Halloween Horrors for 2019

It’s that time of year, and on top of any Halloween horror titles I’ve already added to the full holiday horror page this year, here’s my rundown of a handful more new ones to add to your October watchlist.

HALLOWEEN PARTY (2018)

Running less than forty minutes long, this holiday horror short is a good warm-up for your main features. It’s loaded with Halloween atmosphere and takes place in 1995, so there are plenty of Easter eggs from the 90s to keep an eye out for.

A bit of a slow burn carried by the lead’s intriguing performance, the film focuses on a guy preparing for a Halloween party…yet the only person who shows up is someone he didn’t invite…

It’s quite deceiving because you really don’t know what you’re in for or where the film is heading, but there are plenty of mysterious moments along the way to keep us guessing.

In the end it’s a low-key denouement and feels like a Tales from the Crypt zinger, but there is definitely plenty here to satisfy horror fans.

POSSESSION DIARIES (2019)

It looks like another one of those low budget camera POV/possession type movies…which is exactly what it is…but it’s also a Halloween film!

Possession Diaries manages to deliver more Halloween atmosphere than many Halloween horrors that are pumped out every year. That’s mostly because it takes place during the week leading up to Halloween, entirely in one bedroom all decked out for the holiday.

As far as horror movies go, it’s fairly generic. Weird stuff goes on in this girl’s bedroom after she uses a Ouija board, so she starts a live feed to document it. While most of the footage comes from the computer camera’s POV, the film smartly takes the liberty of breaking webcam POV mode when it wants the flexibility to deliver more of a story.

For instance, the girl has nightmares, obviously not caught on camera, which are some of the best “scary” scenes in the film, including a deliciously devilish demon sequence that was my second favorite part of the film.

My first was a suspenseful little scene that makes great use of a Jack ‘o lantern.

Oh! The opening scene, while not even necessary to the plot, also has a good creepy moment.

Anyway, the lead girl talks to the camera a lot, interacts with a few people who come into her room, gets numerous weird phone calls, and eventually starts acting strange. An hour into the movie there’s even a sudden, brief exorcism! Considering the title, I guess it was a necessary evil (or casting out of evil). But honestly, the half hour after that scene is rather anticlimactic.

CANDY CORN (2019)

This one comes to us from the director of Honeyspider, another Halloween horror movie. I had to go read my blog about that film because I couldn’t remember it at all. Not even the blog helped refresh my memory much beyond me being disappointed in the film.

The same is the case here—and I fricking blind purchased the dang Blu-ray of this one! Candy Corn is definitely more polished with good Halloween atmosphere, an effectively crafted score, and even classic Carpenter’s Halloween fonts for the opening credits.

Plus, it features plenty of horror veterans, including Pancho Moler (31, 3 From Hell, American Fright Fest) as a carnival leader, Malachai from the original Children of the Corn refreshingly in a starring role as the sheriff, and PJ Soles and Tony Todd, both in throwaway cameos.

To me, Candy Corn feels like another generic Halloween slasher with a sort of scarecrow corpse killer taking down victims. The kills are not particularly gory, suspenseful, or creative, and even the concept of the killer filling their throats with candy corn is not fully realized. And the film becomes repetitive: there’s a kill, the sheriff examines the crime scene, the main group of kids in the movie worries what this could mean for them, rinse and repeat.

The main group of kids is a bunch of bullies planning to prank an odd kid their leader refers to as a faggot. It’s astounding that writers can’t resist using that derogatory term just for the hell of it. Sure it might be realistic that jerks would throw that word around, but filmmakers don’t have to follow what culture dictates—they can also be leaders in not propagating toxic culture.

The prank plot is a bust, the odd kid ends up dead, and the carnival owner brings him back to life as a vengeful scarecrow corpse killer.

And there lies my biggest disappointment. I don’t care enough to be scared. The bullies deserve to die. My moral compass won’t let me feel anything for them. There’s simply no one for me to root for in this film except the killer. And I don’t like rooting for killers when I sit down to watch a scary Halloween movie.

SCARIEST NIGHT OF YOUR LIFE (2018)

This haunted Halloween attraction film, shot found footage style, takes its time getting to the best part (the last twenty minutes), which to me, is fricking awesome. Sadly, the film is loathed by Amazon reviewers that probably didn’t bother reaching the end.

Compared to a majority of found footage films out there that are painfully boring until the last few minutes (I won’t even mention the agonizing queen of found footage films), this one at least keeps us occupied with a tour through a pretty damn atmospheric haunted attraction.

For Halloween, a small group of friends goes to a secluded, unadvertised extreme haunt. There’s definitely too much pointless banter between them before they even get to the haunt—just like every other damn found footage film—but this is what makes it feel like we are actually there with a group of friends.

The film does something I think is brilliant. It makes the haunt feel surprisingly tame and disappointing. Just like a real group of friends, this group chats with the haunters in costume, mocks them, and complains about how lame the haunt is. The weirdest thing they experience is some geek who keeps catching up to them wanting to join them.

Once we have our guard down, things start to ramp up. The kids go from one kill room to the next, and the haunt performers become increasingly weird and immersed in their stories as they torture and kill victims. It becomes so real and the rooms feel so genuine that some of the kids want to bail.

