Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Are you ready for the 13 Days of Christmas?

Get ready! One week until our 13 Days of Horror advent calendar starts! Thirteen days, thirteen Christmas themed horror movies.... Get hyped!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Final Cut for the 6th Cut!

original photo from Winnin.com

So we come to the end of another Cut here at 30 Days of Plight.  This pushes to total movie count to over 180 films with no sign of stopping.  Except I am going to take a short break to catch up on other things I haven't been watching before I start the 7th Cut.  However this won't all be down time.  I have a couple of things planned.

First, I'll be an upcoming guest on the fantastic podcast Rank & Vile.  Quincy and Ryan were nice enough to ask me to come on and we'll be discussing and ranking three films for their already epic list of horror, wrestling, and video nasties.   You can find them on iTunes at Rank & Vile or on Podbean at Rankandvile.podbean.com.  I would recommend checking them out even if I wasn't going to be a guest on the show because they know their shit in regards to both horror and wrestling and it's a fun podcast to listen to.

Second, I'm going to be doing a horror film advent calendar this year.  Calling it The 13 Days of Christmas, starting on the 13th of December and running up to and including the 25th, I will be reviewing one Christmas themed horror film each day.  If I have to suffer through terrible crowds and PA piped in carols then I'm going to soften the blow from Old Saint Nick's southpaw hook.  My only exception is that I already covered A Christmas Horror Story on here so I won't be covering it again.

Finally, I'll be starting the 7th Cut of 30 Days of Plight on Sunday, January 7th.  In the meantime look for the advent calendar I mentioned and we do have a Facebook and Twitter you can follow by clicking on the links on the right or searching 30daysofplight.

In the meantime... I'll be right back...

Friday, November 24, 2017

Ava's Possessions (2015) 1h 29m

Someone reviewed this film as "The Hangover but with a lot more demons."  It's up there on that poster.  If The Hangover has become the standard description for any film where someone has a loss of memory and tries to figure out what happened during that time then that sucks.  The Hangover was a terrible movie and aside from the point I just touched on is not relatable to this film at all.

Ava's Possessions starts with an exorcism.  Once cleansed, to avoid jail time from her month long demon possession, Ava agrees to go to a recovery group for people that were inhabited by a demon.  Much like a regular 12-steps recovery, Ava has to seek out the people that she wronged to apologize but also to put the pieces together from her lost time.

This film had some great casting. Wass Stevens (that I know from being Max in Daria) was the demon possession counselor, Deborah Rush (Strangers With Candy) played Ava's mother, and mother fucking Carol Kane (Adam's Family Values / The Princess Bride / Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt / a million other awesome things) as the magick shop owner all killed it in Ava's Possessions.  Also, after a ton of possessed girl movies, it was great to see one just treat the possession with a recovery program.  It feels like a much more "modern" view instead of bumbling attempts with religious archaism or an obsession with The Exorcist.

Also, I want to give a quick shout out to whomever the person was that had to do the research for the demonic possession spell portion of the movie.  It was kind of a hodgepodge of stuff but I recognized the parts that were (if I'm remembering these details right) a Hermetic spell to ask for the favor of a demon.  It looked as the sigil on the floor was either Goetic or Enochian.  So thumbs fucking up for that.

On the flip side to this praise, the things I liked in this movie were overshadowed by the fact that it felt more like I was watching this for three hours as opposed to an hour and a half.  There was always something going on but the pacing just felt off.  Which leads me to my other complaint of the third act of this film had its own third act where they pushed all these reveals and explanations to the last little bit.  It felt really wrapped up well but instead of letting it ride they threw more and more onto you.  You probably aren't going to make a sequel to this.  This isn't like when Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm street were made and you needed to add a scene on to make a franchise.  Just let it go!

I give Ava's Possessions 2 Regans out of 5:

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Sacrifice (2016) 1h 31m

I've never been to Europe but, keeping with things I've learned from horror films, here's a list of things you shouldn't do:

1) stay in a hostel, because rich murder people will kidnap you
2) visit castles the locals tell you to stay away from, even if you have a contract with "The Count" or whomever owns that shit
3) be disrespectful to the Romani/Roma because that's just good travel etiquette and you shouldn't be a prick when abroad
4) visit random small inhabited islands, because cult murder people might kidnap you

Sacrifice breaks rule #4 because after having another miscarriage a doctor goes with her husband to the small Scottish island where he grew up.  They plan to adopt a child from the hospital/orphanage on the next island over.  However, the woman finds remains from a ritual killing buried on their land and this sets her on the path to finding out the truth about the island's inhabitants.

This isn't really a horror film.  At least not by my assumed guidelines of horror.  Aside from a few dull chase scenes there isn't any true sense of danger.  Some of the sets were really elaborate and well done.  I liked what I assume was a "ritual room" in the house.  My big question is why do you need to have engraved plates above the runed branding irons?  I would assume that you wouldn't need to label that as you should just know.  Kudos on the use of the Futhark rune set though, even if they did just make up a rune for "sacrifice."  Also, the pictures on the wall of fathers with adopted sons makes it seem like a creepy NAMBLA club. Come to think of it, they don't really ever give us a proper explanation of the group either and the dad makes some really misogynistic comments to our heroine...

I think my biggest complaint about Sacrifice is that it becomes so focused on the action and the escape toward the end that they get sloppy with continuity and execution.  For example, they're watching the woman run from room to room on a security camera, but despite someone standing there and still watching the cameras they don't see her and her husband start to escape with a third person?  Then he's watching security camera footage of a fight that is obviously just regular footage they threw an effect on because, A) a security camera facing some piping is pointless, B) the shot is perfectly framing the actors, and C) the camera sways with the action.  If I'm yelling at the TV about your slapdash fucking work then you fucked up hard.  Fucking sacrifice this movie to the devil in hopes you get a better movie or, like, an ice cream sandwich.

