It’s a foursome of modern day creature features. So which was my fave?
SEA BEAST (2008)
Pure SyFy creature fodder from the 00s, this film made me nostalgic for the days when they actually aired films like this. The creature is a mixture of goofy CGI and practical effects during close-up attacks, and a pretty cool creature it is.
The plot is typical—people begin turning up dead in a small fishing town, and no time is wasted in telling us why. There’s a “sea beast” that can go invisible, spits a fluid that renders victims immobile, and most importantly, walks on all fours and spends most of its time on land.
The creature is very campy, as are little clones that seem to pop right out of its back to start their own reign of terror. Like, they’re literally offspring…
We have a fisherman, the sheriff, and a biologist trying to figure out what’s going on, the local men going on a hunt for the sea beast…in the woods, and body parts chomped off left and right, so there’s a satisfying amount of cheesy gore. There’s even a total knock-off of the Quint character from Jaws.
This is essentially a playful remake of The Cyclops, which I just blogged about, complete with stop motion creatures and a throwback feel. Personally I would consider it an homage, not a spoof.
Don’t stop me even if you just heard this one before on my last blog. A woman assembles a search party when her man disappears.
This time their plane crashes when they are bombarded by giant birds. Once they hit the ground, rather than just normal giant critters, these critters are all deformed, some looking like dinosaurs, others like giant creepy crawlies right out of the spider pit scene in the 2005 King Kong.
Difference here is it’s made abundantly clear the triclops is her man…he even starts by picking her up and plucking off some of her clothes (so King Kong 1933) before putting her in a cage. Kinky triclops.
The other fresh twist is how the deformity issues start affecting the search party. Cool. But I do think this one is better appreciated if you’ve seen or are a fan of the original.
BEAST (Biest) (2014)
If you like slow burn wilderness creature feature movies, I can’t imagine how you wouldn’t be satisfied by this 66-minute movie.
A couple heads to a cabin in the woods to try to repair their fractured relationship, which doesn’t go very well.
In the meantime, a man comes knocking asking if they’ve seen his missing wife.
Through a series of suspenseful, atmospheric events, they end up in the beast’s lair. Eek. I found the final act of this short film to be a classic style monster movie in which the only CGI used is for an explosion and fire.
I saw this big Hollywood movie on cable with the hubby, so I figured I’d just slap it onto the end of this blog.
If you are a fan of movies like Deep Star Six, Leviathan, Alien, and Deep Rising, Underwater is like a throwback to that era, with a splash of 47 Meters Down thrown in (without the cage or the sharks).
Kristen Stewart stars as member of a team working in an underwater complex when the place suddenly starts blowing up. This leaves the cast spending a good chunk of the film moving from one location to another and one means of transportation to another to survive flooding. It’s all kind of boring.
We get a glimpse of a baby sea creature in the mix there, but the real fun starts one hour in. When we first see the creature, it’s pretty damn cool and frightening. The unique aspect of this film compared to the films mentioned above is that the creatures don’t infiltrate the team’s domain…the team actually goes out onto the ocean floor and gets attacked.
Suspension of disbelief comes in handy, but we do get an awesome final boss that looks and acts like something out of a Resident Evil video game, and for those who are into it, Kristen runs around in a skimpy bikini in the final act.
Creature features from the 1950s and 1960s rarely fail to disappoint me, so I had fun with a majority of these four films from my late brother’s DVD collection.
THE CYCLOPS (1957)
This silly, 66-minute movie is essentially patterned after the original King Kong. The biggest thing it has going for it is horror legend Lon Chaney Jr.
A missing test pilot’s girlfriend puts together a search party to find him. They crash on an island and soon have run-ins with giant spiders, lizards, hawks, and mice.
41 minutes in, there’s some giant, one-eyed POV. Awesome.
Soon after, we see the cyclops, but his one eye isn’t in the middle of his face! He’s been deformed, so one eye has been mutated closed.
The film subtlety suggests the possibility that the cyclops is actually the girlfriend’s man, affected by the same thing that created the giant size creatures. For reasons she can’t understand, she feels bad for the creature. And when a giant snake comes for her, the cyclops battles it to protect her, just like King Kong and his snake.
For me, the only really cool part of the film is when a dude nails the cyclops in its eye with a torch spear. Ouch.
WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST (1958)
This is a sequel to The Amazing Colossal Man, which my brother didn’t have in his collection of DVDs along with this one, I assume because it never got a U.S. DVD release as far as I can tell.
No need to worry about seeing the first film, because characters in the sequel fill us in quickly on how he became colossal and that he is believed dead. Plus, the monster eventually has flashbacks to the first story.
His sister believes him still alive, so she teams up with a military man and doctor to go find him in Mexico.
When they first see the man, he looks mysteriously like The Cyclops, mostly because it’s the same actor in nearly the same makeup making the same grunting sounds. And yet, a different actor played the role in The Amazing Colossal Man.
The military captures him and ties him down, so naturally he breaks free and weaves his way around or just demolishes miniature buildings that get in his way.
The highlight for me was a flashback in which a scientist tries to inject the beast with a huge needle, so the beast picks it up and uses it as a dart to impale him.
The film also uses the magic of color film as a gimmick…the movie is black and white, but both the colossal beast and us get a shock at the end when everything temporarily goes full color.
THE SPIDER (1958)
At 73 minutes long, this giant critter movie gets gloriously to the point.
After her father never returns home, a young woman and her boyfriend go looking for him. They find his vehicle near a cave with a danger/no trespassing sign, so of course they go in–a plot point that has echoed through horror ever since.
The place totally looks like Bogeyland from March of the Wooden Soldiers, right down to giant fishing net…I mean…spiderweb.
And then there’s the huge spider. A team is sent in and kills it. Or so they think. In another plot point that has echoed through the horror decades, a bunch of kids partying and blasting rock ‘n’ roll music waken the creature. Eek!
Interestingly, scenes of a spider walking through mini-building models is kept to a minimum, because the spider heads back to its lair, where the final battle takes place.
THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS (1962)
Forget that this doesn’t quite stick to the details of the original novel. This is a classic sci-fi/horror scenario focused not only on the monsters in the movie, but the monsters that people become when the world begins to fall apart.
A meteor shower brings awesomely cheesy alien plants–essentially trees–to earth, offering up a kill and the monster money shot right pretty early in the film.
The Triffids walk on their roots, have faces, and eat people. If it weren’t based on a novel from a decade before, this film would seem to be a bit of a rip-off of The Little Shop of Horrors from 1960.
During the invasion, a military man pretty much on his own rescues a young girl, and together they try to leave the country while dodging monsters and dangerously desperate humans. Classic plot, I tell you!
There’s a scientist trying to figure out how to kill the plants, and much like War of the Worlds, also from a decade before, the key to taking them out is something quite abundant and obvious.
Despite its age, the film manages to deliver suspense, atmosphere, and a fun and creepy presentation of the plants. Also, the effective use of light and fog makes me think that perhaps this film was an inspiration for the John Carpenter classic The Fog.
Of course, there’s no denying that when an army of Triffids makes a final stand, the tree soldiers look like a bunch of stalks of celery….
I guess this pair of exploitative indie horror movies does make a pretty darn good double feature, but whether you’ll really like them depends on how forgiving you are about their faults.
SERENA WAITS (2018)
Hunter Johnson, the director of 2 Jennifer, definitely likes to explore the sexually twisted places humanity can go and the harm that can be inflicted on others. Serena Waits is a basic rape/revenge flick.
There’s an opening scene involving someone in a mask and wielding a knife coming for a male dance teacher, and I’d forgotten all about it until I started using my notes to write this blog. That’s because it seems to have no connection to anything else that comes after it…unless I missed something.
After that the plot is familiar. Some dudes pick up a drunk girl as she walks home from a party.
At first they offer to help her. Then they bring her home. Then they do drugs. Then they rape her and leave her for dead.
Months later, the guys have some girls over to hang, and eventually they begin seeing signs that the girl has somehow returned and is coming for them. However, the girls don’t see anything, so they offer to have a seance…
It all comes down to the guys getting what they deserve, and they get it bad. Really bad.
These guys are subjected to some major male-targeted brutality, if you know what I mean. If this subgenre is your kind of thing, you may be bored for a while, but the violent finale definitely pays off.
THE FACELESS MAN (2019)
This whole movie is kind of faceless, because it never settles on being just one thing. It’s a sort of mob, crazy town, drug trip, supernatural killer, masked killer home invasion slasher movie, with some dark comedy thrown in for good measure.
If it had been cut by about twenty minutes I probably would have more fun just going with all the insanity, but at 106 minutes long, it tends to get lost in itself.
A young cancer survivor goes to a party with her friends, we see some man butt by the pool, and then they all decide to go to a cabin in the woods.
As soon as they roll into town, they get threatened for being city folk and land on the shit lists of a biker gang and an entire town.
Meanwhile, another guy is tortured by a drug dealing mob and reveals the drugs he stole from them is in the car of all the friends heading to the cabin in the woods.
Back at the cabin, the main girl keeps having hallucinations of a creepy, faceless creature. Things only get worse when she and her friends start doing drugs and eventually turn on each other…when they’re not running away from masked home invaders, sexual sadists in the basement (complete with a gimp), and mobsters.
It really is everything but the kitchen sink, and there are some brutally violent scenes, as well as oddly humorous moments, but as I said before, it just can’t fully sustain the mess that it is for the entire running time.
Freaks that like flesh! It’s two very different kinds of horror films as I take on Blood Vessel and Uncle Peckerhead.
BLOOD VESSEL (2019)
This feels to me like a serious version of the horror comedy Subferatu. It takes place during World War II, when a group stranded on a life raft boards an abandoned German ship.
Aside from Subferatu, it quickly begins feeling like a cross between Ghost Ship and Death Ship. Things move along very slowly until they finally find a little girl stowed away about 30 minutes in. The setting and atmosphere satisfy, but the film returns to being very slow.
The vamps are creepy cool and there are plenty of hack n slash battles, but personally I didn’t find this one all that enthralling.
UNCLE PECKERHEAD (2020)
Rock band comedy horror movies have become trendy in the past few years, and while Uncle Peckerhead isn’t the cream of the crop, there’s plenty to like here, such as the very first super gory shot. Yay!
The film follows a punk trio—2 girls and a guy—that finally lands a tour gig. Problem is, their van gets repossessed. So out of sheer desperation, they agree to let an older guy with a van be their roadie. And that man is Uncle Peckerhead.
But Uncle Peckerhead has a problem—at night he turns into what looks like a cannibalistic version of Captain Spaulding from House of 1000 Corpses and chows down on anyone he can sink his teeth into.
Desperate to become successful, the band agrees to give him injections that control his monstrous side so that they can continue with their tour. That turns out to be a big mistake, even if Uncle Peckerhead does limit his meals to those that wrong the band.
The cast is quite likable, and there are plenty of funny moments, as well as oodles of blood and guts. Plus, the bearish guy in the band is cute, funny, and gay, scoring Uncle Peckerhead a spot on the does the gay guy die? list. With a title like this, it better.
However, the film does have pacing issues and also falls into a repetitive pattern—band shenanigans, Uncle Peckerhead eats someone, they drive to a new place to do it all again. Still, it’s worth a watch if you’re a fan of band focused horror flicks.
This was going to be a general blog about a handful of 1980s horror movies, until I realized all my selections are European films. So let’s get into them!
REST IN PIECES (1987)
This odd little Euro horror flick reminds me of a cross between Rosemary’s Baby and Suspiria.
After totally 80s muzak during the intro credits, we meet a young couple that is heading to a mansion…which the wife just inherited from her dead aunt, who committed suicide…and videotaped it!
Oddly, there are a whole bunch of people living in the aunt’s house, and they don’t leave.
Meanwhile, the wife keeps having terrifying visions of her aunt trying to kill her.
It begins to feel like a late 80s thriller as the husband becomes convinced the other housemates are trying to drive the wife mad.
Things shift back to horror with psycho killers, a cult, and some satanic rituals, plus a bit of a twist. Overall this is merely fun for the hokey 80s nostalgia, because it’s not a very good movie.
OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES (1982)
It’s low budget zombie horror from director Jess Franco, who scores two movies in this blog. However, he doesn’t quite score with this mess.
Putting it simply, there are approximately two substantial scenes of zombies, and the second one recycles some of the footage from the first one.
In between, there’s a lame plot about treasure hunters looking for lost goodies left behind by Nazis, plus some backstory about the Nazis.
It’s all quite boring, and there’s little in the way of character development.
As for those two zombie scenes, they’re pretty classic zombie stuff, with rotting flesh, icky bugs crawling on the living dead, and some gut munching. Plus, it all happens in daylight, which adds to the fun.
This 80s blog includes a double feature of movies starring scream queen Caroline Munro. In Faceless, she’s a slutty, druggy model who gets abducted by a mad scientist looking to give his sister a face transplant after hers is deformed in an attack.
The last thing you would expect in a grisly European horror movie is Telly Savalas, but the Kojak royalties must have started drying up, so here he is as Munro’s dad, who hires a detective to find her.
Meanwhile, the crazy doctor needs some help with the transplant plan, so he teams up with an old Nazi, and they begin their work…doing test runs that just keep going horrifically bad.
The face peeling gore in this film is about as gross as it gets for this time period.
There’s even a campy scene involving a flamboyant gay man siccing his muscle boy on the detective, which lands Faceless on the does the gay guy die? page.
And of course, because it’s the 80s and this is Euro horror directed by Jess Franco, there are some sleazy and unpleasant sexual situations. Having said all that, this is 80s exploitation for sure, but it’s not a scary movie.
HOWL OF THE DEVIL (1988)
This Spanish film has plenty of weird characters, oddball situations, and sleazy elements that make it feel like a European giallo, yet also goes for a straightforward American slasher formula at times, with basic kills using sharp weapons.
The film is about a womanizing misogynist who hates that his late brother had a career in horror movies. He’s not kind to the young nephew he cares for, who lives in a fantasy world in which his dead father visits him regularly while dressed in various monster costumes he wore in his movies. This happens to be the director Paul Naschy, basically reprising monster roles he played in some of his other films.
There’s also a sinful priest, a weird hobo hanging around warning young women to stay away from the uncle and his house, and scream queen Caroline Munro as the maid who eventually becomes the final girl.
There are plenty of gory kills, witchcraft and the occult come into play, and yet the film is so off the rails that it really doesn’t go anywhere. Plus, it’s kind of obvious who the killer is from the start. That doesn’t mean that I don’t totally want this to come out on Blu-ray so I can add it to my collection.
Icelandic film Thirst is a sleazy and gory dark horror comedy about a centuries old gay vampire that just loves to chomp the dick and balls off his victims.
If only he didn’t look like an old burnout version of Rob Halford from Judas Priest, it might be more convincing that he could score with all the men he meets.
However, his drab look does add to the underlying sadness he feels from being alone.
If you overlook that we don’t get the usual sexy vampire experience, this nasty little flick is quirky and weird, with distinctly flawed, tragic characters. It also has a perfectly nuanced 80s horror vibe that manages to make it feel right out of the decade rather than as if it’s trying desperately to capture that retro feel.
Adding to the oddball style, there’s even an animated scene flashback scene.
Our gay vampire befriends a young woman who is also not having the best time. She has been accused of killing her brother with an overdose. Her mother has disowned her, a detective is investigating her, and the detective’s wife is a crazy televangelist on the hunt for the “prince of darkness”.
It’s all a recipe for disaster when their worlds collide, but it sure is fun watching the devilish delight the vamp gets out of crotch noshing. This is a midnight movie splatterfest with nothing left to the imagination, and IMO, all the scenes involving wiener are the comic highlights. They also land this film on the homo horror movies page.
Thirst is due out on DVD on December 1st, and I will most definitely be adding it to my collection.
Also known simply as Dracula, this first installment of the Christopher Lee/Hammer Films/Dracula series is a fairly typical and straightforward adaptation of the original novel. It’s Christopher Lee’s physical presence and movements that give Dracula—dare I say—life.
Jonathan Harker comes to Dracula’s castle to work as a librarian, is approached by a woman who says she’s being held captive and need his help, and is eventually attacked by her. That’s when Lee first swoops in, leaping majestically across a room to stop her! Awesome.
Back at Harker’s home, Peter Cushing arrives as Van Helsing. Harker’s lady has fallen ill, and of course it’s because she’s getting nightly visits from Drac. Her troubles become the focus of the film, and Van Helsing plans to use her to lead him to Drac.
The final battle between Lee and Cushing is most definitely the highlight of the film.
BRIDES OF DRACULA (1960)
What do you know? Christopher Lee isn’t even in this second installment, But Peter Cushing carries on the Van Helsing tradition.
Although Dracula is dead, his disciples live on. In a similar plot to the traditional story, a young teacher is left in a bind while traveling to her new job, so a baroness invites her to stay at her castle.
The baroness’s son is supposedly insane and locked away, so naturally the teacher goes and explores, finds him, and releases him.
Of course he’s a vampire, but I really couldn’t take him seriously, because every time his beaming face flashed its fangs, he looked as flamboyant as Liberace.
More creepy are the “brides” in the movie—the classic lady vamps in flowing white gowns.
It’s up to Van Helsing to once again chase down all the vamps, and this one scores major points for the way in which he creates a huge, makeshift crucifix at the end.
DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1966)
This is my favorite of the bunch so far, and begins with a flashback to the fight at the end of the first film.
This time two couples are traveling, and wouldn’t you know their means of transportation breaks down, and they unknowingly end up in Dracula’s castle.
In one of the most “gory” scenes of the series yet, Drac’s servant bleeds out one victim all over Dracula’s dusty remains to resurrect him. Slowly but surely, the servant keeps luring victims to Dracula, and Lee is even more sinister than in the first film.
Meanwhile,the survivors team up with the priest to combat the vamps. The ending is both cool and funny as the battle arena is thin ice. You can imagine what becomes of Dracula now. Lee’s reaction is not exactly his finest moment, and I laughed out loud.
DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE (1968)
Things start strong, with a dead woman falling out of a bell in the church, rendering the altar boy mute, causing the priest to lose his faith, and keeping parishioners from stepping into the church for fear it is cursed by Dracula.
Soooo…the Monsignor comes to exorcise the place. In doing so, he unknowingly releases Drac from the ice.
Drac wants revenge on him (why? The dude set you free!) so he targets the monsignor’s niece with the help of one of her converted friends. But the niece’s boyfriend keeps getting in the way, and the friend is jealous that she’s not enough for Drac.
If there’s anything new and interesting here, it’s the symbolism concerning the niece losing her innocence, right down to a childhood doll she pushes away when Drac bites her. Other than that, it’s the same old shit, with Dracula ending up impaled on a crucifix.
TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA (1970)
You can tell Dracula has moved into the 1970s because things are much more lewd and sexual. A young lord draws three guys, whose “charitable cause” is actually to buy themselves a party at a brothel, into his black mass.
When the ritual goes bad, the three men leave the lord for dead…and he transforms into Christopher Lee’s Dracula. Say what? This is like some Friday the 13th: A New Beginning shit, with Dracula not actually being the real Dracula.
From there it’s the same old story. Dracula wants revenge on the three men, so he uses those women they love to go after them.
The highlight of this installment is the lady vamps turning the tables and staking a mortal for a change.
SCARS OF DRACULA (1970)
This one feels like a reboot or reset, with no continuity between how Drac died last time and where his remains are now.
Plus, now he can finally control animals—or more specifically a really bad bat that looks like a cheesy Gilligan’s Island special effect. This is the kind of thing where you can sense the strings even when you can’t see them. And this bat gets a lot of screen time.
Anyway, the story starts as a rehash. Guy ends up in Drac’s castle, a woman there says she’s being held prisoner, she tries to bite the guy, vlah, vlah, vlah.
Drac’s faithful servant helps him lure new victims to the castle, including the brother of the guy he already had staying with him. It’s a rinse and repeat gothic vampire story with helpless damsels saved only by the crucifixes dangling between their ample breasts…until the bat comes along and pulls it off them so Dracula can drink their milk…I mean…blood.
I can’t believe I’m going to watch four more of these movies, or that Christoper Lee kept agreeing to make more well into the 1970s.
DRACULA A.D. 1972 (1972)
As if the title wasn’t enough to tell you, the series goes off the rails this time. It begins in the old days with Peter Cushing back as Van Helsing and killing Dracula before dying himself. Unfortunately, a Dracula fanboy shows up and saves his remains.
Flash forward to a horrible hippy party in modern day 1972. One guy in the group, who looks just like the fanboy from a century before, gathers a group to perform a black mass…and sacrifices a young Caroline Munro in the process. Aaaaaand…
Dracula is back in action, with his new fanboy luring all the victims to him. Cushing is a Van Helsing descendant that looks exactly like the old Van Helsing. Throw in horrible, 70s jazzy action muzak, and this is as bad as the series gets so far. Even Cushing is rolling his eyes…
On the bright side, the film is totally post-civil rights movement, with a black female character and plenty of interracial intimacy, even with Dracula.
THE SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA (1973)
A direct sequel to the previous film, this one continues in modern day, and focuses on government agents investigating prominent men that are part of a vampire cult run by an Asian woman.
There are plenty of boobs, including an emaciated pair and a big pair that overshadows the stake being struck through the heart in the same vicinity. There’s also a pretty freaky scene of a woman being swarmed by vamps in a basement.
The agency hires Van Helsing to help them out, and eventually he tracks down Drac. The final act is the best part of the film because Lee and Cushing battle it out once again. The prickle bush trap is so bad it’s awesome.
However, I must admit, as much as I hate period pieces, these two men are forever tied to the old days, so when they come face to face in an modern office it ends up looking like the characters simply time warped into the future and are just not admitting to it.
THE LEGEND OF THE SEVEN GOLDEN VAMPIRES (1974)
Lee is out as Dracula (replaced briefly by another actor), Cushing is still Van Helsing, and Hammer films has teamed with an Asian production company, so this is predominantly a Kung fu movie.
Van Helsing travels to Asia to help a small village with a vamp problem—part of the problem for me being that the vamps wear masks. WTF?
The fighters in this village seem much better equipped than Van Helsing to beat down anything; he just stands around coaching them to strike the vamps in the hearts. Talk about phoning it in.
Notably, this doesn’t continue from the last film, instead taking place in the early 1900s, so continuity is once again out the window. But you have to love Hammer’s attempt to delve completely into 1970s cult cinema. If only they had gotten the rights to Carl Douglas’s “Kung fu Fighting”.
Probably thanks to this being partially an Asian production, it’s also much more contemporary than a standard Hammer film in that there is a blood sucking orgy with plenty of boobs on display.
And finally, this is the last time Cushing will defeat Dracula. And yet, Lee comes back for more…
COUNT DRACULA (1970)
He doesn’t actually come back for more, because this film was released in 1970, the same year as two of his Hammer Dracula films. See, this is not a Hammer release, it’s yet another adaptation of the original novel. Lee sure didn’t seem to care about type casting.
To make it clear he’s not Hammer’s Dracula, Lee has a mustache this time. And Klaus Kinski plays his crazy servant Rendfield. For the first time, Lee visits his victim by flying to her window as a bat before transforming into himself.
It’s all about as generic as a Hammer movie, with perhaps a little more blood. There is also a weird scene of taxidermy coming to life…however, it’s the only memorable scene in the film.
Is it eat or be eaten this holiday season? I take a look at one for Thanksgiving and two for Christmas 2020 that all land on the holiday horror page.
THE LAST THANKSGIVING (2020)
Other than iffy acting (the main girl is smartly an exception), The Last Thanksgiving gives us a crazy cannibal family slasher for Thanksgiving that runs a nice, tight 72 minutes long.
While there are throwback nods to 80s slashers and meta references to numerous horror films, this movie manages to rise above the overplayed novelty, bringing some fresh ideas and unique approaches to the retro slasher craze.
The plot focuses on a young woman who has to work on Thanksgiving Day. The diner where she is employed has plenty of characters, including two older women, a gay dude who has a crush on a cute Black employee (landing this one on the does the gay guy die? page), an older boss, and even Linnea Quigley as a customer.
A dance montage to a faux 80s freestyle song paints them in a very positive light, so this is a likable cast of characters.
Meanwhile, a cannibal family is on the prowl looking for their Thanksgiving dinner!
The death scenes are fantastically gory with practical effects, the 80s horror lighting is incorporated into scenes naturally (the change to red at a movie theater is my fave), there’s some understated yet accurate 80s style musical cues, and the characters aren’t picked off in the stereotypical order, which is quite satisfying.
The chase scenes and the ways in which the family gathers everyone for “dinner” is incredibly entertaining, and the “Leatherface” of the family wears a creepy pilgrim mask.
And most importantly, the main girl, the gay guy, and the black guy all rock when push comes to shove.
This is a movie that definitely keeps you on your toes as it seems to vacillate between subgenres.
It all begins when two men, one dressed as Santa, meet in a field and exchange pleasantries. The younger man is invited along with his wife to the home of the Santa man for Christmas. He even does a sexy dance by the Christmas tree.
We learn there’s some sort of odd body snatching invasion going around, so by the time everyone gathers at the dinner table, some of them are really not feeling like themselves.
Dinner turns into a gory, violent disaster!
Sort of like a home invasion film and either an alien invasion or supernatural film rolled into one, Hosts goes beyond the obvious plot of people being terrorized by “possessed” neighbors at Christmas dinner. It delves into some emotional and metaphorical situations involving familial roles.
This is one of those movies during which you totally understand what’s going on as far as the surface story goes, yet you sort of have no idea what’s really going on, which gives your brain a workout. I found it to be intriguing, engrossing, quite atmospheric, and effectively eerie.
THE WOLF OF SNOW HOLLOW (2020)
This werewolf horror comedy is directed by, written by, and stars Jim Cummings. That being said, Jim Cummings makes this movie all about Jim Cummings. Which is a bummer when you have a muscle guy like this at your disposal…
Jim Cummings is funny and cute at first as the alcoholic deputy on the case when mutilated bodies start turning up dead in his small town.
But soon you’ll begin to notice that the job of everyone else in the movie is to fade into the background so Jim Cummings retains the spotlight. No one other than Jim Cummings gets a funny line. Jim Cummings gets to be a vibrant personality while everyone else could just as well be a cardboard cutout. Jim Cummings’s shtick becomes distracting as the movie progresses.
The werewolf and the occasional kills are pretty cool, but they do not stand a chance of upstaging Jim Cummings. We needed more werewolf.
While the movie takes place at Christmas, not enough TLC is given to the holiday to make this a genuine Christmas horror movie. All that attention is reserved for Jim Cummings. And the surprise revelation as to the origin of the werewolf is perhaps not the one you would imagine, but what’s no surprise is that the surprise isn’t as big a deal as is how it affects Jim Cummings’s character.
It’s all about the infected and the possessed in my latest double feature viewing. Oh…and Tyler Posey’s bod.
The recent Asian zombie film #Alive gets an American remake starring Tyler Posey of Teen Wolf fame, who isn’t only excellent in his role, he’s also shirtless a lot and shows his ass several times. As does my blog…
The plot is predominantly the same, with Posey trapped in his apartment when smart, fast moving, talking zombies ravage the earth. As he fights to stay alive, he befriends a young woman trapped in an apartment across the way.
Posey’s character is much less geek and more of a little stud nerd than the character in the original, and his relationship with the girl across from him is super American, with immediate flirting turning into a relationship, whereas the girl in the original was standoffish and slow to warm up.
Most of the action scenes are the same, but there are a handful of fresh zombie suspense scenes that make this worth a watch even if you’ve seen the original. However, the zombies were way cooler and freaky looking in the original. Here they look more like infected crazies than mutated zombies.
And finally, just as in the original, there’s an encounter with an older man trapped by himself, played by Donald Sutherland here.
MAY THE DEVIL TAKE YOU TOO (2020)
The sequel takes place several years after the original. No one seems to believe the main girl’s story about the demon attacks in the first movie.
That all changes when she’s abducted by a group of kids with a story of an orphanage and a ritual that will free them from a demonic curse.
Catch is, they need her help..
Wouldn’t you know a whole new possession scenario kicks in. Before long, the movie turns into a nonstop bombardment of the group being chased by deadites, Asian horror girls, and Linda Blair bitches that crawl, spit up black bile, and pop up in all the rooms and halls of a decrepit building.
Nothing in the way of depth here. This is purely a funhouse of horror filled with action-packed, demonic insanity.
Running a little over 15 minutes long, this silly little short film is a good warm up for this gay horror marathon. Not to be confused with the French film Poltergay, this is…sort of a brief take on the same plot.
A straight, religious couple moves into a new home and quickly discovers there are a couple of gay ghosts in the house.
Initially the humor felt dated, cliché, and corny to me.
However, it finds its rhythm when Halloween hits and the couple tries to exorcise the ghosts.
The comic timing of all four actors is perfect, thanks in part to the fact that the writing suddenly gets much quicker and smarter.
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: REBIRTH (2020)
Night of the Living Dead gets slightly reimagined, with scream queen Roger Conners, who directs and stars, playing the Judith O’Dea character as a gay man.
Understand that Roger plays the role just as she did, with the character basically being helpless, useless, and in a daze for most of the film, so if you’re looking for a gay horror hero character, this ain’t it.
There are minor changes in the details, but if you’ve seen the original (who hasn’t?), you know what to expect.
Most notably different is that the zombies’ eyes glow.
It’s never quite explained why this happens, but I found that it added a little something different to the worn out zombie genre, and the effect reminded me of the ghostly pirates in The Fog.
There’s also some updating to provide social commentary in a queer context. For instance, the self-centered asshole is an anti-gay religious nut this time, something not surprising in bringing the character into the new millennium.
The little girl with the garden tool scene is intact, but there’s just no topping the way it’s presented in the original film. For me, the final act is the most exciting part, with a disorienting slow strobing light effect as the zombies infiltrate the dark house. It’s also where we get the most gore.
And just for fun, there’s some zombutt.
If you’re like me, the only question you’ll have the entire time is, who’s going to be the last man standing, the gay guy or the gorgeous Black guy?
TEACHER SHORTAGE (2020)
With his third slasher, director Troy Escamilla (Party Night, Mrs. Claus) goes for the gay. Teacher Shortage lands an honorary spot on the homo horror movies page because the final boy is gay. Having said that, I still feel Party Night, his first film, is his strongest slasher yet.
The plot focuses on a gay teacher having an affair with the high school principal, played by none other than Roger Conners.
Personally, I much prefer his gay character and performance here because his Rebirth character is as annoying as Judith O’Dea was in Night of the Living Dead. That’s right, I said it. I’ve never liked her character.
The gay teacher joins a group of English teachers for a dinner party, and they begin getting picked off one by one by a masked killer.
There’s a whole lot of talk in between kills, most of it awkward dialogue that slows down the pacing while adding nothing to the plot. The acting is also a mixed bag.
For instance, beary actor David McMahon shines, effortlessly creating a character with loads of character, while others around him basically just recite their lines or overact, causing inconsistency within scenes.
There are some gory kills and the killer’s mask is a goodie, but there are also some odd choices, like every setting abruptly and illogically turning Argento red when the killer takes care of business. It is reminiscent of a technique used in Creepshow, where it works perfectly with the horror comic book structure, while here it feels like a forced 80s nostalgia gimmick. The lighting choice works best in this kind of film when it’s somehow logically incorporated into the setting, such as the scene at a bar, which would most likely have dim lighting drenched with color light coming from neon beer brand signs on the walls.
Also, the 80s inspired score isn’t used sparingly to highlight or enhance kill scenes. Instead, there’s almost always some sort of ominous music playing in the background regardless of context, like in the very first scene when yearbooks are being distributed in class.
The final gay gets a chase scene that doesn’t quite have the oomph longtime slasher fans look for. Rather than scary or suspenseful, it comes across as campy, which I don’t think was the intention. However, I do think the film would have benefited by going with that tone instead, especially since the main character is a gay teacher banging the principal! Awesome. I will totally be adding this one to my collection of gay horror flix.
NOBODY SLEEPS IN THE WOODS TONIGHT (2020)
Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight is a pretty damn good backwoods slasher to check out if you need a fix.
At a summer camp designed to get kids off their devices and off the grid, a counselor takes a small group out on a hike. All the tropes are in place, and get the job done.
someone is feeding something in a basement
the hikers find a mutilated animal
the guys have a fight, including anti-gay sentiments
one of the guys is actually gay
a couple has sex in woods
one kid knows all the rules of horror
the group finds a creepy house in the woods
victims end up imprisoned in a basement lair
flashbacks reveal the killer’s back story
Along with all that, the killer is gnarly looking, the kills are gory, and there are plenty of suspense scenes, making this a satisfying yet familiar experience.
A STRANGER AMONG THE LIVING (2019)
While not as gay as his film Triggered, this film features director Chris Moore playing as a gay character with a husband, plus a few lines seem to suggest that our cute, bald, leading man is gay.
This eerie little indie is a cross between It Follows and The Sixth Sense. The main guy is a teacher who manages to survive a school shooting when Fate intervenes.
He spends the rest of the film seeing and being followed by creepy apparitions.
There are some excellent suspense scenes, but the film does get a bit repetitive, and despite an effectively timed score, it is guilty of too many stinger scares. There are plenty used during genuine horror scares, so the faux scare moments are entirely unnecessary.
Even so, this is predominantly a smartly produced supernatural indie that keeps you engrossed and on edge. Plus, Chris is a hoot in his role.