I personally loved the final act of this film. As the kids try to get out, the footage is claustrophobic, the sets are grisly, they run into some freaks we hadn’t seen earlier, the lack of any score makes it feel like we are trapped in the tight spaces with them, and there’s a clown—one of the most played out baddies of the genre—who is creepy as fuck in a very different ways for a change. The actor is perfect.

And the final frame? Well, it’s a clever little zinger that actually made me giggle. I’d take Scariest Night of Your Life over The Houses October Built and its sequel any day.

HAUNT (2019)

Finally it’s time for the overhyped hit of the season thanks to Eli Roth’s producer stamp of approval and it being co-directed by the writer and the producer of A Quiet Place, which is on my list of most overrated flicks of this decade.

Haunt is the haunted attraction flick for those horror fans that demand sleek, polished, mainstream horror.

The opening scene will remind die-hard fans of the original Elm Street for various reasons, and the next scene of a festive house getting hit by a pumpkin while a TV inside is airing the usual—Night of the Living Dead—definitely gets you in the Halloween spirit.

Then we meet a group of kids heading to a haunted attraction. Rather than the usual haunted attraction filled with haunters jumping out at them, this one mostly involves the kids weaving their way through various mazes and stupidly following instructions on signs to do things like sticking their hand in a hole in a wall. Silly kids. That’s what dicks are for.

This goes on for the first forty-five minutes before the fun finally kicks in. What to say? It’s definitely entertaining in a total pop horror way.

All the jump scares rely entirely on loud orchestral stingers, the gruesome gore makes up for that fact, the haunters that pursue them are effectively ominous, and the battle to the death is a blast. Also, some fans might appreciate that the film sticks to serious, never trying to inject humor into the mix.

I love that the final girl goes through serious hell, but it astounds me that seasoned horror filmmakers would use an absurdly overused cliché like the ***SPOILER*** old switcheroo—she kills one of her own friends who has been thrust in her direction with a baddy’s mask on. Ugh. Really?

Meanwhile, the final “revenge” scene is so ridiculous that I can’t even bother being annoyed by it. This movie just is what it is and will probably become a “classic” while loads of similar indie films fade into obscurity.

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PRIME TIME: the dead walk, and walk, and walk, and walk, and run

It’s a five flesh eater flick marathon from my Amazon Prime watchlist. Are any of them worth a zombie-lover’s time?

DEATH WALKS (2016)

Even my hubby was intrigued by the story behind this one; a zombie movie made over the course of three years without spending a cent. It’s a bit manipulative that Death Walks informs us of its development story before the opening credits, and also lists the awards it has won at film festivals. For instance, as soon as the score began seconds later I said out loud, “Well, I can see why it won for best original music.”

It was a challenge to stick with the film at first. We are introduced to an excessive number of characters bumming around as they close up shop in a mall after business hours. I don’t think the slow burn approach builds tension quite like it intends.

Finally the zombies start suddenly appearing. They’re not gnarly or rotting, they just have prominent veins on their faces. They’re not slow or fast moving, they just stand there as motionless groups.

It’s actually incredibly effective, especially scenes in which they seem to inexplicably teleport closer and closer to victims, or when characters carefully weave between them.

Thing is, we rarely see people attacked. It’s most often cutaway moments with a scream, and then we just see a dead body lying there.

While the film is well made, there are some issues. Numerous times cutaway scenes leave out chunks of explanation. For instance, a scene of several people trying to escape via a ladder implies that the first one up is sliced by a huge fan that blocks the path, but the next thing you know, the others have somehow magically made it to the top of the ladder. Also, the purpose of many of the characters being there is not explained. They’re just there. And despite them knowing these things are dangerous, at times the characters just talk to them like they’re regular humans.

Eventually, we find out how the zombie infection started…sort of. There’s a cool twist even though it’s oddly farfetched, but another twist piled on top of that twist left me and my hubby completely confused.

EPIDEMIC (2018)

This little indie offers a different take on the infected genre, focusing on a small group of people at a party and the birthday girl’s bumpy relationship with her father. It smartly does it all in 71 minutes.

It also surprisingly branches off into unique territory halfway through rather than stick solely with everyone just getting infected and going after each other at the party.

And the guys are cute, I might add.

The infection begins with a not quite clarifying explanation; before going to the party, one girl finds a secret room in her basement and accidentally busts open a bottle of liquid.

By the time she gets to the party, she’s hallucinating and is soon setting off a chain reaction of guests puking on each other. Had the film been 90 minutes long, this thrilling sequence could have been expanded to bring more suspense and scares.

Instead, the movie switches focus to the dad and daughter. As odd a turn as it is, it’s definitely not predictable. My favorite horror moment comes right near the end of the film—even if it is essentially equivalent to a dream sequence.

PROJECT PURGATORY (2010)

During the zombie apocalypse, a big guy is welcomed into a safe house by a group of survivors after they see him single-handedly take down a load of zombies. While the general plot is as derivative as it gets, from the leader of the group having a secret room that is off limits, to a weasel of a survivor looking out only for himself, Project Purgatory plays by its own rules, which makes all its weaknesses its strength.

