STREAM QUEEN: 4 indie horror anthologies

Whether you’re LGBTQ, black, a college girl, or just some boring old regular person, no one escapes the horror of these anthology films!

GALLERY OF FEAR (2012)

gallery of fear cover

Gallery of Fear comes from a circle of talent that often taps into late 1960s/early 1970s schlock and shock cinema and brings it into the modern indie horror realm. The wraparound stars scream queen Debbie Rochon as a bitchy art critic abandoned by her driver at a gallery in the middle of nowhere, where she discovers each painting has a story to tell…

“By Her Hand, She Draws You Down” – This is the sole short directed by Anthony G. Sumner (Psycho Street, III Slices of Life). The most like a Twilight Zone episode, this story is about a controlling man who won’t allow his wife to do her job as a portrait artist on the boardwalk. The story doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, but the twist is the payoff, especially since we get to see horror hunk Jerry Murdock in undies and a wife beater.

gallery of fear jerry first story

“Down The Drain” – Alan Rowe Kelly handles the directing on the rest of the film, and brings back Jerry Murdock as the star of this trippy creature feature. Murdock is so ridiculously – I usually say hot or sexy or fuckable or something like that here, but I’m going to be a little less complimentary and say ridiculously underutilized in the horror film industry. Alan Rowe seems to know like no one else how amazingly Jerry can morph into any type of character. Here he plays a totally over-the-top geek substitute teacher that has the entire world just piss all over him. These two lucky freaks get to do it literally…

gallery of fear 2nd story bullies

But revenge is sweet when your anxiety manifests itself as a giant version of the green monster pencil topper you usually turn to for comfort.

gallery of fear raine grabbed

Campy, weird, and featuring Jerry and scream queen Raine Brown clearly paying homage to a classic Hal Holbrook/Adrienne Barbeau scene in Creepshow, this throwback segment is my favorite in the bunch.

“ A Far Cry From Home” – This is classic fucked up backwoods terror with a fresh approach—LGBTQ characters take the “wrong turn.” Alan Rowe stars in this 45-minute segment, which captures the horrific style and atmosphere of disturbing, stomach turning 1970s films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: trippy camera angles and editing; eerie as hell music that messes with your mind; and heinous displays of gore and brutality.

gallery of fear couple

While taking a detour into banjo land during a road trip, Alan Rowe’s boyfriend goes missing after they stop at a convenience store. Soon, psychotic hillbillies are chasing Alan Rowe through the woods. The butch one in blue is my dream man Jerry Murdock, who plays a real bastard this time around.

gallery of fear baddies
Doesn’t Jerry make a gorgeous sweaty backwoods pig fucker?
And isn’t my obsessive love for him kind of fucking creepy?

There’s none of Alan Rowe’s dark humor here. This nightmarish scenario taps into our deepest fears of what would happen to us if we were put at the mercy of the most twisted devils in the Bible Belt.

gallery of fear stigmata

THE MIDNIGHT MATINEE (2017)

midnight matinee cover

This feels like the modern streaming equivalent of “direct-to-video” horror, and it’s a fun and simple concept for a quick, short horror fix. Running only 42 minutes long, it essentially feels like five Internet shorts packaged as one streaming title, so the quality of each short varies.

midnight matinee engagement ring

1st story – Done found footage style, this is more like a tale with a horror punch line. It’s simply about a really cute guy who plans to propose to his lady when they go out on their boat for the day.

midnight matinee engagement boy bod
“YES I’LL MARRY YOU!”

Only the final frame tells us the horror that befell the couple.

2nd story – Highlighting what a hurtful experience online dating can be, this is about a dating site that makes getting rejected even more painful than usual.

midnight matinee cyberdating

3rd story – This story looks like it has the lowest budget, yet in terms of story and zinger ending, it’s my favorite. Just thinking about it gives me chills. A woman watches an old VHS tape that has footage of a session with her deceased sister, who was believed to have premonitions.

midnight matinee premonition girl

4th story – The film actually warns that this story isn’t a “horror” story but is included anyway. It’s just a tale with a zinger ending about a criminal who tries to cheat a blind woman.

midnight matinee clown

5th story – This is the tried and true “there’s a monster in my room” scenario. It’s as basic as one of these stories can get, with all the necessary cheap scares. I’d say it’s a pretty smart way to end the show.

SCARY STORY SLUMBER PARTY (2017)

scary story slumber party cover

I can’t say these tedious direct to Amazon Prime horrors are a dime a dozen, because the price is actually as many as you can stomach in a year for 100 bux.

scary story slumber party goth

The wraparound in this low budget anthology has a bunch of sorority chicks sitting around telling scary stories. Honestly, you might as well just listen to a bunch of actual sorority girls tell scary stories.

scary story slumber party gay

The highlight for me is the opening, which has a girl snapping when her male friend rejects her advances because he’s gay. Kudos to the filmmakers for making this a tale of a gay slashing gone wrong.

scary story slumber party valentine

All the other stories leave you with a “that’s it?” feeling, but they do a good job of focusing on issues that concern college girls—sex, boys, and payback.Really, it’s mostly the same idea over and over. Girl snaps when she discovers her boyfriend is texting with her best friend. Girl snaps and gets revenge on those who rejected her in school. Boy snaps and gets revenge on those who rejected him in school. Girl snaps and gets revenge on guy who knocked up her sister.

scary story slumber party chainsaw

On top of all those revenge stories, the film does feature some with more of a horror theme: pranks that have supernatural consequences, a Valentine’s stalker, a killer cop, and a brief encounter with backwoods boys. I’m not saying they’re good, I’m just saying they’re horror.
scary story slumber party backwoods boy
I also have to say,  I inexplicably find myself identifying more and more with the backwoods hillbillies in these movies these days….
me1

me2

me3

me4

STREET TALES OF TERROR (2004)

street tales of terror cover

The good news is Street Tales of Terror is a step above Scary Story Slumber Party. The bad news is, there are a whole lot of steps above Scary Story Slumber Party.

 Just like Tales from the Hood, this urban horror anthology features stories with social messages. The wraparound has a homeless man telling tales to a bunch of guys on the street to prolong his own death after witnessing them commit a murder.

1st story – This one is about girls who cover up the drowning of their friend when they’re young. Years later, she comes back to drag them to a watery grave just like hers…even if it means improvising.

street tales of terror sink

If only the majority of the time had been focused on them being stalked and killed instead of on the backstory…

2nd story – This one stands out mostly because it’s the only tale that differs from the other two. A woman goes for an abortion and the procedure becomes hellish. The religious right might want to show this one at Bible camp.

street tales of terror abortmission

3rd story – A group of college kids is busy partying while their friend is date raped in the next room. When she gets pregnant as a result, it ruins her life…but she comes back for revenge before graduation.

street tales of terror cutie

The homeless man also gets revenge in the wraparound, so essentially, this is a trio of revenge tales and an anti-abortion PSA.

street tales of terror zombie woman

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Babes in Terror Land

Oh, the horrors of breeding! It’s thanks to little demon spawn that blogs like this are born. I take on Dark Circles, Fertile Ground, and Grace.

DARK CIRCLES (2013)

dark circles cover

I can honestly say the only thing halfway interesting about this film for me was the twist ending, and even that was a cliché.

Nothing more annoying than a movie with an intense opening…that turns out to be a dream sequence…with a premise more terrifying than anything that actually happens in the movie.

dark circles burn doll

Johnathon Schaech stars as a man whose wife is expecting. The couple decides to leave the city and move to a house in the country.

dark circles wife

As they settle in, a burned doll keeps popping up around every corner, the wife sees a woman standing behind her husband in the baby monitor, the bathroom sink drain calls her a bitch (I’m not kidding), a woman in a photo does a 3D lunge at Schaech and appears in his bed when his wife is in the baby’s room, the baby keeps being left in dangerous situations, and…these two assholes who are both seeing a woman in their house continue to accuse each other of being bad parents!

dark circles ghost girl

Yeah, this movie sucks, right down to the point where Schaech goes all George Lutz crazy on his wife.

dark circles schaech crazy

But there are a couple of good cheap scares with the creepy-crawly ghost woman.

FERTILE GROUND (2011)

 fertile ground cover

Adam Gierasch, director of the Night of the Demons remake, was smart in casting Leisha Hailey of The L Word in the lead role of Fertile Ground.

fertile ground bleed

Her performance saves this otherwise routine movie about a couple that moves to a house in the country and experiences supernatural situations while expecting a child.

fertile ground ghost in window

Like some sort of wink-wink breeder joke, playing opposite an actress from The L Word in Fertile Ground as the husband is Queer As Folk alum Gale Harold (aka: major gay slut Brian Kinney).

fertile ground gale harold

He pretty much thinks his wife is losing her marbles as she becomes increasingly terrified of the house after learning there were numerous murders on the property in the past.

fertile ground wife

As predictable scares persist, this husband also starts to go all George Lutz crazy, the wife battles the evil in the house, and what’s more predictable than the twist ending is that anyone who watches the film will guess the twist ending.

GRACE (2009)

grace cover

I would say Grace is in the tradition of It’s Alive, but the fact is, like Rosemary’s Baby, you never actually see the baby do anything bad. All the vile baby behavior is implied. This movie is more about the psychological horror the desire to be a mother can put a woman through.

While not “scary,” this is definitely a dark film. Jordan Ladd (Cabin Fever, Death Proof, Hostel Part II, Madhouse, Club Dread) plays the longing mother, and to really make us feel her heartache and desperation, the movie puts us through a cycle of tragic attempts at pregnancy. Even her work with a midwife leads to a stillbirth…that is, well, miraculously resurrected from the dead.

grace bottle

Mommy is happier than ever, but she has a little secret. Her baby needs human blood to stay alive. But don’t expect baby to break out into a chorus of “Feed Me, Seymom.” This is not a movie about mom bringing baby victims to eat. It really is a psychological horror about the lengths a mother will go through to keep her baby alive and thriving…like putting a net over the crib to keep the flies away. Ew!

grace flies

It’s a slow burn as the devious mother-in-law attempts to find a way to get closer to her grandchild, and the real shocker moments only come at the end, giving this a real 1970s horror thriller feel.

grace grandma

The most disturbing thing about Grace is that you actually feel bad for the mother throughout the entire film. At least, I hope you do. Or was it just me?

grace boob

Anyway, Grace was definitely my favorite bundle of joyless in this triplet of terror.

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The gore risks of health pills and fast food…

Pictures speak buckets of blood, so I won’t say much about these two splatter flicks, which come nearly 20 years apart and are pretty much all about the weirdness and gore with relatively little importance placed on characters or plot. I mean, yeah, there are deeper, cautionary messages about the society we could become if we don’t smarten—oh fuck. We’re pretty much already there…

BODY MELT (1993)

body melt cover

This Australian film is about a small town in which resident are secretly used as Guinea pigs for a new dietary pill they get in the mail.

body melt intro

The sexy opening scene of a naked man and woman lulls you in…he has already been infected, and is attempting to steal files to warn the people.

body melt mouth

But, well, something stops him from talking.

body melt face

From there, we are bombarded by a whole lot of freakish locals—they’re all mutated, so I’m not sure if they already took the pill or if they’re just your everyday inbred hillbillies.

body melt hillbillies

It’s vomit city as people do much more than melt.

body melt tongue

They have fucked up hallucinations – many of them sexual.

body melt belly

A fricking Alien hugger placenta shoots from a pregnant woman’s va-jay-jay.

body melt grower

A muscle stud’s dick explodes…it’s fun for the whole family of freaks. And it comes complete with a so 1990s “Body Melt” techno theme song during the closing credits.

 

TAETER CITY (2012)

taeter city cover

Having already taken on Judy and splatterfest Adam Chaplin by director Emanuele De Santi, I was confused to discover that there are actually two De Santi’s. Guilio co-directed Adam Chaplin with Emanuele (I think that may have been updated in imdb since I originally blogged about the film), and Guilio is responsible for Taeter City.

taeter city chain crush

Taeter City takes the WTFery of Adam Chaplin to a whole new level. This really looks like an extension of that film (minus Emanuele as a killing machine with bulging muscles), but has essentially no plot or character motivation driving the action forward. It’s just action…and absolutely mind-blowing nonstop gore. Plus, a whole lot of bizarre mutations.

taeter city furry

The basic premise is that in a future society, radio waves are used to make criminals commit suicide. How’s that for forcing you to think pure thoughts at all times?

taeter city eyes

Nasty thing is, the criminals’ bodies are then used to make fast food that is sold to the public.

taeter city mask

Problem is, the radio waves are suddenly malfunctioning, turning the criminals into deformed killers.

taeter city skull mask

But fear not. Special unit are ready to hunt down and absolutely mutilate all the baddies.

taeter city head squish

and you get to watch it all unfold for over an hour, with no character development, dialogue, or plot to get in the way.

taeter city tub

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From Batman to bad movies – the hokey horror of Adam West

adam west

After a notable absence from horror following some appearances in the 80s (One Dark Night, Zombie Nightmare), superhero icon Adam West brought his charms to some cheesy horror as we moved into the new millennium. So here’s a look at 3 Bs with the Batman.

AN AMERICAN VAMPIRE STORY (1997)

american vampire cover

I can’t even wrap my head around how a copycat of Fright Night could be so boring. Adam West is pretty much the only thing this one has going for it.

american vampire lead

A cute kid is home alone for the summer, so he and his buddy plan to party. First night on the beach, they’re attacked by a bat, then a strange dude appears out of nowhere and invites them to hang out.

american vampire bat

This is our main vamp, played by Johnny Venocur, whose horror resume includes Evil Laugh, Hard Rock Nightmare, and Lord of Illusions. Awesome resume, but he’s no Chris Sarandon or Colin Farrell.

american vampire carmen

He invites himself to stay at the main kid’s house. He has two pretty women with him—one of them Carmen Electra if you look hard enough. He has a weirdo assistant/cook, played by veteran actor Sydney Lassick (Carrie, The Unseen, Lady In White, Curse II: The Bite), who seems to thirst after our main kid for more than one reason.

american vampire vamps

NOTHING HAPPENS. Our main kid just endlessly finds hints that there’s something weird about his houseguests. There’s no humor, no nudity, no horror. NOTHING.

american vampire cross

An hour into the film, he finally contacts vampire slayer Adam West, who shines simply because he’s Adam West.

american vampire adam west

Seriously, I don’t even know that the material he’s given is any good, he just knows how to work it. A whole lot more of nothing happens, with a few lame encounters between the main kid and the vamps once he exposes their secret, then Adam West pops back in to help him vanquish them.

american vampire main vamp

Adam West deserved to have a bigger role here—and a different script.

SEANCE (aka: KILLER IN THE DARK) (2001)

seance cover

Séance apparently went unreleased for years and eventually just showed up on YouTube for free viewing. YouTube could be like a one-stop rehab center for failed indie filmmakers– the place you go to admit you have a problem and rid yourself of it all at once.

seance ghost

Recall the absolute cheesiest, messiest, nonsensical episode of Freddy’s Nightmares or Friday the 13th: The Series you ever saw and you’ll know what to expect from this low budget film. Corey Feldman tells his college friends about a little boy ghost he befriended as a child, so they decide to have a séance to try and contact it.

seance seance knife

Through the magic of awful special effects, they are transported to the middle of a slasher situation and witness a guy get murdered.

seance slash

When they return to their séance, they learn the murder actually happened outside their house. Freaking out, they drag Corey’s spiritual grandmother into it, as well his brother, who’s a priest. Meanwhile, they start getting murdered in typical slasher fashion.

seance stab

It’s at the point that everyone is standing outside a garage just screaming at each other and having meltdowns that I realized this was even worse than the worst Freddy’s Nightmares episode.

seance garage

A guy getting killed by a CD that flies out of his computer hammered the point home.

seance CD

The hammer started pounding me in the head when Corey began acting possessed in a hospital.

seance neck slice

Worst of all, another séance transports the group past some homeless guy by a Dumpster, then minutes later he saves them from the killer with a wave of his arms, which leads Corey to say, “That guy must have been an angel.”

seance adam west

It led me to say, “Holy shit, this is the end of the movie and that was Adam West.” WTF? I wouldn’t have realized Adam West was in this film if I wasn’t watching it specifically to write an Adam West horror movie blog…

MONSTER ISLAND (2004)

monster island cover

This throwback parody to 1950s monster movies is also a nostalgic watch because it’s a reminder of the days when MTV still had an ounce of cultural relevance and cool factor left to its name. What’s MTV, you ask? It was a channel that changed the face of music by showing only music videos in the 1980s, and then morphed into a trendy network of programming aimed at young people in the 90s and early 2000s. These days you might hear about it once a year if a pop star does something perverse enough at its annual award show to make it seem edgy again.

monster island mantis

Anyway, in Monster Island, a dude wins an MTV contest to party on an island with his friends and…Carmen Electra!

monster island carmen scream

But just when Carmen hits the stage, a giant wasp flies in and kidnaps her.

monster island carmen kidnap

It’s up to the main guy and his friends to save her. But the jungle is filled with giant praying mantises, giant spiders, fish men, and other mutated creatures!

monster island fish man

Just like the plot, the monster “special effects” have a lot in common with the original King Kong, providing plenty of laughs as the goofy monster models toss people around left and right, get into battles with each other and tractors, and even have sexual relations.

monster island attack guy flies

The cast plays along with the silly fun, and is a perfect product of the time, including MTV VJ La La and Nick Carter of Backstreet Boys.

monster island lala

monster island nick carter

Plus, we get scream queens Chelan Simmons (See No Evil 2, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, Final Destination 3) and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Grindhouse: Death Proof, Black Christmas remake, Final Destination 3).

monster island cast

Adam West comes on board as a scientist with the brains to help the kids find Carmen’s prison and destroy the monsters.

monster island adam west

He’s fun here, but there’s so much going on in Monster Island that he stands out more in that lame vampire flick he appeared in with Carmen Electra…

 

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Is a found footage film porn if It’s about a horny ghost?

ghost team one movie

This is the kind of indie horror comedy/semi-parody movie I can really appreciate, because the young cast nails the material with just the right comic tone, timing, and delivery. Plus, it weaves nonstop dirty sex humor into a traditional found footage ghost film format. And while there’s plenty of cheap adolescent humor to be found here, it refreshingly avoids the pitfall of going for extreme gross out visuals. For whatever reason, that repulsive shit still thrives in sex comedies – I blame it on what I assume are the tasteless proclivities of straight male audiences.

A year before Paranormal Activity decided to add some Latin flavor to its franchise with The Marked Ones, this film featured a bunch of young ghost hunters of color with cameras. Two buddies – one confident, one shy – have a party in the house in which they rent rooms. The shy guy tells a girl he likes that they’re doing a documentary about ghostly activity in the house just to impress her. Turns out she’s totally into the paranormal, finds out there was indeed a murder in the house, and decides to join their investigation…which stirs up some actual activity…

ghost team one nightly visitor

A horny female ghost begins haunting them.

ghost team one ouija

While the girl is busy trying various paranormal methods to communicate with the ghost, the boys end up competing for the girl, using those same methods in their attempts to get with her. Funny scenes include a sexually charged session fingering a Ouija board and a staged sexual performance to turn on the ghost, which turns into an unexpected—and unwelcome—threesome.

Ghost Team One

Meanwhile, the boys have a third roommate, who is your typical white asshole racist. But his tune seriously changes in the final act…when he becomes the conduit through which the horny ghost communicates with them. This guy is hilarious.

ghost team one exorcism

He basically becomes possessed by a geisha girl, dressing the part, playing with his nipples, and tucking so he can flash his girl parts.

ghost team one roommate pinch

He also talks dirty to the boys during the exorcism…quite graphically when he describes what one of the boys needs to do to get the demon out of him.

ghost team one go down

If anything needed to be changed about Ghost Team One, it would be that the climactic finale should arrive sooner. Yes, as usual, my wish is for a shorter running time. The film is 85 minutes long, and I’d say losing a good ten minutes would tighten up the pace. For instance, an entire segment involving an author that wrote a book about the murders at the house could be completely eliminated; it becomes somewhat of a one-note joke and isn’t all that funny. Plus, the scene runs about ten minutes long…

Also, I wouldn’t mind more found footage of the roommate in his Speedo.

ghost team one roommate cheeks

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Boys battling beasts from beyond

Here are two very different types of indie horror comedies about goofy guys thrust into otherworldly situations. So did they charm the pants off me?

ORCS! (2011)

orcs cover

I have to admit, despite being a horror diehard, I loathe any sci-fi that isn’t Star Wars, so my hubby had to explain to me that it’s Orc with a “c” and it’s not the planet Mork is from. But the good thing about the film Orcs! is that it’s a comedy that speaks to both horror and sci-fi fans. And the three leads appeared in horror comedy Vamp U, which is a plus for me.

The first part of the film plays out like an old school slow burning creature feature with a comic twist. Two park rangers, a lazy veteran and a newbie, investigate some strange occurrences in the woods, and the newbie begins suspecting there’s a Bigfoot on the loose.

orcs scream

Although the pacing is a bit slow at first, stars Maclain Nelson and Adam Johnson are a great comic duo, and as an added bonus, the woman who plays the head ranger is a hoot. The comic moments blend perfectly with the classic “there’s something out in the woods” horror elements so that this doesn’t feel like a parody.

orcs head on stake

When the first Orc attacks – yikes! Things get crazy within minutes, and the Orcs are no slouches. This is some serious movie monster design, not some cheap horror spoof crap makeup job.

orcs orc face

The pace picks up, and main girl Renny Grames steps in to join the guys (she plays a tree hugger type) to take on an army of Orcs!

orcs hiding out

This is also where the movie shifts from the horror feel to a more playful sci-fi action flick straight through the end. This is definitely fun for the whole family (of gays…one of us who likes horror, the other sci-fi).

CHAINSAW MAIDENS FROM HELL (2016)

chainsaw maidens from hell cover

I added this one to my streaming watchlist through gay blinders. This is what I saw when it caught my eye on Amazon Prime:

Blake is captain of the football team and destined for a career in the pro leagues – that is if he passes his chemistry class. But destiny has a way of tackling the toughest of players when demons invade his college and begin to enslave the student body. A divine angel descends to give Blake an invincible suit of super football pads and send him out to battle the forces of evil. Unfortunately, the suit is missing one vital piece – the jock strap. In order to get it back, Blake must descend into the underworld and face the guardians of doom

Somehow, I failed to see that the blurb ends with “known as The Chainsaw Maidens from Hell.” I also failed to notice that the title of the film is called Chainsaw Maidens from Hell. Well, guess what? Instead of a whole lot of scenes of a hunky football player fighting demons for a jockstrap, I got scenes of not just chainsaw maiden demons, but lesbian chainsaw maidens.

chainsaw maidens from hell maidens

Chainsaw Maidens From Hell is one of those low budget, high school performance type indies, with Lloyd Kaufman leading the charge as the football coach. The goofy cute (not hunky) football player lead is soon visited by an angel (horror icon Kane Hodder) who informs him that he’ll be the one fighting the demons with a uniform that will make him invincible once he gets back the jockstrap.

chainsaw maidens from hell demon

So he’s sent down to hell with his geeky tutor, who is a big hit with the lesbian chainsaw maidens. Sigh.

chainsaw maidens from hell leads and hodder

The movie has some moments that will almost make you crack a close-lipped smile on the inside, but the leads are rather shrill and annoying most of the time and the general tone of the film is very amateur.

chainsaw maidens from hell alchemist

On the bright side, despite Kaufman being attached to the film, there’s absolutely no crude Troma sex or shit humor. This is pretty tame stuff. The down side of that is, we never see a football player in a jockstrap, the only reason I watched the film. I don’t even know why I bothered when I can simply do a “football player in jockstrap” Google video search….

chainsaw maidens from hell football cheer

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Just axe and you shall receive…but not an axe

What to do when you stream two movies with the word “axe” in their titles…but very little axetion in the axetual films? Blog about them, of course!

AXEMAN (2013)

axeman cover

Director Joston Theney’s Axeman 2 is already on the way, and although it took a while to get me hyped for it, by the time I reached the end of Axeman, I was ready for part 2.

The fact is, Axeman feeds the most basic slasher needs – sex and violence. Things start off strong with scream queen Tiffany Shepis and some buddies as baddies up to no good in the woods. There’s hell to pay when a towering man breaks into their place, which gives the impression that some sort of criminal business deal went wrong. But no, this big assed dude is just our psycho killer (and former NBA player Scot Pollard).

axeman killer

Up next, a whole load of pretty people—especially the boys.

axeman pretty boy bod

So I can’t complain about the copious amounts of sex talk and sex scenes that take place throughout much of the film…except for the fact that most of it is girl-on-girl.

axeman les peep and film

Although, one pervy dude does make a deliciously nasty beat-off buddy suggestion to director Joston Theney (who also stars in the film) while they’re peeping some lesbian action.

axeman circle jack

The group also has some relationship drama and sits around discussing an urban legend of…the Axeman! Then they split up for more sex, and periodically someone gets killed by the big guy with…a knife. Yeah, the legend is bullshit, because the Axeman uses a knife for a majority of his kills.

axeman knife in eye
“Careful, you have an eyelash in…oh, wait. That’s a knife.”

While the movie feels like it’s not going anywhere but the cabin bedrooms, all of a sudden, the killer comes in and starts going to town! Shit gets violent and bloody fast and several of the deaths are viciously prolonged.

axeman cutie kill

Scream queen Brinke Stevens joins in on the fun as the local sheriff in a brief cameo that captures the campy style for which she’s known. Seriously, the climax delivers hard and good, with the promise of more to come. Just the way I like it.

THE AXE MURDERS OF VILLISCA (2016)

axe murders of villisca cover

Enjoy the slick home axe massacre enacted by horror veteran Sean Whalen (aka: Roach of The People Under the Stairs) at the beginning of this fictional ghost film built around a real life massacre, because that’s the hottest piece of axe you’re going to get in The Axe Murders of Villisca.

axe murders of villisca axe man

Next, we meet three high school outcasts. In a refreshing twist, the butch brooding boy is gay.

axe murders of villisca gay
Pretty gay…

His sensitive, pretty boy buddy is straight and invites a slut-shamed girl to join them on a tour of the supposedly haunted Villisca house, where the axe murders took place back in 1912.

axe murders of villisca straight
Pretty straight…

The girl suggests they break into the place for a closer look at the off limits areas at night. I have to admit, the movie was really holding my interest, not only because it focused on few characters, but also because it was avoiding the obvious cheap scare tactics.

axe murders of villisca dolls in bed

For instance, when the girl takes a selfie in the dark basement, there is not a creepy apparition standing behind her in the photo.

axe murders of villisca seance

The slow burn builds right to the point when the trio sits down for a séance. I have to ask, do straight boys really try to impress girls with fart humor? Anyway, once the fart cements the straight stereotypes, out come the cringeworthy gay stereotypes. This time, we get the gay guy who is disturbingly possessive of his straight best friend and hateful toward any girl that shows an interest in him. Sigh. Personally, after the fart, I’d be like, “Bitch, he’s all yours.”

Moments after the gay guy flips out on the girl, the trio’s archenemies, a couple of bullies from school, break into the paranormally inactive house, and it’s suddenly supernatural evil to the MAX. What’s worse, this clusterfuck tries to explore the feelings and issues of each character by putting them through the motions of being haunted and possessed and blaming it all on the house. Yet the movie fails to in any way develop what is making the ghosts of the past act out against the characters or why the haunting is unleashing the characters’ guilt and misery.

axe murders of villisca knife attack

As for the horrors, you get demon eyes, crawling ghost girls, a gay kiss that immediately morphs into a gay bashing, a cameo by the axe, a couple of deaths, a big redemption moment for a main character, and a totally cheesy tag revealing the ghostly new tenants in the house.

 

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Exorcising those found footage demons

With possession films, found footage films, and the combination of both all the rage these days, I try to avoid that combination as much as possible. Once in a while, I cave and watch a popular title, or slip and put a less familiar title in one of my streaming watchlists. This blog is a result of both instances.

THE DEVIL INSIDE (2012)

devil inside cover

One of those mainstream possession/exorcism movies I was in no rush to see – aka: wait until it’s free on a streaming service – The Devil Inside was even worse than I expected.

It starts on October 30th, 1989, because the end of October makes everything scarier. Some woman calls 911 to let them know she’s killed a bunch of people. Cops show up at the house, we get to see all the bloody bodies in found footage POV, and there’s a really bad attempt at a jump scare done Paranormal Activity final frame style.

devil inside mother lips

Years later, the woman’s now grown daughter is doing a documentary film about the possibility that her mom is possessed. She goes to a lot of seminars and meetings that tell us everything we already learned from The Exorcist 40 years ago. She connects with a priest that breaks the Catholic Church’s rules on exorcisms, because that’s what happened in The Exorcist.

devil inside basement exorcism

She attends an exorcism that looks like it’s taking place in Jigsaw’s lair for some reason, where a possessed chick is tied to a bed. She snarls, growls, talks dirty, bleeds from her va-jay-jay, and gets in the spider crawl position, because that’s what happened in The Exorcist. Seriously younger generations. Just fucking watch The Exorcist.

 devil inside found footage demon walk

The daughter attends an exorcism performed on her mother, the demon jumps bodies, and a possessed person roaming through a dark house while everyone else runs around screaming with flashlights, because that’s what happens in found footage films. Yeah, I’m done writing about this movie.

THE QUIET ONES (2014)

quiet ones cover

John Pogue, director of the deliciously entertaining Quarantine 2: Terminal, brings us this very different horror experience. While it takes place in 1974, which happens to put its time period within a year of the release of the film The Exorcisteureka! It’s a fricking original take on the possessed girl genre.

quiet ones doll

More complex than your standard possession film, The Quiet Ones isn’t an exorcism through de-demonizing film, but an exorcism through debunking film. A college professor/psychiatrist is trying to prove that his possessed patient is actually creating paranormal chaos with her own mind. He invites one of his male students to film his work with her in an old house, and shit gets freaky, considering séances are a daily part of the professor’s experiments.

quiet ones seance

Only occurrences involving the possessed girl are shot “found footage” style, which is refreshing and makes them all that more effective and eerie. And because she doesn’t look and act all “demonized,” she becomes a character you sort of feel bad for. Of course, you’re also thinking, “This poor innocent girl is going to start doing really obscene things with her tongue any minute.”

quiet ones bile snake

But not the main kid. He fully believes she’s being abused, and tries to convince the professor’s two assistants that they need to help him get her out of there. And that’s when all hell breaks loose.

Jane Harper (Olivia Cooke) and Brian McNeil (Sam Claflin) in THE QUIET ONES. Photo Credit: Chris Harris, from Lionsgate publicity site

The Quiet Ones avoids the most annoyingly predictable clichés of both possession films and found footage films and delivers a unique story with a few twists and EEK! moments along the way. It also heavily features the rock classic “Cum On Feel The Noize,” but…surprise! It’s the original 1973 recording by Slade, not the Quiet Riot 1983 hit cover version. And here’s the video to prove it actually is a different guy singing…

 

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Take a Hard Ride to Hell and enter the Devil’s Den

It’s always fun finding lesser-known indies packed with horror veterans being dropped into familiar scenarios, to see how they’ll handle shit we’ve seen before with different actors. For instance, these two films…

DEVIL’S DEN (2006)

devils den cover

Director Jeff Burr has decades of cheesy horror under his belt – From a Whisper to A Scream, Stepfather II, Texas Chainsaw III, Puppet Master 4&5, Pumpkinhead II, Night of the Scarecrow – so it’s no surprise that Devil’s Den sticks with that tradition. It’s sort of like From Dusk Till Dawn meets the campy monster hunter shows of the 2000s, with a fun cast of familiar horror faces. Essentially, this could have been a pilot movie for a SyFy TV show.

Devon Sawa (Final Destination, Idle Hands, 388 Arlette Avenue) and Steven Schub (The Thirteenth Floor, Dead & Deader) are drug dealing buddies on their way back from Mexico when they make a pit stop at a strip club. You know where this is going…

devils den at club

When all hell breaks loose, the booty-shaking babes turn into snarling ghouls!

devils den face

No vamps this time. Horror icon Ken Foree is a patron who proves to be the authority on the creatures, and Kelly Hu (Jason Takes Manhattan, Succubus: Hell-Bent, Farm House) is a mysteriously well-trained fighting machine. And bringing the most humor to the mix is a ditzy chick who works at the club (Karen Maxwell of Zombie Nation).

devils den cast

The first monster assault is a bloody blast and the ghouls are way cool.

devils den attack

Following that, the film continues to entertain, but it most definitely begins to feel more like a hokey SyFy Network show, so you have to prepare yourself for the more action-oriented, mission-based plot and low budget look.

devils den boss redo

It totally works for what it is, but doesn’t live up to the promise made by the initial setup.

HARD RIDE TO HELL (2010)

hard ride to hell cover

I think for anyone who saw the film Race with the Devil back in the day, no other movie that picks up the premise will ever manage to be quite as chilling and effective. Smartly, Hard Ride to Hell doesn’t try to be. Instead, it goes for a more gruesome, exploitative approach.

A bunch of friends is traveling through Texas in an RV, most of them with horror resume in hand. Leading the pack are Katharine Isabelle of Ginger Snaps fame and Brandon Jay McLaren (Hybrid, Scar, Tucker and Dale vs Evil, Dead Before Dawn, TV shows Harper’s Island and Slasher).

hard ride to hell brandon

When they stop for the night, Brandon meanders off into the woods and witnesses a biker gang performing a sadistic Satanic ritual on a bunch of girls at a campfire.

hard ride to hell cult leader

BUSTED! The gang spots him and chases him right back to the RV. Shit gets crazy fast, the bikers spend a nice amount of time torturing the group – which includes biting them like vampires even though they’re not vampires – and become fixated on one girl who has been having fertility problems but is apparently just the vessel they’ve been waiting for…

hard ride to hell bite

As in many of these backwoods movies, luckily there’s some odd character waiting in the wings to come and save the day.

hard ride to hell chainsaw

When he does, there’s a thrilling chase scene with the RV and bikes that eventually leads to a church in a ghost town, where the whole pregnancy issue comes into play. The amount of actual demonic threat is saved for the end, so this is predominantly a human-vs-human horror flick.

hard ride to hell demon attack

The highlight for me is Katharine Isabelle. Her character is pretty much a quivering mess, but she brings rational snarkiness to the situation, and her character’s lines get funnier as the film progresses.

Hard ride to Hell

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It’s Halloween…I wouldn’t go in there if I were you

Looking for cheap thrills on Halloween is all tricks and treats…until someone gets killed. That’s what kids learn in this trio of flicks I streamed in June because I just needed a dose of the holiday season.

6 DEGREES OF HELL (2012)

6 degrees of hell cover

I love my Halloween haunted attraction movies, but although this one is described as such in places (probably to draw in suckers like me), and even though director and star (and cutie) Joe Raffa (left below) appeared in Halloween haunted attraction film Hallow’s Eve, 6 Degrees of Hell is not particularly a Halloween film. It is most definitely about a haunted attraction though.

