Sometimes you just have to give in to the pleasure of the horror even if you’re not sure what the frick is going on. As with this double feature I took on, which happens to bookend the first decade of the new millennium.
THE ATTIC EXPEDITIONS (2001)
After recently streaming, blogging about, then purchasing director Jeremy Kasten’s film The Thirst on DVD, I realized that along with The Wizard of Gore remake and All Souls Day, I had all his horror flix from the 2000s in my collection except The Attic Expeditions. Fixed that quick. I overlooked it back in 2001, so I’m glad it didn’t pass me by completely. The cast alone makes this a horror gem to own.
Interestingly, it reminds of the more psychotic/cerebral horror flicks of the late 80s/early 90s, considering it stars Andras Jones, best known as Alice’s brother Rick in 1988’s Elm Street 4! He wakes up in a mental institution after brain surgery, and his doctor, horror icon Jeffrey Combs, sends him to a special “home” to recover.
With no memory of what transpired before his operation, Andras experiences visions and dreams of being drawn into the occult by his fiancée.
He has nightmarish dreams about going up into the attic of the home, which is off limits, where he finds a trunk he wants to open up. He begins to suspect that something was done to his brain during his operation and he’s actually being manipulated. And then other patients start getting murdered…
It’s almost like Andras never left Freddy’s clutches, because this whole film is a trippy, surreal nightmare. As Andras tries to uncover the truth with the help of his housemate Seth Green, things take a wickedly surprising turn in the final act.
This is one of those more abstract movie concepts, which isn’t usually my thing, but the framework of the plot, including the twist, works within a sense of reality (you know, killer on the loose in a crazy house reality). Therefore, it’s possible to enjoy the most basic premise and the awesome climactic massacre it delivers even if you don’t want to dwell too much on the more complex levels.
The cast also includes Ted Raimi, Wendy Robie of People Under the Stairs, and Alice Cooper (super brief hit-n-run cameo as mental patient).
Plus, Seth Green is at his best as Andras’s new BFF, although it turns out Seth’s looking more for a friends with benefits arrangement…
FEVER NIGHT aka BAND OF SATANIC OUTSIDERS (2009)
As someone who never dabbled in hallucinogens beyond Cherry Coke, I can only assume that the cinematic style of Fever Night aka Band of Satanic Outsiders is meant to emulate that sensory experience. You need to be mentally prepared to go on a trip before attempting to watch this one.
As for the plot, I’d describe it as imagining what happened for all those hours in the woods after the satanic ritual in Jennifer’s Body. This film is about a sort of unlikely trio of Satanists – a girl, a pretty boy goth, and a sort of jock type. They head into the woods and perform a ritual around a fire.
Nothing seems to happen, so they head back to the car. Again nothing happens, because the car won’t start. During an attempt to push start it, there’s a horrible accident that leaves the girl a bit of a mess. The jock sees a mysterious light in the distance and heads off for help, leaving the terrified pretty boy by himself.
And he should be terrified. The ritual did work. They unleashed something and are about to experience some seriously fucked up shit all night long.
Fever Night is darkly comic and quirky with great performances by the two guys (the girl’s…um…body is MIA for most of the film). The trippy horror tone and atmosphere is reminiscent of late 1970s/early 1980s horror, with close, warped camera perspectives and eerie, shadowy lighting.
The bizarro situations the guys experience include discovering trails of mutilation, floating and bleeding animal skulls, visions of pleasurable temptations, and, well, for the pretty boy…a horrific hillbilly humping that would make Ned Beatty sound more like a whiner than a squealer….
I was really into the film for a majority of the time, but I think it runs a little too long. The unique style starts to wear on you after a while.
Plus, there’s an incredible sense of foreboding that just keeps building, then just when it seems like it’s really going to pay off – in an Evil Dead sort of way – the horror is discarded for an even more extreme level of way out there that just completely lost my interest.