TUBI TERROR: torture porn, a throwback slasher, and a rape/revenge sequel

I’m continuing to conquer my watchlist on Tubi, and it was a mixture of subgenres with this weekend triple feature.

DON’T CLICK (2020)

The whole moral message of Saw totally pinpoints one naughty behavior in this film—watching porn.

Some dude jerks off to an online pay-per-view video channel of bound women being tortured by a masked man.

When his roommate comes home, he finds the computer on the fritz, gets sucked into a cyber lair where his friend is tied up, and is then telepathically controlled by a deformed dude in a suit and tie who speaks like a woman.

What follows is bouncing around between the main guy being forced to slowly mutilate his tied up friend, scenes of how they became hooked on the online porn thing, and clips of the sexual torture videos. This movie is literally torture porn. It’s very much like a Saw film, right down to the confusing timeline. But if it was trying to guilt me into never watching porn again, it totally failed.

The situations the guys go through and the baddies that administer the torture were just such low energy that the horror simply didn’t come through. Not to mention…Don’t Click is clearly a warning to misogynistic hetero male behavior.

DEATH RINK (2019)

I was so drawn into Death Rink, which is only 75 minutes long, because the vibes it gives off immediately reminded me of the 1989 classic Intruder, only instead of a grocery store, this film takes place in a roller rink after hours.

We meet the staff as they clean up for the night, smoke pot, play around on the rink and in the arcade, and talk about a kid who died in the rink years before. Uh-oh.

The confusing thing is that the death is referenced as having taken place in the eighties, but the film itself feels like it is taking place in the eighties. There are no signs of modern conveniences, and the staff keeps getting prank calls on a landline.

The problem here is that once we get to know the cast, we just keep getting to know them. Seriously, the first kill doesn’t come until 45 minutes in. The film is entertaining enough when the basic death scenes kick in, the killer wears a mask and a hoodie, and the atmosphere is eighties awesome, but overall the horror elements don’t pack a punch, and the denouement goes for confusing twist upon twist reveals in late 90s slasher revival style.

I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE: DEJA VU (2019)

Normally I wouldn’t cover an installment of this franchise because they’re just not my thing, but I wanted to touch upon this one for several reasons. First of all, it’s a direct sequel to the original cult flick by the original director, and brings back the original actress, Camille Keaton. Second, it also stars two of my favorite horror queens—Maria Olsen as a backwoods matriarch, and Jamie Bernadette as the original heroine’s daughter.

While I don’t like rape/revenge flicks, I actually think this is a worthy continuation/sequel story. I also think director Meir Zarchi played it smart in a) not trying to recapture the exact feel of the original film, instead making this a very contemporary horror film, and b) not trying to top the violence and brutality of all the sequels that have been made in recent years.

The biggest issue I have with the movie is that I can’t comprehend what Meir was thinking in making it two hours and 30 minutes long. The fluidity of this decent plot could have had more of an impact if the runtime had been slimmed down to even an hour and forty-five minutes (which would still be too long for me). It is tough sitting through this for 150 minutes, not because of disturbing content, but because it drags.

Even so, the plot really worked for me. The original heroine has made a career as an author by writing the story of her experience. While Camille Keaton appears in the first portion of the film, this is really about her daughter, and I’d say it’s the best performance I’ve seen yet by scream queen Jamie Bernadette.

Turns out the rapists from the original film had family, and Jamie ends up in their neck of the woods. Uh-oh. It takes quite a while to get to the fucked up rape scenes, and while they are not as horrific as some of the scenes in the more recent sequels, Jamie’s performance definitely makes you feel them. The fact that I watched this the day after Roe was overturned made the sequences weigh even heavier on me—my mind kept thinking that there are women who will now have to go through what this woman is going through in this movie and then be forced to carry the result of the vicious, relentless attack.

On the flip side, there’s an aspect of this sequel you might guess right from the start that is an understated message from a whole different side of the Roe vs. Wade debate.

I even like that the film has several stages that keep Jamie’s fight going (I just wish the journey was shorter), and best of all, for the first time ever, the title finally gets literal props in the movie…more than once!

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DIRECT TO STREAMING: circling back around to some favorite indie directors

Every once in a while I discover a movie in my watchlists is from an indie director whose films I’ve covered in the past. Turns out there were four movies this time from three different directors.

TOOTH FAIRY: THE LAST EXTRACTION (2021)

Director Louisa Warren is back with the third installment of her killer toothy fairy franchise.

As always, Louisa knows how to deliver on the kill scenes, and the gnarly looking tooth fairy is in top form, but there’s nothing much new being introduced here beyond some extra backstory of the tooth fairy legend that doesn’t add much considering we’re really just in this for the slasher action (at least, I am).

After a fun multiple-kill opening scene, we meet the guy who was a kid in the first film, a young man in the second film, and is now an adult with a grown daughter. He still suffers major tooth fairy PTSD.

He takes his daughter and her friends on a trip into the countryside, they get their hands on a book with a ritual involving the tooth fairy, they read the damn thing out loud like idiots, and then the killing begins…55 minutes into this 90-minute movie.

Sure it’s low budget and it’s repetitive if you’ve seen the other installments, but I’m a fan of Warren’s film-making style, so I was entertained as usual.

DOCTOR CARVER (aka: Conjuring the Plastic Surgeon) (2021)

Bonus! There were two from Louisa Warren on my watchlist. This one was originally titled Conjuring the Plastic Surgeon. It’s a clunky title, so I prefer Doctor Carver. While this is a low budget indie and therefore may not appeal to everyone, it’s important to note that just below the fun, cheesy, icky slasher surface is a whole lot of commentary on the predatory practices of the modeling industry, how naïve young women fall victim to it, and how even other women play a part in participating in the damage being done to young females.

After a young model is told by a photographer that surgery will help her career—as will the casting couch—her self-esteem hits rock bottom. She sees an opportunity for free cosmetic procedures and goes for it.

She becomes one of a handful of girls brought together at a house for a spiritual approach to surgery—more like satanic approach. While participating in a “prayer ritual”, they conjure “Doctor Carver”.

As the girls struggle with their body images, the deformed doctor consults with them one at a time, and there’s plenty of Argento lighting to set the tone. In classic indie horror form (and in my opinion), the special effects are much more disgusting than in Hollywood horror. If you’re squeamish, the procedure scenes will make you turn away, because they don’t hold back in magnifying in graphic detail just how horrific plastic surgery can be. Blech.

The pace does tend to be slow at times, and as is often the case with Warren’s films, much of the best horror action with the baddie is packed into the final act.

THE JACK IN THE BOX: AWAKENING (2022)

The Jack in the Box was a fun throwback to early 2000s supernatural slashers, so I was excited to see a sequel has been released. Director Lawrence Fowler delivers once again, nailing the style, tone, look, and atmosphere of that era with a film that not only delivers on slasher action but also, as with many sequels of that time period, delves more into the legend and backstory of the killer.

An elderly, wealthy woman is dying, and her one wish is that her son hunt down the jack in the box that was linked to a series of murders a few years before. Why? Because she knows she can have a wish granted by the box—she wants her health back so she won’t die.

But there’s a catch. In order to get her wish, she has to deliver six victims to Jack. She’s much too frail to get out of bed and do the dirty work herself, so she convinces her son to do it.

The cool part of this sequel is that we see the son struggling with throwing people under the bus…or into the box in this instance. And we watch as his attitude morphs and he becomes evil as well. However, I have to wonder why he even agrees to do what his mom wants. If this old rich bitch dies, wouldn’t that just benefit him?

The slasher elements are fun once again, and the jack-in-the-box is still a fantastically freaky baddie. The director reminds us that he has definitely studied films that make great use of light, shadow, camera angles, and timing. As is often the case with these backstory sequels, the exposition is okay but doesn’t add much to the point of the movie, which of course is kill, kill, kill!

Either way, once I watched this and it reminded me that I’d seen the first film a few years back, I decided to order both films on Blu-ray to add to my collection.

SPIDER IN THE ATTIC (2021)

Scott Jeffrey is the director of The Curse of Humpty Dumpty and a bunch of other indie horror flicks I’ve covered on my site, so I didn’t hesitate in checking out his latest about a killer spider.

This is an interesting blend of subplots. A reporter about to lose her TV show needs a fresh, gripping story. She and her team follow a lead about a Nazi researcher studying generic engineering which leads them to a house with…you guessed it. A mutant spider.

Approximately the size of a cat, this creepy crawler is cool looking and will definitely give you the willies if bugs bug you, but the CGI factor is there. In order to mask the issue of the CGI looking overlaid onto the footage, the film tends to be very dark (therefore, I lightened this still shot so you could get a good look at the little bugger).

