You don’t have to tell me twice to get out of this house!

Dorothy taught me when I was just a wee child that there’s no place like home…as long as you don’t let that damn witch in. Here’s a roundup of some movies about being in the wrong house at the wrong time.

THE DEVIL’S CANDY (2015)

devils candy cover

I don’t know what it is, but director Sean Byrne’s film The Loved Ones did not work for me at all, and The Devil’s Candy scores even lower. I found much of what happens unforgivable!

Once again, there are too many disjointed aspects to the plot and to the characters relations to each other—why exactly is the antagonist targeting the protagonist? There seem to be clashing explanations and I’m not really sure which is the right conclusion to draw when all is said and done.
devils candy bobble head

A metal head artist (the metal head part is refreshing, but ultimately irrelevant) begins to paint visually disturbing images of torture and death while shirtless (that’s a plus).

devils candy bod

So…the take away…metal heads really are sadistic.

devils candy art

Anyway, he moves with his wife and teen daughter into a new house. A creepy, crazy weirdo starts coming around and terrorizing them, a section of the film that is incredibly effective and disturbing without being all up in your face with the grisly details.

It’s revealed that the crazy guy lived in the house previously, but it’s also suggested he’s either possessed or a demonic force conjured by the artist’s work. Well, which is it? Did he live in the house, or is he a figment of the artist’s creativity? Or are the paintings just premonitions? Is the artist possessed by whatever possessed the other guy when he lived in the house?

The crazy guy seems to have a very specific agenda, for he keeps referencing what he’s being made to do by another force. He also appears to be from the It Follows school of creativity. Despite having a mortal backstory, he’s unstoppable, and his single goal is to do something unspeakable to the daughter…even though he kills some other random people while working towards his goal.

devils candy creep with daughter

The number of times he actually gets his hands on the daughter is kind of ridiculous. Most offending is when he kidnaps her after he already broke into their house and attacked her. There’s now a heavy police intervention to protect the family since the crazy guy has a dark, troubling past. The dad is supposed to pick the terrified daughter up from school but has car problems. When he finally arrives, he learns from someone there that she’s gone. So…this girl is terrified the crazy guy is coming for her and is depending on her dad to pick her up, but somehow the crazy guy got her when she was in school and there was still faculty there? When her dad didn’t show, why didn’t she secure herself somewhere safe with their help? Or call the police? How did she fall into the crazy guy’s trap? We’ll never know because it’s not shown. After this major copout for the sake of the narrative to go where the writer wanted it to go, I checked out.

All the It Follows shit comes after that, so I guess it can be considered terrifying. My suggestion…go watch It Follows instead.

HOUSE OF THE WITCH (2017)

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It’s getting harder and harder not to be subjective about horror movies that lure me in by throwing the word Halloween into the description…and then prove to be set on October 31st just so that the word Halloween can be put in the description.

house of the witch house

Don’t expect pumpkins, trick or treaters, or even fall foliage in House of the Witch.

house of the witch cast

Kids go to stay in a creepy old abandoned mansion on Halloween and get locked inside with an evil witch force.

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At first, they see creepy photos, a Victrola plays on its own, and then one girl freaks out when she sees a witch sort of emerge from a chair.

house of the witch chair

It’s divide and conquer time.

house of the witch drag in

They all run around the house screaming as they’re attacked by various forms of ectoplasm.

house of the witch grave grab

Most memorable moments: a chick gets her nails ripped off one by one; an idiot says to her friend that’s sitting in a room facing away from her, “Why aren’t you looking at me?”…so the bitch does the backwards bend to look at her…and then crawls in her direction. Other than that, there’s a reason it’s a SyFy original.

house of the witch corner

SHUT IN (2016)

shut in cover

Shut In reminds me of the days of 1980s thrillers like Dead of Winter. The weird plot makes it even more intriguing.

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Naomi Watts lives in the middle of nowhere, caring for her teen stepson, who was in a car accident that left him as an invalid.

shut in son in bed

She’s a psychologist and also takes care of other children on occasion. A young deaf boy under her care is taken away to be placed in a school, but shows up on her property in the middle of a snowstorm a few nights later, so she takes him back in.

M140 Naomi Watts and Jacob Tremblay star in EuropaCorp's "SHUT IN". Photo Credit: Jan Thjs ©2015 EuropaCorp - Transfilm International Inc.

And then things start going bump in the night.

shut in hand on mouth

She’s convinced there’s a ghost roaming her house. She keeps phone contact with her therapist, who basically implies that she’s losing her shit…

shut in naomi in tub

I can’t even say anything else without spoiling the film, but aside from the “unique” twist, Shut In is a pretty basic thriller in terms of atmosphere, jump scares, and plot structure.

THE WOLVES AT THE DOOR (2016)

wolves at the door cover

Director John R. Leonetti, who brought us Annabelle, gives us what seems like a straight-up clone of every other home invasion movie. However, there’s a catch…this one is based on a true crime that took place way back in 1969…

That explains the awesome 60s soundtrack. But if you don’t know the crime this is based on, it may seem less compelling despite being a nonstop 73-minute ride of suspense, scares, and violence. I personally knew nothing about Wolves at the Door going into it, so it wasn’t until the addendum at the end of the film that I learned the truth and had to reprocess in my head everything I’d just watched, which I’m ashamed to admit I should have caught on to. I really need to stop doing a million other things while watching movies. No, actually I don’t, because I’d never make it through half the movies I do if I paid attention…

wolves at the door couple

Anyway, the opener is chilling, and it’s so cool to see veteran actors Chris Mulkey and Jane Kaczmarek as the first victims of a home invasion. There is a moment involving a light switch that went right through me.

Then we meet a bunch of friends hanging out at the home of a pregnant woman named Sharon, played by scream queen Katie Cassidy.

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Don’t expect any character development or storyline.

wolves at the door hand

This is all about the terror as they are quickly picked off by an unseen group of home invaders.

wolves at the door hippy

Jump scares, brutal kills, and intense chase scenes, are all you’re going to get.

wolves at the door katie

If you prefer horror slowed down by plot, this isn’t the movie for you. They’d need to take on another 30 minutes or so of filler to deliver that here.

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SCARE WARS: slashers, aliens, and vampires

Seems like with each of these mini blog battles of movies I’m crossing off my “to-see” list, there’s going to always be at least one in the bunch that I need to add to my personal film library. Let’s see which one it is this time.

SPARROW (2010)

sparrow cover

Running just 72 minutes long, Sparrow starts strong; an entire group of young campers gets sliced and diced in the opener, complete with plenty of POV right out of Friday the 13th and a killer with a nasty little laugh (but no mask).

sparrow lantern

I wish I could say the momentum keeps building. It’s almost as if we were given an upfront body count to make up for the fact that nothing major happens for most of the film. When the main group comes camping, they mostly fight about relationships, and there’s a soccer montage that lasts almost 10 minutes in total.

sparrow hottie

It’s kind of worth it though, because the guy with the best bod plays shirtless – and for straight guys, there’s a girl-on-girl kiss. I mean…for lesbians, there’s a girl-on-girl kiss. Yeah, that’s it. For lesbians.

sparrow belly

But none of the main players is killed. No one even sneaks off to explore alone (aka: get killed). In an effort to fix the pacing of the kills, we literally get a caption reading “Meanwhile, somewhere else in the woods…” at one point just so a random couple having sex can be hacked to pieces (cool kill scene, though).

sparrow eye out

Ironically, all the good old slashing and body reveals are packed into the last 13 minutes, but the survivors do things that are beyond stupid.

sparrow boy kneelFile under “kill scene that comes across as oddly erotic…”

For instance, girl refuses to run over killer with vehicle for fear of running over friend killer just slaughtered and dropped on the ground, yet as killer reaches under hood to sabotage vehicle so it will stall, girl doesn’t even bother to GO IN REVERSE to get away.

sparrow windshield

On top of that, there’s one of those abrupt endings, and we never learn why exactly every murder this dark, sinister, angry psycho commits is followed by an evil little chuckle.

BLOOD TRAP (2015)

blood trap cover

Blood Trap has a lot going for it. There’s plenty of action and horror, a perfect “haunted house” atmosphere, and enough quirkiness for it to score some horror comedy points. It’s just that not one single aspect ever seems to take itself over the finish line. Argh!

blood trap cast

No time is wasted in getting the characters into their predicament. Costas Mandylor (Saw franchise) gathers a small group of the best criminals to help him with a job breaking into a building and kidnapping a woman.

blood trap other guybod

But as soon as they do, the house goes into automatic lockdown mode and they can’t get out. The woman they kidnapped disappears. And they begin to find some really weird signs that things are not right in this building, like a room full of babies…and a room full of body parts.

blood trap half head

Double argh! Blood Trap should be so gooooood. There are some funny moments, brutal kills, a lollipop sucking granny monster with her tits hanging out and a hunger for blood, plus hot pretty boy Drew Kenney gets shirtless and tied up before all is said and done.

blood trap bound 2

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It appears he was a contestant on The Bachelorette, but should stick to acting because he’s awesome and my favorite character in the film.

blood trap elevator

The bizarrely schizo (and so annoying) soundtrack attempts to keep up with the constantly shifting tone of the film’s avante-garde style, which can make for a wild ride full of surprises when it comes to horror (think Witching & Bitching), but never seems to totally gel here. I feel the need to watch Blood Trap again in hopes that my initial assessment was off and I actually love it. Why do I have this funny feeling there are going to be two films from this blog that end up on my DVD shelf?

WELCOME TO WILLITS (2016)

welcome to willits cover

Welcome to Willits has a cool horror cast: Bill Sage (We Are What We Are, Fender Bender, The Boy), Chris Zylka (Freaks of Nature, Piranha 3DD, Shark Night 3D, My Super Psycho Sweet 16 franchise), Anastasia Baranova of Z Nation, Thomas Dekker (Fear Clinic, A Nightmare on Elm Street remake, Laid to Rest franchise, All About Evil), Rory Culkin (Intruders, Scream 4), and Dolph Lundgren (Don’t Kill It, Battle of the Damned).

welcome to willits z nation girl

It also has a cool premise that combines an alien flick with a backwoods slasher!

welcome to willits full alien

The alien part takes up a majority of the film, and it’s mostly in the mind of a supposed abduction victim who lives in the small town where a bunch of kids has come to do the whole cabin in the woods thing.

welcome to willits abductionMy face during the anal probe…

The dreams/flashbacks definitely deliver on the scary alien concept, but it’s not enough to make this a thrill ride.

welcome to willits alien head

Therefore, a majority of the film is the usual drama playing out between the main group of friends.

welcome to willits camp

It’s only in the final act that the stalking and killing kicks in…when an alien hunt is launched in the woods.

welcome to willits alien

Kids having sex, aliens…who can tell the difference in the dark?

welcome to willits dekker

The gore is standard, and the kills are all gun-based and over in a flash, so don’t expect this to be any kind of scary, suspenseful slasher.

welcome to willits baby alien

And just like Blood Trap, it seems like it should be more fun than it is.

CHILD EATER (2016)

child eater cover

Finally, it’s time for the film I had to add to my DVD collection. Child Eater comes to us from director Erlingur Thoroddsen, who will be bringing us the gay horror flick Rift, so I have hopes for that one now.

child eater silhouette

Child Eater is simple, scary, suspenseful, and gory! It’s the classic story of a babysitter contending with a child that insists there’s something in his closet, and actress Cait Bliss is what we’ve been missing from our final girls for a long time.

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She’s just an ordinary, laid back young woman who completely takes charge when push comes to shove.

child eater cop

She also has a super cute friend who just joined the local police force – and drops one line about liking a man in a uniform that casually implies that he’s gay. When she babysits for new neighbors in town, the father insists that she not mention anything about the local legend of a killer that plucks out the eyes of little children.

child eater child eye

Too late. The kid already learned all about it on the Internet and is convinced he’s seen the killer near his house…and in his closet. As the final girl is attempting to convince him there’s nothing to be afraid of, her boyfriend stops by to visit.

child eater main girl

That’s when Child Eater – a freaky as fuck child eater, I might add – begins to wreak havoc. This nightmarish figure is fricking merciless in gouging out eyes by hand.

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It’s terror in the woods…and Child Eater’s lair…and a closet in one of the film’s creepiest moments…

Cops come on the scene to help (raise the eye count), but ultimately it’s up to the babysitter to stop Child Eater. This final girl goes hardcore.

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Forget the Baby Jesus. This Christmas, an aborted baby is coming to dinner…

red christmas 2017 cover

Argh! After Hellions, that abortion of an anti-abortion movie disguised as Halloween horror, I was kind of devastated to learn that two of my favorite things – Christmas horror and Dee Wallace – were going to be subjected to the same subject.

red christmas baby with monster

The difference here is, Red Christmas doesn’t try to disguise the theme of abortion, instead shoving it in our face, even scoring the intro credits with sound bites and clips of the social impact of the issue on society.

The film focuses on Dee’s family coming for the holidays. Her husband has passed, but she has a bunch of kids important to the issue at hand: a son with Down syndrome, a pregnant daughter, and a daughter that can’t get pregnant (while she blames herself for her infertility, chances are the real reason for her problem is that her reverend husband is a closet case with the hots for her sister’s husband…).

red christmas at door

And heading for their house is a robed, bandage figure that can barely speak beyond mournfully crying out for his mother. As creepy as he is in his garb, when he arrives at the family’s door, Dee lets him in. And then…he drops the “a” bomb. Dee flips her lid and kicks him out.

red christmas hall

He then spends the rest of the movie delivering a bloody good time for all, hacking and slashing this family to pieces: genitals are removed by hand, bodies are sliced in two, and everything from a bear trap to an umbrella to a blender comes into play.

red christmas bear trap

And while everyone is running around screaming, drenched in the eerie Argento glow of Christmas lights as they do all the wrong things, Dee Wallace is at the top of her horror game, taking on the main girl role like she’s 20, even launching herself onto the killer (after a freaky mask-removal reveal) and into the Christmas tree in the film’s campiest moment. Abortions or not, it’s just more fun than Hellions.

red christmas dee gun

It’s very easy to see Red Christmas as an all-out assault on female reproductive rights. The agenda seems to be to get viewers to sympathize with aborted fetuses by having one essentially come back from the dead, desperately seeking love and validation…then getting revenge on all the evil pro-choicers.

red christmas killer

Those who suffer most? The ones who make the choice to abort a life that just wanted a home, a family, and a mother…especially at Christmas.

There are some arguments here supporting the need for abortion under certain circumstances…which are then negated by the introduction of a deeper moral implication of selfishly choosing to abort a pregnancy that might present personal challenges.

red christmas son

However, there really is some satisfaction for those of us who relish little brats dying in a horror movie (just as long as the dog lives) and want this walking abortion to go to hell. In the end, everyone from nurturing mothers to pervy closeted holy men are more than happy to send a clear message to a lost, desperate, heartbroken aborted fetus longing for acceptance: “Die, you repulsive fucker! You were never wanted here and should have stayed dead the first time!”

Okay, I give up. This really is inevitably a total right wing propaganda film. I’m just kind of disappointed there wasn’t a scene of someone attacking the killer with a coat hanger. Oh, come on. You know that shit would’ve made your unaborted ass laugh. For major hanger action, you’ll have to watch Hanger…a film about an aborted fetus that comes back for revenge…

The film is now available from Artsploitation Films. And the hairy beary director? Not sure if he’s available…

red christmas craig anderson

Now, just for getting through that blog, you’ve earned your wings! I mean…your bonus red Christmas. It’s another film with the same title!

red christmas 2014 cover

Before there was the much-hyped Red Christmas starring Dee Wallace, there was the 60-minute mockumentary torture porn Red Christmas from Steve Rudzinski, director of Everyone Must Die!

red christmas 2014 other guy

Red Christmas is nothing like Rudzinski’s low budget indie slasher. In the tradition of darkly “humorous” serial killer films like The Last Horror Movie, the killer speaks directly to the camera and takes viewers on a journey into her mind and methods of killing.

red christmas 2014 main girl

Actress Amie Wrenn delivers a bubbly performance reminiscent of Lea Michele’s Rachel as she “gleefully” mutilates a young man she lures to her house with the promise of sex.

red christmas 2014 main guy

She ties him to a chair then begins performing all kinds of gruesome, non-CGI torture techniques on him: plucks off his finger nails one by one; gives him paper cuts; water boards him with eggnog; saws off his leg; does something so heinous to his eye I couldn’t even look.

red christmas 2014 eye

In between torturing him and chatting with him about the holidays, she takes some time to go into the bathroom alone for confessional clips. This is when her “manic depressive” side comes out and we learn more about what makes her tick as a psycho.

red christmas 2014 ornament mouth

It’s cool to see Rudzinski taking on a different horror subgenre and not holding back (seriously, he goes all the way with the morbidity by the end), even though this is definitely not my kind of movie.

red christmas 2014 nails

But he did sort of put a Band-Aid on it for me, because the conclusion of the film has a twist that captures the spirit of his slasher humor perfectly. It could even spawn a spinoff movie.

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Direct to DVD and Streaming: Jason Mills

I have to say, no streaming service introduces me to more indie directors whose work I end up following than Amazon Prime…which makes it kind of frustrating when Prime only has some of that director’s films! As is the case with Jason Mills. And he has the kind of filmography I love – every time he makes a new film, he taps into a different horror subgenre. So I simply had to blind buy his first movie on DVD after seeing a few of his titles on Prime.

ABOVE US LIVES EVIL (aka: They Came From the Attic) (2009)

above us lives evil cover

Mills sticks to the most basic premise of 1970s and 1980s horror for his first film – a family moves into a house and one of the kids becomes convinced there’s something living in the attic. One of my favorite plots, which is another reason I didn’t hesitate in buying this one.

above us lives evil family

The family – mother, (cute) father, teen daughter, and young son – is still coming to terms with the loss of the son’s twin brother, so emotions are already high. The son, who is mute, soon becomes terrified of the house, convinced something is living in the attic.

above us lives evil boy looks up attic

While the film only runs 73 minutes long, there are so many thrills crammed into the very end that the “slow burn” leading up to it doesn’t quite prepare you for how explosive things are going to get all of a sudden. There aren’t enough early signs of just how dangerous the threat is, and most of what does happen adds little to develop a story behind what exactly is living in the attic.

above us lives evil monster at door

It’s when the sister stays home one night to babysit the brother that all hell breaks loose. The guy she likes drops by, the lights go out in the house, the mist rolls in, and from the darkness crawl the awesomely freaky creatures.

above us lives evil 3monsters

The focus staying on the sister, her visitor, and the little brother would have been more than enough to deliver on the horror and scares, but instead, a bunch of random people suddenly come on the scene to be slaughtered in a matter of minutes.

above us lives evil dead face

Not exactly the strongest script, but the horror action in this low budget indie is so cool I would have sought out more of Mills’s films even if this had been the first I’d seen.
 above us lives evil monster on steps

THE CHANGING OF BEN MOORE (2015)

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With The Changing of Ben Moore, Mills uses the basic found footage formula to take on the possession resurgence. All the found footage clichés are in place and some of the minor performances aren’t even vaguely convincing, but this one really managed to keep my attention because it focuses on just a few people in one house in Paranormal Activity style.

changing of ben moore main guy and girlfriend

When a guy begins having blackouts at night, he decides to have his buddy keep a video journal of what exactly he’s doing during that time.

changing of ben moore behind girl

He’s sleepwalking…and standing in corners with his back to the camera. You know the drill. That seems to be the extent, until the buddy, who is following him around at night with a camera, witnesses him kill a neighbor’s cat. Not to mention, his eyes start doing that black demon thing.

changing of ben moore guys at party

In between consulting an exorcist (a really gay exorcist) and partying with friends, who get in on making the video, the nightly filming gets even creepier.

changing of ben moore filming friend

The guy gets more and more demonic, and there are some cool visual effects when his face morphs. But naturally, you have to wonder why his friends continue to have sleepovers and follow him around with a camera in the dark when he is so clearly not of this earth anymore.

changing of ben moore mouth

Just like Paranormal Activity, the film is really all about that final money shot. There are some surprise twists before we get to it, and when we finally do, the horror of it all is much more my speed than anything the Paranormal Activity franchise ever delivered.

3 HOURS TILL DEAD (2016)

3 hours till dead cover

There are plenty of zombie fans out there always looking for another zombie flick to watch, no matter how redundant the plot. What matters is the zombie action! Well, there’s one such fan, at least. And Mills shows here that if you’re going to do a subgenre as oversaturated as zombies, you need to deliver the chills and thrills.

3 hours till dead zombie in car

3 Hours Till Dead is gritty and intense with a strong cast and excellent effects. A group of friends is hiding out in a rural area with one of their friends, who has skipped out on the military. But when they witness something gruesome on the road, they are compelled to stop and get help.

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They end up at a farmhouse that appears to be abandoned.

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As they explore the property the atmosphere is perfectly unsettling…right up to the point when they find a woman trapped inside a car. Oh fuck…

3 hours till dead in car

Once that car door is open, shit gets crazy immediately. They are dealing with an almost instantaneous infection and the zombies are fast and acrobatic, but there’s a catch…the infections only lasts for 3 hours and then the zombie dies.

3 hours till dead first zomb

It would be enough for them to have to contend with time-limit zombies, but of course other humans come on the scene to complicate matters.

3 hours till dead gun in face

The film doesn’t let up, and it’s quite claustrophobic at times, especially thanks to the old school dark lighting and choppy editing.

3 hours till deda zombie doorway

Those techniques might make it hard to see what’s going on during an attack scene in a small room, but the heinous sounds tell you more than you want to know. 3 Hours Till Dead is my kind of indie zombie flick.

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Scare Wars: slashers, home invasion, a musical, and an anthology

Knocked 5 more films off my must-see list…which, after I’ve completed the task of depleting it, I’m probably going to rename my “curious to see” list going forward…

THE DEAD INSIDE (2011)

dead inside 2011 cover

Director Travis Betz, who brought us the bizarre horror flick Joshua  and the horror musical Lo, does musical horror again with The Dead Inside.

dead inside hands

This isn’t as light and playful a musical as the opening number suggests. It’s actually quite a tragedy in the end and has a strong horror tone both in atmosphere and look. It focuses solely on one couple, which means a whole lot of duets.

The awesome Sarah Lassez (Mad Cowgirl, The Wicked Within, Lo, The Clown at Midnight) is a horror writer, and her man is a wedding photographer. Both are creatively burnt out. At first, the film seems to be bouncing between reality and her fictional zombie story as she writes.

dead inside zombies

But then she begins to change and the film gets very dark. She appears to be suffering from a mental disorder at first.

dead inside scissors

She becomes dangerous to others and herself, so the husband locks her in her room. He starts to suspect maybe she’s possessed. She keeps reverting back to the story she’s writing. They break into song.

dead inside male lead

There’s a lot going on in this 2-person show and the twists get even more complex as it progresses. It’s intriguing for sure, but it does get overly long after a while. And as with most horror musicals, the music doesn’t enhance the narrative for me personally.

Problem is, we’re not talking Rent here. Horror isn’t where I generally go to explore my inner feelings about other human beings or the human condition. Music moves my heart, horror stops it. Combining the two rarely works for me. I need a number as magical as “Suddenly Seymour” in between all the flesh eating, you know?

SCAREWAVES (2014)

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The director of low budget Halloween slasher Babysitter Massacre returns with an anthology featuring a wraparound about a radio host who tells his own chilling stories after taking some calls that fail to impress.

scarewaves DJ

These are tales with Twilight Zone-esque twists, but overall, they don’t deliver enough punch to keep you riveted as they work towards their conclusions. Low budget in look and feel and loaded with female nudity, they bring to mind the direct-to-video days of the 80s.

1st story – While the story itself drags a bit, the horror ending makes this one my favorite. An artist paints naked female models…with a horrific, ulterior motive.

scarewave photog monster

2nd story – Greedy rednecks commit a robbery…and then turn on each other so they won’t have to split the money. It’s a “back from the dead” scenario that’s been done before, and much more effectively.

3rd story – This is a very repetitive tale of a crooked cop who shoots criminals regardless of how little threat they pose to him. He learns his lesson, but I didn’t quite understand who or what was teaching it to him…

scarewaves cop

4th story – A cheater tries to get his woman out of the way so he can be with his lover, but jealousy lives beyond the grave. Cliché but okay for a low budget rendition of the plot.

SUSPENSION (aka: Dead of Night) (2015)

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Jeffery Scott Lando (Insecticidal, Boogeyman 2012, Haunted High, Goblin, House of Bones) manages to bring us a slasher that’s exhilaratingly brutal…yet mostly boring, tells a tale of cruel bullying…yet offers oddly dark moments to those that don’t deserve them, creates a narrative that is incredibly confusing…yet so blatantly obvious it’s ridiculous.

We meet a high school teen who is constantly mocked and bullied by her classmates because her dad was a serial killer who is now locked away, and she spends all her time drawing comics of him committing gruesome murders.

suspension drawing

She’s also kind of dumb. I mean, she knows these kids hate her, a chick approaches her in the hall and so obviously spills/tosses a drink all over her on purpose, and then drags her to the bathroom, claiming she’s going to help her clean it off. I’m not saying we should ever blame the victim, but it’s the dumb bitch’s fault her head ends up in a toilet bowl.

Anyway, her one friend decides to go to a party to hang out with all the cool kids, so she stays home and babysits her little brother. She also does a whole lot of horror drawing…pictures of her father escaping and coming home to kill some more. And it appears everything she draws actually happens…eventually.

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There are a couple of scenes with the killer causing trouble around the girl’s house early on, but mostly significant happens until the last 20 minutes of the film, when everyone shows up at her house.

suspension killer hand

Then the slaughtering begins, and it’s good old school masked killer fun. But seriously, if you know horror and know reading comprehension, you can probably figure out the twist just from reading this blog.

KILL GAME (2017)

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You know how the best slashers start—a prank gone horribly wrong. Well, in Kill Game, so many have gone wrong – on purpose – anyone could be the killer.

It’s quickly established that our core group of friends is a bunch of privileged, racist white assholes. How I long for the 80s, when white kids were cool, edgy new wavers.

Anyway, in high school they made a game out of playing really vicious “pranks” on classmates. And then they accidentally killed one. And they covered it up to make it look like an accident. Now someone in a mask is making them suffer horrible, painful deaths.

kill game guts

Initially, someone starts playing pranks on them. Then they start dying. It also turns out the kid they killed has an estranged twin brother who is suddenly back in town. He’s so fricking hot. But is he a killer?

kill game pretty boy machete

The kills are cruel and vicious, but there’s nothing scary or suspenseful here. It doesn’t help that this is one of those slasher flicks that is all over the map in the literal sense. These kids run around town trying to figure out whodunit. Lack of isolation or claustrophobic setting – a slasher killer for sure.

kill game killer

What I’ll remember most about Kill Game is the flashbacks of a naked guy with a rockin’ bod bound and dangling upside down. Well, that and the frustratingly inconclusive ending.

kill games fry guy

JACKALS (2017)

jackals cover

After this one, I think it’s time for home invasion films to just stop being a thing.

Kevin Greutert, director of Saw VI, Saw 3D: The Final Chapter, and Jessabelle, takes everything he learned…as the editor on The Strangers…to retell that story, I don’t know…his way?

jackals female mask

It’s 1983 (it’s irrelevant and doesn’t look like it), and Johnathon Schaech and Deborah Kara Unger (Dahlia in the Silent Hill movies) have hired Stephen Dorff to kidnap their son from the cult he has joined, bring him to a cabin in the woods, and deprogram him. Present for the fun is their son’s baby mama and baby, as well as their other son.

jackals cast

Masked cult members show up, standing out in the woods watching the cabin like something out of…The Strangers. Stephen Dorff goes out to, well, I’d say kick them off the property, but you can imagine what really happens.

jackals johnathan

Next, the family inside does absolutely nothing to prepare themselves to fight back once the cult members begin busting in, even though they have way more of a heads-up about what is going to go down any minute than the characters in The Strangers did. So honestly, I couldn’t give two shits when everything you can predict is going to happen (especially if you’ve seen The Strangers) begins happening.

jackals deborah kara unger

Jackals is a bit more vicious than The Strangers and the “good guys” are even dumber. That’s all I got.

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O Holy Night, I’m doing a horror comedy showdown!

I originally intended to save Massacre on Aisle 12 for a roundup blog of Christmas horror for 2017, but after watching OMG…We’re in a Horror Movie and seeing the similarities – and drastic differences – between the two films, I decided to pair them together instead.

Both are indie horror comedies about a group of people who land in horror scenarios that are mostly of their own making. So why does one film work spectacularly while the other one was a chore to get through? 

OMG…WE’RE IN A HORROR MOVIE (2016)

omg horror movie cover

The cheeky title of this film tells you right off that it intends to be a self-aware, self-referential experience. Therefore, it is unfortunate that running jokes about horror tropes never stop running. Actually, they don’t run, they drag…on and on and on as if concerned that the audience just might not get the joke yet. A huge suggestion to all writers – if your horror movie runs longer than 90 minutes (this one is 107 minutes), chances are it is not because everything needs to be there. It’s more likely because a) there are too many redundancies, and/or b) you like the sound of your own creativity. Believe me, I know. Which is why I really need to try to make this blog brief.

While enjoying a game night together, a group of friends – a mix of white, black, Asian, straight, gay – is suddenly shocked to hear a voiceover for a movie trailer…the trailer for a horror movie that stars them.

 omg horror movie glowindark

Quickly coming to terms with their new reality, they begin recognizing their undoubted roles in the film – the white guy and girl know they will be the stars, three black friends realize there’s no way they are all lasting until the end, etc. And so they formulate plans for survival based on the rules of horror.

OMG horror movie drag

There is a masked killer, but that’s the least of their concerns. They all decide that the only way to stay alive is to make sure that the characters most likely to stay alive in a horror movie die first! So they begin turning on each other.

ong horror movie dance

I love the concept, the guys are cute, there’s some gay camp, and there are glimmers of comic gold. And the cast, which includes director/writer/star Ajale Bandele, makes an incredibly valiant effort to elevate the material to the level of quick and quirky that is its intent. But there’s too much material for it to be quick, and there are some great moments, there’s not enough wickedly clever material for it to be consistently quirky. An entire movie meant to be a horror cliché spoof becomes predominantly a stream of horror cliché spoof clichés. Are you following me here?

OMG horror movie mask

And like I said, the jokes go on forever. The black guys continuously debate the roles of black people in horror movies. The white guy persistently tries to convince the Asian lesbian that she’ll survive longer if they bump off the white girl and she sleeps with him.

omg horror movie drive

When two of the survivors make a getaway in a vehicle, the drive goes on for soooooo long that the part of my brain that loves to be entertained jumped in a getaway vehicle and took off without me, leaving me to die a slow, painful death.

omg horror movie zombie

But I’ll tell you who wouldn’t die: the cast. Because those who are killed come back…as zombies, which in itself adds some new fun and humor to the mix. If only the mixing had gone on for about 80 minutes instead of 107.

Damn, that was longer than I planned. But it’s so fricking good I’m not editing out a single word.

MASSACRE ON AISLE 12 (2016)

massacre on aisle 12 cover

It’s safe to say that I must see the upcoming film 6:66 P.M., because it involves virtually the same team that made this film, and this one is an instant classic for me.

massacre on aisle 12 santa

What does horror-based comedy Massacre on Aisle 12 do right? It has a smart, funny as hell script with no lag. Attention is given to every aspect of the humor, from over-the-top moments to the subtlest nuances. And the cast is flawless—everyone gets comedy and does it right.

massacre on aisle 12 lead

On Christmas Eve, a fricking adorable as hell young man comes to work at a hardware store.

massacre on aisle 12 manager

The zany manager (the film’s co-writer Chad Ridgely, who needs to be a comedy star ASAP) introduces him to all the quirky employees, including the store Santa and his slutty elf, the war damaged janitor, the resident bitchy girl, the obligatory black guy, the druggy, and the queenie head honcho in charge.

massacre on aisle 12 santa

Shit gets out of hand fast after closing, when they discover a big toolbox in aisle 12 filled with money…and a dead body.

massacre on aisle 12 scream

Members of the staff immediately begin vacillating between suspecting each other of being the murderer and plotting to cover it up and keep the money.

massacre on aisle 12 cast

This ignites a comedy of errors as paranoia leads to catastrophe, all trust is broken, and everyone is plunged into a bloody – and hilarious – game of cat and mouse.

massacre on aisle 12 black guy

masacre on aisle 12 janitor

Plus, we get to see the hottie leading man’s ass that seems to be about gay predatory behavior but is more about gay panic.

massacre on aisle 12 leadback

I’m counting the minutes until 6.66 P.M.

There. Now that is how you get to the point in a movie blog.

Posted in Johnny You ARE Queer - Gay Thoughts, Movie Times & Television Schedules - Staying Entertained, Scared Silly - Horror Comedy | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

One gay teen, so many monsters…

closet monster cover

2015 film Closet Monster is worth covering on Boys, Bears & Scares because it not only intertwines some gruesome horror imagery into a tale of gay-bashing and a teen coming to terms with his sexuality, but the main character’s escape from the horrors of reality is the horror genre.

closet monster stake as teen

This is a wonderfully acted and heart-achingly real, emotional story of a teen who is not short of self-confidence in his identity as gay despite all the negativity that has swirled around him in his young life, including the usual societal attitudes towards homosexuality. There are very authentic details about how different types of people deal with the notion of sexual orientation, making this a very relatable film for gay viewers.

closet monster dad

We first get a glimpse of the teen’s childhood. He has a close relationship with his father, whose bedtime stories of creatures of the night seem to be what draw him into the world of horror.

closet monster stake

The boy is left with a single dad when the mother is shockingly removed from their life, plus the boy witnesses a horrific gay bashing in a cemetery.

closet monster cemetery

As a coping mechanism for these traumatic experiences, he has conversations with his hamster Buffy (wink wink), which is voiced by Isabella Rossellini.

closet monster hampster

We then pick up with him as a teen. He has big dreams of using horror to escape his small town life; he wants to move to the city and become a special effects makeup artist.

closet monster makeup work

He practices his horror makeup on his best female friend, and they do photo shoots of his work to build his portfolio.

closet monster horror makeup

But when a new boy enters the high school, it awakens his sexual urges.

closet monster kiss

While he begins to explore those feelings with the new kid, he is also plagued by horrific sexual nightmares that seem to be morally challenging his desires.

closet monster impale

His once loving relationship with his father has grown volatile, and it only begins to worsen as he discovers more about himself and sees how his father might respond to the truth. Both characters are flawed, making the dynamics between them that much more genuine and their clashes quite sad.

closet monster final blow

Everything comes to a head – from emotional hurt to imagined horror – on the night the teen flees reality for the comfort of his favorite fantasy.

closet monster come on at party

He attends a Friday the 13th costume party with his new male friend, but even his safe zone is haunted by the ghosts of judgment.

closet monster partypuke

Refreshingly, while this isn’t exactly an uplifting film, it also isn’t like the gay tragedies of the past. However, you won’t get a tidy, happy ending, nor will there be answers to every question you might have about what becomes of the characters. Closet Monster really is just a snapshot of a tough time in the life of a horror-loving gay boy.

closet monster main guys

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Son of a witch! It came from the 80s…and just won’t die

witchcraft 1 cover

I was working in the video store back in the late 80s when Witchcraft (1988) hit the shelves. I was on the verge of leaving my teen years behind to become a man, so the sinister satanic sacrificial cover art on the VHS tape couldn’t fool me. I knew this was going to be as bad as all the other direct-to-video crap that was ruining the horror genre as we moved towards the 1990s.

And yet…we are now up to SIXTEEN Witchcraft films. My OCD is letting me down, because I have absolutely no interest in watching every single film to write a massive blog about all of them. So I am just going to stick briefly to the two films released in the 80s, and throw in a bonus stud stalking segment for the rest of the films.

Witchcraft is directed by Rob Spera, who would go on to direct Leprechaun in the Hood and Bloody Murder 2. Use that information in whatever way you must to judge whether this film fits your taste in horror (I own both of those films…use that information in whatever way you must to judge my taste in horror).

witchcraft 1 couple

While giving birth to her baby, a woman has nightmares of a man and woman being burned at the stake (their faces get nice and crispy).

witchcraft 1 witches

After she delivers, she goes to recover in her mother-in-law’s mansion, where she experiences a cheesy 1980s version of Rosemary’s Baby.

witchcraft 1 hang

Approximately 2 exciting horror things happen in this film: the priest who comes to bless the baby ends up hung outside the house with his face a rotted mess, and the new mom’s best friend comes to visit, her head is hacked off, and it then levitates and spins in circles.

witchcraft 1 head spin

Okay, exactly 2 exciting horror things happen in this film. But that’s like 2 more than happen in that snoozefest Rosemary’s Baby. I mean…Rosemary’s Baby is a brilliant, terrifying classic and no one better dare ever suggest this film is more entertaining…

witchcraft 2 cover

Witchcraft II: The Temptress (1989) is the Look What Happened to Rosemary’s Baby of the franchise. Or perhaps it’s the first of them, because from what I’ve heard, a bunch of them are about the continuing story of the little baby from the first film as a grown man. Here he’s a horny teen who can’t get any from his girlfriend.

witchcraft 2 main guy sleep

Witchcraft II: The Temptress is as bad-good as every non-Freddy focused Freddy’s Nightmares episode, which makes sense considering they both come from the exact same (tragic) moment in horror history. After an 80s leather mistress living next door starts making moves on our main guy, he learns from his dad that he’s adopted, and his adoptive parents have been keeping him hidden from the evil witch coven. This 80s leather mistress is determined to seduce him so he will impregnate her with a hell baby.

witchcraft 2 knife

Witchcraft II has it all – numerous sexual seduction scenes, the 80s leather mistress going all primitive and simply stabbing people with a knife slasher style, and one intense scene of a chick being harassed by an unseen incubus.

witchcraft 2 witch

Sure, it’s a bad movie, but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – 80s horror is just better when it’s about teenagers.

witchcraft 2 stake

And that’s about as much as I can take of the Witchcraft franchise. But since this series ends up going the erotic horror route, I did scour as many of the film as I could to find some hunky action.

WITCHCRAFT III: THE KISS OF DEATH (1991)witchcraft 3 cover

WITCHCRAFT IV: THE VIRGIN HEART (1992) witchcraft 4 coverLet the gay 90s begin…

WITCHCRAFT V: DANCE WITH THE DEVIL (1993)witchcraft 5 cover

WITCHCRAFT 8: SALEM’S GHOST (1996) witchcraft 8

(un)Holy false advertising! But at least the guy in the movie is as sexy as the guy on the poster.

WITCHCRAFT XII: IN THE LAIR OF THE SERPENT (2002) witchcraft 12 coverWarlock of the Nipple Rings.

WITCHCRAFT 13: BLOOD OF THE CHOSEN (2008)witchcraft 13 cover

Am I the only one fantasizing that he’s winding up to administer some warlock whacks in that pic on the left?

Posted in Living in the 80s - forever, Movie Times & Television Schedules - Staying Entertained, The Evil of the Thriller - Everything Horror | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Scare Wars: witches, a slasher, and body horror

After months of being so far behind in life in general, I think I’m getting back on track—especially with horror since Halloween is on the way. So I’ll be chipping away at my aging “must-see” list to discover which titles really should not have been on there. Let’s see how the first three did.

THE COVEN (2015)

coven cover

I was itching to see this one for quite a while. I should have just put some Hydrocortisone on that shit and moved on with my life.

How could another movie about witches be made that is as excruciatingly boring as The Blair Witch Project?

A teacher talks to his students about the Wiccan religion and mentions the history of a coven that used to meet in the woods near their town. So on Halloween night, three girls decide to go look for the spot where the coven used to meet.

coven lucifer tomb

There’s a “Lucifer” tombstone in the woods. The girls hang out in a tent and party. They have a Jack O’ Lantern with them to at least give us some holiday spirit.

coven pumpkin

They keep seeing a fleeting figure in the woods.

coven hoodie

Meanwhile, two boys also enter the woods. They are attacked by a bat and one of them is hurt, so the other goes to get help.

coven spotlight

Eventually, they all start having run-ins with a headlight that I can only assume is attached to a ghostly motorcycle? Seriously, I can’t with this movie.

RITES OF PASSAGE (2012)

rites of passage cover

I barely even know where to begin with this one. I’m not sure I would tell anyone not to watch it because the fact that it’s such a mess is what makes it such a curiosity and oddly entertaining—although it still should have been shaved down from 102 minutes to about 85.

So…Stephen Dorff (Blade, Jackals, Botched, Alone in the Dark, Feardotcom, Cold Creek Manor) is a college professor taking his class to an old ranch that was once a burial ground to do an ancient Native American ceremony.

Meanwhile, Wes Bentley is the fucked up brother of one of the students, who hangs out in a huge greenhouse on the ranch and does a whole lot of psychotropic drugs, which causes him to see every girl he looks at dressed in a slutty Indian outfit. He also has a buddy hanging out on the property with him – Christian Slater giving a local theater community performance as a rifle-toting hobo character who converses with a sock puppet that talks like Speedy Gonzales.

rites of passage slater

This is sort of a slasher. Before the trip, the kids party – the hot guy gets shirtless a lot and even walks in on another guy jerking off.

rites of passage jerkoff

Wes stumbles into the party all messed up on his drugs, but the brother swears he’s harmless.

Is he? It’s hard to tell. Once the kids arrive at the ranch, there’s conveniently a beach right there. Stephen Dorff acts just like one of the kids as he joins in on a total war of words between a bunch of girls. Then some other chick runs into Wes and Slater and goes on this huge anti-gay rant. It’s quite satisfying when Slater punches the bitch in the face.

Other than that, quite often the kids die accidentally. Not that Slater doesn’t want to kill them. He runs around with his gun in the greenhouse, while Wes runs around trying to stop him from killing anyone…sort of. It’s just a mess of running and screaming with what I’m convinced are absolutely intentional laughs thrown in. The absurdity here can’t possibly be accidental. I mean, one guy steps in a bear trap and spends the rest of the movie dragging the bear trap around on his foot in the greenhouse as he tries to stay alive…even when he bursts in to play the hero. There’s no way to not laugh at that.

rites of passage fire

A few things could have made this more of an actual horror film. First, Stephen Dorff’s unauthoritative teacher role could have been cut completely – when everyone’s at the house getting chased and killed, he’s out on the beach by himself doing the fricking Native American ritual (which in no way plays any kind of supernatural role in the film). Next, just get rid of Slater and make Wes the intoxicated psycho killer. He’s much more convincing as an ominous threat than Slater with his bad wig, bad false rotting teeth, and sock puppet.

rites of passage wes and briana

Even with a drastic need for an overhaul to make it a better movie, there is one scene that nearly has me leaning toward adding this film to my collection. The always awesome Briana Evigan (From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, Paranormal Island, The Devil’s Carnival, Mine Games, Mother’s Day remake, House of the Damned, Sorority Row) gets one of the best fucking chase scenes EVER. I find it hard to believe that it even comes from the same movie, because it sets a bar that the rest of the movie can never even get near. Yep…I have to go buy the film now.

BITE (2015)

bite 2015 cover

Girls go on a tropical bachelorette party weekend. Bride-to-be gets bitten by something while swimming. When she gets home, she begins to feel…different. Pretty soon, she begins to look really fucking different. EEK!

bite 2015 changing

Bite is about as straightforward as body horror can get and is virtually a clone of some of the major titles you’ve seen in the past few years, complete with moral messages about pre-marital sex, infidelity, and STDs. Not to mention, the mother of the girl’s fiancé is virtually a cartoon rendition of the hateful mother-in-law stereotype.

bite blonde

The thing is, the film is also so fricking accessible and pretty damn perfectly follows the template of “metamorphosis” horror flicks.

bite beads

It does just what you want it to do (aka: expect it to do), is just gross enough and scary enough, and puts you in that uncomfortable position of feeling bad for basically everyone affected by the situation, despite their flaws.

bite 2015 boyfriend

And what’s best is, while the girls in those other body horror films kind of just rot away in their apartments and it’s kind of incidental when they kill those who wander into their world, this chick turns monstrous and embraces that shit.

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It’s back to the woods for some brutal kills

One’s just a hiking dude. Another is a masked psycho. And the third is…well, we still don’t know what he is, but he’s pissed. I take a look at backwoods slashers Capps Crossing, Bastard, and Playing with Dolls: Havoc.

CAPPS CROSSING (2017)

capps crossing cover

Think about movies like the second and third Sleepaway Camp films. You know from the start Angela is the killer. She’s not a particularly threatening looking figure. The plot is, she has all these victims who didn’t do shit to her at her disposal in the woods. I mean, who really cares about the other characters? We’re just watching to see how they’re going to die. Those two absolutely hollow films with no characters to connect with, no scares, deaths that are more laughable than disturbing, and “humor” that couldn’t trick you into a giggle if the Family Ties laugh track was dropped in are cult favorites.

Having said that, if you claim Capps Crossing is “the worst movie ever,” I will roll my eyes so hard the wind power created by them will pick you up and throw you off a cliff. At least David, the all-American looking kid in Capps Crossing, means business when he stabs the fuck out of the people he comes across in the woods.

capps crossing hand

While Angela was so angry because she had her balls cut off by her aunt, David is angry because he had his balls figuratively removed by his girlfriend when she dumped him. Now he just hangs out in the area where the breakup occurred and kills anyone who happens by.

capps crossing spear

Meanwhile, the group of friends that comes camping in the woods is dealing with some drama involving half the group hating the guy that one of the girls is going to marry. So they all decide to split up…making things much easier for David.

capps crossing knife bend
KILLER ASS.

Capps Crossing has a few montages with some slammin’ dance music, and the guys are cute as hell.

capps crossing pretty boy 2

Look at those eyes, those lips…those pits. But I’d trade you three pieces of that lean meat for this one slab of beefcake. Pass the BBQ sauce…and the cherry cola, because that’s a lot of man to swallow and I’m going to need something to wash him down.

capps crossing beefcake

capps crossing pink shirt
Real men wear pink…and have nipple erections.

This next part made me butter my popcorn. One of the hottest gay-baiting duos ever…

capps crossing rub

So…oh yeah. The movie. David doesn’t hold back or try to be inventive when he kills. He just uses as much fury and force as necessary to get the job done.

capps crossing brains

He’s also plagued by various flashbacks, some of which I didn’t totally understand. And finally, there’s a twist at the end, but veteran horror fans will probably figure it out.

BASTARD (2015)

bastardcover

Bastard is an oddity in the world of backwoods slashers in that there’s a single part of it (near the end) that is about as typical as the formula gets, yet everything that happens around that simple slasher scenario is so fricking weird and sprinkled with wicked gore and oddly, darkly humorous moments that you can’t go into it expecting just another slasher flick.

bastardhammer to head

The unique approach here is that the “group” that comes to a place in the woods – a bed & breakfast this time – consists of people who are strangers to each other. We learn just enough about all of them to know they have issues. One couple is a pair of murderous psychos. Seriously. A young teen and his quiet female companion have run away from home. And a guy on his own is a suicidal gay cop who was trying to hang himself while in partial drag when his hot man walked in on him.

bastardhang

There’s also a killer in a hoodie and mask that brings to mind The Hills Run Red or Valentine.

bastard mask

After all the character development, the first major kill fricking rox – a hot bartender is about to get pegged by his strap-on girlfriend on the beach when they’re interrupted. I wish I could say it was by the gay cop, knocking that bitch off the bartender for trying to do a man’s job. But sadly, there’s no further exploration of the gay cop’s gayness. But there is deeper exploration of the bartender’s posterior. Ouch.

bastardgag

Following that initial kill, the film pretty much goes into its mini-slasher segment, with all the kills coming on fast. The score is very Carpenter-esque, there’s great gore, and the killer reveal is just completely out there, opening the film up for a final bizarre act.

bastardspine pull

Bastard makes you feel like you’re continuously leaving one movie and entering another. That approach definitely leaves your head spinning and a lot of questions unanswered, but damned if it isn’t one entertaining mess that delivers the horror like few slashers do these days.

PLAYING WITH DOLLS HAVOC (2017)

playing with dolls havoc cover

It’s here! The third film in Rene Perez’s slasher franchise has arrived, and the freaky killer is at it again in a house in the woods. Who’s not at it is the boss that sets this beast free for fun – Richard Tyson. While he doesn’t appear in the film this time, he’s mentioned, so he’s still the mastermind behind the massacres.

playing with dolls havoc doll

If you’ve seen the first two films, the blueprint stays the same. Perez’s formula of heart-stopping jump scares and horrendously savage kills without CGI are what it’s all about.

playing with dolls havoc military gut

Really, this franchise is essentially Friday the 13th for the new millennium. People come to a cabin or house in the woods and are savagely murdered by an unearthly, powerhouse figure. Every. Time. And I just keep coming back for more.

playing with dolls havoc male friend splatter

The plot does have a dastardly catch in this installment – a woman comes to her weekend getaway home to surprise her husband, who is staying there while on business. But both husband and wife are in for an even bigger surprise when an unexpected guest shows up…and I’m not talking about the killer. Of course, he complicates matters even more.

playing with dolls other girl in snow

Just like the Friday the 13th franchise, with all the familiar slasher situations in Playing with Dolls: Havoc, there are some standout moments. This one has a kick ass “hide under the bed” scene and a chase through the snow that puts both the main girl and the killer in a predicament I’ve never seen before in a slasher. Fricking AWESOME. Dammit, this series needs to be on DVD like yesterday.

playing with dolls havoc main girl drag

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