Posts Tagged ‘Horror’

Horror

July 10, 2017

Horror slid the blade out of the last vampire and whipped the blood from it. He slipped the hood back over his head and looked around at his comrades. They were all looking at him and he hated it. He felt his face get hot and he turned away. He felt a hand on his shoulder and he shook it off. The hand returned and he turned and found he was face to face with Mercy. The anger died in his eyes and he took a deep breath. Mercy was the only one around who could possibly understand what he was going through. She had been like a sister to him. For all he knew, they probably were brother and sister.

The two of them had been left as orphans on the doorstep of the village guardhouse. This would have probably led to a normal adoption, perhaps by a member of the local guard or a farmer or something. However, there was a problem. The two were tieflings and their demonic appearance had frightened the villagers. Horns and red-tinged skin were clear signs that somewhere along the line their relatives had consorted with Asmodeus. Horror had heard that a local cleric had even called for the two babies to be drowned in a bucket full of holy water. There had been widespread support for that plan. However, luckily a passing stranger had an alternative plan that saved the lives of Horror and Mercy.

The stranger had been an old knight, sworn to hunt the darker monsters of the world. He whisked the babies away to his stronghold where he spent his time while waiting for quests. He declared that they would be trained by his people to aid in the hunt of monsters. While many would think they qualified as monsters, they would do penance for their bloodline by hunting fellow monsters. Horror had embraced what they called him. He declared himself a horror to monsters and anybody who do evil to man. Mercy pitied the monsters and felt that their death was a mercy. Neither of them was allowed beyond the gates of the compound without a target.

“How soon do we saddle up to return?” Horror asked. Their ‘father’ would be waiting for a report.

“Soon, I think,” Mercy said. She was putting spent arrows back into her quiver to clean and re-fletch later. She was very conscientious that way. Seeing her taking such care compelled Horror to pull a cloth from his pocket and wipe off his sword. There was no need to bring vampire blood all the way home. “You don’t have to be so bitter about it.”

“I am tired of being caged up almost all of the time.” Horror said. “Every time we’re out here, I want to stay.”

“He keeps us for our own safety, Horror,” She said.

“Once upon a time it was for our safety,” Horror said. “I think we can handle ourselves now. We’re not children anymore. By blade and magic, I can defend myself.”

“We have a duty to remove threats from the world,” Mercy said. “We have a duty to end the shadows that hound the citizenry.”

“I can do that out there just as well as in a cage,” he said.

“There is no way they will let you just walk away,” she said. “Be content.”

“I feel like a falcon with a hood,” he said. “Every time I see the light, it is to kill whatever I’m told. We never even get to meet the people we are defending.”

“I don’t think they want to meet us,” she said. “We’re better off where we are.”

“You keep saying we,” he said.

“So do you,” she said. “We have been a ‘we’ since we were babies.”

“Since we are divided on the matter,” he said. “Perhaps it is about time we stopped being a ‘we’ so that we can become an I.”

“Two eyes are better than one,” she said with a smile.

“Don’t be cute,” he said and smiled despite the argument.

“I couldn’t if I tried,” she said.

“That is intolerance talking,” he said. “They can’t all be like that.”

“I would like to think that as well,” she said.

Jacques Ironclad walked into the courtyard at that moment, his great axe across his broad back. He looked like he had seen a thousand battles but maybe it had been more than that. He was a battle-hardened hunter who had been appointed the keeper of Horror and Mercy. He was the falconer to the two deadly falcons. Needless to say, he and Horror did not get along.

“Time to get back in the cart, you two,” he said. “We want to give the all clear to the villagers.”

“We were just cleaning up,” Horror said.

“No backtalk, please,” Jacques said. “Get in the cart.”

“No backtalk, huh?” Horror said. “We just vanquished a whole nest of vampires. The least they could do is thank us before they start to throw rocks.”

“Horror,” Mercy interjected. “Please don’t.”

Jacques did not argue.  Instead, he just swung a fist at Horror but this was merely sidestepped. Jacques used the momentum to quickly follow the right with a charging left. Horror caught that with a smile and raised his own fist to strike but Mercy caught his wrist. The momentary distraction allowed Jacques to rock him with another right to the jaw. When the world stopped shaking, Horror found himself on his hands and feet.

“Stop!” Mercy cried out. “He’ll come along quietly.”

“He had better,” Jacques said and stood by. The two tieflings walked toward the cart and climbed inside. Horror’s eyes burned with anger as Jacques closed and locked the door. Somewhere, a bell rang to signal the villagers that they could come back out.

The cart rattled on, back toward the compound. When it arrived, Jacques yanked open the door, ready to bring the tieflings to their master for praise or discipline. Instead, he found only Mercy who gave a little shrug and pointed to a hole that had been burned into the floor of the cart. Horror was nowhere to be seen.

