Directed By: Robert Scott (Ratdog)
Starring: Roxanna Augesen, Rocky Duvall, and Sam David McClelland
Released By: Interstate 5 Productions and Embassy Home Entertainment
Release Year: 1987
Review by: Andy Taylor
Synopsis: “A family takes delivery of a new television set, unaware that it is the gateway by which killer zombies enter the world” -IMDb.
A movie about the living dead coming out of someone’s television is a movie that screams for a good tagline, and there’s so many that could have been picked. Do you know what they used? “The living dead are here, and they’re lusting for blood…yours.” That’s so bad. I would have used something that focused more on the television instead, something like “Didn’t your parents tell you television was bad for your health…” or “Don’t get too close to this T.V., it bites” but no, they just had to make it about the zombies. I can understand them wanting to focus on the walking dead, but the problem is their chosen tagline implies that the zombies actually want blood, and that’s not really the case. Continue Reading…if you dare!
Directed By: Robert Rodriguez (From Dusk Till Dawn, Desperado)
Starring: Jordana Brewster (Fast and the Furious Series), Clea DuVall (Carnivale, Identity), Louis Harris (Dead Like Me, Severance), Josh Harnett (30 Days of Night, Bunraku), Shawn Hatosy (Alpha Dog, The Lazarus Project), Elijah Wood (Lord of the Rings, Sin City) Robert Patrick (Terminator 2, From Dusk Till Dawn 2), Famke Janssen (X-Men, GoldenEye), Piper Laurie (Carrie, Twin Peaks), Bebe Neuwirth (Cheers, Jumanji), Daniel Von Bargen (Lord of Illusion, Super Troopers), Jon Stewart (Former Daily Show Host), and Selma Hayek (Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn)
Written By; David Wechter (Penn & Teller’s Bullshit), Bruce Kimmel, and Kevin Williamson (Scream Film Series, Cursed)
Release Year: 1998
Review by: Andy Taylor Continue Reading…if you dare!
[ STARTS WITH A SPOILER AND NEVER LOOKS BACK *THE CROWD REJOICES* ]
Have you ever seen that episode of Cowboy Bebop in which Spike leaves a lobster in the Bebop’s backup refrigerator for a super long time, birthing a small, amorphous creature that hunts the crew of bounty hunters (or “cowboys” in the show, shucks howdy!), spearing them with something from its body that knocks them out and incapacitates them? Yeah, this movie is like an expensive, pretty, gorier, and over-serious version of that. I have a feeling I’m not the first to make this comparison, but either way it fits. Something about the way the creature is handled and how it moves and hides and the camerawork when it’s near.
It could also be said that the Cowboy Bebop episode I’m referring to is itself an homage to Alien (ha! I’m only two paragraphs in and I found a way to bring up Alien—my obsession is nearing its final, truest form….), which itself was a transcendent evolution of earlier Sci-Fi/Horror film tropes and themes. So, at this point, all SF/H films (especially those set in a ship in space, on other planets, etc.) could be said to lead back to Alien as being a major influence. Or at least the general framework and approach set up by that film. And as I’ve said before in earlier ramblings and quoting others, the biomech humanoid creature in Alien that hunts the crew could just as easily be a vampire in a castle or Dracula specifically on his trip to London on the Demeter (as I quoted Valaquen of the Strange Shapes Alien franchise blog stating earlier in my Planet of the Vampires review), when boiled down to asymmetrical survival horror by an unknowable creature. Everything old is new again. Continue Reading…if you dare!
Directed by Dan Trachtenberg
Written by Josh Campbell and Matthew Stuecken
Starring: John Goodman, Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr
A Review-ish by Feind Gottes
The Gist: After a car accident Michelle is rescued by Howard and taken to his bunker. When she regains consciousness Howard informs her that aliens have attacked Earth poisoning the air outside so the bunker is the only safe place. Eventually she meets Emmet also taking up shelter in Howard’s bunker and learn that inside the bunker is just as scary as outside.
My Review-ish: For those who aren’t aware 10 Cloverfield Lane is a sequel to JJ Abrams cult classic Cloverfield (2008). However, it isn’t the sort of sequel anyone is used to seeing. It’s more of a sister film or companion film rather than an actual sequel. This is a concept I think is pretty damn cool. Also, since I’m not really a fan of Cloverfield I’m happy this sequel is a completely different type of film. Where Cloverfield is basically a found-footage type of film, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a full on psychological thriller and one of the best ever at that. Now I have a couple issues with this movie that I’ll get to at the end but for now let’s concentrate on the positives. Continue Reading…if you dare!
Directed by: Alex Garland
Adapted for the Screen by: Alex Garland, based on the novel by: Jeff VanderMeer
Starring: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Oscar Isaac and Tessa Thompson
Released: February 2018 (USA)
A Review-ish by: Feind Gottes
The Gist: A biologist’s husband returns one year after leaving on a Top Secret mission but is not the same man who left. Government officials take the couple into custody where the biologist learns of a mysterious zone her husband was sent to explore and returned as the sole survivor. In order to find out what happened to her husband the biologist enters the zone with a team of her own where no one knows what they will find. Continue Reading…if you dare!
Directed by: Don Coscarelli
Written by: Don Coscarelli
Starring: A. Michael Baldwin, Bill Thronbury, Reggie Bannister, Kathy Lester, and Angus Scrimm, et. al.
Released: March 1979
Review by: Thomas S. Flowers
Synopsis: “A teenage boy and his friends face off against a mysterious grave robber known only as the Tall Man, who keeps a lethal arsenal of terrible weapons with him” -IMDb.
When thinking about cosmic horror one begins to formulate a list of criteria on how to judge what exactly is “cosmic horror.” Immediately the name H.P. Lovecraft will surface. In fact, most of how we understand “cosmic horror” is from his collected works. The emphasis typically negates shock horror or gore horror in favor for fear of the unknown. The phenomena we are confronted with goes beyond our comprehension. The word cosmic here then implies that the confrontation in the story extends beyond our narrow human understanding and stretches into a “cosmic significance,” that is, otherworldly. Phantasm (1979), while categorized as more of a fantasy horror, actually represents aspects one would find in a traditional cosmic horror tale, such as an antagonist that could only be describes as simply otherworldly, a story driven by madness, a nightmarish dreamscape, and of course, most importantly, fear of the unknown. Continue Reading…if you dare!
Directed by: Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski
Written by: Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski
Starring: Aaron Poole, Kenneth Welsh, Daniel Fathers, et. al.
Released: April 2017
Review by: Jeffery X. Martin
Synopsis: “Shortly after delivering a patient to an understaffed hospital, a police officer experiences strange and violent occurrences seemingly linked to a group of mysterious hooded figures” -IMDb.
Close your eyes for a moment. It’s okay. Trust me on this. Just shut your eyes. Now, envision tentacles. I know. Weird, right? But for a few seconds, allow yourself to think about tentacles. Continue Reading…if you dare!
Starring: Roddy Piper, Meg Foster, Keith David, Peter Jason, and Larry Franco
Written By: John Carpenter (as Frank Armitage)
Directed By: John Carpenter
Review by: Joshua Macmillan
Synopsis: Nada, a wanderer without any meaning in his life discovers a pair of sunglasses that allow him to see the world the way it truly is. As he walks the streets of LA, he begins to notice that all media and governments are comprised of aliens intending on keeping all of the population subdued so they can dominate the world.
When I sat down to watch They Live for this review, it was the first time I was actually taking the time to see this film. I of course had heard of it, and had been told numerous times that I needed to check it out. I am a huge John Carpenter fan, mostly due to Halloween, The Thing, and Christine. Those were the films from Carpenter that I grew up on. This one has been on my “to be watched” list for quite a long time and thanks to Machine Mean, I finally forced myself to sit down and watch it. Unfortunately, it really did feel like a chore to sit through this film. Continue Reading…if you dare!
Written and Directed by: Clive Barker
Starring: Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, and Doug Bradley, et. al.
Hellbound: Hellraiser II: 1988
Directed by: Tony Randel
Written by: Peter Atkins/Story by Clive Barker
Starring: Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, Kenneth Cranham, Doug Bradley, Barbie Wilde, Nicholas Vince, et. al.
Review by: D. S. Ullery
You’ll notice I’ve opted to combine my analysis of the first two films in the long running Hellraiser series into one long piece, as opposed to separating them into two articles. No, I’m not being lazy (well, maybe a little). This is actually a conscientious decision, arising from my opinion that the first two chapters of the saga inspired by Clive Barker’s novella The Hellbound Heart are so inexorably intertwined they essentially function as two halves of the same, epic film. I’ve opted to approach my review accordingly. Continue Reading…if you dare!
Directed By: Joanna Going (Kingdom, Keys to Tulsa), Rose McGowan (Scream, Planet Terror), Ben Affleck (The Accountant, Gone Girl), Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), Nicky Katt (Suburbia, Dazed and Confused), and Peter O’Toole (Lawrence of Arabia, The Lion in Winter)
Starring: Joe Chappelle (Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers, Dark Prince: The True Story of Dracula)
Written By: Dean R. Koontz (Odd Thomas, Watchers)
Release Year: 1998
Review By: Andy Taylor
I’ve never been good at letting certain inaccuracies go when it comes to cinema. I say certain because it seems to be entirely arbitrary whether an inaccuracy is going to bother me or if I’ll be able to let it go. I couldn’t care less how comic book accurate the costumes were in any superhero movie despite being into comic books since I was a child, but when the elephants don’t end up trampling the town at the end of the Disney movie The Jungle Book, a movie made for children, I’m bothered. The thousand and one scientific inaccuracies of any Star Trek show don’t pose any problem for me, but when the Klingons say “Qapla”, which easily translates to victory, and the universal translator doesn’t do the job it does for nearly every other Klingon word, I’m bothered. I’ve watched Braveheart multiple times with no problems whatsoever despite it being as historically accurate as Marvel 1602, but when American Horror Story started with the whole Roanoke thing, I seethed inside. Continue Reading…if you dare!
Director: Julius Onah
Writers: Oren Uziel
Starring: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo, Daniel Bruhl, John Ortiz, et. al.
Released: Feb 2018 (Netflix)
Review by: Duncan Bradshaw
There’s one thing you can say with certainty about the (current) trilogy of Cloverfield films; they aren’t trying to copy each other. So far, we’ve had found footage and monsters in Cloverfield, with human ‘monsters’ and the claustrophobia of 10 Cloverfield Lane. I’m not going into my thoughts in those films, because people have beaten me to them already! Read the last couple of days reviews right here and here if you missed them. I will say this though, I enjoyed both of them. Continue Reading…if you dare!
Directed by: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead
Writers: Justin Benson
Starring: Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson, Callie Hernandez, et. al.
Released: April 2017 (Tribeca Film Festival)
Review By: Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi
Synopsis: “As kids, they escaped a UFO death cult. Now, two adult brothers seek answers after an old videotape surfaces and brings them back to where they began” -IMDb.
“The Endless” (2017) has been a movie I’ve heard great things about since its availability, so it had been on my list for a while now to check out. It’s fast become a classic watch with many people recommending it on social media. I love horror and sci-fi and fantasy meshed together, and I think you get a taste of all three here, primarily because you can’t tangibly see the entity that creates the tension in the film. However, it’s categorized as an American science fiction film. Another reason the idea of this movie appealed to me is of course the cult aspect. And I am all for a good cult. Continue Reading…if you dare!
Starring: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, and Bradley Whitford.
Written By: Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard
Directed By: Drew Goddard
Review by: Joshua Macmillan
Synopsis: A group of five friends head out for a weekend trip to a remote cabin in the woods. Once there, the group begins to act strangely, taking on the tropes of modern slasher teens. One by one, the friends begin to die, leading to the discovery of the truth behind the remote cabin.
