I rarely buy DVDs/Blu-rays these days without seeing the films first. I’m done wasting valuable shelf space on movies I don’t love and will probably never watch again. I’m done spending full price for subpar movies, which is even more insulting these days since most of the time they are not even genuine DVDs or Blu-rays, but simply distributors taking the cheap route and burning that shit onto recordable media with a computer. And most importantly, I’m done wasting valuable money on movies that shouldn’t have been made.
Even with a strong gut feeling about these three films, I still held off for quite some time in buying them, waiting to see if they’d hit one of the streaming services. But impatience finally got the best of me and I caved, and in one week they all arrived in my mailbox, and it was a popcorn movie party weekend for sure.
THE BARN (2016)
Whatever it is that continues to motivate filmmakers to try to recapture the spirit of the 80s horror era in their films, director Justin M. Seaman (tasty last name) does a nicely understated job of it with his indie Halloween horror flick The Barn. There are nostalgic nods to the era, but they never become a one-note gimmick or distract from the fact that it’s the actual plot that feels like an 80s horror film.
We get into the holiday spirit with a Halloween night trick or treat kill at “the barn” in 1959. Flash ahead to October 1989 (as all good 1989 films would), and the tone is set with faux 80s metal music, arcade machines, Walkmans, boom boxes, and a heavy metal TV show hosted by original young Jason Voorhees Ari Lehman.
Kids going to a rock concert on Halloween night detour to the infamous barn where the murders took place 30 years ago and unwittingly unleash a trio of demonic killers—a miner, a scarecrow, and a pumpkin head—on the town!
The Barn is like a Halloween slasher combined with Neon Maniacs since there’s more than one killer and each has its own specific look and identity.
As in that film, the kids become the heroes and have to formulate a plan to save the town.
There’s a certain charm to the characters and the humor, making it reminiscent of 80s classics like Night of the Comet and Night of the Creeps, but it also delivers genuine horror atmosphere, oodles of gooey gore (there’s a Halloween party massacre), some nudity, and a great score mimicking John Carpenter’s best.
There are also some notable visual homages to 80s horror flicks for diehard fans, plus scream queen Linnea Quigley makes a brief appearance in a really refreshing transitional role as an uptight churchgoing type.
And most importantly, it nails the Halloween atmosphere, making it a perfect addition to your annual October viewing list.
Just want to note that I have the extended cut DVD (available on the film’s website and not a DVD-R), which runs 97 minutes compared to the original 90-minutes. For me, the film started to lose some steam in the final act, and the plot got a bit more convoluted than it needed to be, but there were some bonus creatures thrown in as a result.
I am curious as to what is missing from the 90-minute version – I imagine the 7 minutes were edited out for good reason, perhaps to amend the pacing problem near the end – so if it shows up on streaming, I’ll check it out to compare. Of course, I would never want to own the shorter version or else I’d feel like something was being denied me, so go figure. Anyway, Seaman has another flick called Cryptids in the works and I’m so there when it’s released.
NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE (2016)
Night of Something Strange starts with a bang – a janitor fucking a corpse in a morgue. Essentially, this film takes the concept of body horror flick Contracted and turns it into a gross-out horror zombedy.
I’ll say right off the bat that I totally love the skanky, sleazy, icky concept of an STD zombie flick, and when Night of Something Strange hits its stride, it totally rox the plot. But in a sheer coincidence, the uncensored version of this film also runs 97 minutes, and I would have welcomed a slightly edited version. Actually, I think it should have perhaps been released only in an edited version without any mention of an uncensored version, ever. And here is why.
The first part of the film strays too far from the very theme that makes it naturally gross. Sure, there are plenty of nasty genital and sexual fluid gags to make us gag. But Night of Something Strange throws in a heap of other completely unnecessary crap, sometimes literally, such as one dude sharting on another guy’s face as a prank, along with loads of other bodily discharge scenes, including puking and vile public restroom scenarios, that are completely unrelated to the zombies themselves. It stoops to Troma levels at times.
But what sets it apart is that while Troma films have given up on even trying to mask as horror films, Night of Something Strange plows through its early, excessive exploitation – which might unfortunately make some horror fans turn it off prematurely – to eventually deliver a fast-paced, humorous, just gross enough horror flick that could easily find itself scoring one of those “a modern day Evil Dead” callouts from more respected horror sources than, you know, me.
Naturally, the janitor turns into a gnarly zombie soon after nut-busting in corpse cooch, grabs his old lady by the pussy, and begins the chain reaction of zombie STDs. To add fuel to the burning crotch, a group of horny teens heading to the beach for the weekend stops at a seedy motel for the night.
Night of Something Strange has it all: a cameo by scream queen Brinke Stevens, a chain-smoking white trash zombie, dripping zombie vajayjay, tampon-eating zombies, a huge dick pic in a text, a weirdo redneck hotel clerk that brings much of the comic relief, buckets of zombie cum, a long zomdick, and a talking zompussy.
The film really hits its stride when the main guy and main girl get together and become the heroes. The main guy is a hottie and strips down to just his tighty-whities a few times. Actually, the janitor zombie does it for him one of those time.
And speaking of gay sex, there’s a character with “homosexual tendencies,” to say the least, which is where the film’s willingness to be perversely exploitative comes in handy.
Seriously, there’s a man-on-man ass-eating scene and anal sex scene that leads to a very long, humorous sequence involving one guy’s dick stuck in another guy’s asshole. Not to mention, there is a super clever twist in the film poking fun at another horror subgenre.
Even if you can’t stomach gross-out humor or exploitation but love films in the tradition of Evil Dead and Return of the Living Dead, I would urge you to stick with this one, because the second part is classic. And for collectors, the great news is that the limited edition Blu-ray is available through the film’s website, and it is indeed a genuine pressed Blu-ray disc, not a BD-R.
SUMMER CAMP (2015)
There is only one thing that sux about this film, and that’s the title. In horror, the words “summer camp” are synonymous with Jason Voorhees or Friday the 13th rip-offs. It’s as simple as that. Summer Camp, on the other hand, landed on my list of all-time favorite “in the tradition of Evil Dead and Night of the Demons” films after the first viewing.
That’s right. Ignoring the dumb ass reviews (the few reviews there are) that say this movie sucks, I blind bought it because it looked that much like my kind of movie. And it so far exceeded my expectations it boggles my mind. This movie is pretty much exactly what a horror movie – even if it’s going to be derivative – should be at this point in time.
It’s scary. It’s clever. It’s darkly humorous. It’s fast-paced. It’s full of surprises. It has a simple, straightforward plot. It takes predictable tropes and gives them a purple nurple. It has very few characters yet very likeable characters, and it doesn’t weigh down the action with bullshit character drama or romance. It’s a horror flick that is in the moment at every moment.
Four Americans are in Europe to work as counselors at a summer camp. Just days before opening, one of the four is bitten by a violent dog infected with what appears to be some sort of disease. Before long, the four friends begin going all wild-eyed and veiny-faced and start to turn on each other in murderous rages!
Here’s the catch…they seem to just be demonic episodes that come and go, so there’s never any telling who to trust at any given moment.
This shit is insane and insanely fun, and stars hottie Diego Boneta from Scream Queens and Rock of Ages…
…horror queen Jocelin Donahue of The House of The Devil, The Burrowers, Dead Awake, Insidious: Chapter 2, and Holidays, and Maiara Walsh, who has only appeared in a few minor parts on horror TV shows (The Vampire Diaries, Zombieland pilot) but needs to be in more horror flicks because she rox.