Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015) - Three scouts, on the eve of their last camp-out, discover the true meaning of friendship when they attempt to save their town from a zombie outbreak.
It seems like it's been a trend to make horror cute lately. First, we had The Final Girls making a slasher film touching with its mother/daughter reunion. Then, there was "Freaks of Nature" putting humans, zombies, vampires, and werewolves in the same society and seeing a group of freaks do battle with aliens. This time, we see a bunch of boy scouts along with a hot stripper ("cocktail waitress", or so she claims) warding off zombies. If you liked either of the previous two movies mentioned, then there's really no reason for you to not enjoy this as well. You pretty much just have to have fun with this one and not think too hard, because some elements of the plot require serious suspension of disbelief, but I probably loved this one the most of the three movies mentioned here. 8/10
In Fear (2013) - Driving to a music festival in Ireland, a new couple become lost and are then set upon by a tormentor with an unknown motive.
A little bit of late spring cleaning, I admit. I put this one off for the longest time because its synopsis just seemed a bit too familiar for even my tastes. When I first started the movie, I had to admit that I was kind of hooked when our young buck and his female companion got lost. Spare in mind that these two are not really a couple... the boy clearly wants the girl, but the girl seems to just be going with him because she's bored with life and there's probably a lack of other viable date options available. Still, when they got lost, the atmosphere was potent and there was considerable dread but you had no idea what trouble these would get into. You knew that something was going to happen to them, but the movie doesn't reveal what exactly right away until they get lost. At first it was almost seemed like a "Dead End" deal: These two find themselves trapped in some backroad maze, try to follow the signs to their hotel, but the signs just take them back to the same creepy cabin that has a "KEEP OUT" posted on the front gate. When they introduce the tormentor (as stated in the synopsis), the movie starts to kind of fall apart. By the end, the movie just falls completely flat, which was my fear from the start so I wasn't too disappointed. Still, ominous atmosphere to start out with prevents me from being too harsh on the movie, but this was nothing more than a one-time watch for me. 5/10
Dead & Buried (1981) - A suspense horror film set in a small coastal town where, after a series of gory murders commited by mobs of townspeople against visiting tourists, the corpses begin to come back to life.
This was an interesting movie, to say the least. For perhaps the first half hour, I was so confused about what was even going on as we follow our protagonist as he lives his life as a sheriff of a quiet town. You'd almost border on calling it boring until the opening victim (a photographer who was burned alive by townsfolk) shows up out of a blue as a new gas-station attendant. It's at that point that you realize that something incredibly weird - possibly supernatural? - was going down in this quaint little community. You see a few more stalking scenes of poor innocent passerbys' getting slaughtered only to show up as new citizens of the town. I really can't ruin the mystery for you guys, but I think the slower-pace of this movie is worth it in the end. A last-minute twist sort of throws things out of whack for me; I didn't see it coming really, but part of me wonders if it was just tacked on as a closing shock to the audience. Future rewatches will probably answer that question. It's got that early 80s charm though, but there's probably a reason why this one doesn't get talked much as other gems from the time. 6/10
Stake Land (2010) - Martin was a normal teenage boy before the country collapsed in an empty pit of economic and political disaster. A vampire epidemic has swept across what is left of the nation's abandoned towns and cities, and it's up to Mister, a death dealing, rogue vampire hunter, to get Martin safely north to Canada, the continent's New Eden.
Alas, I didn't get "Near Dark" in the mail yet so I had to satiate my mood for a vampire flick with this movie, which was a really great movie in terms of characters. It's available on Netflix and I would probably say it's one of the better movies that the service provides. The movie places America in dystopia after a plague that turns people into vampires sweeps tha nature. I kind of compare it a lot to 30 Days of Nights, in that the vampires seem more monstrous. Unfortunately for this movie, the vampires act as mere zombies in a lot of ways so it felt like I was watching a typical zombie apocalypse type of movie. The true villain of the film, however, is the "Brotherhood" - a group of monk-like religious wackjobs who get off on taking over territory, murdering their rivals, raping the defenseless, and actually using vampires as weapons of destruction on whatever communities manage to thrive in an otherwise sucky society. The movie does a fine job of developing its characters and giving the picture a sense of heart, but the double-edge to that is that it puts you in a mood whenever a character you care about is killed off. While a lot of this movie is gorgeous to look at, a lot of this is a slow-moving affair as well. It was nice to see Danielle Harris in a serious role again and she didn't fail to impress, though her role wasn't all that huge. I have no problems recommending this movie, but just expect a slower pace and a somewhat moody ending that neither satisfies nor dissatisfies which is one of my least favorite types of endings to film. 8/10
Camino (2015) - In the jungles of Colombia, a photojournalist captures the truth behind a group of missionaries who may not be what they seem.
Okay, so this is a ZoÃ« Bell movie so you can best believe that some ass is going to be kicked here. She along with the rest of her friends DESTROYED Kurt Russell in "Death Proof" and she beat up the toughest of women in "Raze", but how does she fair in a jungle with a group of armed missionary soldiers after her? Well, first things first, I liked that this movie sort of made her more of an regular woman, if that makes any sense. She's not warrior ZoÃ«, but rather an average Jane who hates her job and suffered the loss of an estranged husband whose ghost visits her frequently so she's not entirely sane either. She gets sent on a mission trip to the torrential Colombian jungle with a group of soldiers, where she witnesses a murder of a young child that pits her in a battle of wits and brawn again these soldiers and drug dealers when they think she did it. I don't the plot is anything amazing, but if you like seeing a woman overcoming odds (which you know that I do), then this is the movie for you. She doesn't immediately come across as a sheer badass she's known for being in movies; she's just a horny, lonely middle-aged woman when we first meet her and she gets her own ass kicked considerably to start out with, but she comes to her own of course when pushed to brink and all she can do is fight to survive. The movie is a little bloody in places, but this is more of a survival thriller so don't watch this as a horror movie. Still, not bad for a Netflix find, but please don't ask me to explain the title because that sh!t was confusing as hell to me. 7/10
Fairlane Road (2016) - A troubled young man falls prey to sinister forces after he arrives in the desert to care for his dying uncle, while becoming ensnared in a decades old mystery. - Netflix
I decided to give this one a go since it was sitting on Netflix. While it was obviously made on the cheap, some of the desert shots were downright breathtaking. I like a lot of movies that take place in the desert just because of how harsh and unforgiving the desert is and how fitting it is for a horror movie to take place there. The creepy girl on the poster was perhaps the best part of this film, just because she was so creepy as she walked through the desert sand with her limp. Apparently, once she sees you, you're screwed so it's best to keep on driving by and try not to get her attention. I'm not sure, though... this movie was a hawt mess otherwise. Some of the interaction between our main dude and his uncle seemed relatively believable, but my god was his shrill mother (whom we only ever heard on the phone) one annoying piece of work. If I was her son, I would've hung up on her bitchy ass and gone to the wedding with my girlfriend, but I guess there wouldn't have been a movie if that had happened. There's a mystery to be uncovered here, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out and the end twist wasn't really mind-blowing either. While I appreciated the way that this was shot, the movie on the whole is weak and I can't in good conscience recommend it to anyone. 4/10
Some Kind of Hate (2015) - A bullied teenager is sent to a reform school where he accidentally summons the spirit of a girl, herself a victim of bullying, who takes vengeance on his tormentors. - Netflix
I mean, it was okay for the most part. I couldn't really buy into the fact that our hunky lead was the bullied victim, but I suspended my disbelief because he was pretty nice to look at throughout. Ronen Rubinstein is the star of this movie, btw... not Spencer Breslin as first-billing would have you believe. Anyway, our main guy sticks a fork in some jerkhole jock's face at the start and gets shipped off to a character-building camp, where a group of dumbasses decide to provoke the utinsel-grabber again for God knows what reason. Why do bullies ever bully? Unfortunately for this group of bullies, a ghost haunts the camp grounds with a vengeance and a score to settle, and she teams up with our main guy to exact cold, bloody revenge on all of them bastards (and then some). The vengeful ghost has an interesting M.O. - she inflicts harm on herself, and it affects her victim directly. So, she can slit her wrists and her victim will bleed out from slashed wrists. She's also kind of creepy, as well... though I wished that she was a tad bit more angry and a lot less "POOR POOR PITIFUL ME" in her method of torment. I mean, there's a line between being bitterly angry about being bullied and being damn whiny about it, and she crossed it big time. The movie had a decent idea for the most part, but it misses several beats. It's not quite a slasher though I loved the final girl in this one (who is a former bully but seemed genuinely remorseful of her past behavior... played very well by Grace Phipps), nor is it an effective supernatural/ghost movie since our entity shows up far too often and seems too human at times. It's just a gory mish-mash of a horror movie that doesn't really belong in any real subgenre. Still, there's far worse on Netflix... and I really did love Grace Phipps's character. 6/10
Absentia (2011) - A woman and her sister begin to link a mysterious tunnel to a series of disappearances, including that of her own husband. - Amazon Prime
I never try to blow smoke up people's asses when it comes to how effective some films are. I usually just try convey my feelings; you can either take them or leave them. I do like a lot of horror films, but that doesn't mean that I find any of them particularly scary. Even after the plenty that I have seen, credit must always be given to the occasional one that manages to leave me with even the tiniest bit of unease and makes me think long after the fact. While this one was frustrating in a few respects, the mystery underlying it was really quite an interesting one. Basically, a woman's husband goes missing for 7 years and she gets him declared legally dead (in absentia), only for him to return with a heavy dose of post-traumatic stress. It doesn't help that she's seeing a new guy and is pregnant with his child, and her sister (conveniently a recovering drug addict) is the only one willing to accept non-rational reasonings behind the disasppearance/reapparance. Basically, the creepy tunnel near the house is the focal point to the whole movie and you just know that nothing good comes from it. There's really good things about this and really poor things. One hand, the film has the creepy factor going for it and the underlying mystery is intriguing. On the other hand, it leaves you a bit wanting and you can be left rather frustrated by the end due to unanswered questions. To give you an idea... this has the same director as Oculus so you can expect the ending to not completely deliver despite an intriguing movie up to that point. Yet, even I didn't care much for Oculus but found that this one has stuck with me due to my intrigue in the story and just how different it seemed compared to most other films I've seen. It's a slow movie that doesn't spoonfeed you much of anything, but it may just be a creepy watch late at night and for those individuals who like figuring things out for themselves. Frustrating, but highly recommended for any horror fan to see and judge for themselves. 6/10
Arachnophobia (1990) - A species of South American killer spider hitches a lift to the U.S. in a coffin and starts to breed and kill. - DVD
Reviewing this for Neil! As mentioned previously, I saw this for dirt cheap at the store one time and bought it, but it sat on my shelf literally for like 2 years until I watched it. Though my dad has been bit twice by a brown recluse which one would think would make me as his son extra cautious/scared of spiders (he was in the hospital for like weeks after his first bite), I just am not arachnophobic myself though my former roomate in college was terribly frightened so I know arachnophobia is very much real. I suspect the fear people have for spiders is similar to my irrational fear of bats, and some of you have heard my horrific experiences with a pesky bat on Skype. The movie develops its invasive-species backstory extremely well, showing the South American expedition where these deadly spiders were first discovered before moving the action to a quiet town in the USofA. Most movies would make these spiders the byproduct of nuclear waste dumping or alien activity, but this movie makes it clear that this is simply an aggressive species that simply found its way to small-town USA and it breeds with a normal spider which creates a lethal batch of soldier spiders. If these spiders aren't stopped, environmental catastophre will result. The film dabbles with a substory where a new doctor's patients are dropping dead from mysterious causes and the small-town's close-mindedness has them refusing to do full autopsies, instead relying on sketchy patient medical history to determine causes of death. This ignorance of science and the natural aversion to strangers leads to the good doctor being briefly called "Doctor Death" but alas, they didn't explore this intriguing side story that much when it became clear that spiders have been killing people. The special effects in this movie were phenomenally done, and none of the spiders even looked remotely fake. Add in a few gross sequences and a good family in peril, you have a pretty solid movie overall. While I wouldn't call the movie the most amazing thing that I've ever seen, I do appreciate a well-made effort that keeps me engaged from start to finish. I have no problems giving this one an 8/10.
The Conjuring 2 (2016) - Lorraine and Ed Warren travel to north London to help a single mother raising four children alone in a house plagued by a malicious spirit. - In Theaters
My co-worker has been talking about going to see this movie with me for like two or three months now. I absolutely adored the first 'Conjuring' movie and upon seeing its trailer, it was no doubt my most anticipated movie of 2013. However, when it comes to sequels, I just never get excited to see them since they rarely ever live up to the original. For the most part, it's true with 'Conjuring 2'. All the key characters are made likeable and there are some fine performances in this (particularly from Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga - both are absolutely wonderful in these roles). The story isn't anything original, but they do avert some of the more normal (frustrating) cliches that affect most supernatural horrors. The mother was only allowed to tell her tormented daughter that she was dreaming once before she saw a dresser fly across the room, and there was no father present to staunchly proclaim that there is no such thing as ghosts. There was a skeptic woman (whom my friend hilariously referred to as a "bag") that tried to act like the family was making it all up for publicity, but at least the family was unifed in its fear which is what both 'Conjuring' films achieve very well as opposed to other supernatural horrors. A creepy nun is the centerpiece and some of the sequences involving her were pretty well done. I jerked at a few jump scares, but maybe my seeing it in theaters helped get me more into the movie.
My main gripe with this one is that it was about a half-hour longer than it had any right being, clocking in at about two hours and 14 minutes when the first one made its point in less than 2 hours. At the risk of sounding like a negative Drew, this sequel honestly felt like the first 'Conjuring' with a whole lotta excess fat. I know sequences involving Patrick Wilson singing Elvis to the tormented children is supposed to show that Ed is a good guy and give the movie heart, but we already know that Ed is a good guy from the first one so was it necessary really? It's just stuff like that that sort of bogs down a movie for me... some like seeing good-hearted stuff like that intermixed with their horrors. Others, like myself, just like to-the-point horror movies that leave the good-hearted, feel-good stuff to Hallmark. I may need to rewatch the original as well, but it seems like the first one really worked better with its utilizing a less-is-more approach - sure, we didn't see the apparitions as much, but when we did, we were terrified beyond belief. And that worked very well because there were a few scenes without seeing ghosts that were downright creepy/scary. In this sequel though, it relished in showing its ghosts left and right and I think that's the problem when a series achieves a larger budget. But, yeah, maybe I'm just being overly critical on a movie that's being given crticial acclaim, but I would still rewatch the first one before this one any day. Still a great sequel, though. Check it out in theaters, if you haven't already. 8/10
Otherwise, I might buy it in a combo pack with another called Schizoid (1980) which I have never seen.
Another 80's movie that I plan to watch very soon is Slaughterhouse (1987). I was very impressed with 1988's American Gothic btw.
Bloody Birthday, on the other hand, was excellent. The main girl in that is probably one of my favorite heroines from those early 80s movies, in fact. She's another one of those final girls from that crop that never gets credit, granted she was up against evil children rather than a machete-wielding maniac. Still, those kids were pure evil and there were three of them, so she had her hands full.