The film plays out like a typical creature feature of this sort, with the cast roaming around a dark house while the spider lurks in corners and occasionally snares victims in its web of evil. I’d like to snare this guy in my web of evil…

There’s more than enough drama revealed about the characters through dialogue that doesn’t really add much to the story (and not surprisingly slows down the pace), and I’d say there are too few victims, which also hurts the pacing.

But when it comes down to it, the movie is all about the interesting twist as to the creature’s origins and the pay-off in the final frame. We’re talking hokey 80s horror level zinger ending, and I was so there for it.

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Who’s afraid of an alien abduction?

It’s a trio of alien encounter films that gave me the creeps when I first saw them. Do they still hold up?

COMMUNION (1989)

Author Whitley Strieber (Wolfen, The Hunger), went the nonfiction route when he became convinced he was abducted by aliens and wrote the book on which this movie is based. Communion comes from the director of delicious 80s horror trash like The Beast Within and Howling 2 and Howling 3, and while it starts out much more eerie and unsettling, it becomes another 80s disaster.

Christopher Walken plays Strieber, who takes his family to their house in the woods. A strange occurrence involving a lot of light saturating the house spooks the family overnight, but there’s little recollection of what transpired.

For the rest of the film, Walken and his wife go to various doctors, therapists, and group meetings to determine what may have actually happened, because Walken begins to lose his shit, from getting pissed at a little girl for playing a prank at a Halloween party to envisioning everyone on a bus with big bug heads.

The more flashbacks we get inside Walken’s mind (through hypnotism), the more the movie spirals out of control, with scenes featuring classic big-eyed aliens and blue dudes that look like a mix between Jawas and the critters from Phantasm.

Every alien sequence begins to feel like a drug trip, almost as if the filmmakers decided they had to make the footage live up to Walken’s natural weirdness. Let’s face it—only Walken could make an anal probe scene feel like a campy alien/human gang bang.

By the time he started dancing with aliens in the final act, I realized I must have repressed my memories of this movie even deeper than people who’ve actually been abducted repress their memories.

One interesting thing of note is that in this story, Strieber mentions seeing an owl before the abduction, an element that plays a bigger role in The Fourth Kind below.

THE FOURTH KIND (2009)

I recalled being kind of freaked out by this movie when I caught it on cable over a decade ago, so with Communion and Fire in the Sky hitting Blu-ray, I figured I should round out my collection of films with disturbing alien abductions themes. This film isn’t “boo” terrifying, but it sure is a psychological freak out.

I really like the way it’s structured. Milla Jovovich introduces the film as herself being in a documentary of re-enactments focusing on people in Alaska who all experienced alien encounters in their homes.

Events are often presented with a split screen—on the left is the “real” footage of the “real” person (it’s fake) experiencing what the re-enactment is portraying on the right. It sort of gives the film this hybrid found footage feel at times.

The Milla character’s story is intriguing. She had a horrifying experience in which her husband was stabbed to death by a mysterious figure while she was in bed with him, but she can’t remember any details. It adds a frightening dimension to the usual alien abduction concept.

The whole movie involves several deaths, making thing even more unnerving considering alien abduction stories don’t usually come with murder as a side effect.

Milla sets out to figure out what could possibly have happened, in part by interviewing other people in her area who experienced similar occurrences. Rather than abduction situations, most of the time the footage makes these experiences come across more like possession.

It’s all creepy in its own rights, but absolutely nothing is clarified by the time the film concludes, and everything is left open-ended.

We never do see an alien, but the focus on everyone who is abducted thinking that an owl has been visiting them repeatedly is chilling. As you start to realize that the owl face eerily resembles the face of a classic depiction of an alien as described by those who’ve encountered them, you begin to feel like you have seen an alien in the movie even though we never do.

FIRE IN THE SKY (1993)

Loosely based on a man’s claims of alien abduction, Fire in the Sky really freaked me out when I saw it way back in the 90s. Revisiting it, I was surprised to find that a majority of the run time (the first 70 minutes) focuses not on the man abducted, but the small group of friends that saw him abducted and how they were treated by a public that didn’t believe their story of his disappearance.

The great cast includes the likes of Robert Patrick, Henry Thomas, Craig Sheffer, and Henry Thomas, with James Garner as the man who interrogates them.

Various flashbacks reveal what led up to the abduction, and that scene is a spectacle in itself, drenched in red in the forest at night as the men encounter a spaceship while in their truck and their friend, played by DB Sweeney, gets out for a closer look.

All the melodrama about how they’re treated by the locals and how it affects their lives is okay, but the money shot is the phenomenal sequence that comes after they find Sweeney five days after he goes missing. Following his reemergence, he is suffering severe PTSD, which eventually leads to the payoff—what is still one of the most detailed and frightening alien abduction scenes ever.

There is no gentility in how the aliens treat Sweeney. He is put through a nightmarish conveyor belt of alien spaceship horror before the aliens, totally indifferent to his shrieks of terror, subject him to gruesomely invasive procedures.

It’s still a hard scene to watch and it is reason enough for me to consider this the most traumatic viewing experience of these three films.

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Gator goodness…or a croc of shit?

After tapping into some shark horror at the beginning of the weekend, I ended the weekend with a triple feature focusing gators and crocs. Eek!

FRESHWATER (2016)

When a killer alligator movie…becomes a slasher? Well, that’s one way to make your lame, low budget alligator movie different.

Zoe Bell, powerhouse stuntwoman who starred in Death Proof, plays an alligator expert that comes to town when people start dying off. The first kill is a lame red blood spurt in the water, basically preparing us for all the letdowns to come.

Meanwhile, a bunch of college kids heads to a cabin on one of the islands in the area. Two of them are killed (more red blood spurts in the water) and then the rest of the kids spend the majority of the film doing nothing but wondering how they’re going to get off the island. The highlight is the campy scream queen performance of one actress.

The few times we see the alligator, it’s a cheesy CGI thing that’s totally gray with red eyes. I would have taken more of this and tons of bad CGI gore attacks over the nothing we get.

The sudden twist in the final act has more people becoming victims of a psycho than the gator. If only the psycho had come out to play earlier, this may been a little more thrilling, because the gator was a total bore.

ALLIGATOR X (aka: Jurassic Predator: Xtinction) (2014)

Somehow I really blew it with my gator selections here…finding not one but two gator movies that are more about the evil humans than the actual damn gator attacks.

At least the terrible CGI gator in this film is a prehistoric creature, so it’s a little more interesting to look at in between all the human drama, which involves a woman giving a boat tour to a couple after refusing to sell her land to her ex-husband, played by Supernatural frenemy Crowley.

While out on the tour they get abducted by a couple of baddies with a sinister plan that is slooooowly revealed. So much time is focused on banter between the abductors and the abductees that it’s easy to forget you’re watching a gator movie for a while.

Cutie Lochlyn Munro, known mostly for playing a sheriff in horror movies, plays…the sheriff. I wonder if he just holds onto the same sheriff costume and pulls it out of his closet every time he’s cast in a new role.

This film is just as underwhelming as Freshwater, but at least the funny CGI gator face delivers a couple of laughs at the end.

CROC (2007)

Considering this one came from 2007, gives Michael Madsen top billing, and is identified as a made-for-TV movie on IMDb, I was assuming it would be just another super hokey CGI SyFy flick.

Would you believe the combo of real croc footage, CGI croc, and model croc mouth along with some great editing makes for some kick-ass kills? If nothing else, this one most definitely delivers on the cheap thrills.

The plot is the usual throwaway. This time some young American dude making money off tourists in Thailand is targeted by all kinds of ethical and unethical organizations. However, when people start turning up dead, he teams up with expert croc hunter Michael Madsen to hunt it down and save the day.

The croc attacks are a blast, including scenes of the croc getting a feisty couple in the water and gulping down a bratty kid, and even a fantastic sequence that gives the infamous pool scene from Alligator a run for its money.

And although the climax is annoying because it stems from the fact that the croc drags one of the main characters to its lair rather than just killing her, a nightmarish situation that involves being stuck in the croc’s mouth makes for a pretty damn good suspenseful finale.

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TUBI TERRORS: a trio of shark flicks

It was another sharkathon with the hubby to usher in the summer season. Let’s see how it went with this trio we checked out on Tubi.

BULL SHARK (2022)

This is an astoundingly boring shark movie that doesn’t even try to go for the hokey SyFy feel. Instead, it takes itself seriously and focuses in agonizing detail on the personal life of a game warden—his divorce, his thirteen year-old son, his alcoholism. Yawn. At least the warden is sexy.

To bore us even more, there’s a barely developed side plot about the mayor that cares more about his political career than any shark. Shocker.

So a redneck in Texas captures a dead shark, the game warden tells him to get rid of it before anyone sees it and thinks there’s a shark in the lake, so…he throws it in the lake.

Turns out the dead shark was pregnant.

That’s right. The killer in this one is a baby shark.

You can keep singing that shit that’s now stuck in your head as you read on.

The few death scenes are merely comprised of simple CGI shark clips underwater and a really bad fake shark fin above water.

Eventually there’s a laughable scene of the game warden saving his son from the shark with a knife.

Right after that there’s a ridiculous scene of the ex-wife joining him in the water—she throws an explosive thermos to the shark, it eats it, boom. Or in this case, bomb. A total bomb.

DAM SHARKS! (2016)

Thankfully there are old SyFy shark movies all over the streaming world to make up for sitting through disasters like Bull Shark.

The hubby and I were so relieved when this one began with CGI fins swimming downriver and then a CGI shark snatching a girl right out of the air as she dives off a cliff for a swim.

The premise is a blast…sharks are using human body parts to build a dam to create a contained habitat.

This is how you do a cheesy shark flick right. There isn’t a dull moment. There’s a retreat of about ten people out in the wilderness for the weekend, with fun characters that eventually decide to have a rafting race.

At the same time, the game warden and an awesome and funny older fisherman go on a rescue mission to save anyone who is on the river.

There are loads of vicious, exciting, and ridiculous CGI shark attacks with plenty of red water, hilarious snatches of victims right off boats, and awesome perspectives of CGI sharks gracefully diving out of and back into the water to eat their victims.

On top of that, there are great, hokey battles with the sharks using oars and a bow and explosive arrows. This is how you do a silly summer fun shark flick.

SHARK SEASON (2020)

Finally, it’s your typical Open Water plot. This is mostly a generic film that rarely sees the main characters in any harrowing situations. Good news is it starts with an awesome, violent attack of a surfer.

The main girl is the daughter of Michael Madsen, who works for air patrol. Despite that, his entire role is literally phoned in…he simply talks to his daughter on a phone throughout her experience.

The daughter goes kayaking with a female friend and a guy friend with a hot bod.

They decide to check out a rock formation that was uncovered during a recent hurricane.

Very quickly, sharks appear in the water. The friends realize the rock formation is going to go under at high tide so they try to kayak to another mini island.

That’s it. They’re on the kayaks the whole time being surrounded by sharks and occasionally in communication with Madsen while they wait for a rescue team to come for them. The only really good scene is when they finally end up in the water right at the end and the daughter has to take on one shark with an oar.

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PRIME TIME: severing those family ties

It’s an evil embryo, a sinister sister, and a freaky family in my latest triple feature.

BLOOD BORN (2021)

This is an entertaining little film, but it really feels like it would have worked better as a 30-minute short in an anthology film.

A couple is dealing with infertility. A friend tells them about an organization that does wonders in helping people with such troubles.

The organization proves to be one mystical woman who comes to their house and puts them through all kinds of magical rituals to get them pregnant. This takes up the bulk of the film, so it really begins to feel like padding after a while.

Eventually the wife gets pregnant and becomes hungry for blood. But this isn’t a body count movie. She doesn’t go on a killing spree.

It’s all about the zinger ending, which is why it deserves the Tales From the Crypt treatment more than a full-length feature.

THE LAST EXORCIST (2020)

While not the most well-planned plot or high-budget film, I have to give this indie props for a unique (and at times odd) approach to the exorcism subgenre.

I was definitely drawn in by the exorcism of a bloody shirtless guy with 666 carved in his chest.

Then we meet two girls who take it quite badly when they learn on the news that basically all the exorcists in the Catholic religion have been killed in what appears to have been a terrorist attack.

The siblings spend a whole lot of time at a bar drowning in their sorrows as we see through flashbacks that their childhood was tarnished by possession and exorcism.

Now, one of the sisters believes the other sister is the target of another demonic possession. But who’s going to save her?

Who else? The demon-free sister! How? With the help of Danny Trejo, she becomes an honorary priest before the final act. WTF?

Hey, at least there are a bunch of random scenes of different people in a possessed state to carry us through the movie.

HONEYDEW (2020)

By sending just one lone couple into a backwoods family situation, you already put major limitations on how much horror you can deliver in your movie. To then drag that movie out to an hour and forty-five minutes is a bad move. To make the dynamics of the relationship between that couple contradictory and confusing, causing them to be totally unlikable, makes matters even worse.

So there’s this straight couple on a road trip. They get along when they have sex in a tent, but other than that, they seem to be at odds with each other. The guy especially seems to be a total douche who doesn’t give a shit about falling deeper and deeper into dangerous territory.

In fact, that’s one of the biggest problems with this film. I’m sorry, but there has to come a moment in life when you say to yourself, “we’re about to be in a horror movie so we need to tread very carefully here.”

An old hick comes in the middle of the night to tell them they’re camping on his property. These two show themselves to be nothing but white privileged assholes when they behave like they’ve been inconvenienced by this fact.

They go to leave and their car won’t start.

They have no cell service.

They go to the only house they come upon in the middle of the woods. The old lady that invites them in never removes the psycho grin from her face, and instead of letting them use the phone, she calls her “neighbor” in the middle of the night to come help them with their car. While they wait, she becomes frighteningly annoyed when they both rudely make it clear that they won’t eat the meat she’s preparing for them.

She brings out her grown son, who doesn’t talk, doesn’t respond to any stimulation, has his head wrapped in bandages, and has periodic seizures.

Like, do I need to go any further? You’re in a fucking horror movie! Get the fuck out of there!

Instead, the couple lets the old lady set them up in a nasty old room, it appears the guy jerks off in a shower (who the fuck would feel the need to jerk off under these circumstances?), and he then leaves the girlfriend alone in the room.

At this point, what felt like a suspenseful slow burn turns into a whole lot of nothing. And predictable nothing at that.

If there’s cannibalism here, it’s never clarified. This is the smallest backwoods family ever. They manage to tie up the couple. They have a limbless Lena Dunham living in a box.

They make a habit of giving visitors lobotomies and making them new members of the family. When it appears the couple is going to be saved by the arrival of police, we never see the police, we don’t know why the police showed up, we don’t know if the police were in on it, we don’t know if the family did something to the police.

There are no scares. There’s no suspense. There’s no gore. There’s no body count. The presentation of the usual unthinkable possibilities of what could be going on behind closed doors in the middle of redneck America isn’t enough to make this a frightening experience.

There does seem to be a commentary on this privileged white couple having unhealthy relationships with food, but even that isn’t illustrated clearly enough to tie it into their punishment at the hands of this family with food issues that also aren’t specified.

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PRIME TIME: an exorcism, an anthology, and a big bug

I’m nearing the end of my Prime watchlist, so let’s get right into the three I just crossed off it.

WHILE WE SLEEP (2021)

If you need an exorcism itch to be scratched, you might get a hint of relief for a few minutes near the end of this film. But what you’ll mostly get is a whole lot of character and plot development (all the stuff that happened while I slept…).

How does the little girl get possessed? As far as I can tell, she inhales a demon from a birthday cake while blowing out her candles. I’m not even kidding.

After that she starts acting different. Her parents bring her for tests. Eventually they invite a sleep specialist to the house to monitor her. This specialist seems to want to hook up with the husband and also secretly uses questionable techniques to help the girl.

Eventually the wife kicks her out of the house and the possessed girl does a bunch of CGI gymnastics around the house.

Meanwhile, the sleep specialist teams up with some other dude who thinks he has all the answers to saving the girl.

That’s in the last half hour and the point where I couldn’t make much sense of the film anymore.

And no, there’s no Linda Blair demon face or pea soup.

8 DAYS TO HELL (2022)

This anthology doesn’t even bother to ease us in with a wraparound. It goes directly to DAY 1, and each story counts us down until we eventually reach hell. It’s a fun concept, especially since the stories are linked together by shared characters (mostly killers). It’s also a load of indie fun reminiscent of episodes of 80s anthology shows, but personally I found that the longer stories, which come at the end, kill the momentum the quicker early stories so perfectly build. Here’s the breakdown of tales.

Day 1 – Eric Roberts is holding auditions. When he tells an actor he isn’t convincing as a mobster, the guy comes back to prove how convincing he can be. Eh. Not exactly a horror story.

2nd story – now this is horror, and it even draws us into the Halloween holiday season. A guy hooks up with a horny woman who pulls out a surprise in the bedroom that really bugs him out.

3rd story – a woman leaving a Halloween party finds herself the center of a satanic ritual…

4th story – a killer goes to confessional.

5th story – this one was unexpected. A killer is confronted with a zombie situation!

6th story – my favorite story because it features some camptastic werewolf moments.

7th story – tooooo long of a story about a book in which the drawings bring the dead back to life.

8th story – this is where it was all heading…straight to hell when an idiot sells his soul to the devil.

It’s just plain silly horror fun with a variety of subgenres and some Halloween spirit. I liked it.

THE ARBORS (2020)

This film is a fairly compelling creature feature with a sad underlying plot, but the fact that it runs a staggering 2 hours long and becomes highly repetitive really does it a disservice.

It’s the story of man who has a strained relationship with his brother. His loneliness in contrast to the life as a married father his brother is living is the focus of the character development.

Meanwhile, when he comes across a dead deer in the road, the lonely main guy stumbles upon a weird, bug-like creature and captures it.

Pretty soon it escapes, starts killing off people in his town, and begins growing much bigger quite fast. The bug scenes are by far the highlight here.

The main guy attempts to keep the creature’s existence a secret while keeping himself from falling under suspicion as the killer. At the same time he uses the tragedies as a way to mend his relationship with his brother and recapture the happiness of their youth.

Unfortunately, this results in a moody film that drags on and on and feels like there’s just no end in sight, with our main man lurking around making paranoid faces for a majority of the film. I really liked the film, I just think it needed to be trimmed down by at least fifteen minutes.

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PRIME TIME: evil ladies

Beware the wicked women in this triple feature—The Widow, Medusa, and Lilith!

THE WIDOW (2020)

This Russian film dubbed in English on Prime sort of follows the basic premise of The Blair Witch Project, but it isn’t found footage.

Interviews reveal that people have gone missing in a certain area of the woods for years and occasionally the dead bodies are found naked. The locals believe that the victims were taken by a lost soul known as “the widow”.

When a teen goes missing, a search group heads into the woods. They find a woman who is not in good shape and is soon babbling about “the widow”.

And then…

This becomes just about as dull a movie as The Blair Witch Project. In other words, the story of the legend delivers plenty of hype that is never delivered on as the cast runs through the woods reacting to a whole lot of nothing. Someone eventually sees a dude standing facing a corner, but not much else.

MEDUSA (2020)

Considering the Snakehead installment of my Comfort Cove gay horror series is inspired by the legend of Medusa, I’ll always watch horror movies in which she is the antagonist (there are so few of them).

This is an interesting and trashy take on the queen of the snakes. A druggy girl returns to her job as a trailer park whore. As she creates bonds with other prostitutes, she is bit by a snake during a lap dance and then begins to change…

Almost like a black widow or praying mantis concept, this is a female empowerment film as she takes down all the douche bag men that cross her or the other prostitutes.

There’s neon lighting to create atmosphere, and while our main girl sees signs of a snake transformation to provide some body horror moments, she never goes fully into creature mode.

But perhaps the bigger disappointment is that she turns into “Medusa” just for the final frame, which consists of the actress remaining still while CGI snakes rise up from behind her head like something out of a SyFy original circa 2011. Bummer.

LILITH (2018)

The director of For Jennifer brings us a fun little low budget indie horror anthology involving the many faces of the demon Lilith as she wreaks havoc on people’s lives in four different stories.

In the wraparound, indie horror queen Felissa Rose is a blast as the true form of Lilith—basically a snarky, dominatrix demon—as a detective and a priest plan to perform an exorcism on her.

1st story – this one has a unique twist. After a high school girl is knocked up by her teacher, who totally dismisses her, her friends decide to get revenge, but things don’t exactly turn out as they expect (when their friend is expecting).

2nd story – this is a basic and underwhelming tale. Lilith becomes the caretaker for a sickly man who can’t get past the fact that she looks just like his late wife.

3rd story – this is a satisfying, sexy scary tale of a cheating hunk who calls in a hooker while his girl is away at a religious retreat. The hooker just happens to be Lilith.

4th story – this is the sleazy, gritty tale of the bunch, about a man who abducts, tortures, and kills women. That is until he faces off against Lilith.

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PRIME TIME: slashing in different styles

My latest marathon on Prime was definitely an interesting selection, so let’s get right into them.

BURIAL GROUND MASSACRE (2021)

If you were around in 1996, you’ll remember there were loads of cheap, copycat slashers released in the wake of Scream. Burial Ground Massacre feels very much like one of those.

While focused entirely on a bunch of college kids partying in a house built on a Native American burial ground, this film flips the finger at contemporary verbiage, so the word Indian is used instead of Native American. On top of that, the whole film is based on appropriation more than an actual “Indian curse”. The killer runs around in a fricking tribal mask and a hoodie.

The kids become oddly interested in researching Indian legends while they should be partying and having sex. As a result, they end up in possession of an artifact the killer has been hunting for.

Therefore, the guy in the hoodie has to start killing them off. The film is way too long at 100 minutes, the kill scenes are bland, there’s little in the way of tension or scares, there’s too much filler of the kids just hanging out, the kids are not distinct or memorable (except the shirtless cutie below, of course), and the attempt at surprises and twists in the final act just weigh down the pacing with tons of exposition through dialogue.

And finally, considering horror veteran Michael Madsen is listed in the credits and we never see him throughout the film, the ending is essentially spoiled.

PSYCHOPATHS (2017)

There is very little I can say about this movie. It is horror eye candy with little in the way of a discernible plot.

I’ll put it to you this way. Imagine Dario Argento making The Purge, and you get Psychopaths.

It’s simply a series of stunningly shot and gruesome and violent death scenes as people in masks go nuts and torture and kill other people during the course of one particular night.

Footage goes from bright Argento neon to black and white, we get split screen, there’s some narration, there is a quirky musical performance, there are cringe-worthy visuals, and there’s no making sense of any of it.

EVIL EVERYWHERE (2019)

Running only 64 minutes long, this throwback film is more about getting the early 80s direct-to-video feel right than delivering a plot of any substance.

We are informed briefly that two years ago in 1985, members of a senior class were killed off alphabetically, and a young man and a mysterious girl tracked down the demonic killer then went into hiding.

Now the evil force is back and the main guy has to hunt it down once more. A grind house filter and several cool now wave tracks set the tone, and there are plenty of supernatural kills, as well as an occasional appearance of a demon in a hood, but there’s not much story or character development to speak of.

In the end the main kid and some friends have to go to an old mansion to exorcise the demon in an array of bad 80s-style special effects that look mostly like sparklers on the Fourth of July.

If you’re really itching for some throwback horror, you might as well check this one out, because it definitely gives you the vibes and is only an hour long.

 

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PRIME TIME: I really blew it when I added these three to my watchlist

Slashers, witches, Satanism, ghosts…I really thought there would be something to like here. But this triple feature was a disappointment.

SATAN’S SERVANT (2021)

This film is touted as being made by high school students, so if you’re going into it, keep that firmly in mind.

Overall it’s a silly little film filled with way too much exposition in the first hour. At least it finally pays off in the last half hour with some low budget slasher action…all wrapped up in a satanic ritual plot.

After a high school girl disappears in an opening home invasion scene, four friends become convinced she’s been kidnapped as part of a satanic sacrifice plot in their own neighborhood.

The whole film revolves around them trying to break her free from a house while being chased by a guy in a ski mask.

This definitely feels like an amateur production. You decide if it’s worth it for the fairly entertaining hack ‘n’ slash sequence at the end.

THE DEMENTED (2021)

This movie is just so not my thing. The general concept is interesting for a horror movie—women lured into a sex trafficking/snuff film ring get revenge from beyond the grave.

Unfortunately, a majority of this film involves one man in a mask tormenting one woman tied up and squirming in a bed while begging for her life.

Other elements of the film include horror queen Felissa Rose as a detective doing some interrogation, and the “ghosts” of the previous victims communicating with the current victim.

Problem for me was that the exploitation of the one woman by the man takes away all sense of this being a movie; it starts to feel like nothing more than jerk-off material for right wing incel nutbags.

A DEADLY LEGEND (2020)

This is how you top off a bad Prime marathon. Not even appearances by Judd Hirsch, Corbin Bernsen, and Lori Petty can help this sloppy mess of a witchcraft/ghost story/slasher mashup.

There’s land with a cursed past that has been sold. Judd Hirsch is the crazy old man warning everyone that developing on it is a mistake.

Corbin Bernsen runs a new age shop and also has a vested interest in what becomes of the land. Lori Petty works with a construction crew digging on the property.

Beyond that, I had no idea what was going on. There were a whole lot of people staying at a place on the land, but I wasn’t quite sure who they all were or how they all knew each other.

Apparently a bunch of girls unleash something by having a séance. The construction workers also seem to unleash something while digging. The ghost girl roams around trying to be scary. One of the main girls seems to get possessed by a warrior witch.

One of the construction workers gets possessed and stalks everyone with a pick axe.  This kind of disjointed nonsense works in 80s euro horror, but it didn’t work here. This is an uninspired, scare-free, gore-free disaster with no clear plot.

 

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