For starters, it’s not often that a low budget zombie film has barely any undead in it, yet I still find it ridiculously entertaining. What makes this low budget indie such dumb fun is all the infighting between the characters, over-the-top action sequences right out of the WWF, and awkward performances that are perfectly suited to the bad dialogue, offering plenty of humorous moments. Just the fact that the script had characters use the uncommon phrase “for all intents and purposes” THREE times throughout the course of the film adds to the unintentionally comical aspects of the film.

The nontraditional font used for opening credits was enough to catch my interest, and the first battle between the main guys and zombies told me I could expect cheesy good action throughout. There’s even an early zombie encounter that is surprisingly creepy because the zombies can speak–imitating whatever is said to them.

Then comes the good stuff. People begin dying in the safe house, and everyone suspects everyone else, which leads to plenty of confrontations between the stereotypical characters, the absolute best being when all the bitches in the place read each other to filth in the kitchen while pointing guns at one another. Naturally, there are some lesbians jabs while they’re at it.

Which reminds me, there was one dude who delivered some snarky lines at the beginning and seemed totally gay, but sadly, after the early spotlight on him, his character just fades into the background instead of playing a major part.

You finally remember you’re actually watching a zombie movie when they infiltrate the safe house in the last twenty minutes. They make funny moaning and groaning sounds when they fight the numerous burly, beefy guys in the safe house, adding to the camp factor as the film comes to a close.

Hey, I might not ever bother watching this one again, but I have no regrets about seeing it once.

INFECTED (aka: The Dead Inside) (2013)

Considering both the original title and the alternate title are generic, it’s no surprise this movie itself is paint-by-numbers. As a zombie fan, I have no problem with that as long as the film delivers the zombie goods.

While Infected has its moments, there were far too many minutes between them to keep me riveted. I can’t fathom why even the most motivated indie filmmaker would make a total retread of everything we’ve seen in bigger movies…and then drag it out for two hours. That truly is the downfall for me here.

The plot—after the outbreak, kids and military men meet up at the local high school and establish a “safe house” to live in. If you’ve watched The Walking Dead for the good part of a decade—or the uncountable number of zombie flix that have flooded the market since—you’ll guess everything that happens here: interpersonal drama, conflict, supply runs gone wrong, etc.

In between loads of dialogue there are some descent zombie scenes, as long as you’re okay with the shaky cam/quick edit style of fast running zombie movies. There’s some good gore, the zombie makeup is serviceable, and there’s even some suspense. Personally, my favorite zombie scene came 90 minutes into the film—one of those creeping through a dark building with flashlights scenes. Very effective.

The part I could have done without, which would have shaved ten minutes off the run time—not one but two montage scenes of characters killing time set to EMO tracks.

BROADCAST DEAD (2018)

The first 30 minutes of this Asian zombie film that takes place at a TV studio are so cheesy I didn’t expect much, but if you can overlook the agonizing, sappy love story accompanied by awful music, as well as the needless clips of an interviewer and martial artists discussing fighting techniques and weapons of choice, there’s definitely plenty of zombie payoff and gore.

Terrorists infiltrate the studio demanding air time or else they’ll release a deadly virus. Guess what happens accidentally…. Oops!

Honestly, annoying plot points aside, the setting and atmosphere reminded me of the best zombie moments in Romero flicks. Yes, they’re slow zombies, yes the terrorists have a ton of weapons that should guarantee they have the upper hand, but the zombies so outnumber them and surprise attack so much there’s plenty of flesh eating to satisfy.

However, I wasn’t feeling the long monologue by one character about the motivation behind spreading the virus. It closes the film and totally ruins the mood.

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He’s a bad boy, a bad witch, he’ll cast a spell on you, and you’ll like it

While capturing the spirit of 80s and 90s supernatural sillies like My Best Friend Is A Vampire, My Demon Lover, Teen Witch, and My Boyfriend’s Back, Bad Witch goes a bit darker for the horror audience. I’d say they just don’t make them like this anymore, except they do thanks to co-directors Victor Fink and Joshua Land and writer James Hennigan, who also wrote and directed gay horror film Deviance and appears in both films.

Xander (Chris Kozlowski) is a sexy slacker who also happens to be a powerful witch with a bit of a vengeful streak. Although he tries to suppress the urge to cast spells, he falls off the wagon when his roommate (played by Hennigan) pressures him to get a job.

Xander begins working at a diner where he befriends a geeky teen waiter who is harassed regularly by school bullies. Taking the teen under his wing, Xander becomes My Bodyguard with a witch twist.

The pair bonds, Xander shows the teen how to use witchcraft, and before long, their powers get them into heaps of trouble.

This tightly crafted production is a reminder that the talent behind an indie film is equally if not more important than its budget. And for all the indie horror I watch (which is most of the films I watch), I rarely get to gush over the quality of the final product, so away we go!

For starters, the writing is smart and strong; the narrative knows what story it’s trying to tell, and every moment matters. The direction also keeps the film on track—the pacing and energy never falter and scenes flow smoothly and logically.

