As the horror movie choices continue to dwindle due to COVID, I rounded up this foursome of very different subgenres. Let’s get right into them.
BAD HAIR (2020)
Bad Hair weaves the Asian girl hair horror of the early 2000s into a story of the trials and tribulations of being a Black girl in the new jack swing era of the late 80s. Although it takes a little too long establishing the main girl’s everyday life predicaments before getting to her horror woes, once it does, it’s a fricking blast and definitely one I’ll be adding to my collection if it’s released on disc.
While so many horror indies these days try desperately to capture the look and feel of the early 80s and fail miserably, this movie absolutely nails the transition from the 80s to the 90s. I felt like I was on the set of In Living Color or House Party.
A woman working at a music video station wants so badly to be up in front of the camera as a VJ. When the channel is sold, her new boss, played deliciously by Vanessa Williams, tells her she needs to get her hair done.
She goes for a weave, and none other than a very bewitching Laverne Cox does the job.
Although the first half hour or so of the film is slow, the use of camerawork to convey feelings, actions, and sense of space is fantastic. As Laverne goes to work on her head, you can virtually feel her pain as it is gruesomely threaded in.
And then her troubles begin. It starts with her scalp hurting. Then she has horrific dreams. And then…her hair gets a mind of its own and the killing commences!
Despite being about long black hair going for the jugular, the concept here is quite fresh and perfectly executed with both freaky horror and laugh-out-loud humor.
Vanessa Williams rules, and the cast also includes James Van Der Beek, Blair Underwood still looking gorgeous with silver hair, Usher, and Kelly Rowland as a famous singer.
And I’ll just say that her videos and songs look and sound right out of 1989 and I totally want them on CD.
Nocturna feels like a vampire TV show that wouldn’t have made it more than two episodes before being canceled. It’s also a reminder that I have no use for movies about monster clans feuding with each other.
It’s Christmas time, which is irrelevant to anything in this film, so I don’t know why that choice was made. A hot detective team becomes embroiled with a vampire clan that promises to protect them if they help hunt down the enemy vampire clan.
Johnathon Schaech is one of the vampires, and he stands around looking smug like, I’m getting paid for this shit because I’m the most well-known actor in it.
Then the movie drags and drags and drags.
Of course the two hot detectives get sucked deeper into the lives of the vampires before the big final battle, which once again feels like a really cheesy vampire show—most likely on SyFy—that wouldn’t last more than a season.
WICKED ONES (2020)
I’m a big fan of The Wicked One and it’s gritty, low budget, retro vibe, so when I heard the sequel was coming, I had mixed feelings. Yay because the Wicked One is back for more, but uh-oh because sequels to indie movies tend to be a bit less inspired than the original.
I’ll say right up front what disappointed me here. Two kids murder their family after being inspired by the Wicked One serial killer.
They get locked away for ten years, then break out and return to the same town…serving as the Wicked One’s crazy accomplices! Say what? Too many killers sure do spoil the effect of a lone, mysterious, masked killer.
The other disappointment for me is that the film doesn’t take place on Halloween. Copycat killers and the real killer would most likely kill on the anniversary of the original murders, and the first film was a Halloween horror film! This is just some random day.
The surviving couple from the first movie now has a son and daughter. The son is in a band and is playing a gig, so the whole family attends. We’re subjected to way too much raw footage of the band playing while everyone in the audience dances to the beat of entirely different songs. That really drives me nuts in movies.
For a while we get a serviceable slasher—kids at the gig go off to have sex, the killers hack them up with practical gore effects. Yay!
Things shift gears when the main characters are abducted, tied up, and terrorized by the brother and sister killers, the brother played by indie horror king Jason Crowe.
At the same time, the mother sees a ghost that warns her of the killer’s return, so a rescue party is formed to go save the kids. There are also flashbacks to fill in the Wicked One’s backstory. There is too much going on and it loses that special something the first film delivered. And don’t even ask me what’s going on here.
BABY FRANKENSTEIN (2018)
This is virtually a family movie, and it’s quite fun for a simple indie with the most basic plot and a charming cast of characters. And this is a Halloween movie, so it gets a slot on my holiday horror page.
The comparisons to E.T. are warranted. A young man and his mom move into a new house and he finds a little green guy up in the attic.
He and his girlfriend spend the film trying to keep “Baby Frankenstein” hidden from the mother’s jerk boyfriend, who wants to capture him for a handsome reward.
They show Baby Frankenstein the town: taking him bowling, playing ball, shopping with him for a Halloween costume, and of course trick or treating on Halloween night as the mom’s boyfriend and his sidekick give chase.
It’s goofy, it’s funny, it’s cute, and the actors look like they’re having a good time not trying too hard or overacting, which makes them all feel very natural.
Adding to the laid-back vibe is the soundtrack, comprised entirely of songs by awesome new wave band Death Valley Dreams. They will definitely be getting played on my Future Flashbacks show.