STREAM QUEEN: Dead Trigger vs. Little Monsters

Two films, both with familiar names and grisly zombies. But is that enough?

DEAD TRIGGER (2017)

Following up on his movies Battle of the Damned and Don’t Kill It, Dolph Lundgren stars in another horror film…that I’m surprised doesn’t air on SyFy in heavy rotation.

This is as SyFy as it gets, with minimal plot beyond a military team infiltrating an island, rescuing a scientist, and battling hordes of zombies and a Russian baddie. Yes, Dolph has come a long way, battling bad Russians instead of being one of them.

On top of that, while the zombie makeup is good, we have yet another zombie film that opts for CGI blood splatters for every kill. Why do filmmakers refuse to invest in blood squibs these days? I just don’t get it.

Despite its thin plot and absolutely nothing original in terms of zombie action, Dead Trigger has a little something different to offer. And I mean a little. There’s a minor subplot about recruiting video game geeks to help fight the zombies. It’s virtually an afterthought and is only fully explained at the last second.

While the movie takes itself seriously, there is a scene near the end that is comical, and I’m not sure if it’s intended or not. Even the zombies look like they want to laugh. Very weird.

Meanwhile, aside from Dolph, there are a few other familiar faces in very minor roles, including Lil’ Romeo and Grey’s Anatomy homophobe Isaiah Washington. What I’m saying is, if you watch just one Dolph Lundgren horror flick, watch Don’t Kill It.

LITTLE MONSTERS (2019)

This (supposed) zombedy got tons of hype because Hollywood “it” girl of the moment Lupita Nyong’o stars in it, coming off films like Us and Black Panther. Personally, I would think she made this film before either of those because, quite frankly, her performance is as forgettable as the film, especially since she’s not given much to work with.

The story focuses on a slacker who goes on a class trip to a park with his nephew and has to help teacher Lupita keep the students alive when zombies strike.

Along for the ride is Josh Gad as an asshole childrens’ entertainer who is only looking out for himself. His character is loud and crass—a tired caricature that is in no way funny.

There are a lot of zombies and some gory moments, but there are no scares, barely any funny moments (the few there are go mostly to the nephew), and the adults constantly break into sing-alongs with a ukulele to keep the kids from getting scared (Taylor Swift, Neil Diamond).

Essentially, this is a family film with zombies. I was bored, my hubba hubba gave up and went to bed, and I was left alone feeling like it was never going to end.

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PRIME TIME: When it’s not a werewolf or Bigfoot movie

When I recently did a multi-movie werewolf blog, I had American Beast and Fang all queued up, but it turns out neither is actually a werewolf film, so…they got booted to this blog. What exactly are they then? Let’s find out.

AMERICAN BEAST (2014)

I really didn’t expect anything this film delivers. The opening scene of a guy stumbling out of a bar and into the snowy woods to piss, inevitably getting dragged away by an unseen “American Beast”, definitely got my attention.

But then the movie spirals into territory that had me really close to giving up. If it weren’t for modern devices to keep me entertained, I wouldn’t have made it through the time it took for me to become interested in again. However, in hindsight, I actually love what was happening here. Unfortunately, not understanding what the film is going for could easily have viewers bailing at the point where I decided to stay—or should I say, where I chose to leave the movie playing in the background while I scrolled through social media.

See, there’s this guy who begins to piece together his family’s encounters with some sort of beast in the wilderness over the years—and with a Native American woman who kept trying to warn them not to fuck with the land.

The film presents the story as flashbacks to each generation being attacked by the creature. It’s the technique used that could easily lose the audience, especially if viewers have never seen a horror movie made before the year 2000. For starters, the first few segments are in black and white, the acting is corny, and the horror elements are weak. However, as I stuck with it, I began to realize that the goal is to intentionally present the horror in the style and tone of the time period in which it’s taking place. Brilliant.

Once color poured onto the screen, and we were hovering around the 1970s creature feature period, I was becoming nostalgic, and the horror and suspense were getting better.

And then…TOTAL EIGHTIES. Teens go camping in the woods, it looks like we’re watching a VHS tape, everyone is having sex, and there’s sleazy, gory slaying. I fricking loved it.

