Although I might not have loved them all, there was a good mix of subgenres in my latest deep dig into Prime, Netflix, and Hulu. So let’s get to these four.
LURKING WOODS (2015)
This is as straightforward as a backwoods slasher gets. Kids go to a house in the woods and are hunted down by a killer in a mask and hoodie.
The “unique” angle is that they’re playing a sort of scavenger hunt that will determine which guys hook up with which girls. That means lots of scavenger hunt footage to kill time between kills…
I won’t lie. It’s not all that interesting and not particularly scary or atmospheric (it takes place during the day, for instance), but there is one thing I really liked about Lurking Woods.
I mean aside from the guy bods. Most of the kills are nontraditional in that the killer often dashes by and quickly stabs the fuck out of victims, accompanied by some nasty, meaty sound effects not drowned out or spoiled by a soundtrack.
These kill scenes are so unexpected and fast that they score this one some serious bonus points.
As the name implies, this is sort of a modern take on Invasion of the Body Snatchers, with a trio of young pretty people running from the takeover of humans.
I was excited for a fresh spin on the theme, because the film begins very humorous, a cop—who steals the show—taking the threesome for a ride-along.
He offers a big, bold comic shtick, but the rest of the film refuses to live up to the comic bar he sets…
As soon as they encounter their first body snatch, the film changes completely and gets serious. It also becomes hugely disappointing. The kids are forced to go on the run when they are accused of killing someone and spend the rest of the movie avoiding the body snatched, who are much more like the infected from The Crazies.
The film is just not exciting and only picks up at the very end when they reach the…um…manufacturing plant.
Finally the attacks of the crazies ramp up for a few minutes before the film ends. But when crazies (or any horror enemy) use guns, it’s all over for me. And no, I don’t know what the purpose was of this guy in a mask beyond offering the opportunity for a promotional screenshot showing that there’s a guy in a mask in the movie.
Jennifer Lynch, the director of Chained and Boxing Helena, brings us a killer snake lady movie in the Hindi language.
I honestly can’t tell if Hisss is supposed to be taken seriously, because it made me laugh quite a bit. If it had been trimmed down about 20 minutes (it’s an hour and 40), I could have better appreciated it for its midnight movie cheese.
Some old dude with brain cancer wants to summon a snake goddess to heal him, so he captures a male snake as bait to lure her.
Her initial appearance in the jungle is an awesome transformation, and the film vacillates between fun, detailed monster makeup to laughable full monster CGI effects that look like something out of a 1960s dinosaur film. And all of that is okay with me, because it makes the snake segments that much more campy and entertaining.
The snake lady can appear in human form, and she goes around a small village making it her job to eat all the physically and sexually abusive men she can find. I wish she would visit the White House.
Meanwhile, a detective and his partner attempt to solve the mystery of who is committing the murders. That’s the boring part. I say cut 20 minutes of that shit to bring the snake scenes closer together, because they’re all that matters here.
HOUSE ON ELM LAKE (2017)
I was psyched that this film comes from the director of Mother Krampus, because I liked that one enough to purchase it. This one eventually paid off for me, but it really takes its time getting there.
A couple moves with their daughter into a house with a history. The daughter begins the usual befriending of an “imaginary” friend she can actually see. Not for nothing, but this kid looks like she’s told old to be thinking a ghost is a friend and not just a fricking ghost.
Clichés abound for a while. A friend brings over a Ouija board. A psychic is called in and runs off in terror. A mysterious notebook reveals some of what went on in the house. And worst of all, there are excessive moments where scary or screaming ghosts are right up in the characters’ faces, but only for the benefit of viewers, because the characters don’t see them. I really despise when movies make the audience clairvoyant. If only we could talk to the characters, we could warn them there’s a ghost making scary faces behind them and save them a lot of terror.
For me, all the fun comes from the hot dude becoming slowly possessed by a naked old man ghost.
There’s a great scene of the hottie being felt up on his bed by a bunch of hands, including man hands. Seriously, the man hand squeezes his nipple.
The naked old man absolutely rox as a scary naked demon ghost. The most frightening scenes would be nothing without him.
There are several other confusing ghost elements thrown in, including ghosts in masks, but it does all come together in the end. The movie kicks into high horror gear when the main girl is relentlessly chased by the possessed husband/old man during a gorefest of kills in the final act. It feels like a much better movie suddenly takes over. You know the drill…I say shave 16 minutes off the 96-minute length. But none of the scenes of naked possessed man or naked old man.