 

Halloween 2016 Wrap-Up

November 5, 2016

wrapup-2016

I was feeling some post-Halloween blues so I thought I would write a wrap up past so I can put this year’s Halloween in the grave. I liked the crop of movies that I picked this year. My only problem is that there are so many movies to choose from and availability limits what I watch. This blog is a labor of love for me and believe me when I say I love doing it. I picked the best of the movies that I could get cheaply. I do not regret watching a single movie on the list below because all of them were what Halloween is about. Below, I have written each movie and my final star rating for each movie along with a rating so the squeamish are warned.

Every year has some standouts and surprises. The surprises would probably be Deathgasm and Stitches. I had no idea that either was a foreign film and that infused each with a different energy than I expected. Deathgasm is totally metal and was a lot of crazy fun. Stitches was kind of a weird punk rock version of Nightmare on Elm Street with a bit of Krampus thrown in. Krampus was also great and probably had the best art direction this year. Foreign films dominated this year and I love that because I have really started expanding my selection by working on this blog. I tend to prefer horror movies with comedy mixed in and I love the arc of the month from PG to R. The month just got darker as it continued but still remained fun.

Incidentally, while most of the movie is kind of boring, I was definitely chilled to the bone by the ending of The Houses That October Built. It was that hopeless ending filled with nothing but despair and hoping for a mid-credits scene showing it was all a joke. Two days later, my brother called me and asked if I wanted to go to a haunted house that night. Instantly, the plot of the movie flashed through my mind and I said no. Later, I felt a little silly so I said yes and it was on. I was scared as Hell but my brother and I resolved to go ahead with it. We visited Nevermore Haunt in the heart of Baltimore City and experienced a really fun but frightening haunted house. I still feel inspired from that brief bolt through a once-abandoned warehouse. I want to design my own haunt and I may do so here in this blog where I share mostly everything.

Anyway, without further ado, here are the main posts for Halloween including my original stories. It is followed by this year’s Halloween benediction. However, in my world, Halloween never dies so be prepared for other stuff to pop up throughout the year.

Invaders from Mars (1986)
3/5 Stars – Rated PG

Goosebumps (2015)
3/5 Stars – Rated PG

Deathgasm (2015)
5/5 Stars – Not Rated

The Raven (1963)
4/5 Stars – Rated G

Re-Animator (1985)
4/5 Stars – Rated R

Krampus (2015)
5/5 Stars – Rated PG-13

Horror Express (1972)
4/5 Stars – Rated R

Stitches (2012)
5/5 Stars – Rated R

Bad Taste (1987)
4/5 Stars – Unrated

The Host (2006)
5/5 Stars – Rated R

Mother’s Day (1980)
3/5 Stars – Rated R

The Houses October Built (2014)
2/5 Stars – Unrated

Phantasm Ravager (2016)
4/5 Stars – Unrated

Night Watch (2004)
4/5 Stars – Rated R

The Hunger (1983)
3/5 Stars – Rated R

Fright Night 2 (1988)
3/5 Stars – Rated R

Stories:
Wicked Journals 1 
Wicked Journals 2
Wicked Journals 3 
Wicked Journals 4

Awakening in Neptune 
Root of all Darkness

Top 11 Horror Villains

 

The Hunger (1983)

October 31, 2016

We lost David Bowie this year. Bowie was a magical, mystical being of light, shadow and music even without being on film. Putting him in movies as a natural move that, among other things, gave us the Goblin King who was the anti-hero of The Labyrinth. He released an album the day after he died. He was obviously a well-loved demigod and, like many other people, I wanted to pay tribute to him. Now, when the wound is no longer fresh, I wanted to watch one of his most famous horror roles. I think we all kind of thought that David Bowie was an immortal beauty anyway. Besides, this is another movie that it is probably hard to believe I have not seen. The Hunger is a cult film although some of its stars are not too keen on it. Even David Bowie loves it but thinks it might be too bloody.

David Bowie’s contemporary and collaborator Freddie Mercury once sang “Who wants to live forever?” Of course, most of us would raise our hand before we hear the rest of the deal out. Eternal life is attractive when we all fear death but there is no such thing as a free lunch. Vampirism often comes with a dramatic loss of quality of life. When you have to hunt for sentient beings in order to obtain your next meal, your social standing and sanity come into question. There is also a burden of secrecy along with that eternal life. Also, there is no promise of a good and happy eternal life. It is definitely a deal that would give me pause but it is hard to accept.

This movie was immediately more punk rock and new wave than pretty much anything I reviewed this month. I mean we start with the song “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” as sung by Bauhaus in the middle of a club atmosphere. There are plenty of sunglasses and spiky hair and I dig it. This is a sexier vampire movie but is way trippier than most stuff I have seen. The beginning felt kind of like a music video but it definitely set the tone for what I was about to see. There are a lot of fast edits and artsy shots used in the film that ends up being very disorienting which is not a bad thing for a horror film. They definitely knew how to set a tone in this movie. I guess if I had to apply a label to this movie it would probably be New Wave Goth.

Bowie is on point in this movie. He is great as a brooding vampire which is not far from what we all thought he might be. Bowie is just an impossibly charming performer who had an iconic look and it is impossible to look at anybody else when he is on the screen. Catherine Deneuve plays Bowie’s vampire paramour but she is actually more of a main character than he is. She is stunningly beautiful and she has such an alluring voice to go with some amazing eyes. I certainly believed that she was a powerful, ageless vampire. They both also really successfully portray how bored vampires must be after centuries of life. Susan Sarandon plays a human doctor who gets wrapped up in a relationship with both vampires. She plays her part straight and is actually the most fascinating character to me because she is the outsider among outsiders.

Overall this is a really weird vampire movie. Most vampire movies follow a victim trying to protect themselves from a vampire attack but this movie is different. This follows the lives of the vampires just as much and maybe more than the humans. It is definitely intended as a more erotic film but most of that is more implied than explicitly shown. The camera lovingly lingers on details in a very beautiful yet creepy way. The makeup effects are very well done and they use a very Jaws method of hiding the monster when it comes to vampires in this movie. I also have to applaud the LGBTQ and addiction issues brought up in the movie as well. It is definitely something different from a lot of what I watch but I still recommend it because it is so different.

Night Watch (2004)

October 31, 2016

The Other can be a frightening concept. As I have discussed before, The Other is anything that is not us. In this movie, “The Other” is anything beyond our normal natural world. This is even more frightening because it comes from a world of secrets and the unknown. Generally, ignorance breeds fear and fear breeds violence and hate. Not knowing what was out in the darkness and why bad things happened gave birth to folktales and religion. Both have their bogeymen who we are told we should fear and perform rituals to protect ourselves from what goes bump in the night. We also are told often to embrace a duality and are told that picking a side will protect us and empower us. However, in the old tales often neither side was really the good guys. If you look at most material covering faeries, both courts are to be marveled at but also feared. Looking at things as Light and Dark without seeing the Gray is dangerous. However, the great thing about fiction is that they can often simplify things so that evil is evil and good is good.

I have been thinking about what makes a monster in these tales of supernatural horror. Do we do bad things because we are a monster or are we a monster because we do bad things? Freddy Krueger was a horrible human being even before he became a dream demon. However, in the Buffyverse, the very act of becoming a vampire removes the soul and usually turns a person evil. Our justice system says that we are innocent until proven guilty. Religion says that it is our actions that define us and not our thoughts. So if you are a vampire who refuses to feed on humans, are you a monster? I think not. However, just watching and experiencing the misdeeds of others can be enough to darken the soul. Police officers and military are often as irreparably changed as gang members and other violent criminals. Hunting vampires can be almost as troubling as being one.

We have yet another foreign horror movie which makes it the sixth of sixteen reviews this year. This one is Russian and might just be the first pure Russian movie I have watched outside of a certain Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode. Yet again, this means that I have no preconceived notions about any of the actors in this movie. The movie stars Konstantin Khabensky as Anton, a man who basically tracks monster criminals on behalf of the Light side. I like how Anton is not perfect and his journey on behalf of the Light is plagued by the temptation of evil. He is a great example of the reluctant hero. I like to think that even when pressed, we are all the reluctant hero. Nobody gets supernatural abilities and suddenly leaps up excited to risk their life. Anton and everybody he meets is  hardened by life outside the norm where things are more dangerous.

I really liked the visuals in this movie. Everything is bleak from the very beginning of the movie. The world is full of shadows and muted colors and light is almost a godsend. Even in sunlight, everything is just dark and dangerous looking. It makes light and splashes of color a very welcome contrast. I really love the digital effects of the supernatural world. I especially loved how various vampiric powers and abilities are depicted. For example, vampiric vision makes everything but the veins of a human body invisible, making it easier to feed. There is also some great drawn animation which makes some of the exposition easier to get through. The editing is smooth and keeps the movie clipping along at a pretty good pace. The action is easy to understand and the subtitles made the Russian language clear.

Overall this is a pretty good horror adventure movie. The depiction of the supernatural world just beyond our natural one is one of the most interesting examples I have seen in pop culture. The movie was the top grossing film in Russian history when it was released but the record has since been topped. It is also one of the first Russian blockbusters after the fall of Soviet cinema and is therefore automatically a success. The movie has some great ideas but I would say its only sin is that it is too long. It incorporates two plots that do not ever fully connect. However, I feel like the world building and character work mostly make up for this. I would recommend watching this movie because it is so different in how it depicts the creepier side of things.

