STREAM QUEEN: rashes and puking, zombie animals, and rockin’ demons

This threesome of random flicks I checked out tickled my horror bone just enough to keep me watching. Here’s a quick rundown of each.

WEAVERFISH (2013)

Weaverfish is such a difficult movie to pigeonhole. Based on the plot, it should logically be considered a horror film, but to even imply it’s a slow burn horror film will leave many horror fans disappointed, because it’s virtually just a melancholy character study with very little happening until the last moment.

The main character narrates the film, and it’s all poetic and meaningful, setting the glum tone that carries all the way through. He and his friends take a boat trip down a river that is known to be contaminated…and then they go swimming in it. Yet they’re surprised when they smell something gross. Well, at least there are no toxic barrels laying around. Oh…

Unlike your usual kids become infected in the woods film, there are no gross transformations, attacks, or flesh eating here. There are loads of conversations, a weird karaoke scene by the campfire, and the main kid coming across as a total closet case every time he’s alone with one of his male friends.

Adding to that impression is the fact that he totally reminded me of Love, Simon.

As for “horror”, we occasionally see glimpses of a masked figure in the background, which keeps us anticipating all hell finally breaking loose. It never does. The kids puke, they get rashes (offering the single ickiest moment in the film), and yet they still just hang around and talk.

I don’t know why I didn’t give up on the film at some point. I just always feel like something simply has to happen in a slow film eventually, and with only minutes left here, there’s finally a turn of events. It jarringly takes us to a whole different situation, but the subtle, understated way in which the final zinger comes on is so compelling I wish that at least something slightly more interesting had happened throughout the film to keep viewers riveted.

ZOOMBIES 2 (2019)

   

The director of The Coed and the Zombie Stoner, one of my faves, handles this sequel to the SyFy original. Now if you’ve seen the first Zoombies and go into a sequel that went virtually unnoticed expecting some sort of work of horror art or at least something that even vaguely lives up to the cheap entertainment value of the first film, you came to the sequel for all the wrong reasons.

It’s as lowbrow as you should expect (although there was a huge anal penetration moment right there after the perfect setup), and I’m surprised it doesn’t get heavy rotation on SyFy.

The CGI effects are as bad as you’d expect, and the zombie zoo animals are hilariously cartoonish. But this is the quality that SyFy has built its brand on, so if you spend boring Sundays just watching endless marathons of their ridiculous nature strikes back creature features, you’ll be more than satisfied with this one when there is nothing else to watch.

Set up is simple…poachers and park rangers team up to survive when the zombie animals attack.

The men are sizzling hot, the kills are hilariously bad, and the scene of the women being terrorized by the CGI zombie porcupines is comedy gold.

THE 27 CLUB (2019)

This is a fun little rock star “demon” indie that takes a fascinating real phenomenon of the music industry and builds it into a fictional horror film. The 27 Club refers to famous rock musicians that have all died at the age of 27—pretty much all the iconic ones you can think of.

The main kid is doing a college paper on the mystery, so references to those rockers are interwoven into the story, but it’s really just a background device, with the focus being on his investigation after a fictional rocker dies at the same age.

We happen to know from the start that it was the work of a cool demon, but it’s up to him to find out as the film progresses. He has a best buddy, he gets a sort of love interest, he tracks down another rocker who never quite hit stardom, there’s a satanic book, and rock legend Todd Rundgren appears as his college professor.

The plot is simple, just as it should be, and the demon action is fun, but I do wish it had kicked in sooner because there’s not enough of it for my tastes, and there aren’t enough victims.

But as a music maniac, I was totally feeling the reality-based approach to the music industry being turned into a demon flick. And the guys showed off their sleazy druggy rocker bods.

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Which witch is wickedest?

The kind of witch flicks I like are hard to come by, but I never stop hunting for them. Here’s how it turned out when I made a double feature out of Antidote and Wicked Witches.

ANTIDOTE (2018)

Killer Instinct is the only other horror movie the director of Antidote has made since 2001, and it kind of shows. I simply can’t imagine what he was going for with this movie. It doesn’t know if it wants to be a horror movie or an action flick, so instead tries to separate the two as much as possible, leaving us with two entirely different styles of film, both of which feel incomplete.

Adorable former wrestler Randy Couture is some sort of Indiana Jones treasure hunter in Mexico (so naturally the movie needs to be referenced in the dialogue). When he is first introduced in a bar, we get freeze-frame title intros (The Treasure Hunter, The Side Kick, The Love Interest, etc.) during a brawl. It’s a weird and unnecessary device to use in a movie that isn’t clever, exclusively action, or grindhouse at all.

Then we meet a couple trying to save pregnant women and children in a Mexican village from some sort of infection. They keep running into women who look at them with glowing red eyes and then whisper some sort of warning to them about the witch. Best part: the dude and his buddy get shirtless.

So the female lead tries to research witches. That’s about it. And when she goes all Beauty Shop attitude on another healthcare worker complete with the finger wave and head movements, I didn’t know if I was supposed to laugh or stop watching the film.

I probably should have stopped watching.

While wandering through the wilderness, Couture occasionally runs into the couple, warns them the witches are after them, and tells them he doesn’t give a shit and to deal with it themselves.

Nothing continues to happen, the two storylines eventually converge at a temple where we get a brief moment with the queen witch, and then the movie comes to an abrupt conclusion, the tone once again leaving me with no clue as to what this film was going for.

WICKED WITCHES (2019)

I was psyched for this one when I stumbled upon the trailer online. I was quite satisfied when it was all over, and not just because the film only runs a beautiful 75 minutes long.

Wicked Witches doesn’t try to be complicated, so it’s perfect for horror simpletons like me. It’s all about the crazy witch bitches tearing guys apart in the woods. Well, not quite. It does try to create atmosphere and a slow burn feel at first, but it’s not as enticing as it could be.

A really cute dude goes to hang out with his buddy at an old farmhouse from their youth. The friend is acting darkly mysterious from the start, so it’s not clear why the main guy isn’t like, “You’re fucked in the head. I’m outta here.”

Instead, he does drugs with the weird buddy and then immediately begins having creepy hallucinations. There are also pretty girls staring strangely at him wherever he goes, but I guess he thinks freaky girls are hot.

We at last get to the good stuff following a very long partying montage with the main guy’s buddies. His weird friend shows up and brings in a bunch of girls to join them, which is when all hell breaks loose.

For a moment I was worried this was going to get lame as hell, because the guys stumble upon a bunch of Blair Witch sticks in the woods, but Wicked Witches does what Blair Witch didn’t: it gets awesome after the sighting of the sticks.

Bloody slaughter, practical effects, crazy witch bitches running around the woods, snarling and flashing their gnarly demon teeth, one cute guy with an axe trying to stop the insanity…this is the kind of horror fun I live for.

In a way, the premise reminds me of Hulu’s Into the Dark installment Treehouse, only much more focused on delivering a midnight movie horror party than bog things down with details.

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Back to the horror of the 1950s and 1960s

My house cleaning blog project of my multipack DVD sets continues with four more films—aliens, creatures, vampires, and crazed killers of the 50s and 60s.

THE MAN FROM PLANET X (1951)

The director of the horror classic The Black Cat brings us a scary spaceman movie that starts off atmospheric and compelling. A reporter heads to an isolated island after a report that a planet is hurling towards earth. He meets the few people that reside there, including some scientists, and a woman, of course.

It’s quite creepy when the woman heads into the wilderness at night after a capsule lands and sees an alien face in its small window. The group at first tries to befriend the alien when it leaves the ship—even trying sign language. Um, Mr. Scientist Man—sign language is a human-made convention. how the fuck would aliens know that form of communication if they don’t speak any human language?

Things get even better when the plot thickens with a sinister plan to target the alien. Unfortunately, it’s all downhill from there. Guys with big guns are called in for a galactic battle. Blah.

THE ANGRY RED PLANET (1959)

A ship sent on a mission to Mars is found in space with only one coherent survivor on board, but she can’t remember a thing. So the crew of the new ship heads out onto the red planet to explore.

This is cheesy, cheap, goofy alien monster madness. For starters, the entire film becomes drenched in red, so creatures like a—giant spider with lobster claws and a wildcat head?—can pretty much be nothing more than an animated cartoon and come across as weird and bizarre.

Thing is, that piece of cheese is the most awesome monster in the whole movie. The others are pretty generic, and there’s way too much boring talking. Eventually the crew brings an amoeba-like life form onto the ship to ignite even more troubles, a plot device that definitely echoes in sci-fi films to this day.

FANGS OF THE LIVING DEAD (1969)

This is just the worst in 1960s vampire/castle melodrama, with some bizarrely out of place humor actually being the best part.

Don’t expect gore or scares. It’s just a woman running around her descendants’ castle acting like a damsel in distress as she learns she’s a member of a vampire family and isn’t allowed to leave the castle. Her fiancé comes looking for her with his comic relief buddy, everyone slowly begins to flash their fangs, and the best part of the film is that one vampire dude straps the fiancé up shirtless…

BONUS: the Igor type butler is a hunk from heaven. Actually, probably from hell. Even better.

THE SADIST (1963)

It’s astounding that The Sadist isn’t revered as a precursor to many of the “wrong turn” films of the present. It may be a little slow at points, but this is virtually a template for the subgenre.

A man, woman, and an older guy are heading to a baseball game when their car breaks down by a deserted service station. After some creepy moments exploring the desolate place, they are confronted by a lunatic with a gun and his crazy girlfriend.

Yeah, the fact that they’re terrorized with a gun for the whole movie is a disappointment, but everything else is classic horror. The dude playing the crazy guy is perfectly maniacal, and for the time the film was made, does some violent and even edgy stuff, such as squeezing the female victim’s boob.

There are several murders (again, gun. blah), some body reveals, and a savage battle to the end with some unexpected twists. And there’s a full circle ending technique that is a staple of the genre even today, relating back to the original (and rather odd) baseball setup.

BONUS: the good guy in the tank top is nice to look at.

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Reliving Resident Evil 2…but not totally déjà vu

It’s no secret that Resident Evil 2 Remake has slightly altered the original experience, doing away with the tank controls and fixed camera angles for a more modern, over-the-shoulder perspective with the flexibility to walk and shoot at the same time, as well as to better target enemies. It’s a necessity, since the baddies are tougher and there are a whole lot more of them on the screen at once…even in “assist” mode.

That’s right. I totally played the game on easy mode (as I always do—but how dare they label me as an “assist” case). To me, survival horror games shouldn’t be high-stress action games. The stress is supposed to come from the fear as you are immersed in a horror movie style experience. And horror movies don’t stop so the main characters can continuously die and try again as they encounter monsters.

Here’s a quick tip for a better experience. When you’re first asked to choose your settings, you have an option as to what color you want your aiming reticle to be. Some very wrong person online claimed you should choose white. NOPE. Considering you spend much of the game in a flashlight beam, that shit disappears! Another option is red. NOPE. That shit disappears into the blood red chaos. The color you want is the final option: neon green. Can’t miss it. EVER.

Believe me, the game is still a challenge on assist. Beginning with Claire—who always had the easier game in the original—I was thrust into a battle with zombies almost immediately in an awesome, expanded opener that sees you stopping at an eerily quiet gas station convenience store alone before the initial crash that separates you and Leon. Claire has a gun but very few bullets, and the place is fricking dark as hell!


Damn you for separating us,
chain link fence I could climb over with ease as a kid….

Once you meet up with Leon and are then forced to split up, the terror truly begins in the good old Raccoon City Police Station. If you’ve played the PS1 game, the general layout is quite familiar, especially the comforting save typewriter and item box in the main entrance. Even more comforting…there are no ink ribbons. You just go right up to that typewriter whenever you feel like it and save to your heart’s content. By the end of the game, my heart was very content. Plus, the item boxes are as magical as they were in the original: unlimited storage, and they teleport your shit from one item box to another. And you’ll need that convenience, because your number of item slots is abysmal.

Because you feel so incredibly at home, the game does something quite mean. It makes a whole lot of the place super dark, and all you have for illumination is the flashlight that automatically comes on when you step into unlit areas (you have no control over when you can turn it on).

But back to the item slots. Even after you begin finding add-on hip pouches, each of which gives you an additional 2 slots, it seems you require more slots than before. And there’s a good reason for that.

Aside from the usual puzzle pieces you need to carry with you, you need to have a whole lot of ammo on you if you want to kill zombies. It takes multiple shots to the head most of the time to take them down, and if you’re lucky, they won’t get back up! Because they do. A lot. So you’re never really sure if you’ve killed them unless you get a perfect head shot, which makes their heads explode. Oddly enough, I only seemed able to accomplish that when I was actually much farther away from them OR if they were on the ground already, face down. Yes, shooting them in the back of the head seems to bust those brains, not shooting them in the face if they’re lying belly-up. Weird.

The other issue with zombies is that they are extra fast at latching on to you when you try to avoid them, even on easy. And there’s no simple button mashing technique to shake them free. If they grab you they bite you, and your health goes down fast, which means it’s always good to fill a couple of those item slots with health. You can stop zombies from chomping on you if you have a knife on you and hit the right button combination. Your stab temporarily knocks them down, but doesn’t kill them. In fact, you can’t kill them with a knife, because if you get close enough to swipe at them, they grab you. Not to mention, the knife isn’t an unlimited weapon. You have to find knives, and they have a limited life span. When you do defensively stab a zombie with one, don’t forget to retrieve it from the zombie when he’s down, because he takes it with him, carrying it either in his chest or his jugular.

Luckily, in easy mode a) your health actually goes up automatically a bit after a few minutes if you’re not hurt, giving you a fighting chance, and b) there’s a good supply of ammo to find. I’ve seen suggestions of running around enemies to save ammo, but I’ll tell you right now, if you do that you have to constantly run past them again, often in the dark, increasing your chances of getting bitten. Plus, they end up being in the way later when you have to make runs through the same areas while being chased by bigger enemies, which totally doesn’t work to your advantage. Kill the zombies early on and you can take your time to focus on the tasks at hand in quiet areas for a while.

How about those lickers? Damn, they are hard. As Claire, I luckily got the grenade launcher early on, so I used the fuck out of that thing to blow them away. While you feel as if you’re wasting ammo you’ll need later for bigger enemies, you find several strengths of gun powder everywhere, and you can mix them to make more heavy ammo. Even so, by the end of the game, I was running low and am shocked I even finished. Thanks, assist mode. You really assisted my ass.

Throughout most of your time in the police station, lickers and zombies are your only worry. That is until you unleash Tyrant. Rather than a guy who pops up inconveniently every now and then and can be put to rest for a while with heavy artillery, once you trigger his first attack, it becomes a continuous attack. That’s right, things get very Clock Tower for a while. And it’s hell. You have to run for your life through various rooms (good thing you killed all those zombies), hoping to get far enough away so he’ll temporarily lose you. If you run into a save room, he can’t come in there (except the main entrance, that doesn’t count as a save room). Therefore, I found myself just hiding out in save rooms, terrified to leave, because you can hear Tyrant’s footsteps outside, but there’s really no telling where he is unless you venture out there. When you do, not only do you realize you’ve run so far off course from your initial goal that you can barely remember how to get back there, but you have to do it while making sure to still avoid him. You have to do everything while making sure to avoid him, including puzzles and other tasks.

Tyrant’s chase does eventually come to a close when you move on to another area of the game, so that’s the only thing that kept me going. NOW, here’s something I learned only after playing my Claire game that makes it infuriating that I didn’t read a walkthrough since I assumed I pretty much knew the game from the good old days. There’s a certain spot in the game that triggers Tyrant. If you avoid that place and tasks in that area entirely until you are completely done exploring the police station, you can do it Tyrant free. Otherwise, like me, you will simply rush through the station just to get to the part where you get out of it. It’s devastating how much I missed in the police station due to bailing on it early. And once you leave, there’s no going back.

You do get to the underground lab for the final act of the game, but here’s the cool part. You visit a tiny bit of the actual city on your way there in this remake. One of only few new sections of the game involves your interactive time with little Sherry. Unlike her task avoiding zombies in the minor part in the original game, here she is kidnapped by a bad man and taken to an orphanage where she is held captive. The goal in her part is to escape the place without being caught by him.

And after that minor tedious segment (stealth, all stealth—and running, and screaming), Claire has to go meet her there. Out on the street you have some awesome encounters with the zombie dogs, but sadly it’s a short-lived segment, because the dang orphanage is right up the street!

The passage to the labs is now at the orphanage. As if I didn’t already hate the sewers, they’ve been totally revamped here and they’re worse—gross and terrifying. You wade through hip-high shit (seriously) and encounter some humongous monsters that rise from the doodoo depths. Blech.

After all that, it’s actually a relief to enter the lab, which is quite similar in layout to the original game.

There are lickers and zombies, and the final dreaded enemy—the plant monsters. What’s really cool about them now is that they no longer look like mini-me Audrey II plants just rooted in the hallways. They are actual zombies mutated into plants. Problem is, I learned the hard way (or the head go away way) that they are one-hit kills. Go near them and they grab you and chomp your head off. Argh! And you want to use powerful weapons that ignite fires to kill them completely. They need to be burned to a crisp or they will get back up.

Other than those bastards, the final act is relatively easy. Like, so easy that I was running low on powerful weapons and I took out every form of final boss on ONE try. Again, thank you assist mode.

Next, it was time to move on to Leon’s game. Here is where I made a decision I should have in the first place. I bought the DLC that includes a swap out of the original soundtrack music and some familiar sound effects from the original game, and life is all that much better because of it. I can’t even recall the music, if any, used as the remake soundtrack, but as soon as I began the game with Leon and the original music, it was drastically more atmospheric and scary. And there’s nothing like that peaceful save music, which is completely missing on the remake soundtrack. It is shameful that the classic soundtrack wasn’t included with the game, because it honestly fixes the feel of the game. Something is lacking with the new music and effects, which don’t highlight the tension at all. Hell, you don’t even get the ominous “Resident Evil” voice on the start page unless you get the original soundtrack.

The DLC also gives you costumes swaps for Claire and Leon (including a sheriff outfit for Leon blatantly ripped off from The Walking Dead), as well as the instant availability of the Samurai Edge handgun. What a waste. Other than the fact that it starts you off with a 12-round capacity instead of 5 like your regular handgun, the regular handgun has upgrades that eventually make it faster and more powerful than the Samurai Edge!

Perhaps because I started from a continue save, Leon’s opener was just a recap of what happens when he first meets Claire, therefore I didn’t have to go through any of the shit she does. I assume you do get your own challenging intro if you choose to play as him for the first run. Looks like another play through is in my future.

Once you take control of Leon, you are immediately thrust into a fresh scenario in your effort to get into the police station, and you can access some areas Claire can’t. You’ll also notice zombies take even more bullets before they die. Argh! And it seems you find less ammo. Not to mention, the first time you encounter lickers, you only have a handgun! FUCK ME.

You’re basically playing the same exact game as Claire’s for a while, just like in the original PS1 game. A majority of the tasks, puzzles, and locker codes are the same as the first run, however, the order of tasks is a bit different, doors she unlocked are now open for you, and there’s no typewriter or item box in the main entrance! That really ups the challenge. I depended on that damn stuff. What the hell? Did Claire take them with her? Why aren’t they there anymore???

Most importantly, Tyrant is more of a challenge here. First of all, even looking up how to avoid triggering him for as long as possible, I discovered there is still a shit load you can’t do in the police station until you do. Tyrant is way more relentless and the sound of his footsteps is not as helpful in warning you where he is. He most definitely makes surprise appearances that catch you off guard. Worse, before heading to the sewers you have to go back to the police station after the parking garage, and it has been replenished with zombies and lickers, plus Tyrant is still around. As terrifying as he is, what the hell is with the hat?

When you get to the parking lot, instead of worrying about Sherry, Leon interacts with Ada Wong. She escorts you to the sewers, so you never go out on the streets. You also have to play as Ada for a while, and it’s a bitch. You have one gun, no health anywhere, and no bullets to find. You have to aim an annoying reader gun at hot spots to unlock shit, and it takes a while to read, which becomes a nightmare when…you’re fucking chased by Tyrant! This section was infuriating.

One good thing is, if like me you didn’t realize a USB stick you used in a computer in the police station had a secret badge key in it that unlocks a box of gun parts right before the sewers, you get to go back to the police station before going to the lab this time. Even better, Tyrant is gone, so you can run around picking up any stray items you may have missed. They’re all marked on the map, which doesn’t turn rooms from red to blue until you’ve done and taken everything you can from them.

When you at last reach the lab, much of the play is exactly the same as the first run. The most delicious change (that I hate) is that you face off against the giant alligator!

Shockingly, it is not an agonizing battle like in the past. The remake makes this a “towards the screen” chase scene. EEK! Not very long and not really hard once you understand the pattern; you merely have to go to the opposite side of where the alligator bites down each time. Once you pass a certain point, the game takes over and does away with the alligator for you!

The other major difference from Clare’s game is that Leon’s final escape from the lab brings on different bosses. First you have to dodge mutated Tyrant on an elevator platform for a certain amount of time (and he has a one shot kill maneuver) until a massive rocket launcher is dropped to finish him off. Then there is a race to escape the lab that is filled with zombies and plant monsters. Finally, you get on a tram and of course you have to go to the back car to fight a monster. Luckily, the rocket launcher might have some rounds left that make quick work of it. This was the easiest final boss ever (on easy).

EXTRA CHAPTERS:

Apparently, there’s a price to be paid for a final easy boss, and it comes in the form of the annoying extra side games. All four are pretty much the same deal—you are given limited weapons, ammo, and health to get through swarms of different monsters as you try to get from your starting point to a specified point in the game. It’s implied that these are timed, but the time goes up, not down. Meaning, all you’re trying to do is finish the chapter in the shortest amount of time as you can. In other words, who fricking cares how long it takes? I just want to finish the chapter.

To make things interesting in these repetitive challenges, each mission features a different setting, different items, and a unique monster or two not in the original game—like glowing eyed zombies that release a noxious purple gas, and white mutation creatures that can’t be killed with weak weapons, which means you need to try to run around them most of the time. Actually, it would be nice if you could run around everything, because this shit is hard, and you will run out of ammo and health. Unfortunately, the paths you travel are usually so narrow you most often have no choice but to kill what’s in your way.

The first side game is called The 4th Survivor, where you play as “Hunk”, the mysterious bonus material character we never really know. And we still don’t. He’s wearing a gas mask. This is assuredly the hardest of the four extra chapters. You have to get from the sewers to the police department, the monsters are plenty, your supplies are few, and…it’s total bullshit that Tyrant starts to chase you relentlessly. Fuck this chapter.

There are three “Ghost Survivors” chapters, each offering a prologue of “what if X character survived”? How would they have escaped Raccoon City? Kind of silly, but, if you want more action and more play time, this is the way to do it. The good thing about these three chapters is that you can choose “training” difficulty to make things much easier—not sure why they didn’t just call it assist—I mean—easy difficulty, because when I discovered this was an option after already playing one chapter and dying on the regular difficulty, I breezed through each chapter. You’re warned that you won’t get points for playing on training difficulty, but who cares, because I don’t even know what points they were talking about. Also giving you an advantage is that there are ways to get extra items—as long as you kill the zombies with the backpacks and then raid the backpacks. The three chapters are:

No Time To Mourn – you play a gun shop owner that appears briefly in the main game, and he’s trying to get to the sewers. Weird thing is, you start at his shop, yet you only take two fricking guns and little ammo with you. WTF? What ammosexual gun shop owner wouldn’t carry half his inventory with him at all times? At times this feels like you’re just following the opposite path you did in The 4th Survivor chapter.

Runaway – you play as the mayor’s adult daughter running around in a negligee. WTF? Anyway, you start at the orphanage you visited briefly in the main game, and you have to get to the prison down in the parking garage.

Forgotten Soldier – you play as another guy in a gas mask who looks just like Hunk. You’re in the Umbrella lab, and you have to make it over to the cable car.

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STREAM QUEEN: Eloise, Ouija House, and Soul to Keep

It’s been a while, but several titles I hadn’t yet seen finally caught my attention on some of the big streaming services. So here’s my brief take on these three.

ELOISE (2016)

It’s yet another movie about a group breaking into an abandoned insane asylum where an evil doctor once performed horrible experiments on inmates.

Mostly what this derivative film has going for it is a bunch of familiar faces, including hot T2 cop Robert Patrick, Eliza Dushku, Chace Crawford, and the guy who played Roofie on the first season of Deadbeat.

After a painful amount of exposition as to why Chace has to break into this asylum, his group gets in and spends a lot of time running around the oddly clean and orderly halls of the derelict building. The best part of this segment is the real light—it’s super dark with just their flashlight beams and constant flashes of lightning coming through windows.

Then the group starts to essentially walk two time periods at once, slowly being drawn into the past when evil Robert Patrick ran the insane asylum.

They literally become part of another time and never seem to question why.

Eliza’s performance is the highlight here.

OUIJA HOUSE (2018)

Another huge cast of familiar faces, but can that save Ouija House? Well, Tiffany Shepis appears for about 2 minutes (as usual). Tara Reid plays a young Dee Wallace. Dee Wallace plays an older Tara Reid. Chris Mulkey plays a caretaker.


For the tenth time, Tiffany, the line is not “When can I get paid?”

Our main girl is writing a book on the paranormal and wants to do witchy stuff at a family home with her friends and her cousin, played by Mischa Barton, who seems like she’s consciously trying not to act or sound like Mischa Barton.


“Whoa! Put down the gun, daddy! All you have to do is ask…”

Don’t read further if you actually want to watch this film, because I have to poke fun at it, which requires spoiling it.

One of the first big twists…one character announces they have cell service. Holy crap.

They find a Ouija board. Mischa describes a family past (in flashbacks) of witchcraft. They use the Ouija board.

There’s a scary doll for no reason. The slut of the group decides they should use her body as a Ouija board because she’s a slut. And then…

After they literally wait around for something to happen as we watch nothing happening, the slut finally goes all demon eyes then routinely gets neck tics before darting off snarling and stopping at particular spots on the walls that have letters hidden behind the paint. That’s because…the entire house is a Ouija board. Hence the title.

Seriously, the rest of this movie is like watching a bunch of high people use their friends as a human planchette, placing their fingers on her and chasing her around as she spells things out using the letters written on the walls. It’s brilliantly ridiculous and super entertaining to watch and laugh at…for a few minutes.

Still, for me, it was worth watching to the end, because despite being in the film for a few minutes, Dee gets to remind us that she is still the queen of screams.

SOUL TO KEEP (2018)

The title is cliché. The film is derivative. If you’re going to do cliché and derivative, Soul to Keep is how you do it. Yeah, I’m talking to you, stud muffin.

A brother and sister bring their friends to the old family house they inherited to hang and party. Observant horror fans will notice various Easter eggs giving a nod to Evil Dead.

The group finds an occult book down in a creepy basement. They decide to do a ritual in the book to summon a demon (doesn’t everyone?), and the goth girl in the group leads the incantation.

Soul to Keep turns into a mashup of Evil Dead and Night of the Demons, with seduction, deep throating demon tongue, a lesbian subplot, an invisible barrier that won’t let them leave the property, and some twists.

Just note, possession fun aside, you do have to pay attention as the truth unfolds during the denouement if you want to understand the excessive flashbacks presented to explain everything.

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Back to the horrors of the 1960s and 1970s

It’s inevitable that you’ll get a bunch of low budget oldies on DVD when you buy those cheap, multiple-movie sets, so I’m cleaning house and taking a look at all that remains in my collection to blog about, starting with 6 films ranging from 1963 – 1971.

TERRIFIED! (1963)

Terrified! has the great dark and sinister feel of classic black & white horror, and is generally a very contemporary plot—people wandering around an old ghost town are stalked by a guy in a black mask.

Right from the first scene there’s a lot of promise. The film opens on a cemetery where the masked man is burying someone alive in cement. It’s just about the most effective scene in the film.

After that, it becomes a mess of ridiculous excuses for people to come to the ghost town (which seems to literally be called Ghost Town)  and skulk around creepy empty buildings and the graveyard.

There are definitely some tense moments and some initially suspenseful chase scenes, but every scene seems to wear out its welcome, going on way too long to the point that it loses its effectiveness.

BLOODY PIT OF HORROR (1965)

We learn in the opening scene that back in the old days, an executioner was executed for executing people and vowed revenge.

In the modern day, a photographer, a publisher, and a bunch of female models come to a castle to take photos for horror book covers. They are shocked to discover a man actually lives there, but he allows them to stay and do their work.

Of course he does…because he’s a psycho who loves to torture people in his bloody pit of horror! While there’s nothing in the way of scares here, this is definitely a precursor to the torture porn to come decades later. It’s very much in the same vein as the Herschell Gordon Lewis gorefests of the 1960s, combining horrible soundtrack music that is anything but creepy with scenes of women being sadistically tortured.

The killer is a hilariously narcissistic stud who likes to pose in the mirror—and even does so to torment one of the women he has a very special connection with.

There are some very bizarre scenes—one of a woman caught in a spider web booby trap with a big spider hanging over her shoulder is totally confusing to me, because I’m not sure if the spider was supposed to be real or just a mechanical, poisonous part of the trap.

The fights the killer has with men are as badly choreographed as you would imagine from low budget 1960s horror, but the exploitation of women is right on target for its time—especially when they’re put on a spinning machine that slices at their tits each time they circle around again to a waiting blade.

BLOOD OF DRACULA’S CASTLE (1969)

This is just about the worst that “horror” has to offer. A prim and proper vampire couple that keeps women chained up in their castle basement to humanely drain of blood panics when they discover they’re going to lose their home—and be exposed in the process.

Even though they invite the young couple buying the castle to come stay with them, they don’t stop their diabolical act of having their goon—the creepiest thing in the movie—go out into the woods to drag more women to their home. Not quite sure why all these women hang out in the woods by themselves in bikinis, but whatever.

John Carradine plays the butler, making this vampire couple even less ominous.

So when the young wife hears creepy noises at night and eerie soundtrack music begins to play, it’s simply impossible to buy into the notion that we’re supposed to be scared.

Seriously, these vamps are so non-threatening that they even talk about a day when science will invent a synthetic blood so they can become law-abiding citizens again. Is it possible the writer of the True Blood novels stole that one line to make it the entire premise of a book series 30 years later?

NIGHTMARE IN WAX (1969)

Even with a huge filmography behind him in various genres, Cameron Mitchell never shied away from doing bad horror movies, like House of Wax rip-off Nightmare in Wax.

However, there are a few notable changes in the details. Mitchell plays a former Hollywood behind-the-scenes man who was disfigured and seeks revenge…by capturing people, drugging them so that they don’t move and can’t even blink, and then using them as figures in his wax museum. However, he needs to periodically give them booster shots because the drug wears off.

As a detective investigates the latest disappearance—the opening scene of a man being stalked through a parking garage instead of a woman—there are plenty of flashbacks revealing just how Mitchell became disfigured and how it led to his mental stability.

Although Mitchell drugs most of his victims, he does choose to kill one every now and then. It’s not a particularly scary or original plot, but one scene holds up—he meets a woman at a club and then terrorizes her in his wax museum. I wouldn’t be surprised if this scene inspired scenes from many of the slasher films of the 80s.

What doesn’t hold up is the club scene—first a really bad flower child pop song by the T-Bones (Hey! That’s what Principal McGee called the T-Birds in Grease 2!), then more of a surfer rock tune that works much better with the go-go dancing but still feels like a night at Andy Warhol’s Factory.

BLOOD MANIA (1970)

The director of the 80s exploitation flicks Angel and Avenging Angel delivers this sleazy drug trip psycho murderess movie, written by gorgeous hunk of meat star Peter Carpenter. It’s one of two sex and murder flicks he made before unexpectedly passing away at a young age, so I’m covering them both here.

Carpenter is being blackmailed for illegally performing abortions (the days of back alleys and coat hangers). He’s dating a young slut who is caring for her ill father. When they use drugs one night to enhance the sexual pleasure and provide us with a stylistic sex scene, he tells the slut too much of the drug could kill a man.

Slut sees a way to quickly make the money for her man’s blackmailing situation.

Sadly, the will, read by Jo’s father from The Facts of Life, fails to go her way, and she loses her shit.

There’s only one good murder in the whole movie. She really should have lost her shit sooner and gone on a major killing spree, but alas, this one is more about the sex than horror. And that’s okay, because Peter Carpenter is delicious to look at, and he knows it. And for that reason, it’s surprising that he let a younger cutie show off more bod than he does…

If the film had been a short in a Tales from the Crypt movie it would have been better, because it has a nice mean-spirited and macabre twist ending.

POINT OF TERROR (1971)

In Peter Carpenter’s second love letter to himself, he stars as a singer—who wakes up on the beach screaming at a dream about his own singing in the first scene.

He meets a rich woman who can make him a star, so there are way too many song montages. But she has a rich husband in a wheelchair. She hates him. Conveniently, they get into a fight near their pool. You have to see the bull fight metaphor presentation to believe it.

With the husband out of the way, you’d think all would be perfect…but the wife is no idiot, which pits her against Carpenter until he creates a love triangle to fuck with her.

A knife murder subplot flashback delivers the only good kill scene in the movie.

But the scene can’t outshine the hilarious final fight between the stars near a cliff, where it’s night on top of the cliff but daylight down on the rocks below.

Not even editing this down could make it a tale in a Tales from the Crypt movie, because it’s really not a horror film—despite a Twilight Zone style twist. But it did give Carpenter the opportunity to make up for his mistake in Blood Mania. This time, he shows his own ass.

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PRIME TIME: a creature feature and some confusing backwoods horror

I thought I knew what I was getting into with this triple feature of my own making. Oddly, it’s the two backwoods horrors that left me scratching my head, while the Lovecraftian film (a subgenre that usually gives me a headache) is the one that stood out the most.

DEATH PASSAGE (aka: Lemon Tree Passage) (2014)

Americans in Australia take an Aussie dude up on his offer of a thrill ride down a road rumored to have a ghost. A film that starts off with an urban legend premise? I felt right at home.

Things get a little weird for one girl after the first encounter with a bright light on the road, but since it was only a fleeting glimpse, they go back again for another round. The Aussie guy decides he’ll have a better chance at a ghost sighting if he gets out of the car. That’s when the group is dragged into a whole lot of I don’t know what that keeps them hanging out in the forest alongside the road.

I just don’t have the patience anymore for movies that jump time, jump dimension, and jump between reality and delusion, especially all at once…so I began contemplating what movie I should watch next as horror things happened that didn’t horrify me at all. The only thing I can say is that cutting through all the mess of people running through the woods having their own personalized experiences, I think this was a possession/revenge mashup plot.

Highlight for me? Super sexy dude takes a shower and makes orgasm face when he gets splashed in the face.

Oh, and I was also loving the fact that Death Passage only runs 80 minutes. Still not enough of a little death to satisfy my need for quick thrills.

THE AXIOM (2018)

At least Death Passage was only 80 minutes long. This one tacks on nearly another 20 minutes of chaos and confusion in the woods, with ghosts, monsters, possession, and a diabolical plot that further muddies the waters.

A girl goes to the woods with a bunch of friends to find her missing sister. They stumble upon a cabin. They experience delusions of murder and horror. They realize they have crossed into another dimension and need to get back. They start turning on each other.

The monsters, the coolest part of the film, look like the bad guy from that movie series about that kid at a wizard school—my hubby made me see every single one of them in the theater, but I can’t remember a single thing about any of them.

Unfortunately, the monsters are barely in the film because rather than go for simple and scary, it tries to be way too layered with its myriad of horrors. Honestly, only bad 80s Euro horror can masterfully pull off such nonsense. The places this film goes had me groaning with impatience for it to end.

Highlight for me? A 2fer: a shirtless hottie in a good sex scene with a horror money shot.

THE CREATURE BELOW (2016)

I’ll take this one over The Shape of Water any day. I gave it a look because I just watched the director’s other film, Book of Monsters. Instant points for making two very different horror movies.

I never would have anticipated where The Creature Below was going to go after the first major scene, which is pretty fantastic for an indie film. A marine biologist is submerged in the ocean in a special suit and has an encounter with one supersized underwater creature.

She gets away, but she brings a remnant of her escapade home and sticks it in a fish tank. That’s when this one morphs into a much smaller scale, Lovecraftian horror flick. As she becomes obsessed with the little critter, the film gets weird and does have a few weak spots along the way, but it picks up once their bond strengthens and she goes from obsession to virtual possession.

The final act really reminds me of some of the classic 80s takes on Lovecraft as she and her creature friend terrify those closest to her. The focus on a single setting helps create a claustrophobic feeling of being trapped as the monster wreaks its gory havoc.

And the final scene comes full circle, leaving a momentous monster impression solidifying this as a Lovecraftian film that dare not speak its name. I guess either the rights cost too much or the director was really smart and didn’t want to take the chance of being bashed by purists that love to attack Lovecraft adaptations.

 

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STREAM QUEEN: a sausage fest, an anthology, and aliens at a house party

Pledge, Skeletons in the Closet, and Alien Party Crashers delivered a good variety of horror subgenres, and I found something to like about each of them, but only one of them may end up in my DVD collection.

PLEDGE (2018)

I was a fan of the werewolf flick Uncaged, so I assumed things should turn out okay when I realized the same director made this film, which was already in my watch list because…well…it’s a movie called Pledge with a paddle in the artwork.

It’s exactly what you would probably imagine.

A group of geeks is rejected at a big frat party, but then a pretty girl invites them to another party at a house in the middle of nowhere.

They are welcomed by a bunch of frat boys, and soon they are being brutally and gruesomely hazed. There’s undeniably a whole lot of torture—including a redo of the rat in a bucket scene from the 1983 film Epitaph, but not exactly much story.

You just keep waiting for the geeks to turn the tables…which should have happened sooner so the film could have had more focus on action and suspense rather than torture.

The reveals and twists in the final act definitely rescue the film from solidifying itself as nothing more than torture porn, and the virtually all male cast lands this one on my sausage fest scares page.

SKELETONS IN THE CLOSET (2018)

An indie anthology so schizo, choppy, and non-linear that I was almost guaranteed to be totally annoyed by it…which probably means the filmmakers are brilliant, because it’s those very things that kept me watching.

At first, this seems to be your usual anthology formula. A babysitter and the bratty girl she’s watching sit down to watch a horror anthology series on TV…

…that has a pretty blonde and a funny skull head horror host pair…that seems to be commenting on a horror anthology with a wraparound about a babysitter and a little girl…

Trippy! This one really keeps you on your toes, never knowing exactly what you’re watching as you are bombarded with disjointed scenes, short films, wraparounds within wraparounds, and commercial breaks, including a movie marathon ad featuring clips from a bunch of black and white horror films, as well as some clips of 80s pop culture references like Ronald Regan and an aerobics class. Even the wraparounds poke fun at the jumpy presentation.

The movie smartly doesn’t try to take place in the 80s, instead just perfectly capturing the feel of VHS era anthologies. There’s a hint of Halloween décor outside at the beginning, but there is no follow through with the theme, so this can’t be considered a holiday horror flick.

Meanwhile, between all the insanity, at least three specific tales do come forward:

1st story – one of the creepiest “scary granny” stories I’ve seen, this one has a stylized scene near the end that would have destroyed me if I had seen this film as a kid. It did a number on me as a semi-adult.

2nd story – a short one with a classic anthology story zinger twist, this tale sees a bound woman in a basement fighting back.

3rd story – two dudes encounter a masked killer in a junkyard in this gory entry. It becomes a rockin’ action flick when they fight back.

And in keeping with the round and round structure of the rest of the film, the wraparound can’t quite determine how to wrap things up. Classic.

ALIEN PARTY CRASHERS (aka: Canaries) (2017)

It’s odd holiday horror that has a lot going for it, with some standout moments, but it just never quite comes together as it heads towards an open-ended conclusion that simply demands a sequel this probably won’t get.

A government group is monitoring a time travel alien invasion problem, which complicates what is otherwise a straightforward horror flick about a New Year’s Eve party crashed by murderous alien life forms in human bodies. It becomes distracting each time a scene relating to this government group interrupts the action at the party.

A cute DJ with a nice bod is hosting a party with a handful of friends.

The tone seems to be going for humor, but it’s just not quite funny enough and lacks the correct timing to deliver the laughs. And when it does, it’s because the lines come from a gay character who pretty much steals the show. He’s not what you’ve been programmed to expect from a gay character in any way, he fights back big time rather than play the victim, and he drops some good 90s references. And of course, he lands this movie on my die, gay guy, die! page.

It takes a while for the action to start, but once it does it keeps coming. The “alien” people, who look like zombies from the neck up, are all in yellow raincoats with long fingernails that look like they are attached to gloves even though they are actually supposed to have grown out of their fingers.

Originally the film was called “Canaries” based on this look, but I guess beaks would have been kind of crucial if they wanted to go with that title…

There are some good suspense moments and some great gore, but the sound mixing felt raw. In essence it was more in keeping with how it would really sound if, for instance, you had a fight with a humanesque being in a kitchen, but it did make you realize why movies don’t go for realistic sound. Realism just doesn’t have that oomph. And speaking of realism, the big cool claws lost their oomph because they do like claws attached to gloves…rubber claws. The horror just didn’t quite hit the intensity needed to really keep me on the edge of my seat, despite the potential it had.

Finally, I have to give a nod to all the songs used by the band Le Cassette. I immediately scored a copy of their only album and will be playing a whole lot of their modern new wave sound on my Future Flashbacks show.

 

 

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Discover The Dark Within when you take Clinton Road to Landing Lake with your Dolls

Got a chance to check out some upcoming horror titles covering a variety of subgenres, so here’s a brief look in case they show up on your radar.

LANDING LAKE (2017)

I have no idea what I just watched. The trailer looked pretty good…because it’s one of those cases of all the good parts being crammed into a 1-minute teaser.

A group of satellite technicians goes into the woods. One dude brings a totally rad boom box that another asshole fricking tosses through the woods.

A plane crashes. They go help everyone out of it. I quickly couldn’t remember who was a technician and who was a crash survivor. They camp. They hike. They argue. They all split up and starts seeing weird things—as in electronic alteration of voices and digital flicker effects on the film to give the illusion of some sort of alien presence.

The cool parts? Every once in a while, someone morphs into a gooey mess that looks gross and painful.

There’s some lesbian stuff, everyone is obsessed with the lake because it’s believed that’s where the threat is coming from, some people turn monster while others just melt and die, there seems to be a secret club for those converted, there are native tribal men for reasons I couldn’t follow—or just didn’t want to because this was just really boring. If 100 minutes had been trimmed to 80 and the film made sense, maybe I would have liked it.

DOLLS (2019)

If the cast includes Dee Wallace and indie horror king Thomas Downey, of course I’m going to watch it. And I’m always up for a good hokey killer doll movie, which is exactly what you get here.

Personally, if I were making a killer doll movie, I would really come up with a more original title—especially since Dolls is the name of one of the best killer doll movies ever from back in the 80s.

But who cares? You get killer dolls no matter what the title. Thomas Downey plays a children’s book author who moves into his recently deceased mother’s house with his teen daughter, who quickly becomes convinced three creepy dolls in the attic have minds of their own.

And of course they do. Horror queen Dee Wallace shows up, but has been demoted to crazy old lady ranting about the dangers to come.

And neither do the dolls. Nor do they really move around. They mostly just stand there. And the biggest disappointment is that they barely kill anyone—but they’re quite creative with a Christmas tree stand and gardening shears.

I actually think the scariest scene in the film is….argh! A dream sequence.

Hey, at least the gardener is cute.

THE DARK WITHIN (2019)

David Ryan Keith (Ghosts of Darkness, The Redwood Massacre, Attack of the Herbals) directs this semi-demon movie. There are demons that look way cool, but this is one of this inner demons movies.

A guy who is messed in the head goes to get some recovery time at a cabin in the woods, where he is haunted by his own demons—memories, nightmares, delusions, hallucinations.

Honestly, horror filmmakers need to stop making films like this OR make them so that we aren’t clued in from the very start that NOTHING terrifying that’s happening is actually real. It simply kills all sense of fear or tension because we know the person is just losing their shit and not in any actual danger.

Here’s a perfect example that sums up the problem with this film. The guy’s woman comes to visit him, he envisions her turning demon, he’s attacked by a demon, he stabs it, it turns out it was actually just her so now she’s dead, now she’s a demon again, now she’s just herself again and perfectly alive, and now she’s not even there at all and never even came to the cabin.

Rinse and repeat throughout the film with no clarity as to why all of this is happening, especially once he steps through time and back to his childhood. My disappointment at not feeling scared at all left me with no interest in trying to figure out the deeper meaning of the film, but if that’s your thing, you might want to check it out, because the imaginary demons would be awesome in a different film.

CLINTON ROAD (2019)

Richard Grieco co-directs this supernatural film with slasher elements, but not even two directors can make it work…or maybe that is the reason it doesn’t?

The desperation begins virtually from the start. Ice-T appears briefly at a club to warn the main cast of characters away from the supernatural road. Then we see Eric Roberts playing Eric Roberts trying to get into the club, but the girl at the door thinks he’s lying and is not really Eric Roberts. And that is all we see of Eric Roberts for the entire movie. Makes sense, because why should played out actor cameos be integral to the plot?

The group of friends heads to the scary road, where one guy’s woman went missing. They bring a clairvoyant along with them hoping he’ll see the truth of her disappearance, and he has one messed up eye so we know he’s creepy.

They sit by a fire. They talk. They all split up. There’s a bearded dude in goggles who could have been a pretty good killer if this film committed to being a slasher. It doesn’t, so he just appears when there’s a need to kill someone to trim the cast.

There are also several different ghosts, both adult and children. Some are implied to be dangerous, others are there to scare us, I guess?

The final couple ends up encountering some problems in a house they hide out in, and things get trippy to remind us this is a supernatural road, but it all falls apart even though it never came together to begin with.

Honestly, a final scene of another random couple stopping on the road is more effective, with some sex and more promising horror than anything that came before it.

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Horror anthology time: Hi-8, Hi-Death and a Return to Horror Hotel

I hadn’t heard of Hi-8 until I checked out upcoming anthology Hi-Death, but I liked enough of what I saw in the follow-up to go back and check out the first one. And since I already blogged about Horror Hotel, I felt OCD obligated to watch the sequel. So let’s take a look at the types of tales you get from each.

HI-8 (2013)

It was hard not to judge this one based on the quality of the sequel since I saw that one first and this one just doesn’t measure up, but I’ll try to be objective. Hi-8 was apparently intentionally shot on dated equipment to give it that genuine 80s look. That approach definitely serves some stories better than others.

The 80s synth music and VHS static effect during the opening credits are a cool touch, and it helps that the film is presented in full screen, but watching it on a wide flat screen really doesn’t capture the true essence of old school tube TVs.

The wraparound is about kids shooting a slasher out in the wilderness The various segments of the wraparound in between stories don’t add much, but the final pay off closing the film is possibly one of its best horror moments. Now onto the stories:

1st story – since I watched the “Hi” films out of order, I learned that a story in the second film is a sequel to this one, as they both revolve around a switchblade killer. This tale is mostly just a gory slice n dice job performed on a victim, and not much different than the tale in the follow-up.

2nd story – the film quality is seriously rough in this one, but it works. The brief story has a group of survivors holed up in a garage after some sort of invasion following a meteor hitting earth. What invaded is revealed with kick ass practical effects.

3rd story – this one feels cheap, but I appreciate the video store theme (as always). A videos store clerk comes across some snuff films…and then meets the killer who made them.

4th story – totally going for the cheesy 80s vibe, this is a fun and goofy one about a dude dressed like the Frog Brothers from The Lost Boys trying to save a bunch of old folks during a zombie outbreak.

5th story – this is total exploitation camp about a plus size woman being stalked by a creep in a Gilligan hat. Absurd and silly, it has a good, trashy twist, but it doesn’t quite have the same tone as the rest of the tales.

6th story – A familiar tale of a grieving lover getting a visit from the dead, this one suffers from really poor makeup effects.

7th story – another cheap one that looks like it’s shot on home video, this is a pretty generic love triangle revenge story.

8th story – probably the highest quality story in terms of visual appearance, this also has a good desolate desert horror feel as a filmmaker and his potential lead actress check out a dilapidated building he wants to use as a filming location. The tale is a little slow, but it delivers the most genuine horror anthology zinger ending.

HI-DEATH (2018)

Amazing 80s style synth music kicks things off once again in the sequel, so I was hoping I was in good hands when Hi-Death began (each story is handled by a different director). The wraparound has two girls on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where they find a flyer for a horror tour. Each location is showing a different movie…

1st story – after trying to get into a metal concert and then shooting up, a young woman is confronted by the grim reaper. This tale definitely kicks things off right, with an 80s look and feel, plus the grim reaper’s skull head costume looks great, reminding me of Tar Man’s movements in Return of the Living Dead.

2nd story – this is one of just a few stories I felt didn’t quite fit with the others in this film, both in tone and quality. It’s a psychosexual tale of a couple that gets off on the details of the switchblade serial killer’s work from the first movie. It’s gory and sleazy, and looks like a cheap, straight-to-video flick of the 80s.

3rd story – this one is about a dude working late at a video store. Yes! Another video store story. An unmarked DVD is returned through the drop box, so he watches it. The visuals and snippets in the video are deliciously fucked up, putting The Ring video to shame. Plus, there’s a scare pay off in the video store that I think captures the spirit of anthologies like Creepshow nicely.

4th story – another one that I feel just doesn’t flow with the vibe of the other tales here (because the majority of them feature some sort of demonic or supernatural creature) and also looks low budget, this one is about a young actress whose audition goes wrong.

5th story – this final tale is about an artist whose work is dictated by the demands of a demonic presence.

Fantastically gritty, sleazy, and nasty, it ends things strong.

The wraparound conclusion sticks with the tone of the three shorts I preferred in this movie, with the two girls getting separated and one of them ending up in a creepy cave.

RETURN TO HORROR HOTEL (2019)

As with the first Horror Hotel, there’s no wraparound here, but the common thread is that each tale takes place at a hotel. For me, two out of four were okay…

1st story – The opening tale caught my attention immediately thanks to what sounded like a horror lyrics version of a Lady Gaga track as muscle man hits the protein drinks. He is just one of several characters that have icky bed bug problems…

2nd story – a tightly produced, dark tale about two female friends fighting over an object that is supposed to make the wearer beautiful.

3rd story – eh. Not quite horror. This feels like an episode of Amazing Stories. A young bookstore clerk makes a delivery to a vet who doesn’t age as long as he stays locked in his hotel room.

4th story – two guys are in possession of Houdini’s hand and all hell breaks lose in this tale played for laughs. I didn’t laugh and I just expected much more from a story about someone obtaining Houdini’s hand.

As with the first Horror Hotel, although there’s good production value, the stories run too long before getting to the point, and most of them aren’t very horror at all.

 

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