Can you believe it has been twenty years since we entered a new millennium? It was a great time for horror…simply because we were leaving 90s horror behind! Unfortunately, you wouldn’t know that by most of the movies I picked for this post.
William Malone, the director of 80s sci-fi horror flicks Scared to Death and Creature, jumped back into the horror biz with the remake of House on Haunted Hill in the new millennium and followed it with this disastrous movie.
I don’t blame the direction, I blame the script. Ringu had already been made, and The Ring remake was due out any day, so this film should have been notable for jump-starting the 21st century with modern tech horror about a killer ghost girl reaching victims through the internet rather than a VHS tape. Unfortunately, it fails to exploit the trendy convenience in a way that makes us fear its dark side…at all.
Udo Kier is wasted in an opening kill in which he sees a little girl playing with a big white ball on a subway track and attempts to save her. I’ll also take this moment to mention that Jeffrey Combs is also wasted in a minor background role as a detective at the precinct where our leading man works….
Stephen Dorff is a detective investigating a series of deaths in which the deceased look frozen in fear. He has the help of a Department of Health worker who believes there might be some sort of virus at work.
As they investigate, we are bombarded by flashy clips of a psychotic serial killer, played by Stephen Rea, who tortures his victims before killing them. We also see more victims getting a glimpse of the little girl with the ball before dying.
It all leads to a sinister internet site that has a snuff vibe to it. Those who visit it die 48 hours later. The woman responsible for examining the computers of the deceased suffers paranoid delusions (mostly swarms of bugs chasing her) before seemingly committing suicide. Dorff and the health woman both visit the site and experience the same.
Eventually it all ties in to one of Rea’s victims, who is getting her revenge on those who get off on live torture and death through the internet.
It’s a cool idea. It’s a really cool idea. But nothing gels, there’s no sense of urgency, there are no scares, having a detective as the main character instead of an everyday person creates a disconnect with the audience, and there’s no clear evil threat. This dead woman is never defined as a scary ghost girl like Samara, and we don’t find out until the end that she’s more of a threat than Rea.
THE MANGLER 2 (2002)
There’s no telling why they waited seven years to make a non-related sequel to a film based on a Stephen King short story, but this silly teen horror flick is so 2002 direct-to-DVD. All accept the continuous techno soundtrack, which sounds so 1994.
A computer whiz is sent by her rich, inattentive father to a private school run by Lance Henriksen. Almost immediately she and a handful of other students are assigned to stay on campus while most of the other kids go on a field trip.
Our bored main girl (has she not seen the guys at the pool?) decides to mess with the computers and accidentally hacks into the school’s new security system, inadvertently implanting a killer virus that basically takes over all the wiring around campus and starts killing what few students are around.
Like, the wiring not only controls electronic things, it literally picks up hedge clippers and axes to hack people up.
The sad part is all the kills happen off screen! Yawn.
Pulsing techno beats chase us through the film as the security system chases the kids through the school right up until the end, when the main girl discovers an actual person has been enmeshed with all the wiring. Once again, it feels like 1994.
Two highlights for me in this mess: a) a Black dude says “Suck the crack of my black ass”. Delicious. b) Lance Henriksen quotes a line from a Spice Girls song. Spicy delicious.
THE MANGLER REBORN (2005)
Ignoring the second film, the third film pretends to be a direct sequel to the first film.
Now it seems that the machine that chased and devoured people in the first film has possessed a blue collar worker, and he has to feed it in order to stay alive.
Mostly contained within his house, the film begins with him going on a job and abducting Aimee Brooks of Monster Man, one of my favorite horror comedies.
He takes her back to his place and locks her in a room—I guess the machine has a feeding time.
Meanwhile, Reggie Bannister of Phantasm and his young buddy make the mistake of burglarizing the guy’s house.
But when they realize women are being held captive there, they become the good guys, determined to free them.
It’s a simple little cat and mouse film that, oddly enough, reminded me of Texas Chainsaw Massacre in a way. Not the best flick out there, but there’s some suspense, the guy playing the killer is pretty ominous, and the scenes of the machine devouring people are gory good.
THE LAST WINTER (2006)
I’m not sure what director/actor Larry Fessenden was going for with this environmental horror flick, but what he ended up with was a poor man’s The Thing where absolutely nothing happens until the last ten minutes or so.
A team is sent to a base in the arctic to see if the area is okay for drilling. They spend the whole film arguing over whether or not to report that it is when it’s actually not. Meanwhile, some people go missing, and one guy who walks out at night in a comatose state while naked is the highlight of the film. Nice booty.
Eventually a major accident pushes a few guys to weather the weather to go for help. I don’t know if people are supposed to be seeing things, communicating with aliens, communicating with ghosts or what, but eventually we are presented with what looks like…a giant CGI moose?
The cast includes Ron Perlman, James LeGros, and Connie Britton, but don’t let any of them be a reason for watching this one.
DARD DIVORCE (2007)
This 75-minute movie isn’t so much a horror movie as it is a low budget splatterfest with what feels like a mob plot. In other words, if it weren’t for the great gore, some, delicious male nudity, and even some twisted queer torture that lands it on the does the gay guy die? page, I would have recommended skipping it.
We get some not so necessary background about this woman—her parents were immigrants, she got pregnant at 14, and now she’s an alcoholic. All that really matters is that she goes to pick her kids up from her ex and finds him dying and mumbling something about the kids being taken.
Next thing we know, she’s abducted, tied up, and tortured by a guy who says he doesn’t believe the ex is dead and demands to know “where the money is”. And that’s the plot. This guy tortures her brutally, and then another guy comes and rescues her. The handsome “hero” gets naked and hacks up the first dude’s body in a tub. Mad respect to this dude for just letting it all hang out. Hot. He earns this film a spot on the stud stalking page.
Then we get flashbacks of more torture with partial leather drag and a dude in chains and a gimp mask. All for the money.
Then it’s back to the woman being mutilated while her abuser demands the money! Indeed, it’s just an hour plus of torture to find out why a woman’s ex had money and why everyone wanted it.