The Houses October Built (2014)

October 26, 2016

I picked this movie at random from the Netflix library which is a tactic that has worked before. That tactic makes it so I have little idea what to expect. This movie is produced by Zack Andrews and Steven Schneider who produced Paranormal Activity, The Devil Inside and The Visit. It should not be a surprise that this film is a found footage movie. I am not a fan of found footage movies which is most often used in the horror genre. You may have noticed that I have not talked much about found footage on this blog before and that is because I usually do not seek them out. Still, I know that the sub-genre is successful so I did not want to dismiss it outright. Found footage (in a first-person viewpoint) works in horror movies much like a haunted house works. Your viewpoint is guided toward specific scares as things jump into your field of vision. It can also be very frightening to feel like you are in the action but cannot control yourself.

I have been fascinated with haunted houses since I first went through one. The first haunted house I ever went through was set up at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Roland Park in Baltimore. There were shadows, dry ice, strobe lights and a ton of jump scares that made me pray for the exit. It would probably seem kind of tame now but it rattled me hard while I was still in elementary school. That seed of interest was planted but it would not really grow until I was a bit braver. My interest in haunted houses mirrored my interest in live theater and theme park attractions. All three of those things are about establishing a story and a mood. You are basically crafting and controlling somebody’s experience without literally pushing them along. I love looking at the costumes and reading narratives from haunted houses and especially the ones that are too far for me to visit. I also love to see how the effects are done.

We start with a lot of probably real interviews and promotional footage concerning fans of haunted houses and workers at haunted houses. These are intercut through a lot of the movie. People get to explain in their own words why they love haunted houses and Halloween in general. It is edited together in a half documentary, half stock footage kind of way. I can definitely agree with this, setting up the premise of the movie. This movie is about how the love of a good scare can go wrong. We never tire of hearing those kinds of stories of people who found the limit of what they love and things go badly. The interviews and news stories do a good job of setting up a foreboding mood. I am not sure how much of it was real and how much of it was produced but it does a good job. The segment also introduces us to what we will be getting for the rest of the movie with the digital effects. There is static, focusing and color adjustment effects applied to the film to mimic what you might see with a camcorder. It is a little bit hokey but it does kind of jangle at my nerves and makes me a little more susceptible to scares.

I did not recognize anyone from the cast in this movie which, as I have stated before, can definitely be a good thing. I could definitely tell that these people are friends even if they are a little bit too bro-esque for my tastes. The acting is pretty good as they are going for realistic reactions and a lot of the time I think the actors had no idea what was going to happen next. Unlike a lot of horror movies that I have seen, there is little internal logic that governs what the scares will be. I guess that makes the movie built like a haunted house in that they try to frighten and surprise you just as much as actually scare you. I am going to do another clown warning here, by the way. I cannot escape clowns this Halloween and I think I might just have to hit the clown stuff even harder next year. It creeps me out. There is a lot of variety in this movie and while it is kind of cheesy in places, that is kind of what good horror movies are about.

Overall, this was a surprisingly good horror movie. The pacing was a bit off but I chalk that up to it being a found footage movie. At least they made a good enough excuse for all of the cameras being present at every moment and did not do another Skype horror movie. This is very close to an actual documentary on haunted houses and that part was really great. The movie kind of just grinds on and on and I wish it would have been paced better. It could not have been much shorter without classifying it as a short film. When the action is rolling, the movie is great but there is a lot of messing around. It is a creepy kind of a jumble sort of like House of a Thousand Corpses but not bad like that movie is. I guess I would recommend it but it would be best put on in the background of a good Halloween party.

Wicked Journals 4

October 25, 2016

wicked-journals

“Where are you going?” Molly asked. She acted as if she did not already know. It was an insult to both of us. It was obvious that I was packing up my tiny university bedroom.

“I am leaving and I’m never coming back,” I replied.

“I am surprised at you, Caleb,” She said. Her disapproving look gave me a moment’s hesitation but I pressed on. She had that effect on me.

“Frankly, I am surprised at you, Molly. Those things we saw were horrible. They were almost beyond belief. I have to leave. I cannot understand why you are staying,” I said. I closed another suitcase full of my possessions.

“Caleb, we saw things few have ever laid their eyes on. I agree that they were terrible but the next find could be fantastic. There is still so much we can learn,” She said.

“Or it could be worse. I cannot take that chance, Molly. We should not take that chance. Nobody should take that chance. Maybe the past is meant to stay buried,” I said. I knew it could be considered an insult to the field of archaeology but it was how I felt.

“We were a team, Caleb. We promised to be there for each other,” She said.

“I remember. That promise was genuine. I still feel the same as I did then but I simply cannot continue. I will not continue, Molly,” I replied.

“I cannot make you stay here. That is still not within my power to do that.” She paused as we both took in what she meant.

“I know. But I still must go. And soon.”

“I guess so.”

*               *              *

I had expected the stone door to shut behind me but it remained open. I am not sure if I liked that idea worse or better than the thought of those things from town following me inside. There was a torch already lit near the door which immediately felt welcoming. I am sure this was not meant to terrify me but it did. How had anyone known that I would get in the door soon enough that the torch would not go out?  How long had it hung on the wall while lit? It raised too many questions that I did not know the answers to.

I walked down a winding path in a tunnel carved out of the rock of the hill. The air was still horrible but I had slowly adapted to it. I hoped I was not breathing in anything dangerous. The tunnel went on forever or close to it but I kept walking. I had already walked for miles during the morning and now my feet began to throb with pain. But still, Molly Price must be just ahead and in need of rescue. I carried on.

What felt like miles later, I looked at the walls of the tunnel and I had to stop for a moment. There were those alien symbols again and they were glowing, reflecting the torchlight as if they were wet. My hand itched, wanting to reach out and touch the symbols but I stopped and pulled back at the last moment. I did not need to know. I needed to carry on.

The tunnel suddenly opened up into a larger chamber. I say suddenly because it had looked like the tunnel would extend another couple of miles. I noticed that there was no sound in the chamber except the sound of my breathing. The air was still and the chamber was far too quiet. Then there was a sort scuttling noise from the ceiling to my right and then to my left and then ahead and behind. I had heard nothing like it before in my life.

“Hello?” I called out. “Is anybody here?”

There was no answer but the scuttling sounds stopped as if they were waiting. I walked further into the chamber and the torch lit up more of it but not the high ceilings. I tore my eyes from that direction and tried to look around. There was a large throne made of what looked like marble with blood red veins in it. There was a female sitting very still on the throne and I hurried forward. It was her but strangely she was still heavily in shadow no matter how close I brought the torch. Her eyes suddenly opened.

“Caleb Newsom, it has been a long time. Ages, I think.” She said.

“If ages are years,” I said. “I missed you. Are you alright? I got your journal, I was afraid something happened to you.” There was urgency in my voice and I realized there was none in hers.

“I have discovered a lot, Caleb. So much I wanted to show you,” Molly said. Except for her eyes and mouth, no part of her had moved yet.

“Molly, something is wrong. You have to tell me,” I said.

Molly turned her head to look at me. The shadows still clung to her as if they were physical attributes. She stood ever so slowly and stepped toward me, I stepped backward. I was nervous. The shadows fell away from her as if she had decided to let the light touch her. I gasped. Parts of her face and her body had been replaced with something I cannot begin to describe. It was monstrous, yet beautiful.

“I was a fool back in school. I thought I could only have a career. Now I realize I can have both the knowledge of the ancients and a man I love.” Her eyelids flicked closed and open again like a scarab’s wings.

“That’s not what I want anymore. Definitely not like this, Molly,” I said. I tried to back away but I heard the scuttling again very close behind me. They were closing in.

“I have so many things to show you,” She said. She smiled and kept advancing.

I hope that nobody ever finds this journal or Molly’s journal. I hope the lilies grow and grow and cover the entrance to this place. I hold out hope for the world.

Mother’s Day (1980)

October 24, 2016

I love my mother. I have been on record stating that before and I do not think is a very controversial statement. I think most people love their mother even if they do not actually like their mother as well. I not only like and love my mother but I trust her. Thankfully, she never abused that trust as I grew up and never told me to do things that I should not. However, there are plenty of people who grow up without learning right from wrong. Their parents, if they were present, plant hate in their hearts instead of love and they grow up trusting that hate more than human kindness. If they were born with empathy, it can be dulled by being taught that only your family’s feelings matter. I have met these people who feel they are right no matter what and even if they were wrong, they still would hurt people. This is a scary notion to think that just down the block or even over your neighbor’s fence, there are people who just do not care. The worst thing is, you cannot spot these people by sight alone.

This movie is written and directed by Charles Kaufman but it is not the Charles Kaufman who wrote Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Adaptation. Instead, this Kaufman is the brother of Lloyd Kaufman who founded Troma Entertainment. You might remember Troma from the Toxic Avenger movies and Cannibal: The Musical. If you are familiar, you know that Troma is one of the most tasteless yet strangely popular film studios in history. Today’s selection is an exploitation film. This means that the violence and gore are usually increased a lot. This movie also has quite a bit of rape in it. Obviously, rape is an unforgivable act and the people who commit it in the movie are evil. They also kill a lot of people. I thought long and hard about including this review but I decided that if I can watch Law and Order: SVU, I can watch this. If you want to refrain from watching this movie or reading this review you would be in good company. Roger Ebert gave this movie zero stars.