Segue into…found footage! Brilliant. Kids head into the woods with cameras to document the stories of the beast…

There was thought put into the details here, right down to there finally being a person of color in the found footage cast of characters now that we’re moving into horror movies in the new millennium.

When the guy researching all these happenings becomes the focus again, he goes into the woods himself. The final encounter at last shows us the beast, and it is actually way cool once you get over the shock of it being nowhere near what you expected (I’m not going to spoil it with a pic). Plus, there’s some fun gore for the modern day audience.

Sadly, American Beast will probably never get the credit or recognition for what it pulls off, and some filmmakers with a bigger budget and more name recognition will probably steal the idea and have a hit on their hands.

FANG (aka: Prairie Dog) (2015)

This film has a basic premise—people go missing in a small town and there are reports of a wild animal on the loose. So the sheriff teams up with an environmentalist to determine what’s going on.

Damn, the sheriff is sexy…

Early on we see a flash of animal teeth and POV as someone is attacked, but then we get 45 minutes of talk. If you can muster up the discipline to actually pay attention, there’s more going on than just the animal.

There are some eye-catching color palettes used that present scenes from creature POV, but sometimes these scene go on for a while and it’s hard to see what’s actually happening.

There are also a couple of eerie scenes—my fave being one with a little girl looking out a window during a rainstorm at night—but most of what doesn’t involve talking here just involves people walking or running through the woods.

This drags us along until we finally get some monster action at the end. I can’t say I know exactly what we were seeing, because I counted at least three different kinds of creatures, including humans that seem convinced they are some sort of feral beast.

The film is quite sterile for the most part, so there’s no gore. It feels kind of like a “family-friendly” horror flick from the 80s, because there’s major focus on two children.

While Fang has its moments, personally, American Beast is the winner for me in this double feature.

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HALLOWEEN HORROR ROUNDUP 2019: slashers and a couple of anthologies

Time to get to a load more Halloween flicks being released for public consumption in time for the holiday (for a full list of Halloween horror flicks, check out my holiday horror page). Some of these barely touch upon the holiday, some barely deliver complete, comprehensive stories, and one is a sequel. But are any of these five worth a yearly revisit in October?

THE CURSE OF HALLOWEEN JACK (2019)

The Legend of Halloween Jack was an okay indie Halloween slasher I picked up on DVD last year, so when I discovered there was a sequel, naturally I had to add it to my collection.

In classic sequel style, the scarecrow killer is resurrected through the most absurd means; a cult brings him back with a sacrificial ritual, and then Halloween Jack just goes around killing (mostly) random people.

In response to the killing spree in the first movie, the mayor decides to cancel Halloween. Yet the cancellation of the holiday has no bearing on the proceedings.

It’s only Halloween Jack who serves as a foil for the unfolding events—namely, kids decide to have a secret Halloween party.

The film introduces a few characters, including a gay guy who could have been fun and at least lands this one on the die, gay guy, die! page.

But unfortunately no core group is fully realized because they’re disposed of too quickly!

The only character that matters is the main girl. Luckily for her, some caricature wearing an eye patch comes out of the woodwork with all the answers about how to kill Jack.

While the first film had a nice, lengthy party massacre scene, the sequel falls disappointingly short—Halloween Jack busts into the party, but people run helter-skelter with no real payoff (aka: slaughter). If the goal was to avoid a mere repeat of the first movie’s massacre, then, well…maybe a Halloween party shouldn’t have been the focus of the movie again.

There’s a good body count, a number of meta references to other horror movies, and several scenes that seem to pay homage to John Carpenter films, but overall the film seems to just go through the motions. I much prefer the first film (but of course I’ll buy part 3 if one is made).

THE TRICK OR TREAT PICTURE SHOW (2019)

These days, the goal of trying to bring an 80s throwback feel to indie movies has become a huge cliché, and what’s worse is that most of them fail miserably.

Anthology film The Trick Or Treat Picture Show goes for the VHS tape vibe big time visually—the film quality is definitely hurting—and it’s drenched with 80s style synth music. However, it’s also padded with so many “intermissions” it gets annoying…not to mention, these clips look like they came from the 1960s, not the 80s.

The other big problem…the stories. Most don’t seem to bother to end. They go absolutely nowhere, an intermission begins, and then a different story starts and you’re left wondering why the previous one never concluded!

A few of the stories are even done documentary style…as in, a character is interviewed and essentially tells a story. There’s no actual visual story.

There is a total Michael Myers rip-off, and one of the documentary stories gets into the Amityville house a little, but none of that is enough to make this worth watching. Also important to note—the stories aren’t particularly Halloween themed despite the title. There’s more Halloween spirit during the intermissions.

ONE NIGHT IN OCTOBER (2017)

This anthology tries to interweave stories in the same universe, a la Trick r Treat.

However, it not only never ties them in fluidly, it also jumps back and forth between storylines throughout rather than focus on one tale at a time. And only one tale really relates specifically to Halloween.

One story follows two couples—straight and lesbian—that have car trouble after strolling through a cornfield, and begin getting hunted down by a scarecrow killer.

Another tale has a woman who just moved into a new home decorating her house for Halloween when she suddenly falls victim to home invaders in masks.

The third story barely feels like a story—just a guy and girl seemingly hashing out their relationship troubles—until it eventually presents a sudden horror element late in the film.

There are a few twists in the stories, but overall there’s nothing frightening or suspenseful here, and the way the stories progress is a little messy.

PUMPKINS (2018)

The title and plot make this an October movie, but not specifically a Halloween film, since the holiday is not referenced.

An old man protective of his garden is harassed and dies in his pumpkin patch.

His appreciative vines then resurrect him as a pumpkin-headed killer.

It’s not enough that he goes around killing random people camping in the woods, but the pumpkins from his patch also roll around chasing and killing victims.

It’s kind of goofy fun (for instance, there’s pumpkin POV), and there are some okay kills along the way, but overall the film and the characters run around aimlessly. For instance…the movie ends when the pumpkins simply decide to return to their home…leaving a whole bunch of the cast behind…and alive!

INTO THE DARK: UNCANNY ANNIE (2019)

Paul Davis, director of The Body, last year’s Halloween installment of the Hulu Into The Dark series, brings us a much less edgy, less unique, and less gory Halloween flick this year.

Uncanny Annie is generic teen horror stuff.


Cute, but inexcusable to dress for Christmas on Halloween…

Kids play a spooky board game on Halloween, get pulled into the game, and are terrorized by Uncanny Annie and her killer friends.

Basically the group dies off one by one as each player encounters the creepy figures drawn on the cards they select while playing.

And in true PG-13 horror fashion circa 2005, ghost girl Annie is pale-faced and riddled with cheesy flicker effects.

It’s serviceable if your itching for the familiar, but there’s nothing truly frightening happening here. I do love the title though.

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It’s Prime time for some indie werewolf flicks

Good or bad, once in a while I need a werewolf fix. So…were these four I watched on Amazon prime good or bad?

BONEHILL ROAD (2017)

The first werewolf film up is the second film I’ve covered from director Todd Sheets in the past few weeks. While I didn’t love Clownado, I’ve been looking forward to Bonehill Road.

Here’s the catch. This is like two different horror films in one. The werewolves, which are wicked cool old school costumes and not CGI, barely play a part in the film until the last half-hour.

Before that, this is a sleazy, low budget psycho killer movie. A mother and daughter attempt to run away from mom’s abusive man, crash their car when they hit a “wild animal” on the road, and end up in a house in the middle of nowhere.

They encounter Linnea Quigley and a couple other girls being tortured and terrorized. This captivity segment is the bulk of the film until finally…the werewolves bust in!

For me the werewolf segment was so much fun, complete with a practical effects transformation.

And while I appreciate the approach of mixing genres, I just couldn’t get into the torture and gore part of the film that preceded it.

CARNIVORE: WEREWOLF OF LONDON (2017)

There’s not much substance to this werewolf flick, and that’s fine by me. A couple goes to a cabin in the woods, has a lot of sex, and is watched then terrorized by a werewolf.

The woman looks like Selma Blair.

