Is the Boogeyman trilogy a thrillogy?

As I revisited the 2005 Boogeyman and got the same vibe the chilling opening of Darkness Falls gave me—boy terrified of monster coming into his room—I couldn’t fathom why I remembered nothing about this film.

Then I watched the rest if it.

This is one of the most inept, sloppy, disjointed scripts you could imagine, with the whole concept of the film morphing constantly, unable to decide what story it wants to tell. And watching the deleted scenes on the DVD thinking they might clear things up, I discovered these messy deletions would have just made things worse and can’t even imagine how someone thought it logical to have them in the script in the first place.

7th Heaven cutie Barry Watson (Teaching Mrs. Tingle) meanders through one scene after another, scared and nearly in tears, not making any sense of anything being thrown at him…or us.

15 years after witnessing his father get dragged into a closet by the Boogeyman, Watson’s Thanksgiving at his annoying girlfriend’s house is interrupted by news of his mother Lucy Lawless’s death, right after her corpse ghost terrorizes him for reasons unknown.

He goes home, stops at a mental institution to see some girl, goes to his mom’s funeral, and then goes back to the creepy old house he grew up in. He talks to a another young girl, goes into the scary closet and encounters the Boogeyman, hangs out with his former girlfriend just before she became the star of Bones, gets attacked by a bunch of ghost children, checks into a motel with his girlfriend, and then starts using closets to travel from one place to another to watch people he loves die.

He talks to the little girl again in the park in the middle of the night, she brings him to some lair covered in newspaper clippings, I guess we are supposed to assume the Boogeyman was a child molester, we have no idea why he hangs out in closets and kills only adults, and finally, Watson seems to conclude that he can kill the Boogeyman with the toys in his bedroom (exactly how old was he when he left home for college?).

BOOGEYMAN 2 (2007)

Ah, when they decide to dig in their heels and make a sequel to an already bad movie…and just end up digging the storyline into a deeper hole.

In this opener, a kid is afraid to go to the bathroom because the hall light is out. So dad change the bulb…and Boogeyman 2 comes out of the closet to deck dad in the halls instead, while both the boy and his sister watch the attack.

Years later, the sister is the one who is all fucked up over it. She checks herself into a loony bin so Boogeyman 2 can play Elm Street 3, slicing and dicing a bunch of teenage nutcases.

The sequel has something going for it—lots of gory kills. But once again Boogeyman 2 can’t stick to a clear mythology. At first his kills seem to be sort of supernatural—a kid from Super 8 gets caught up in a Session 9 light chase scene then killed in an elevator, the kid from Jennifer’s Body gets bugs in his chip bag then drinks a poisonous chemical. Yet Boogeyman 2 where’s a mask and uses sharp objects to kill. Curious.

Suddenly the main girl decides he actually uses your fears against you, a theory that barely holds together—for instance, was the dude afraid of the dark or death by elevator? Was the other dude afraid of bugs or of drinking poison?

The main girl finds an article that tells her the fate of Barry Watson to provide some connection to the first film. Also, Tobin Bell takes a break from the Saw franchise to play a creepy doctor who acts and sounds like Jigsaw. And when all is said and done…

This shit is basically Friday the 13th: A New Beginning. LAME.

BOOGEYMAN 3 (2008)

It seems as if the director of Jolly Roger and Axe Giant was like “I’m just going to take this crap out with a bang and do a Freddy Krueger type slasher.”

And Boogeyman 3 totally works as that. It doesn’t even need to connect to the other two films, but it does. The girl in the first scene is Photoshopped into a picture with Tobin Bell. After being terrified by Boogeyman 3, she runs to her friend’s college dorm room. She pulls some Elm Street 4 shit, handing the horror off to make it her friend’s problem.

Boogeyman 3 not only kills people in gory good ways, he also puts them through scary dream-like experiences first (mostly blood pouring into rooms from various openings).

He’s a great looking ghoul this time, the downside being that he always flickers onto screen looking like he’s trying to insert himself into the “Take On Me” video by a-ha. The best part is that every time he pops up, he growls “Rah!” like a kid scaring a sibling from behind a bedroom door. It’s hilarious and annoyingly effective. I can’t deny that one of the most obvious jump scares scared the shit out of me because of the “Rah!”

The fantastic kills even deliver some eerie aftermath at times, and there’s a fricking vent scene from hell. Plus, the plot is finally simple…if you believe in Boogeyman 3, he comes for you. That leads to a delicious decision for the main girl…but then the movie totally throws that all out the window for a couple of final scares. Argh! But not argh to the scares. They were cool.

Seriously, Boogeyman 3 is the best of the bunch, and now I know why I bothered to keep the series in my collection. This film is a worthy inclusion, and my OCD would never allow me to own just the third film in a franchise.

Posted in Movie Times & Television Schedules - Staying Entertained, The Evil of the Thriller - Everything Horror | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Slashing in the woods, in the mountains, and in a T-shirt?

Slashers never fully go out of style, but they sure do go through dry spells. If you’re hunting for something you haven’t seen yet…does these three satisfy?

YOU MIGHT BE THE KILLER (2018)

The director of Husk, Animal, and contributor to Chilling Visions: 5 States of Fear brings us a slasher that tries desperately to approach the tired, meta slasher genre from a different angle, but the references are so cliché at this point that it’s time for filmmakers to start making meta movies about meta movies. Hell, that could have been the point of this one. There’s just no way to tell anymore.

Poor Fran Kranz of The Cabin in the Woods is once again stuck in a horror template, running from a killer at his summer camp this time (complete with the Jason kill-kill-kill sound). So he calls his friend Alyson Hannigan, who works at a video store, for tips on how to survive.

Willow tries using her comic experience from Buffy, How I Met Your Mother, and American Pie to make the material feel fresh, but it’s just not. The only difference here is that a character on the phone is delivering the same old slasher trope references instead of the actual characters in the slasher story.

To guide him through his situation, Willow has Kranz describe everything that led up to the moment he has reached in his slasher plot, which is where the problems begin. The movie is presented out of order, with each new time shift giving an onscreen count of how many counselors are dead. So it can go from seven to five to zero to six, which creates a nonsequential mess that leaves us simply watching for the kill scenes.

The kill sequences are the best part. If the film had just presented itself chronologically, it would at least be a serviceable formulaic slasher. Even the concept of how the killer comes to be and relates to Kranz’s character is kind of fun, it just gets overshadowed by all the jumping around.

The thing I was feeling most about this movie is the theme song by Harlo.

 

HELL’S BELLE

This silly slasher was okay, but it really needed a more intense ending. Instead the climax is, well, anti-climactic.

A college professor takes a bunch of students into the mountains looking for evidence of Jesse James and his gang.

After too much talk and a couple of shower scenes (seriously, there are two shower scenes), the professor goes missing and the students go looking for him.

They also begin getting terrorized by a supernatural woman who appears in a black cloud of plasma before doing shit like throwing victims off a cliff or dropping a rock on them.

As basic as it is, there are a few scenes that have a lot of creepy potential—the ghost levitating over a sleeping guy, a shifting, contorting, floating body incident, and an attack in the water. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of nothing to get through between those scenes. But mad respect to the stylist for the woman police officer.

SILK SCREAM (2017)

The early 80s video rental opening kill grabbed me immediately, right down to the freeze frame and echoing scream as a synth score kicks in.

That and just a few other kills absolutely nail that vibe. What we are left with is a bunch of people at a screen printing T-shirt shop trying to act all Clerks quirky drab, but the writing simply can’t pull it off. For instance, you know the creative forces are struggling when they resort to fart humor.

It’s always disappointing when an indie film demonstrates a great sense of classic horror moments but not much in the way of narrative. Two guys at the shop try to investigate the murders, and so do two detectives, but none of it is compelling. And all the character banter at the shop just fills time between kills.

They are the highlight here, and they get more and more bloody and graphic with old school sexual situations as the film progresses, plus they use only practical effects.

Posted in Scared Silly - Horror Comedy, Sound Check - The Songs Stuck in My Head, The Evil of the Thriller - Everything Horror | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Indulging in the full Feast

John Gulager, son of Clu Gulager (who reignited his career with 80s horror), won Ben & Matt’s Project Greenlight, and the first Feast was born. Naturally, his dad stars in all three installments, and these midnight movie grindhouse creature features just get more disgusting and perverse along the way. So let’s take a look at some of the highlights.

FEAST (2005)

You can kind of tell the first film was less in John Culager’s control and more in the hands of Hollywood. There are numerous familiar names in the cast (Balthazar Getty, Jason Mewes, Henry Rollins, Duane Whitaker, Eric Dane), and even the most over-the-top moments are tame compared to what comes in the sequels.

A group of rednecks gets trapped in a bar by a handful of big gnarly monsters in the first film.

Each film begins with still frame introductions of characters with stats. Shaky cam and quick, choppy editing is used to create a frenetic pace in all three films, and keeps the monsters more of a mystery for most of the first film. It’s the full awesome CGI-free monster Monty in the sequels. Also of note is that the surprise trick in these movies becomes less of a surprise after a while—the person you least expect to die gets torn apart out of nowhere.

Here’s some of the fun you can expect in the first film:

–A kid is eaten

–A baby monster humps a deer head on the wall

–Baby monster also face fucks a bound biker chick who spits out its cum

–A face gets ripped off

–A guy’s eye gets pulled out slowly and then the socket gets maggots later

–Two monsters have sex

–A monster’s dick and balls get trapped in a door

–A monster pulls off Henry Rollins’s pants (clearly it has better taste than the face-fucking baby monster)

–Balthazar Getty asks him if he’s gay later because he is wearing pink sweats and speaks like he’s educated

–The group straps bombs to a person with no leg and uses her as bait

–one chick gets to a truck safely and leaves them all to die. This self-serving theme carries through all the films and just gets worse.

FEAST II: SLOPPY SECOND (2008)

Picking up where the first film left off, the sequel’s plot is about a biker chick hunting down Balthazar Getty for something he did to her twin in the first movie, yet she never finds him because he didn’t return for the sequel. This movie is also my least favorite. It runs 100 minutes long and starts to drag despite all the insanity, such as:

–Biker chick heads to Balthazar’s town after torturing Clu until he gives the address. She takes him along and they meet a whole new group of sleazy people

–The biker chick shoots a dog

–We see hairy girl pussy when a chick having sex with a little man is dragged out the window by a monster.

–Clu bites off the ear of the chick who deserted them in the first film after banging her head against a toilet bowl with shit floating in it

–The group dissects a monster and goo splats all over them. Its wiener pisses all over them, too

–There is a domino effect puke party

–Another maggot moment during a sex dream

–A guy goes to rescue a crying baby, but when the monsters start catching up with him, he tosses the baby to them in the most wrong and hilarious scene in the whole franchise

–Trapped on a roof, they throw a chick off to distract monsters

–They build a slingshot to catapult themselves to another building. They use a whimpering old lady to test it, cutting parts of her off until she is light enough. When the test fails, they slingshot a little dude across anyway

–A bunch of girls ends up practically naked because the group used their clothes to make the slingshot

–Part 2 has no clean conclusion because it segues right into part 3, and they were both release the same year

 FEAST III: THE HAPPY FINISH (2009)

The final film is better than the second, and not only because it runs only 80 minutes long. The pacing is just better. Since it picks up right where the second left off and the two were filmed simultaneously, maybe they should have just taken 10 minutes from that one and added it to this to make them two 90-minute movies! Nah…they should have just lobbed 20 minutes off the second film.

So, what stands out in this final piece of midnight madness trash?

–Starts off strong with monster eating someone’s head and then shitting it out. That’s some fast metabolism

–Keeping with the shit theme, the girls beat up an old dude until he shits himself

–John Allen Nelson of fricking Killer Klowns from Outer Space is a muscle stud, but sadly he isn’t in the film for long

–A dude gets fucked through a glory hole in a wall by a monster and his stomach explodes

–Monster balls are swinging freely several times

–Biker girls get on a bus and drive off, leaving the others to chase after it on foot

–A crazy dude in a robe who can control the monsters says “I’ve got the gift, faggots.” You know, because that was totally necessary…

–As the group crawls through a vent, Clu farts in the face of a little dude…because when you’re running out of shock material for your trilogy, resorting to faggots and farts is the answer…

–Clu cuts off a dude’s damaged arm without warning him first

–There’s an overly long battle scene—only overly long because it’s filmed with a strobe light effect

–They use a pipe stuck in one guy’s head as a gun

–Clu gets the final line, it’s sexual, and it’s awesome

The final scene also sets the director up for a totally different spinoff, but that never materialized.

Posted in Scared Silly - Horror Comedy, The Evil of the Thriller - Everything Horror | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Backwoods slashers and a supernatural killer in the 00s

Crazed killers, a grim reaper, and killer cannibals in this foursome from 2006, 2007, and 2008.  Did any of them stand out?

WILDERNESS (2006)

This survivalist horror flick essentially takes the most basic slasher premise and relocates it to a deserted island.

The premise is actually ridiculous. After bullying a fellow inmate to suicide, a group of juvenile delinquents is sent to spend some time on an island…with one single chaperone. These really bad seeds, who could easily overpower their leader, even get to roam around on their own.

To top it off, there’s a lady chaperone there with her gang of girlie delinquents. So when someone with a pack of crazed dogs and a crossbow seems to be out for revenge, the two groups must team up to survive.

The gore and violence are phenomenal, but this isn’t a jump scare horror film, and these kids are such pieces of scum that I just don’t see how we’re supposed to relate to them or care what happens to them. I was more disturbed and upset when one of the kids fights back against a dog.

The only thing that saves it for me (aside from the awesome gore) is the fact that one guy is just so much more vile than the others that he becomes more of a problem than the actual killer.

BARRICADE (2007)

Coming to us from a German splatter director, this is a very odd backwoods cannibal family movie.

It’s the usual plot—friends camping end up in cannibal family’s lair—but the “group” of friends is comprised of a mere trio: scream queen Raine Brown, scream king Joe Zaso, and his buddy.

The majority of victims are just random people in the woods, beginning with a group of guys in the opener, who don’t speak English and don’t get subtitles!

The good news? Their slaughter tells you exactly what this movie is about—the absolutely vile grindhouse gorefest.

The melodrama between Raine and Joe is just filler between some fantastically icky kills by a gnarly family.

Note that there also aren’t any scares and the music, both songs and score, are really annoying, so this one is absolutely about the practical gore effects…and Joe skinny-dipping…

GRIM REAPER (2007)

The director of Lethal Eviction, The Graveyard, and A Dead Calling brings us a messy supernatural slasher set in a hospital.

A stripper gets hit by a taxi, ends up in the hospital, and sees the taxi driver killed by the grim reaper in an operating room. That’s when she notices there’s barely anyone in the place and the staff is weird.

Before long she’s in a loony section with some other people, they’re trapped, they’re trying to find a way out. Forty minutes in they are finally chased by the grim reaper.

There simply isn’t enough slasher action here, and the attempts to present some sort of alternate timeline after she was hit by the taxi just makes matters more convoluted. A few decent kills and an ominous killer aren’t enough to save this one.

ALIVE OR DEAD (2008)

A girl having flip phone sex while driving a deserted road at night passes a parked bus with a “help me” written on a window…and stops to explore the bus?

It was really hard to buy the setup of Alive or Dead, and it just gets worse and more confusing as the film continues.

She finds a girl chained up with a mask over her face on the bus.

They hunker down when the killer gets on the bus and drives them to…a secluded castle in the desert?

They sneak off and explore nonchalantly until he finally starts chasing them 42 minutes in. They spend the rest of the movie fending for themselves instead of actually working together. I really did not get it.

Nor did I understand the deformed cannibal kid, the weird monk dude that suddenly appears wanting revenge on the main cannibal killer for eating his daughter, or the bizarre discovery the girl with the mask makes while exploring a house.

Good gore and chase scenes fail to salvage this mess.

Posted in Movie Times & Television Schedules - Staying Entertained, The Evil of the Thriller - Everything Horror | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Creepy ladies, killer guys

So I checked out four up-and-coming films—a ghost, a boogeyman, a psycho, and witches—but should you be waiting in anticipation? Let’s take a look.

THE CABIN (2018)

I’ll never understand why indie directors produce movies blatantly inspired by hugely iconic films and then do nothing to make them unique or at least effective for what they are. I mean, you’ve studied some of the best horror movies! Mimic THAT instead of just imitating the plot!

The Cabin opens with a promising scene of a man hearing something outside his cabin before that something comes in wearing a mask and wielding a hatchet.

It’s all down hill from there. A couple spends the entire movie arguing at a cabin. They meet a weird but not very menacing dude in the place next door and then…

Absolutely no surprises here. He invades their house. They have to figure out a way to escape.

During what could have been a suspenseful scene of the guy sneaking into the neighbor’s house, there are constant distracting jumps to the woman back at their cabin just standing at the window waiting for him to return.

They find scraps from a butcher shop strewn across a table to look like someone has been hacked up. Then the cat and mouse game begins, with the woman painfully understating what a terrifying situation she is in.

Personally, I would skip this one if I were you.

PET GRAVEYARD (2019)

Way to cash in on the remake of Pet Sematary—make a low budget Flatliners clone that’s also a slasher, and throw in a cat once in a while.

There’s not a lot to say beyond that. A group of friends learns of this ritual that lets you kill yourself temporarily to speak to the dead. So, they begin suffocating each other.

After a (long) while, they start to see a hooded grim reaper during their death sessions, and eventually he begins killing them in reality.

The brutal deaths are all this one has going for it, because it’s a rather dull Flatliners/Elm Street mashup…the second one I’ve seen in a matter of a week, the other being Sleep No More.

BLOOD CRAFT (2019)

I applaud James Cullen Bressack for plugging away and continuing to bring us indie horror films. I just don’t often applaud his films (I think Bethany has been my favorite so far).

Watching Blood Craft, something clicked for me that explains why a lot of highly praised horror films (that I won’t mention) disappoint me—they’re basically dramas wrapped around a horror premise that doesn’t deliver enough chills and thrills.

For instance, Blood Craft is a family abuse drama with some witchcraft, blood, and torture thrown in, but not enough to give me genuine horror feels. And honestly, dramas mostly bore me. I’m better immersed in “deeper” horror stories when I’m reading them as fiction stories. I just think they work better in that medium.

Anyway, two sisters reconnect after their father dies. Their father is played by horror cutie Dave Sheridan, who will simply never satisfy me in a horror movie again unless he reveals all he did here

The girls have flashbacks to practicing witchcraft with their mother and being abused by their father. So they do a spell to resurrect their father’s soul—and put him in their neighbor (Michael Welch of Z Nation). Once they do, they torture him for revenge.

That’s it. That’s really all that happens…aside from the pointless lesbian incest…

AMERICAN POLTERGEIST: THE CURSE OF LILITH RATCHET (2019)

I’m a fan of the indie flicks of Eddie Lengyel (Hellweek, Mother Krampus 2, Voodoo Rising, Scarred), so I’m always happy to see him come out with a new one.

We meet Lilith Ratchet in the opener, and this freaky floating, ghostly woman brings to mind the bitch from Stay Alive. In fact, the film reminds of the early 2000s era of supernatural slashers.

The main plot is about a dude who wants to do a “Lilith Ratchet” shrunken head hot potato game at a Halloween party and film it for the Internet (things sure have gotten more complicated than just saying Candyman three times). Unfortunately, the silly urban legend is true, and soon everyone is being hunted down and killed by the resurrected legend.

Lilith is super creepy, scream queer Roger Conner makes an appearance in the film, and there are some fun deaths, but in terms of pacing and plot, this isn’t one of my favorites from Lengyel.

Scenes run too long, there’s excessive talking that doesn’t add to the plot and slows the film down, and the final girl chase scene loses steam, lacking the energy to keep us on the edge of our seat. Even so, this is by far the most satisfying horror flick I watched in this bunch.

Posted in Movie Times & Television Schedules - Staying Entertained, The Evil of the Thriller - Everything Horror | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do you dare enter the house of the dead without a light gun?

Everyone loves to hate Uwe Boll’s movie adaptations of video games, but as a huge fan of the goofy original arcade game (Don’t come!), I always felt 2003 film House of the Dead was the exact piece of trash it needed to be and fits in comfortably with the cheesy MTV style horror movies of the era.

One thing people seem to detest is the inclusion of flashes from the original video game, which occur between scene changes for no logical reason. I think it’s deliciously novel, and as a bonus, the DVD menu even begins with one option: insert coin(s). Awesome.

According to IMDb, this is supposed to be a prequel to the thin plot of the 1996 light gun arcade game. It makes sense, considering the movie takes place at a rave on a desolate island. However, it is only the very last line of the movie that links it to the video game, with the mention of one character’s name.

Otherwise, this is just a silly early 2000s horror flick. Group of friends takes boat to the rave, everyone is missing, friends start getting attacked by all kinds of zombies, from slow to fast, rotten to fresh meat, land and water.

In between trying to stay alive, they discover the lab where it all started.

There are plenty of horror names in cameo roles, including Clint Howard, Jürgen Prochnow, and Ellie Cornell of Halloween 4.

Even the Sega name makes an appearance as a sponsor of the rave since it’s the company that created the game. And there’s also some nudity, which is sorely lacking in teen horror these days. Unfortunately, all we get of adorable Will Sanderson is this nice bubble butt shot in jeans.

This otherwise ludicrous zombie flick is all about the huge chunk of action that takes place in the middle. It is laughably fun as we get a bullet time arena battle between humans and zombies, set to the thumping beats of techno music.

Forget that House of the Dead is not a fighting video game, because right in the middle of battles we get that whole freeze frame character rotation crap indicative of combat games.

However we are also treated to loads of exploding headshots with guns, so that definitely captures the spirit of the game.

Plus, there’s a final boss battle sword fight with a dude who was a sexy fiend in flashbacks revealing the origin of the zombies.

The director of Room 6 and Pumpkinhead: Blood Feud brings us the 2005 sequel, which I used to think was the better of these two films because it was a more straightforward zombie flick.

Revisiting it, I realize that makes it kind of boring. Even worse, it’s all well-armed military men against zombies. YAWN!

Well, yawn except for the locker room scene.

This might play out like a lame, mission-based, third-person zombie video game, but there are no cheesy nods to the games at all.

However, Sid Haig appears in a cameo as the relative of the video game character mentioned at the end of the first movie. Also tying this in to the first movie, Ellie Cornell reprises her role briefly. Yay!

Horror hotties Ed Quinn and Emmannuelle Vaugier make one sizzling military couple sent on a mission to retrieve a blood sample from a college campus overrun by zombies.

As an added pretty person bonus Sticky Fingaz of the Blade TV show leads their team, but for unknown reasons, neither he nor Ed Quinn show off their ta-tas in the locker room scene.

The few initial zombie attacks are perfectly in keeping with the zombie resurgence of the era (Dawn of the Dead remake, Shaun of the Dead, Resident Evil) with good makeup and gore, but once the military team comes in with guns blazing, it’s a boring cycle of them moving through halls and rooms shooting random zombies.

Super annoying is the fact that we are presented with too many dumb military guys that know they are dealing with zombies, yet keep approaching figures standing in dark corners and not responding to them at all. Absurd.

Give me a gun and military armor and I’d still be running from that shit and hiding under the bed.

The movie only picks up steam at the end when there are very few survivors left and finally we get some college student zombie action. This includes a ridiculously tone-shifting game of tackle football between humans and zombies. Hello, this isn’t the first House of the Dead.

Of note however is the fact that Ed Quinn smears zombie guts on himself to walk among the dead way before Rick Grimes did it.

Posted in Movie Times & Television Schedules - Staying Entertained, The Evil of the Thriller - Everything Horror, What I'm Doing With My Joystick | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

STREAM QUEEN: rock ‘n’ rave

Both of these films came out in 2010…yet the music genre around which each centers feels about twenty years too late. But that alone doesn’t make them bad movies…

NEOWOLF (2010)

This cheesy film, which is like The Lost Boys or Near Dark meets the Twilight werewolves, stars a couple of cuties, including Agim Kaba, who was just coming from a near decade stint on As The World Turns.

Two deliciously gory werewolf attack scenes in the first fifteen minutes totally had me anticipating more thrills to come.

But then shit gets all fantasy horror, shifting focus to a college girl, her hot emo rocker ex, and his initiation into a werewolf pack that travels around in a tour bus. The girlfriend must do whatever she can to rescue him from his hairy fate.

Neowolf is basically about groupies having sex with werewolf rockers in the desert.

Some of the werewolf makeup is cool, and it’s fun to see Veronica Cartwright as a witchy type (and hard to comprehend why she even ended up in this film).

There’s even a scene in which a bi guy is about to get a BJ from a dude.

But the movie is boring! Way too many faux emo band performances, and the quick edits and slow mo clips are way too late in the game to cash in on the MTV music generation.

Despite some good gore and genuine monster effects, this story just feels like it’s targeting a starry-eyed female tween audience.

TRANCE (2010)

Seeing little Gracie from The Nanny, scream queen Dominique Swain, and Jeremy London in the cast of this flick, I didn’t expect to roll film and feel like I was watching a washed out camcorder video from back in the VHS days.

In fact, a majority of this film looks like someone went to a rave in 1993 with a camcorder and recorded people just dancing or making out in private rooms. NOTHING HAPPENS.

It’s supposed to be Halloween, but other than an opening scene visiting a pop-up Halloween store (it’s becoming a bigger tradition than trick or treating), don’t expect any holiday festivities. And although none of the costumes the kids wear are horror related, I do think the girl dressed as I Dream of Jeannie should have won a prize for best costume.

The point of the film? Girls at the rave are slipped a drug that causes them to eventually start seducing and killing boys. It’s just an infected film in which the infected aren’t even vaguely menacing. The first attack doesn’t start until 50 minutes in, and with 20 minutes left, Jeremy London appears as a cop.

His minuscule role could have been played by anyone, but I guess someone got the impression that having a London brother in your cast is going to attract a horror crowd.

Only one scene delivers what this movie should have delivered nonstop. Two girls dressed as an angel and a devil get sexually aggressive with a guy, leading to a vicious attack that actually has a cool vibe the rest of this film totally lacks.

Other than that one moment, there is nothing scary or gory here at all, and there’s a disappointing lack of nudity. With kids getting high and having sex at a rave, there should be nudity. Trust me, I know. I was there. Not to mention, where are all the gay dudes? Not one guy-on-guy face suck in the whole film…at a rave where kids are getting high and having sex?

If there’s one…um…saving grace, it’s that Gracie gets the last scream.

Posted in Johnny You ARE Queer - Gay Thoughts, Movie Times & Television Schedules - Staying Entertained, The Evil of the Thriller - Everything Horror | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

STREAM QUEEN: zomvamps, a dream boogeyman, and killer cowboys

Two out of three ain’t bad in this triple feature of newer streaming titles. So let’s find out which I felt was the odd man out.

DAYLIGHT’S END (2016)

The original I Am Legend was the beginning of a tradition that blurred the lines between vampires and zombies. The novel was more vampire in tone, with the feeders only able to come out at night—a theme picked up in the movie adaptation The Last Man On Earth, yet the story was also the inspiration for Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, which felt oddly similar to The Last Man On Earth.

Daylight’s End walks that fine line. The feeders in this film are called zombies in the description, however, they only come out at night and burn up in the sun.

When we meet our megahunk at the beginning, it actually feels like I Am Legend…until he meets up with other people. But first we jump right into the creature action. The main hottie fries a vamp, fights vamps, gets shirtless, saves a girl from a gang, and joins her group, which includes Lance Henriksen and Louis Mandylor.

The plot is as standard—and similar to a video game—as it gets (there’s even a boss vamp). The survivors need to stay alive while fighting off vamps, try to come up with a plan to escape their prison (they’re literally staying in a prison), and argue over what the right plan is. They argue way too long about it.

Yes, in the middle of wicked vamp action, the movie screeches to a halt to waste too much time dishing out the usual group dynamic dialogue. 15 minutes should have been shaved off this hour and 45-minute movie, and by that I mean most of the dialogue.

It does pick back up big time in the final act, so it’s totally worth a watch, but just be prepared to be bored for a while in the middle.

SLEEP NO MORE (2017)

Sleep No More comes from the director of Dead Awake, which is one of those movies I know I’ve seen but remember nothing about beyond the poster art and the general sleep paralysis theme. I’ll most likely have the same struggle with Sleep No More in a few months.

It’s set in the 80s. College students are working with an experimental sleep drug that takes their minds to a whole different reality. They begin having hallucinations of a boogeyman. Freddy Krueger on Flatliners Street?

Sleep No More exemplifies what makes so many horror movies, even those clearly with a bit more of a budget than the average indie, ineffectual these days. They try to create multiple layers instead of simply focusing on one good vs. one evil. And I’m not talking just throwing in crazy shit that is somehow ridiculously entertaining, as in Euro horror of the 80s. I mean randomly branching plot points that never quite feel like they stem from the same damn tree trunk. As a result we are left with way too much going on, none of it ever really coming together. And most importantly, any attempts at scares have absolutely no effect because we don’t actually know what we are supposed to be afraid of.

I simply could not stay fixated on this mess of bickering students that all seem to be having entirely different experiences. Most disappointing, we never get to see what could have been the one concrete thing holding it all together—the boogeyman. We just get shadows, smoke, flickers of promise, and warped lens effects.

Even the attempt at setting it in the 80s fails. Sure, we get to hear “Cruel Summer”, “Hungry Like the Wolf”, “Two Divided by Zero”, and “Der Kommissar”. We see a Commodore 64 and an Atari 2600. A guy watches a slasher on VHS. But none of that can convince anyone who grew up in the 80s that this takes place in the 80s. The film quality looks modern and that alone spoils the tone. The kids look and act like they’re from the current day, which is a complete time capsule fail for me.

I originally hesitated to put Sleep No More in my watchlist because I imagined it was going to be the exact disappointment it is. I want more out of my horror than I get here.

LASSO (2018)

For some reason I expected this to be about supernatural cowboys, but I think that is actually another movie I saw on SyFy at some point.

Lasso features real murderous cowboys that target a bus load of tourists after a rodeo show (be warned, there’s a brutal scene during the rodeo with a horse that gets hurt).

We eventually find out why the cowboys are so evil, and it is absolutely ridiculous, but you just have to go with it because the movie is a total joyride of brutal gore and violence.

Plus, some chick dresses like she’s in the Madonna “Music” video…

This film goes beyond just horror in an understated, crucial way. The “final” group is like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

There’s the usual final girl, but she is overshadowed by several other unique characters: an amazingly strong and determined elderly lady character; a gender non-specified rodeo worker whose gender is actually questioned at one point (are they a man or woman?); and the main boy, who is not the usual tough guy hero, but is quite fragile and scared even as he struggles to fight back.

Having us root for this unexpected crew is incredibly refreshing, and those who make horror flicks with the usual stereotypical characters should take note.

On top of that, Sean Patrick Flanery kicks ass as a surviving rodeo contestant without all his limbs.

Posted in Movie Times & Television Schedules - Staying Entertained, Sound Check - The Songs Stuck in My Head, The Evil of the Thriller - Everything Horror | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

STREAM QUEEN: a killer harvest season

From scarecrows to masked Halloween killers, I’m always up for a marathon of movies celebrating my favorite time of year, and this one gave me a few to add to the complete holiday horror list. But are these four worth watching?

CARVER (2015)

This little indie is your basic Halloween party slasher with a fun holiday setup. It all begins when an unfriendly competition between kids entering a pumpkin carving competition ends in tragedy.

Gets my vote for a cool way to start a Halloween slasher.

15 years later, a bunch of teens is preparing for a Halloween party. But beforehand, they each find a carved pumpkin on their steps.

Soon, they begin to suspect the impossible…someone is back for revenge. That doesn’t stop them from having the party anyway!

It’s your typical formula as kids are slashed left and right, but certain things standout. There’s a virtual clone of Laurie’s piano theme from Halloween whenever a girl is walking alone. There’s a high body count. The killer is a festive pumpkin head grim reaper.

Every kill consists of a slash of one part of the body that results in a geyser of blood. There’s a funny dance montage at the party. The boys in the group are adorable.

And finally, there’s quite an indulgent back story by the killer at the end of the film.

THE HARVESTERS (2017)

I feel like I can’t really give an opinion about this film as a horror movie, because it just doesn’t feel like one to me. Instead of thrills and chills, it’s mostly an investigation drama with way too much talking.

A reporter who returns to her hometown on Halloween ends up embroiled in a series of missing person cases.

Starting with the opener, there are a few creepy moments that could have set the tone for a horror film with some great scares.

Unfortunately, the movie opts not to focus on the evil that has come to town or on the victims being terrorized, but instead on the people affected by the disappearances.

It just didn’t hold my attention, which isn’t surprising considering a masked figure doesn’t appear until 65 minutes in.

The highlight for me was delicious Adam Hampton of Gremlin. His flavor knows no bounds.

SCARECROWS (2017)

This one delivers a somewhat original concept in the realm of scarecrow movies…although it does sort of remind me of the film Husk.

It begins with two guys and two girls looking for a watering hole near a cornfield. It’s subtly silly as they go on their journey, the kids add to the charm, the movie is obsessed with blow jobs, and the hot boy shows off his ass.

It’s so refreshing to see a horror movie mimicking the days of over-sexed slashers.

Prepare for a shift in tone halfway through the film. Suddenly, it becomes all chases and torture porn!

The kids are soon divided, conquered, and dragged to the lair of a farmer with a scythe.

While the torture isn’t excessively graphic, the screams of the kids fill in the blanks viciously.

Plus, the final girl gets a long, suspenseful, and atmospheric chase through the cornfield. I was definitely entertained throughout.

CURSE OF THE SCARECROW (2018)

Sometimes an indie director gets a chain of projects going that intrigues me, even if there’s nothing groundbreaking presented. That’s the case with Louisa Warren, who delivers another basic scarecrow slasher, but has a series of follow-ups on the way—including crossovers of her own series.

The legend of the scarecrow presented at the beginning of this film is fun because it taps into an old school gothic story vibe, even if the plot takes place in present day.

A young woman who is convinced she saw her parents slaughtered by a scarecrow as a child is brought back to the farm where it happened by her therapist for a session that, well…goes horribly wrong.

Naturally the plot is an excuse to have young people running around a barn being chased by a killer scarecrow, and that’s fine with me. The kills are the best part, because the plot isn’t particularly engrossing, and there’s nothing to really love about the characters. They’re just sort of there because movies need characters.

The kills are effective, delivering chills, suspense, atmosphere, eerie music, and chases. Just don’t expect any blood. This is not a gore flick at all. But despite its drawbacks, I still want to check out the upcoming movies in the series.

Posted in Movie Times & Television Schedules - Staying Entertained, The Evil of the Thriller - Everything Horror | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

STREAM QUEEN: teens in trouble

This mini marathon of flix about kids in peril offers a variety of subgenres, but are any of them worth a watch?

ROADSIDE MASSACRE (2012)

If you’re itching for a backwoods cannibal family slasher but feel like you’ve seen them all,  you still might feel like you’ve seen them all as you watch Roadside Massacre.

Kids road trip through a rural area. They have a convo with an attendant at a gas station. They make a pit stop at a restaurant that is actually run by a family of cannibals using people for meat.

This is the usual case of an aspiring filmmaker essentially just making a copycat of some favorite horror classics (hint: the original title of the film was The Texas Roadside Massacre). However, a) there is one aspect concerning what happens to certain victims that is unique, and b) the film is competently made with some effective scenes, plus likable characters and actors that do a decent job.

The well thought out sequences here make this feel like more than just another low budget hack job, but considering the subject matter, there’s no blood, gore, or grisly scenes. Also, the film is moving along pretty smoothly for a while, but then falls into a repetitive rut of the main girl being captured, escaping, running, and being captured again.

I think the problem is that even with the film running (smartly) just over 80 minutes long, the number of victims is limited, so the cannibals just ran out of things to do!

CRUSH (2013)

No, it’s not The Crush with Alicia Silverstone, but it’s the same kind of fatal attraction, giving it that old 90s thriller vibe.

Lucas Till of MacGyver is the main boy.

His girlfriend is Sarah Bolger of The Lazarus Effect. The weird girl at school who seems obsessed with him is Crystal Reed of Teen Wolf. And even Leigh Whannell of Saw makes an appearance.

This one seems as basic as can be. Weird girl acts weird, people close to main boy start getting hurt.

It even has a mini Misery section. Nothing suspenseful, scary, or gory here. However, it’s the fun little twists near the end that make it stand out from the pack.

DEADLY DETENTION (2017)

I purposely watched this one on Netflix because I heard it was horrible. It managed to defy the odds of me always loving what everyone else hates, because it was awful.

The most obvious group of kids (the bitch, the religious freak and black dude rolled into one, the pretty boy, the outsider edgy girl, the goody goody girl, the geek) gets bused to detention…at an old prison. Holy tough love.

They meet their icy principal there, she locks them in a room, and then we get a bunch of clique banter right out of The Breakfast Club.

The bitch is the only salvageable aspect of this film, giving us a good dose of campy horror comedy with her lines and delivery. All the other characters are uninteresting, except the black Bible dude simply because he comes across as super gay. I can’t believe they didn’t write it into his story.

I guess this is supposed to be somewhat of a comedy slasher considering the characters’ reactions when bodies start piling up are ridiculously unconcerned. I can see why. The killer (who finally shows up 44 minutes in) is barely ominous or threatening and the deaths are tame lame. The laughable dialogue that comes over a loudspeaker threatening the kids is basically someone reciting Jigsaw’s lines from the Saw franchise.

The only good news? The bitch sticks around through the whole film to keep us entertained.

Posted in Movie Times & Television Schedules - Staying Entertained, Scared Silly - Horror Comedy, The Evil of the Thriller - Everything Horror | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment