In 2002, horror was figuring out the next step in its evolution. The ’90s had ended on a high note, with The Sixth Sense re-establishing slow-burn ghost stories as financially viable, and The Blair Witch Project bringing found footage to the masses in a way the then-cult stomach-churner Cannibal Holocaust never could. At that point, Dark Castle had brought a few inventive re-imaginings of William Castle films to a new generation of horror viewer, while the remake floodgates wouldn’t be kicked open proper until 2003’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It was also two years before Saw (allegedly) captured the zeitgeist of the George W. Bush era, turning notions of torture into a financially lucrative extension of the genre.
2002 did show inklings, however, of where mainstream horror might go. In a nod to the relative subtlety and simplicity of The Sixth Sense, and the “something’s out there” (but not necessarily seen) notion of The Blair Witch Project, Dreamworks mined a hit from Gore Verbinski’s The Ring (itself a remake of Japan’s Ringu). Continue Reading
As I look out my window, the view is an obstruction of what looks like a white sandstorm in the trees. Barren forest, ominous setting, and a perfect time to write a horror film review of the gothic, supernatural variety. Warm, indoors writing of it, I mean! Pull up a chair by the fireplace and join me.
As most people know by now, my sense of humor often carries over into my writing and reviews, so fair warning since I’m reviewing the 1999 horror film, “Sleepy Hollow.” And really, what can one expect with a movie like this starring the king of dramatic over-emphasis, Johnny Depp? However, I will try to be humorous as well as critical, so let’s start over.
“Sleepy Hollow” is a film directed by Tim Burton and I am a huge fan of this director. Consider he’s using the source material of one of my favorite classic horror authors Washington Irving, and one of my favorite short stories “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” what’s not to like? I really enjoyed the show that was on television a few years back as well, but in 1999, just having my first baby, I wasn’t really getting out to the theaters. Somehow, though I always wanted to watch it, I just never did. Now, almost twenty years later, the movie didn’t feel old at all, due to the cinematography, decent special effects, and cast of stellar supporting actors (not to mention how young Depp looks). I’m sure the time period the movie is set in (the 1800s) also helps with that. At any rate, I mean I didn’t feel I was watching a cheesy ‘80s or ‘90s movie of my youth. Continue Reading
When folks talk about the original haunted house story, most people are referring to Shirley Jackson’s 1959 classic The Haunting of Hill House. This book has been adapted more times than any other haunted house story. From Salem’s Lot (yes, King alludes to Hill House as a comparison to the Marsten House) to even Hell House (though Richard Matheson took his 1973 book deeper into the paranormal investigative niche and spawned his own adaptions) to the most recent Netflix mini series, simply titled The Haunting of Hill House, which has spurred a resurgent interest into the old gothic tale. There are two other adaptations, of course. One we will not discuss because it is a horrible heap of garbage. The other is as close to the perfection that Miss Jackson composed within her 246 page as a movie can get. Continue Reading
Starring: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick, Natasha Calis, Grant Show, Madison Davenport, and Matisyahu.
Written By: Juliet Snowden and Stiles White
Directed By: Ole Bornedal
Synopsis: A young girl buys an antique box at a yard sale, unaware that inside the antique box lives a malicious and ancient spirit. The girls father teams with his ex-wife to find a way to end the curse upon their child.
