STREAM QUEEN: slashers, zombies, and an experiment in torture

For a change, I managed to do a long weekend of streaming that didn’t include the worst of the worst horror that streaming services have to offer. Okay, I have to admit—there was a sixth film that was supposed to be included, but I really am trying to save myself precious time and completely avoid movies I know are going to be the absolute worst right from the start, so I opted not to finish watching that z-grade movie, which left me with these five.

THE ROW (2018)

There’s a difference between wanting to make a movie in the style of the slashers you grew up on and basically remaking them without bringing anything new to the mix.

I guess The Row would be original if you didn’t live through 80s slashers and the slasher revival of the late 90s. But if you did, The Row is essentially Pieces meets the Sorority Row remake.

Girl goes to college. Girl’s overprotective hot detective dad is Randy Couture of The Expendables movies and Range 15. There are parties, and girls start getting hacked up in sleek, goreless PG-13 post-Scream fashion by a killer in a hoodie and weird mask.

The bodies are found left and right, each with a part missing (so we know more than the stumped police how this is going to end), girls just keep partying despite all their friends dying, and overprotective dad detective doesn’t bother to yank his girl out of school.

His daughter starts to learn about something awful her mother was involved in when she was a sister in the same sorority, and as soon as the killer walks into her life, we totally know this person is the killer. The only shocking thing about it is the incomprehensible age difference that links the killer to her mother.

The other non-surprise—you know in the end the hot dad is going to finally feel vindicated for something that happened to his partner that he believes was his fault.

As for the kill scenes, although they’re mostly underwhelming, the best for me was a double whammy shower scene. Yet my favorite moment is the Jawbreaker slo-mo mean girls walk

THE HIVE (2015)

This film tries to be a lot more complicated than it needs to be, especially when you strip it down to its most basic premise…the Evil Dead remake with a love story.

A cute young guy awakes in a bunker not sure how he got there or why he looks like a zombie.

There’s a dead zombie girl nearby, so the truth slowly comes back to him.

On the one hand, he has these major flashbacks that make him think he is a young scientist, but it’s best just ignoring those because they tend to muddle the story until we finally get an explanation near the end as to why they happen.

Take this as a movie about four young people trapped in a bunker slowly going all Evil Dead remake infected/demon on each other and you’ll be able to enjoy it for what it is and not the epic apocalyptic movie it deceivingly portends to be.

DATE OF THE DEAD (2015)

If you’re going to make a cheesy low budget horror movie, try to at least give it some charm, originality, and silly entertainment value…and watch Date of the Dead for an example of what I’m talking about. This goofy little anthology gave me a lot to enjoy from the very first date gone wrong gore opener.

The wraparound, which is a story on its own, is about a guy and girl staying at home for their first date. Little do they know their friends are plotting a home invasion prank.

Since there’s a lot of horror memorabilia around the house and the couple makes references to horror movies we love left and right, they start telling scary stories.

1st story – Just like the wraparound couple, the couple in this story is on a date in a house, but the creepers outside their doors are zombies! But when he realizes it, the guy tries to keep it a secret from the girl. There’s also a secret about his dating history that he’s trying to keep from her as well…

2nd story – This is a simple but really clever satirical take on the “I know what you did” plot. A year after they humiliated the high school geek by tricking him into kissing a boy, a bunch of mean cheerleaders hardly remembers what they did and has a slumber party.

For slasher fiends, Date of the Dead is worth watching for this tale alone.

EXTREMITY (2018)

Anthony DiBlasi, director of Cassadaga, Last Shift, Dread, and Most Likely To Die, uses the haunted attraction theme for something other than a Halloween slasher.

Delving into extreme haunts (the types that require you to sign a release form because you get manhandled and experience sexual situations), this is a film about a woman who needs to confront her unspoken fear and decides an extreme haunt is the cure.

Her horror journey finds her teamed up with a cute young man.

In a barrage of red and neon light, we watch them experience all kinds of terror we know isn’t going to actually hurt them at the hands of people in skull masks. At one point someone even takes off the mask and checks on her when she has a panic attack.

In other words, a majority of the movie does little to create scares or suspense because we know it’s all fake. But we do get flashbacks of her troubled relationship with her girlfriend, so there are hints that this is all going to lead to something…

I’m just going to say, if you’ve seen Catacombs or The Houses October Built 2, you’ve seen a similar plot. If you haven’t seen any of these three, I would recommend you just watch Catacombs.

THE END? (2017)

Now this is my kind of unique take on zombie films, rather than the usual The Walking Dead rip-off that is all the rage in indie living dead flix these days.

Like the movie Stalled, this Italian film is about one guy trapped in a confined space during the zombie outbreak. Rather than a bathroom stall at an office, it’s an elevator stuck between floors, with the doors slightly opened…just enough for zombies to poke their heads through.

Although he’s cute, the main guy is actually a bit of a douche. But the zombies are fricking awesome. Great makeup.

The film smartly tells its story all from within the elevator, and anything we learn about what’s going on beyond the elevator is through what little contact the main guy makes with the outside world.

And just when you think things might get boring and repetitive, a hot bear cop shows up to help him out of his predicament. Good stuff.

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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