Both writing and directing are further enhanced by the performances. These aren’t amateur actors just making sure to get their lines right and hit their marks in a scene. The performances are nuanced right down to facial expressions, reactions, and interactions.

Lead actor Chris Kozlowski alone is so natural and charismatic on screen that it will be a travesty if he doesn’t become a star. He’s also pretty as hell, gets shirtless in the film (yay!), and bares quite a resemblance to Cary Elwes of Princess Bride and Saw fame.

Fun and funny with some unexpected twists, Bad Witch even manages to throw in a few nasty and icky parts, usually revolving around Xander’s power and how he uses it to make his enemies miserable. I don’t know how I even managed grabbing this screenshot.

It’s so refreshing to see a male-centric witch film (there are barely any females in the movie–hell, the guys even all seem to have fathers but no mothers) and writer James Hennigan has previously made a gay horror film, but don’t expect much in the way of gay storyline here. The relationship between witch and his apprentice seems to hint at sexual tension (don’t they always?) even though these guys are purely hetero. There’s another hint of gay desire that I was expecting to play a pivotal role in the plot later in the film, but in the end it’s merely glossed over.

As a consolation prize, there are so many guys in the cast there’s a lot to look at. For instance, if I were as powerful a witch as Xander, I’d make sure every guy I met had a bubble butt like this.

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PRIME TIME: an Evil Dead clone, a killer coal miner, and a burning witch

This latest trio of films I checked out on Amazon prime might cover familiar territory, but they definitely gave me some cheap thrills, chills, and gore.

RESTRICTED AREA PLOT NO. 666 (2015)

There are so many horror rip-offs from India on Prime that I usually skip them, but the trailer for this one a) has some awesome Evil Dead demon action, and b) has a stud sent from heaven (to hell).

Those are definitely the two reasons to watch this one. The opening scene does have a disturbing 1970s horror vibe to it before we meet modern day friends on a road trip.

After a close call with a near drug overdose, the group gets into a car accident and ends up at a restricted building that looks very much like the Evil Dead cabin. There are some really unnecessary flashes of demons just to let us know what’s to come so we’ll keep watching.

Next we get to feel ancient, because the group finds a dusty old standard tube television and DVD player, which gives them a little back story on where they are.

There’s an absurd montage of the girls posing in their bikinis by a stream, but the good news is that the stud gets objectified as well, and even his cute buddy gets a sexy shot.

Finally the demon action starts…50 minutes in! It’s total Evil Dead shaky cam with raucous sound, fog machines, and the group slowly being turned one by one and attacking each other.

There’s even an eye scene homage to Fulci’s Zombie. While it’s not as fast-paced as it could be, the way in which this film duplicates the look and feel of the Sam Raimi classic really brought me back. If only the fun had struck before the 50-minute mark.

Finally, there is a rather unexpected twist at the end.

13 SOULS (Diggerz: Black Lung Rises) (2017)

Alas, I much prefer the original title of this film, even better if it were just the subtitle without the “Diggerz” part. Black Lung Rises would have spoken directly to the cheesy revenge slasher this is—and given the killer a memorable name in the process.

A corpse miner (Black Lung) buried alive with a bunch of other miners is supernaturally resurrected and must claim the same amount of victims that were left to die years before. Sort of like My Bloody Valentine meets The Fog.

But don’t expect 13 Souls to live up to either of those classics. For starters, I don’t know if you’re as sick of hearing me say it as I am, but my standard suggestion to indie directors applies here—your horror film should never run two hours long.

The result is the same as always. The film drags, there’s way too much unnecessary talk and character development, and lots of boring investigating, all of which left me losing interest in the characters and story—and just wanting more kills.

Thankfully the film delivers the death scenes. They aren’t exactly scary (for instance, they mostly take place in daylight), but plenty of them are nice and gory. However, the attempts at suspense feel unwarranted because it’s hard to consider the killer ominous; he feels more like a vigilante hero who rightfully deserves to get revenge.

I don’t know that I would recommend sitting through this for two hours, but there were some highlights for me. The sheriff is a sexy stud.

Horror hottie Kerry Beyer plays a priest that shockingly jerks off to naked nun porn instead of kiddie porn.

But the best moment is when a woman pulls into her garage and finishes rocking out to a metal song in her car before heading inside the house.

DEMON EYE (2019)

A young woman comes back to her family home after her hot daddy’s death.

She quickly gets a job as a photographer at the place where her dad was a reporter and cozies up to one of her co-workers.

When she finds an occult necklace, she learns of its back story, which involves a witch burned at the stake.

This is your standard “ghost girl” movie, but if you’re nostalgic for the days of The Ring and The Grudge, it delivers plenty of the creeps and crawls you’d hope for, with the bonus of the bitch being on fire!

Seriously, the Demon Eye might be average, but there are some great little horror sequences sprinkled throughout.

This witch bitch mixes it up, never using the same old trick to scare her targets.


Seriously? When has removing the sheet ever worked out?

Just be warned—if you watch the trailer you will spoil virtually every single effective horror scene in the film.