As the IMDB description says, this movie is about an elderly mother who raises her two sons to kill. The movie is set at the dawn of the eighties when disco was dying buy cocaine was still on the rise. Thankfully we get a rest from teenagers and college kids as the usual targets of horror movies, especially in the Eighties. Instead, the killers are after women who are at least in their late twenties if not mid-thirties. It also takes place in one of the nicer areas of New Jersey although they definitely make sure to highlight a lot of the crummy parts. They use a lot of fictional place names but some of the areas are definitely familiar or similar enough to the area I lived out in the middle of nowhere in Jersey. The main characters are kind of stupid. Like the grown up characters in It, they have not grown up much. There is a lot of bad Eighties humor and slapstick leading up to the violence.

This movie uses a lot of popular horror movie tropes in it. It has your spooky synth music to mimic Halloween and Friday the 13th. It has the old man warning the victims before they head into danger. It has the tight group of friends who like to play pranks on each other. It has the jumpscares that lead to nothing, jangling your nerves so that you are already unsettled when the bad stuff starts. It has a lot of naked female breasts. It has masked killers and killers with mutated faces. It has vulnerable people out in the wood away from any possible help. All of these familiar elements are both played straight and parodied. There are plenty of moments played for comedy even after the crap hits the fan. The same comic timing is applied to the horror elements but it is not funny. It is all the more terrifying that these people are having a really good time.

Overall, it is not a great movie. However, I think it was worth watching. The rape scenes were mercifully short considering movies like I Spit on Your Grave and Last House on the Left. That does not make them any less disgusting or horrible. The movie is supposed to be scary and awful and it definitely succeeds at that. The actors playing the villains are actually pretty good and terrifying. The titular mother is especially unnerving with her horrible smile and cheery demeanor. The movie is cheap and dirty and that serves it well in some places but not in others. By trying to parody horror movies, it falls into similar traps but there are some new bits that I did not expect. The movie did succeed in its mission as a horror movie and it did provide scares and horror. I would recommend it but only to horror connoisseurs with strong stomachs.

The Host (2006)

October 21, 2016

The environment is becoming a bigger and bigger issue these days. As we explore more and more about it, we learn a little bit more and realize that there is still so much to figure out. Especially deep in the water, there are things that are incredibly alien to us. Some of them are as strange and terrifying to us as any extraterrestrial we might meet from space. These creatures do not know anything about direct human contact and it’s easy to see that they would not fear us. Of course, they should be angry at us at this point. Our species has caused untold devastation on the planet’s ecosystem with development and pollution. We have seen the impact we have had on the parts of the oceans we can explore. What have we done to the parts we can’t see? How would these strange alien creatures respond to our chemical compounds? Would we be prepared to deal with that? All of these are scary questions to consider.

One of the scariest things in our human society is the loss of a child or injury to a child. I do not even really like children but hurting a child is an affront to me. I do not forgive those who intentionally hurt children and I cannot abide by that behavior. Maybe it is part of our human instinct to protect the young in order to keep the species alive which is now rather pointless after population explosion. When a baby cries, you just automatically feel bad. Of course, you cannot help it so you get annoyed at the parents for not helping it quicker. It makes little sense but it always happens to me and I have heard similar accounts. We just do not accept bad things happening to children like we accept bad things happening to adults. We are much more likely to turn a blind eye to an adult in peril but a tragedy with a child will stop the world. Because of that, I get extra antsy when there are kids in a horror movie because I do not want anything to happen to them. They have their lives ahead of them and it is unfair for some demon or beast to change that.

Sometimes, I watch things because they are popular. I see it as atoning for my teenage days when I hated everything that was popular out of spite. This movie was number 41 out of 100 of the best horror movies on IMDB.com and it got a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. However, the movie comes out of South Korea so I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had not seen any other Korean films (North or South). The acting is very good. For the most part, everybody acts pretty much how people do in real life. I have to give a special shout out to Song Kang-ho who plays the father. He is such a relatable and likable buffoon. His daughter is played by Go Ah-sung and she is such a sweet girl that you want to protect her. There is definitely a comedic spin on the proceedings in places but there is also terror, sadness and desperation as well. A good horror movie makes you laugh here and there so it can scare the bejeezus out of you right when you have let your guard down. This movie does that in spades.

The effects are very good in this one. It has the same CGI team as The Day After Tomorrow which had great special effects even though it was a ludicrously bad film. Of course, the monster effects were done by Weta Workshop so we made it all of two days without mentioning them. At the same time, the monster looks like a lot of things we have seen before but also something interestingly unique. Jon Cox powered the creature with beautiful animatronics on par with any movie monster I have ever seen. When it moves, I really believe that it is a danger and an intelligent creature. The government response was believable as well. In a crisis like the one we see, the government would be mostly clueless but would be quick to do something even if it was the wrong thing. I really liked that element as an additional obstacle for the main characters.

Overall, this was a great horror/science fiction movie. There was plenty of comedy but there was even more tragedy and horror involved which ended up being a very compelling blend. There was also a bit of an adventure quality to the movie as a family sets out to save one of their own. There is definitely some anti-American sentiment in the movie but it is balanced well and not without merit. The US military did dump a lot of formaldehyde down the drain in Seoul. Our country is portrayed as butting in just as we probably would in real life. The South Korean government is also portrayed in a negative light so it is impossible for me to get bent out of shape about it. I definitely recommend this movie, especially to any foreign film buffs.

Stitches (2012)

October 17, 2016

Clowns. Why did it have to be clowns? Well, it is because I picked this movie because I have always found clowns to be pretty damned scary. When I visited the Ringling Brothers circus with my folks when it rolled into downtown Baltimore when I was little, I was always pretty excited. I mean they had all sorts of tumbling and flashy stuff going on. They also had lions running around doing what I assumed was normal lion stuff. The lions at the zoo were always just lounging around so I never was super excited by them. Here they were jumping through hoops of flame. The clowns always made me wary. They circulated into the crowd before the show and even as a kid I did not like that attention. Something about them made me nervous. They were fine doing their act in the middle of the ring but if they came near me I squirmed. Now, clowns seem even more out of place to me and even scarier. I am fascinated by them but, thanks to Batman and horror movies, I see them more as cool and creepy villains rather than the joyful creatures they are supposed to be.

I wanted to do a clown movie this year. This is the third year I have done reviews around Halloween and the first year I covered a messed-up film called Clownhouse. So, if I was going to do a clown horror movie, the obvious choice was to do the recent horror movie called Clown. However, that was produced by Eli Roth and he is kind of a cancer on the horror genre so I did not want to have a bad time. Instead, I wanted to review the movie Killjoy from Full Moon Pictures. It turns out my brand new copy of all of the Killjoy movies (and all of the Puppetmaster movies) got lost in the mail so it will have to wait until next year. Do not worry, I will be discussing some Full Moon Pictures movies later this month. So, I went back to the drawing board and found this movie on Netflix. I was sure that it was not going to be hard to find another clown horror movie I had not seen yet and the internet does not disappoint. So, we get a more recent horror film that hopefully will fill my nightmares with clowns once again. At least they are better than the than the nightmares about high school.

I was not expecting what this movie would be at all. The first thing that I did not expect is that it is Irish and filmed in Ireland. One of the things I love about Netflix and about this project is that it has opened me up to new opportunities in foreign films. That means that there was almost automatically nobody in this film I would recognize and ends up being the case. This is great because I love diving into a movie full of unknowns so I can go in with no pre-conceived notions. The actors in this movie are all pretty young, especially since most of them are supposed to portray sixteen-year-olds. This is perfect because teenagers are one of the preferred demographics for supernatural killers in horror movies. The acting was good in kind of a punk rock, All Cheerleaders Must Die kind of way. They end up portraying high school as I remember it, petty and emotional but mostly harmless in the end.

When I read the description, I was prepared for a clown that comes back from the dead to kill the kids at the birthday party where he accidentally died. At best, I was hoping for a ghost clown that would haunt them or an undead clown who would savagely murder them. What I got was something somewhere between those two options. It was like Pennywise the Clown if Tim Curry had been directed to be scary. Another comparison I could make is Freddy Krueger if he had been a party clown instead of a Christmas sweater-wearing janitor and was a little more literal. I was not ready for the movie to have so much lore and world-building when it comes to clowns. The movie creates this whole weird occult conspiracy in the first few minutes that I could never have expected in my wildest dreams. The movie used elements from a lot of horror movies I have seen to create something entirely new and scary. The way the villain moves and the unique and terrible deaths they concocted for him are definitely very memorable as well. Most of his victims were decent people for teens and definitely did not deserve to die.

Overall, this was a dark horse of a horror movie just like Horns and The Babadook from last year. This is especially funny since the movie was originally supposed to star Daniel Radcliffe right after Deathly Hallows. The movie is definitely pretty scary but it has kind of a punk rock sense of humor to it as well. That punk rock quality also extends to the violence, though. This movie does not pull any punches with how cruel the deaths are. The practical effects and other special effects are exceptional and that means that the gore is very graphic and disgusting but in a good way. At one point, Stitches delivers a tagline of ‘This Clown Isn’t Funny’ and he’s right. However, he is kind of funny in an extremely dark, offbeat kind of way because he is just amusing himself. In that way, he would probably get along with Charles “Chucky” Lee Ray. It was a great movie and I definitely knew how much it had gripped me when I had to watch something happier directly after so I could breathe again. With all the clown sightings lately, I definitely enjoyed being scared by one that could not actually hurt me. I definitely recommend it.