At first glance, The Cabin in the Woods appears to be a generic slasher. The trailer, from my initial memories of seeing the film marketed seemed to focus on just about every horror film cliche you could possibly think of. I pegged this film as a flop and only went to see it in the theaters for something to do. I had just moved to the area I currently live in and didn’t know the area or people all that well. Needless to say, my first impulse for something fun to do was to go check out one of the local theaters. The Cabin in the Woods was playing so I figured, “What the hell?” I was taken by surprise. The film is filled to the brim, overflowing in all honesty with every cliche but the spin that Goddard and Whedon put on it sunk it’s claws into me and dragged me along for a truly fun and entertaining celebration and deconstruction of the genre we are all so fond of! Continue Reading…if you dare!
Directed by: Barry Levinson
Writers: Michael Crichton (novel), Kurt Wimmer (screenplay), et. al.
Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone, Samuel L. Jackson, Peter Coyote, Liev Schreiber, Queen Latifah, Huey Lewis (as the helicopter pilot), et. al.
Released: February 1998
Article: “SPHERE, MOTHAFUCKA!” by Michelle Garza
Sphere was released on February 13, 1998, which happens to be my birthday, and for a large budgeted flick it didn’t too well in the box office which is slightly baffling to me because upon watching it I thought it was a good movie. It had definite horror elements to it which pleased me and a cast of well-known stars such as Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone, and Samuel L. Jackson for me to berate while they proceeded to make typical horror movie mistakes. The plot was criticized for not being original but I dug it, it certainly wasn’t new territory to tread but they did a good job bringing it to life. Imagine an alien craft being discovered on the sea floor, and a group is assembled to investigate its origins and reason as to why it is there, shit goes terribly wrong and all hell breaks loose. Continue Reading…if you dare!
Directed By: John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing, Prince of Darkness)
Starring: Sam Neill (Event Horizon, Jurassic Park), Jurgen Prochnow (Dune, Das Boot), and Julie Carmen (Fright Night Part 2, Kiss Me a Killer)
Written By: Michael De Luca (Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, Judge Dredd)
Release Year: 1994
Review by: Andy Taylor
I’ve always loved the title In the Mouth of the Madness. In fact, I loved it so much, I adopted the name for family get togethers years ago because if anything will bring you to the brink of madness, family will be that thing. With that being the case, it’s no wonder I’ve watched the tale of Sutter Cane’s madness inducing stories several times, but it wasn’t until deciding to review it that I learned something new, and I love learning new things. Looking into the film’s production, I discovered that In the Mouth of Madness is part of a trilogy of sorts that includes The Thing and Prince of Darkness. John Carpenter called these three films his “Apocalypse Trilogy”. My apologies if I’m just learning something that most people already know, but discovering this little factoid actually added an extra level of enjoyment for me, and that enjoyment extended to re-watching the other two as well. I’ve always thought they had a similar theme, so it made for a nice surprise to know they were meant that way. So how does this film stack up against its thematic brothers? Let’s find out. Continue Reading…if you dare!
Director: Stuart Gordon
Writers: H.P. Lovecraft (short story), Brian Yuzna (screenplay), Dennis Paoli, Stuart Gordon
Starring: Jeffery Combs, Barbara Crampton, Ted Sorel, Ken Foree, et. al.
Release date: October 1986
Article: “Is that a Pineal Gland in Your Head, or Are You Just Happy to See Me?” by William D. Prystauk (aka Billy Crash)
Beginning of Beyond
Following his breakthrough film Re-Animator, which also thrust stars Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton into the horror slimelight, director Stuart Gordon unleashed From Beyond to the big screen in 1986.
Based on HP Lovecraft’s short story of the same name, From Beyond explores another mad scientist venture. Dr. Pretorius (Ted Sorel), named after the egomaniacal lunatic scientist from Bride of Frankenstein, has developed the “Resonator” with his assistant, Crawford Tillinghast (Combs). This time, the desire is not to re-animate the dead, but to dive deeper into human consciousness and stimulate one’s sixth sense. Continue Reading…if you dare!
Directed by: Frank Darabont
Writers: Frank Darabont (screenplay), Stephen King (novel_
Starring: Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, Andre Braugher, Toby Jones, William Sadler, Jeffery DeMunn, et. al.
Release date: November 2007
Article: The Mist (2007) – a meditation on a prophecy, by Kit Power.
This conversation assumes you’ve seen the movie, and indeed read the King novella, The Mist. Also, The Dead Zone. Here be spoilers.
So, I’ve already written about this movie. A couple of years back, on the occasion of King’s 70th birthday, the British Film Institute (BFI) ran a King season, screening adaptations both celebrated (The Shining, Carrie) and obscure (The Night Flyer). Whilst finances prohibited me from going to see everything I wanted (in particular, a chance to see Maximum Overdrive on the big screen – I love it but, let’s face it, it’s pretty bad) I did, after some deliberation, decide to add tickets to the black and white screening of The Mist to my purchase of Carrie/The Shining double bill on Imax. I could just afford it, and I wanted to see something I hadn’t seen. Continue Reading…if you dare!
[House on Haunted Hill, release 1999; 93 minutes. R. Director: William Malone; Review by: Jon Weidler]
Remember the early days of the Internet, when most websites were primitive displays of text punctuated by the occasional jpeg? And then, how someone had the ingenious idea of message boards, which took the conversation out of the privacy of IM windows and into a virtual town square, where the opinions of others could be lauded or flogged by the majority? (Hey, all trolls emerge from some birth canal.)
Anyway: I was an active participant in the anonymous hate-fests that swirled around Amazon and IMDb. The only equivalent to commiserating with some virtual person on something you loved, was dragging something you hated for all online eyes to see. Continue Reading
When is comes to paranormal and supernatural flicks, and among those foreign in origin, there are few selections better than Ju-On: The Grudge. This movie became a kind of renaissance for me. I’ve dabbled in foreign horror films before, such as the likes of Amando de Ossorio, Dario Argento, and Lucio Fulci to name a few. Mostly all European horror. Those were the classics though. End of the world zombish supernatural and entertainingly dubbed in English. And then came my experience with the Ju-on series. It was around 2004. I was in the Army and on my second deployment to Iraq. And to help pass the time when we weren’t out on mission, a bunch of us would buy bootleg DVDs from a local Hajji on base. One of us (I can’t recall who) bought a DVD with the entire series of Ju-On movies on it. One day we watch them all. And let me tell you, even on that tiny screen, huddled together with a bunch of badass fellow soldiers, I still got freaked out. I was instantly sold on Japanese horror. Continue Reading
Director: James Wan
Writer: Leigh Whannell
Stars: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, et. al.
Synopsis: “A family looks to prevent evil spirits from trapping their comatose child in a realm called The Further.”
Release date: April 2011
Review by: Jonathan Butcher
Throughout its first half, Insidious is a wonderfully unnerving tale about a peculiar type of haunting. Then at some point along the way it becomes a goofy, balls-to-the-wall ghost train ride, complete with wacky gas-mask set pieces and a villain who is basically Darth Maul on hooves.
After the appearance of a menacing hag in the first 30 seconds, the opening credits prime you for watching scenes a little more closely than you might have otherwise. The credits roll to the sound of tense, minimalist strings played over disorienting pans of a large house. In some – or perhaps all – of the brief camera shots, something unsettling is taking place. A ghoulish face appears in a mirror. A chair is moved by an unseen force. A picture frame shifts of its own volition. And with that, the scene is set for a genuinely masterful build-up of tension, caused on some level by the creeping suspicion that unsettling things are taking place right under your, and the characters’, noses. Continue Reading
Director: James Wong
Writers: Glen Morgan, James Wong
Stars: Devon Sawa, Ali Larter, Kerr Smith, Seann William Scott, Tony Todd, et. al.
Release Date: March 2000
Article: What If Death Has A Design?
Review by: Kit Power
[The following essay assumes you’ve seen the film Final Destination, and contains comprehensive spoilers.]
