The Weekly Horror Movie(s) Thread

Discussion in 'The Media Hub' started by Mitch Henessey, Jan 29, 2015.

  1. enviousdominous

    enviousdominous Behold my diction

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    Based on the progress our society has made, there's a horror movie out there that makes me think more than it terrifies me. I apologize in advance, as there's no way that I can examine this movie in any way without spoiling the twist ending. It's still a fun reminder of how whacked out the 1980s were.

    Sleepaway Camp

    [youtube]T9K2ARikYzE[/youtube]

    So..... basically

    A man and his child perish in a boating accident, and -- due to same-sex marriage not yet being legalized -- his other child is left in the care of his sister (the child's aunt) instead of his male lover. The children were male and female, and we (the gullible audience) are led to believe that the female child survived.

    Fast forward some amount of years until the surviving child, Angela, is 15 and will be attending summer camp with her cousin Ricky.

    Ricky is very protective of Angela, and appears to be murdering people who insult or abuse her as a means of finding closure.

    Well, the main reason for all of this being in a spoiler box, is that Angela is really a boy and he was made to believe that he was a girl by his psychotic aunt. Angela was murdering everyone who wanted to make her suffer for being weird.

    It's an odd movie, not just because the killer is a essentially a young girl, but because there's one moment in the movie that (by today's standards) is genuinely heart-warming.

    Angela doesn't talk through most of the movie, and has a thousand-yard stare during most of her scenes. One young boy is up for the challenge of getting to know her, and eventually she says "good night" to him which causes him to light up with excitement. We all have our opinions regarding gender identity and such, but that one scene was very sweet and it made me wish I was watching a modern day love story instead of a slasher flick.

    Whew, yeah. I highly recommend this one. When it's bad it's funny bad, and when it's good it's borderline good.
     
    #51
  2. Mitch Henessey

    Mitch Henessey Deploy the cow-catcher......
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    I'll always prefer Pamela Springsteen as Angela, and Unhappy Campers and Teenage Wasteland are more comedic films, but the original Sleepaway Camp ends with a truly memorable shocker. A jaw-dropping setup with the flashbacks, and ending the movie with that image and the credits really ties everything together.

    Society (1989)

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    [YOUTUBE]pVV9IA9w57c[/YOUTUBE]​

    Plot- Living in Beverly Hills, California, Bill Whitney (Billy Warlock) has a seemingly perfect life. He's a star on his high school's basketball team, he's basically a shoe-in to win the election for class president against Martin Petrie (Brian Bremer), and he dates a beautiful cheerleader named Shauna (Heidi Kozak). Bill lives with his wealthy parents Jim (Charles Lucia) and Nan (Connie Danese), and his sister, Jenny (Patrice Jennings), but Bill is having trouble accepting a life with no worries.

    Bill's psychiatrist Dr. Cleveland (Ben Slack) dismisses Bill's concerns, but Bill can't escape the feeling of being an outcast in his own family. Bill wants answers, and Jenny's ex-boyfriend, David Blanchard (Tim Bartell) reinforces Bill's suspicions with a secret recording from Jenny's coming-out party.

    Bill suspects a coverup after a series of bizarre events and deaths, and his family rejects his open accusations. Bill runs into another dead end after an altercation with Ted Ferguson (Ben Meyerson) at one of his popular parties, but Bill's friend, Milo (Evan Richards) is willing to help.

    Bill slowly loses what's left of his sanity, while Clarissa Carlyn (Devin DeVasquez), a mysterious girl from Bill's school, tries to seduce him. Eventually, Bill learns the truth about his parents, a secret cult, and "shunting," a horrifying ritual with gruesome results.

    My Thoughts- At first, there's no real reason to feel any sympathy for Bill. Money, he's basically the big man on campus next to Ted, he's dating an attractive cheerleader, and he lives in a big mansion, but Rick Fry and Woody Keith (the screenwriters) surround Bill with unlikable characters. Bill's parents and his sister are pretentious snobs and they share a creepy incestuous relationship, Dr. Cleveland is a judgemental jerk, and Ted Ferguson is.....well he's just a dick.

    On top of all that, you get the feeling Shauna is not really interested in Billy, and she's more concerned with using him to get an invitation to one of Ted Ferguson's parties, so she can elevate her status with the elite clique and the cool kids at school. When you look at the big picture, you don't see a whiny spoiled brat. Bill is a harmless teenager, but he doesn't fit in, and he's an outsider, because the wealthy elitists believe he's beneath them.

    It's obvious Bill is not crazy, and his parents and his sister are hiding something, but Society still manages to weave a curious and entertaining mystery together. You're not sure if Clarissa actually has feelings for Bill, or if she's working with the cult to lure Bill into a trap, and you know the cult is hiding something truly evil, if they're swapping Blanchard's tape recording for a doctored tape, faking deaths, and using police officers to intimidate Bill. The cult goes to extraordinary lengths to throw Bill off the trail, so naturally you're anticipating a big, shocking reveal.

    Usually, this is the part where I give the warning about a disgusting and repulsive horror film, and Society is definitely in the upper echelon for nasty barf bag horror films. Although, when the shunting begins, it's not unnerving or disturbing, because the approach to the massive feeding frenzy/bizarre orgy finale is too comical (just listen to the score in the background).

    Society is mainly remembered for the make up effects and the practical effects from Screaming Mad George. Society is loaded with a brand of familiar cheesiness from 80's horror films, but you'll see one squirmy scene after another, with the sight of contorted bodies and the gooey gruesomeness during the shunting finale. Nothing beats the shunting and everything that happens during the shunting for gross-out moments, but you also have the scene, where Bill walks in on Jenny, while she's in the shower. And Clarissa twisting around in the bed (the 0:11-0:13 mark in the trailer), and Bill freaking out during the whole fiasco is another top choice.

    Bill ignoring Clarissa's warning about staying away from his house towards the end is a typical stupid horror movie moment, Society is a clunky film, and the goofy comedy (Clarissa's mom eats hair, Dr. Cleveland transforming into a giant hand, Jim's "butt-head" form, etc. ) is hit-and-miss. But Society works as a gross-out body horror film, because pulling a flinching reaction out of you is one of the main goals here. Society also deserves some bonus points for adding more depth to the movie, with satire and the social commentary about rich snobs literally eating and sucking the life out of poor people.

    Arrow Video released a limited edition Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack a few years ago. I haven't looked at all the bonus features yet, but it looks like basic stuff for the most part. The cover art is basically a snapshot of what happens during the shunting:

    [​IMG]

    But I've always been a big fan of the main poster at the top, and Arrow and Scream Factory usually include the original cover art or the poster for their special limited edition releases (you just have to pull it out of the case and flip it over for the original poster). Society's original poster really captures the feel of an 80's horror film, and the tongue-in-cheek taglines are a prefect fit.
     
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  3. enviousdominous

    enviousdominous Behold my diction

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    There's a lot of movies I hate that most other people seem to love (Blue Velvet, Welcome to the Doll House, Sleeper), and there's this one movie that I love that everyone else I know who's seen it absolutely hates.

    When I was 14 I watched a film on Showtime called Pinocchio's Revenge. I'm not ashamed to say that it blew my mind, mainly because of how it ended. Re-watching the film today, I think it made such a good impression on me at 14 because I wasn't aware that I was watching a horror film until past the halfway mark of the film, which was when people started getting killed. I wouldn't call it a "good" movie, but I think I have a fondness for slasher flicks where the killer ends up being someone less intimidating than your usual lumbering maniac.

    [youtube]ubp7cylV3TE[/youtube]
     
    #53
  4. enviousdominous

    enviousdominous Behold my diction

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    I'm freaking out right now, because I found a film that I've been trying to find for around the last 25 years. It's a horror film that's panned as being so bad that it's unbearable, so this post is more for my own catharsis than it is a recommendation that you all go check it out.

    I think I was around 9 years old when I caught a really weird movie on NBC. I think it was really early in the morning, as I remember being extremely drowsy while I watched. At the time I was still pretty deep in my obsession with the TV show "Dark Shadows", and this movie I happened to catch was about a devil worshiper who was magically resurrected by someone's blood. The Satanist poses as a priest, summons a cannibalistic demon dwarf, and he sets out to sacrifice a village's virgin women to Satan as a means of finding a bride to live with when he goes back to Hell.

    I had nightmares for weeks after watching this film, and the craziest thing was I couldn't even be certain that it wasn't a dream. It was just so damn bizarre, and fear of the Devil is a pretty good way to put fear in the heart of a 9 year old.

    The movie in question is called Disciple of Death. I can't find a trailer, but an awesome awesome person posted a two minute clip on Youtube, which was how I was able to identify this as the movie I had seen.

    [youtube]T4HuiHszIlg[/youtube]

    The man in the clip with the powdered wig is played by Ronald Lacey, whom most of us likely know for having his face melted off as Arnold Toht from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

    First impressions can last a lifetime. I am going to watch and re-watch this movie until I pass out from sleep deprivation.
     
    #54
  5. Rainbow Yaz

    Rainbow Yaz Sing about me, I'm dying of thirst
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    If you get time Mitch, I'd love to hear your opinions on The Babadook. I recently gave it a second viewing the other day, and without going into detail that can be saved for when it isn't 3am and I'm not working on finishing off a bottle of Jack, I really found the movie to be more disappointing the second time around. I'm no where as well spoken as you and X and envious, but the past few weeks I've had more free time on my hands now that I'm on hiatus from WZCW, and I've rekindled my interest in the genre thanks to Netflix and torrents, so I'll try to drop in a review from time to time myself.
     
    #55
  6. Mitch Henessey

    Mitch Henessey Deploy the cow-catcher......
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    The Babadook's story is pretty simplistic, but it's a strong story with believable realism. Amelia is a single mother, who's trying to cope with a tragic death, and she's raising a young boy, a young boy, who clearly has a lot of problems.

    Amelia goes through a lot throughout the movie, and the people close to Amelia and Samuel turn their backs on them, when they're troubles are too much to handle. That's something you can buy into, when other people cut ties with you, when you need help, support, or just someone to talk to, because they can't or just don't want to deal with all the drama. There's that one scene, where Amelia is sitting around with the other women at the birthday party, and one woman is complaining about her problems (not 100% sure, but I think she was going on about not having enough time to go to the gym), and Amelia just snaps on her with a sarcastic response, because she's a single mother, who's busting her ass to take care of her son.

    Essie Davis really makes it all work with a strong performance. The stress, the heartbreak, the frustration, the anger. You can feel everything she's going through, and you know she's unleashing a lot of pent-up rage on Samuel, when The Babadook possesses her.

    Yeah, The Babadook is one of those films that loses some of its wow-factor on repeat viewings. The second or third time around, you know where the story is going, and you know what's going to happen, as the mystery unravels. But I'm almost sure The Babadook will have a good amount of staying power as a great horror film over the years. It's a tense and eerie horror film, with a good slow burn build (The Babadook knocking on the door and disappearing, the loud footsteps in the house, the phone calls, Amelia's failed attempts to destroy the book), and characters with real depth.

    The Babadook is universally praised (a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes), and if we're moving away from the drama, The Babadook plays on the known childhood fear of monsters or a boogeyman, with Amelia having to comfort and protect her child from a monster in a storybook. It's one of the reasons why It Follows works, playing on the inevitability of death. The It entity is basically the grim reaper. You can't run from It, you can't hide from It, and you can't ignore It. That's true horror, when you can dig into more realistic fears, without relying on predictable jump scares, gallons of blood, or gross-out moments.

    And I'm pretty sure that's one of the reasons why The Babadook receives so much praise. Supernatural and more cerebral horror films are at the forefront now. I'm not trying to take anything from the movie, because I'm a fan, but a lot of mainstream critics absolutely hate (just read Richard Roeper's review for Evil Dead 2013) gory, bloodbath horror films. Some bloody and brutal horror films are supposed to be mindless and chaotic, some actually have a message, some show what happens, when you're forced to survive or, when you're thrown into a life-or-death situation, or you'll see just how cruel other people can be. But they're usually dismissed as shitty torture porn flicks that'll only appeal to die-hard horror fans or gore fiends.
     
    #56
  7. Mitch Henessey

    Mitch Henessey Deploy the cow-catcher......
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    Death Spa (1989)

    [​IMG]

    [YOUTUBE]7HImCpzFxCg[/YOUTUBE]​

    Plot- Michael Evans (William Bumiller), the owner of Starbody Health Spa, a popular and innovative health club/gym, featuring state of the art technology, is struggling to move on with his life after the death of his wife, Catherine (Shari Shattuck). Catherine committed suicide after a miscarriage, and Catherine's twin bother, David (Merritt Butrick) is still holding a grudge against Michael.

    Michael runs Starbody with help from his manager, Priscilla (Alexa Hamilton), Marvin (Ken Foree), Laura (Brenda Bakke), and David is in charge of the gym's high-tech computer system. Michael is trying to start a new life with Laura, but Michael is forced to deal with a bizarre dilemma after a series of strange incidents and deaths at Starbody.

    Lt. Fletcher (Frank McCarthy) and Sgt. Stone (Rosalind Cash) investigate the unusual case, and Michael has to deal with a secret plot between his lawyer, Tom (Robert Lipton) and Priscilla. Tom and Priscilla want to get rid of Michael, so they can take over Starbody, and Michael has his suspicions about David.

    Eventually, Catherine's spirit reveals herself as the culprit, and she plans to possess David to complete her diabolical plan. During Starbody's annual Mardi Gras party, Catherine plans to kill Laura in a tanning bed, and she gives Michael an ultimatum: Michael must commit suicide, and join Catherine in the afterlife, or she will use her powers to kill everyone inside Starbody.....

    My Thoughts- Looking at the cast, Merritt Butrick is the only one, who delivers a noteworthy performance here, playing the bitter, creepy, and reclusive geek, who hates Michael. Shattuck is the primary antagonist, but her performance includes goofy, sinister cackling and hammy acting, so when you compare the two, Butrick works better as the more sinister twin with a truly villainous persona.

    Death Spa includes some of the usual personalities at a gym. You have the douchey and narcissistic meathead, and Freddie is that one guy, who wants to be a big shot, but he's too weak and out of shape to do anything that's truly impressive. Death Spa has a pretty even balance of likeable and unlikable characters, but Lt. Fletcher and Sgt. Stone (Rosalind Cash) are both useless characters (and you can say the same thing about the paranormal investigator), who don't add anything to the story. Also, Karyn Parsons (she played Hilary on The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air) has a small part as member at Starbody here.

    The deaths? The one with the guy on the box cover is kind of lame in the movie, but after watching The Making Of Death Spa documentary, it looks like they had tone things down to keep the R rating. Out of all the deaths, Priscilla exploding during the fire and Catherine's demise are my top picks for Death Spa's grisly moments, and Death Spa is loaded with a lot nasty gore.

    The story is absurd, and you'll catch one logical hole after another throughout the movie. You'll wonder why Starbody wasn't shut down after the accidents, the disappearances, and the deaths, or how it's possible to break open a window using your bare hand without cutting yourself and bleeding profusely. And why did Catherine feel the need to take control of a living human, if her main goal is to force Michael to commit suicide?

    Death Spa is a cheap, low-budget horror film, and you'll give yourself a headache, if you ask too many questions about the story. Death Spa only works as a "so bad it's good" horror flick with 80's nostalgia, and the flashbacks showing Catherine burning herself alive are out of place in a horror film about a haunted gym.

    After watching the documentary, it's clear almost everyone involved knew they were making a silly crapfest with corny dialogue ("Alright, bitch! I'll show you fried chicken!") and humor. Death Spa is all about gruesome gore, nasty deaths, and showing off a lot of naked women, and that's about it.

    To add a few extra tidbits, Death Spa was Merritt Butrick's final film before his death, and Witch Bitch is an alternate title (they didn't use it for the US release back in the 80's) for Death Spa.
     
    #57
  8. Mitch Henessey

    Mitch Henessey Deploy the cow-catcher......
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    XX (2017)

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    [YOUTUBE]rrdaEYnlwMc[/YOUTUBE]​

    Four different shorts for this one, so I'll go one by one.

    The Box

    Plot- During a train ride home, Susan's (Natalie Brown) young son, Danny (Peter DaChuna) asks a stranger to show him the contents inside a red gift wrapped box. After a quick look, Danny is noticeably shaken. Danny refuses to eat any food, when he returns home, and eventually Danny's sister, Jenny (Peyton Kennedy) joins her brother.

    On Christmas Day, Danny, Jenny, and Susan's husband, Robert (Jonathan Watton) are on the verge of death from starvation, leaving Susan alone as the only healthy family member.....

    The Box is a tricky one. A lot of unanswered questions, but on the flip side of that, The Box really works as a mysterious and thought-provoking short. It's not clear what's happening to everyone. Maybe Danny caught a glimpse of something truly grotesque, and the sight of the contents inside the red box traumatized him to the point, where he never wanted to eat anything again. It's a believable theory, because we're talking about a young child's mind. That, or Danny was put under some kind of spell by the creepy guy on the train.

    The Box features one gory scene, when Susan has a nightmare about Danny, Robert, and Jenny feasting on her body, while she's laying on the dinner table, and I want to see a full length feature (similar to happened with Amateur Night from the original V/H/S and Siren), where Susan continues her search to find the weird guy on the train, so she can learn more about the red box.

    The Birthday Party

    Plot- Mary (Melanie Lynskey) wants to throw the perfect birthday party for her daughter Lucy (Sanai Victoria), but she runs into a big problem, when her husband, David (Seth Duhame) commits suicide.

    The Birthday Party is more of a black comedy short, with Mary pulling out all the stops to hide David's body. Overall, it's a so-so short, but the close calls pulled a few laughs out of me.

    Don't Fall

    Plot- Paul (Casey Adams), Gretchen (Breeda Wool), Jess (Angela Trimbur), and Jay (Morgan Kruntz) are on a seemingly harmless camping trip in the desert, but things go awry, when Gretchen transforms into a vicious creature after an evil entity possesses her.

    I'm a sucker for intros with the right music playing in the background, while the title of the film (or, in this case the short) slowly appears on the screen, and Don't Fall has a good one, but it's definitely a formulaic and predictable horror short with a familiar premise. A lot of stupid mistakes and choices from the main characters, and Don't Fall would've been better off as a full length feature. Don't Fall needed more time to build the tension. As a short, Don't Fall feels rushed, and the ending is underwhelming.

    Her Only Living Son

    Plot- As a single mother, Cora (Christina Kirk) fights to defend her son, Andy (Kyle Allen) from a group of malevolent cult members, and Andy's real father. Andy is tempted to embrace his dark side, but one final plea from Cora could change everything.

    Andy is a cocky bully, who disrespects his mother, but he has a few moments as a sympathetic character during the last scene. Andy didn't choose his evil path, because it was predetermined before he was born, and it's not so easy to fight or stand up to his real father.

    Basically, Her Only Living Son plays like a sequel to Rosemary's Baby, and it's almost impossible to ignore the similarities. Although, you don't have to be familiar with Rosemary's Baby to know the identity of Andy's real father, because it's very obvious. It's a solid short overall, and the strained mother/son relationship between Andy and Cora is believable, with Cora refusing to give up on Andy. The sequel-esque approach drags this one down a bit for me, but Her Only Living Son was a good choice to close out the movie.

    I loved the creepy and eccentric stop-motion animated segments with the dollhouse before and after each short, but XX doesn't have a wraparound story, a frame narrative, or a narrator to introduce or tie all four stories together.

    Four women directed the shorts for XX, and with the exception of Don't Fall, women stuck in unprecedented dilemmas is a reoccurring theme throughout the movie. When Danny and Jenny refuse to eat, Robert scolds Susan for a nonchalant attitude, and eating while her children starve. It's heavily implied David is a selfish workaholic, and Mary is a stressed out mother, who's trying to carry the load to make her daughter happy. And Cora is a burnt out single mother, who's trying to raise her son after her husband ran off to Hollywood to start a new life.

    Behind the camera and on the screen, women are at the forefront in XX. For a horror anthology film, XX does have a bit of a refreshing feel to it, with women leading the way in different situations. And if we're talking about the number of shorts in a horror anthology film, the less is more approach is the right way to go. I need to get around to watching the sequel at some point, but the big problem with The ABCs Of Death is, it's just too much, because it's almost impossible to maintain consistency and quality (F Is For Fart is beyond atrocious), when you cover every letter in the alphabet.

    Storytelling is prioritized over obscene amounts of gore and blood, but XX suffers from the usual setbacks in horror anthologies: it's uneven, and the movie is missing that one true home run. I soured on The Box a little bit after a second watch, and The Birthday Party is out of place in this one. XX had the potential to be something special, but overall, it's just another decent horror anthology film.
     
    #58
  9. Mitch Henessey

    Mitch Henessey Deploy the cow-catcher......
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    Night Train To Terror (1985)

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    [YOUTUBE]0ozwMpRFdls[/YOUTUBE]​

    It's another horror anthology, split into three stories, with God and Satan discussing and debating the fates of the main characters and the supporting characters serving as the wraparound story arc.

    God and Satan discuss the cases of Harry Billings, Gretta Connors, and Claire Hansen during a train ride.........and the train is set to crash at dawn.

    The Case Of Harry Billings

    Plot- After a brutal car accident, Harry Billings (John Phillip Law) is taken to a sinister mental institution. Here, Dr. Fargo (Sharon Ratcliff) and Dr. Brewer (Arthur M. Braham) use hypnosis and drugs to control Harry.

    Harry lures women back to the institution for Dr. Fargo and Dr. Brewer's scheme, where the women are brutally murdered for their body parts. The body parts are sold to medical schools across the country, and an orderly named Otto (Richard Moll) fills the role of a butcher and an enforcer to keep Harry in his place.

    Richard Moll is the only one, who delivers a noteworthy performance here, as the sadistic and intimidating orderly. A screwy stroyline, and the twist with Fargo turning on Dr. Brewer, because she's in love with and wants to run the institution with Harry feels unnecessary and forced, but it's a decent enough short. A lot of nasty stuff with the sight of the bloody body parts hanging on the walls, the murders, and this short really doesn't work without Richard Moll.

    The Case Of Gretta Connors

    Plot- Working at a local fair, a young Gretta Connors (Meredith Haze) is lured into a tempting lifestyle, when she meets George Youngmeyer (J. Martin Sellers). Youngmeyer entices Gretta with money, and promises to fulfill her dreams, but Youngmeyer is out to possess Gretta for his own sick pleasures, leading her down a dark path with no hope.

    Glenn Marshall (Rick Barnes) instantly falls in love with Gretta after watching her in one of Youngmeyer's movies. Gretta eventually breaks away from Youngmeyer to start a relationship with Glenn, but a persistent Youngmeyer won't give up so easy. Glenn is forced to fight off Youngmeyer's goons, and he'll have to survive The Death Wish Club, a secret club run by Youngmeyer with members, who are obsessed with death, if he wants to live a peaceful life with Gretta.

    It's full of cliches, but the story really works with the wraparound arc, because Night Train To Terror is all about redemption and second chances. Young, vulnerable, and she wants to conquer the world and chase her dreams, but Gretta is brainwashed and manipulated by a creepy old guy with a lot of money. Glenn is Gretta's knight in shining armor, and he's the guy, who's supposed to save her.

    Deciding Gretta's fate is not a clear cut choice. You can buy into someone being young and naive enough to believe Youngmeyer's bullshit (Gretta playing piano as the "main attraction" at his restaurant, Gretta starring in his seedy porno flicks, etc.), but Youngmeyer flashing a wad of $100 bills was enough for her to say yes.

    The stuff with The Death Wish Club has its moments. The premise featuring a group of kooky people playing deadly games to see, who dies first is loaded with potential, but the games are kind of silly and too comedic to have a real impact.

    The Case Of Claire Hansen

    Plot- A Holocaust survivor and an obsessive Nazi hunter sets out to kill a man he recognizes from World War II. Mr. Olivier (Robert Bristol) hides his true identity as the son of Satan, using the front of a wealthy socialite to keep his secret. The Nazi hunter enlists the help of The Lieutenant (Cameron Mitchell), but he refuses to arrest Olivier without hard evidence.

    Meanwhile, James Hansen (Richard Moll) is on a mission to prove God is nothing more than a myth with his new book (God Is Dead). His wife, Claire (Faith Clift) can't shake visions of demons and other evil forces, and things get more complicated, when a priest reveals Claire's purpose: she must use a protective chest to contain Olivier's heart after ripping it out of his chest. A stranger named Papini (Maurice Grandmasion) tries to warn James, but James agrees to meet with Olivier for an irresistible offer...........

    The only complete short with a definitive ending, and Moll really owns the arrogant and pompous author role. A creepy and dark short, with demons, and the surprise with Olivier revealing a hoof after he takes a woman home They did a good job of playing up Olivier as a truly evil character with the Nazi Germany background, the 6-6-6 markings after he kills his victims, and Olivier secretly moving from around the world to cause chaos.

    Night Train To Terror is pieced together from different films, so of course the movie has continuity problems, and the editing is atrocious. The haphazard style of transition from one scene to the next is choppy and clunky, and it kills whatever suspense and tension they're trying to build here.

    The band? Annoying doesn't begin to describe them. They play the same song over and over ("From the top!") again during God and Satan's debates, but I guess you could say they serve a purpose. They're on a train with a one-way ticket, and they drop a lot of "they're going to get what's coming to them" hints throughout the movie.

    God and Satan debating the fates of the main characters, and deciding who goes to heaven and who goes to hell is one of the better premises for a wraparound in a horror anthology. Claire is an easy choice to make, but you can see both sides of the argument for Gretta and Henry.

    It's a bad sign, when the wraparound story is more entertaining than the actual shorts, because the wraparound story is just there to set everything up with introductions for each short. But Ferdy Mayne (God) and Tony Giorgio (Satan) are just too good to ignore as a duo, and boring, monotonous debates are not a problem, when they're trying to reach a middle ground with bargains and deals (i.e. 100 years in purgatory for Henry).

    Night Train To Terror maintains a creepy and unnerving tone, but it's a rough film. It's hard to deliverer true terror and scares, when you randomly cut to stop-motion animation scenes, featuring demons, monsters, and other critters, but Night Train To Terror is another self-aware guilty pleasure film. When the credits roll, God is credited as "Himself" and Satan is credited as Lu Sifer, and well, it's a movie about God and Satan deciding the fate of three individuals and others involved in their stories on a train that's set to crash, while a band continuously plays one song. Night Train To Terror is on YouTube, if you're interested, but I'll be shocked, if you can make it through twenty minutes of this.
     
    #59
  10. Rainbow Yaz

    Rainbow Yaz Sing about me, I'm dying of thirst
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    Mitch, I have a recommendation for you. Check out Little Evil on Netflix when you get a chance. It isn't the best movie around, and it barely qualifies as horror, its much more comedy, but it is full of homages and references to classic horror films like The Shining, The Omen, and others. I think a fan of the genre will definitely appreciate the nods to the classics.
     
    #60
  11. Mitch Henessey

    Mitch Henessey Deploy the cow-catcher......
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    Constant re-releases and special editions are annoying, but it’s hard to ignore the new collector’s edition for Silent Night, Deadly Night. Amazing box cover art from Scream Factory as usual, the bonus features look good, and it’s a nice package, if you’re a fan of Christmas horror and the original film:

    [​IMG]

    Pet Sematary Two (1992)

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    [YOUTUBE]IhEcrgXF604[/YOUTUBE]​

    Plot- After his mother, Renee (Darlanne Fluegel) dies during a freak accident during the filming for her new movie Castle Of Terror, Jeff (Edward Furlong) moves to Ludlow, Maine with his father, Chase (Anthony Edwards). Chase works as a veterinarian, and he’s hoping to start a new life away from Los Angeles with Jeff in Renee‘s hometown, while the housekeeper, Marjorie (Sarah Trigger) lends a helping hand. Jeff befriends Drew (Jason Mcguire), who lives with his mother, Amanda (Lisa Waltz), and his stepfather, Gus (Clancy Brown), the town Sheriff.

    Chase runs into a bizarre problem after Gus murders Drew’s dog, Zowie. Following the story of The Creed Family, Drew buries Zowie in the ancient Indian burial ground beyond Pet Sematary with hopes of resurrecting him. Zowie returns with a nasty mean streak, and Chase can’t figure out how Zowie is moving around with no heartbeat and a fresh gunshot wound that won‘t heal.

    Zowie attacks and kills Gus on Halloween night, so Drew buries him. A zombified version of Gus returns, and it doesn’t take Jeff too long to realize he can bring his mother back to life, but things don’t go as planned, when Renee returns…..

    My Thoughts-Edward Furlong's personal life played a big part in his downward spiral in Hollywood, but Pet Sematary Two was a BIG step down after T2. Furlong made a name for himself in the 90’s playing the rebellious teenager with an attitude in T2 and American History X, and it’s the same routine here. Two was Furlong’s first film after T2, and it looks like his version of John Connor walked right off the set of T2 for this film. Just listen, when he shouts “MOM!” during Renee’s death, and imagine Linda Hamilton in the movie.

    You want to feel sympathy for this young kid, who just lost his mother, but the strange (and borderline devious) turn for his character towards the end is baffling. He’s basically salivating at the thought of his dead mother coming back to life, and he doesn’t have a problem with his mother murdering an innocent Marjorie.

    Pet Sematary Two has a couple of unlikable characters. Gus is a pushy and domineering hard-ass, who pushes Drew to be a man with tough love. Clyde (Jared Rushton) is a bully, who torments Jeff, so when you look at the big picture, Chase is the only pure good guy here. He’s just a single father, who’s doing his best to raise his bratty teenage son after a tragedy, and he never gives up on Jeff. Honestly, Clancy Brown (before he returns) is the only one, who delivers a noteworthy performance. He’s spot on as the stereotypical stepdad with a bad temper, and it’s easy to feel sympathy for Drew and Amanda, because they have to deal with this jerk on a daily basis.

    Pascow was the true harbinger of doom in the original, but you could also say the same thing about Jud. Jud Crandall is one of my personal all-time favorite characters in the horror genre, and Fred Gwynee was an ideal choice for the role. The original Pet Sematary doesn’t work without Gwynee’s performance. Gwynee is the essential lynchpin, but Two is missing that one impactful character and performance.

    Pet Sematary Two is supposed to be a sequel, but they only make slight references to what happened in the original film. Clyde tells a story about what happened to Ellie (she murdered her grandparents, and she escaped from an asylum), but there’s no real connection to Pet Sematary with new characters and a new story. Two feels like a remake, so if you didn’t watch the original, or if you didn’t read the book, you’re going to be lost, when they start talking about Louis, Rachel, Gage, and Church.

    If we’re talking about themes involving death, not being ready to move on, and second chances, Pet Sematary Two basically takes a giant dump on everything in the first film. When Louis resurrected Church, Jud believed his young daughter wasn’t ready for her favorite pet to die, and Louis resurrected Gage, because he was heartbroken over losing his young son. You could say Louis resurrecting Rachel was a stupid decision after everything that happened with Gage and Church, but you also have to think about a devastated and lonely guy, who has to explain what happened to his young daughter (Ellie). Missy hung herself, because she was sure she had cancer, and she didn’t want to suffer. And Rachel admitted she was happy, when her sick sister Zelda finally died, because she was a little girl, who was stuck with something a child couldn’t handle mentally or emotionally.

    Pet Sematary Two gives you the impression it’s cool to come back as an evil, undead badass murderer (i.e Gus killing Clyde), and you’re basically untouchable. In Pet Sematary, Jud warned Louis about burying loved ones:

    "Well sometimes, dead is better. The person you put up there ain't the person that comes back. It might look like that person, but it ain't that person, because whatever lives on the ground beyond the Pet Sematary ain't human at all."

    "Louis, sometimes dead is better. The Indians knew that. They stopped using that burial ground when the ground went sour. Don't think about doing it, Louis. The place gets holier, but the place... is evil."

    Renee shouting “dead is better!” over and over again is one of the more cringeworthy moments in the movie. When Jud said “dead is better” in the original, it was his way of explaining how moving on was the better option over an “abomination” returning from the grave with malicious intentions.

    Pet Sematary Two has a noticeable plot hole, dumb choices from the characters, inconsistencies, some unanswered questions, and a pointless subplot. What was the point of brining Clyde back to life? And what happened to the “you have to bury your own” rule for the ritual to work? Clyde wasn’t buried by his mother or father, and they basically ignored the strict rule for a surprise return at the end. When Renee returns, she’s coherent, speaks well, and she has no problems with carrying herself as a normal human being, but the dead version of Gus is a brainless and homicidal goofball? What was the point of Marjorie being obsessed with Renee and her career? She comes off as a creepy stalker/crazy fan, Renee kills her, and there’s no real resolution after her death, so it’s a useless subplot that doesn’t add anything to the movie. Gus either tries to or rapes Amanda, and they ignore what happened or didn’t happen? Seriously?

    Pet Sematary had some comedy (“fuck off, hairball!”) and silly moments, but the movie also had emotional depth. You can see the pain in a conflicted Louis’ face, when he has to kill Gage (again), and they tried to recreate a similar moment with Renee and Jeff at the end, but it doesn’t work, at all. It’s just awful, when Renee is repeatedly shouting “DEAD IS BETTER!!” in a high-pitched, cackly voice, while her skin is melting off, and Jeff and Chase are watching her demise.

    Pet Sematary Two delivers more nasty gore and blood, but it’s a terrible film. They tried to play up this big mystery behind Zowie’s more feral behavior, but if you’ve read the book, or if you’ve seen the original film, you know what’s happening and you know why it’s happening, so the element of surprise is dead. When fans take to the internet to bitch and complain about unnecessary sequels, Pet Sematary Two is the best example for the certain types of sequels they’re complaining about. There was no need for this, and you can see why Stephen King wanted his name removed from this mess. It’s just an obvious cash grab trying to capitalize on the success of the original, and it's another crappy and forgettable "bad things happen, when loved ones return from the grave" horror film.
     
    #61
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  12. Mitch Henessey

    Mitch Henessey Deploy the cow-catcher......
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    Freaks Of Nature (2015)

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    [YOUTUBE]ICyLJ7uzXz8[/YOUTUBE]​

    Plot- Dag (Nicholas Bruan) lives an unusual life in Dillford, Ohio. Vampires, humans, and zombies coexist, but a sudden alien invasion disrupts the shaky relationship after a series of paranoid accusations. Eventually, mistrust and anger within the community reaches a boiling point, sparking a violent war between the vampires, the humans, and the zombies, and Dag realizes he’ll have to put his pursuit of Lorelei (Vanessa Hudgens) on hold.

    Dag teams up with his old friend, Ned (Josh Fadem), and Petra (Mackenzie Davis) to stop the aliens, with hopes of reuniting the town, but Dillford’s famous riblets might hold the key to stopping and defeating the aliens…

    My Thoughts- Freaks Of Nature puts a lot of effort into the details for social rankings between the vampires, the humans, and the zombies. The zombies are stuck at the bottom of the totem pole. The zombie kids have to ride the short bus to school, they have to wear shock collars to stop them from eating other students, they eat canned brains, and they’re forced to live in a trashy, rundown part of town. The vampires are dominant, and they’re easily at the top of the food chain. It’s cool to be a vampire, so they attract a lot of people, imitators, or “wampires” (vampire wannabes), who will do anything to be one of them. Rick Wilson (Denis Leary), the rich owner of the riblet plant, is the lone exception, but as far as the humans go, you get the feeling they’re just trying to quietly go about their lives without disrupting anything.

    The social rankings and the fine details go deeper in the story to give you the feeling you’re watching what happens, when zombies, vampires, and humans have to live together. The tension, the bullying, and you get an inside look at the daily routines for vampires and zombies. A keg filled with blood at a vampire party, blood instead of morning coffee, and I got a good chuckle out of Mr. Keller’s (Keegan-Michael Key), Ned’s teacher, troubles to find companionship on vHarmony (eHarmony for vampires).

    Freaks Of Nature features just about every cliché and familiar character from a coming-of-age film with a horror twist. Dag is the shy nerd, who’s tired of being one of the losers in high school. Dag wants to join the ranks of the popular kids, so he decided to cut ties with a geeky and insecure Ned, his childhood friend. He wants a chance with Lorelei, because she’s the perfect ten, who’s supposed to be out of his league. But Dag doesn’t realize Lorelei is just using him to hide her weed at his house, because he’s desperate for a shot at losing his virginity to her.

    Ned is obsessed with good grades. He’s tired of living with, Chaz Jr. (Chris Zylka), a star on the local high school baseball team, who embodies every stereotype for a young meathead, and he doesn’t want to settle for selling Hyundais with his father, or taking a dead end job at the riblet plant. He’s an outcast, so he wants to join a group of outcasts. His plan? He allows a zombie girl to bite him.

    Petra falls in love with Milan (Ed Westwick), the popular vampire at school. The problem? He’s a dick, a bully, and he doesn’t really care about Petra. Petra is young and vulnerable, so he took advantage of her, and he turned her into a vampire.

    Josh Fadem is okay in the leading role, but to his credit, he’s playing a character that’s been done to death in coming-of-age films. The supporting cast features a few solid performances. Keegan- Michael Key is hilarious (“I don’t want your quarter of a doughnut! I want a full doughnut!”), Mackenzie Davis nails Petra, and the different emotional stages for the character throughout the movie, and Hudgens is a believable as the pothead/free spirit. I wish Denis Leary had more screen time, because he’s good for some laughs as the pushy and rich asshole, who owns a red Porsche. A nod for Bob Odenkirk and Joan Cusack for playing Dag’s parents, as the kooky and eccentric married couple, and Patten Oswalt’s character had some potential. But his total screen time might add up to three minutes.

    Freaks Of Nature is very predictable. You know it’s only a matter of time before Dag falls in love with Petra, and you can see Dag giving his big speech for the town to come together as a united front to stop the aliens coming from a mile away. And of course, the dysfunctional trio of Petra, Ned, and Dag putting their differences aside to work together represents hope for Dillford to follow in their footsteps. I know it’s a comedy, but the ending was a bit too silly for me, with the aliens using the riblets to transform into one giant being. Freaks Of Nature is a low budget film, and the CGI was bad, so one the bigger moments in the movie doesn’t have the wow-factor or the necessary impact.

    Freaks Of Nature doesn’t live up to the full potential of a fun premise, but it’s an effective mash-up of a horror comedy and a coming-of-age film, and taking a thorough and detailed approach for all things zombies and vampires should appeal to die-hard horror aficionados. They dropped a few hints (sort of a nod to Teen Wolf) for Dag’s transformation, but Dag’s transformation during his fight with Milan was too convenient and out of left field for me. Still, Freaks Of Nature delivers fairly consistent laughs, likeable characters, and more than enough blood, gore, and carnage.

    With all that said, there’s a good chance we’re talking about a beloved cult classic now, if Freaks Of Nature was released in the 80’s. Vampires, zombies, and humans fighting each other and working together to stop invading aliens, who want the town’s cheap meat (loaded with enough chemicals and garbage to literally take years off of your life) for their signature rib sandwiches? Yep, and you can pretty much guarantee the numerous special edition re-releases and box sets, but if you’re looking for 80’s nostalgia, you’ll be disappointed. The premise, the characters, and the story screams 80’s horror, but Freaks Of Nature definitely has the look and feel of a modern horror film, including the themes.
     
    #62
  13. INDYjon22

    INDYjon22 Nome is where your heart is

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    I watched The Bad Batch over the weekend and what utter trash that turned out to be. Even with a fairly solid cast that included Jim Carrey, Jason Mamoa, and Keanu Reeves it just feel incredibly short of expectations. Bad Batch is billed as a cannibalistic, dystopian society type of movie, but there is hardly and gore, nor is there really even motive for why the characters are doing what they are doing. Not to mentioned a much to prolonged story arc involving walking through the dessert, which based on earlier scenes, really doesn't take that long. I've seen worse, but not much. If you wanna check it out it's on Netflix
     
    #63
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  14. Mitch Henessey

    Mitch Henessey Deploy the cow-catcher......
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    Just watched the trailer, and I'll give it a shot one day, but The Bad Batch looks like one of those horror films that crosses into different genres. Usually, it's a hit-and-miss experiment, because it's hard to nail each genre without the film devolving into a big mess, or it's easy to notice they're just trying too hard.
     
    #64
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  15. Mitch Henessey

    Mitch Henessey Deploy the cow-catcher......
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    When A Stranger Calls (1979)

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    [YOUTUBE]PVAx84hpo-c[/YOUTUBE]​

    Plot- Jill Johnson (Carol Kane) expected a quiet night at The Mandrakis’ house, when she agreed to babysit their children, but Jill receives a series of phone calls from a disturbed stranger. Jill panics, as she tries to escape the house, but Officer John Clifford (Charles Durning) arrives with backup before the stranger has a chance to attack. The stranger, later identified as Curt Duncan (Tony Beckley), murdered the children several hours earlier, terrorized Jill by calling from inside the house, and Duncan is sent to an asylum after the murders.

    Seven years later, Jill is married with two children, but Duncan resurfaces after escaping from the asylum. Clifford, now working as a private investigator, sets out on a mission to find and stop Duncan after Dr. Mandrakis (Carmen Argenziano) hires him. A woman named Tracy (Collen Dewhurst) could lead Clifford to Duncan, but Jill receives an unpleasant surprise, when Duncan calls her during a celebratory dinner with her husband……

    My Thoughts- Beckley’s character is loaded with clichés. The Crazy stalker/killer escapes from the asylum, he targets “the one that got away,” and he won’t stop until Jill is dead. Duncan follows a familiar pattern for killers in horror movies, but Beckley is genuinely creepy. You know you’re looking at a disturbed and angry man, with a nasty mean streak, he’s socially awkward around women, and Beckely delivers the best performance here.

    When A Stranger Calls has a strong and memorable opening. The first fifteen to twenty minutes of the movie are loaded with some great tension. The tight, close up shots of the phone, the quiet, empty shots of the house, the silhouette of Duncan against the wall, and Carol Kane does a good job of selling Jill’s fear and panicky mindset, because she doesn‘t know what‘s going to happen next.

    When A Stranger Calls starts out good, but the movie hits a dull slump, when Duncan returns, and he decides to stalk Tracy. Sure, you’ll see a few eerie shots of the city at night, and a few tense moments, when Duncan follows Tracy, but it’s a tedious series of events, with Duncan obsessing over this lonely and bitter barfly. I get it. Tracy is basically a means to an end, because she helps Clifford track and locate Duncan. But Jill returns during the tail end of the movie, so the conclusion of her storyline feels shoehorned into the movie, because they dedicated a lot of time to Tracy. Clifford obsessing over catching and stopping Duncan was more than enough, and I have to believe he could’ve found a way to catch Duncan without Tracy.

    When A Stranger Calls has a cult following. It’s an obscure horror flick, and it’s actually a full length adaptation of Fred Walton’s (the director) short film The Sitter, based on the urban legend The Babysitter And The Man Upstairs. WASC is also praised as an influential horror film, laying out the blueprint for the protagonist receiving strange and threatening calls from a weirdo, and the original Scream’s opening with Drew Barrymore pays homage to WASC’s opening. WASC is a bit overrated as a cult classic. The opening is great, but it’s a bumpy road after that. It’s a decent enough horror flick with a simple premise, and When A Stranger Calls is on You Tube, if you’re interested.
     
    #65
  16. Mitch Henessey

    Mitch Henessey Deploy the cow-catcher......
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    When A Stranger Calls Back (1993)

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    [YOUTUBE]MjK9u38LYO8[/YOUTUBE]​

    Plot- Julia Jenz (Jill Schoelen) arrives at The Schifrin’s home to babysit their two children, but when Dr. Schifrin (Kevin McNulty) and Mrs. Schifrin (Cheryl Wilson) leave, a stranger, claiming to have car trouble, shows up at the door, and he urges Julia to call an auto club. The phone is dead, but Julia stalls The Stranger to keep him calm by pretending to make the calls. Eventually, Julia notices misplaced and missing items in the house, and the stranger returns with a more apprehensive attitude. The children are missing, and Julia runs into another big problem, when The Stranger appears in the house. The Stranger tries to attack Julia, but she escapes the house, running into the arms of Dr. Schifrin.

    Five years later, a traumatized Julia is trying to live a normal life as a college student, but she can’t ignore signs of The Stranger’s return. Jill Johnson (Carol Kane), now working as the campus Director Of Women’s Services, believes Julia’s story, and she enlists the help of Detective John Clifford (Charles Durning) to catch the stranger. Clifford is retired, and he questions the validity of Julia’s story at first, but things change, when Julia shoots herself during a botched suicide attempt.

    With Julia in a coma, Jill and Clifford continue their pursuit of The Stranger, and Clifford catches a break, when he learns more details about his identity. William Landis (Gene Lythgow) works as a ventriloquist at a nightclub, and Jill is forced into a one on one showdown, when Landis corners Jill at her apartment.

    My Thoughts- When A Stranger Calls Back maintains some continuity with Carol Kane and Charles Durning’s returns. It happens with every genre, but every now and then, you’ll have low priority and low budget sequels, and they’re just sequels in name only, but that’s not the case here. You know what Jill went through in the original, so you can buy into the connection that she has with Julia. And you can also understand why she’s the head of a women’s services department, why she teaches self-defense classes for women, why she’s overly paranoid, and why she carries a gun now.

    Kane and Durning have prominent roles in the sequel, but for the most part, the focus of the story remains on Julia. Jill takes on the role of a mentor. She protects Julia, she teaches her how to use a gun, and Julia is believable as a sympathetic character, because she’s just an innocent kid, who can’t escape a deranged weirdo.

    Landis shares a lot of similarities with Duncan from the original. He’s a genuinely disturbed and creepy guy, with some serious issues, but I have to give the edge to Lythgow for the better performance. Landis took pictures of Julia’s breasts, while she was still in a coma, and Landis continues to show his hateful side during the performance at the club. He’s sitting on the stage with a faceless dummy, and you can only see his eyes with the black face paint. Basically, he uses his performance as a chance to condemn and attack people, who are actually happy and enjoying their lives, because he’s a bitter and miserable piece of shit. There’s an uneasy scene to watch, when Landis sneaks in Julia’s hospital room, while she’s still in a coma. He’s just standing over her, and out of nowhere, he slowly and softly hits Julia in the stomach with an open hand, and he starts punching her after that. Lythgow’s performance works, and he’s a darker protagonist.

    When A Stranger Calls hits a few slumps after Jill escapes Duncan in the beginning, but WASCB is an improvement over the original, if we’re talking about maintaining the tension. Clifford catching Landis in the ally behind the club, Landis showing up in Julia’s room, Landis taunting and toying with Julia and Jill (Landis taking items out of the house, moving stuff around, leaving the milk cartoon with the missing children on Jill‘s kitchen counter, etc.), and the trickery behind Landis stalking Julia in the early stages of he movie was a good surprise. You’re not really sure what’s going on, when Landis targets Julia for the first time, because you’re lead to believe two men (one outside and one inside) are waiting to attack Julia. But Landis, using his skills as a ventriloquist, was throwing his voice to confuse Julia.

    The ending is very similar to the original, with the bad guy closing in on Jill at her home, and Clifford showing up at the last minute to save her. It’s predictable, because you know Jill is going to survive, but it’s a tense finale, with Jill holding the gun and taking careful steps in the dark. Landis uses body paint to blend in with the walls, so Jill can’t see him until it’s too late. My only minor and nitpicky complaint is, Landis looks kind of ridiculous, when he goes after Jill covered in body paint, and it looks like he’s wearing a Speedo.

    The continuity is there, but what happened to Jill’s husband and her kids? They don’t mention them at all, and they don’t drop any hints or give any clues for their whereabouts or what happened to them. Still, When A Stranger Calls Back is a worthwhile sequel, if you enjoyed, or if you’re a fan of the original. Is WASCB unnecessary? Yep. Duncan died in the original, and Jill survived, but it’s not a lazy sequel, because they actually put some effort into the story. Sure, the sequel shares a lot of similarities with the original (writer/director Fred Walton returns), but it’s hard to ignore the changes to Jill’s character, and Clifford wanting to give up on Julia, because he believes she’s just a victim of her own paranoid delusions. When A Stranger Calls Back won’t leave any lasting impressions on you, but it’s on YouTube, if you’re interested.
     
    #66
  17. Mitch Henessey

    Mitch Henessey Deploy the cow-catcher......
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    When A Stranger Calls (2006)

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    [YOUTUBE]xFxmelljiyg[/YOUTUBE]​

    Plot- Jill Johnson (Camilla Belle) expected a quiet night of babysitting at The Mandrakis’ house. Dr. Mandrakis (Derek de Lint) and his wife, Kelly (Kate Jennings Grant) are on a dinner date, while the kids are sleeping, so Jill doesn’t have to worry about anything at first. But things change, when Jill receives a series of threatening phone calls from a stranger. At first, Officer Burroughs (David Denman) reassures Jill The Stranger is nothing more than a pesky prank caller, but the location for the traced phone calls reveals The Stranger is inside the house. A panicky Jill has to escape the house with the children, but The Stranger closes in before they can reach the front door……

    My Thoughts- Camilla Belle gives a good effort, but she’s no Carol Kane. Although, to be fair, Kane’s character disappears for a long stretch in the original, and on top of that, Kane had a sequel with more screen time to develop Jill Johnson.

    Still, Jill is an annoying character in the remake, but you can’t put it all on Belle. Jill makes a lot of stupid mistakes in the remake. She doesn’t take the time to consistently check on the kids, because she’s more interested in exploring (Oh, wow. Motion sensor lights! This is cool!) The Mandrakis’ lavish house. And when the calls finally start, she checks on the kids AFTER The Stranger asks about them. Oh, and let’s not forget about Jill leaving two small children in the house by themselves, when it’s clear a lunatic has intentions to murder you and the kids. She leaves the kids alone, she runs to the guest house (used by Dr. Mandrakis’ son, occasionally), and there’s no sense of urgency to make it back to the house at all, when she’s there. And to make things worse, it’s not a short trip to the guest house, so The Stranger had the perfect opportunity to kill the children, if he wanted to.

    The Mandrakis’ house is one of the more noticeable changes in the remake. The house looks like it belongs in one of those fancy home décor magazines, but at the same time, it’s the perfect setting for the movie. The house is isolated, located on the countryside, and it’s basically out in the middle of nowhere, so it’s easy to buy into Jill’s life or death dilemma, because she can’t run to a neighbor’s house and just knock on the door for help. The scenes inside the house at night are kind of creepy (i.e. the shots of that ugly statue in the dark) every now and then, with Jill walking around in the dark, and the house is huge, so The Stranger has access to a lot of hiding spots.

    You have to expect a more modernized approach and changes for a remake, and When A Stranger Calls ‘06 has a lot of them, if we’re talking about the overall look and feel of the movie, and the characters (Jill is in high school). The growing pains for Jill and all the high school drama for teenagers? Yeah, I could’ve done without it. Jill has to babysit as form of punishment, because she went over her minutes, and the cell phone bill was ridiculously high. Jill’s father (played by Clark Gregg) wants to teach her a lesson, so Jill is going to babysit to work off her debt. You have to babysit two quiet and obedient children in a house that’s probably worth millions of dollars, you get to eat free food, and you don’t have to do anything, while you‘re there. You can’t go to the bonfire party, so take that, and learn how to be responsible! I just don’t get it.

    The sub-plot between Jill, her friend, Tiffany (Katie Cassidy), and Jill’s boyfriend, Bobby (Brian Geraghty) doesn’t add anything to the movie. Jill is not speaking to Tiffany, because she kissed Bobby, and Jill is mad at Bobby, because he didn’t stop Tiffany. Scarlett (Tessa Thompson) is another one of Jill’s childhood friends, and she tries to play peacemaker between Tiffany and Jill, but her character doesn’t add anything to the movie.

    The original and When A Stranger Calls Back had more depth to their stories, but the remake takes the events in the first twenty something minutes from the original, and they stretch everything out to fill a full length film. To give you a clearer picture, The Stranger decides to attack around 1hr. and 9min., and When A Stranger Calls clocks in at 1hr. and 27min. for the overall runtime. You’ll see a lot of teasing, jump scares, fake-out jump scares (the ice machine, the coat hanging on the wall in the utility room, etc.), and they basically stick to a “things that go bump in the night” formula for scares.

    Honestly, outside of Tiffany showing up, surprising Jill, Tiffany having to get out of her car to move the tree blocking the driveway, and Jill finding Tiffany’s corpse, nothing major happens until The Stranger attacks. You’ll need a lot of patience, if you want to sit through this, because WASC ‘06 takes a long slow burn approach to build the tension.

    When A Stranger Calls ’06 plays it safe as a remake, and they actually use lines of dialogue from the original. “Have you checked the children?” is one of the more obvious ones, and The Stranger telling Jill he wants her blood all over him, when she starts freaking out on the phone. That, and Jill running into Officer Burroughs arms towards the end is similar to Carol Kane running into Charles Durning’s arms in the original. Tommy Flanagan plays The Stranger, and Lance Henriksen provides the voice for the phone calls. They don’t show a full view of The Stranger’s face until the end, when he’s in a police car, and I don’t know if they were teasing a sequel or not, but the setup for Jill’s nightmare sequence at the hospital is terrible. It’s too obvious she’s having a nightmare, because a. she’s in an empty hospital, and b. you can see the overused mirror jump scare with The Stranger standing behind Jill in her room coming from a mile away.

    When A Stranger Calls is a forgettable and unnecessary remake, the original is the superior film, and I’ll take the sequel over this. Also, the intro with The Stranger attacking victims at a house near a local carnival really didn’t do anything for me. Still, WASC ’06 is not a god awful abomination.

    The remake was panned by the critics back in 2006, and after reading the reviews, you might get the impression WASC ’06 is an embarrassing piece of garbage. True, the movie is loaded with horror clichés, the familiar stupid mistakes in horror movies, some eye rolling moments (Jill dropping the phone in slow motion, when she knows The Stranger is in the house), and Jill is an annoying character. And if you’re talking about delivering a satisfying payoff, they set themselves up for failure with the long wait. If you’re going with a slow burn, you need to end the movie with a real homerun. Sure, it’s a happy ending for the most part, but every time I re-watch this, I just get the feeling they’re filling time and stalling before the end.

    But from a directorial standpoint, When A Stranger Calls is a competently made film. I’ll always love Con Air, but it’s more of a character driven film, with the performances from Nicolas Cage and others. Simon West’s work behind the camera saves WASC to a certain extent. WASC features a few spooky nighttime scenes, close calls, and West actually does a good job of building the tension. WASC is only worth watching, if you’re a fan of the original films, and if you’re curious about a remake, and it’s a fun guilty pleasure for me.
     
    #67
  18. Mitch Henessey

    Mitch Henessey Deploy the cow-catcher......
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    Annabelle: Creation (2017)

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    [YOUTUBE]EjZkJa6Z-SY[/YOUTUBE]​

    Plot-In 1943, Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia), a dollmaker, tries to fix a flat tire, but one of the lug nuts rolls into the road. Sam’s young daughter, Annabelle (or “Bee”) runs after it, but a speeding car hits and kills Annabelle (Samara Lee) before her mother, Esther (Miranda Otto) has a chance to catch her.

    Twelve years later, Sam cares for a disfigured and bedridden Esther, and The Mullins decide to open their home to six girls after their orphanage closes down. Led by Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman), Janice (Talitha Bateman), Linda (Lulu Wilson), Carol (Grace Fulton), and the others try to adjust to a new life, but after a series of strange occurrences, Janice and the others realize an evil presence is growing stronger in the house. Ignoring stern warnings from Sam, Janice opens the locked door to the room containing the Annabelle doll. After unleashing the demon, Janice becomes the primary target, and it’s only a matter of time before she succumbs to the possession.

    My Thoughts- I’ve never had a big problem with the original Annabelle. It’s a decent enough horror flick, but I can’t ignore two weak, uninteresting, and boring main characters. Annabelle Wallis (Mia) and Ward Horton (Jon), playing the all-American 1960’s couple, were about as interesting as watching paint dry, but Creation adds characters with a little more depth. Janice/Jan has polio, so she can’t fit in and move around too much without help. There’s a scene, where Jan is talking to Sister Charlotte, and she’s clearly upset. She believes the demon is targeting her, because she’s the weak link in the group, but Sister Charlotte reassures her she is brave and strong enough to fight.

    The friendship between Linda and Jan is one of the bigger highlights here. Linda wants to do everything she can to help Jan, but Jan encourages her to have fun without her and join the group, because she doesn’t want to hold her back. Looking at the group, next to Jan and Linda, Carol is the only one that stands out. She’s basically the mean girl in the group, she’s a bully, and that’s about it.

    LaPaglia delivers a decent performance as this broken and angry man. Miranda Otto plays the depressed and grief-stricken mother, who wants to hide from the world. After the early stages of the movie, you won’t see her in full view again until the tail end of the film. If I had to guess, the idea behind hiding Esther’s face and keeping her covered up is, she’s too hideous and unbearably grotesque to look at it, so when she finally takes off her mask (half of a mask), it’ll be a shock. Well, she has a burned handprint on her face from the demon’s attack years ago, and that‘s it. I’m not saying it’s not a horrific injury, but after all the teasing, they basically lead you to believe Esther’s face is nothing but bones, with bits of flesh and blood trickling down from her forehead. With all that said, it’s easy to buy into Esther being this heartbroken mother, when Otto emotionally tells the story about the demon tricking Sam and herself into using Annabelle as conduit with visions of Bee.

    It’s her third appearance in a movie, but Annabelle still works as a creepy doll. Annabelle actually turns her head a little bit during a mid-credits scene, but Annabelle maintains her evil mystique with silence and limited movements. If she moves and starts to talk too much, you’ll basically wind up with Chucky. Not that I have anything against the Child’s Play films, but you’re moving in a comedic direction, and killing whatever impact Annabelle’s presence might have, if she starts talking.

    Creation is definitely an upgrade over the original, but the movie is not without its flaws, because Creation is loaded with a lot of familiar clichés, scare tactics, and horror tropes. Flickering lights, doors slowly opening, an unseen force (the demon) aggressively dragging Linda down a hallway, while she scratches at the floor, and I’m tired of seeing one character vomit thick, black goo into another character’s mouth to possess them. It happens, when Bee’s ghost/the demon possesses Jan in the barn, and it’s becoming one of the more tiresome and overused methods to possess characters in horror films. For me, it’s almost more annoying than watching a possessed character perched on the ceiling and spinning their head around before they crawl on all fours to attack one of the protagonists.

    And Creation has a few predictable mishaps, and you can see them coming from a mile away. Jan has to use a stairlift chair (originally created by Sam for Esther) to get upstairs, and you just know at some point, Jan will run into problems and malfunctions, when she REALLY needs the stairlift to work, and that’s exactly what happens.

    Although, I’ll give Creation some credit for providing valid reasons for Sister Charlotte and the girls staying in the house, when it’s clear they should leave and never look back. They have no place to go, and six young girls with a family-like bond will be forced to go to different homes. Sure, you could say it’s not worth risking your life to stick together, but it’s a more plausible reason over the typical “Every cent we have is in this house. We can’t leave!” or “It’s too soon to start over again!” stuff.

    Creation has it’s fair share of clichés, and the one truly eye rolling moment, when Bee’s ghost (with the demon’s face) shouts “YOUR SOUL!” when Jan asks her what she wants. That, and I’m not a big fan of evil and possessed Jan, because she turns into the ordinary creepy and evil kid in a horror film. Still, if we’re comparing this one to the original, Creation does a better job of maintaining the tension, and David F. Sandberg delivers a more spooky and atmospheric film. And I LOVED the scarecrow sequence towards the end, when the demon uses the scarecrow to taunt the girls, and Carol having to find a way to escape the scarecrow/demon in the barn. Creation also has a few squirmy scenes. When Sam tries to stand up to a possessed Jan, while holding a cross, the demon brutally breaks his fingers one by one, and the sight of a dismembered corpse nailed into the wall is pretty gruesome.

    Cinematic universes are a thing now, and it’s no secret Warner Bros. is trying to build one with The Conjuring. It’s really strange, because Annabelle 2014 was a prequel….and Creation is a prequel to that film. The ending leads into the beginning of Annabelle 2014, and Creation has a post-credits scene with Valak (the demon nun from The Conjuring 2) to tease The Nun, a spin-off set to be released next year. If you’ve seen the previous films, you already know Annabelle is a conduit for evil, but Creation reveals how Annabelle got her name, the story of the man, who made her, what happened to his family, and Jan/Annabelle Higgins’ origin story. And you’ll see Sam creating Annabelle from scratch during the opening. I guess if you’re a hardcore Conjuring fan, watching Sam put Annabelle together piece by piece might be enough to give you goosebumps, but the big moment really didn‘t do anything for me.

    The prequel to a prequel approach is an odd strategy, but Annabelle: Creation’s final box office total surpassed the $300,000,000 mark, and that’s off of a reported production budget of $15,000,000. The Conjuring Series has a reported worldwide box office total of $1.2 billion, and the series is starting to follow a similar pattern, but I have to give credit where credit is due, because they’re entertaining horror films, for the most part.
     
    #68
  19. Rainbow Yaz

    Rainbow Yaz Sing about me, I'm dying of thirst
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    This question is more related to the Conjuring films, but since they feature Annabelle I’ll still ask it. How do you feel about writers and studios using The Warrens and treating their “investigations” as inspiration when it’s been proven that they were nothing more than frauds and con artists?

    I guess it could extend to films like The Strangers, which has a sequel coming soon. They claim to be based on a true event, but the screenwriter has admitted he embellished 99% of what happened. It wasn’t even a home invasion, it was an idea he had after there was a knock on the door while he was home alone at night as a teenager.
     
    #69
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  20. Mitch Henessey

    Mitch Henessey Deploy the cow-catcher......
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    Yeah, it's basically a marketing tool to play up the realism hook. Just look at the Annabelle doll. The "real" Annabelle doll (supposedly they keep it in a glass case at The Warren's occult museum) is a Raggedy Ann doll, so you can imagine just how silly that would look in the movies, if they actually used it. To give you an example, there's a flashback in Creation, where they're showing how they glued pages from the bible to the walls in Annabelle's locked room, and one of the priests sprinkled her with holy water to keep the evil at bay. Now remove Annabelle on the box cover, and put a Raggedy Ann doll in the chair. You're basically crossing into Scary Movie territory, and they had to completely revamp the design for the movies, because more people would laugh at something that's supposed to be this big evil threat.

    A Dark Place inspired The Haunting In Connecticut '09, and when the author, who wrote the book went to interview the family that was supposedly haunted, he noticed none of them could keep their stories straight. He told Ed about his concerns, and Ed basically told him to use whatever he could and make the rest up, because that's what they're paying him for. But no one really remembers The Haunting In Connecticut, because it was a piece of crap.

    The Conjuring benefits from having solid casts, Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga playing likeable characters (going by everything I've read, The Warrens were basically shameless opportunists, and Ed was kind of a dick), and James Wan is one of the best mainstream horror filmmakers. Just looking at The Conjuring and Annabelle films, MAYBE I could believe everything that happens in the first 10-15 minutes of the movie, without knowing anything about The Warrens. Ed and Lorraine meeting the families, discussing what happened, and figuring out different solutions to the problem. But after that, it's clear you're watching a movie that's probably 10% real life (and that's a stretch) and 90% bullshit, especially when all the supernatural stuff kicks in, because everything is just too convenient.

    The realism hook only works, if you can produce a quality product. I'm not too excited about the sequel, but I've read about theories involving connections to The Manson Family Murders and The Strangers, but it sounds like a lot of fan fiction. Evan Peters' Kai Anderson was inspired to do what he did in the recent season of American Horror Story, because he idolized Charles Manson and other cult leaders, and going by the rumors, Quentin Tarantino's new film is supposed to use Manson and the murders as a backdrop for the story. Ed Gein is/was used as an inspiration for movies and TV shows, but if you look at the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it's almost impossible to draw comparisons to what Gein did. But TCM '74 is praised as a horror classic , because of the rough cut feel and look of the movie, the intro, and the idea of a group of people wandering into the wrong part of a backwoods town.
     
    #70
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  21. Mitch Henessey

    Mitch Henessey Deploy the cow-catcher......
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    Phoenix Forgotten (2017)

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    Plot- On Match 13, 1997, Josh Bishop (Luke Spencer Roberts) records what he believes to be a UFO sighting (or the “Phoenix Lights“) during his sister Sophie’s sixth birthday party. Eventually, Josh’s obsession with the Phoenix Lights drives him to find more answers, so Josh’s friends agree to go with him into the desert to record more footage with hopes of catching some proof. Ashley Foster (Chelsea Lopez) , Mark Abrams (Justin Matthews), and Josh mysteriously disappear after the expedition, and without any new clues or leads, the police decide to give up on the search.

    Twenty years later, Sophie (Florence Hartigan) returns home with her boyfriend, Dan (Matt Biedel) to make a documentary about what happened to Josh, Ashley, and Mark. Sophie suspects a cover-up from the police, the government, and the military, and she believes Josh used a second camcorder. Sophie is looking for closure and answers for what really happened to her brother and his friends, and the discovery of the missing camcorder brings her one step closer to the truth…..

    My Thoughts- Phoenix Forgotten nails the documentary style of filmmaking. The interviews, the conspiracy theories, the footage from the local news channels about the Phoenix Lights and what happened to Mark, Josh, and Ashley, and the home movies (Sophie’s birthday, everything leading up to the expedition, etc.). You’ll also see how the Phoenix Lights and Josh’s disappearance affected everyone around him, including Sophie’s parents (they divorced, because Sophie’s father couldn’t let go off the possibility of Josh returning home), Ashley’s parents, and the community.

    Phoenix Forgotten has a strong sense of realism during the documentary stages, because you’re supposed to be watching something that’s “real,” but it’s a double-edged sword for me. The Poughkeepsie Tapes used a similar formula, with the interviews and footage from the local news stations to play up the realism, but they also took a break every now and then to show tapes from The Water Street Butcher’s murderous rampage. That’s one of my bigger problems with Phoenix Forgotten: it’s too straightforward and monotonous. I’ve seen my fair share of faux documentary style horror films, and for the most part, Phoenix Forgotten falls into the category of a tedious snooze fest.

    Honestly, nothing really happens until the movie passes the 1hr. And 2min. mark, and while the big finale is tense and a real nail-biter, I can’t say it was worth the wait. Phoenix Forgotten’s runtime clocks in at 1hr. and 27min., so you’re just basically waiting around for a LONG time to see what happened on the second tape throughout the movie. I just think back to some of the promo ads and commercials for the Paranormal Activity films, where they promoted “the last twenty minutes will mess you up for life!” line and over and over again, but the PA films and their finales never lived up to the hype for me.

    You’re lead to believe the footage on the second tape is too horrifying and shocking to be released, and they show Sophie’s disturbed reaction after watching the second tape without showing it to push this idea, so naturally you’re expecting a big, satisfying payoff. Sophie and Dan going into the desert in an attempt to find Josh, Ashley, and Mark would’ve been an incredibly stupid storyline (something similar to Blair Witch ‘16), so of course Sophie trying to find the tape was the more logical route to take at an attempt for a satisfying payoff, but it’s a case of too little, too late for me.

    If we’re talking about gruesomeness, you’ll see burned and mutilated animal corpses, and that’s it, and Phoenix Forgotten is just another forgettable low-budget (a reported $2.8 million) found-footage horror film based on true events. Whenever you see the based on true events or a real story tagline, you immediately have to take everything with a handful of salt, especially in horror films.

    Phoenix Forgotten? Well, if we’re separating the faux documentary style presentation and the style of storytelling from what actually happened, I’d say Phoenix Forgotten is about 90% BS, and maybe I can buy into the other 10% actually happening. And that’s limited to Sophie returning home, talking to her parents, the footage from Sophie’s birthday party as a kid, and Josh, Ashley, and Mark preparing to go into the desert. Everything else reeks of fabricated over the top cinematic BS, certain occurrences are too convenient, and then there’s the second camcorder. So I’m supposed to believe an ordinary camcorder fell from outer space or the highest point in the sky, and SOMEHOW the tape is still intact, and the camcorder itself is not smashed to pieces? Come on now. The camcorder is noticeably damaged, and I would’ve been okay with that, but I just rolled my eyes, when Dan played the tape.

    All in all, you’re not missing anything special with Phoenix Forgotten (originally titled Phoenix). I remember watching the trailer (good trailer, but it spoils the end of the movie) in theaters, and I actually wanted to see it. From what I remember, Phoenix Forgotten was supposed to have a wider release, and Ridley Scott is a producer here, but they cut it down to a limited (very limited) theatrical release. Justin Barber (the director) deserves some credit for a fine-tuned documentary style film, but it’s almost impossible to ignore the annoying shaky cam stuff, the camera glitches, and all the other usual tropes in a found-footage horror film.
     
    #71
  22. Mitch Henessey

    Mitch Henessey Deploy the cow-catcher......
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    I still love the original Insidious, and It's been a couple of years since I watched Chapter 2, but I remember I wasn't a fan of it. The scene with the wrinkly, naked old man shouting "He's got your baby!" was cringeworthy, and they killed the mystique of The Further for me. I usually prefer the less is more approach in certain horror films, and in Chapter 2, The Further was basically reduced to walking through or taking a ride on one of those haunted houses at a carnival, or Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios. Chapter 3 was pretty good, but I'm not sold on the trailers for Chapter 4, because it looks like we're getting to the point, where they're just dragging everything out for the sake of making more sequels and turning a profit.

    James Wan said they're trying to take their time with the screenplay for The Conjuring 3, because they don't want to rush anything, and that's a good sign. Wan has an idea for werewolves in part 3, and while I'm not too crazy about it now, it'll be something different and a chance to take a break from the haunted (or possessed) house stroylines, if they can do it right.
     
    #72
  23. Mitch Henessey

    Mitch Henessey Deploy the cow-catcher......
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    The Dorm That Dripped Blood (1982)

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    Plot- Joanne (Laurie Lapinski), Craig (Stephen Sachs), Patty (Pamela Holland), Bryan (David Snow, and Debbie (Daphne Zuniga) decide to stay behind on campus during Christmas vacation to make some extra cash. The group plans to clean up the dormitory together before a scheduled demolition, but Debbie backs out at the last minute to visit her grandmother in the hospital. But an unknown assailant murders Debbie and her parents before they have a chance to leave the dormitory.

    A series of bizarre incidents sparks concern amongst the group, and John Hemmit (Woody Rollas) is the primary suspect. After a string of disappearances and murders, Joanne realizes escape is the only viable option for survival, but Joanne is forced to fight for her life, when the killer reveals his identity……

    My Thoughts- It’s all about playing a guessing game with whodunit slashers, and The Dorm That Dripped Blood pulls off a good one. John Hemmit is just a red herring. Sure, he fits the bill for a bloodthirsty killer. He’s the creepy loner/recluse, and you’re lead to believe he’s the one behind the murders towards the end, when he’s chasing after Joanne and you see that crazed look in his eyes. But Hemmit is just too obvious, and if you play close attention, you’ll notice he doesn’t want to hurt or kill Joanne, when he’s pleading his case. Also, this is a whodunit slasher, so it would’ve been pointless to show the POV shots through the killer’s eyes throughout the movie, when you’re going for the big surprise reveal at the end.

    Bobby Lee Tremble (Dennis Ely) wants to buy some tables, and it’s clear he wants more than tables from Joanne, and his screen time is limited to sporadic appearances, so he’s the first believable pick for the killer. Tim (Robert Fredrick), Joanne’s boyfriend, wants a more serious relationship, but she’s not ready to settle down, and revealing Tim as the killer would’ve been a decent surprise, because he disappears after the early stages of the movie.

    But it’s not Bobby or Tim, because the killer is………..Craig. It turns out Craig was obsessed and in love with Joanne. He didn’t want to share her with anybody, so he murdered her friends, and anyone else, who had feelings for Joanne. It’s a good shocker, because you could easily plug Booby or Tim into the killer’s spot. The reveal is a genuine surprise, and Stephen Sachs slowly showing Craig’s true colors really pulls everything together. One minute he’s playing the concerned friend, who’s trying to comfort a shaken Joanne, but he quickly switches gears to the crazed lunatic, when he starts bragging about how he pulled it off with Joanne’s help (she killed Hemmit in an attempt to save Craig).

    The Dorm That Dripped Blood is loaded with a lot of gruesome kills. The baseball bat with nails, the power drill to the back of Bill’s (the local caretaker) head, and Patty’s death in the pressure cooker. This is a nasty, nasty horror film, if we’re talking about brutal deaths, but there’s a downside. Cheap, low-budget slashers were a dime a dozen in the 80’s during the slasher craze, and The Dorm That Dripped Blood definitely falls into that category. The production budget for this was an estimated $90,000, and you can really see it.

    They delivered a good surprise for the reveal, but The Dorm That Dripped Blood features every horror cliché you can possibly think of. The power goes out, the phones stop working, Joanne waits too long to leave the dormitory, and the group is having a hard time trying to find Hemmit, so of course splitting up is a smart move, because nothing bad ever happens in a horror movie, when the group separates to find someone or stop a suspected murderer.

    It’s only out of five counted reviews, but The Dorm That Dripped Blood has a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s on You Tube, if you’re interested, and The Dorm That Dripped Blood (originally titled Death Dorm) borders on “so bad it’s good” territory. There’s a good chance this will only appeal to die-hard slasher aficionados, but it’s not that bad. TDTDB doesn’t have a final girl, so I can understand some complaints for the movie not having a satisfying payoff, and the story is set during the Christmas season, but TDTDB is not a pure Christmas horror movie. You’ll see some Christmas lights hanging in the background, but they barely mention Christmas here.
     
    #73
  24. Mitch Henessey

    Mitch Henessey Deploy the cow-catcher......
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    Black Christmas (1974)

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    Plot- A sorority house receives a series of disturbing phone calls from “The Moaner” during a Christmas party, and it’s not clear what The Moaner wants or why he’s calling. Barb (Margot Kidder) dismisses The Moaner as a harmless and vulgar prank caller, but Jess (Olivia Hussey), Phyl (Andrea Martin), Clare (Lynne Griffin), and the other sisters are more concerned about his malicious intentions. Clare prepares to return home with her father, Mr. Harrison (James Edmond) for Christmas, but an unknown attacker quietly murders Clare in her room, and he hides Clare‘s body in the attic.

    The house mother, Mrs. MacHenry (Marian Waldman) tries to ease Mr. Harrison’s concerns, but The Moaner’s calls won’t stop, and the discovery of a local girls dead body raises more questions. Something is not right in the small town of Bedford, and Lt. Fuller (John Saxon) suspects Jess’s unhinged boyfriend, Peter (Keir Dullea) as the culprit. The body count rises, as The Moaner continues to harass Jess, and Jess is forced to fight the killer, when he reveals himself…….

    My Thoughts- Olivia Hussey, playing the quiet and likeable college girl, is the main character, but Margot Kidder easily delivers the best performance here. Barb is a lush, and she’s the loose cannon, who’s not afraid to bite her tongue. Jess, Clare, and Phyl are noticeably nervous and on edge, when The Moaner calls, and they don’t want to provoke him. But Barb constantly pushes his buttons, and she doesn’t care, if she goes too far. When she’s drunk, Kidder is someone, who has a blunt and raunchy sense of humor, and you want to laugh at her. But you’ll also see someone, who’s clearly dealing with some issues, because Barb is nasty, if she goes too far. Kidder’s charisma is undeniable, but she doesn’t receive too much screen time (everything is cut short after Phyl tells her to get some rest, because she‘s too dunk), because the spotlight is on Jess. John Saxon is a solid fit for Lt. Fuller, and it’s easy to pick out similarities between Fuller, and Saxon playing Nancy’s dead in the Elm Street films.

    Black Christmas also features some good humor, with Margot Kidder and Marian Waldman basically playing an older version of Barb. She hides liquor bottles around the house, and you just get the feeling MacHenry is someone, who’s tired of babysitting a group of young college girls. Sergeant Nash (Douglas McGrath) is good for some laughs as a dunce, and it’s hard to forget about the hilarious scene, where Barb gives him the phone number for the sorority house at the police station. She starts the number with ******io, and Lt. Fuller has a “You’ve gotta be kidding me” reaction, when he reads the number. It’s clear Nash doesn’t realize Barb made a fool out of him, because he doesn’t know anything about ******io.

    Black Christmas is another whodunit slasher, but it’s clear Peter is not the killer. He’s the first suspect, and they lead you to believe he’s the one, because he fits the bill. He turns on and hates Jess after she makes the decision to have an abortion without him, and she makes it 100% clear she has no intentions to marry him. Peter snaps, and he openly threatens Jess, but you just know it’s not him. Peter as the killer is too obvious, and he’s just a decoy to help set up the big surprise reveal/swerve towards the end.

    Towards the end, it’s revealed the killer is Billy and Billy is The Moaner. Outside of him sneaking into the house, and murdering the girls one by one, we really don’t know anything about Billy. But with all the different voices, the weird moans, and his temper tantrum in the attic, you know Billy is someone, who’s truly dangerous. Billy’s house of horrors in the attic is another nasty sight. You know the guy is a sicko, because he’s keeping corpses in the attic, and he puts a doll in Clare’s arm.

    He tells his story, and he reveals bits and pieces of his past through the phone calls (Agnes and his mother), but we never get a definitive and concrete explanation, and they never show the full view of Billy’s face. It’s all shadows and Billy’s face is covered in shadows, when he pops up throughout the movie, and Black Christmas plays a good guessing game for revealing the identity.

    Black Christmas delivers brutality without showing a lot of gore or using gallons of blood. Billy uses a plastic garment bag to suffocate and strangle Clare, and it’s a grisly image, with Clare’s lifeless body still wrapped in the garment bag, bouncing back and forth in the rocking chair. Mrs. MacHenry dies, when Billy uses a big hook to kill her, but they don’t actually show the hook crashing into MacHenry’s head. You’ll just see Henry raising MacHenry’s body into the attic, and it’s more than enough to pull a reaction out of you. Barb’s death is horrifying, when Billy uses the horn on a glass unicorn statue to repeatedly stab her, but they don’t show you everything, just the stabbing motions, Barb’s agony, and the bloodstained horn.

    I heard this on one of the horror podcasts I listen to, and one of hosts was giving his reasons for Christmas horror being of one his favorites in the genre. With Thanksgiving, it’s another time of year, where you’re supposed to feel safe. You’re supposed to be filled with joy and peace, but all bets are off, when someone comes in and shatters all of that. It’s so true, and it’s one of the reasons why Black Christmas is a beloved cult classic. Black Christmas has the look and feel of a cozy Christmas film, with the Christmas lights, the tree, and the carolers, but a sinister madman is out to destroy “The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year.” Pure realism is a stretch here, but that’s true horror, when you stop and think about it.

    Black Christmas is a memorable slasher for a number of reasons. Compared to the vast majority of slashers in the 80’s, the presentation and overall look of the film is more polished, a solid overall cast, and they do take a more sophisticated and nuanced approach here. Very little blood, no real gore, no nudity, no sex, and you don’t have a masked butcher running around and killing a bunch of horny teenagers and potheads. The mystery is intriguing, and Billy’s phone calls and threats are truly creepy.

    Black Christmas is another horror film that draws from The Babysitter And The Man Upstairs, and the movie was also supposedly inspired by a series of murders in Montreal, Quebec. And the movie features some feminist social commentary. Jess wants an abortion, she already made the decision to go through with it, but Peter is enraged, when she doesn’t ask for his permission. On top of that, Peter doesn’t ask Jess to marry him. He basically tells her she’s going to be his wife, and they’re not going to have a discussion about it, because as the man, Peter has the final word in the relationship. But Jess doesn’t want to have a child and she doesn’t want to settle down, because she’s a young woman, who wants to pursue her dreams before it’s too late.

    I love Black Christmas. It’s a good Christmas horror film, and Jess is a memorable final girl, but sometimes I get the feeling horror fans, experts, and horror die hards feel the need to go the extra mile to heap tons of praise on this film as a flawless masterpiece. Scream Factory released the special edition Blu-ray last year, Scream Horror Magazine gave it five skulls in their recent issue, and I’ve never understood this obsession with the “clever and smart” label for not revealing everything about Billy. Sure, you want to know more about him, and Black Christmas ends with a cliffhanger as the credits roll, because they didn’t catch Billy, and you’re lead to believe he’s still in the house, while Jess is sleeping. It’s true, you have to do some research, if you want to know more about Billy, but I’ve never bought into all the hoopla surrounding Billy.

    And I hate to be that guy, but how in the hell did Billy get into the house without anyone noticing him? The neighbors, the search party for the missing girl, or the other girls in the house? That’s a lot of people in a small town. To take it a step further, how I’m supposed to believe it’s possible that NOBODY suspected or noticed someone else was in a sorority house full of people? Oh, and they search and look around the house, but for some reason nobody had the idea to look in the attic to find Clare and Mrs. MacHenry’s bodies?

    Still, there’s no denying Black Christmas is a benchmark film for the horror genre and Christmas horror films. It’s one of the films that always pops up with Psycho and other films in the never-ending debate for the first real slasher film, and the movie establishes and features some of the early tropes for slashers and other horror films. And Black Christmas heavily influenced Halloween ’78.

    In an interview, Bob Clark (the director and producer) revealed he had a conversation with John Carpenter about Black Christmas, and Carpenter asked about the possibility of a sequel. Clark didn’t want to be a horror guy, and he was done with the genre, but Clark told Carpenter about his hypothetical plans for a sequel. Billy would’ve been caught, put in a mental institution, but he would eventually escape, and return to the house to kill Jess, and Clark would call the film Halloween. Well, that storyline is similar to what happens with Michael and Laurie in Halloween, and Carpenter basically stealing the idea and passing it off as his own work was a well known conspiracy theory. But in the same interview, Clark himself said it’s not true, because Halloween is Carpenter’s film, he directed it, Carpenter wrote the script with Debra Hill, he did the casting, and the title Halloween was already decided beforehand, so Clark closed the door on all the rumors.
     
    #74
  25. Mitch Henessey

    Mitch Henessey Deploy the cow-catcher......
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    Black Christmas (2006)

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    [YOUTUBE]XGFJdvQw65o[/YOUTUBE]​

    Plot- Constance Lenz (Karin Konoval) always wanted a child, but Billy’s birth wasn’t the joyous phenomenon she was hoping for. Born with a rare liver disease and bright yellow skin, Billy is subjected to years of cruelty and harsh taunts from his mother, and Constance won’t give up on her dream of having the perfect child. Constance murders Billy’s father with help from her boyfriend, and when Agnes is born, Constance locks Billy in the attic.

    Billy eventually escapes from the attic on Christmas Day in 1991. Billy attacks and wounds Agnes, kills Constance and her boyfriend, and Billy is sent to an insane asylum.

    Fifteen years later, Billy escapes from the asylum with plans to return to his house for Christmas. Billy’s childhood home is now a sorority house for Delta Alpha Kappa, and the sisters are trying to put aside their differences to enjoy the holidays. Unbeknownst to the rest of the group, Clair (Leela Savasta) is murdered upstairs, and Megan (Jessica Harmon) is quietly killed by the same attacker. The house mother, Mrs. MacHenry (Andrea Martin) tries to play peacemaker between the sisters, but Kelli (Katie Cassidy), Melissa (Michelle Trachtenberg), Heather (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Dana (Lacey Chabert), and Lauren (Crystal Lowe) receive a series of angry phone calls from a stranger. Meanwhile, Clair’s sister, Leigh (Kristen Cloke) arrives to take Leigh home for the holidays, and she won’t leave without Clair.

    The sisters can’t figure out what’s going, and everything takes a bizarre turn, when the power goes out. Kelli’s boyfriend, Kyle (Oliver Hudson) shows up, sneaking through Megan’s open window, and his nasty attitude makes him a prime suspect. Trapped with no means of transportation, and stuck with the dilemma of waiting two hours for the police to show up, the sisters finally realize they’re not alone in the house, and they’ll have to defend themselves against the murderous duo of Billy (Robert Mann) and Agnes (Dean Friss).

    My Thoughts- Lauren mirroring Barb’s personality early on is one of the more noticeable similarities to the original. Lauren is an alcoholic, she doesn’t hold anything back, and she taunts Billy on the phone, when Heather urges her to tread carefully with a maniac. But you can also see someone, who’s holding a lot in, and she’s hiding behind her excessive drinking. After her first appearance, it’s obvious Kelli will make to the end as the final girl. She’s innocent, a nice person, and next to MacHenry, she really is the only one in the group, who’s making a real effort to squash the petty BS. Kelli is a likeable character, but the rest of the group? They’re basically made up of spoiled, whiny brats, and Winstead plays a pretentious snob. Andrea Martin returning as the house mother, and playing a character similar to the original Mrs. MacHenry really works as a nod to the original. She’s not an alcoholic hiding liquor bottles around the house, but you can tell she’s frustrated with the babysitter role.

    Black Christmas ’06 features a good amount of homages and winks to the original. Billy using the glass unicorn to murder Lauren, Lauren is basically a clone of Barb, Claire’s corpse with the plastic bag around her head in the rocking chair, the house mother has the same last name, and Billy is the killer again. But the remake also features a good amount of noticeable changes. For starters, this film is LOADED with a lot of nasty gore and blood. Billy and Agnes have this weird thing, where they like to eat eyeballs, and it’s just as nasty as it sounds, complete with squishy sound effects. When Billy murders Constance, he carves Christmas flesh cookies out of her back. He cooks them, dips hunks of his mother’s flesh in milk, and then he eats them. And it’s hard to forget about Agnes using corpses, a head, and other body parts to decorate her tree in the attic.

    They also make a strong effort to dig deeper into Billy’s story. Karin Konoval does of a good job of playing a hateful, bitter, and selfish mother, and the story takes a dark turn, when it’s revealed how Agnes was conceived. She couldn’t have children with her boyfriend, so she raped Billy, when he was child. I always think back to the scene towards the end, when Kelli tells Agnes her family is gone, and how the sisters will never be her family, and Agnes responds with “No….my daddy’s here.” Billy and Agnes are sadistic murderers, because they had rough childhoods, they only have each other, and they‘ve only known violence, torture, and murder their whole lives. In a sick and twisted way, Agnes wanting a family is also understandable, because she never had a real family. And Billy isn’t covered by shadows here. Agnes has a more grotesque appearance, while Billy basically looks like a normal guy with bright yellow skin.

    Comparing both films, the remake takes a big turn. More gore, cannibalism, nudity, sex scenes, blood, eyeless corpses, an incest storyline, and Agnes and Billy are working together. It’s a more Christmasy horror film, with the snow, the look and feel of the movie, the decorations, Billy uses his mouth to make a shiv out of a candy cane, and Billy is impaled on a Christmas tree to end the movie. They also put a twist on the Secret Santa exchange, with this tradition, where a sister is selected to leave a present under the tree for Billy every year. Black Christmas ’06 is a sleazy film with more explicit violence, and the movie actually works as a prequel and a remake. The original had some social commentary, but the sisters arguing about the real meaning of Christmas and poking fun at those, who enjoy celebrating the holiday is as far as the remake goes. I also could’ve done without the sub-plot about Kyle making a sex tape with Megan (posted on the internet by one of Kyle’s bitter ex-friends). It’s an unnecessary sub-plot that doesn’t add anything to the story, and the sex tape was made before Kyle met Kelli.

    They attempt to throw you off with the identity of the killer, using Kyle and Eve (the nerdy outcast in the sorority house) as possible suspects, but if you’ve seen the original, you already know Billy is one of the killers, and it’s obvious Agnes is involved. Hell, it’s easy to see Billy and Agnes are the killers after Billy escapes without watching the original, so the attempted swerves are just a waste of time.

    Black Christmas is a beloved cult classic, so naturally fans of the original are going to rebel against a remake. There’s an interview with Mary Elizabeth Winstead on the special features for the DVD, and she talks about how it’s damn near impossible to please fans with a remake for any genre. They’ll take to the internet, and complain about everything, nitpcking every little detail. Basically, Black Christmas ’74 is a bottle of fine wine, and Black Christmas ’06 is a can of Coors Light, and that‘s the consensus for this one.

    Bottom line, they weren’t trying to make a sophisticated film here, and the remake features some truly nasty and brutal deaths ( Agnes using ice skates to murder Melissa, the icicle falling through MacHenry’s head, Billy’s death, etc.). The bickering between the sisters, Leigh, and MacHenry can be annoying, but occasionally, the squabbles and insults are good for a few cheap laughs. And Black Christmas delivers some good black humor with the Christmas tie-ins and certain murder weapons. I also appreciate the effort to explore Billy’s origins, and it’s one of the reasons why I don’t buy into the “lazy remake” label for this one.

    The original is still the superior film, but the remake is an entertaining Christmas horror film, and it’s an enjoyable guilty pleasure. I haven’t seen the theatrical cut for this in years, but apparently there’s a difference between both cuts with some noticeable changes. The remake, receiving a wide theatrical release on December 25th, also had a little bit of controversy with religious groups, but it’s nothing compared to what happened with the original Silent Night, Deadly Night. The DVD has three alternate endings (Kelli survives as the final girl in all three), but the theatrical ending is the best ending, with the ending, where Kelli receives a phone call from Kyle’s phone as a close second.
     
    #75

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