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.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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