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PREVIEWS: a Clownado Seeds a Killer Sofa

None of these three upcoming films were fully what I expected, which was a good thing in one case, and not so good in the other two. Let’s take a look.

CLOWNADO (2019)

Todd Sheets has been making horror movies since the 80s, so if you’ve seen any of his films, you know what you’re in for to an extent. For me, his films are hit and miss. Sometimes I like them, sometimes I don’t.

Clownado could have been my thing, but it didn’t work out for me…beginning with the 100-minute length. A clownado just shouldn’t spin for more than 80 minutes at most!

This is one of those low budget indies in which all the actors are caricatures—it’s like watching a local theater group performance. And the film seems to be catering to the gross out gore crowd but ends up exploiting the guts and squishy stuff so much that it becomes redundant and uninspired.

As for the plot, a wife decides to get revenge on her evil clown husband with the help of a spell.

Unfortunately, the spell sucks the husband and all his clown cohorts into a tornado and they come back down as vile murderers. In the meantime, a black Elvis impersonator, a trucker, a stripper, a teenager, and two tornado chasers join forces and must put an end to the madness.

All that wackiness alone does not make for a good midnight movie. Hell, this doesn’t even utilize the “nado” enough to make this as stupid fun as a Sharknado film. Not to mention, if you’re going to ride the wave of Sharknado movies, at least throw in a scene of a shark blowing by and make some bad meta joke about it.

For me, the best part of Clownado involved a waitress and a joke about the 1970s TV show Alice. Well, that and the tits with teeth.

Clownado is available from Wild Eye Releasing.

KILLER SOFA (2019)

While Killer Sofa has gotten plenty of campy attention, what was so satisfying to me is that it isn’t an absurd, “so bad it’s bad so viewers have to pretend that makes it good to justify watching it” production (which might disappoint those looking for exactly that kind of movie).

Instead, Killer Sofa takes the unique approach of mostly taking itself seriously despite being about a killer chair that even has button eyes and a mouth. I say chair because regardless of the title, the first thing I said and continued to say repeatedly throughout the film until a character in the movie finally agreed with me was, “That’s not a couch, it’s a recliner.”

It’s a minor detail except for the fact that the movie is called Killer Sofa. I guess it just sounds better than Killer Recliner.

Anyway, the goofy moments are darkly funny because despite the fact that it’s about a killer recliner, the movie presents itself as a genuine horror film. That’s what’s so satisfying about it; it’s not stupid just for the sake of being stupid. Hell, it even passes up the ass-eating opportunity that’s presented to it.

A young woman buys a recliner from a thrift shop, brings it home, and has some sort of erotic moment while writhing in it. Pretty soon the chair is targeting anyone who gets in between her and it, including her boyfriend (who her friend thinks is gay, although it’s never revealed for certain), a guy who is stalking her, and anyone who tries to help her rid herself of the chair.

The chair moves, chases victims, kills, dumps bodies, and eventually talks, making for an oddly entertaining slasher. The only thing I didn’t much care for was the unnecessarily complicated back story as to how the chair became possessed—including flashbacks. It took away from the basic killer chair plot for me.

Meanwhile, the film gets bonus points for featuring a guy with loads of shoulder hair wearing a tank top.

Killer Sofa coming in time for Halloween month from High Octane Pictures.

SEEDS (2018)

The poster art for Seeds is quite deceiving—despite the fact that the exact image comes to life in the movie.

I guess this could be considered a psychological horror, but for me it’s not a horror movie and not something I would have watched to begin with had I known what I was in for.

The “monster” is essentially symbolic, and we only see its buggy legs a few times and eventually see the whole thing once. It haunts the mind of the protagonist, a man being tempted and/or seduced into having an incestuous relationship with his niece. Really, that is the focus of this slow drama, not the big monster.

So the question becomes, is the monster real? Is he the monster? Is she the monster? Is there more to it than that? Will we ever know when all is said and done?

From a horror lover’s standpoint, it’s really a bummer, because this could have been one cool monster movie.

Seeds is available soon from Dark Star Pictures.

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PRIME TIME: not your usual slasher marathon

It’s a foursome of oddities I came across on Amazon Prime, but I found something to like about most of these slashers.

DERELICT (2017)

It’s all flashlights and narrow halls in a derelict building as three guys are hunted by a creep in a gas mask in this taut flick.

The atmosphere and claustrophobic feeling in Derelict are top-notch, but considering the group that goes exploring the wrong place at the wrong time consists of only three guys, expect a low body count.

Even the confrontations with the killer are few and far between. Much of the focus here is on the mounting tensions between the friends, but they get into plenty of predicaments to keep the film moving.

And it’s definitely worth sticking around for the final act, when the battles with the killer take fresh, unexpected approaches with some devious moments—that are infuriating! There’s also a jump scare you can see coming from a mile away…that scared the fuck out of me!

A KILLER AWAITS (2018)

Sort of a slasher/thriller/mystery mashup, A Killer Awaits is a little goofy and clearly low budget, but the kills are quite fun and there are some moments that looked like they were straight out of a 1970s horror flick.

A dude has a landscaping business, and pretty soon residents on his route begin getting killed. It seems like the killer is purposely targeting people he interacts with.

A pair of detectives is on the case, one believing he’s innocent, the other convinced he’s guilty.

There’s not much more to it than that, and at times it feels like a series of scenes strung together rather than a distinct story arc. But it really is worth it for the death scenes. Just be aware, this is a POV film, so we don’t see the killer, and there’s no mask.

8 BALL CLOWN (2018)

It could be considered a sort of blend of Stitches and Clownhouse, but this gritty, sleazy, low budget movie will probably appease a limited audience. There’s not much going on here beyond a cackling, drug addict clown tormenting, torturing, and killing people…and kids. Yay!

To gives you an idea what you’re in for, the clown abducts and drugs a pregnant woman and then…um…induces labor.

In between his ranting, ramblings, and killing of adults, the clown also seeks revenge on a bunch of kids that taunted him at a party.

If it were a bit more streamlined and shorter than 103 minutes long, focusing only on him terrorizing the kids in their house, 8 Ball Clown would be more my kind of movie. Question is, do I want to watch the sequel that’s already in the works? You so know I won’t be able to control the OCD, so keep an eye out for the blog.

CENTRAL PARK (2017)

Talk about a slasher made for NYers. Central Park focuses on a group of high school teens. One of the boys is coping with the fact that his dad ran a huge Ponzi scheme that has a huge impact on the African-American community.

The kids hang out after school, visit the 9/11 memorial, and then head into Central Park, not knowing they are being stalked by someone wearing a hoodie and a photo of the Ponzi kid’s dad as a mask. It’s held on with clear plastic wrap and it’s damn freaky!

Central Park takes a while to kick in, but as soon as it does, a mesmerizing series of unique kill sequences set it apart from your everyday slasher. The situations keep the movie twisting and turning, and while the characters make some of the dumbest decisions you could fathom, you can forgive because you’re so sucked in by the weirdness that unfolds, and can’t wait until it all becomes clear at the end.

The tragedy of this awesome slasher? Nothing EVER becomes clear. ARGH!

The film even seems to be determined to make several points about class, race, and power, but by the end, it all just feels like incomplete attempts at social commentary.

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Nobody Gets Out Alive when they suffer from Cinemaphobia!

Enthusiastic after my recent discovery of Don’t Look on Prime, I took a chance on two more slashers hoping I’d get lucky again. Will Nobody Gets Out Alive and Cinemaphobia fulfill your slasher needs?

NOBODY GETS OUT ALIVE (2012)

Although the kill scenes are really well done, and some are quite brutal, Nobody Gets Out Alive is about as generic as a slasher plot gets. There are no surprises, for the opening scene and the campfire story trope tell you everything you need to know about who the killer is and what’s about to happen to a group that goes camping in the woods.

When we meet the gang, there’s a whole lot of filler as they road trip to their destination. Naturally there’s a rest stop confrontation and a creep with a warning to stay away, and then eventually we get to the campfire scene.

There’s no inbred freak or psycho in a mask here—just a normal vengeful guy with sharp weapons, but he makes good use of them. I was momentarily inspired to become a backwoods killer when a dude taking a piss turned to find the killer sneaking up behind him, and his immediate reaction was “spectacular beard!”

There’s some juicy gore, there are some good chase scenes, and there’s even some torture that made me squirm.

But when the killer finally gets a monologue about his motivations, it’s totally redundant since the movie spelled out what he’s all about already. So this one should be watched just for the kills.

CINEMAPHOBIA (2009)

There is a lot going on in Cinemaphobia. So much in fact that it is distractingly unfocused until the final act.

The movie follows a bunch of people at a horror film festival, and the constant humdrum chats between them feels like Clerks at a movie theater (I totally used the word humdrum).

There are occasional kills along the way, some better than others, like my faves: one at a urinal (shocker) and one involving an arcade game (again, shocker). The film also intersperses death scene clips of the scuba diver killer slasher showing at the theater…which quite honestly looks a bit more exciting than the actual movie.

And finally, there are two wannabe horror film director guys that spend their time chatting up girls to be in their movie.

The pace picks up with just twenty minutes remaining. Unfortunately, the initial plan of the survivors to play dead so the killer will overlook them leads to a majority of the kills being dead duck situations; the victim pretends to be dead by remaining absolutely still, so the killer simply comes up to them and stabs the fuck out of them! This happens several times.

Finally, I don’t think veteran horror fans will be all that surprised with the twist. Best to watch this one mostly for the kills as well.

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Queers and Christians battle it out…with zombies!

It has been several years since director Israel Luna (Fright Flick, The Ouija Experiment, and Ouija Resurrection: The Ouija Experiment 2) announced his gay zombie film Kicking Zombie Ass for Jesus. It has finally been released as Dead Don’t Die in Dallas, which might be a safer title to market to the mainstream, but  the mainstream will be in for a shock to discover this zomcom is unapologetically queer!

Queers should be prepared for this one to unapologetically drive home the conflict between hateful Christians and “we’re here, we’re queer” LGBTQs that we’re all pretty versed in by now. But don’t let several instances of overly long monologues from both sides get in the way of enjoying the indie zombie action and campy, comic fun.

A special miracle drug has been created, and the side effects eventually become apparent—zombie infection! In a small town, several LGBTQ folk and religious nuts that didn’t try the pills are thrust together as flesh hungry zombies sometimes shuffle/sometimes run around town looking for something good to eat.

The most obvious stereotypes are present—a butch lesbian, fierce and flamboyant drag queens, closet cases, an extremist pastor, secretly sinful Bible-thumpers—so the back and forth bickering between them might be a little obvious at this point in the evolution of gay horror. However, RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Willam Belli absolutely steals the comedy show here and elevates the camp above the preachy parts. She rules.

Most of the performances are tight, with a few exceptions that drag things a bit due to stop and go delivery of dialogue. The minimal, basic zombie makeup gets the job done, and the gore is absolutely delicious, with a majority of it being practical effects rather than CGI.

I do have to note for the second time in a few blogs that we have a film that uses overdone grindhouse throwback gimmicks. Here, however, they definitely add to the midnight movie spirit of the film.

Dead Don’t Die in Dallas is a fun one to watch with a group of friends, as I did. We made a sort of drinking game out of repeated moments of characters hacking up zombies yet not closing their mouths to prevent infected blood from going in. EEK! We heckled minor flaws that give the film character, like an actress clearly pulling her clothes off herself when the zombies clawing at her fail to do so, or several instances when a spotlight meant to create a silhouette effect becomes the glaring focal point of the frame.

And we all questioned each other on whether or not we missed a plot point that would explain why there’s a huge CGI fiery explosion when a character kicks a zombie out of a truck.

Other highlights include a gay kiss, a thick bear butt on the run, and even a zombutt thanks to a drooping pants wardrobe malfunction!

Because I’m a fan of Israel Luna’s horror films, I blind bought the Dead Don’t Die In Dallas DVD (pressed disc, not DVD-R. YAY!), and I’m happy to say it is definitely one of the stronger titles in my gay horror movie collection. It’s also Luna’s first fully gay-themed horror flicks, so I hope he’ll bring us more in the future.

Finally, a little off topic, when I first posted about this one a few years ago, I noted that the description reminded me somewhat of my gay zombie novella Zombied Out from my Closet Monsters collection. Therefore, now would be a good time to mention that the novella is being reprinted as a bonus in the next installment of my Comfort Cove gay horror series, due out soon!

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PRIME TIME: a little Thanksgiving horror, a little Christmas horror

While I await a deluge of new Halloween horror flicks for the season, it’s time to jump ahead a few holidays with two I found on Amazon Prime. The score positions on my holiday horror page, but will they make the season dark?

THE YEARLY HARVEST (2017)

I’m doing this backwards to save the best for last, so we shall cover Christmas before Thanksgiving.

The Yearly Harvest has some unique concepts…drawn out for 120 minutes…yet none of them ever fully drawn. I’ll say off the bat that prolific indie horror director Ryan Callaway knows how to establish a great frightening scene and deliver a jump scare. There are plenty of them here, I just wish they had been closer together in maybe 80 minutes rather than two hours.

Seriously, any indie director should put the brakes on when their film is “post-editing” and still runs two hours long. Either that or reconsider turning your story into a book instead. The long stretches of exposition are more digestible in novel form.

Anyway, the plot has a young reporter come to a small town that seems to be the hub of the origin of many Christmas legends and traditions…yet no one celebrates the holiday or hangs decorations.

I love this plot. There was so much that could be done with it, especially when you have 120 minutes at your disposal. Unfortunately, The Yearly Harvest plods along and never quite focuses enough to deliver a clear story or bring to life any distinct, horror-tinged Christmas folk legends.

There’s much more heard than seen as the reporter teams up with a private investigator and they do a whole lot of researching and investigating, which leads to a series of anecdotal stories that never come to fruition on the screen.

However, like I said, several great horror moments are buried within the film if you stick with it. And although the whole point is that the town doesn’t celebrate the holiday, the main characters eventually do, so there is some Christmas spirit to be found here before all is said and done.

DON’T LOOK (2018)

Not only does Luciana Faulhaber direct, get partial writing credits, and appear in this Thanksgiving backwoods slasher, but in her beautifully brief 71-minute directorial debut, she nails the genre like few indie directors can these days.

I don’t know if Luciana saved up big time, got some great crowdfunding, knows the right rich people, or just made the most of a small budget, but this is the most satisfying no nonsense, practical effects slashers I’ve seen in ages.

A group of friends comes to a cabin in the woods for Thanksgiving and then we get everything we want from a straightforward slasher. There are some gruesome and ominous signs that everything isn’t right.

There’s a creepy confrontation with locals. There’s just enough character development. There’s a killer in a mask. And loads of unapologetic sex offer up both man butt and woman boob.

And there are intense, brutal kill scenes and chase scenes that are both gritty yet polished at the same time.

There’s even a gay guy who has the guts to try to play the hero, landing this one on my die, gay guy, die! page. I highly recommend this one to all you boys, bears, and other beasts that love slashers.

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PRIME TIME: the Tooth Fairy and a Maniac Farmer at a Deadly Reunion

I can always count on Prime to toss a fresh batch of low budget horror up for me to feast on.  So let’s get right into this trio.

TOOTH FAIRY (2019)

I’m always up for something by director Louisa Warren (Curse of the Scarecrow, Bride of Scarecrow), but that made this one a bit trippy for me. Because I’m familiar with her other movies, it was distracting to discover that not only is Tooth Fairy filmed at the same farm location as Bride of Scarecrow…it also features the same actors in the staring roles, including the lead female that reminds me of Alexis Arquette…

…and hottie Manny Jai Montana, who gets shirtless briefly again in this one (thank you, Louisa Warren!).

The intro scene is not quite smoothly presented, instead jarringly thrusting us into a situation involving kids running from the freaky tooth fairy. It comes across as if we came to the movie late.

The plot has a woman, her man, and her child coming to stay at her alcoholic mom’s farm. Mom soon spouts a scary story about the tooth fairy, and before long a drifter dude appears just so he can be the first victim…in a brutal tooth removal scene. It was a strong reminder of why I keep coming back for more Louisa Warren movies.

But then the movie turns into a crazy soap opera for a majority of its running time. After the film ended, I took a moment to step away my knee-jerk feeling about it and wondered if Louisa Warren’s approach to her main female characters is something that female horror fans might appreciate more—it all just seems too melodramatic and complicated for slasher films IMO, but perhaps female horror fans can relate to a main girl who’s more than just the virgin in her group of friends?

Along with the soap opera plot, there are also various scenes thrown in with a side story about neighbor characters, which I just found confusing, and it eventually appears the tooth fairy has a little accomplice. And I’m not talking about her toothbrush.

Unfortunately, after that initial killing of the drifter, the tooth fairy doesn’t get back into action until 66 minutes in! We definitely get a bit more gore and good atmosphere, and the tooth fairy looks freaky awesome, but I generally found this effort a little messy and chaotic with an anti-climactic ending.

DEADLY REUNION (2019)

I’m always up for a “deadly reunion” movie, and while director James Cullen Bressack  (13/13/13, Bethany, 2 Jennifer, Blood Craft) throws a grindhouse filter over the film, gives us some apologetic film malfunction title card moments, and has an on-screen body count meter (none of which has been original since Planet Terror and Death Proof revived the style), this is no 80s throwback slasher.

Instead it’s more of an overdone, modern plot.

Group of friends at a house for a reunion, they get text messages saying there is something that will kill them all by midnight if they don’t do as told, and then they begin taking the challenges thrown at them, like eating human flesh and drinking weird stuff.

It’s very plodding for most of its running time, but it does finally take a more interesting, complicated turn as what they’re doing causes the members of the group to start acting out in psychotic ways.

There is also a nicely bizarre twist once the evil mastermind is revealed, although I’m don’t know that it can save this movie for viewers. As for me, one of my favorite parts of Deadly Reunion is a horrorized version of the “let’s all go to the lobby” snacks animation sequence with which we are all familiar.

Like most of Bressack’s films, this is a relatively derivative, scare-free experience. I keep watching his movies waiting for him to really hit the mark, but it has yet to happen. Considering he hasn’t made a cult classic up to this point, it’s befuddling to me that he took a snarky jab at the cult favorite Napoleon Dynamite on Twitter one day. I mean, love it or not, that film did something right to have such a following. I just think it’s a bad idea for an aspiring indie director that hasn’t quite struck gold to trash other successful indies…just comes across as envy to me.

MANIAC FARMER (2019)

Even though it’s only 71 minutes long, Maniac Farmer could have been a nasty little short…or fine just as is if it had dared to go for something a little more sick and twisted in the middle. As it stands, the only part that is highly effective is the final scene.

Basically, a sadistic gang of metal heads is terrorizing a small town, but before we can even enjoy much proof of just how vile they are, they encounter a big bearish farmer and have the tables turned on them.

Despite the satanic gang initially being huge, it’s whittled down to about three people before they encounter the farmer, which is the start of where the film misses opportunity.

Instead of a throwback slasher with a good body count, so much of the time here is filled with scenes featuring law enforcement and a detective—which I guess is supposed to add comedy elements. Unfortunately, it’s not very funny and it feels really cheap compared to the grit of the rest of the film, right down to terrible green screen, for the men are driving in a car during most of their scenes.

More importantly, the farmer, a classic case of a mama’s boy killer, could have/should have been perversely Deliverance with the metal boys, especially since there are some hints of it—he straps one up shirtless before killing him, and keeps another on a leash as his pet.

Instead of really digging into his psychology, the focus is on the mind of the chained boy—the leader of the satanic gang—and even a disturbing dream sequence paralleling his past and his present with the farmer was ripe for better development if his and the farmer’s “relationship” had dared to go there…in a depraved way, of course.

Unfortunately, there’s just nothing horrific or gruesome enough about any of it to really make your stomach turn.

Bummer, because there was so much possibility of making some homo macabre perversion happen. Otherwise, why even bother casting a big burly bear and a bunch of pretty boys? Good news is, the final frame sure allows your mind to imagine the possibilities…

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