An impulse buy, a Prime flick, and a premium channel feature made this a marathon that was all over the map. So let’s get to it.
HELL FEST (2018)
The director of Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension goes for a sleek, post-Scream era teen slasher, and as obvious as it all is, I can’t get enough of this type of retro thrill ride.
Truth is, despite the polish, this movie is a carbon copy of numerous low budget indies about kids going to a Halloween haunted attraction. In other words, between the fun kills we get an excessive number of cheap scares courtesy of footage of the kids going through the attraction. Even the first introduction to the park feels like the attraction intro scene in Blood Fest.
The bonus here is that what could easily be a tween PG-13 flick ups the ante with some kick ass, brutal and gory death scenes. And going against the usual template, Hell Fest surprises by making the bitch the main girl instead of who we’d expect—Bex Taylor-Klaus of MTV’s Scream.
Yeah, I was bummed, but if I want to see her kicking killer ass, I might as well just watch Scream again, including season 2 if they would release that fucker on DVD finally.
The final girl does have some horror experience though, because it’s Amy Forsyth of Channel Zero, Torment, and A Christmas Horror Story. Also on hand is horror hottie Christian James of Dorchester’s Revenge: The Return of Crinoline Head. We even get a little Tony Todd action.
The only thing that’s missing, considering Halloween is mentioned at the beginning, is any sign of the holiday! If you reference Halloween as the time of year in your movie, it’s a requirement that you prove it, dammit. This one barely deserves to be on the holiday horror page.
FAMILY POSSESSIONS (2016)
Tommy Faircloth, the director of the Crinoline Head movies and Generation Ax, takes a more serious tone with Family Possessions…sort of.
The main plot is a haunted house movie.
A family inherits a house from the husband’s mother, but it’s actually left solely to our main girl…his daughter. She doesn’t even want to live there, especially when she begins having cheap scare encounters with a corpse-like granny.
EEK! But I actually think her little brother gets the more effective scare scene (especially since hers are repetitive “dream” or hallucination sequences).
She begins to unravel a mystery of her grandmother with the help of a new friend she makes. It seems a ghost has an axe to grind. Actually, a meat cleaver to grind.
It’s a turn I didn’t mind the film taking since I’m just not into all the ghost movies these days that are about as scary as an episode of Scooby Doo.
Meanwhile, the horror cameos add the humor. Felissa Rose is fun as the white trash mother of the friend, and Mark Patton of Elm Street 2 is a hoot as a bitchy queen at the coffee shop, landing this one on my die, gay guy, die! page. Watch out for the total tongue and scream nod to his most famous horror role.
The kills are cheesy, gory fun, but the film definitely could lose about 25 minutes of run time. 110 minutes wasn’t necessary for this type of midnight movie (okay, for most movies—you know me), and hacking off a nice chunk of it would have really tightened up the pacing.
DOWN A DARK HALL (2018)
I’m always excited for a movie adaptation of one of the books from Lois Duncan, my favorite teen author (I Know What You Did Last Summer, Summer of Fear, Killing Mr. Griffin). Down a Dark Hall is one of my favorite books by her, and was actually the first one I read back in junior high. It’s my least favorite movie adaptation.
A juvenile delinquent still not over the death of her father is sent to a school for girls by her mother. This huge school building in the middle of nowhere has a minimal staff…and only five students! Plus, head mistress Uma Thurman says a particular hall to the other end of the building is off limits (aka: runaway from that school as fast as you can).
A majority of the film is about the girls honing their artistic skills while the main girl becomes convinced something weird is going on. She’s right.
Despite the movie mostly boring me, it’s a remarkably faithful adaptation of the awesome source material plot…minus the cheesy modern day possession faces they throw in at the end of the film, which actually save it from being a totally boring film.