I give Sacrifice 1 bagpipe out of 5 only because I like cults in movies:

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Pod (2015) 1h 16m

Hey.  We haven't sat down in a while and talked about a good tin-foil hat style movie.  What happened to those kind of films?  I feel as though that plot has just vanished from existence recently.  Maybe it was the government getting too worried about us getting close to flat earth lizard people working for the Illuminati and running the world's governments while the Greys prepare to enslave humanity!  Did I miss anything there?

Pod revolves around a set of three siblings.  After receiving a strange message from one of the brothers, the remaining two siblings fear for the brother's mental stability and drive out to check on him.  What they find is a crazed man talking about being experimented on while he was in the service and that he has captured one of the "things from the pod," which is locked in his basement.  Is this man losing his grip on reality?  What's in the basement?  How did he fire off a bunch of shots from a bolt action rifle without using the bolt? *cue X-Files theme*

I have two complaints which I'm going to throw here first because they're brief.  First is the initial dialog between one brother and the sister where he informs her about the message. This is the most uncoordinated five to ten minutes of script of the film.  It felt bumbling in the way a play goes awkward when an actor forgets the order of their lines and the scene is a mismatch of dialog.  It could've been much shorter and to the point as opposed to this drawn out hostility.  Second, I'm not entirely sure what the point was meant to be in regards to certain character development points.  Why was the sister drinking so much?  Was the scene with the guy she just slept with leaving and her drinking to show that she's not as straight laced as the one brother?  If so, why is she such an emotionally lose cannon in the film?

Those few things aside, after that awkward scene, I really liked Pod.  While I could tell where things were going to go most of the time, it would occasionally swerve into the other direction just enough to leave you a bit freaked out.  The creature looked great when we get the reveal and was this great mix of alien/cryptid/undead design.  The acting from the military brother and the sister were fucking stellar.  The brother's manic behavior and later the sister's breakdown and crying actually resonated with me.  What can I say?  I was entertained... except for about five minutes where I got distracted on my laptop with the Ryan Gosling not eating his cereal video, but that's entertainment in itself.

I give Pod 3 Dana Scully rolling her eyes out of 5:

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Damned (2013) 1h 27m

I've learned a lot of odd things from horror film logic.  One of them is the following:  If you come across someone locked/chained up in basement, then don't jump to conclusions as they might be there for a legitimate reason.  The odds of me ever having to apply this lesson are pretty slim but it's definitely something that I will keep in mind should I come across such a situation.  You know, for safety reasons.

Set in Columbia, The Damned follows a man/father, his second wife, the daughter from the first wife, and two other young persons.  After getting caught in a landslide they survive and come to an old inn.  The old man living there refuses them entry until he finds out the daughter is injured and her father is trying to get her help.  Once inside the inn some of the group find a young girl locked in the basement.  They let her out only to later discover that she is possessed by the spirit of a Bruja that was killed by old descendants from the village.  Everyone is fucked.

I want to like this movie more than I do.  I thought that the spirit's backstory was flushed out well enough.  The the spirit could never "die" because if you killed the body hosting it then the spirit jumped to your body.  This is only a step above Horror 101 but I can look past this because of how well it fit the film.  There are some good practical effects present here as well, like the woman cutting her face with the knife or the hands in the fake stomach.

On the flip side, The Damned took a page from the "shit I'm tired of seeing done poorly in horror" book by letting a majority of this film exist in a blue-grey tonality.  Yes, it's raining.  Yes, this film is spooky.  You can do these things for atmosphere but when you're not offering me anything as a visual juxtaposition it just makes me feel bored.  These are colors we associate with sadness and melancholy more than we associate them with horror.  Even the blood in this film was incredibly dark in color.  So I ask myself, would I watch this again?  Nah.  I've got better things to do.  Like lock people up in my basement...

I give The Damned 1 copy of The Damned's s/t album out of 5:

Monday, November 20, 2017

Stitches (2012) 1h 26m

I don't like clowns.  I'm not afraid of them, I just think that they use their shtick to violate my personal space and it makes me want to punch them.  Y'all mother fuckers can still do the same shit a good two feet away and I'll enjoy it much more then having you creep all up on me like we're in the club.  Like Bozo, he knew not to creep up on people and he gave children prizes for playing with balls... wait a minute...

Stitches is a horror comedy where a terrible clown deals with horrible children at a party, or maybe that's just how kids and clowns are in Ireland.  The kids take their pranks too far and they cause Stitches the Clown to trip and fall on a carving knife... twice.  Well, technically the second time it falls on him.  The birthday boy, Tom, goes to visit the clown's grave and stumbles upon a satanic coven of clowns where he finds out that a clown that doesn't finish a party can never rest.  It's dumb but they need a reason for this clown to come back for revenge six years later.

I have actually watched Stitches previously because my husband has an odd inclination toward clown horror films.  The first time around I wasn't a fan of it.  I expected more and it wasn't what a wanted.  Going into it this time though I knew that while the plot line is something straight out of a B-film, the work here really isn't.  In fact, if you like practical effects with a lot of fake blood then this could be just for you.  There are a ton of blood splatters, decapitations by punt or by explosion, severed arms, ears, genitalia, and just a touch of CGI when things like the umbrella spear wouldn't have worked well live.

The humor is like a low-grade Beetlejuice and the character development is kind of weak.  It's also high school kids so it's mostly tropes or just shitty teenagers.  I can't fault it too much.  I'm not expecting some sort of epic backstory development from a movie about a clown that returns from the dead.  This second watch-through did cause it to rise up a bit in my internal head rating.  I won't have it on my shelf, but it's probably background at a party good.

I give Stitches 2 clown horns out of 5:

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Bleed (2016) 1h 22m

You know that part in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when Indy and those Nazis get to the grail room and they have to chose the Holy Grail?  The lady Nazi hands the one guy a cup and he says "it certainly is the cup of the King of Kings" and then fills it and drinks from it?  You remember that?  He fucking died super hard from that because he had chosen... poorly.  That's kind of how I feel with today's film.  I rolled a movie that I had already watched.  When that happens I try to go with the film before or after it then.  Upon reading that this was a bunch of people ghost hunting in a burned down prison I figured it would be good enough.  That's only a tiny bit of the plot and I felt this movie age me.  Not to dust, but enough that I'm not sure if my penis will ever work again...

Bleed focuses on a couple that just bought a house in southern fuck-all USA.  Our female protagonist has a strange crescent moon birthmark on her neck and is also eight or nine months pregnant.  These two things are related as the movie progresses.  Friends come to visit the couple and the woman's Burning Man burnout brother and his girlfriend convince almost everyone to go to a supposedly Satanic burned down prison to ghost hunt.  The ghost of Rob Zombie past appears, a bunch of pointless backstory and unnecessary character development happens, and the towns folk are a cult that want the baby for reasons never really defined.

This movie would've done well as a short film.  All killer, no filler, and we'd be just fine.  Unfortunately we have a rag tag cult with a religion thrown together based on no research other than "ummm... blood... babies... satan but not satan... Rob Zombie."  We get two thirds of the way through and a girl suddenly discloses that she was schizophrenic since she was a child and that's why she keeps taking pills.  This reveal has nothing to do with anything!  Ever!  Even the fact it's a prison is kind of worthless as it's just used as a building where Rob Zombie in Rasputin form could be chained up.  They could've used a spooky old shack for that.  It was just a dart board full of ideas and whatever they hit they tried to fit in and make it work.

On the plus side though, the acting was decent.  The accents were a bit thick on some of the locals but otherwise not too bad.  Camera work and sound were all good.  The score used a lot of cool instrumentation where I could tell it was metal bowls with water in them or doing slides on a violin or cello string.  I'm not knocking things like Carpenter's Halloween score here, but I would like horror to work more on atmosphere like that rather than traditional music.  Overall though, I think Bleed bled out, leaving a husk of a film on the floor.

I give Bleed 1 copy of Alice Cooper's Only Women Bleed out of 5:

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Viral (2016) 1h 25m

While I was watching this film there was a part of me that really wished this would've come out in the 80's and been one of those films that used a metaphor to demonstrate the AIDS epidemic.  I know, that's an absurd way to start this review or even think while watching a movie but all the signs were there.  My point doesn't really get backed up either when the poster is up there with an earthworm sticking out of a girl's mouth.  Let's see if you can understand where I'm coming from here.

Viral is the lil' zombie movie that isn't really a zombie movie.  There are stories of an outbreak existing outside of the U.S. where the symptoms are increased hunger, seizures, a sickly look, and a cough with a bloody discharge.  I forget our main girls' names but they're twins.  One of their friends shows signs of infection only to hurl blood into another student's face.  This leads to the town being put on an intense quarantine and eventually martial law.  Teens gonna teen and they have a party in a semi-built home. An infected individual shows up all zombied out and one of the twins contracts the "virus," only it's not a virus...

I have an irrational fear of an area I'm living in being put under martial law.  It's mainly because I don't know how I would react to it.  It's like those old Frosted Mini Wheats commercials where the adult side of me wants to stay safe in my home, but the teenage punk rock me wants to test the shit out of the boundaries.  I would especially test those if it meant being able to go get dumb shit like energy drinks or cupcakes.  Regardless, it tapped into a weird fear of mine.

I will say that I felt old when the teens were having their party and my rational adult mind lost it's shit and couldn't understand why those kids would do that in this situation.  As far as this film goes, I'm truthfully surprised that I liked it.  I think that this being a variation of a zombie movie is what made Viral great.  I don't think that's what they were going for, but it's what I got out of it and it works for me.  My only big complaint is that when the bombs fall, that's the shittiest bombing for an outbreak situation I've seen.  They drop four or five bombs to destroy the outbreak and it's like they hit three houses and a 7-11 then called it a day.

I give Viral 3 earthworms out of 5:

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Residue (2017) 1h 22m

There's so much going on in that poster.  Just take a second and really look at it.  You have some demon thing, a bug woman, Max Headroom, the Smoking Man from X-files, and some strange lighting from the late 70's early 80's.  This poster looks like Pagemaster on PCP.  In a way, this film kind of was.

Residue focuses around a journal of partially unknown origins.  Being that it's a journal you have some info but the book itself is a descent into madness.  After a theft and botched hand-off of a "package" our main character comes home to find out he was delivering this book.  He makes the mistake of starting to read it and only after someone completes reading the book does the supernatural shit around them end.  By "around them" I'm talking the entire apartment complex and people living in it.   It is rare that someone lives to finish the book.  The actual "residue" the film gets its title from is a black slime that exists on and in some of the journal.

I don't know how I feel about Residue.  It attempts to do a Neo-Noir style thing with the character narration combined with some advanced tech but then leans more into a serious version of John Dies at the End.  The latter of these two should not be attempted in a serious manner because the humor is what makes that a good film.  There were some background moments you had to catch at the right time or you would miss them and I love when films do that well.  I don't have any legitimate complaints other than the supernatural elements became a bit too disjunct from the journal and what we knew of it, but I'm still not totally sold on it.

I give Residue a 2 Journal 3's out of 5:

Monday, November 13, 2017

Drifter (2016) 1h 26m

There's nothing worse than buckling in for what you think is going to be a wild ride only to have things just jump the tracks.  I sat down, started this up, had some orange juice with me, a cat on my lap, hit play, things started off great.  Then...well... let's get into it.

Drifter follows two brothers as they're attempting to track down the man that killed their father.  They're driving across the desert in hopes that they're on the trail of the murderer.  After a few tough run-ins one of the brothers needs medical attention and they stop at the first town-ish/trailer park thing they come across.  From there everything goes south.

This film has one of my greatest complaints which is unnecessary or unfinished plot points.  You can leave a plot point open ended if done well, but the first quarter to half of this film is focused on the brothers getting revenge.  About 10 minutes into them being in this town that plot line is completely abandoned.  I'm also not sure what the setting for this world is.  Everytime someone comes across them they ask how they have a working car.  Yet the person they're chasing is supposed to be in a car.  So is it just that in this desert region of nothing cars became scarce or is this some form of post apocalyptic world?  Finally, I assume that the one writer/director are a fan of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and House of 1000 Corpses because once the town "family" gets introduced then it's the crazy eccentric cannibals!  It's like you took the Firefly family from ...1000 Corpses and told them to be poorer quality versions of themselves.

The high points of this film are everything up to them arriving in the town and the score.  The score is simple but coated in a sense of pending danger.  It's louder than some scores but it doesn't overpower the scene.  The viewer has an auditory dread of "what's coming" while watching.

As I mentioned earlier, I wish that plot line A (revenge) would have tied into plot line B (the town) better.  Once B is wrapped up we're just left wandering that same wasteland of a desert without a decent sense of accomplishment for the characters or even just us.  It tries to make that jump that ...1000 Corpses does but it's not absurd enough.  They don't have the horror experience that Rob Zombie had at that time, and in the end, it set Drifter into a ditch to die.

I give Drifter 1.5 car pancakes out of 5:

Sunday, November 12, 2017

13 Cameras (a.k.a. Slumlord) (2015) 1h 27m

When you're on tour with a band you spend a lot of time creating jokes, voices, whatever to pass the time in the van.  Years ago I was on tour with a band I was in and someone created a gravel voiced landlord that made creepy statements about how good the shower is and that there may be cameras in the house to watch the person being the role of the renter.  Back then it was creepy and hilarious to the nine of us in a van (yes, the band had a lot of people in it).  This film takes anything we ever joked about to a whole new level.  It made me feel filthy just for watching it!

In 13 Cameras we have the above pictured creeper, looking like Alton Brown and Malcolm McDowell had a child that just gave the fuck up, renting a house out to a young couple.  The home is outfitted with tons of fiber optic cameras and a tiny basement the landlord originally says is an "owner's closet."  This movie is essentially every single person's fear if you live in a rental property, plus some needless character personal drama.

Neville Archambault as the landlord fucking kills it.  He never blinks.  His presence makes not only the people on screen but the viewer feel uncomfortable with the social interactions.  Early on they establish a grotesque smell about him and just his movement and visual presence conjures up that smell in your head.  Everyone else in this movie I don't really give a shit about.  The husband is having an affair with his assistant which really only exists so the landlord has a reason to sneak into the house and make the basement a "prisoner" area.

This film gave me chills.  Honestly.  At some point in your life you've dealt with an individual similar to this and it was not a pleasant moment.  Then to see him put cameras in toilets and showers and just ewwwwwgghhhhh!  I can't.  I just cringed while typing about this.

I give 13 Cameras 3.5 Creepers from Minecraft out of 5:

Friday, November 10, 2017

Friday's Choice Cuts: Horror in Pro Wrestling

WCW's The Yeti... not really a Yeti, more of a TP monster

Let's all be honest here.  If you're a horror fan then odds are you're also a pro-wrestling fan.  I don't know of many people that don't have that cross-over.  "Sports entertainment" has evolved from just the standard heel/face battles into developed characters with costumes.  I still remember being a kid and The Undertaker coming out with Paul Bearer.  We had Paul's spooky high pitched voice talking about the dead man returning from the grave with the Undertaker rolling his eyes back.  It was creepy.

There's Kevin Sullivan who embodied the role of a satanist at a time when that was unheard of.  Stables like the Dungeon of Doom, the Brood (existing because White Wolf worked with WWE to create the wrestler Gangrel to go with their LARP game), and the Disciples (which crucified the owner's daughter by the titontron) created an ominous presence.
In modern times we have Bray Wyatt speaking of supernatural powers, a spirit known as Sister Abigail, and practically crab-walking around  the ring.  He also was the reason we had the amazing "House of Horrors" match which involved the shittiest Halloween haunted house and a KO-by-refrigerator.  I wish every gimmick match was as awesomely bad as that.

Speaking of gimmick matches, sometimes you don't even need the characters to keep things evil.  Barbed wire, cage matches, hardcore matches, backyard wrestling, Japanese Death Matches, "C4" matches, all things that push the limits.  While WWE has pretty much banned any blade-ing (when a wrestler uses a concealed razor blade to cut their forehead during a match), there are still matches in other federations where you can catch some insanely bloody scenes.

Before I forget, there's Lucha Underground which is essentially everything you could want with wrestling and strange story lines.  Mil Muerte was introduced as having the souls of 1000 dead men inside of him.  Their plots blur the lines of reality in a way that we haven't seen since the late 80's/early 90's.  We also have New Japan Wrestling which literally has a character that is just named Evil and comes out holding a scythe and a stable of crazies.

I could go on and on.  I was going to post the video of Sandman vs. The Zombie from ECW (when they got picked up by the Syfy channel) because it's hilarious, but Hulk Hogan meets the Dungeon of Doom is so much funnier.  Plus it's a tiny B-movie in its own.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Midnight After (2014) 2h 4m

It's been a while since we've had any C-Horror on this blog.  Come to think of it, it's been a while since I've had any horror from Japan, Korea, or China.  I guess it's just how the dice roll sometimes when it comes to these reviews.

Imagine boarding a full mini-bus and while en route to your destination all signs of humanity vanish.  This is the plot of The Midnight After.  While passing through a tunnel there is a moment where everyone on the bus blinks at the same time and suddenly cars and people everywhere disappear.  In addition to this mystery, some of remainders that still exist begin to die in strange ways, such as their body parts just turning to dust.  Theories come from every angle among those that still live.

This film had a lot going on.  My issue is that some of it didn't seem to go anywhere, leaving me with a lot of questions.  There's a whole section revolving around David Bowie's Space Oddity which leads to a thin thread of something else but the source is never discovered.  The existence of Japanese men in gas masks gets discussed but we don't get a concrete reason as to why they have a presence in Hong Kong.  There's a strange time loss/memory loss section introduced with one of the characters too that is quickly forgotten.

The Midnight After also contains a rape scene which turns into a necro-rape scene after the woman succumbs to whatever is killing people.  This later outs one of the survivors as a scumbag.  I'm pretty sure this whole scene is meant to have a "Lord of the Flies" twinge insomuch as morality and punishment is defined by those alive.

Aside from the confusion and sexual assault scene, The Midnight After was okay.  They did a great job of making you invested with each of the survivors by the end of the film.  The characters were diverse enough to keep each of their dialog interesting and the light comedic elements did break things up.  I will say the character of Fat got on my nerves since he was the defacto leader by sheer jerkitude.

I give The Midnight After 2 Ziggy Stardust era David Bowie's out of 5:

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Last Shift (2014) 1h 30m

If your first shift at a new job is guarding a building that after that night they're not going to use anymore then that shit is haunted.  There is no doubt in my mind that it's haunted.  There's no doubt in the ghost's mind that it's haunted.

Last Shift is set in an old police station where Officer Laren is starting her first shift.  All she has to do is watch the building and at some point a clean-up crew is coming through to get some stuff from the evidence room.  What starts where her hearing some strange noises turns into a full-fledged haunting from the spirits of cult members.

I really got into this film.  It reminded me a lot of the Silent Hill video games because there were seemingly two worlds. Officer Laren would blink or turn away and her surroundings would change in that moment.  It made me feel like when you see something out of the corner of your eye, but turn and it's gone.  Last Shift also had some of the most frightening foley I've heard this side of J-Horror.  I haven't cringed from a horror movie in a while but this one made my shoulders tighten up.

My only complaint is that this film was done in 2014 and Officer Laren still had a flip phone.  Honestly, get with the fucking times girl!  No wonder ghosts are calling you, that's like have a Victrola strapped to your hip for your music!

I give Last Shift 3 police shields out of 5:

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Meet the Blacks (2016) 1h 34m

Is modern horror white centric?  This is the question that I've come to ask myself.  Now that you're thinking about that question I'm sure Get Out has come to mind but there really hasn't been another film that pops up to fill that number two spot.  The reason I even raise this question is because while I understood the jokes and references, I felt as though I was on the outside looking in with this watch.  This wasn't made for me.  Personally I mean.  I'm not speaking for a group of anyone as I can't represent that.  Even as a horror fan with this blog I can't speak for all horror fans.  Yet I just felt a disconnect.  I'm probably rambling into oblivion with an absence of a point, but I had that step back moment and this is now clawing at my skull.

If you took The Purge films, mixed in some Beverly Hillbillies, and made them into an "urban" horror-comedy then you'd have Meet the Blacks.  Carl Black takes a stash of weed and money from a dealer's house after that dealer goes to jail.  He moves his entire family from Chicago to Beverly Hills to live a rich life.  Carl assumes that the purge (it's literally called "the purge" in this movie) won't effect them in their rich neighborhood.  His presumption is wrong and everyone from the drug dealer he stole from, to racist neighbors, black klansman, the Visa company, etc. come after him.  It's literally a revolving door of "Who are you?" "You owe me money for xxxx" or "I don't like black people."

As I mentioned, I was on the outside looking in here.  The regular jokes were not as funny to me as the obvious ad lib jokes were.  The presence of some major stars like Paul Mooney, Charlie Murphy (RIP), and Mike Tyson kept it interesting but some duds like George Lopez (as President El Bama) and Perez Hilton (as the Visa man) really took away from what humor I did like.  They would also set up running gags which got stale quickly.  How many times are you going to kill someone and then forget it's purge night and freak out about the cops?  Apparently three or four times if my count is correct.

This isn't really a bad film.  The acting was decent, even from the kids, and the Rza did the score so you can't go wrong there.  It's also not that great.  I can say I felt disconnected from it as much as I want but I can tell when something is still good or bad and this was just short of middle of the road.

I give Meet the Blacks 1 copy of Friday out of 5:

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Poltergeist of Borley Forest (a.k.a. American Poltergeist 2; a.k.a. You Will Love Me) (2013)

Fun fact:  American Poltergeist 1 came out in 2015, two years after this film was released.  If nothing else then this should give you an idea of what we're in for.  The joy of Hollywood is that they'll sometimes put out films that already exist under another moniker in hopes that being related to something else will help them sell.  A great example of this are some of the later Hellraiser films where they were completed scripts without any of the Cenobites or Hellraiser related items.  The studio said they needed to add those things to the script and then they'd make the movie because it was already a bad movie which they knew they couldn't sell.  There's also Dark Harvest 2: The Maize which was a film made by Bill Cowell because I had just bought a new camera and wanted to test it out.  He wrote a shitty script and had his family and friends act in it and for some reason Lion's Gate got a copy of it and said they'd give him money for it and put it out as DH2.  I've seen it, it is awful.

Back to the matter at hand though, American Poltergeist 2 is about a 17 year-old girl that parties in the wrong woods and finds a tree with the remains of a lynching rope still hanging from it.  She touches the rope and then begins to see and sometimes be attacked by a spirit.  After seeking out a professor in paranormal studies, and the girl's family experiences a violent encounter, they have to find the tree again to defeat the spirit.

Over the last few reviews I've mentioned things being "trash," but this transcends trash and becomes a new form of disgusting waste.  It's raw sewage, filled with the stench of poo poo and pee pee!  Using adult words to describe this film is too good for it!  The camera shots lack any dynamic.  It's either straight on or slightly off to the side so a character can look forward and not stare into the camera.  The audio engineer was fucking terrible as well.  If a scene was in public then it sounded like they recorded without a wind screen on the mic and pushed the EQ so it was all high end.  There was a scene of the girl walking outside with one of her friends which was almost inaudible.  It sounded like when you hit your head really hard and voices sound distant despite being right next to you.

The ending of this film tried to pull a "We killed the wrong ghost twin!" thing as a surprise reveal but you saw it coming from the other side of town.  Crap plot, crap acting, crap sound, crap camera... all crap!  Also, if you do watch this, look for the bright orange extension cord running through the grass to the light rig after the one character realizes their car batter is totally dead.  It was in the fucking shot the whole time!  You could see it under his arm!  Fuck you American Poltergeist 2, or whatever your real name is!

I give the movie with many titles 0 extension cords out of 5:

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Antibirth (2016) 1h 34m

What the fuck did I just watch?  For real,  what the fuck is this film?  I spent so much time trying not to fall asleep and then just... fuck it.  Let's get into it.

Antibirth takes one of the girls from Orange is the New Black and fucks her up on all of the drugs.  After a night out at a party she wakes up and begins to show signs of being pregnant.  She doesn't remember much from the party but is pretty sure she didn't have sex with anyone.  The pregnancy has weird side effects like skin peeling or lactating blood or the grossest blister drain scene I've seen in a while.  The final payoff in this film consisted of me yelling "what the fuck is that?!" or "what the fuck is going on?!" at the screen multiple times.

I've complained of slow burns before but this was like a fuse that never let.  Most of the film's story is told while people are getting high and then faux artsy drug induced shots of TVs or scenery.  A lot of the music was baby's first Casio pre-programmed drum beats with mumble lyrics and effects pedals over it.  There was one song that sounded like it was a Brian Jonestown Massacre song but it could just have been a rip off.

Then the ending, Jesus barebacking Christ, the fucking ending.  If you ever wondered what it'd look like if Bigfoot fucked the Creature from the Black Lagoon then look up the last 10 minutes of this movie.  Don't watch the rest, just watch the ending because the rest of the movie does not fucking warn you!  I can't handle this.  I'm done.  Fuck this movie!

I give Antibirth 0 boys wearing an "I'm preggers" shirt out of 5:

Friday, November 3, 2017

Friday's Choice Cuts: The Splatterhouse Video Game Series (Namco/Namco Bandai)

That magazine ad started it all.  I was on the cusp of turning 10 and flipping through a Gamepro magazine when I saw it: Splatterhouse.  The lower left screen shot had the main protagonist (Rick) shooting a shotgun at a guy with chainsaws for arms and a bag on his head.  I thought that was the coolest looking thing ever.

Unfortunately, my local arcade never got a cabinet of Splatterhouse, and the only person in my town with a Turbografx 16 had the game but they were older than me and the few times I asked if I could try Splatterhouse he always said he didn't want anyone playing his Turbografx.  It didn't help that the system was fucking insanely expensive.

Luckily I had a Genesis and they eventually made Splatterhouse 2 and 3 for that system.  When I became an adult and learned of emulators I was able to play the arcade and the Turbografx port.  Then I even tracked down a Famicom rom with its chibi art style.  In 2010 (20 years after the original port) a reboot was put released and as you completed the game it unlocked the arcade game as well as 2 and 3.  If nothing else it's worth the money for that.

Now that I've dragged you on my nostalgia journey, what is Splatterhouse?  It's a horror game where your girlfriend Jennifer is kidnapped (a lot) and Rick dons something known as the Terror Mask which grants him intense strength to fight everything from poltergeists to severed heads controlled by an inverted cross (or tombstone if it's the TG port).  You get all the typical weapons such as a 2x4, a shotgun, a giant meat cleaver, etc.  I think the only thing that's missing is getting your own chainsaw.  All of these, with the exception of the reboot, are side-scrollers.  You do have moments where you interact with some background elements depending on the level.

If you're into horror and video games then I definitely recommend seeking these out.  I know the Namco collection on the Nintendo e-store has the original port but if you e-Bay a copy of the 2010 game for PS3 then I recommend that.  I paid something like $5 for mine but in truth, it'll be priceless to me because I finally get to play all of the Splatterhouse (no thanks to you, Billy!  Fuck your Turbografx!)

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Backcountry (2014) 1h 32m

This was almost it.  This was almost the "shit sandwich" review, but I watched the whole thing.  I can't believe I watched the whole thing...

Backcountry is a couple getting lost in the woods and then attacked by a bear.  It didn't have any real sense of survival.  It didn't draw me in to make me care about the characters.  The camera work was a mix of static, shoulder mounted shaky cam, and a few Go Pros which just made it a mess of trash.

If anything, Backcountry should serve as a warning on how not to hike trails and camp.  I'm not an avid woodsman but I enjoy camping and getting out of the city.  I was a Boy Scout in my teens.  A lot of this could have been avoided by simple back packing 101.  Did you need fancy potatoes to eat?  No.  Did you need a fucking map?  YES!

I give Backcountry 0 bear warning signs out of 5:

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Trip to Bhangarh: Asia's Most Haunted Place (2014) 1h 53m

If you've been a regular visitor here then you'll know I'm no stranger to Bollywood horror films.  I think this actually marks my fourth or fifth film (if you're also counting last Cut's three hour kid's horror film that I couldn't make it through).  Don't be fooled by that poster.  I don't know why only one of the five main characters made it on here.  I think it's because they assumed he was the hottest?

Trip to Bhangarh... has five friends showing up for a college reunion and hearing a story about a fort that is supposedly the most haunted location in Asia.  A story of black magic, jilted love, and cursed souls is given as our backstory to this haunt.  The friends decide to make a trip up to the fort during the day time to see if they can find anything.  Finding nothing, they return home only to have a run of bad luck around the 10-day mark.

Using the term "horror" loosely here, Trip to Bhangarh is really more of a horror-comedy.  In true Bollywood form though, there were (I think) four musical numbers thrown in this film.  Since none of these had much to do with the movie I took this time to do other things elsewhere in the house.  IMDB lists this as the only film some of these actors did.  While watching it I felt like they had taken a stage acting troupe and asked them to be in the film.  It's the typical stage-to-screen variations in body movement that stick out.  The audio track sounded like the whole thing was ADRed in later.  It was synced well if that's the case, but it kept me from allowing myself to actively watch the film.

During the course of Trip to Bhangarh... the plot just unravels into a sloppy mess .  The final reveal was interesting but then has this really long "villain explains the plot" sequence that went on for close to ten minutes.  I didn't care that much.  Just say "I'm doing it because of X."  I don't need all this fucking backstory.  You're the bad guy?  We got it, moving on to the net scene!

I give Trip to Bhangarh: Asia's Most Haunted Place 1 photo of Bhangarh out of 5:

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Death Note (2017) 1h 41m

I knew this day would come.  I fucking knew it!  I just hoped that it would be much later than this, and on Halloween of all days!  So I've read all of the original Death Note manga, saw all of the anime, and own two of the three Japanese films (Death Note and Death Note II, but not L Saved the World).  When Netflix said they were going to make their own movie based on Death Note it was met with some excitement and some skepticism.  Then it came out and all I heard about it was that it was trash upon trash.  So how does this really measure up?

If you're unfamiliar with the premise, Death Note is about an ultra intelligent teenage boy named Light.  He finds a notebook labeled as a "Death Note" and a list of rules inside of how to use it.  The book itself belongs to a Shinigami (death god) named Ryuk who acts as an influencer and voyeur to Light's use of the Death Note.  After donning the name "Kira" (an indirect form of the word "killer" in Japanese), Light uses the Death Note in a self-conceived notion of global morality by eliminating criminals.  A special operative, another teenage boy of extreme intelligence, known only as L is put on the case to flush out Kira.

That pretty much sums up what is maybe the first quarter of the original story and more info than you're given for the entirety of this film.  If you know nothing at all about Death Note then you might like this film.  If you know even the slightest bit about Death Note then you know this is a bastardization of the source material set in America.  I could go on and on about why this wasn't good, but those reviews already exist so I'll jump to the two things I did like about this.  First, Ryuk (and more importantly Willem Dafoe's voice acting) was a shining star in the black void of this film.  The lines were dead on, the look was great, and Willen Dafoe fucking kills it with his laughs and line deliveries.  Second, this version of L was much more proactive than the original.  He took risks that were out of character for L, but it made him a bit more interesting.  It doesn't help that I'm not really a fan of L in the manga/anime and much prefer Near, but with this film you have no clue what I'm talking about.

So is this movie the turd sandwich people say it is?  Ehhhh... Like I said, if you have even flipped through the manga then you know this movie is trash.  Although, for people that have no clue about Death Note, maybe this will be their gateway into the real thing, or maybe it will be their intro to manga and anime.  So I can't really shit on that.  Kids still get into metal based on new Metallica albums.  If it leads to them finding good metal or visiting the old Metallica albums, then good for them.  Metal up your ass...

I give Death Note 1 apple out of 5 (in honor of Willem Dafoe's Ryuk):

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Black Room (2017) 1h 31m

There had to have been some house, empty since the mid-80's, that was getting renovated and they found this script hidden in the floorboards.  The only catch is that it was written by some 14 year old boy that was sexually repressed and this was the closest he would ever get to woods porn.  Then this cursed script found its way to a director who adjusted himself and decided to make it come to life!

The Black Room has a traditional horror premise: house has a demon in it, new couple moves in, demon attempts to use them for his evil purpose.  The difference here is that the demon is hyper-sexual in order to create a human/demon hybrid child.  So think Amityville Horror meets Species.  You know, two films you never thought you'd hear compared in the same sentence.

I feel like this would be one of those VHS tapes I would see for rent as a kid and the cover would scare the shit out of me. It looks so 1984 horror.  The entire film had that vibe, just under a modern lens.  The old school rotoscoped lightning effects existed with modern practical effects and make-up for a good blend.  I will say that The Black Room had a few sloppy moments with such things as showing a full hand after the fingers just got cut off or, and this is more of a personal gripe, a brand new GBH patch on the goth/occult girl's bag.  Seriously, she's not listening to GBH.  Fuck, I'm not sure anyone still listens to GBH and that includes people that were in that fucking band.

There are also unexplained elements that aren't important to the story but still confusing.  Did this couple buy the house fully furnished and just moved in?  Are they not creeped out by that?  Who has a giant Tibetan Buddha statue when you walk into your house?  Why would you not cement over that door in the first place?  Scorpion tail dicks?!

I give The Black Room 2.5 Mortal Kombat Scorpions out of 5:

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Tremors 5: Bloodlines (2015) 1h 39m

You know what's delicious? Bacon.  You know who was in the original Tremors?  Kevin Bacon.  You know what Kevin Bacon is doing right now?  NOT FUCKING MAKING TREMORS SEQUELS!

Tremors 5 is a hot fucking mess.  The original Tremors came out in 1990 so the fact that this release is 25 years later should let you know that they're really cashing in on that current hot Tremors' cash.  In the first movie it was just "Graboids" that existed in the ground.  Think Shai Huluds in middle America.  I didn't keep up with the films or lore but apparently there are multiple types now including one that shoots fire out of its ass.

Speaking of fires, this fucking dumpster fire takes place in South Africa.  The monster hunter/survivalist that has apparently taken over as the main character for these films comes there after a poacher tricks him into thinking he's from some wildlife organization.  Jaime Kennedy (who I don't really have anything against, but whatever) is a professional douche bag/side kick during this too.

I didn't care about Tremors in 1990.  I won't care about Tremors X in 2090.  This franchise needs to die and stay dead.  I don't even know who the audience was for this movie.  Is it for people that only buy movies from the $5 bin at Wal-Mart?  Because if that's the case then fucking score for you.  The really sad thing is that this movie has decent acting and better than average CGI.  I hope all of these people got paid well, because I shop in that $5 bin a lot and I wouldn't buy this shit.

I give Tremors 5: Bloodlines 0 Shai Hulud out of 5:

Friday, October 27, 2017

Friday Choice Cuts: Haunted House season!

The House of Shock (New Orleans) from NOLA.com

When I was a young kid I always wanted to go to the haunted houses or whatever there was going on during the season.  The few times I did get taken to them I made it to the first scare and from then on had to be carried through while I hid my face in a family member's shoulder.  I liked the idea of being scared but wasn't able to grasp the concept of these ghouls will not harm me.

As I got older though I still kept an interest every October when you'd see signs for corn mazes or haunted hayrides or whatever.  As a young adult it was worth it to get a group of friends together and see who would get scared and who wouldn't.  Hell, even as an older adult I still love going with a group of people and watching them get scared.

While I've matured quite a bit from the crying child clinging to someone's neck, I learned to love a good scare.  I don't react to most things in haunted houses now.  In fact, a lot of times I'm the person that will walk up to an actor and just say "do you need a hug," but I've learned that these scares are controlled.  It's still worth it though, come every October, to go through the cobwebs and fake blood even if it's just for the laughs.

From fire departments, to community organizations, to full blown haunted house companies, there has to be something going on somewhere for you to go to.  So go have fun!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Under the Shadow (2016) 1h 24m

War is hell.  Ghosts might be from hell.  Therefore, Ghosts might come from War?  Oh shit!  Things got too real in this intro...

Under the Shadow is an Iranian film set during the Iran-Iraq war of the 80's.  A family is split up when the husband is sent to be a medic on the front lines and the wife stays behind with their child.  After a series of unexplained incidents and strange behavior from the daughter, the mother begins to believe that the building may have a spirit haunting them.

I have the reoccurring complaint that a lot of horror films have poor pacing.  While this film is guilty of crawling to the supernatural elements I feel like it's a conscious decision by the writer/director.  The supernatural horror is such a small piece of the greater horror that surrounds the mother and daughter.  Cultural misogyny, the fear that comes with living in a war zone (a missile actually crashes into the building at one point but doesn't detonate), parenthood, losing direction as a person, all of these are the anxieties that people can face and I think the ghost or whatever here is just a physical manifestation of these.  We get a brief description where it says these spirits come on "the winds" where there exists a lot of fear, anxiety, and trauma so why would that not exist in corporeal form?

I think that if you want just a surface spooky movie then this probably isn't going to be the film for you.  It took me a bit to recognize the deeper thread running through it and I was ready to just let this one fall off.  I'm glad I didn't but Under the Shadow is kind of a one-and-done.

I give Under the Shadow 2 clip art bombs out of 5:

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Rezort (2015) 1h 33m

When working with a fuse one should give themselves enough time to get to a safe spot after lighting it.  Sometimes someone fucks up and it blows up in their face.  Sometimes it takes too long and becomes more trouble than it's worth.   Then there are times where it takes just a moment too long and lures you into that sense of security...

If The Rezort were a mixed drink, you would take one part Jurassic Park, one part The Most Dangerous Game, and blend it all with a large amount of the Dead Island video game series.  After an almost apocalyptic viral outbreak caused the living to fight the dead, an island exists with the last remaining infected on it.  Vacationers can come to The Rezort to have a controlled zombie hunting experience and work out whatever fantasy or internal anguish they might carry.  You probably have a good idea what happens in this film.

I mentioned that false sense of security previously because this film has that slow burn that takes you to the point where one can assume exactly how the rest of this movie is going to play out.  Instead though, when it blows up, there's a pause and you find out that there were some fireworks mixed in with that explosion.  It leads to some serious "oooo's" and "ahhh's".

The character development is done really well.  They don't waste time trying to hide anything about the "surface" people and the characters we want to know more about get teased right until we are given that informational relief.  I personally loved that one of the women came to the island to deal with her PTSD from the previous "war."  The end of this film delivers some fantastic reveals and creates a couple more questions that I would love to have answered.  Just not in a sequel form.  Maybe in short film format.  I could live with that.

I give The Rezort 2 copies of Dead Island out of 5:

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Raw (a.k.a. Grave) (2016) 1h 39m

If this movie has taught me anything then it would be the following information about France (or possibly a French speaking area like Quebec): 1) You apparently either become an aggressively homosexual truck driver or go to vet school, 2) Vet school in France is the fucking worst, 3) French woman (especially those from vegetarian families) have the possibility of becoming cannibals.  I think I just accidentally summed this movie up too early.

Raw is the story of a girl going away to vet school (which her older sister is also attending) and going through some serious life changes.  For instance, she starts off being vegetarian and then, after a hazing ritual has her eat a raw rabbit liver, she begins to crave meat.  Normal meat isn't enough though and, after eating her sister's severed finger, she finds she craves human flesh.  None of this is as cool as you may think it sounds.

This movie is less of a horror film and more of a slow drama with cannibal elements.  It takes a while to get anywhere and when it does the party sucks and you would much rather be back home playing video games.  I like the concept of this film.  They take it from a very "outside the box" perspective when it comes to having those jagged horror edges.  Yet I found myself checking the time left on the film because I really just didn't care about our leading lady's transition from virgin vegetarian girl to deflowered cannibal woman.  Dammit!  I made this movie sound cool again.  It's not.  At least not to my American horror senses.

I give Raw 1 severed finger first aid image out of 5: