1 out of 3 ain’t bad…even if it’s not entirely a horror movie

I guess I have myself to blame for watching horror films that include casts of people you’ve actually heard of, but this foursome wasn’t exactly my idea of a good horror time. Here’s my rundown of The Divide, The Abandoned, Hotel of the Damned, and Don’t Sleep.

THE DIVIDE (2011)

The director of Frontier(s) once again delivers a film that isn’t quite a horror movie. And it clocks in at a little over 2 hours long!

This is still a rather fucked up and well-acted film with some disturbing moments. Tenants in an apartment building lock themselves in the landlord’s basement shelter after a nuclear apocalypse.

Over time, they begin to lose their shit, in part because some of them become infected by the air outside. They begin doing awful things to each other in order to stay alive—like killing each other for food and raping each other.

The film stars the likes of Michael Biehn, Rosanna Arquette, Milo Ventimiglia, Courtney B. Vance, and Lauren German of Lucifer, so the performances make everything feel quite disturbing and realistic. Plus, the final battle to the death is intense. But damn, this shit is 2 hours looooooong.

THE ABANDONED (2015)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before—young woman takes night security job in an empty building and begins to experience supernatural occurrences and encountering spooky figures.

Well, I’ve heard it before, in movies like Last Shift and Abandoned Dead. My advice—watch either of those films instead of this more polished, mainstream version.

There’s plenty of creepy atmosphere in this slow burn, but it is so agonizingly safe that I just could not get into it. A young woman with emotional baggage and issues (she is known for seeing things that aren’t there and takes pills for the problem) starts her first night at an empty apartment building. She’s on duty with a partner, played by Jason Patric, who is a total dick to her.

It just unfolds as predictably as you can imagine. She has conflicts with Jason Patric. She roams the halls, sees barely scary things you’ve seen in the shadows and flashlight beams in dozens of other movies, finds dolls, drawings, and other “creepy” signs of life in the building, etc, etc.

Eventually, she gets her whole character development redemption moment with a ghost.

YAWN.

HOTEL OF THE DAMNED (2016)

Peter Dobson of The Frighteners plays a dude who picks up his buddy (horror regular Louis Madylor) after he’s released from prison. They go to find Madylor’s daughter, beat up her boyfriend because they don’t like him, then take her and the boyfriend for a car ride. They get into a car accident, take shelter in an abandoned hotel, and spend the rest of the movie trying to run away from a bunch of bald cannibals instead of just leaving the hotel.

I can barely comprehend how a well-oiled production could have such an absolutely abysmal plot and deliver no believable moments. To make matters worse, it doesn’t even bother to go for super gore or torture porn. It’s just BLAND. There’s one scene of the guys first discovering the cannibals feasting that shows promise, but then rest of the film basically has the group repeatedly cowering in a room until the cannibals break in, then moving to another room to await another invasion.

Not to mention, there are numerous unnecessary flashbacks showing what criminal punks the two lead guys are. Yet they continuously run in terror, even when they are almost always facing off against just ONE cannibal and they have GUNS!!!

Really, as much as I’m a fan of both leads, just skip this one. Nothing scary, nothing gory, no suspense or tension, ridiculous dialogue, unlikable characters…

DON’T SLEEP (2017)

I’ll be the one person who talks about this film without using the title against it in the form of some sort of snarky quip. Besides, I did manage to stay awake…and lost an hour and 40 minutes of precious sleep in the process.

I don’t even know what to say. It’s got hottie Dominic Sherwood of Vampire Academy, Jo Polniaczek’s dad Alex Rocco, the sister from failed Friends spinoff Joey, and Cary Elwes of Saw.

Despite the poster art showing just how male-phobic horror promotion can be, the film actually focuses on pretty boy Dominic Sherwood. He’s a guy who had really scary nightmares as a child, with a witchy looking old lady, robed creeps with scary faces, and more.

Now he’s seeing visions of all the creeps from his past in the real world, and they begin killing his neighbors. Alex Rocco gets sort of possessed (never thought I’d see that happen). The best part, which should have been the ONLY part, is that one nightmare baddie is a little boy creep in a hooded robe. Sometimes, simpler is just better.

Simple this was not. But all that complexity didn’t make it any less boring. It finally reaches a pretty far out conclusion that took it out of the realm of horror for me and into La La Land. Definitely just not my thing.

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STREAM QUEEN: 5 Times the Zombie Fun…Seriously

I can’t believe I watched 5 different zombie films of all varieties—zombcom, found footage, zombie POV, 70s throwback, zomcheese, etc.—and liked them all. Here’s what you’re in for with these five.

ZOMBIE WARS (2007)

For over 30 years, David A. Prior, the director of 80s trash Sledgehammer and Killer Workout, has been making horror! Who knew? I’m glad he has, otherwise we wouldn’t have this goofy little zombie flick that opens with a bunch of cuties out in the jungle taking down icky zombies while spouting goofy one-liners.

Zombie Wars looks and feels like a fun cheap SyFy TV show. Survivors during the zombie apocalypse are captured and enslaved by the zombies.

You read me right. And no, these aren’t genius zombies. They’re just mindless zombies. But they keep these human bitches in cages and make them do field work and shit. They also breed them and raise them to adulthood so there’s more meat to eat.

Best of all…they make the cute lead suds himself up.

Anyway, the main man romances a non-speaking female prisoner (very Planet of the Apes). He also has a prison frenemy who is an Edward Furlong wannabe (can you believe there’s an actual Edward Furlong wannabe?) and may or may not be helping him figure out a way to escape the prison.

Tons of campy action, loads of blood and guts, and that soap scene…we sure have come a long way since Killer Workout.

ZOMBIE ISLE (2014)

The director of the highly enjoyable Zombthology is back with more zombies in a sort of homage/sendup of 1970s drive-in zombie flix.

The old school camerawork, the grindhouse filter, the gnarly zombie makeup, the bloody gut-munching, the college girls trapped on an island filled with the undead, and a mad scientist (of course) are all perfect.

There’s campy humor, and some of the girls are bimbo-tastic in their reactions to the stuff going on around them, giving the film a notably modern flavor as well.

There’s even a mutant 3-headed zombie monster!

Best of all, almost all the horror takes place in broad daylight!

The only problem? The damn thing runs nearly two hours long! Which just goes to show you, no matter how well you hit the mark with your movie, 2 hours is TOO LONG.

THE INFECTED (2011)

The urban outbreak part of this Spanish language film is very intense, very visually arresting, and very brief in the first few minutes of the film.

If I ever get stuck up on a pole during the zombie apocalypse, just shoot me.

The focus of the film is on a miniscule group of people—2 men, a woman, and her child—hiding out in the wilderness after the outbreak. It’s a very desolate and sparse film with a story that uses a small budget to its advantage. See, zombies are attracted by sound, so this foursome does everything in its power to keep as quiet as possible.

That means there is very little dialogue. Which is why I find it bewildering that so many people online bash this film for having so little dialogue. I can’t even process that modern audiences are incapable of immersing themselves in the anxiety-inducing concept of having to remain completely silent because there are zombies all around you at all times.

So there you go. If you’re going to get totally bored because no one’s talking, then don’t bother. But you’ll be missing the impact of a scene in which someone is having their guts ripped out yet doing everything in their power not to scream in agony for fear of attracting more zombies to a child hiding and watching the whole thing only feet away.

While there isn’t much talking in this film, the fact that we are left with such fully developed characters and know just what they’re thinking and feeling speaks volumes.

I AM ALONE (2015)

This is one way to make a found footage film from which I can’t look away. I Am Alone splits the action into two different camps—almost literally.

There’s this one-man survivalist reality show. This cutie gets dropped off in the woods of an area known for disappearances and deaths with a camera strapped to him. Look at that face. I could just eat him up, and I’m not even a zombie.

Meanwhile his buddies head into town to interview locals. But The Blair Witch Project this is not. The found footage reveals that a zombie apocalypse breaks out suddenly, and the two guys in town are in the heat of the insanity as rednecks start eating each other alive and blowing each other’s brains out. Awesome.

Meanwhile, the guy that is way too pretty be left alone in the woods has no idea what’s happening in the rest of the world.

That is until some dude wanders into his tent and attacks him!

While the footage of what goes on in town is more like your average low budget zombie flick, it’s what the guy experiences in the woods trying to avoid zombies while turning into one himself that gives this one a totally unique…um, dare I say, perspective…in both the found footage and zombie subgenres.

IT STAINS THE SAND RED (2016)

While this batch of zombie films was an all around win for me, I think Colin Minihan, director of Grave Encounters, takes the prize with the truly original It Stains the Sand Red.

Brittany Allen (Dead Before Dawn, Jigsaw) is a rather trashy chick who ends up stranded on an isolated desert road when her car breaks down. The horror begins immediately when she sees “someone” ambling up the road towards her. Is it her knight in shining armor?

Nope. It’s a fricking zombie! The movie quickly turns into a combination of creepy and comic as Brittany is pursued through the desert by the relentless zombie, oftentimes following only feet behind her as she boozes and drugs herself up while chatting with it, hurling insults at it…and fighting it off when it gets too close.

Eventually things get even more complicated as her backstory unfolds, her mind starts to snap, and she makes new enemies and unexpected allies. Brittany needs to be a horror icon asap.

The only maddening thing about the film is that the very beginning is packed with too many moments in which she could easily either escape the zombie threat or eliminate it completely but instead makes beyond ridiculous movie character mistakes. It would have been unforgivable if the movie didn’t get so damn good after those initial instances.

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Looking at 4 of the not so greats of the late 80s

But you gotta love them anyway—or at least, have them in your DVD collection if you’re an 80s fanatic like me. It’s time to look at obscurities Bates Motel, The Undertaker, Night Feeder, and Prime Evil.

BATES MOTEL (1987)

 kinopoisk.ru

3 decades before Bates Motel, there was…Bates Motel. There shouldn’t have been.

This made-for-TV flick pretends Psycho II & III didn’t happen and then sort of borrows from the plot of Psycho II.

Bud Cort (Invaders from Mars, Love at Stake, Out of the Dark, Brain Dead) plays a guy who was locked away with Norman Bates for all those years and became his good friend. Norman dies and leaves his motel to Bud, who decides to reopen the motel.

bates motel boarded up

Being as cheesy as late 80s made-for-TV horror can get, this one is all whimsy and bogus scares. Bud makes some friends—including Lori Petty, who he discovers squatting in the Bates house dressed as a chicken (that’s how bad this crap is)—and begins renovating the place.

bates motel chicken

He sees signs of Mrs. Bates in the window upstairs, and her actual body is dug up during the renovation.

bates motel mrs bates

However, that storyline is suddenly forgotten because…

The motel opens, and some woman comes to stay in a room to commit suicide. She is inexplicably transported back in time to a high school prom, where she dances with Jason Bateman and gets lectured by all these teen ghosts that committed suicide and urge her not to do it.

bates motel jason bateman

Their intervention works. What the frick is this movie?

bates motel cemetery

Back in the original storyline, we get an absurd Scooby Doo ending. I can’t with this film…yet now that it’s finally on DVD, I just had to have it to complete my Psycho collection.

bates motel masked figure 

THE UNDERTAKER (1988)

undertaker cover

If you catch this one on Amazon Prime, it begins with a shot-on-video hair band/aerobics girls intro credits sequence. The Blu-ray release from Vinegar Syndrome leaves all that out while inserting a whole bunch of good horror stuff later on that had been lost from previous releases of the film.

undertaker gym girls

Tragic to not have that intro sequence, because it’s awful in a really awesome late 80s nostalgic way…just like the rest of this disaster. Joe Spinell gets a chance to be a bit more of a campy killer than he was in Maniac and The Last Horror Film at the beginning of the 1980s. In essence, this movie needed to be made so that Joe could complete a sort of Maniac trilogy for the 80s just before his death in 89.

undertaker bodies

Joe’s a mortician whose business is drying up due to low death rates. So he decides to do something about that…by targeting all the physically fit aerobics girls from the gym.

Man, this movie is bad.

undertaker grab

However, the synth suspense music is quite worthy of the 1980s during the occasional cheesy gory kill scenes. In between all that, we watch a bunch of gym bunnies exercising or chatting while showing their boobs in the gym locker.

Meanwhile, Joe’s 80s-hot nephew figures out what he’s up to and attempts to convince the aerobics instructor that he’s trying to warn her of what’s going on and not stalking her.

undertaker shirtless nephew

Man, this movie is bad.

undertaker stairs

Really, Joe and the genuine 80s vibe are all it has going for it. And that’s enough for me.

NIGHT FEEDER (1988)

night feeder 88 cover

Night Feeder is like The Undertaker’s new wave partner in criminally bad late 80s direct-to-video garbage. This is pure sleaze, loaded with bad acting, neon colored lights, awesomely gross gore, a boring as fuck plot, lots of boobs, and finally, a moment of totally nonsensical horror payoff.

night feeder 88 roommate jeans

Oh, and let’s not forget the perfectly ripped jeans. I had those jeans. Only I didn’t wear black underwear under them. Okay, I didn’t wear anything under them.

night feeder 88 first body

People are having their brains removed in a bad part of town, and somehow, a pretty reporter finds herself in the middle of all of it.

night feeder 88 hanger

But that doesn’t stop her from throwing one awesomely debased punk rock party. Like it seriously seems as if the director just went to an underground club and filmed.

night feeder 88 party

There are some cheesy gory deaths, no scares, a disgusting autopsy, spooky dreams, and that super trippy reveal at the end of the film of who…or what…is doing all the killing.

night feeder 88 melty face

PRIME EVIL (1988)

prime-evil-smaller

How about a nice little Christmas time flick about a cult of satanic priests hoping to stay alive forever by sacrificing a virgin when everyone in the vicinity seems to be a slut?

I don’t even know what the hell I was trying to follow here. There were like three different times when I thought I was being introduced to the “main girl,” so I eventually just gave up trying to care about these cum buckets.

prime evil bad guy stalk

There are crazy priests and nuns, a pretty boring looking dude barging in on women—sometimes alone, sometimes when they’re with men—and killing them, and another creep in a mask barging in and attacking women.

prime evil masked killer

And there are some detectives on the case.

prime evil cult

Prime Evil culminates in a satanic ritual and orgy in a church (doesn’t it always?).

prime evil devil

Someone turns instantaneously into a devil after being stabbed and everyone turns old. The look on this guy’s face is what 80s horror was all about.

prime evil old

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All kinds of slashing and sacrificing from Wild Eye Releasing

Seeing the Wild Eye logo flash across the screen before a movie in the 21st century is sort of like seeing the New Line Cinema logo before a film back in the 1980s. You know you’re with family; you don’t always love them, but there’s comfort in the fact that you’re in the familiar surroundings of your horror home.

Wild Eye is one of a handful of companies still distributing loads of indie horror films and making sure they reach an audience, not only on VOD, but also throwing a bone to us old school collectors and putting movies out on DVD as well. So let’s tackle 3 of the more recent releases I’ve checked out: House of Salem, The Devil’s Well, and Escape from Cannibal Farm.

HOUSE OF SALEM (2016)

house of salem cover

While on the surface it seems to have a pretty basic premise, House of Salem actually immerses viewers in a much more surreal, slow-burning experience reminiscent of late 1970s horror. There’s plenty of tension and atmosphere, but don’t expect to experience many cheap, tangible thrills here. This is sort of a mystery horror, and by the time all is said and done, you may not even crack the case.

house of salem babysitter

Things begin modern enough. A young boy is being babysat when people in creepy masks invade his home and kidnap him. However, this boy is “special,” and seems to have some sort of psychic powers. He knew this was going to happen…and that they will be taking him to a scary house.

house of salem boy in mask

The kidnappers don’t know it’s a scary house. They just think it’s a place they’re supposed to hold the kid until they get their pay for kidnapping him. But then strange things begin to occur…and the creep factor sets in as they learn the sinister truth of what’s intended for the young boy. Now the evil force that wants him has set its sights on them, too.

house of salem cult

Visual horror stimulation abounds, and we’re not quite sure at first if something is happening in the house or if the boy himself is somehow manifesting the threats that relentlessly attack the group as they uncover the truth of what they’ve gotten themselves—and the boy—into.

house of salem bloody boy

Also, characters sort of come and go as the movie forges ahead, so trying to decipher exactly what is happening becomes a bit of a chore, but it definitely is a horror film experience unlike most you’ll see these days, with a bit of a twist on the home invasion subgenre.

THE DEVIL’S WELL (2017)

devils well cover

With found footage films being a dime a dozen these days (more like unlimited on streaming services), there are very few that really grab you while you’re watching them and stick with you after. The Devil’s Well is pretty darn generic all around.

It comes to us from Kurtis Spieler, director of Sheep Skin. While that very different film also had pacing issues, I much prefer it to this one, which is guilty of all the typical found footage clichés.

devils well husband

A ghost hunting couple was investigating an old well in a cavernous basement location when the wife disappeared mysteriously.

devils well well

We first get all the documentary interview stuff about the legend of the well, the husband’s perspective on what occurred, and opinions from family, friends, and professionals on the case about what they think happened.

devils well wife

That takes up a good chunk of the film. Finally, the husband brings friends who are also ghost hunters to re-investigate the well and caverns where his wife disappeared. They roam around with flashlights and cameras, see figures in the shadows, get spooked, etc. It all leads up to the big encounter with the cult mentioned during the interview segment of the movie. There isn’t even a real shocker of a final frame.

devils well cultist

CANNIBAL FARM (2017)

cannibal farm

Considering this is a movie about a family taking an RV trip and running into a clan of crazed cannibals, you have to overlook the fact that every character in the family is so fucking unlikable from the start. I’ll never understand why horror almost completely shifted to a position of having protagonists that are so damn miserable. 

So this miserable family—a mother, stepdad, young son, horror-loving, seemingly gay son, and daughter with a boyfriend hit the road, bicker, have the usual encounter with a weirdo during a pit stop, and then park to camp for the night. They’re almost immediately terrorized, and in a move that makes no sense, the terrified little boy decides he’d feel safer outside in a tent! WTF?

cannibal farm mom burn

It’s not long before the tent idea proves to be a really dumb one. A gruesome accident leads the family to seek help at a farm nearby. This film does not believe in slow burning at all.

cannibal farm killer behind them

Shit gets scalding hot immediately! And it’s fucked up! A pitchfork to the ass is just for starters.

cannibal farm pitchfork

The family is tossed into electrified cages and the slicing, dicing, and screaming begin!

cannibal farm cages

This shit is vicious without being so brutal that it’s too hard to watch.

cannibal farm monster

But the WTF moments still rule, and every time the film seems to throw a cliché our way, it swerves and does something fucked up to balance out the predictability.

cannibal farm burn

I’m definitely a fan of this nasty little flick. It is my favorite of this Wild Eye trio, for sure.

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Six flix from all over the horror map

With days off due to the holidays and snowstorms, it was time to clean horror house, catching up with a bunch of stuff in my watchlists and on my “to see” list. So, was it time well spent? Let’s see how these six films worked out for me.

THE NIGHT BEFORE (2017)

Halloween horror gets a rather bizarre approach with this abduction flick.

A woman drives her daughter to a house that is ablaze with Halloween lights and is supposedly the address of a big Halloween bash. But when no one answers the door, mother and daughter are confounded…and then abducted.

Finding themselves tied up in a room by a redneck weirdo in a gas mask, they try to come up with a plan to escape. But the dude just seems to want to strike up a romance with the mom.

While there’s plenty of suspense here and a dose of creepiness, the problem is it becomes a ridiculous rinse and repeat situation. The mom buddies up to him just long enough to take some sort of jab at him and then attempt and fail to get away before the process starts all over again.

And the most the guy does to teach her a lesson is to take her daughter out of the film for a majority of the running time, leaving her to wonder what he did to her.

But the FINAL chase and battle is pretty dang cool, and involves an axe embedding scene that is brutally realistic.

LAKE NOIR (2011)

This one shouldn’t have even been an hour long, let alone 90 minutes. Sure there was a time when horror flicks were loaded with sex, but an entire film built around guys and girls in the woods talking about sex and wondering who’s going to get laid that night is absolutely unbearable.

I don’t even know if there was a script or if everyone was just ad-libbing.

Somewhere back at the beginning of their road trip, a guy at a gas station warned them of something that lived in the lake. It finally starts killing them in the last half hour.

There are a few okay kill moments and the “monster” looks pretty creepy, but I would have sooner watched a different film than to sit through this one just to get to the end.

BED OF THE DEAD (2016)

Imagine Stephen King’s “The Raft” from Creepshow 2 in a sex club, and you’ve sort of got Bed of the Dead.

 

The big challenge for me was getting past the off the wall premise that two straight couples would go to an underground sex club for their first foursome, especially when the two females are so absolutely frigid about the idea from the start, while both guys are absolutely giddy.

Their room, although dusty, is lavish, with a huge ornamental bed. The girls awkwardly try to start things off with a failed kiss. When one girl snidely suggests the guys kiss, hunk Dennis Andres asks, “Will that turn you on?”

Yes, Dennis Andres. Yes, it will.

Sadly, the two cuties never kiss. Shit gets insane pretty fast. Turns out they soon learn that if they get off the bed, they meet bloody, horrific deaths.


Even bloody sheets get sprung for Dennis Andres.

And the bed actually lures them off the bed in various ways by fucking with their minds, often in freaky ways that scare them off the bed. Although, if I had Dennis Andres to hold me tight, I’d stay on the bed forever.

It’s quite cool for a while, but then begins to drag…once the guys are dead and we’re left with just girls.

Hey, I’m not blaming it on the girls, I’m just saying. Things pick up a little when the bed turns the girls against each other.

CURSE OF THE SLASHER NURSE (2017)

What I liked about Curse of the Slasher Nurse: she is one gnarly looking bitch, and the kill scenes are well worth a watch. Also, there are some good 80s-style rock tracks sprinkled throughout the film.

Having said that, everything else is pretty dang rough to get through. Clearly a low budget indie, this one is seriously hurting in terms of writing, with excruciating dialogue.

Plus there’s the redneck/white trash mentality of the whole thing, which offers up shit like guys constantly calling women they don’t like dykes, as well low class white people calling each other the “n” word.

Premise: horny white trash goes to cabin in the woods. They fight, they have sex, they get killed off by psycho nurse.

There’s a torture scene, but unfortunately it’s too dark to see much of what’s going on. However, it’s the BJ kill in the woods that gets the award for best scene in the movie.

ROADSIDE (2013)

Roadside reunites director Eric England (Contracted, Madison County) and actors Ace Marrero and Katie Stegeman, who all made the awesome little Halloween short The Trick or Treater together.

Roadside is filled with suspense and will hold your attention, but it ultimately has way too many questionable scenarios and leaves way too many questions unanswered.

It’s Christmas, and a couple is traveling desolate roads on a snowy night to get to a family gathering. She’s pregnant, and they have brought their dog along for the trip…which immediately had me knowing I wasn’t going to be happy about the dog’s fate in the film.

After being harassed by a guy in a pickup truck for no reason, they eventually come upon something blocking their way on the road. The husband gets out to move it, a disembodied voice carries through the night telling him not to get back in the car or else…and then the shooting begins.

The couple is held captive on the road for the remainder of the film by an unseen shooter, the wife trapped in the car, the husband forced to stand out in the cold. They face the usual pitfalls of this type of scenario as they attempt to figure out how to escape their predicament, there are a few casualties, and dirty little secrets about the couple’s relationship are revealed…which leaves us wondering about the killer’s identity and knowledge of their personal lives, because the movie ends without clarifying anything.

VINYAN (2008)

Sometimes I learn the downside to avoiding pretty much any online information about a movie before watching it. Vinyan has been on my “to see” list for ages. Had I bothered to look at what others thought of it, I would have known from the start that most agree it is totally mismarketed as a horror film. Instead, I watched. Sigh.

A couple lost their child in a tsunami. The wife is so consumed by grief that she is convinced the kid is still alive. She sees him everywhere she looks, including some video she gets a glimpse of from some jungle. And so the husband agrees to let her drag him through the jungle to look for their son! WTF?

They travel through the jungle looking for their son, they meet shady people in tribal villages who try to sell little Asian children off to them as their white child, they have sex while natives watch, she has trippy delusions of freaky children.

She’s so fucked in the head with grief that the ending is bizarrely sadistic, but that’s pretty much the only place the horror comes in. It’s definitely not my thing, but I can appreciate what they were going for (I’m just saying that because that’s what you’re supposed to say).

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Laugh until you scream…or scream “Shut it off!”

It’s a smorgasbord of horror comedy weirdness and wackiness! What you get out of these six films depends on your taste, or your love of bad taste. 

GORY GORY HALLELUJAH (2003)

 

 

 

 

 

 

This one is just way too campy silly for my tastes. I struggled to keep it on in the background just so I could say I watched it all the way through.

A black guy, a bisexual dude, a chick, and a Jewish dude all lose out on playing the role of Jesus. So they band together, hop on motorcycles, stop at a bar, get into a fight with a bunch of Elvis impersonators, and end up on trial in a religious extremist town after the bisexual dude flashes his dick to an undercover deputy in a rest stop bathroom.

What follows is agonizing trippy sequences that I assume people with a certain sense of humor will adore. I’m just not one of those people.

In the final act, the town is overrun by zombies, and there’s even a zombie song and dance finale.

Just when I think I have the worst taste in movies, I watch something like this and realize I do actually draw the line every now and then.

CHOP (2011)

Chop is a dark horror comedy from Trent Haaga, who is best known as Killjoy in all but the first film!

For starters, I can say Chop is a much more succinct horror humor film than the mess the Killjoy franchise has become. But I can also say it is just mean. It’s not a movie I had fun with, and I wouldn’t revisit it (even though I revisited it to write this blog).

A dude’s car breaks down, he accepts a ride with a stranger, and the next thing you know, his life is a nightmare of repeatedly being drugged by a guy and waking up to find more and more of his extremities have been cut off. The motive of his captor is to keep cutting shit off until he remembers the horrible thing he did that ruined the captor’s life. So, yeah, the protagonist isn’t even a good guy.

That’s this whole horror comedy in a nutshell. One scene has a leather daddy come in to hack off a limb…which he intends to then fuck.

Yes, this leather daddy is about as perverse and repulsive as the stereotype can be, even having an obsession with Diff’rent Strokes, in particular the episode in which Arnold almost falls victim to a pedophile. Yeah, it had to go there. It couldn’t just stop at the leather daddy being a stump fucker.

THEY WILL OUTLIVE US ALL (2013)

Now this is how you make a compact little indie big bug horror comedy. This 73-minute film is contained to one apartment with a male/female roommate duo that carries the entire film…with the help of a giant cockroach!

So, this comic pair is totally chill and quirky, as we see in their early exchanges with each other and their neighbor about the recent deaths in their apartment building.

After a visit to the landlord, who is acting quite weird and creepy, the roommates try to relax during a terrible storm by watching a horror movie.

The lights go out temporarily, and when they come back on…giant cockroach!

The first hilarious battle with the bug plays out just how I suspect it would if most of us were confronted with the same scenario, and things just escalate from there. The pair deals with some old school 80s-style bug ickiness while attempting to defeat the big critters that are trying to invade their every orifice. Ew!

It’s fast fun when you’re in need of a quick bug fix.

6:66 PM (2017)

 

I couldn’t wait for this supernatural slasher spoof because it’s from the guys who brought us the hilarious Massacre on Aisle 12, including its stars: director Jim Klock, comedian/co-writer Chad Ridgely, and hottie Michael Buonomo (with bleached hair).

6:66 PM sees a bogus ghost hunting show team coming to a house to search for the ghost of a killer only to discover things are not as fake as they’d hoped! The spirit of an actual killer of midget transvestite clowns begins to possess them one by one to kill the others!

The plot of this one is more up my alley than Massacre on Aisle 12, yet ironically, I prefer that film over this one, which definitely has its charms, but just can’t live up to the nonstop comic pace of Aisle 12. The humor isn’t as smart here, and the movie loses a lot of steam before it finally gets to the actual plot of the ghost killer possessing each character.

That’s when things finally pick up again, bringing in more of the spirit of what made Aisle 12 such a winner with the bonus twist of it being more of a “ supernatural slasher.”

It’s just too late in the game for this one to reach that level of comic gold. The material itself isn’t even as strong or quick, giving the actors less to work with, which often leaves them relying on the unison scream gag, which begins to wear thin mighty fast.

Even the brilliant Chad Ridgely, who rocked in Aisle 12, has only a few standout moments here because there just isn’t enough material to work with to show off his talent.

THE DARK SIDE OF THE WOMB (2017)

 

This is some grating trash, so it doesn’t even matter to me how disgustingly exploitative it is. I just could not get into it.

Due to the title, portions of the movie are shot from the perspective of a va-jay-jay looking out during labor. Sigh.

A woman gives birth to a successful son and a crass little man she sort of shuns. When her favorite son goes out to meet his girlfriend in the woods, he has his head chopped off by a killer clown.

Meanwhile, another woman gives birth to…a head with no body. I think I’m following this right. Little does she know they take the head and sew it to the dead son’s body. Now, the two halves are a whole, dress like a clown, and come to kill her and the little man brother, who have struck up a relationship and are about to get married.

Their relationship consists of an agonizing philosophical talk about their “otherness” at a bar, then her proposing to him and his response being a repulsive celebratory “I’m getting some!

I don’t know why I kept watching.

The highlight for me is that after the clown kills the wife, the little man cuts her open to climb inside her and become one with her, where he meets all her organs—which are in human form. Her heart is a beefy dude in a diaper who says he loves the little man and makes his tits bounce for him.

Seriously, that’s the highlight for me.

THE MIDNIGHT MAN (2017)

 

The Midnight Man either should have run about 20 minutes shorter than 88 minutes, or the actual horror elements should have been introduced 20 minutes earlier. Somewhere in the middle of this horror comedy I thought I had been tricked into watching a black comedy.

In an attempt to repair their damaged marriage, a couple heads to a cabin in the woods. They spend a lot of time bickering, with plenty of quirky humor in the mix, while someone is watching them. They also try to kill time by playing one of those summoning games called “The Midnight Man.”

And then a masked figure invades the house.

Before long, they are at the mercy of none other than Ken Foree of Dawn of the Dead 78 fame. He comes at just the right time to revive the slowing pace, but there’s only so much he can do to keep things moving due to the fact that he is given nothing but stretches of back and forth dialogue with the couple.

The film finally finds new footing right near the end. See, Foree himself is no fan of The Midnight Man game, so when there’s finally a knock on the door with only 15 minutes remaining in the film, we are treated to a mini Evil Dead-esque segment. But sadly, it’s too little too late.

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80s slasher spoofs: Pandemonium vs. Wacko!

Along with other horror spoofs of the 80s: Transylvania Twist, Saturday the 14th, National Lampoon’s Class Reunion, Student Bodies, Haunted Honeymoon, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark…there were 1982 goodies Pandemonium and Wacko. 

They’re quite similar in that they both take on the most popular slashers of the era and are packed with familiar faces, from veteran actors to rising stars of the 80s. Randomly, they also both have a character named Bambi. But the most bummerific connection is that they are both in desperate need of a DVD release.

So why were these two films deserving of repeated viewings during the days of heavy-rotation on HBO back in the day?

PANDEMONIUM
 

This one comes to us from the director of the cult horror film Alice Sweet Alice.

After a killer takes out an entire cheerleading squad with one throw of a javelin, everyone is jumping at the chance to attend cheerleading camp, proving just how dumb kids are in these slasher films!

Carol Kane is a girl with special powers, and a religious fanatic mother (Eileen Brennan) who isn’t about to stop her from going to cheerleading camp, a place that has just reopened, much to the concerns of all the locals.

The cast of characters includes Judge Reinhold (Fast Times at Ridgemont High), Miles Chapin (The Funhouse), Marc McClure (Strange Behavior, Grim Prairie Tales), Squiggy of Laverne & Shirley, Pee-Wee Herman, and Tom Smothers of the Smothers Brothers. Not to mention, there’s a Grease 2 crossover, with appearance by Tab Hunter and Eve Arden!

There’s also an escaped mental patient…

While there are kills sprinkled throughout (trampoline explosion, toothbrush drilling, death by cookies and milk), the bulk of this film is very heavy on slapstick nonsense focused on the cheerleader camp kids with very little attention to spoofing the actual slasher elements.

Even the horror spoofs are absurd – like a Godzilla stewardess on a plane (they were called stewardesses back then).

Meanwhile, Smothers and Pee-Wee are the law enforcement team hunting down the escaped mental patient in a comedy duo side story that includes Pee-Wee doing a bit of his Pee-Wee shtick.

It’s not until after the kids play strip poker during a lightning storm and split up to have sex that it finally takes on traditional slasher formula pacing.

Carol Kane’s comic chase scene captures the horror comedy spirit that much of the movie is lacking.

Plus, the big killer reveal is like a special little gift for the queer crowd.

WACKO

Wacko comes to us from the director of Satan’s Cheerleaders and Without Warning and is officially one my favorite slasher spoofs of the 1980s for various reasons. Hell, it revolves around a pumpkin-headed lawnmower killer offing teens on the night of the Halloween pumpkin prom!

13 years ago, Julia Duffy of Newhart witnessed the pumpkin-headed lawnmower killer chop up her sister. Now he’s escaped and he’s back to get her and all her friends, including 80s queen EG Daily, 80s pretty boy Scott McGinnis, and a young Andrew Dice Clay, trying his damnedest to do a Vinnie Barbarino impression.

Totally riffing on Halloween and Prom Night, this one sticks with the teen high school horror formula.

After an intro featuring the killer carving a pumpkin and then using it as a mask, we meet our quirky teens and are bombarded by horror references.

While the kills are pretty much all saved until the last half hour Wacko has that classic 80s teen flick spirit and isn’t as goofy slapstick as Pandemonium. Aside from the teens and their drama, there’s the messed up detective on the case, who has strange flashbacks, like the time he got whipped by a dominatrix while dressed as a woman.

And the sex-hating principal that gets off on torturing lustful students.

EG Daily busts a move when chased by a creepy bald stalker.

And there are some fun moments between veteran actors George Kennedy and Stella Stevens as Julia Duffy’s parents.

Then comes the prom, set to the rockin’ early 80s power pop/new wave sounds of the never-was band Avalon.

This is an 80s gym dance scene at its purist (I’m pretty sure someone was dressed as the Cathy Lee Crosby 1974 Wonder Woman), and the kids start getting killed off in classic 80s slasher style.

But when our final girl gets a chase scene and body reveals, the scale tips—so much so that while it starts off just as strong as Carol Kane’s scene, it goes off the rails at the last minute, handing the win for best final girl ending to Pandemonium!

 

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I went through Amityville hell and lived to tell about it

It’s the franchise that just won’t die. After the 2005 remake, the horror got resurrected in the new decade with loads of indie titles taking on the Amityville universe. I can’t believe I just said the Amityville universe.

Here’s the thing, people. Amityville isn’t a made up place from a movie franchise. It’s an actual town on Long Island in New York. Anyone who grew up on Long Island—such as myself—can tell you that everything that goes on in 40-years of Amityville movies is absurdity that could be made without the name of an actual town or house attached to it, especially since most of it doesn’t connect to the DeFeo murders that began all this insanity to begin with.

Yet, the fascination continues, both with the murders and the true or not supernatural terror tale of the Lutz family. To this day, people still drive past the house on Ocean Avenue and post their videos of the experience on YouTube. Oh look, there goes another one now…

 

Hey, what do you want from me? I live two towns away and have friends who want to see the place. At least I’m not one of those assholes who gets out of the car and goes onto the property to point my camera into the windows.

Anyway, back to my blog. I went through the agony of watching every Amityville flick released so far this decade (more are on the way) so that you don’t have to. No seriously, you mostly shouldn’t. And here’s why.

THE AMITYVILLE HAUNTING (2011)

The Amityville Haunting lays claim to the original Amityville house and stories, using title cards to catch us up quickly on both the fates of the DeFeo and Lutz families before launching into an intro scene of stupid teens sneaking into the empty house for sex…with their phone camera on.

Yep, Amityville goes Paranormal Activity. It really does. This is just an exercise in tedium as the new boy who moves into the house with his family films every weird thing he witnesses, which includes quite a few (hot) workers doing projects on the house…

and falling down on the job throughout the course of the film….

Dad is pretty damn hot, too.

At the end, I don’t even know what was going on as we get multiple camera angles in total Paranormal Activity mode, and someone killing everyone—I think maybe a ghost was appearing as different members of the family. Not sure.

I’d sooner watch the two Mark Polonia Amityville movies than this one (see below).

AMITYVILLE ASYLUM (2013)

While Amityville Asylum locks itself in specifically to the actual DeFeo murders story (it begins with a reenactment) and references the Lutz family, based on the accents of most of the actors, it essentially relocates Amityville to the UK…and implies that a tiny insane asylum was built right in between a bunch of houses on a residential street.

That’s right. The story here is that the house was knocked down and an insane asylum was built on “the land.” See, this is what filmmakers get for just watching an Amityville movie or reading a book or two about Ronald DeFeo committing murders because his house was built on Indian burial ground and then making their own Amityville movie. In reality, the “land” the house is on is snuggled between two other houses with only the width of a driveway separating it from the houses on each side. Not to mention, the backyard is a canal where homeowners dock their boats.

Anyway, a girl takes a job cleaning up messes at the insane asylum (she even makes her own mess, sneezing on the hand of the head of the mental hospital when he interviews her). She meets all the crazies that are locked away in basement cells, including a witch. And she keeps seeing a little girl running around the hospital.

The film is atmospheric enough, but the only way it was going to get any viewership is with the Amityville name attached. The girl eventually learns from a friend about the history of the Amityville house (how come the people in these movies have never heard about the Amityville house, yet people in fucking England are still making movies about it 40 years later?).

I think it’s implied at the end that the ghost of Ronald DeFeo walks around the building shooting everyone like he did his family—and it’s all the fault of the crazy witch locked away in the basement. Even the old Indian burial ground legend is tossed in for good measure. NEXT.

THE AMITYVILLE PLAYHOUSE (aka: Amityville Theater) (2015)

If you’re going to watch a film about kids trapped in a haunted theater overnight, just watch The Gallows. 

Five friends come to spend the night in an abandoned theater in Amityville that a girl inherited and spend a majority of the film talking, so there’s absolutely no excuse for it being an hour and 43 minutes long.

Also, her boyfriend spends the entire film making derogatory comments about his brother’s gay relationship—even though the relationship is frustratingly never verified (the better, fully committed gay Amityville action still to come).

And finally, the group spends a lot of time walking around the place and screaming at the sight of things we never see. Meanwhile, the main girl’s teacher is busy investigating the history of Amityville for her in a branching side story.

Eventually there’s a Ouija incident, and with 20 minutes remaining, the kids turn into low budget versions of Night of the Demons. Really low budget versions (making it my favorite part of the film…).

AMITYVILLE DEATH HOUSE (2015)

Polonia Brother Mark takes on the Amityville legacy…twice! First, there’s Amityville Death House.

 Good GOD is most of this shit awful (you know it’s bad when I put the words “good” and “god” together in one sentence). Kids heading back home from helping with hurricane relief in Florida take a detour to visit one girl’s grandmother in Amityville.

I don’t know what the hell is going on here. Grandma lives in this derelict house,  in a room upstairs looking like a cross between Regan in The Exorcist and The Blair Witch (although we never got to see what the fucking witch looked like).

And there’s some girl they run into on the way to grandma’s house who talks some shit about witches and a family revenge story.

Next thing you know (that’s hyperbole, because the movie felt like it was never going to end), the kids are hanging out in the woods by a campfire, rednecks come out of the woodwork—or out of the woods, in this case—and are killed off in super gory ways at the hands of an old lady witch zombie thing.

Don’t even as me if it’s granny because I really wasn’t paying much attention up to the first kill.

All I know is, I ridiculously enjoyed the old school 80s cheesy demonic/zombie effects and Evil Dead-esque chaos of the final act…and the crawling spider chick.

Eric Roberts is in the film, but apparently realizing just how low he has sunk in taking any role given to him, he wears a satanic cult mask the entire time he is on camera during his brief appearance, so the only way you’ll know it’s him is by his voice.

AMITYVILLE EXORCISM (2017)

Mark Polonia seems to practice tantric Amityville horror, because every time you do it with him, you get bored of waiting for something to happen, then all of a sudden he explodes at the end and gets you right across the eyes.

This awful film begins in first person mode, with a hammer going around konking people in the head. Then we meet the guy who nailed all those people. He’s telling a priest—brace yourself—he’s a carpenter and worked on the infamous Amityville house, took some of the lumber from the place, and was possessed by it. He also used it to build other houses. This sort of stems from the concept of the book Amityville: The Evil Escapes, but we’ll get more into that later on in the blog.

So…the priest sets off to save a family living in one of the houses built using lumber taken from the original Amityville house. More agonizing filmmaking to sit through in this one, but finally the priest locates a single dad and his adult daughter just in time for the daughter to go all Regan MacNeil.

They tie her to a bed, they act more laughable than Leslie Nielsen in Repossessed, the priest is attacked by giggling dolls, and the movie virtually stakes its claim as a direct sequel to the original The Exorcist! WTF? The priest says his brother was a priest who exorcised this demon once before, the daughter demon calls herself “legion” and says she enjoyed throwing his brother out a window and breaking his neck, and then offers up a bunch of sex tips I’ve gotta try.

The daughter rules at the end of this piece of crap. She becomes absolutely giddy when some red robed figure in a red mask appears to help her destroy the priest.

The sad news is, the fun part is over way too fast. Damn. The demon daughter deserved so much more camera time than she got.

AMITYVILLE: NO ESCAPE (2016)

The director of Scarewaves and Babysitter Massacre has a go at the horror house.

No Escape pretty much describes the feeling you get when you start to watch this film, which follows two unrelated stories for no good reason at all—both found footage style. One chick moves into the Amityville house in 1997 and uses a camcorder to send messages to her husband while he’s away in the military. Meanwhile, a group of kids in the present day heads into the woods near the house to face their fears.

Living on Long Island my whole life, I can tell you there are no woods anywhere near the house or in Amityville. It’s entirely filled with lines of houses on suburban blocks.

Anyway, the 1997 chick spends her part of the film flirting with the camera annoyingly and then acting all scared as she learns the truth of the house’s past from a pizza guy or something.

Eventually, it appears someone comes into her room at the end and she runs from the room screaming.

Meanwhile, the kids in the woods talk to each other for their part of the film and eventually start chasing a little girl around the woods.

They get lost in Blair Witch style (aka: boring as fuck style), and begin dropping dead in front of the camera inexplicably in the last 5 minutes.

The end.

THE AMITYVILLE LEGACY (2016)

Back in the late 1980s, a cheesy book called Amityville: The Evil Escapes was released. Essentially, it was a collection of short stories about a bunch of items auctioned off from the Amityville house after the Lutz family fled without any of their belongings. Anyone who bought these items became haunted by the ghosts from the house. Some of these stories were used to continue the movie franchise into the 1990s in movies like The Evil Escapes, It’s About Time, and A New Generation.

If nothing else, The Amityville Legacy, brought to us by the director of Silent Night, Bloody Night 2: Revival, nicely pays homage to that era of the franchise, and even opens with a hokey, 80s-esque reenactment of the original Defeo shootings, soaked in red light and synth music.

But there is more than that. It features a gay couple worried about how they’ll be received at a family reunion by the one gay guy’s widowed father, who is celebrating his 50th birthday.

Truth is, all the siblings are enjoyably kooky. They give dad his presents, including one of those creepy monkey toys one of them found at an antique shop in Amityville.

He becomes possessed (sort of), basically ending up with Ronald DeFeo as the devil on his shoulder, showing him the perverse things his kids are doing in his house and insisting he save them by blowing their brains out.

One of the perverse things dad sees is his son spanking his boyfriend’s ass. Awesome.

Not to mention, daddy is one hot 50-year old, and runs around shirtless for a good portion of the movie showing off his muscles and tats.

Ryan Reynolds who?

It’s short, to the point, and a convoluted mess, but a hot shirtless daddy watches his son spank his boyfriend, so this one is definitely an Âmityville highlight as far as I’m concerned.

THE AMITYVILLE TERROR (2016)

By stealing elements of the earliest films in the Amityville franchise and throwing in a teen protagonist, a cheesy possession segment, and a mish-mosh of other nonsense, The Amityville Terror manages to do a really good impression of being a really bad late 80s/early 90s entry into the series. And I say that in a fairly complimentary, nostalgic way.

A sort of trashy, dysfunctional family moves into a home in Amityville (nope, doesn’t even have the infamous eye windows). The locals are weird (especially the local bar slut witch bitch), and the motorcycle-riding teen daughter has trouble making friends because of her address.

While she’s busy learning about the horror history of her new house from the guy she’s interested in, who even brings his psychic friend over to help her out with the ghost problem, her aunt is getting all chummy with the entity.

After not being amused by anything I was seeing for a majority of the film, I was at last highly entertained by a laughable confrontation between the teen daughter and some mean girls in the woods, as well as the aunt going all demon psycho bitch, which made me smile like it was 1989 all over again.

AMITYVILLE: VANISHING POINT (2016)
 

Look, it’s not often that I turn a movie off, especially when I take on a goal as lofty as watching every crappy Amityville flick out there, but not only does this thing seem to have been shot in a ghetto using a camcorder from 1985, but the only copies of the film I could find all had an entirely unaligned audio track. And even with that issue, I could tell the audio track was a mess of dropped sound and out of place music.

I did, however, fast forward through some of the film, and basically this is what I got. Three girls at a boardinghouse go outside, one of them just drops dead, a detective of the Inspector Clouseau variety tap dances in to the funeral to ask questions about the inexplicable death, and—

That’s where I stopped.

Really, just avoid this one. If you need a further reason, Lloyd Kaufman apparently makes an appearance later on. And nope, don’t know how it’s related to Amityville at all. Never got that far.

AMITYVILLE: THE AWAKENING (2017)

And finally, the moment it’s all been leading up to. The first major Amityville movie release in over a decade, which it took almost half a decade to make. They should have taken the whole decade.

It’s not that Amityville: The Awakening doesn’t have all the usual cheap thrills and chills of every crappy tween supernatural movie pumped out by Hollywood these days. It does. It’s not that it doesn’t begin at the beginning, with the DeFeo murders. It does. It’s not that it doesn’t pay plenty of homage to the original films in the series. It does. It’s not that it doesn’t have kids literally watch 1979’s The Amityville Horror in the house while bashing the remake, which causes the lights to go out at exactly 3:15 a.m. It does…and, EEK!

It’s just that it’s a stupid movie.

Bella Thorne (The Babysitter, MTV’s Scream, Boo! A Madea Halloween) moves with her mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh), little sister, and comatose brother into the house in Amityville. But get this…she’s never heard of the house in Amityville, so a kid at school has to fill her in on all the scary details.

Meanwhile, she begins to have nightmares of the DeFeo murders. Plus, her brother begins to make progress in waking up. And her mother acts all weird and lurks in the shadows of the house with a gun.

This movie is so fucking stupid. Eventually, she learns exactly why her brother is waking up (hint: it has to do with the house), and he starts chasing everyone around the house with a gun looking all demonic while wearing only his pajama bottoms. Sort of like…the kid from Amityville II: The Possession! O…M…G.

But the best has to be the reveal of how her brother became comatose. I won’t spoil it though. Fuck it, yes I will. She took nude photos, some guy in school spread them around, her protective brother went to beat him up, and got thrown out a third story window.

People are getting paid to write this shit and I can barely sell a copy of my book about a fishman that comes out of the sea to rape and kill gay bears. Life just isn’t fair.

 

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Slashers: clits ‘n’ clowns?

Didn’t quite know what I was getting myself into with Bloody Drama and Clowntergeist. But here’s what I got out of them.

BLOODY DRAMA (2017)

 

The title Bloody Drama immediately took on a whole new meaning for me when one of the first scenes had two girls bickering while eating pussy. And yet…I kept on watching.

The face you make trying to commit to lesbianism in Trump’s America.

This low budget indie is essentially a lesbian slasher. The cast is predominantly female, they spend most of the movie around a pool bickering when they’re not off in the house being stabbed by a masked killer, and by the end of the film, they’re virtually all lesbians. I think it’s because this cutie didn’t make it to the pool party on time to set them straight.

The kills do their best to try to capture that old school 80s spirit, but there’s nothing particularly scary or gory here.

Most memorable part for me (other than that opening scene of…um…opening eating) is when one of the few guys in the film gets stabbed early on. Not because it’s a good kill scene, but because he spends the rest of the movie crawling around still dying and trying to scream for help. Funny little addition to what’s not actually even a horror comedy.

CLOWNTERGEIST (2017)

Two elements of the opening scare sequence of Clowntergeist had me ready to call it a day: it uses the “we don’t have a clown statue” gimmick made famous by the film Amusement, and it establishes a clown with a red balloon calling card. WTF? Come on. It’s bad enough you’re making yet another killer clown flick. You’re really going to lift exact staples from other clown flicks?

In the end, I had to just let it go, because this silly clown ghost horror flick is kind of a blast. While it has a surprisingly low body count and little in the way of logical plot, it is loaded with creepy atmosphere, eerie setup shots, and three main kids that are joyously likable—unheard of in horror these days (not to mention the boy is cute).

The main girl is plagued by “dreams” of the killer clown, who always leaves behind his calling card—gory red balloons with ominous messages written on them. The only one who believes her is a man who recently lost his daughter to the clown and is also being terrorized by the red balloon messages.

As the convoluted plot thickens, the clown eventually manifests (aka: second part of the film is better), and he’s not your usual big, bad, burly killer clown with a menacing sharp weapon. Perhaps because he’s a clowntergeist, this fellow is refreshingly freaky.

Instead of walking tall like your usual psycho killer, he sort of hunches over and slinks around as he chases the main characters through rooms filled with 80s neon lights and fog machines for a good part of the film.

There are plenty of cheap scares, especially whenever the main girl gets in a car. EEK!

But like I said, there’s little in the way of a body count, which means gore is minimal, but there is one oddly out of place grisly scene of the main girl being abducted by the clown.

I’m not going to deny it. This is one that gives me the cheesy horror feels and I’ll be picking it up on DVD.

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You better watch out…or you better not watch?

It’s that time of year – a look at the last of the holiday horror I could scrounge up for this season, all of which I’ve added to my complete list of Christmas horror on my holiday horror page. And it all leads right up to my favorite of the bunch this year…

BETTER WATCH OUT (2017)

Because I was noticing raves about this one online, I almost did a blind buy, but I was also noticing references to a twist…and I became suspect, so I held out and streamed it instead. I’m glad I did.

It’s not that Better Watch Out is a bad movie. It’s a very good, dark holiday film. It’s just that the twist makes it so mean-spirited that it isn’t one I could be bothered watching again. It’s suspenseful at times, but it’s not a scary film. And while there are hints of black humor, it’s mostly just cruel. Even so, it is highly watchable, very fast-paced, and loaded with Christmas atmosphere. It would also make a good double feature with The Babysitter, even if it isn’t as much fun.

Candyman’s Virginia Madsen and Seinfeld hunk Patrick Warburton are parents going out for the night, leaving their tween son home with a babysitter. The kid seems as gay as Kurt on Glee, but apparently he’s straight because he’s lecherous with the babysitter.

And then there’s a home invasion…

The boy has to put everything he learned watching Home Alone to good use. And he proves he can be just as sadistic as any home invaders trying to get between him and the babysitter he loves.

It leads to a night of gruesome chaos and brutality…with a twist.

HOLY SHIT director Chris Peckover is hot.

MERCY CHRISTMAS (2017)

I find it astounding how uneven this horror comedy is. And by uneven I mean it isn’t really comedy until about the last 15 minutes or so. At that point it is such an over-the-top comic slaughterfest party that I’m bummed that everything before it was an absolute downer of a torture porn.

A lonely bald guy is totally overworked at his office job, so he jumps at the opportunity when a pretty girl at work invites him to have family dinner at her house.

Turns out he’s part of the main course.

He’s drugged during dinner, awakes to find he’s tied up in a basement with a bunch of other people, and they are regularly dragged away and gruesomely hacked up to be made into Christmas dinner. This just goes on and on and on for a majority of the film…

Until the bald guy escapes with one (now) legless dude strapped to his back and they go on an insane revenge spree. It fricking RULES, and legless backpack dude is funny as hell.

If only this kind of exploitative dark humor could have somehow been weaved into everything that came before the final act, this would have been a total winner.

SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT (2011)

This French film dives right in. A guy in a Santa suit and mask comes to a house, barges in when one of the kids answers the door, then straps bombs to the husband and wife right before their dinner party.

The couple is forced to act like nothing is happening and as if they hired the Santa to be at the party. But before long, the Santa begins to fuck with all the party guests, giving them each gifts that reveal their dirty secrets and begin pitting them against one another. He also terrorizes the oldest child, a young girl who is totally aware of what he’s up to and is attempting an escape plan of her own.

Naturally, things begins to spin out of control and members of the group start to turn on each other, but just when you think shit is going to get wild, the film sort of pulls back and loses its edge as it heads for its climax, and definitely doesn’t live up to its unoriginal  English language title.

SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT 2: REVIVAL (2015)

All I could grasp at with this sequel were the killer Santa moments.

After the death of their brother, a brother and sister return to their home town to stay at a B&B, where the owners tell them a story of “Black Peter,” Santa’s evil twin.

The furry bald brother also takes a shower.

They also watch a video tape made by their deceased brother (scream king Jeff Dylan Graham), which launches them into some sort of investigation that I had no interest in trying to comprehend…and also launched this film into a Silent Night Deadly Night 2 situation. By the time the film ends, about 45 minutes of the running time is comprised of footage from the original film.

Some of the new killer Santa scenes are fun enough because they have an 80s holiday slasher vibe, and there are a few humorous scenes—like a bunch of carolers screaming and running mid song when Santa approaches with his axe.

But the tone manages to just confuse.

It seems to be taking itself seriously, yet the final scene, aside from leaving me absolutely clueless as to the point of the story or its connection to the first film or what the hell Black Peter has to do with any of it (I really need to try harder when it comes to this concept of paying attention), was so absurdly campy and cheesy it absolutely clashed with the entire film.

LADY KRAMPUS (2016)

I’m a fan of the low budget indies of Eddie Lengyel (Voodoo Rising, Scarred, Hellweek), and Lady Krampus keeps up his streak of entertaining me with his usual gritty, throwback, straight-to-video vibe.

Don’t get hung up on the fact that “Krampus” is in the title. This is a simple Christmas slasher with someone in a drag-like mask hacking people up with an axe.

The premise is basic old school 80s—a group of girlfriends is finishing community service working at a homeless shelter. One of the “girls” happens to be scream queer Roger Conners, who totally steals the show as “Lady Athena Slay,” and even gets to camp it up in a musical holiday performance! He brings perfect comic relief to the film.

The group is assigned to make a house call to one lonely woman’s house. After serving her a meal, they offer to help her clean and decorate her tree, which is when the killing begins…

This is as basic as a retro slasher can get and works in its simplicity, with a menacing killer, a freaky mask, tight performances by the actors, just the right amount of humor from Conners, plus body reveals and a chase scene at the end.

MOTHER KRAMPUS (2017)

It’s the Blair Christmas Project! Mother Krampus is really just a Christmas witch that comes and snatches kiddies every 25 years during the holidays, which we learn again and again as the characters rehash the back story over and over throughout the course of the film.

If you can get past the continuous unnecessary, well…plot, this is just a good old holiday slasher with a cheesetastic witch that finds some unique ways to kill her victims in keeping with the season, from sewing their mouths shut with Christmas lights to cutting off layers of their skin with gingerbread cookie cutters.

While the beginning drags, with the witch only occasionally snatching away a kid, after a girl and her babysitter pull a Candyman by saying Mother Krampus’s name 3 times in a mirror, she comes on full force and starts killing kids from one to ninety-two, and that’s when the holiday horror fun really begins.

ONCE UPON A TIME AT CHRISTMAS (2017)

Aaaaaand…we have a winner. Once Upon a Time at Christmas is my favorite this season simply because it has that old school, low budget 80s killer Santa flick feel. It’s got just enough gore, just enough violence, just enough less than stellar acting, just enough sleaze, tons of Christmas horror atmosphere, a typical slasher plot, and a hot cop on the case.

When the local mall Santa is murdered, a killing spree begins at the hands of an escaped crazy dude dressed as Santa with the help of his sexy bimbo Mrs. Claus sidekick, who’s sort of a cross between Harley Quinn from Suicide Squad and Sheri Moon Zombie in The Devil’s Rejects.

As the cops try to piece together clues as to who will be the next victim, a teenager working as an elf at the mall seems to be the target, along with her friends. Funny thing is, viewers will figure this one out much faster than the guys on the case, which is fine by me, because it means a killing spree around town that’s reminiscent of the days of Silent Night, Deadly Night. I just hope that the already planned Twice Upon a Time at Christmas doesn’t follow the lead of that film’s sequel by consisting mostly of footage from the first film…

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