Friday, February 16, 2018
Once again we wrap up another Cut and I'm looking forward to a much needed break. I love horror but subjecting myself to boring or just bad films makes me feel like I'm stuck on the Satellite of Love only without quirky robot friends to keep my sanity. Instead I develop something more akin to Ren & Stimpy's "space madness."
So what is going on with 30 Days of Plight while I'm taking my break between cuts? A lot actually:
I'm waiting on an Elgato to arrive so I can do proper streams of horror games over on my Twitch channel which is Twitch.TV/30DaysOfPlight. I'm looking to do at least an hour or two once a week during this break. A lot of Friday the 13th The Game will be shown and I'll be announcing those streams on our Twitter and Facebook.
I'm working on a t-shirt design to sell through an online vendor which will hopefully be available at the start of the 8th Cut.
I'm going to start reaching out to try to get some screeners of newer films and once that starts then I'll be doing a "Screener Saturday" once or twice a Cut.
Speaking of format changes, I'm going to be going back to a Monday-Friday post schedule for our regular reviews. The Sunday-Thursday existed because of my previous work schedule but being that I'm Fun-employed for the time being I can go back to a normal set-up. What does this mean about my Friday's Choice Cuts? I haven't been avoiding them, there just hasn't been a lot I've come across that I've felt like talking about. More than likely I'll just shift these to open Saturdays or maybe I'll keep them for a second post on some Fridays. They're kind of nebulous at this point.
Finally, we will return for not only our 8th Cut but also our 2 Year Anniversary on Monday, March 26th. If you have any suggestions for anything related to the site or just want to reach out and say "hi" you can contact or catch me at any of the following:
You get the point. So thank you for reading and I'll see you all again on March 26th. So until then, I'll be right back...
Thursday, February 15, 2018
Years ago I went with a group of people camping. As night came, and we were sitting around the fire, we started attempting to tell ghost stories. One of my fellow campers said he didn't have any ghost stories but he had seen this film so we told him to try and recap it since none of us saw it. The next five minutes were a hodgepodge of a story which ended with the most blasé "and then she jumped out a window and died." Everyone laughed their ass off and to this day I still think of that as a punchline to terrible stories. Post script to this story, that isn't what happens.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose is barely a horror movie. In truth this is a court drama that happens to revolve around priest that is being blamed for negligence in the death of Emily. Most of the time is spent with lawyers and witnesses arguing between the science of the physical word and the existence of the spirit of the supernatural. We are told the story from start to finish and there are some scenes of Emily before and during her possession but it's overshadowed by the litigation.
If I would've paid to see this film in theatres and this is what I got then I would be pissed. The only saving grace of Emily Rose is Emily herself. Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter) does a lot of the physical contortions on her own as well as her facial expressions and voices. I spent some time looking into facts about this film and she was cast at the audition because she scared the director. Big ups to you, Jennifer.
Speaking of the director of this film, I came across something saying that he wanted people to leave this film with more questions than answers. You have a fictional court case and exorcism based off of a real account that happened in Germany. You can't make something up and then have people seek out answers when you've created the universe it exists in! Here's my question for you, why is this movie two hours of the most boring "horror" ever? Riddle me that, Batman.
I give the Exorcism of Emily Rose 1 romance paperback titled "Exorcism" out of 5 (and that is only for Jennifer Carpenter):
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
This is an odd way to start a review, but I feel that the term "redneck" gets overused in horror. It has become a catch-all for any non-urban/non-suburban villain character(s). Take this film for example. The descriptions mention the townspeople as "rednecks" but I find them more akin to the villagers in Shirley Jackson's The Lottery. Their actions may be shocking and wrong to us, but to them it's what they have been doing for ages. I'm not justifying either groups actions here as by modern social and moral standards both are viewed as wrong. The people here don't really fit the stereotypical overalls, flannel, banjo playing bumpkins we typically visualize, so why not find a better term? Anyway, let's get back on track here.
Happy Hunting's main character is Warren, a crank making alcoholic. He receives a call from Mexico saying that an ex-lover has died and that he has a child. Warren mans up, tries to quit drinking, and sell some bunk crank to make it to Mexico. The deal goes south but so does our man until he ends up in the town of Buffalo Flats. It's a town known for its rich hunting heritage despite being a desert region now. He arrives just in time for their annual hunting festival where this quickly turns into The Most Dangerous Game with Warren and four others attempting to flee from the towns elite huntsmen.
It's been a while since I've watched one of these Running Man style films. While it lacks the panache of a lot of its predecessors I can't really find any heavy faults with Happy Hunting. Sure, we have a ton of time spent in the desert without much action but I found myself on Warren's side and had some emotional reactions to characters being killed. I also appreciated the speech from the Sheriff about the hunt being about how they "deal with problems," in this town. Once again, it doesn't justify their actions, but it helps you understand them. Overall, I'm probably not going to watch this film again, but if it's already on somewhere then I'm not adverse to seeing it again.
I give Happy Hunting 2 copies of Guns & Ammo out of 5:
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
So close. So close to finishing this Cut without having to deal with another "found footage" film and instead one more has to sneak in at the zero hour. My husband and I had a long discussion last night about this subgenre of horror and what has and hasn't worked. Blair Witch played on the fact that everyone grew up with some sort of urban legend. Paranormal Activity brought the fright into our homes. Grave Encounters took the phenomena of ghost hunting shows and had their own twist on the absurdity of them as well as pushing horror to be a bit more extreme. Most generic found footage just keep taking a group of 20-somethings and putting them in a haunted space. You know what else had that plot? Scooby Doo! And the fucking Scooby gang is way more entertaining!
Strayed (Perdidos) does this same dead horse style plot. A group of 20-somethings go into a supposedly haunted building to record ghosts. They vanish and this is the footage found. The twist here is that we know a Rabbi had to do an exorcism in this building. The Rabbi also left a Dybbuk just chillin' in that space, which I feel you wouldn't want to leave hanging out for just anyone to find. Spooky scares happen and I can't read Hebrew to save my life so I have no idea what half of that stuff says. I couldn't even translate whats on that poster and I spent a good 20 minutes trying and just gave up assuming its one of the 72 names of god.
Surprisingly, Strayed was one of the better found footage films I've watched. The quick pans gliding by shadowy figures are decently scary but what this movie does that I really like is that the spirit has the ability to manipulate physical space. People find themselves in hallways that end up looping themselves, rooms will change at any point, and impossible space becomes possible. In the end though, these weren't enough to save the film from long periods of nothing and poor character interactions. I would have liked this better if it were a 20-30 minute short film. This way you get all killer/no filler.
I give Strayed (Perdidos) 1 rabbi clip art out of 5:
Monday, February 12, 2018
Both on and off of this blog I've watched a lot of horror comedies. Sometimes you want to be able to laugh while also seeing gore as opposed to laughing at the poorly done gore. John Dies at the End, Tucker & Dale..., Shaun of the Dead, Deathgasm, all great examples of mixing hilarious comedy with fantastic horror. So what happens when a horror comedy does neither their horror nor their comedy aspects well?
Night of the Living Deb doesn't have much going for it in the plot department. Deb attempts to hit on a guy without knowing his fiancé is there and pissed at him. They end up getting drunk and passing out back at his place. The next morning is awkward but then so are the zombies that exist everywhere now due to water contamination by the water company owned by the guy's father. That's about it.
There's an attempt at an awkward romantic angle here but the dialog feels really forced and disingenuous between our leading characters. It's only made worse by 90% of the lines in this film attempting to be jokes. I had a few laughs while watching this but to be bombarded with mediocre humor consistently made me dislike this film even more.
If I had to sum up Night of the Living Deb in a few words then I would say this is the equivalent of some college friends realizing one of them had a video camera and trying to make a zombie movie in a weekend. Okay, that's more than a few, but we're not quite at "shit sandwich" level of bad with this film.
I give Night of the Living Deb 0 copies of Shaun of the Dead out of 5:
Sunday, February 11, 2018
At some point soon I would like to write a book that's an "everything I needed to know about life I learned from horror movies" type thing. In it I plan on having a section on foreign travel because holy fuck do white tourists just do the dumbest shit! Agreeing to ride out to the country in a foreign land with people you just met, yeah, fucking stupid! Taking an object from something called a "ghost house," you're an idiot! Basically being a tourist, you're probably an asshole, and I say that living in a city that is a tourist wonderland.
Ghost House sets us up with a couple on vacation in Thailand. On their first day they befriend two other tourists that are staying in their hotel. After an evening of drinks and strippers our couple is convinced to go out to a remote spot because the fiancé is jealous of her man friend having lipstick on his face and she is told that she could get some cool pictures out there. The other couple tricks them so that a spirit possessing their friend will possess our cranky lady. Now, with the help of their tour driver (Gogo) our man seeks out all kinds of shaman and mystics to save his betrothed. He has three days to do so before her soul is taken into the abyss.
This film had a really sharp reverse bell curve. It started out strong, despite relying heavily on jump scares, but there were about 15-20 minutes where it just couldn't keep my interest. By the end of the film it came back around and I want to create an award just to give to the actress that played the witch at the end (or whatever she might be called, my occult knowledge doesn't extend too far into Asiatic countries). She by far has the best "fuck you I did it!" laugh I've ever heard.
As for our ghost woman, except for the very end she is shown in quick and jerky shots. We get a few close-ups which end up disappointing because the facial appliance looks a bit rough. I don't know if it's what they molded it out of, or the paint job, but it looks a bit too Halloween mask for me. I've also been rewatching Syfy's FaceOff from the beginning and I'm finding myself more critical of stuff like that. Curse you Glenn Hetrick!
I give Ghost House 2 ghost houses out of 5:
Thursday, February 8, 2018
My husband hates when I tell stories. Despite the fact that I write summaries on this blog, when it comes to telling an actual story I feel the need to make sure all my bases are covered. So instead of a simple "the cat farted today" I tend to add in extra details to set up the situation. It usually kills the story. This movie though, it made my story telling seem like the greatest oral literature ever.
Dark Signal is like someone took a bunch of speed and then audio recorded their ramblings to write down later. Then, instead of editing, they just went with it. I'm going to try to keep this short. There's a serial killer named the Wedding Band killer because he cuts his victim's ring finger off (although, later he seems to just take any finger). Laurie, our main character, needs money for her and her wheelchair using son. The son is the only person we know nothing about even though he has a demon voice for a bit, and even that gets ignored as far as an explanation. Laurie has an online friend named Ben who works at a radio station that has just been bought out and so the host is doing her last show. There's a stupid amount of back story for this radio host for no reason except to tie her to the killer of this film. Also, they have a psychic medium on as a guest (for some reason) and they contact a ghost which is telling them about a possible victim of the murderer. Back to Laurie and her boyfriend that offers her a cut of the cash if she helps him rob a house. They go to the house but it ends up that the killer is also in the house. A ton of unnecessary story telling and explanations happen, the killer is revealed, I wanted to flip my coffee table in disgust.
"The spirit of a murdered girl returns with a message for the staff of a local radio station" was the summary I was given for Dark Signal. I thought I was going to get some sort of Pontypool with ghosts instead of zombies. This film is seriously four different movie plots they crammed together. We have Laurie and the robbery, the radio station, the ghost the psychic contacts, and the serial killer. Calm the fuck down and pick one, maybe two, and go with it! You don't need all of this! Aside from a telegraphed jump scare there isn't anything else to complain about with Dark Signal, but I can't let this slide. Don't watch this. It's not worth the loss of what precious time we have on this Earth. I took this bullet for you, you owe me a life debt. Expect a call from me at some point requesting a pizza.
I give Dark Signal 0 danger signs out of 5:
Wednesday, February 7, 2018
I've been spending a lot of time recently looking into prop design, especially when it comes to stop motion animation. One of the main things you need when doing any stop motion is a foundation. Normally it consists of a table-like structure so you can make sure your puppet doesn't fall on its ass every time you pose it. The foundation is extremely important because it's going to hold your set, your characters and, at its essence, your story together. I mention this not because I would like to work for Laika in their design department (but seriously, Laika, that would be my dream job, hit me up) but because this film, stripped down, had a really interesting story concept for the foundation. Unfortunately, instead of making interesting characters and a great setting they chose to whip out their collective parts and piss all over the foundation.
Pay The Ghost is Nicolas Cage being a distant father while attempting to get tenure at his university. He misses trick-or-treating with his family and to make up for it he takes his son to a Halloween carnival around the corner. His child promptly vanishes after asking Mr. Cage if they can "pay the ghost." Skip to a year later and ol' Nickleback has put together a crazy board of missing kid cases and finds connections between Halloween, missing kids, the phrase "pay the ghost," and eventually a poorly constructed witch story where they take actual pagan symbols and give you half stories about them while they make a bunch of shit up to fit their narrative.
I'm probably not doing it justice but as I said, the foundation of the story was good. Witch woman steals three kids everyone Halloween to avenge her lost children from a time when people didn't wash their ass regularly. I'm on board with that. From there though it starts to get muddy. There are some great scenes where the witch absolutely wrecks people with some sort of ghostly Falcon Punch but mostly it's Nicolas Cage playing a crazy Nicolas Cage character and everyone else is along for the ride. I was expecting a "he saves his son but sacrifices himself" ending but nope, everyone's happy, except me because I watched this and because the sequence after the first credits made it seem like they had a sequel in mind. Fuck that! I'll pay a ghost to not have another of these movies exist!
I give Pay the Ghost 1 piece of Joss Paper out of 5:
Tuesday, February 6, 2018
If you look at the little bit of white text under the title on this film's poster you'll notice it says "inspired by the true story." So of course this sent me into a research spiral five seconds into the damn movie when it quotes some random reverend about hearing voices to murder. The axe murders in Villisca, Iowa was an actual event that happened in 1912. The variation in this film and the actual story (ghost possession aside) was that there were multiple suspects but the Reverend was the only one tried... twice. The first time it was a hung jury and the second time he was acquitted. Although he did have a history of being a perv and later ended up in a psych ward after sending what could be the first documented unsolicited dick pics.
The Axe Murders of Villisca establishes way too much personal back story for three twenty-somethings posing as high school students. Somehow this group of faux misfits end up going on a road trip to this murder house so the one guy can record it for their YouTube ghost hunting show. After they're booted from the home because the girl is a dunce they agree to break into the house at night and use candles and dowsing rods to speak to spirits. It's a slapdash operation but one Instagram post later we have the weird semi-jock and his friend drive out in an attempt to cause some sort of harm to the others. Instead, the demon or ghost or whatever is in this house possesses the semi-jock and he kills his friend and then others get possessed and everything becomes a mess.
The only upside to this film was the fact that it made me seek out information about an interesting unsolved murder. But a film shouldn't make me want to do that during the whole film. This was an IFC film but it feels more like some farm club production that got called up to warm the bench for the pro team and jumped on ice during some sort of line change confusion (I played ice hockey most of my life, those are my go-to sports metaphors, deal with it). The actors were too old for their parts, there's no real understanding of why multiple people are possessed at the same time or if the mirrors hold a greater meaning to things. Also, did they have Fireball candy back in 1912 and how did a fucking Fireball from 1912 exist to modern day?! Fuckin' ghost magic! Too bad they couldn't have used that to make this movie good.
I give The Axe Murders of Villisca 1 copy of So I Married an Axe Murderer out of 5 but only because this film lead to me learning something:
Monday, February 5, 2018
About 10 years ago I was working for a city library system. One of my co-workers had just finished reading Cormac McCarthy's The Road and suggested it to me on the grounds that he thought I would like it and he wanted someone to discuss it with. He was wrong on the first part and my biggest complaint was that the book had a repeating pattern of "nothing but us/oh shit! danger/nothing but us/etc." I bring this up because today's film was like a shittier version of me reading that book.
Here Alone is a post-zombie-apocalypse film where our female protagonist is the surviving member of her family. We get flashbacks of her learning outdoorsman (outdoorswoman?) techniques from her husband and brief moments of what happened (viral outbreak) but mostly this is just the lady of the woods eating worms and pissing in buckets. Eventually a man and his step-daughter end up in the film in an attempt to break up the fact that now it's just three people in the woods, but whatever. There's a brief heel turn which I think is because the step-daughter has a lady boner for her not-dad but I might be writing my on narrative into this film out of boredom.
There's not much here. I think we see a total of three zombies and one just looks like he's a metal head swinging his hair around to some thrash. I wish the only person in this entire film was the woman to really push that feeling of self-survival. Otherwise there is nothing to write about, or watch, or care about here. Just the lady of the woods covering herself in dookie and dumping buckets of piss on herself. So if you have filth fetishes, then this film is for you.
I give Here Alone 0 copies of The Bad Movie Bible out of 5:
Sunday, February 4, 2018
Ireland. All I really know about it, from the top of my head, is the following: A history of strong political discord and activism, potatoes, the WWE wrestler Sheamus, and the stereotype of Boston police being Irish. I'm sure there's more but right now I'm too lazy to attempt to recall additional info. Why am I even rambling about Ireland right now? It's because today's film comes from the Emerald Isles!
The Canal focuses on a family of three, at least until they become a family of two. The husband, in the course of his archivist work, finds that their home has a history of strange murders in it. In his paranoid husband work he finds his wife having an affair. After stumbling into a toilet that makes Trainspotting blush, he sees a strange man attack his cheating wife. Unable to save her, or stay conscious, he comes to and calls the police. The cops assume it's him, he begins to think it's the ghost of a man that haunts his house, and his sanity seems to dangle from a thread. Was it ghosts? Was it his own cracking mental state? Was it a ghost that flew up his ass and used him like a murder puppet? This is where I would make a "C-anal" joke but I'm trying to avoid it.
There's the old adage of "children should be seen and not heard," and when it comes to celluloid there are definitely some kids that I feel should not have been given the opportunity to be on film. I bring this up because the child in The Canal has perfected his mumble-core acting at such a young age that it ruined scenes for me. I didn't even have an issue with his accent, just his annunciation of words. Plus he's one of those kids that his acting just doesn't seem to fit the emotion of the moment. I feel bad for talking shit on him though because he's young so there's a lot of room for improvement over time. Hang in there kid!
One thing that I did love about this film was the very ending of it. I mention time and time again on here when a movie tips its hand and I see the ending coming early but the very end of this film caught me by surprised and I got super hyped on it. Honestly. It went down and I yelled "OOOOOOOO RAD!" at the TV, and then the movie was over. This isn't the kind of film though where I could just tell you to watch the ending though because the whole is greater than some of its parts. I'm not saying this is a perfect film, it reminded me a bit too much of the first season of American Horror Story, but I'm not going to write this one off.
I give The Canal 2.5 flags of Ireland out of 5:
Thursday, February 1, 2018
I like learning new things. My mind is a collection of random and pretty much useless facts that exist for moments like this where I get to impart something I learned. So here goes. A "disappointments room" is a real architectural piece. When someone, usually of affluence, would have a child that had some form of birth defect or a form of neruo-diversity that would cause them to pass as anything but a "regular" child then they could end up in one of these rooms for the rest of their life. The family or possibly one staff member would help take care of them but they were hidden from the public. While archaic, there have been recent cases of such things in Louisiana and Texas. This film takes its influence from, of all things, and episode of an HGTV show where one of these rooms was shown. The one in the show was actually made to look like a small home and still seemed to have love with it as opposed to the one in this film. But I'm getting ahead of myself...
The Disappointments Room has a family of three leaving their city life to move into a grotesquely large home in the country. Abandoned for years, the building requires a lot of work and since the wife is an architect she has taken up the task of working on it. When exploring the acting she finds a chest blocking a locked door. The key is found and our leading lady opens the door. This is where things get weird because a lot of this is pointed at being ghosts of the original owners, but our woman is the only one that really has any direct interaction with these spirits. There is one side character that ends up hanged in a tree by a grave which, now that I think of it, never gets dealt with. Either way, the room causes something to happen.
If that last paragraph didn't point it out, I felt confused during this film. We had scenes of horrific situations like a dog attack on their young son or a ghost attempting to smother the same kid, but they would be strange hallucinations or thoughts the mother was having. There was also some sort of odd sexual tension between the mother and the side character but it really didn't need to exist and served no part of the story. There was also an adorable fluffy cat that was killed off camera. If I haven't made it obvious in my time doing this blog, fuck that noise!
The ending of this film was also confusing. Everyone just seems like "Okay, let's leave this place" and is totally fine with each other despite the big crazy ending. Also, the door is taken off its hinges and put aside but I guess the ghosts fixed it so it could slam in the last shot? Fuckin' handyghosts! How does one summon those to fix things in the house because I need some electrical work done in our home?
I give The Disappointments Room 1 HGTV logo out of 5: