Pod (2015) - A family intervention goes horrifically awry within the snowy confines of an isolated lake house.
There's really nothing better to watch on a Tuesday night than a cheap Netflix horror flick. Clocking in at a relatively short 76 minutes, I decided to go with this movie. The movie poster makes it look like an alien abduction movie which can be fun even if a bit frustrating at times. (Very few alien abduction films have satisfying endings, unfortunately). This movie was flawed, very flawed. First, it's chaotic to the point that you don't know what the hell is going on. Normally I don't mind chaos in a movie, but this movie doesn't really make sense already and they never stop and explain sh!t which gets frustrating. Second, the characters are all awful and you want truly want them to die. They argue, the acting is atrocious, no one is particularly likeable, and the dialogue seems forced. Third and most importantly, what the hell is a pod?! Is it something to do with aliens or a government experiment gone horrifically wrong??? Very confusing film, and seeing as I hated the characters, I don't want to rewatch it to make more sense out of it.
I was tempted to give this a 3/10 for its ill plot and characters, but it has a particularly suspenseful and tense basement scene that did give me the creeps. Plus, it didn't really waste my time much with its short runtime. So, I took the nice route and gave it a 5/10. Watch at your own risk.
Banshee Chapter (2013) - Journalist Anne Roland explores the disturbing links behind her friend's sudden disappearance, an ominous government research chemical, and a disturbing radio broadcast of unknown origin.
This movie has been on my watch list for a long time. It's another one of those "Government experiments gone wrong" type of films where a bright young journalist wants to uncover the truth but uncovers bounties of horror instead. The plot really isn't the problem here as much as the constant flashbacks are. It's almost a film that tries to be found footage without actually being found footage, though the flashbacks are footage from test subjects being experimented on. Unfortunately, I really feel they insert flashbacks in just to pad the runtime and clocking in at typical feature length of 1hr+27mins, I think that was the case here. It's not really a spectacular movie, but the leading chick was hot and there were actually numerous creepy moments to be found in this one. Very ominous tone and add in creepy children voices on the radio reminiscent of the music from Sinister, you're going to be left with a lot of dread in watching this one. That Nevada desert scene was my favorite of the film. You'll know it when you see it.
I originally gave this a 5/10 because those footage flashbacks were obnoxious, but I may bump it up to 6/10 for working on at least some creepy level.
The Reef (2010) - A great white shark hunts the crew of a capsized sailboat along the Great Barrier Reef.
This was apparently based on a true story, but I haven't really looked it up to see how true that is. I'm not sure about anyone else, but one of my greatest fears is of being shipwrecked or lost out at sea. Hell, even Titanic gave me goosebumps as the boat was sinking. So, the fear of the sea makes this particular brand of horror a favorite of mine to watch. I was also in the mood for a killer animal flick, and no one really does modern killer-animal flicks better than Australia. This director did the immensely-effective Black Water (2007) which is perhaps the best croc flick out there. What I especially liked about this movie was that the plot was paper thin, but it was a thrill-ride from start to finish. The characters were likeable enough, no one was overly obnoxious, and you really can't help but fear for them once the shark makes its presence known. The director really goes out of the way to place you in the spot of the characters, feeling absolutely helpless against ocean's greatest predator. And I think he succeeded, much like how he succeeded with Black Water.
Highly recommend. 8/10
amg Dan, is Part II your favorite Friday the 13th as well?
Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (1920) (aka The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) - Dr. Caligari's somnambulist, Cesare, and his deadly predictions.
An undisputed classic, perhaps the mother of all classics... and undoubtedly one of the first-ever horror films ever? I felt in the mood for something old, like ancient old. I'm not going to sit here and say that I was thoroughly entertained from start to finish like some poser, but it's always a bit amusing how much horror has changed throughout time. The sets were interestingly crafted - almost like created for a theatrical production (not a silent film), but charming nonetheless. It even had a decent twist, by early 20th-century standards of course. I liked Nosferatu better by a long shot, but I can see why this is considered to be so timeless. 6/10
Joshua (2007) - The arrival of a newborn girl causes the gradual disintegration of the Cairn family; particularly for 9-year-old Joshua (Kogan), an eccentric boy whose proper upbringing and refined tastes both take a sinister turn.
I never knew that Esther in Orphan wasn't Vera Farmiga's first run-in with an evil child. She had an evil son in this one, and an evil son he was. I was recommended this one strongly by a fellow horror fan who actually sympathized with Joshua in this, but I disagreed with him. It's a very well-made movie that almost feels like the evil spawn of The Good Son and Orphan, with some Lifetime elements mixed in. You really felt fear for the helpless newborn and the parents whose sanity unraveled over the course of the movie as Joshua becomes more evil and the baby becomes more terrified, but the ending felt majorly incomplete to me. 8/10, could've strove for more but settled for less. Good nonetheless.
Scarecrow (2013) - Six high school kids come face to face with an evil entity as they serve their detention before the town scarecrow festival.
On its face, this is your typical slasher. You have your typical bodycount consisting of obnoxious students, a well-meaning teacher, and a Mary Sue final girl, all isolated out in the country with no cell phone reception when a monster rears its ugly face and tries to kill them all, one by one. This wouldn't get a second look by most since the slasher formula is played straighter than a line here. While it's generic, this can almost be seen as a throwback in some capacity. And, for a TV movie, it's really not too bad and actually gets quite bloody... I've seen worse slashers and this doesn't even come close. Yeah, the entire premise was a bit dumb and the backstory wasn't really well-explained as I would've liked, but I thought the monster looked kinda cool and nightmare-ish. The CGI effects were also surprisingly not as horrendous as they could've been (ScyFy, I know how you roll). 6/10 - A film for slasher fans' eyes ONLY.
Le notti del terrore (1981) (aka Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror) â A professor opens a crypt and reanimates rotten zombies. The zombies attack a jet-set-group which is celebrating a party in a villa nearby...
Iâm not going to bullsh!t you, this was *beep* terrible. Yet, I absolutely loved it from start to finish: The terrible acting, the awkward dialogue, the unnecessary nudity, you name it. Even the horrific dubbing ~ since you know that this is an Italian film and there must be dubbing ~ had its odd charms to it... as most of them from this time do. The undead looked laughable at first, but they were excellent marksman (O_O) and knew how to use a scythe effectively. What a ridiculous scene that was, but the entire movie was a hawt mess to start with so it still works in the grand scheme. These undead may have moved slower than hell, but once they caught a victim, they ate them in rather gruesome ways and no detail is left out. The film definitely earns its âvideo nastyâ reputation along with Anthropophagus and Absurd, but if you appreciate zombie flicks from an earlier time like I do, then you may like this despite it's blatant flaws. 7/10 â A very entertaining, so-bad-its-good affair. Shower and church highly recommended afterwards.
Spring (2014) â A young man in a personal tailspin flees the US to Italy, where he sparks up a romance with a woman harboring a dark, primordial secret.
I put this off for the longest time because this seemed more like a romance movie with horror elements, and for the most part this is exactly what it was. I expected the story to be: Boy meets girl, girl turns out to be some weird zombie thing, yet boy still loves girlâ¦ happily never after? Luckily, I was wrong about a few things that I wish to keep secret for those who may check this out. The success of this film lies in the fact that both of the characters were likeable enough to reel you into the story. You totally buy into the romance and when things get nasty, youâre invested enough in the characters to get through the gross bits. Also, this was just an all-around beautiful film to watch in terms of the scenery and visualsâ¦ I expected as such given its title, but it was good. It was very good. 9/10 â Highly recommended.
Tremors 5: Bloodlines (2015) - The giant, man-eating Graboids are back and even deadlier than before, terrorizing the inhabitants of a South African wildlife reserve as they attack from below-and above.
The Tremors franchise is one of my favorites. The second one disappointed massively, but there was a good story to the third and fourth films despite how cheap they looked by comparison. The characters were always the strong point with this franchise anyway. This film had decent effects but a weaker story, sadly. The franchise isn't aging well, and sadly I kinda feel they jumped the shark even more than when they started calling one of the monsters "ass-blasters". This one did try though, but something in the back of my mind misses when graboids were actually treated as formidable, scary subterranean predators in the first and not just mere nuisances.
House of Dust (2013) - College students exploring an abandoned insane asylum accidentally shatter canisters holding the cremains of former mental patients. Inhaling the dusty ash filling the air, they're soon possessed by the souls once held within them. One is a convicted serial killer from 1950.
Given the sypnosis, the IMDb rating, and the movie poster, I really wasn't expecting too much with this one much like I never expect much from any slasher. Still, sometimes even the most exploitative and tasteless slashers can be fun. This one had a decent idea but was just too forgettable to leave any sort of impression. And it wasn't really even really a slasher, IIRC. 4/10
Good Neighbours (2010) - Victor is new to Montreal and attempts to make friends with the wheelchair-bound Spencer and the cat-loving Louise, but everybody is on edge with a serial killer terrorizing the neighborhood.
I was in the mood for a thriller, and as I watched this, I couldn't help but be reminded of a recent one ~ The Gift (2015) ~ that got widespread acclaim upon its release. For a movie that was released back in 2009, this one has everything that that one had and more. While The Gift somewhat underwhelmed me, this one definitely has horror elements in it. I wish I could elaborate on what I liked about this film, but that would make this quick review too spoiled. 7/10
Die Die Delta Pi (2013) - In the 1980's, a group of sorority girls pull a prank on a fellow Sister out of envy, which results in her being burned to death. But did she really die, or is she still seeking revenge?
Let it be known: If even *I* rate something a 2/10, it *beep* EARNS it. It's junk like this that makes me angry that I'm addicted to horror films.
Raze (2013) - Raze, a horror/action film, focuses on two abducted women & 50 other women who are forced to fight each other using their bare hands.
This is a rather mean-spirited flick all around, definitely one of the nastier ones that Netflix has to offer. I'd almost put it on the same level as The Seasoning House, but at least this one doesn't delve into rape and such. If you dig kickass women and movies that would piss off raging feminists, then this may be for you. My main issues with this movie though are that the premise seems flimsy at best and the antagonists just don't seem threatening enough. 6/10
Hollow Man II (2006) - A Seattle detective and a biologist are on the run from a dangerous invisible assassin gone rogue.
The first Hollow Man was a great modern sci-fi/slasher flick with amazing effects, but this one is perhaps one of the cheapest unnecessary sequels ever. Absolutely no fun to be had here and only recommended for raging completists like myself. 5/10
10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) - After getting in a car accident, a woman is held in a shelter with two men, who claim the outside world is affected by a widespread chemical attack.
I'll conclude this round of reviews with the most recent horror release in theaters. The first Cloverfield was so terribly disappointing for me that I wasn't really gungho to see this (in-name-only?) sequel of sorts, but Shay recommended it to me so off I went to see it in theater. Off topic, but I was literally the ONLY one in the theater when I saw this... I went with no one and no one else was there to see the movie. First time that that's ever happened. Anyway, the movie on the whole works so much better as a thriller. I won't say that it was as good as the reviews are making it out to be, but it was a welcomed change from the disaster spectacle of the first one, and better yet, no unbelievable found footage. John Goodman was the star performer here, but even Mary Elizabeth Winstead who normally annoys me with her Mary-Sue like performances of horror past did a serviceable job as our distressed protagonist.
As for the ending... *spoilers below*
It seemed too ripped off from The Thing prequel, and I'm just not speaking of the fact that Winstead played both protagonists. I really didn't care much for it outside some of the creepiness the locale had to offer. They should've stuck with the thriller-mystery angle they were going for and left the monsters out of the formula. It just seemed tacked on to please the fans of the first film, which was disappointing because Goodman and his character deserved a worthy send off but he didn't get one.
Overall, this was a 7/10 and I suspect the IMDb rating will slowly descend to this in time. It had over 8.0 when I went to see it, but it's down to 7.8 now but it's hanging in there nonetheless. I don't think this is for fans of the first one, but it is for fans of thrillers/mysteries in general.
Messiah of Evil (1973) - A young woman goes searching for her missing artist father. Her journey takes her to a strange Californian seaside town governed by a mysterious undead cult.
This is a lesser-known gem from the early 70s, easily the best era of horror movies. I watched it on Amazon Prime with abysmal quality, but once the movie got going, it just oozed dread throughout. If I am remembering right, a girl's father goes missing, so she goes to his town where an evil force is overtaking the residents. The residents are almost like mindless zombies, but they aren't really? Whatever they were, they will hunt you down in a grocery store or at the movies and the result is always the same: Death. I recall a scene where our protagonist sees shadows of the deranged townsfolk in the skylights of her father's home and the entire imagery of said scene was so incredibly nightmarish. The theme song to this was also pretty haunting stuff, as well. I intend to shell out for the BluRay of this eventually - the quality is so much better from the images that I've seen. Highly recommend to those who appreciate the older stuff. 7/10
Eyes of a Stranger (1981) - A reporter suspects a creepy neighbor, who lives in the high-rise building across from hers, is a serial killer terrorizing the Miami area.
A thriller-turned-slasher from the golden age. If I am understanding this right, I guess this was originally penned as a thriller, but due to the success of Friday the 13th, this one was reworked to incorporate elements of the slasher subgenre...? Despite its glaring shortcomings (mostly wasting a young Jennifer Jason Leigh until it was time for her to fulfill her final girl duties), the story works very well and was interesting. We weren't conditioned to really care about any of the victims sadly, but I found that shower scene so effective. I can see why this is easily forgotten amongst its slasher brothers/sisters, but the story is unique enough from its siblings to warrant a watch. 6/10
Dark Skies (2013) - As the Barret family's peaceful suburban life is rocked by an escalating series of disturbing events, they come to learn that a terrifying and deadly force is after them.
This one has sat on my watchlist since I first got Netflix, which was about two years ago. Sometimes when I sit down to watch a Netflix movie though, I have "spring cleaning" in mind and that's what this view was... I was merely getting it off my watch list. As much as love aggressive extraterrestrials that will outright kills you like the xenomorphs, the blob, or the predators, I just cannot get into these kind of gray aliens that will abduct you and are impossible to escape. The movie does try to educate you on certain types of alien abductions, but I am never left with a feeling of satisfaction once these types of abduction movies conclude. It was nice to see Keri Russell again (you know, the 90s beauty who played the titular Felicity on the WB show - she's why I wanted to see this really), but you get from this movie exactly what you expect to get from any alien-abduction flick. Meh.
The Woman (2011) - When a successful country lawyer captures and attempts to "civilize" the last remaining member of a violent clan that has roamed the Northeast coast for decades, he puts the lives of his family in jeopardy.
Yes, I finally watched it. I didn't even know that it was a straight-up sequel to the mean-spirited Offspring from two years prior until shortly before I watched it. While Offspring felt cheap at times, this one was very well made for the most part though there are still disturbing elements peppered throughout that harken back to the original. Aside from some of its odd kookiness (what the hell was up with the soundtrack of this movie?), this movie had superb acting from its principle cast. Pollyanna McIntosh never fails to impress, but the actors playing the family also did a stellar job as well. It wasn't perfect though... my two biggest complaints are that the actress playing the concerned teacher seemed a bit miscast and there was a plot element at the end (the feral girl who killed said teacher) that didn't seem well explained at all. It was still a twisted tale of female empowerment that can only be recommended to people who like movies like I Spit On Your Grave, which also paints men as evil perverts and females as revenge-driven psychopaths.
Bait (2012) - A freak tsunami traps shoppers at a coastal Australian supermarket inside the building - along with 12-foot Great White Sharks.
I also watched this one as well, Neil. From what I had read, this was definitely a B-movie so I went into it with that frame of mind. The CGI was downright laughable at the start, but luckily it never looks that fake again for the rest of the movie. Sharni Vinson drew me to this movie, but she's sadly kind of wasted in this film, merely acting only as the hero's arm candy. Xavier Samuel is rather cute and puts on his best Chief Brody performance and Julian McMahon was actually halfway likeable in this movie. Overall, this was pretty clichÃ©d even for B-movie standards, but there's no real harm in watching it so long as you don't expect anything original to come from it.
hostel 2 disturbed me with the whole bathtub scene.
Christina's House (2000) - The teenager Christina, her younger brother Bobby, and their father James Tarling moves to a rented house in a small town in Washington to be close to Christina's mother Joanne, who is interned in an asylum. The house is being repaired by Howie Rhodes and Christina has a boy friend, the bad boy Eddy Duncan. While in the house, Christina hears noises and has a permanent feeling that another person lives there...
Poor Christina... she has a creepy dad who comes onto her, her mother's bananas, her brother torments her, her friends are dropping like flies, and her boyfriend wants to go all the way. What's a virgin to do? I very much doubt anyone else really knows about this weird drama/slasher/thriller from 2000, but if you do know it, I'd be very impressed. I actually first caught this on Lifetime Movie Network in the early 2000s and always really enjoyed watching it when it was on. Despite it's silliness in structure (and lack of imagination with kills), this movie is chock full of good moments. I decided to actually buy the film upon seeing it for cheap on Amazon, and wow... Allison Lange actually got naked for this???! I never knew that. Since this was my first time seeing it on video rather than TV, seeing nipslips and more "gory-fied" scenes was a complete shock to me on this viewing. Brendan Fehr and Brad Rowe also bring a great edge to their characters, as well. As long as you don't expect anything too much, this can be a pretty fun little flick... creepy but harmless. 7/10 easily.
Scarecrows (1988) - [/I]Criminals hijack a plane and force the pilot and his daughter to land in Mexico. When they land the plane, they find themselves in a cemetery full of evil scarecrows.[/I]
I truly loved this movie when I first saw it, and upon finding the DVD for a relatively cheap price on Amazon, I bought it and rewatched it. It was just as good on the second view. One thing that always befalls most slashers in the genre is that it's the usual group of dumbass teens getting their asses into trouble. I find that even when a movie changes it up and makes the group of teens a group of, say, military bank robbers, the movie is already infinitely better already because you don't have to deal with the typical *beep* teen behavior. That aside, the scarecrows are so eerie in this one; not only will they manipulate you and get inside your head, but they will dismember you ever-so-violently, stuff your body with straw and money, and use your parts for their own. Killer scarecrows sound cheesy as all hell on paper, but it never even borders a cheesy level for a second.... the costumes were that well done. I honestly can't speak enough good about this one, really... for what it was, it's a well-produced horror film that deserves to be considered a classic. It's definitely a step above most slasher films in both atmosphere and characters, anyway. Highly recommended. 8/10
Night Warning (1982) - An orphaned teenager finds himself being dominated by his aunt who's hell-bent on keeping him with her...at all costs.
Obscure movie of the day. I had to watch a crappy copy of it on YouTube, because it was literally no where to be found on Amazon or Netflix... I sure in hell wasn't about to pay $40-some-odd bucks for the obscure DVD, amusingly titled 'Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker'. Some classify it as a slasher given it's release during the craze back in the 80's, but I'd probably say it was more a thriller with slasher elements, much in the same line as 'Eyes of a Stranger' and 'He Knows You're Alone'. There's a lot of weird creepy incestual subtext and, beware, homophobia to be found in this one, but times were different so its important to keep it in context. I think its overall message about homosexuality is a positive one nonetheless, and the crazy killer (read the sypnosis) in this one is one for the books. I kind of wish it would've been more of a mystery but it seriously isn't hidden that the aunt was trouble. She seemed so sweet at the start, but her character transformation from the start to finish of the movie was astonishing. I enjoyed this well enough and hope that it gets a proper - and more affordable - release someday because I'd love to see this one all cleaned up. 7/10
Without Warning (1980) - An alien creature stalks human prey.
I saw this on YouTube as well, in all its blu-ray glory. So, if you want a good solid early 80's monster flick, watch it now before it disappears because it'll be tough (or expensive) to find otherwise. Not to mention that YouTube does take stuff down eventually so might as well catch it now when it's free. Anyway, I really enjoyed this one as well... maybe I'm just really easy to please, or just really enjoy these 80's horror movies. I admit that the movie definitely comes with its fair share of cheese, but if you accept that and roll with it, there's a few creepy scenes in this, a few being rather reminiscent of John Carpenter's 'The Fog' but with an Alien as opposed to Ghosts. The final girl of this movie is also so vastly underrated... the movie doesn't take on too much of a slasher tone sadly, but you know that she's the one to root for from the getgo and she makes a likeable heroine of the story. The film sadly doesn't show some of the death scenes which is rather curious, but I think it was well-established from the first few how the Alien kills people so might as well save the time. Maybe I'm just grateful that the Alien kills people instead of simply abducting them like what happens in 90% of other extraterrestrial films. Despite it's glaring shortcomings, I'd give this one a 7/10 though I might be being a tad bit too generous. Oh well, I still would recommend this to anybody who likes strange, sometimes campy, but no-doubt atmospheric horrors of the time period, like 'The Fog'.