing the creepy and countrified current children – again we got a group of people in very modern clothes, presumably because period costumes cost too much.

I must say though, Isaac has a genuinely good performance here. If you were ever to try and build a single villain into this franchise, he would have been the one. I think by the time we hit the sixth  entry though, that ship has sailed. It’s a delight to see Nancy Allen show up here as well – she is as beautiful as ever, it’s like she never ages. Still, there is not enough her for me to recommend seeing this movie, and even the attempt at a twist (I say attempt because I think everybody saw this coming with in the first 10 to 15 minutes of the film) around the 50 minute mark falls extremely flat.

That’s the problem with children of the corn 666 – it’s not a bad movie, it commits a far greater sin; It’s just boring. I’m disappointed too, because there is actually potential here… There is a grain of a good story embedded in this – I can see the potential. Sadly, children of the corn 666 simply fails  to achieve that potential. This one is a definite skip.


boxhhindexOK, I’m going to flat out admit I watched Darkness first out of this box set, mostly because I’ve got a thing for Anna Paquin (Who is playing a role here that was originally intended for Natalie Portman, pre-Star Wars). She looks so much like an ex-girlfriend, it’s uncanny… And I genuinely like her Rogue in X-Men.

We got a nice set up right off the bat with quick flashes of horrific images overdubbed with what sounds like either a police or psychiatrists voice asking a young girl to help them find other missing children., Then we fast forward to Spain, 40 years later and Anna Paquin waking up in a moody house.

We quickly establish that they are isolated in the middle of nowhere with an ailing father and an eclipse coming up. That’s when things start to get weird… Shadows, and things index2moving by themselves. Every day the lights go out, and the son of the family says, the darkness is different. The electricians can’t figure it out, and we are left to wonder what’s going on.

The fathers doctor happens to be Giancarlo Giannini, who perplexed me for half an hour until I realized he was the corrupt inspector in Hannibal. He must’ve been using hair dye in his prior film (shot two years later, but released one year earlier) and it throws me off. In any event, he assures the family that things are going to be just fine, which is a good indication that things are NOT going to be just fine.

The father starts to get obsessive and we get glimpses of shadowy figures in the hallways, not entirely unlike the dead twin sisters in the Shining. It’s all wonderfully spooky and effectively shot so that we know we are out of the first act and things are about to get real. Younger brother starts seeing ghostly children and everything’s about to get bad.
The haunting escalates quickly from here on out, making it difficult to distinguish between the second and third act of the film. With the running time of 88 minutes, that’s not unexpected anyhow.

As things start to get bad, Anna Paquin discovers a weird carved Sigel under the floor, something that comprises of snakes and strange figures now lurk in the darkness, and empty rooms and on ceilings.
imagesAnna figures it out, and leaves the house… trying to warn her parents away from returning, but the evil unleashed isn’t confined to the house – a nice twist. In most haunted house stories, you can escape the ghosts just by bailing, but whatever this darkness is, it’s following her and her family, and the hauntings are relentless. Don’t fall for the red herring though, there’s more going on here than you realize… And by the end, everything is revealed.

This has good hunting elements, but it’s also a really clever suspense film mixed in with the supernatural elements. It’s a genuinely fun film and I’m pleased with the way that this movie starts this box set.



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

Mostly one location

Ghost Children (Bonus for white dress)

something walks by in the background

Door slams

occultic symbols (bonus if hidden)

The Monster

I have to be honest, looking at the poster for monster, it looks very generic. You can’t necessarily tell that this is trying to piggyback off of Cloverfield, but within moments of the film starting… The shaky cam really tells you everything you need to know.

After a brief flash of chaos, we get two women packing for a trip to Japan… Hot but professional is what they’re going for. They’re padding this intro with it not just getting to know you stuff but airport footage and getting to know the city bits as well. Wandering through Tokyo.
They’re doing a video or documentary or a news article or some sort… But in the middle of a interview, we start to hear sirens outside the building. Then the walks Shake. There are explosions outside! We got to get out of there!

We get Dim and strobing shaky cam in stairwells and hallways as they trying to get out of the building. It’s no good, they get trapped in the basement. Then they make their way out. Then they get trapped in a cave or a sewer… At one point they were on top of a roof…

I wish I could give you a more detailed synopsis. The problem is, that’s all this is. We have a sort of small scale road movie… Only the road is the sidewalk. It’s them trying to get to the American Center or the American Embassy, which ever one they can reach first. The trip is punctuated by monster attacks or the repercussions of those attacks… Falling buildings, Caved in floors, general mayhem. Of course once they finally do make it to the American Embassy, it’s destroyed.

Is there any hope of getting home? I’d say not. The film ends abruptly, with no real climax and resolution. We just cut the black at the end of the scene and get the epilogue – white text on a black screen about the two girls that were being found. This video is all that survived, it was posted by their father, yada yada yada.

The real problem with monster, is the lack of story. It feels like somebody went out to see Cloverfield, and thought “I can do that!“. The big difference is, Cloverfield had a well thought out plot… And several storylines going on at once. The monster attack was really the background, the “C” storyline if that. The “A” storyline is of course them trying to escape and survive, but the “B” storyline is this weird unrequited love story and how do you come back to being friends after sleeping together. It’s tense in a bit self, with the threat of those feelings never getting resolved to due to the current crisis… All of that works together to create a compelling narrative with characters that you genuinely care about.

In Monster, I don’t know these girls. We get a couple of pauses in the running to have long monologues about wanting to go home, and I miss my sister, and will you turn that camera off! Never do I really feel like I know or care about these people. They’re just avatars in a video game. They’re just pretty faces drifting from scene to scene.

The other thing that Cloverfield really had going for it, was an interesting monster. Interesting in that it was incomprehensible, and even at that big reveal towards the end, I never entirely was able to grasp what this thing properly looked like. The titular monster of this Asylum film, we never see it. We occasionally spy tentacles erupting from the ground or crawling around the building. We see them slapping to the pavement, opening up great gaps. We see them hit buildings to try and collapse them. We constantly see fighter jets in the air, on their way to attack it and explosions in the distance. But we never see this monster. That tentacle wrapping around a building on the cover? That’s about all you’ll see, and the clearest picture of it that you’ll get. Ultimately that makes for a disappointment.

The entire thing actually, is a bit of a disappointment. It’s just something to eat up time, and the real shame of it is I could see them pulling a good movie out of the story. They just need some extra planning and perhaps a script rather than a lot of ad-libbed screaming. The idea of seeing a Kaiju invasion from the ground level, it’s still compelling enough to stand the test of time, provided you give us people that we want to struggle through the apocalypse with.
Sadly this isn’t that.

Seven Nights of Darkness

boxhhindexSeven Nights of Darkness begins with a text prologue, Six reality show contestants spent seven nights in abandoned asylum, but the show never aired because of the tragedy and they ended up piecing together the footage that we had!

I’m a little worried that this sound like Grave Encounters, on the other hand, I LIKE Grave Encounters so hopefully this won’t be too bad won’t be too bad. A note, the first contestant is from Toledo Ohio! A little down south but still hometown territory!

It’s definitely from the found footage craze that Paranormal Activity kicked off, the problem is they seem to be using the mic attached the camera which is gonna cause problems throughout this whole thing. I can see I’m gonna be riding the volume button on the 104384452_3341392512571815_8597451568821496332_nremote the whole time.

The first night, the contestant’s task is to explore the asylum, in particular, the lower levels. As the contestants move around the place, we see a lot of teasing and scaring each other… high school sort of nonsense. There are creepy artifacts in the building, a doll here, a crib there, a ghost detector that they can check areas with… The bathrooms are absolutely definitely haunted!

Night two, we open the envelope with the task in it – “if it says karaoke I’m leaving!” No, not karaoke but they are instructed to hold a séance on the second floor. One of the index2contestants freaked out a little bit, inside she’s going to continue to sleep on. That night we start to hear strange noises…like a baby cry. Out medium is affected and goes catatonic.

Night threes instructions are to reenact on the third floor and take pictures. This is when things start to get bad. As they take a photo there’s almost a flash of a ghostly figure behind the chair, and suddenly the girl from the previous night who had the freak out comes out of her catatonic to rush our group and attack them.

index3Night four and the girl is back in her catatonic state, sitting in the lobotomy chair. One of the contestants is fed up, and starts going up there, interrogating and yelling at her as she just stands there blankly… Finally he elicits a terrible reaction from her, and we can see the possesion. Weird spatial and temporal distortions begin to pop up as well.

One of the players is exposed to the plant , Someone who’s been making noises and stuff, but the reason he’s confessing is because the place is trying to freaking out now, and there’s stuff happening that he didn’t cause. Even worse, possessed girl has vanished. It’s all set us up for an intense third act.
imagesThat’s it. I don’t actually want to give you any more description because this one I really want you to go out and try and find. I noticed that it’s on YouTube, and this movie alone is worth the purchase of this box set. It starts off slow and derivative and I was completely unimpressed until about halfway through the movie when suddenly it just kept getting scarier and scarier. In a lot of ways it’s kind of a low rent Grave Encounters with a dash of Blair Witch. But even with that rocky start, it pays off in spades.



85% of the cast is under 25


found footage

Abandoned Asylum

something walks by in the background

Door slams


boxhhindexOminous is a word I actually use very frequently When describing horror movies, so I’m gonna be very disappointed if this one, using the word for its title, actually ends up sucking. We have a smartly dressed and then walking up to an abandoned house. The door opens by itself as if to admit him… At which point he should be running screaming in the other direction. Instead, he enters the dilapidated building and begins to look around. Strange noises coming from the emptiness, and as he lights a cigarette he gets too spooked, turns on his heel and flees.

We cut to a Mom in the middle of domestic chaos when her husband calls tell her he wants to take them out of town to a vacation house in the mountains. The place is definitely in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by dense forest and accessible only by a dirt road.It’s a nice log cabin lake house, even if there are ghostly children crying in the woods surrounding it…

But the shot on video crispiness is not this movie’s friend. This whole thing looks like it was shot on consumer grade equipment, and any possible atmosphere is really undercut, despite clever lighting and some surprisingly competent translucent effects. We do get our first jump scares before were even 20 minutes in, and the filmmakers seem determined to use both the location and it’s isolation to its fullest extent.
These guys are masters of strategically placing ghosts in places where they’ll be frighteningly revealed, or framing them and windows where you’ll just see enough of them to freak you out, and the makeup is extremely good. Someone knows what they’re doing as far as blending and contouring, but they need more shadows, and more grain over them. It’s a problem that’s far more prevalent at the beginning of the film, almost as if it took them some time to really dial in the right shading for these shots. Although it never completely goes away, it gets much better by the time we hit the second act. Still, index2It’s another one of these instances where the video cinematography and crisper resolution holds the film back.

As the kids play in the woods little girl finds a dirty old doll, exactly the sort of thing I’d expect to find in a haunted woods. The skies turn gray, and the weather conspires to keep the family hidden in the house. It’s a perfect time for the kids to play hide and seek, and the daughter decides to hide in the closet, clutching her new doll. As her brother searches for her, the daughter is oblivious to the fact that she’s not alone in the closet, and sprints out as he whips open the door. They both ran out of the room giggling, as a hand emerges from the closet and drags the doll back in. When night falls, the hauntings ramp up, with dead children inhabiting the house, invading the space of living.

It’s such a competently made film that I can’t fault it. I do really enjoy it for what it is, but there’s such a talent on display here with director Justin Berginzoni and his crew , that I long to see these people giving a bigger budget and hope that this is a good calling card for them. The fact that they manage a dolly zoom with this equipment alone is enough to prove these guys know what they’re doing. There are plenty of scares and misdirects and you can tell that they are lifting gags and flare from other influences like the conjuring and House on Haunted Hill and the ring, even elements of the Amityville Horror. It’s the ideal candidate for a set like this, and the best sort of film I would expect to see at a horror convention or film festival. I’d have a hard time paying more than a few dollars for it, but yes I like this, it’s exactly the sort of gem that I delight in.



Moving to a new house

Ghost Children (Bonus for white dress)


Kid(s) see ghosts no one else does

Ghost watching from a window

something walks by in the background

Door slams

Invasion of the Pod People

I’m not sure how I’m supposed to take Invasion of the Pod People seriously when it stars someone named Jessica Bork. That’s the sound the Swedish chef makes!

We start pretty by the numbers… A set of asteroids heading towards earth, and abandoned streets. We even get a news report about an asteroid hitting Monterey California. Wait a minute, isn’t that what happened in the Apocalypse movie we just watched?


It’s more than a coincidence probably, because pod people would be that directors next film. In fact, a great deal of this cast was also featured in Apocalypse… Not to mention an earlier film for the asylum called Transmorphers, which the director, Justin Jones, was an associate director on. That is to say, this cast is all very familiar with each other.


After some bizarre and gratuitous schtupping, we get a talent agent driving through California time eating with her boss. He’s demanding the pain new clients. She’s working at her desk, her boss brings in a strange plant to be passed along. It looks a bit like raw ginger or something (a quick check in the trivia section of IMDB reveals it’s EXACTLY that!). Of course, it’s an evil plant, and it walks away to go hatch a duplicate of the person that’s given to… then has to murder you.


Moran gratuitous boinking and a big argument between the girl and her boyfriend, because he travels for work. The thing is, she barely sees him when he’s not working either… she quickly gets her mind off of it though, when somebody breaks into her apartment and warns her if she’s not careful, they’ll be nobody like her left. Then he shoots himself.


Of course the strange thing is, she see someone who looks just like him standing on the street corner in the next day as she cruises through Hollywood. Probably best if she goes and buys a gun for protection.


People around her just seem to start getting weird… And one bunch of her friends invite her for a girls night out and get her drunk, Things get a little suspicious when they pull out our weird evil plant. Maybe some make out action will distract her?


Time to pass the plant on, while she steals some of the girls silverware to pass on to a cop. It’s supposed to come off as paranoid when she starts to describe them. Sexually aggressive, and vacant. She explains all this to the cop but he’s not entirely taking her seriously.


After another encounter with a pod people, she gets the cop the plant as well, warning her friends. Bad stock/CGI storm footage punctuates their escape. Is there? There’s no way of telling who’s in person or not… How can they possibly stop it?


We’ve got a very amateur sounding cast here. The delivery is stunted and fake. Most of these performances are just terrible, and made worse by the fact that we’re working with such low grade equipment. Tons of background distortion and it sure sound like he’s using the built in camera microphone rather than a boom mic. This really comes across in outdoors shots.


I still feel like I should still be cutting Jones some slack here. This is only his second feature film, and really hot on the heels of his first (I wouldn’t be surprised if these things were shot back to back) but on the other hand, he’s been in the industry for a while at this point, even if he hasn’t been doing the big job as much. Either way, the production values really drag this thing down. This story is not nearly well thought out enough to drive the sort of tension that you need for a body snatchers movie. It ends up being a fail on just about every level.

The Haunting of Fox Hollow Farm


indexThe Haunting of Fox Hollow Farm starts off with a disclaimer that they have relied on the truth of their participants, in other words… If it ain’t true it ain’t our fault. In the early 1990s. the property was bought by local business owner who is a prime suspect in the disappearance of a number of individuals in the Midwest. Authorities recovered more than 5000 human bone fragments on the property from as many as 17 victims. Only five were positively identified. (this backstory could be Rob Zombie‘s house for thousand corpses honestly!)

We open up with a car driving in and archived footage from the news.
The fact that this is a documentary may actually account for the 64 minute running time. We spend a good five minutes acquainting us with the background story through a variety of talking heads and news clips… They like to distort the noise and voices in the news clips to give this a creepier feel, and then we get into the paranormal investigation index2itself with psychics and demonologists and people to document the entire thing.

The entire film plays out as any good ghost detective show does, with them juxtaposing incidents over the investigators findings and theories, giving a disturbing narrative of Herbert Baumeister, The man Who was the prime suspect of being the alleged I70 serial killer.

It’s all pretty much exactly the sort of thing you expect to find a discovery channel any given week night. Around the halfway point they dispense with any narrative and it just index3becomes a pure ghost hunting show. As it stands alone, its an interesting bit of student filmmaking, but nothing more involved in that. Don’t let that deter you by the way, I much enjoy those type of shows like Ghost Hunters or  the Dead Files. It still makes some interesting viewing, and a great short diversion.

The Apocalypse

Apocalypse starts off with campers watching a shooting star. Well, it’s not just a shooting star, it’s not just a little meteor, it’s the end of the world! Teeny fiery meteors falling from the sky, killing people individually with the smaller ones, and smashing houses with the bigger ones, until finally one large enough to destroy a city vaporizers Monterey.

They’re messing with the radios as well, and disrupting atmosphere.
Because of this pollen meteor, all eyes are in the sky… The one that fell already was as big as a house. And the one that’s following it in four days is as big as the size of Texas… An extinction starter.

We are introduced to A park ranger and his estranged wife, who’re trying to get to their daughter and her college friends down in LA. But right now they have got bigger worry… Toxic ash and a landslide near their home, And a tornado near their daughters. Even stranger, people are vanishing.

I don’t see any real story here. The film just drifts from scene to scene with the disaster as the background rather than being the main thrust.
It’s a very talky movie, with some strange religious overtones. Not specifically Christian… But more, someone who maybe thinks they know what Christianity is from watching Hallmark movies and UP TV? Considering the Asylum makes terrible horror and sci-fi movies, trust them to mess up religious one too huh?

Ultimately, It serves as a good example of how boring a rural disaster movie can be. That’s really more the province of urban films. Buildings collapsing, cars crashing, fire and smoke in… The end of the world! This is just a tornado here and there superimposed on the background. A sinkhole… CG cracks in the street. People huddling in the wreckage, but no real spectacular destruction. Even when L.A. gets flooded by title waves… It’s quick and terrible CGI. Oh, and everyone dies at the end when the big one hits.

I really don’t know who this movie is for. I’m not a disaster movie fan, so OK, maybe that’s part of my problem, but it’s not for the horror fans. And if you were going to make a movie for Christian audience, you’ve got to actually get the theology right. And the theology in this thing is all over the place…(People don’t get raptured here and there just as they die….or suddenly believe.. I know of no beliefe like that. Even the mid-trib folks don’t go there) I don’t really feel like this was made by believers, but rather by somebody who saw the Left Behind films and thought they’d take a crack at it.

Part of me really wants to give Jones a bit of a pass, because it’s his first film. I think you’d be more likely to get that pass from me if it weren’t for these so severely botched theology in here and the pandering attempt at a religious movie when you obviously knew nothing of their beliefs. This thing is just bad. Pass. Skip. Runaway. Avoid at all costs.

The House That Would Not Die

boxhhindexI had my suspicions about The House That Would Not Die from the word go considering it’s a Aaron Spelling production, and I feel a twinge of apprehension as I realize this is a television movie. Still Barbara Stanwyck is a good sign, and she’s playing opposite Kitty Winn as her niece Sarah . This young actress would go on to have parts in not only The Exorcist, but The Omen and The Exorcist 2 as well! It’s enough of a pedegree for me, so I hunker down and prepare to soldier through.