In the early 2000’s, I was bascially out of the horror scene. I wasn’t watching horror movies, and most of my reading was crime fiction – Kellerman, Leonard, Ellroy. My spare time was almost entirely absorbed by a combinaiton of internet poker and my band, Capo Jr, who I confidently predicted would be headlining Glastonbury and/or Download in a year or two. It hadn’t been a conscious choice – I wasn’t ‘off’ horror ,or anything like that – it was more just how things played out, that’s all. Neutral drift. The life thing that happens when you’re making other plans. Continue Reading
Director: Dario Argento
Writers: Dario Argento, Daria Nicolodi
Starring: Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Flavio Bucci
Release Date: 12 August 1977
Review By: Jeffery X. Martin
Synopsis: Suzy Bannion travels to Germany to perfect her ballet skills. She arrives at the Tanz dance academy in the pouring rain and is refused admission after another woman is seen fleeing the school. She returns the next morning and this time is let in. She learns that the young woman she saw fleeing the previous evening, Pat Hingle, has been found dead. Strange things soon begin to occur. Suzy becomes ill and is put on a special diet; the school becomes infested with maggots; odd sounds abound; and Daniel, the pianist, is killed by his own dog. A bit of research indicates that the ballet school was once a witches’ coven – and as Suzy learns, still is.
The 1977 film, Suspiria, didn’t turn me into a horror fan. It was the trailer. I was eight years old when I saw it for the first time, and I was immediately repulsed and fascinated. The title font that looked like pulsating flesh. That ominous voiceover. And what the hell was a suspiria? Was it a musical instrument? Could I buy one? Continue Reading
Directed By: Tommy Lee Wallace (Fright Night Part 2, Vampires: Los Muertos)
Starring: Tom Atkins (Night of the Creeps, The Fog), Stacey Nelkin (Yellowbeard, Get Crazy), and Dan O’Herlihy (The Last Star Fighter, Twin Peaks)
Written: Tommy Lee Wallace (Amityville 2: The Possession, It), John Carpenter (Escape from New York, The Fog), Nigel Kneale (Quatermass and the Pit, The Abominable Snowman)
Release Year: 1982
Review By: Andy Taylor
Halloween has always been my favorite time of year, and one of my favorite aspects of the holiday are the costumes, specifically the masks. Every year on November 2nd, I go to whatever Halloween superstore is in the area and purchase a discount mask because I am far too cheap to pay full price. This strategy has netted me a great collection of creepy, humorous, or disgusting Halloween masks. I’ve got cinematic favorites, scary monsters, and twisted psychos galore, and yet my creepiest mask by far is a large, rubber judge mask that seems to scare everyone who has seen it, judges being terrifying enough without having warped, elongated faces. One mask I’ve never been able to get, and one I would love to own, is the pumpkin mask they put out as promotion for the release of Halloween 3: Season of the Witch. They do have recreations you can get for around a hundred dollars, but if I’m paying that much for a pumpkin mask, it better have a real piece of Stonehenge in it like the ones in the film. My face might get melted off and some nasty creepy-crawlies might come pouring out of my head, but at least I’ll die a horrifyingly memorable death. Though I’m not sure Doctor Challis or the victims of Silver Shamrock would agree with the sentiment. Continue Reading
Directed by: John Carpenter
Written by: John Carpenter, Debra Hill
Starring: Adrenne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Hal Holbrook, Tom Atkins, Janet Leigh, Et al.
Release date: 8 February 1980
Review by: Thomas S. Flowers
For me, the intrinsic appeal of ghost stories is the tale. Sitting around a campfire, sharing a ditty about life, death, and the thereafter typically involving some crime, something that went wrong, some singular cataclysmic event in which something horrible happened that over the years formed into the story. Said story exists both to scare (entertain) and to give warning. Beware the house on Redwood Street, inside its dilapidated walls a horror awaits those foolish enough to enter its haunted halls, etc. etc. In the macabre 1980 masterpiece The Fog, John Carpenter does just that. Using a traditional Gothic atmosphere, he creates a tale, campfire and all, warning the younger generation of the sins the past. Greed. Hate. Betrayal. And murder have stained the lineage of the small California coastal town of Antonio Bay. But as the idealistic community prepares to celebrate their centenary strange things begin to occur and a foreboding blue fog spreads toward the shores. Continue Reading