I’m working off my watchlists with no rhyme or reason at the moment as I desperately squeeze in anything I can to watch in between my new pups Romy and Michele pouncing on my head. So “Prime horrors” is the only theme I’ve got with these three very different films—a gory SyFy style creature feature, a horny teens horror, and a psycho stalker flick.
DIRE WOLF (2009)
Fred Olen Ray gives us your standard 2000s SyFy monster movie vibe with one exception—this shit rox the practical gore effects! That makes me wonder why he felt the need to use CGI blood splashes when there was already loads of fake blood flowing.
The cheesy setup is classic SyFy. A small town local sheriff played by a familiar face to those who were around like 4 decades ago (Maxwell Caulfield of Grease 2 this time) is on the case when a monster escapes a lab and terrorizes rednecks in the woods, forcing the sheriff to team up with special government agents to hunt it down.
The story doesn’t really even matter. Right from the start we see the werewolf-esque beast (costume, not CGI), which attacks relentlessly and makes people into shredded pork sandwiches. It’s all about the repetitive, super gory kills.
On hand is horror veteran Ian Patrick Williams and Gil Gerard of Buck Rogers fame (again, for those who were around like 4 decades ago). Not to mention, a character actually says “cotton pickin’ minute”.
7 DEADLY SINS (2019)
This silly little film feels like direct-to-DVD horror circa 2003. It’s a disjointed mess that pads the runtime with too many party montages before getting to the “let’s plays a spirit communication game” moment that triggers the horror.
No idea how the opening scene relates to the rest of the movie, but it is soon followed by a flashback featuring Tom Sizemore in a loony bin…another scene with little relevance to the rest of the movie.
We then meet a bunch of teens of mixed race, and despite the movie being directed by a black guy, wouldn’t you know it’s the black guy that gets arrested for drug possession. It only makes sense, therefore, that Eric Roberts shows up as the judge who sentences him.
Naturally the kids have to party and have sex once more before their buddy gets sent away for five years. It’s fun to watch how committed the young cast is to acting goofy and funny (to the point of annoying) through the various party scenes, but the fun wears off, because with so many skanks in thongs around the pool, it starts to feel like a crunk video…circa 2003.
Eventually a Mexican girl convinces the kids to play a spirit summoning game called Charlie, Charlie.
They break the rules. Everyone begins acting weird, seeing weird things, and doing weird things. It’s kind of like Night of the Demons without demons. Charlie Charlie does show up, but way too late in the game, and he looks like a kid who has been working in the coal mine.
And then…the blonde bimbo final girl suddenly gets all religious, praying to Jesus and shit. WTF?
And to make things even more confusing, a twist that makes no sense comes in at the end and brings with it about ten seconds of gore (finally) in flashback kills.
THE FANATIC (2019)
This movie is bashed on the Internet, but I found it ridiculously entertaining. When I see comments on the web like “watch The Fan with Wesley Snipes instead”, or “watch Misery instead”, that tells me the negative social media trolls (basically everyone at this point) just wanted a suspense thriller exactly like all the rest.
The whole point of The Fanatic, and what makes it better as it progresses, is that it’s not a predictable film. John Travolta goes for the Gilbert Grape vibe as a slightly off man obsessed with a movie star played by Devon Sawa of Final Destination, who has grown into quite a piece of beefcake in the past two decades.
As Sawa rejects Travolta’s “advances” (homoerotic undertones are undeniable), John becomes more and more agitated and violent, making us think we know exactly where this is going. It sort of does, but not quite. And as unpredictable as I just said the film is, maybe it is predictable after all, because at one point I turned to my hubba hubba and said, “Wouldn’t it be great if instead of the usual, the film went (spoiler omitted) way instead?”
My only issue with The Fanatic is that the build-up to the final confrontation is longer than the actual denouement, which is so deliciously brutal and loaded with surprises and horror references that it really should have been a much more substantial segment.
Fred Durst directed the film, which was inspired by an actual case of someone stalking him, and I personally think it so delightfully egotistical that he has Devon Sawa blast a Limp Bizkit song and rave about how cool it was listening to the band when he was younger. The only thing that could have made this scene any 90s meta better was if “Stan” by Eminem came on right after and Sawa totally dissed it.