The guy is one of a kind and so damn hot, with a bald head, a beautiful, huge honker you could ride all night, and a tight bod.

The shots of chest and butt are just icing on the cake.

  The nose is the cake. Mmm. I just want to deep throat that big piece of perfection.

Anyway, the film initially feels like a suspenseful slow burn, with some effective flashes of the werewolf lurking around the house and peering through the windows. Unfortunately, that happens over and over and over, making the brief 82-minute length feel longer.

Eventually the couple starts to battle the beast, and while it’s great to have a costume werewolf instead of CGI werewolf, the beast is not as cool looking once we finally see it in full light.

There are barely any kills, but there is some nice gore when the werewolf does claim victims. Finally, the initial twist is obvious, however the film takes an unexpected turn at the end and even has a fun final scene.

WEREWOLVES OF THE THIRD REICH (2017)

Director Adam Jones is one of those prolific horror directors I’ll always check out because I’ve enjoyed some of his previous films, even if not every one of them. Werewolves of the Third Reich falls into the latter category.

I’m not sure what the thought process was behind this film, but when I tell you a majority of it is all talk with no werewolf action, if you don’t believe me and watch anyway, I say in advance… “Told ya!”

So what’s all the talk about? How am I supposed to know? I got bored and tuned most of it out. But there are Nazis, Americans, and a crazy scientific plot. There’s some talk between military men about racism in the military. And finally, 65 minutes in, there’s an injection and some cool old school transformation…into a semi-werewolf.

Before the end there are a few more semi-werewolves, and at least a little gore. You just have to decide if it’s worth sitting through all the talk to get to this bit of horror excitement. Personally, I’d rather just watch a hairier werewolf movie.

IRON WOLF (aka: Werewolf Terror) (2013)

More Nazi scientists making werewolves! They only do it in the opening scene and feed the thing some humans. It’s quite funny watching someone off-screen throws buckets of blood at the actor.

Then it’s modern day, and a punk band wants to have a concert in an old Nazi lab. Yeah…that Nazi lab.

Aside from too much exploration time at the beginning, once the leader singer opens the vaults and lets out a dude in a cheesy werewolf costume and Nazi uniform, I felt like I was catapulted back to the eighties.

It might not fly with anyone born after like 1990, but this is the kind of low budget werewolf crap I grew up with, and I loved every minute of it—the uneven acting, the poor lighting, the awesomely mediocre special effects, and a group of stupid kids running around getting slaughtered.

And don’t turn it off when the end credits start to roll, because the movie keeps going.

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Twice touched by Tara

I figured I’d make this a double feature blog since Tara Reid appears in both films—neither of which is a Sharknado movie. What The Fields and The Art of the Dead also have in common is that Tara Reid is barely in either of them, but gets top billing because she was in American Pie and Urban Legend twenty years ago.

THE FIELDS (2011)

I went in blind, so when the words “based on true events” flashed across the screen at the beginning of The Fields, I was immediately expecting to be completely uninterested.

But soon after Tara Reid drops off her son to live with his grandparents on their farm, my interest was piqued. We say goodbye to Tara for most of the film, and Cloris Leachman steps in to save the day with her performance as the grandmother. I can’t imagine who thought it made sense to have Tara Reid in the opening scene of a movie starring Cloris Leachman.

I was hooked once it became clear the film takes place during the Manson family trial. The boy is fascinated and terrified by the story, which infiltrates his everyday life and magnifies his trauma from having his life uprooted.

On top of that, his grandmother warns him to stay out of the cornfields, he doesn’t listen, and he discovers something horrific.

The film wonderfully builds a creepy slow burn and quite successfully puts us in the boy’s head. We are led to believe something terrifying awaits in the fields, but a lot of what the boy experiences seems surreal, as if he’s imagining it or directing all his fears into horror of his own making.

And that’s where this one can throw horror fans for a loop. It’s a hard film to market because of the approach it takes to make a mystery/thriller feel like horror.

The film becomes more muddied as it progresses rather than clarifying matters, and rather than a mind-blowing climax, it’s tame and grounded in reality, with a disappointing final scene that leads everyone to the field, including Tara. That’s what happens when shit is based on a true story…truth is rarely better than fiction.

ART OF THE DEAD (2019)

A crazy beast, plenty of blood, and cheap, tawdry, somewhat twisted sexual elements are a guarantee in a Rolfe Kanefsky horror movie, so they are always an instant blind buy on DVD for me. After Party Bus To Hell was released last year, I didn’t expect to get another film from him so soon. So…yippee for me!

Art of The Dead delivers bizarre, trashy horror reminiscent of the direct-to-video indies I devoured in the late 80s, and even has a few familiar faces to start things off…Richard Grieco and Tara Reid, of course…without them sticking around long enough to ruin it. However, Tara playing a minor role as an art dealer in this type of film just makes more sense.

The film is about a wealthy family that buys a series of animal paintings at auction…and doesn’t heed a one-eyed priest’s warning about the inherent evil of the art.

There are a few gratuitous gore scenes to warm us up, including one featuring horror daddy John Molinaro, then everyone in the family falls under the spell of the art, which affects each of them in a different way. The good news is it always involves blood and sex.

The hot leading man from Kanefsky’s The Black Room gets weird…after first getting some.

The hot son gets inspired to paint using blood sacrifices for inspiration…while shirtless.

The innocent daughter becomes a slut, the mother begins an affair with a demon beast…

There’s a lot going on here. This is definitely one of Kanefsky’s films that derails a little and also runs a bit too long, but I’m such a fan of his wacky style that I got back on board when all hell breaks loose at the end…including a character entering the world of the paintings and encountering some bizarre creatures.

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DIRECT TO DVD and Streaming: the horror of Andy Palmer

Having seen director Andy Palmer’s films Find Me and The Funhouse Massacre, I added a few more of his films into my watchlist. However, the one I really want to see isn’t readily available yet, but if the rumors I’ve heard about it are true, a whole lot of horror fans are going to want to see it. That’s all I’ll say about that.

Meanwhile, here’s a quick look at two more Andy Palmer films I checked out on Prime.

BADLANDS OF KAIN (2016)

Running 110 minutes, Badlands of Kain is beyond a slow burn—it is repetitively ominous without delivering on its promises until the very end and could have been streamlined to 80 minutes.

The opener alone sets us up for more than we get, with a bitchy wife being put in her place, permanently.

Then we meet two young women on a road trip. The car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, they get towed to a small town, and have to stay overnight. The locals are eerily religious, and one of the girls begins seeing violent situations that aren’t really happening.

Virtually every suspense scene as the film crawls forward leads to a dead end, so we have to wait a long time to find out what’s really going on as the girls kill time in the town. The final twist is okay, but we’ve seen it dozens of times before, and this brings nothing new to the mix.

ALIEN STRAIN (2014)

Again, not one of Palmer’s most original ideas, this is a low budget alien abduction film.

A very cute guy is locked in a mental institution telling his story of what he actually thinks happened to his missing girlfriend when they went into the woods together…

Presented in flashbacks, the film tells the very slow and uninspired story of him trying to find his missing woman…with a little help from one of the girls from Badlands of Kain. There are some simple, alien-esque hallucinations along the way, but the leading man’s visual appeal is mostly what kept me interested, because this isn’t exactly Fire In The Sky.

Eventually the girlfriend returns, but she’s…different. The truth finally comes out when they go back into the woods. It’s the best part of the film, but is also basically spoiled by the cover art.

I definitely prefer Find Me and The Funhouse Massacre over these two. Here’s hoping Palmer’s latest film gets a wide release.

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When all else fails, it’s time to try out some ghosts, killer girls, and demons…

As my horror dry spell continues, I’m jumping around from streaming services to movie channels looking for any horror I may have missed to entertain me. So…did any of these four random finds do the trick?

GHOST LIGHT (2018)

Despite having a notable cast with a lot of comic experience, Ghost Light isn’t the ensemble supernatural comedy you might expect. It has some humor, but the cast is mostly underutilized. For instance, every time Carol Kane suddenly appeared on screen, I was like, “Oh! I forgot she was in this!” Every. Single. Time.

Essentially this is just…um…a ghost-lite film. A group of performers is doing a summer stock production of Shakespeare, and we are immediately introduced to the superstitions that can bring bad luck to a production, or in this case, conjure ghosts. And that’s exactly what happens.

There are some fun, spooky moments with thunderstorms and ghostly apparitions, but the ghost fun takes a long time to really kick in because the film is simply longer than it needs to be.

The climax delivers during the opening night performance, and there’s an unexpected twist, but my favorite part is when one guy is terrorized by a vision of one of the gay guys in the cast.

DOUBLE DATE (2017)

Talk about getting off on the right foot. It’s a horror comedy that starts with a brutal stabbing set to “Only You” by Yaz!

Double Date is about two murderous sisters that need a male virgin for their occult ritual. They set their sights on an awkward husky dude, but his cute, well-meaning buddy becomes the fourth wheel they have to figure a way to work around.

The bromance between the buddies is one of my favorite parts of the film, with the cute buddy being so secure in his masculinity that he is all over his pal while preparing him for his big date.

There are a couple of kills along the way, but the meat of the movie comes when the girls get the guys home and the truth comes out. Shit gets bloody, violent, and campy. There’s even some romance…

A DEMON WITHIN (2017)

This is PG-13 b-movie territory, so if you like girl possessed/exorcised movies with no gore, a typical plot, and cliché scares, this is a halfway decent one to check out. Personally, I had the most fun with it in the final act, when the girl starts writhing, crawling, and having all kinds of possessed playtime.

Before that, it’s a basic movie about a mother and daughter that move into a new house. Something happens when the daughter is home alone, she begins acting weird, a priest comes poking around the house, a doctor the mom is dating starts having flashbacks…

…and the girl goes all possessed on a few people in some seriously cheese “scary” scenes. The one attempt at a jump scare involving a little boy is so bad that only a ten-year-old girl might scream.

Like I said, the final act is the best, but the sudden introduction of a plot point involving a painting is introduced way too late to make sense.

THE FINAL WISH (2018)

The director of Gnome Alone brings us the usual derivative mainstream tween horror–aka, the rut horror queen Lin Shaye has been trapped in ever since making it big. Good for her, but I’d still prefer her trying to write Nancy a hall pass.

Cutie Michael Welch of Z Nation stars as our lead as the clichés begin…

– following a family tragedy, he comes back to the small town he left behind

– everyone from his past is pissed at him

– there’s a love triangle between small-town stereotypes

– he stumbles upon an object that lets him make wishes

– the wishes come true in awful ways

– he rips his hair out trying to stop the madness

– Tony Todd magically appears to reveal the chilling truth to him in an ominously mesmerizing tone of voice

– he has to visit a person locked away because they’ve already been through what he’s going through

– etc., etc.

Seasoned horror lovers might be let down by this one, but if you stick around long enough, you’ll eventually get a few glimpses of a cool demon.

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Giant bugs and familiar faces

Scrounging around cable and streaming services for films to watch with my man over the weekend, I couldn’t have planned a better hubby-safe creature double feature if I tried. He not only laughed, he even stayed in the room through both of them instead of bailing on me like he usually does when I miscalculate how grisly and gruesome my selections will be. Its time for actors we all know battling giant spiders and giant ants!

CAMEL SPIDERS (2011)

Perfect for the SyFy market, this creepy-crawly flick is from Roger Corman, the king of b-horror/sci-fi. If you’ve been watching his films for decades you’ll feel right at home, with the added touch of SyFy quality CGI critters. Now let’s see if I can get through this without accidentally writing camel toe instead of camel spiders.

Apparently deserts are a lot more populated than I realize. Here the military, a group of hiking friends, a teacher and his students, and a diner full of people are all on hand when giant camel spiders come crawling out of the ground looking to jump on human heads and make them explode. All kinds of heads…

We get a good 90 minutes of that kind of action, because the movie doesn’t hesitate in bringing in the camel spider swarm, and it never lets up.

Really, that’s all you need. As a bonus Brian Krause of Charmed is the main military man and C. Thomas Howell is the local sheriff.

The film takes itself rather seriously, so there’s really nothing in the way of humor here.

All the fun comes from the CGI spiders pouncing on every head they can, making them pop in a splatter of CGI blood.

A step above most SyFy creature features, Camel Spiders is still definitely just the foreplay of this double feature.

DEAD ANT (2017)

While I can’t imagine that the makers of this film actually stole anything from Camel Spiders on purpose, there are an odd number of similarities between the two films, from them both being giant critter movies that take place in the desert to specific comments made by characters. Weird.

The super fun heavy metal creature feature comedy no one is talking about, Dead Ant was made for 80s whores like me. A has-been eighties metal band is traveling in a camper to an outdoor music festival in hopes relaunching its popularity. But something wants to relegate the band to a permanent status as a one-power-ballad-hit wonder: giant ants!

The metal band includes the likes of Sean Astin, Jake Busey (who not surprisingly looks most genuinely like a hair band burnout), and sexy Rhys Coiro, who would look hot as hell in his metal garb if it weren’t for that awful hair.

However, it is Tom Arnold who steals the show as their manager. I don’t know if all his lines were written for him or if he did a lot of ad-libbing, but he gets all the best lines, delivered in his usual ADHD style.

There are plenty of campy attacks and goofy gore, the CGI ants are a blast, and the final fight at the festival is a hoot.

Plus, the original metal songs by the movie band rock (especially “Side Boob”).

 

And for people of a certain age (Gen X age), there’s 80s hair band humor, reference to a Pink Panther joke that gives the movie its name, and a montage set to “Cum On Feel The Noize”…however, it’s the original 1973 Slade version, NOT the 1983 Quiet Riot version. And while there are several different cover art designs for the movie, the one above is 80s throwback perfection, and I therefore refuse to acknowledge that any other one exists.

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Time for some masked killer action

This threesome includes a slasher comedy short, a slasher comedy long, and good old backwoods slaughterhouse horror.

REVENGE OF THE SLASHER (2018)

The speed-slasher that opens this short film definitely sets a tone, but that tone quickly shifts into totally campy territory.

The focus is on how both the final girl and the killer pick up the pieces of their lives after their final encounter—she wants to break free of the constraints of the slasher tropes that made her the final girl in the first place, the killer has to deal with the psychological trauma of fucking up and failing to kill her.

It’s a pretty darn clever concept with some funny moments, but it might be a little goofy for some. And despite approaching the meta subgenre from a fresh angle, many of the references made throughout are basically meta tropes two decades after Scream put meta movies on the map. I think the goal now for filmmakers trying to be meta is to find less cliché ways to reference slasher tropes.

THE KILLER IN THE HOUSE (2016)

I absolutely did not expect this little cabin in the woods movie to be as subtly charming as it is. The understated humor does exactly what I was talking about above—it finds some new ways to present meta jokes that in themselves have already become slasher tropes. Plus, the girls in the film really seem to get the tone the film is going for with their delivery.

After an opening kill satisfying enough to keep us watching, we meet a group of girls heading to a cabin in the woods. There is a rather overdone conversation about slashers, but the fact that one of the girls mentions a less obvious one as her fave and takes funny jabs at the flaws of an iconic slasher franchise saves the forced feel.

Killer in the House is definitely guilty of the usual—it runs about 15 minutes longer that it needs to, with much of the dialogue and drama between the girls creating a soap opera of romance scandal. There’s so much girl-on-girl loving going on this could virtually be considered a lesbian horror flick.

But of course a boy shows up to put a stop to all that noise…and to give us gay boys a little something to look at.

Hell, once the masked killer starts taking care of business, even that goes quickly from a whodunit to a “what the frick is going on”?

However, I was sucked in by the unconventional elements and the clever pokes at slasher clichés. Even the reaction to the unexpected twist made me laugh.

THE FARM (2018)

This is one of those movies I went into sort of dreading, simply because there’s never any telling how much torture these human harvesting films are going to subject us to.

The premise is typical. A couple is driving through the country. They get to an area where everyone they meet is fucking weird—stranded driver, locals at a diner, gas station attendant, hotel clerk.

How many movies have to be made before these dumb asses learn that if everyone you meet on a road trip is a weirdo, it’s a given that they’re all related and planning to make you dinner?

The Farm doesn’t even bother with too much character development. We get just enough talk between the couple before they find themselves in cages being brutalized by hillbillies in overalls and animal masks while other caged humans around them are being slaughtered.

There’s some good gore and there are a few fucked up scenes, but beyond the shock value scenes, this film is basically the farm animal version of Planet of the Apes. This is what we put the piggies, cows, sheep, and even baby lambs through, and it makes you realize how detached from humanity you need to be to treat living creatures this way. It’s the very reason I try my best not to use products that require animal parts (which is virtually impossible) and rarely eat meat anymore. Hell, these days I practically live on fruits, veggies, soymilk, (chocolate covered) nuts, and eggs (or as my vegan friend calls them…chicken abortions). Just the other day I corrected my hubby when he almost didn’t grab the cage-free eggs in the grocery store. Then I pointed to the much more depleted stack of cheaper, non-cage-free eggs and sadly said, “Like I’m making any difference when everyone else is just going for those anyway.”

Although this is what haters will probably call a “liberal propaganda film”, if the message goes right over your head (hard to imagine it would once you see the in-your-face still shot at the end), there’s actually some good stuff to enjoy here from a horror perspective. In particular, the long cat and mouse in the final act is one of the most suspenseful and satisfying chases I’ve seen in a horror flick in a while.

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PRIME TIME: when nothing is as it seems

Well, none of the next three films on my Amazon watchlist quite delivered what I expected. Was I disappointed in what I did get? Let’s find out.

THE DEVIL’S RESTAURANT (2017)

While not the most original concept—think Little Shop of Horrors—I was feeling what The Devil’s Restaurant promised at first.

A man makes a deal to sacrifice a demon in his restaurant basement in exchange for growth in his business.

Things are going smoothly—he simply brings it the most obnoxious, pain in the ass customers. But then a waiter catches on to what he’s doing, so the staff comes up with a plot to expose his nasty secret. What could go wrong?

The Devil’s Restaurant is mildly quirky and has some humorous moments with plenty of shenanigans, but it’s not quite as engaging or unique as the premise could be, and begins to drag.

Aside from not having enough really good humor, the horror elements are also lacking. And while I like not seeing what the victims are being sacrificed to at first (we just see blood splatters), but when we eventually are, it’s simply not the ominous threat you may have imagined.

SUBURBAN COVEN (2018)

I can’t quite figure out what audience this film is going for. I won’t dwell on it because despite being called Suburban Coven, this movie is virtually witch-free until the last few minutes.

An incredibly unnecessary 110 minutes long, it’s the story of a couple that gets into a car accident, moves into a new house after they recover, and run into marital problems because the husband can’t get it up for the wife.

This is mostly about their lack of a sex life and the approaches they take to fixing the problem.

They go to a sex therapist, all the neighboring couples seem to be into weird sexy stuff, and eventually, like I side, there’s a twist and the afterthought reveal: “Look! It’s witchcraft!”

HALLOWEEN HORROR TALES (2018)

I haven’t added this low budget anthology to the holiday horror page because as I suspected, it has nothing to do with Halloween. That’s just a buzz horror word slapped onto anthologies like these in hopes of sparking interest.

So taking this one on its own merits as an anthology film, what does it have to offer? For starters, having a plain girl standing in the woods introducing each story is as low budget as it gets. In the end, her presence is explained, but that doesn’t make her wraparound appearance any better for a horror anthology.

1st story – Would you believe it’s a killer clown story? He targets a particular house during the day, and it’s what you would expect from a low budget slasher. There’s some fun camerawork, but I seriously laughed out loud during a ridiculous scene of a girl dancing around a table to stay away from his knife.

2nd story – Not a bad plot for a little indie anthology short. A scream queen being interviewed by a horror host disparages her fan base. Big mistake.

3rd story – This is silly fun. A woman plants killer vines in her garden. Expect numerous scenes of floral garland being wrapped around victims’ throats, along with screaming flowers.

4th story – I kind of like this story of an investigator in a small town, where locals believe a vampire is on the loose. It’s low budget and takes place mostly in daylight, but I found a few scenes eerily effective and the vamp gave off a classic vibe.

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