Krampus (2015)

October 12, 2016

I talked last year about horror during the holidays when I reviewed the charmingly bad Jack Frost. At the time, something was pointed out by the proprietor of The Eye of the Beholder blog. She basically said that horror during the holidays gives us a break from the holiday cheer. She is so right. As far as I can tell, this proud tradition started in the 1970s. However, I always think of my first experience which was the release of Gremlins. This was also the movie that sparked the false rumor that suicides go up around the holidays. I also talked then about my theory about how something good can be turned against you. Taking something wholesome, and making it frightening is a sort of an extreme violation. For a lot of the people, Santa is a joyful man who delights in providing presents to the good children in the world. I really like this and that is why I am eager to spread his gospel because doing so only spreads good feelings. However, some use Santa as a fear tactic to keep their kids in line. They use his excellent surveillance system as a threat, a Sword of Damocles to make kids stay in line and even snitch on each other to simplify a parent’s job. This philosophy also led to the horrible Elf on a Shelf which never should have happened.

Of course, we are not really talking about Santa today. We are talking about his double from the Upside Down and brother (hopefully) from another mother: Krampus. Now, anybody who knows me well knows that I am a huge fan of mythology and folktales. However, please be advised that I definitely believe that Krampus should not be part of the story of Santa Claus. I do think that the story is a neat bit of apocrypha, though. Krampus is part of a rich history that originated in the Austro- Bavarian region of Europe. It figures that Krampus would come from Germany, the same place as the Brothers Grimm and other tales of the Black Forest. However, there is a history of people trying to unnecessarily spice up the Santa tales with dark or regrettable characters. Just ask Black Pete. While Saint Nicholas went from house to house rewarding the good boys and girls, Krampus did the opposite. Krampus beat or kidnapped the horrible kids or so the fear tactics said. Thankfully, we just opted for making kids afraid of getting coal in their stockings.

The movie starts off like many horror movies do by presenting you with horrible people that will most likely be terrorized or killed throughout the rest of the movie. I think sometimes they do this so that audiences feel less guilty about enjoying their deaths later. However, this is set at Christmas and I know how awful family can be around the holidays. You gotta put up with it and it makes zero sense. Also, there is plenty of charm and surprising depth to the characters so you cannot paint them as outright villains right away. A lot of them are dicks. Do dicks deserve to die? No. Do we want to see them suffer a bit? Probably. Of course, this movie is about having the true holiday spirit and how you should remember the reason for the season. Hint: The reason for the season is always celebrating, having fun and being nice to each other for once. Unfortunately, we do that by shoving a lot of people into one house.

The acting is really good. The movie starts out like a slightly darker version of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation so you need some comedic timing. There are quite a few characters which is a little strange for a horror movie. Usually, you have seven or less so that you can mix and match pairings and keep things simple. The biggest names are Adam Scott from Parks and Rec and David Koechner from the Anchorman movies. The writing and direction are great because they really let the characters shine and the horror slowly creeps into the proceedings. They also take a long time to really explain anything but I like that. I don’t need my hand held all the time. On top of the good acting and direction, there are really good visuals. Legendary is known, at least to me, for creating movies with great special effects. (See Hellboy, Pacific Rim, Dark Knight). The stuff they created for this movie is absolutely terrifying. At some point, most of the comedy goes right out the window and we are in full terror mode.

Overall I would say this was a great horror movie. I went in expecting a lot of finger guns and silliness and, while it started that way, it definitely shook off a lot of the comedy. However, it was like they twisted a lot of should have been funny or sweet and turned into a nightmare. It was like the Upside Down version of Christmas. Everything was dangerous and vicious instead of jolly. The writing and direction were on point and I loved pretty much every point in the movie even though I was totally creeped out. They completely connected the movie back to the German roots of the folktale without forcing it. You should definitely check this out. I think it is a little underrated.


susanne matthews

Living the Dream

Silence Killed The Dinosaurs

(but it won't get me)

Daily (w)rite

A DAILY RITUAL OF WRITING

Wrestling Dreams

Wrestling analysis from the fans to the fans

The Empire of Carane

Where fiction comes to life

DMing With Charisma

Stories, Reviews and Opinions!

half a 1000 miles

cringeworthy (adj) -- causing feelings of awkwardness or embarrassment

kayrayiam

Adventures of a Gypsy Nurse with a Cryptic Past

Abbs Abroad

27 Months with a Maryland Girl in Senegal

Princess of Dragons

A world of imagination, writing and dragons

the eye of the beholder

(a place where beauty is found)

%d bloggers like this: