Sometimes you just need a good body count to refresh your horror palette. These three films did the job nicely.
Sarah Roemer (The Grudge 2, Disturbia) plays a girl who makes the bright decision to go to college where her brother committed suicide. There she meets a handful of dorm mates, including cutie Travis Van Winkle, who played an asshole jock in the Friday the 13th remake and plays an asshole jock here, and Cody Kasch, who played Mary Alice’s weirdo son on Desperate Housewives and plays a weirdo here.
The group finds out the closed off section of their dorm building was once an insane asylum where a crazy doctor experimented on patients years ago, so…they break in. Pretty soon, each is being haunted by visions of their past and the person who made them feel really shitty about themselves…right before that person kills them. When the body is found, it simply looks like a suicide.
Really, it’s just a sleek update of Elm Street 3. Good atmosphere, some cheap thrills and vicious kills, and eventually, the crazy doctor coming out in full form to chase the survivors around.
Plus, a cameo by Lin Shaye.
STAUNTON HILL (2009)
Cameron Romero – aka: George Romero Jr. – hasn’t made many horror films, and from what I can tell online, they don’t get much love, including this one. I’m kind of surprised. Although Staunton Hill is about as derivative as backwoods horror can get, it has a gritty low budget indie horror feel befitting of the fact that it takes place in 1969 in Texas. It not only tips its hat to Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but it sets itself in just the right timeframe for one of the characters to mention Romero Sr.’s classic Night of the Living Dead.
A group of socially conscious young people hiking to a DC rally stops at a gas station for directions—and the black guy in the group immediately gets called the n word. A guy who steps in to break up any friction offers the group a ride. The truck breaks down, so they hike to a barn, sleep in their overnight, and then meet the family that owns it…
The family consists simply of a big goon who does all the really gruesome mutilating, an obese mom who walks with a cane, and a mousy grandma in a wheelchair who looks like she rolled right out of the original Mother’s Day. So it’s kind of annoying that these fuckers get the best of all these healthy young people. But naturally, it’s easy when you divide and conquer.
Staunton Hill isn’t “scary,” but it’s quite disturbing. While it initially seems to be cramming a message about race and bigotry in our faces, it goes deeper than that. Each time someone is heinously drained of life, the suffering is interspersed with clips of that person only hours before, looking happy, young, and beautiful.
It’s a jarring reminder of our naïve assumption of sustainability. And what is scary as fuck is to see in action kinds of people that really do exist on this planet – soulless beings that see no worth in human beings and can simply butcher there physicality and snuff out their life without a second thought.
THE SCAR CROW (2009)
When this film started, I thought I was really going to hate it. I ended up ordering the DVD as soon as I finished streaming it.
The Scar Crow is similar to the film Witches’ Night, in which a bunch of buddies is terrorized by a gaggle of beautiful witches in the woods. But this movie has a more defined witch backstory plus a killer scarecrow!
Four military guys are dropped off in the middle of nowhere for a team building exercise and stumble upon three pretty sisters slaughtering pigs in the woods. Despite warnings from locals to stay away from the area – and despite the fact that these three girls are covered in blood and are dressed and speak like they come from a time when girls were hung and burned as witches – the guys decide to party with them at their farm.
The girls tell stories of a curse on the farm involving three sisters, their evil dad, and a scarecrow. Man, these guys can’t take a hint and only think with their dicks. Therefore, the first kill seriously goes for the goods.
The Scar Crow isn’t terrifying, but it has a great witchy atmosphere, a macabre killer scarecrow, some seriously gruesome deaths, a soundtrack that perfectly fits the black magic tone, and even some lesbian incest for the straight boys.
And best of all, it really doesn’t play by the rules. Just when you think you’ve got all the characters pegged, they end up doing the complete opposite of what you’d expect.
Plus, it has a cheesy good macabre ending in the tradition of Tales from the Crypt.