6 degrees of hell cast

Here’s the issue you’ll have to get past in order to enjoy the wickedly entertaining final massacre in the haunted attraction. The plot of 6 Degrees of Hell is all over the place. The first thing it easily have done without is having Cory Feldman as a psychic investigator interrogating a cop about what happened at the haunted attraction.

6 degrees of hell feldman

In other words, the film itself is a flashback as told by the cop. However, it’s more than that. There are flashbacks within flashbacks about various characters, but we’re never quite made aware of any of the timelines or how they all connect. The main group of friends is tied together by their work on the haunted attraction and the death of one guy’s sister a year before. There’s also a psychic who lent some of her haunted items to them for the attraction and a ghost hunting crew that wants to film at the attraction. And everyone has a paranormal backstory. HEADACHE.

6 degrees of hell hottie

But damn the guys are cute. I found it particularly sexy whenever the studly police chief spat anti-gay slurs at Raffa’s character. They seriously need to make a whole different kind of cop and delinquent movie together.

6 degrees of hell cop

Although the jumping timeline is confusing, I really liked the playful, late 90s slasher vibe of the film, and the characters were oddly likeable. And when the horror hits, it hits hard.

6 degrees of hell sister

There’s a gruesome flashback/vision of what happened to the dead sister that clashes with the lighter tone of the rest of the film, but then the horror gets fun when two of the guys decide to go dig up the sister’s grave to make sure she’s still there.

6 degrees of hell demon girl

This scene hits a bit too late in the film, because it’s the moment we’ve been waiting for…demonic killer madness!

6 degrees of hell clown

There’s possession, walking corpses, and ghoulish antics inside the haunted attraction as the workers become possessed killing machines and the ticket holders become part of the show! Sadly, it’s over in a flash.

6 degrees of hell table bend

In a sense, 6 Degrees of Hell is like actually going to a haunted attraction. You spend a majority of the time waiting around for the fun to begin, talking to your friends on line about totally random, unrelated shit you won’t even remember tomorrow, you’re finally let in for a wild ride of monster madness, and within minutes it’s over and you’re like, “That’s it? The good stuff was just getting started!”

ABANDONED MINE (aka: The Mine) (2012)

abandoned mine cover

The first ten minutes or so of this film are loaded with Halloween atmosphere. The main guy playfully taunts trick or treaters as he drives down the street.

abandoned mine halloween spirit

He stops at a store covered in Halloween décor to pick up his girlfriend. There’s a montage of girls getting dressed in costumes for a party. There’s even an awesome killer in a mask…that turns out to be a prank.

abandoned mine costume

Then…the kids spend Halloween night in a supposedly haunted old mine. They recount an old legend about miners raping a family and entombing them down there. They find signs of life down there. They get stuck down there. They get attacked by bats. See a spider. Have close calls with death. Talk about whether or not they believe in ghosts.

abandoned mine crawlspace

FINALLY, kids start dying, but it’s always far off. Eventually, a couple of them turn up dead and the others run around the tunnels screaming. Although it’s not a found footage film, the POV and bouncing flashlights often mimic the style.

abandoned mine kid faces

Finally, the only real entertaining part of the film: the twist. But honestly, if you’ve seen the film Catacombs, you’ve seen a much more frightening film leading up to the same twist.

HELL HOUSE LLC (2015)

hell house llc cover

Structured somewhat like a documentary about an inexplicable catastrophe at a Halloween haunted attraction, Hell House LLC shifts to found footage format after the initial background is presented (very The Blair Witch Project).

hell house llc sign

The film isn’t actually about what happened on opening night when all the visitors of the attraction fled screaming in terror. It’s about the freaky shit that went on while the group of haunters was crashing at the location in which they were setting up the attraction beforehand: an old hotel.

This movie is intense as hell. Initially, the workers are terrorized by a damn freaky clown figure that seems to keep moving around on its own. Naturally, they at first keep blaming each other for playing pranks.

hell house llc clowns

But weird incidents begin to build and more and more of the props seem to be coming to life and moving on their own. It is absolutely unnerving. The strobe light scene alone will mess you up…

hell house llc strobes

Now for the problem. It becomes so fucking terrifying that it is inexcusable that these kids continue to stay at this place and continue to blame it on pranks and continue to run around in the dark with just flashlights looking for pranksters after every terrifying incident. ARGH.

But the absolute most offending moment for the sake of a good cheap scare has to be when one dude wakes up to see a possessed girl just sitting on the floor across the room, and pulls his fricking blanket over his head for some cheap Darkness Falls scares. SERIOUSLY. A grown man pulls a blanket over his head instead of, I don’t know, maybe throwing the blanket over her fucking head and running out of the room???

hell house demon girl

We do finally get to see what happened the night of the grand opening incident, but don’t expect it to answer any questions as to why it happened. And the movie doesn’t end there, as the chick making the documentary about the incident feels the need to sneak into the old hotel with her cameraman, delivering one last found footage scare that also doesn’t explain anything…

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