The film opens with us flying us through an old house with all the furniture covered while eerie music plays in the background. Through the window we can see the new owners pull up in a car, but it feels like you’re being watched.

The next door neighbor shows up and everybody seems astonished when they meet him. He seems friendly enough, and yet his obsession with the house is a little strange… Not to mention insisting they join him for dinner next-door that night.

All the neighborhood shows up and insists that they should have a seance in the new house. This, amid strange dreams and the purchase of a weird old painting from the junk shop that jumped off the wall and into the fire, start to ease us away from the whle soap opera feel the film and into some slightly more suspenseful elements. It’s still has all of the burnt soft camera lenses that we’re so used to from CBS TV movies in the 70s, as well index2as the powder blue tones of Paul Lynds television home.

Barbara Stanwyck‘s in for a good bit of abuse in this movie, getting attacked not only by the next-door neighbor, but also her niece as the spirits of the house possess both of them. As the film progresses, Sarah slips deeper and deeper into her possession, speaking in a different voice and acting strangely. The possessions gone far enough that even once they clean the house, Sarah still carries spirits with her, and the family must resort to an exorcism if they are ever to live in peace again. What happens though, if the exorcism fails? Ghosts in the house forever battle against each other through their human agents?

Like most television movies, it’s competent but not scary. It’s very much a product of its time, and have some interesting ideas, but ultimately fails to satisfy me. It seems like a very strange inclusion with the set, totally very different, while thematically some more. If you’re a fan of TV movies, you may enjoy this, otherwise I’d say skip this one.

Haunting of Winchester House

boxhh41maVWogqWL._SY445_.jpgIf the asylum logo showing up wasn’t bad enough, the film is made by Mark Atkins which feels a little bit too close to Peter Atkins – as if the author himself is perpetuating the Mockbuster feel. In this frame of mind then, it’s no wonder that I find the opening scene of the UPS driver delivering a parcel to feel very much homage to Spider Baby.

The house itself is achieved in an interesting manner, it’s obviously a matte or possibly a CG model. But more often than not however it’s quite convincing. Still, the thought of family (even if they are just care takers or something) is just casually moving in and out of the Winchester mansion seems a little ridiculous.

They arrived to find the house unlocked and surprisingly furnished, not to mention painted bright colors. They were originally meant to be lodging in the caretaker wing But a note left on the kitchen table states that it’s uninhabitable so they get to live in the main house.

We get foreshadowing almost immediately. A photograph from the 19th century of old images1.jpginhabitants, a mysterious little girl stalking the family’s daughter and a doomsayer who shows up at the house asking what the family is doing there. They let him know they’re just passing through, staying for a couple of months while elsewhere, the daughter follows a creepy ghost  girl into the cellar. The doors slam behind them giving her a good shock, though no harm done. From the cellar she brings up a chalkboard that was obviously once used by one of the people in the old photograph – a deaf man. It’s enough to spark the further curiosity and the dad decides to go for a walk and explore the mansion further.

Back in the house, the little ghost girl creeps on the daughter while the other ghosts draw closer and closer to the father. The daughters intentions are a natural, almost as if she is asked – before the ghosts take her away altogether, vanishing into the house.

images.jpgTogether, the mother and father find hundreds of newspaper clippings in briefly give us the story of the window Winchester. It’s brief though because we have to move along to the next nightmare. Mother dreams of dead, malformed babies while ghosts haunt the daughter. I’ve got to admit, the fact that they’re going so heavy on the spooky visitations and character affects this early on in the movie is impressive. By the time we’re 20 minutes in we’ve already seen some ghosts and things ramp up to some pretty scary levels before you even hit the 40 minute mark!

We get a non-stop hunting and even a certain degree of hopelessness when the police arrive around half way point. Not only are they unable to hear the family within the house, but they find themselves attacked outside the house and unable to render any aid whatsoever.

There are plenty of greasepaint ghosts here but there’s also a fair amount of grotesque latex cases as well – way more than I would’ve expected from a low-budget asylum flick. The ghosts are everywhere, they provide the house and the filmmaker understands lighting – he knows enough to keep these make-up jobs in the gloom and in the shadows. He understands blocking and finds the most effective angles to have to shoot these ghosts from, arranged to create the maximum tension.

I always say that I try to make it to the third act of a horror movie because that’s when the action really gets moving, but this film is all third act action with a brilliant variety of beans and a constant dire threat to our main characters. Just when you think you’re about to get a lull in the action, they throw a creepy ghost in a rocking chair at you or a shape in the shadows emerging.

They managed to get a phone call out to the neighbor – he is a paranormal investigator and he shows up at the house to explain the rules and help get them through the night and solve the mystery of the house. It’s a weird place for this exposition, we usually get this kind of thing closer to the beginning, not in the last 30 minutes. He explains there is poltergeist activity going on here, probably stemming from a hidden object. There are various ghosts in various stages of death, and those different ghosts are dangerous in different ways.

81JvVEaNr2L._SL1500_Now with some direction, the activity begins again, and they begin to search for their lost daughter (actually I didn’t entirely notice that the house had abducted her) and a way to expel the spirits. There’s multiple twists along the way and an ending that I probably should’ve seen coming, but really didn’t.

While the questing aspect at the end isn’t as intense and some of the ending is over the top, the siege section in the second act of this film makes it a genuinely good horror film and one of the best asylum productions I have ever seen. It’s amazing what a skilled filmmaker can do with such a production. I don’t even care that it’s one of their mockbusters (released at a time to capitalize on the release of the film Winchester) this one is a definite high recommend.



Moving to a new house


Ghost Children (Bonus for white dress)

Ghost watching from a window

something walks by in the background

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


Cover misrepresents the movie

Stock DVD cover (Distributor’s similar House style)

The Man Cave Collection!

You know, I got so obsessed with all the marvelous schlock I was getting at the Dollar Store that I kinda dropped off the box set bandwagon. I mean we did the K-horror one last year, but I really haven’t been indulging as much as I used to.

This one caught my eye. Seriously? “Man Cave Pack”? What does that even MEAN??? (Besides fire sale Dimension sequel titles and a bunch of Asylum originals….) And these things are all over the place, from Hellraiser to War of the Worlds….PART 2!

I see a bunch of repeats and revisits here, but there also enough new stuff to get me stoked for this set – and it’s worth it for that WotW2 cover illustration alone!


boxalterindexAlterscape is a sci-fi thriller about an Iraq war that with PSTD who seeks out an alternative therapy from scientists in the basement of a building with a computer that can alter your emotions. The experiment has side effects, darkening his personality and granting him weirdly undefined psychic abilities, sometimes telekinesis, and occasionally grievous bodily harm. It’s all a front to make him into a sort of super soldier weapon… I think. It’s quite muddy but that seems to be the gist of it.

Alterscape is one of those esoteric sci-fi forays, or at least it wants to be. It goes for the whole sort of head trip thing that we would get from films like The 13th Floor or the Twilight Zones “we can remember it for you wholesale”. The whole messing with the human experience harkens back to that. The problem is it fails to define a lot of its canon, so we’re never entirely sure it’s actually going on or why. It doesn’t help that they’ve bought the same cheap package of special effects vortices that I just watched in the Dean Koontz movie Hideaway. The basement office of the scientists imagesfeels cheap, with an old CRT computer screen and EL wire thrown about in the cramped space to give it a slightly high-tech feel.

I grabbed it off the shelf At dollar tree largely because it featured Michael Ironside, and this underrated actor can generally under elevate anything he’s in. However you can tell he was probably only on set for a day or two and even he can’t save the stinker. There’s a good idea in here somewhere, but I feel like they bit off more than they could chew, and had an interesting idea that really couldn’t sustain a full feature. This might’ve been better off as a short, but even then it’s a concept that needed to be more fully fleshed out before they put it on the screen.  Without a better execution the film ultimately Falls flat.

Hologram Man

boxalterindex5Look, I like John Amos, but even if I don’t know what he’s doing an action film like this… Of course his last billed so just because he’s on some variations of the cover might not mean anything. I’m a fan of Tiny Lister to though, and the title Hologram Man is nicely intriguing. Also doesn’t hurt that we start off with a fire fight between cops and guys in long coats in the middle of a field of burning cars.

Despite his prominence on some versions of the cover, Amos is killed by the 13 minute mark because this movie is really about his partner Decoda. Our villian is sentenced to some sort of digital incarceration and we flash forward about 10 years. It’s a nicely dystopian future and we have a domed city with lots of concept cars (like in Demolition Man) roaming the streets, and it’s all controlled by any of a corporation, The baddie up for parole. The hearings aren’t held in person, though you appear as a hologram… Hence the title. He takes this time to escape the holographic matrix as an autonomous hologram, complete with laser hands and a blue glow like index4Automan.

While Decoda trains in a goldeneye video game on the holodeck, William Sanderson from Blade Runner clones a new body out of weird shape changing rubber. It’s now up to Decoda to stop the seemingly unstoppable hologram man

Believe it or not, I actually really like this. It’s exactly the sort of movie that I would’ve rented as a teenager for sleepovers and watched in between Nintendo games at my buddy Mike‘s house. The action is good. It’s not over the top, But lots of entertaining bang bang. It’s awesome always fun to get a glimpse of the Japanese union Church from Prince imagesof Darkness as a set in another movie, not to mention watching the cops in black dyed uniforms left over from the visitors in The V mini series. The biggest problem is that there’s very little original here. Joe Lara as Decoda is doing his best impression of Lorenzo Lamas. Michael Nouri is trying very hard to be Chris Sarandon in the entire movie wishes it was Demolition Man. It’s built on tropes rather than a solid foundation story, but sometimes it’s enough for an entertaining rental



indexSilencers is one of those movies that’s a little confusing from the word go. they’ve change the cover in this edition, otherwise I think I would’ve recognized it from the video store days. Traditionally this has a stark white cover with the title in the nemesis on, featuring three men in black with large hats pulled down in sinister fashion over the shadowy faces. It was a blockbuster staple that you could almost always count on finding on the shelves, right next to Patrick Stewart’s Safe House and the Curse of the Blair Witch documentary.

 We start off with credits over a retelling of the Roswell Landing, then go right into aliens abducting a cow (in a CGI spaceship that looks pretty good as long as it doesn’t move) and then follow up with a shoot out at a funeral between and the alien trenchcoat Mafia and the Secret Service, led by someone who looks a lot like the dad from step-by-step.

Turns out it all concerns of plot and a deal with aliens for their interdimensional travel technology. The whole thing has a very 1990s television look to it, TV level production values in special effects, stock soundtrack played under flat lighting, with a lab that reminds me a bit of Timecop and a concept that feels reminiscent of Stargate.

image2sHalfway through, we have another alien arrive from another dimension, and fighting the assassin from the beginning. But I can’t tell who’s the good guy who’s the bad guy, because the assassin is working for some secret government agency. One act in and I’m still not sure what the hero is. But it does seem to represent a war between two alien races.

When the alien trenchcoat mafia decides they know longer want to cooperate, the military calls in the Secret Service being from the opening shoot out to take care of the problem. With the aid of a good alien he’s got to hunt down the bad aliens stop them from bringing their army through the dimensional gate to conquer the earth! (It’s an awfully small army though, only about eight people… Maybe there’s just more that we’re not seeing)

The film evolves into sort of buddy cop action flick, and they’re not stingy with the blanks or the sqibs (Red squibs AND green squibsby the way!). Plenty of action, however it moves a little slow and an hour and 40 minutes is too long to sustain the story. Still a solid classic rental and if you find it as part of a DVD set, it’s prbably the best way to grab this film!


index.jpgMy first impression of curtains is that it looks like an old 80s detective show – a Magnum PI or Columbo… We head into a crumbling old mansion as an actress is being admitted to the psych ward (I heard the director played by John Vernon – you won’t recognize the face but that voice is unmistakable from tons of television and animation ) She has an outburst and find herrself in a straitjacket and the movie begins in earnest. Turns out she’s getting herself committed just to do research on the role.

Elsewhere another actress is murdered and then the director gathers all the other prospects for the role to a house for the night. It’s a confusing narrative to say the least, but at least once we get to the house things seem to make sense. The mystery feel pervades the with the masked killer only shopping.jpgvery occasionally coming out to slice up a new victim has a very slasher style. Indeed if not for the slight gore and nudity, I’d be absolutely certain that this were a TV movie.It’s certainly slow enough

Curtains is the weakest entry in this set – and very much feels like it doesn’t belong in this collection. This one is a pass. Enjoy the other three movies in this collection and don’t bother with this one.

Secret of the Clown

index.jpgThe shadowy silhouettes and well done kills that begin Secret of the Clown give us a promising open, though someone needs to teach these guys about set lighting – things are so dark you can barely see anything. The glimpses of the monsters arms though, there mummified and awkward – unsettling and a good introduction. Once we get into the film proper though, the tension keeps up, with quick cuts of the murders and an occult ceremony happening as a young woman research is something in the local well lit library. The parking lot has the same lighting problems though, and I’m afraid this is going to kill the whole movie. The sound mix as well, it’s muddy, Almost as if the entire thing has been ADR. The quick cuts however keep coming as the young woman takes a shower – she’s obviously experiencing visions.

In the background, there is a creepy clown doll – and it’s left behind when Val walks out on her boyfriend. The boyfriend talks about how she thought the clown protected her. One of his friends smashes it in anger, and that’s when strange happenings begin.

Bobby is haunted by the ghost of his friends who died, and visions of things happening in the house – something is controlling this haunting, and he wants to get to the bottom of it. He brings in a psychic in a very exorcist like scene – and together they begin trying to figure out what haunts the house. The battle to find the killer and rid the house of it’s haunting is quite compelling – I wasn’t expecting so much of a haunted house kind of film. There is elements of American Werewolf in London and The Exorcist here. The imagery is frequently compelling and well crafted, with a surprisingly shoppingexcellent set of twists towards the end. When we finally see the clown itself, it’s a genuinely good design – tattooed and clad in rags. The face itself is the only part that really resembles a clown. It’s a great concept, but held back by and inexpert execution. That’s really the problem with the entire film. Great ideas and a definite vision, but the entire thing is dragged down by the low production values.

At the end of the day it’s still recommend, but only for people who can see past The production as it is and can see it for what it could’ve been.

Hoboken Hollow

index1.jpgHoboken Hollow doesn’t waste any time – it begins with a hitchhiker being hanged and somebody butchering human meat before jumping into the credits. It does say it’s inspired by true events, for whatever that’s worth – that’s usually a bit of a warning that it’s going to be complete nonsense.

The credits play out over shots of jerky being hung, a man being chased, an axe and a van – the movie very much is trying to be Texas Chainsaw Massacre (but without a monster like Leatherface), and we know exactly where we stand. Interesting collection of names though, with Dennis hopper, and Michael Madsen, Lynn Shea and C. Thomas Howell – makes me really curious as to what we’re in for.

The Gore is plentiful, but they frequently linger too long on it which makes it clumsy. Nevertheless, the bloodiest hit-and-run you’ve ever seen as well as severed body parts and backwoods creepy keeps my interest.

The story revolves around a ranch that vagabonds come to work at – complete with an ominous warning inside the bunkhouse. A general supplies store front, run by an old woman and her mentally challenged son is it’s public face, but the ranch work however is more like indentured servitude. Sometimes just to step up from slavery, although there are fewer shackles and chains. The rules are a bit looser  for the old timers but these new recruits are very much treated as slaves. In the background, the torture porn keeps going.

shoppingThings start to slow down in the middle, we are supposed to be more repulsed by the horror of these men slavery, but I’m here for gore and terror. It’s enough to make me wonder if the earlier blood and guts were inserts done after the fact when they decided they needed a little bit more torn flesh.

The climax ends up being weak compared to the strong start on the school, and the entire movie is fairly predictable. This one is not a high recommend, I could probably easily pass on this one and I feel like I’m missing anything

Room 33

index.jpgRoom 33 starts with a van full of people on the road, heading out to a Roller derby match. We’re treated to some really interesting looking credits – the film may be grainy, but the credits are scratching letters overlaid on artistically rendered vines and branches and dark backgrounds. It’s actually really effective. Once we get past the credits the van comes upon a couple whose car has broken down and there is some question about the wisdom picking up hitchhikers, this is a horror movie after all!

There is work to avoid something – we’re not sure what, really good quick flash cuts of the background, and rammed into a tree.

The mysterious road that the van is riding on however comes to a dead end – that’s not what the map says, but there is no way to proceed and the van is nearly out of gas.

Look there’s a driveway!

Well where there is a driveway, there is a house right?

index.jpgAs they make their way to the house, they can hear strange noises, screams coming from the woods, before finding an old abandoned building that they decide to stay the night in – They’ll look for gas in the morning.The ominous graffiti inside doesn’t deter them.

Inside they find a young woman with extreme PSTD who initially attacks one of their party with a shovel, misses, then cowers underneath the sink in the kitchen. Outside a man in black stalks the premises… and he has some connection to the girl.

It’s a good set up with some surprisingly fresh innovation, blending slasher, stalking with just a touch of haunt. Shots of the girls on rollerskates (and presumably being followed by a cameraman also on skates) creates an interesting smooth motion and energy to the film. Things start to ramp up before we even hit the halfway shoppingmark, so you certainly can’t complain about its pacing.

I wouldn’t entirely call the ending a twist – but it’s definitely a satisfying resolution, even if it doesn’t give us all the answers we need

Room 33 is a genuinely fun and satisfying horror movie, and if the rest of the films in this collection in it like this, I’m looking forward to finishing it up



From IMDB : “A psychology student finds all her childhood fears and phobias becoming real after a traumatic event. ”

They was one of the reasons I picked up this box set in the first place. It seems like a good opportunity to consolidate my DVD collection a bit. I have seen this film before, it’s probably one of the biggest profile releases on this set! Still, I understand why it was collected here. They has gotten a lot of flak over the years, people seem to really, really hate this film – and I don’t understand why. Is it the “Wes Craven presents” conceit? A backlash or a disappointment that it’s not up to the quality of other Craven films? Objectively speaking, let’s face it – Craven’s involvement in this film was probably limited to cashing a check.

It’s a strong story to me, I remember the commercials being intriguing but I simply never made it out to the theatre in time. Sitting at home watching it on my television, the film scared me. It genuinely frightened me.  It immediately sets the tone for this film and the kind of things that were going to start seeing here. It’s got the look and feel of a lot of films from this era, things like Jeepers Creepers and Darkness Falls. The fact that they never really show you the monster is brilliant – you see enough of it to know that there is something there, something exists in that space and is stalking you but man, the fact that we never get a good full-fledged reveal makes it far creepier than anything – whatever these things are just thoroughly creeps me out.

Of the films in this volume, this may well be the scariest and if I wern’t reviewing it for this column, it would almost certainly be a “in defence of “. I love this movie and if you haven’t caught They, it’s really worth a second look. It’s one that seems to have gathered more appreciation of a time, although it’ll never be a classic it certainly deserves to be more than just a footnote in an eight pack of horror movies.