Review By: Joshua Macmillan
Jeffrey Dean Morgan stars in The Possession, a horror film that focuses more on drama than on straight-up scares. The film is labeled as a horror film but at the end of the day, this feels more like a dramatic character study about a father trying to be the best dad that he can be during the limited time he gets to spend with his two daughters. Continue Reading
Thank goodness for Goodreads. Seriously. I don’t know how else i would keep track of my year long books read without it. Plus, there’s the progress goals that helps you keep on track with reading. There were more than a few times that I had gotten so bogged down in my own work that I needed that reminder to take a breath and read other peoples books. And I have found some good suggested reads on there too. This year, my goal was 12 books, one per month. Kinda wimpy when compared to others, I know. I saw one person with like a 500 book reading goal. Freaking crazy! I guess i’m just a slow reader. I am setting 2019 goals a little higher with plans to read more small press indie books. There year is, though, what it is. Can’t complain. I’ve read some really great titles. So, without further babbling on my part, here are my 2018 reads! Continue Reading
We close out this years Slashers & Serial Killers in Review with not the best slasher serial killer movie. Not the corniest. Not the goriest either. Stay with me. What made Silent Night, Deadly Night one of the most memorable slashers of the 1980s and how it cemented in our final review of slasher and serial killer movies was the outrage from PTA type super-moms (think Kyle’s mom from South Park) that would shadow over the slasher horror sub-genre for the rest of its days. And yes, i do consider the slasher era to be over. We may get strays in every now and again, but its fundamentally over. Just like the Universal Monsters. Yeah, that 2010 remake of The Wolfman was alright but we need to face the hard truth, the newer Hollywood attempts to recreate the Golden Era feel like a drunk uncle trying to be cool in front of his nephews and nieces with a box of Pop-Its. Continue Reading
All right, this is kind of funny (to me if no one else): I’d originally planned to review Halloween: Resurrection for this—the one with the fake Myers found footage house thing with Busta Rhymes—because I’d only seen a chunk of it and it was pleasantly terrible. I went to put the used disc I’d purchased for three dollars at a local record/tape/cd/dvd type of shop for the express purpose of doing this review into my PS4 to give it a full watch before reviewing…and it wouldn’t read it. Cleaned it off, dried it, tried it again. No go. Never had an issue with the many discs I’d purchased there and the disc looked good, so…oh well.
Instead, I looked at the others I’d purchased back when I was going to do like seven or eight reviews this year for Machine Mean—still would have, but some personal issues caused me to scale it back and also skip the Vampire-oriented MM Fright Fest October event, sadly—and I’d already watched PIECES (and loved it) and my former-Troma-employee wife had already seen Graduation Day because they distributed it at some point or just because she’s always been a horror fan. I had Wolf Creek too, and neither of us had ever seen it…so here we are.
I’d heard a lot about this over the years and it seemed to have a bit of a reputation. Was it earned? Let’s unpack it, shall we?
[THERE WILL BE SOME SPOILERS BUT WILL NOT BE NEEDLESS AUSTRALIA JOKES] Continue Reading
The Collection follows the normal path of horror sequels. There’s a lot more gore than there was in the original. New characters are introduced, usually to be killed off quickly. But there is something bizarre and exhilarating about The Collection; it feels like a last-ditch effort, but without the fetid air of desperation that normally surrounds such second slashers. It is as if writer/director Marcus Dunstan realized he wasn’t going to be able to create a franchise based on his masked killer. He was lucky to get the sequel made. What if he just crammed every blood-drenched set-piece he could think of into one movie?
Beginning not long after the conclusion of the first film in the duology, The Collection follows Arkin (Josh Stewart). He was the final boy in The Collector, and he’s healing from his physical wounds in the hospital. After he learns that a girl, Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick), has been kidnapped by the mysterious murderer known as The Collector, Arkin is pressed into service by Elena’s rich family. A group of paramilitary specialists, led by enforcer Lucello (Lee Tergeson), is out to rescue Elena from the black-gloved clutches of The Collector, and only Arkin can lead them to the killer’s lair. Continue Reading
Happy Birthday to Me
Release year: 1981
Starring: Melissa Sue Anderson; Tracey E. Bregman; Glenn Ford; Matt Craven; Lisa Langlois and Lawrence Dane.
Directed by: J. Lee Thompson
Review by: Kim McDonald
Lee Thompson’s film, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME, is one of many slasher flicks that came out of the 80’s. However, screenwriters John Saxton and Peter Jobin manage to create some interesting twists through misdirection. The film also has some of the most gruesome deaths of the slasher sub genre. It’s a fun movie that seems largely overlooked, despite 80’s horror nostalgia. Continue Reading
Released Date: Oct 2001
Director: The Hughes Brothers (Albert & Allen)
Starring: Johnny Depp, Heather Graham, Ian Holm & Robbie Coltrane
Brief Synopsis: Based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell. A clairvoyant detective investigates the Jack the Ripper murders in turn of the century England. The investigation leads him to an unspeakable conclusion.
