You see the movie art whenever you search horror on your favorite streaming service. And even though you aren’t paying per movie and have already seen all the big horror films, you’re still wary of wasting the time to give that unknown film with 3 or less stars a chance. Unless you’re me. Then you’ll try anything…and commit to it, watching right to the end. So here’s a batch I test ran for you.
Turns out the scariest thing on Staten Island isn’t the Mob Wives. It’s a legend about Cropsey—a child killer who lives in the woods in an old abandoned mental institution. Sure it would be a scary slasher, but Cropsey is actually a true crime documentary!
The “Cropsey” legend is just a springboard for the filmmakers to examine a real life case of kids who went missing in the 1980s. The focus is on the trial of Andre Rand, a man believed responsible for all the disappearances after they found the body of a mentally challenged girl buried in the woods near the abandoned mental institution where he shacked up.
This mental institution, Willowbrook, was the focus of a Geraldo Rivera investigation way back when, so archival footage is featured of the horrible living conditions he uncovered. It’s more horrifying than anything you’d see on American Horror Story: Asylum. The film also explores stories that Andre Rand was part of the same satanic cult that the Son of Sam claimed made him commit his murders. Creepy.
And finally, the filmmakers sneak into the building in the woods believed to be a place where devil worship still takes place, which adds a very “found footage” feel to the last segment of the documentary.
THE EMPLOYER (2013)
Five people interview for a job at Malcolm McDowell’s company…and suddenly wake up finding themselves locked in a room together. It’s the final round of interviews. Rules are simple. Every time someone dies, the group will get a combination for one of the four locks on the door. Whoever walks out alive gets the job. Okay…go!
“People-locked-in-a-room-with-a-moral-dilemma” films are a dime a dozen, which means The Employer isn’t even worth one cent. But you’ll still watch because you have to know what’s going to trigger these civilized people to start turning against each other. Look out for Billy Zane, who gets less than two minutes screen time.
THE BUTCHERS (aka: Death Factory) (2014)
When I was first presented by a cheap looking, violent domestic abuse murder in a garage, drenched in grindhouse film speckle effects, I wasn’t sure if I was feeling The Butchers.
I was jolted out of that intro scene because it’s a dream being had by a muscular ex-military guy being presented on better quality film. I was suddenly very much feeling The Butchers!
There’s a bus full of stereotypes: two hot babes, a God-fearing couple, an all-American couple, a goth couple, a loud-mouthed black mama, a gayish pretty boy, and the military man. The bus crashes in the middle of nowhere so they walk to the nearest place on the road—a serial killer museum called the Death Factory.
How such a sloppy mess of a movie could be so watchable is beyond me. A hot businessman has dabbled in occult shit and pretty soon the group is being stalked by famous serial killers who look nothing like the actual serial killers, including Ed Gein, John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Jack the Ripper, The Zodiac, and Albert Fish. For instance, the big butch guy playing Gein always played a hulking meanie on Scare Tactics.
Chaos ensues, continuity is lost, characters run amok, some good gore is splashed about, there’s humor, hand-to-hand combat sequences are common, and eventually, Gacy ties the military man up shirtless and grabs his crotch. That was all I really needed from the film, but we also get lesbian action, the goth singing Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” while pissing, and traveling serial killer possession plasma. But come on. How often do we get a slasher with six serial killers running around at the same time?
RABID LOVE (2013)
It’s 1984, the faux 1980s rock soundtrack is perfect, and guess where a bunch of friends is heading.
So once they reach the cabin, Rabid Love takes a very stylish turn that perfectly captures eighties horror. It’s also incredibly melancholy and slow for a while as the friends just hang out and talk. This is one hyper 80s throwback slow burn!
Eventually people begin getting sliced up by what appears to be a bear with steel claws. There are also a couple of creepy demon dreams. Plus, the friends are joined by a mysterious lumbersexual nature photographer (Brandon Stacy).
His performance and that of the final girl (Hayley Derryberry) totally rule and truly elevate this otherwise plodding slasher.
And finally, at the end, the “rabid” aspect of the plot comes in. It just shouldn’t have taken so long.
And Hayley Derryberry better be in more movies. She rox.