PRIME TIME: a creature feature and some confusing backwoods horror

I thought I knew what I was getting into with this triple feature of my own making. Oddly, it’s the two backwoods horrors that left me scratching my head, while the Lovecraftian film (a subgenre that usually gives me a headache) is the one that stood out the most.

DEATH PASSAGE (aka: Lemon Tree Passage) (2014)

Americans in Australia take an Aussie dude up on his offer of a thrill ride down a road rumored to have a ghost. A film that starts off with an urban legend premise? I felt right at home.

Things get a little weird for one girl after the first encounter with a bright light on the road, but since it was only a fleeting glimpse, they go back again for another round. The Aussie guy decides he’ll have a better chance at a ghost sighting if he gets out of the car. That’s when the group is dragged into a whole lot of I don’t know what that keeps them hanging out in the forest alongside the road.

I just don’t have the patience anymore for movies that jump time, jump dimension, and jump between reality and delusion, especially all at once…so I began contemplating what movie I should watch next as horror things happened that didn’t horrify me at all. The only thing I can say is that cutting through all the mess of people running through the woods having their own personalized experiences, I think this was a possession/revenge mashup plot.

Highlight for me? Super sexy dude takes a shower and makes orgasm face when he gets splashed in the face.

Oh, and I was also loving the fact that Death Passage only runs 80 minutes. Still not enough of a little death to satisfy my need for quick thrills.

THE AXIOM (2018)

At least Death Passage was only 80 minutes long. This one tacks on nearly another 20 minutes of chaos and confusion in the woods, with ghosts, monsters, possession, and a diabolical plot that further muddies the waters.

A girl goes to the woods with a bunch of friends to find her missing sister. They stumble upon a cabin. They experience delusions of murder and horror. They realize they have crossed into another dimension and need to get back. They start turning on each other.

The monsters, the coolest part of the film, look like the bad guy from that movie series about that kid at a wizard school—my hubby made me see every single one of them in the theater, but I can’t remember a single thing about any of them.

Unfortunately, the monsters are barely in the film because rather than go for simple and scary, it tries to be way too layered with its myriad of horrors. Honestly, only bad 80s Euro horror can masterfully pull off such nonsense. The places this film goes had me groaning with impatience for it to end.

Highlight for me? A 2fer: a shirtless hottie in a good sex scene with a horror money shot.

THE CREATURE BELOW (2016)

I’ll take this one over The Shape of Water any day. I gave it a look because I just watched the director’s other film, Book of Monsters. Instant points for making two very different horror movies.

I never would have anticipated where The Creature Below was going to go after the first major scene, which is pretty fantastic for an indie film. A marine biologist is submerged in the ocean in a special suit and has an encounter with one supersized underwater creature.

She gets away, but she brings a remnant of her escapade home and sticks it in a fish tank. That’s when this one morphs into a much smaller scale, Lovecraftian horror flick. As she becomes obsessed with the little critter, the film gets weird and does have a few weak spots along the way, but it picks up once their bond strengthens and she goes from obsession to virtual possession.

The final act really reminds me of some of the classic 80s takes on Lovecraft as she and her creature friend terrify those closest to her. The focus on a single setting helps create a claustrophobic feeling of being trapped as the monster wreaks its gory havoc.

And the final scene comes full circle, leaving a momentous monster impression solidifying this as a Lovecraftian film that dare not speak its name. I guess either the rights cost too much or the director was really smart and didn’t want to take the chance of being bashed by purists that love to attack Lovecraft adaptations.

 

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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