Review by: Feind Gottes
I have to start out by telling you From Hell is one of my favorite movies. It’s right up there with Se7en when it comes to crime thrillers that dip a toe or two in the horror waters. If somehow you have not seen this movie you need to correct that mistake immediately! So to start, everyone should know about Jack the Ripper, at least, in a general sense – a serial killer who stalked the streets of London from August 1888 to November 1888 credited with killing five known prostitutes in the Whitechapel district of London. The case stands as the most famous unsolved murder case in history. That may change soon but I’ll touch on that at the end. The film From Hell explores a conspiracy theory that is interesting to explore though has about as much chance of being correct as I have of being Bigfoot in disguise but it is fun to think about. The film makes this theory seem far more plausible than it is but then it comes from a graphic novel written by one of the most brilliant writers of our time, Alan Moore (if you don’t know who Alan Moore is go look it up! NOW!) Continue Reading
Nostalgia’s a funny old thing. Looking back over past events, with or without rose tinted glasses, distorts the memory, plays havoc with the senses, even drive people to despair. It can also make bad films seem like Oscar winning works of art. Back when I was a youth (complete with a full head of hair but still equipped with a cheeky endearing smile), there was this thing known as the ‘Video Nasties Bill’, a slice of legislation obviously designed to keep impressionable youngsters like myself free from the corrupting influence of films like The Beast in Heat, Driller Killer and of course The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The fine Whitehall mandarins who crafted the bill didn’t take into account the craftiness of adolescents, pirated videos and the long dead Betamax format. Continue Reading
Directed By: Rob Hedden (The Colony, Alien Fury: Countdown to Invasion)
Starring: Jensen Dagget (Asteroid, Major Leagues: Back to the Minors), Peter Mark Richman (The Naked Gun 2 ½ The Smell of Fear, 4 Faces), Scott Reeves (Edge of Honor and for those Soap Opera fans out there he was Steve Webber in General Hospital), and Kane Hodder once again playing Jason.
Released By: Paramount Pictures and Horror Inc.
Release Year: 1989
Release Type: Theatrical Release
MPAA Rating: Rated R
Review by: Andy Taylor
I have a very strange habit, one that sets me apart from my fellow humans, and that habit is, I try to let people enjoy the movie, television show, or musical act they love without chiming in about how much I might hate it. There are so many different varieties of entertainment, and within each of those varieties, a plethora of genres to pick from, so I fail to see the point in ruining someone else’s time by letting them know how wrong their opinions are to me. Continue Reading
Slashers & Serial Killers in Review: Texas Chainsaw Massacre/ The Hills Have Eyes Remake Double Feature!
Fresh from Fright Fest we’re resuming our annual In Review series with a special double slasher feature with the remakes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes. Yes. Okay. First off, I understand that reboots and remakes are typical fodder for heated debate. Often, i would agree with the naysayers and who much rather prefer new stories instead of rehashed ones. HOWEVER…sometimes a reboot or remake is just what the doctor ordered, no? Consider Cronenberg’s 1986 The Fly versus Kurt Neumann’s 1958 original staring Vincent Price. Or Don Siegel’s 1956 take on Invasion of the Body Snatchers versus Philip Kaufman’s 1978 version. While these originals were themselves fantastic films, the remakes added to the story for a new generation of moviegoers. Today’s double feature films are not necessarily better films than the originals nor are the above mentioned movies, but they weren’t totally unnecessary. Right? Let me explain myself. Continue Reading
And here we are. We made it through yet another 31 days of Fright Fest. This was our third year running, and with each I think we’ve gotten better, adding more and more really cool movies. We could not have done this without the amazing writing from some stellar contributors. And we certainly appreciate readers such as yourself, taking time from your day to read our thoughts and ramblings on dark and twisted movies. So, without further ado, let’s get into this final review for 2018’s Fright Fest. As for vampire films, in the early to late 2000s, it seemed as if they had lost their bite (pun totally intended). The vampire as a monster had somewhere along the way from Dracula to Edward lost its sensibility of being in fact a monster. For me, 30 Days of Night was an answer to my lament for the return of scary vampires. Continue Reading
Release year: 2008
Staring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Anna Kendrick, Peter Facinelli, Billy Burke, and Elizabeth Reaser
Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke
Review by: Justin Park
When Thomas S Flowers announced his annual Fright Fest review series would be themed around vampire movies, I scrolled down the list of potential films to see such classics as Martin, Near Dark and The Hunger. But I was surprised not to find Twilight amongst the titles.
The book series became such a hit I don’t really need to introduce them. Whether you’ve read them or not, you are all probably aware they were written by Stephanie Meyer, you’re all probably aware of the name Edward Cullen, and you are all aware, like it or not, that when exposed to sunlight the vampires in this series sparkle. The reason we all know this is the books became a massive hit, spawning a series of successful films and cemented themselves in popular culture. And isn’t that the goal for most writers and film makers? Isn’t that the success people dream of? Continue Reading
Bordello of Blood
Staring: Angie Everhart, Erika Eleniak, Dennis Miller, Corey Feldman, Chris Sarandon, and Phil Fondacaro
Directed by: Gilbert Adler
Review By: Pembroke Sinclair
I’ve watched this movie several times, and each time I do, I hope that I’m going to like it. It hasn’t happened yet. The older I get, however, the more I recognize the not-so-subtle choices made throughout the film.
The first of these is casting. There are a variety of actors in this film that have been in vampire movies before, including Corey Feldman (The Lost Boys) and Chris Sarandon (Fright Night). The irony for Bordello of Blood is that these characters play opposite roles. For example, Corey’s character doesn’t defeat the vampires in Bordello like he does in The Lost Boys, he becomes one. Chris’ character isn’t a vampire, but an incredibly religious televangelist. For anyone who is versed in their vampire films, these changes can be viewed as amusing. Continue Reading
Release year: 1979
Starring: Frank Langella; Laurence Olivier; Donald Pleasance and Kate Nelligan.
Directed by: John Badham
Review by: D.S. Ullery
Whether or not an adaptation of Dracula succeeds – and there have been many – comes down to the actor playing Bram Stoker’s legendary Count. Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee each put their own, definitive stamp on the character, as did Gary Oldman in later years. Even Jack Palance delivered a memorable turn as the vampire in a terrific 70’s- era television movie. Continue Reading
Fright Night (1985)
Written & Directed by Tom Holland
Starring: Chris Sarandon, William Ragsdale, Amanda Bearse, Stephen Geoffreys and Roddy McDowall
The Gist: A horror-obsessed teenager discovers that his next door neighbor is a murderous vampire. He attempts to convince the police, his family and friends to no avail. Seeing no other option, he takes matters into his own hands.
The Review (ish):
It was 1985. I was twelve going on thirteen, finally I was about to be taken seriously as a teenager! If you believe that I also have a vampire living next to me. In 1985 when Fright Night was originally released I would still consider myself a fledgling horror fan well on my way to a lifetime trudging through the wonderful world of blood and guts. It was a time when many local stations all over the country had some sort of Horror Host on late night usually on a Friday or Saturday night who did goofy gags, related movie trivia and usually showed low budget, B Horror movies. Horror Hosts kind of died out for a while though they’ve made a nice resurgence in recent years thanks to the internet where any horror fan can get a show started provided they have a camera or hell, just a phone these days. Why bring this up? Have you seen Fright Night? If you answered no and consider yourself a horror fan then you may want to just stop here and go correct that. Seriously, stop reading dimwit! Go watch Fright Night! Then grab some coffee and we’ll talk. Go on… I’ll wait. Continue Reading
Starring: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Mozhan Marno, Marshall Manesh, & Dominic Rains
Written By: Ana Lily Amirpour
Directed By: Ana Lily Amirpour
Synopsis: In the Iranian ghost-town Bad City, a place that reeks of death and loneliness, the townspeople are unaware that they are being stalked by a lonesome vampire.
Every now and then, a film comes out that manages to fly under the radar a bit. A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is one of these movies. It made its waves upon its initial release but unfortunately, many people have yet to hear of this one. The film is writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour’s first feature film and it is one hell of a way break out! Continue Reading
Since its inception, American Horror Story has subsisted on pulling from decades’ worth of great genre fare for inspiration. The results run the gamut from highly entertaining to desperate and cynical. Take, for instance, the show’s worst season – Hotel – in which Lady Gaga plays an eternal Countess presiding over the titular Los Angeles establishment. Despite bright spots from ensemble regulars like Sarah Paulson and Denis O’Hare, Hotel had a meandering, improvised quality that led to a plodding narrative. The creative team miscalculated by leaning on the stunt casting of Gaga more heavily than the quality of the writing. In the end, one gets the impression that series creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk passed Gaga a copy of Harry Kümel’s masterful vampire film, Daughters of Darkness, and instructed her to do a campy impersonation of Countess Bathory (Delphine Seyrig). Continue Reading
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Starring: Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie
Supporting actors: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rufus Sewell
Movie review: Erin Lee
Step into a Twisted Legend with “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”
If “history prefers legends to men,” this movie hit the mark. Dark and packed with action and predictable blood-thirsty violence, this movie might at first come across as your average vamp hunt flick. Quickly, though, this complicated historical fictional tale’s plot begins to thicken – making it a movie for both vamp gurus and those who aren’t as vamp-savvy alike. Frankly, this is one of those movies where you just know it had to have been based off a book because its plot is so well-developed. (In this case, by Seth Grahame-Smith and one I may pick up just to get more of the back story I suspect was left out). Continue Reading
Until recently, Stephen King movie adaptations were dreadful. And not in a good way. His first adaptation was good, the 1976’s depiction of Carrie, which may have had more to do with Brian De Palma’s version and not the journal styled storytelling from King. Some adaptations, mostly spanning through the 90s, where just down right embarrassing. Both made for TV movies IT and The Stand were nauseating to watch. In fact, it was only through a sheer force of will that i was able to finally watch the entire 90s IT movie. Without Tim Curry I wouldn’t have made it. But nowadays, King movies seem to be doing alright. The new IT is actually creepy and fun to watch. Adaptions of his newer work such as 11.22.63 was great. And i’ve heard nothing but good things surrounding the new Castle Rock show. But before all these newfound home runs, solid adaptions were slim pickenings. However, there was one that was and still is arguably the best Stephen King inspired movie, and that would be Tobe Hooper’s take on Salem’s Lot. Continue Reading
Martin is a 1978 psychological horror film written and directed by George A. Romero. While Romero is best known for his Dead movies (of which the first, Night of the Living Dead, I wrote up an analysis), Martin was his avowed favourite.
Martin Mathias (John Amplas) is a vampire…or is he? He lacks the fangs, using razor blades to cut the wounds from which he drinks the blood. Sunlight bothers his eyes a little, and neither crucifixes nor garlic have any effect on him.
Still, he insists that he needs to drink blood; he also maintains that he’s eighty-four years old, though he looks like a teen, or at the oldest, a man in his mid-to-late twenties (i.e., Amplas’s age at the time of shooting the film). Finally, his “cousin”?/great-uncle, Tateh Cuda (Lincoln Maazel), following the superstitions of the family, is as convinced that Martin is a vampire as he is. Continue Reading
Directed By: Fred Decker (Night of the Creeps, Robocop 3)
Starring: Duncan Regehr (V, 1988’s The Last Samuri, Zorro Television Show), Tom Noonan (The House of the Devil, Late Phases, The Alphabet Killer), Jon Gries (Skinwalker Rancher, Napoleon Dynamite, Fright Night Part 2), Tom Woodruff Jr. (Pumpkinhead, Tremors, Mortal Kombat), Michael Reid Mackay (Highway to Hell, Sleepwalkers, X-Men 2), and Stephen Macht (Graveyard Shift, Trancers film series, The Legend of Galgameth)
Written By: Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, Last Action Hero) and Fred Dekker (House, Night of the Creep, Robocop 3)
Release Year: 1987 Continue Reading