While there was plenty of potential, my latest marathon of streamed movies ended up being all rough and no diamonds.
FEAR OF THE DARK (2003)
Fear of the Dark came out during the big boom of PG-13 movies in the beginning of the 2000s, so it’s no surprise that it has the look and feel of movies such as Darkness Falls, Pulse, and Boogeyman. If you can appreciate the spooky/cheesy thrills and CGI supernatural creeps from those films, this one will give you a jolt of nostalgia.
The movie has a similar premise to the infamous film Clownhouse, only without the clowns. An older brother (Kevin Zegers of movies like Dawn of the Dead, In the Mouth of Madness, Wrong Turn, The Hollow, and Vampire) is babysitting his younger brother (Jesse James of The Amityville Horror, Dead Souls, and The Hollow One) on a stormy night. The younger brother is deathly afraid of the dark so…blackout!
While it’s loaded with classic scary movie clichés that always make for a fun popcorn movie, Fear of the Dark is a serious slow burner. There are no major scares as we get a little bit of it all: TV changes channels by itself (from a cartoon to Evil Dead!); older brother can’t resist pulling a prank on his already spooked younger brother; what looks like a person lurking in the closet turns out to be just conveniently placed clothes; older brother goes up into attic for extra emergency lights and gets locked in. Etc., etc., etc.
The continuous tension as you wait for something real to happen starts to wear thin. To break up the monotony, a female friend of the older brother is introduced to call up with a “have you checked the children” joke, and to later on show up at the house just in time for all hell to break loose. In other words, her presence is completely pointless.
When the monsters waiting in the dark finally show themselves, they are so a product of the time—mostly in black flowing garments, with pasty white, freaky faces that do the frantic jitters gimmick that was all the rage back then.
There are even some ghost dogs and ghost bugs added to the mix just for the hell of it. In desperation, the boys decide it’s finally time to—TURN ON THE GENERATOR. Are you serious? They had a fucking generator the whole time? Fuck this movie. And fuck it even more for the calm after the storm ending, in which the younger brother pretty much offers the older brother to the dark monsters!
SINISTER VISIONS (2013)
This low budget horror anthology appears to be a collection of short films assembled to create a full-length feature. There’s not even a wraparound story. Also, the version of the film I streamed on Amazon runs 13 minutes shorter than the listed run time, and it’s missing a story called “Genital Genocide”! Here’s what I did see:
“Succubus” – Pretty straightforward non-story. Chick gets possessed by succubus, goes to club, picks up cute guy, fucks him on the floor of a bathroom, show off her tits, turns into what looks like a club kid dressed as a winged demon on Halloween, and chokes guy to death.
A funny interlude is inserted between the first two stories, and it’s a quick short with two lab guys attacked by zombies. Totally random, but entertaining enough.
“My Undead Girlfriend” – The best of the bunch, this one stars a cute guy who discovers his girlfriend has become a zombie overnight. They have a dinner date for him to meet her parents, so he hides her zombie issues by dressing her as a goth chick and takes her to her parents’ house, leading to a funny scenario complete with some gross out humor.
“Mother Knows Best” – Mama’s boys gone psycho never grow old. This dude’s mom thinks all the girls he dates are sluts and whores. When he tries to reconcile with one special girl, we discover just how much influence his mother has had on his attitude toward women. Nothing original here, but enough familiar horror elements to keep up the momentum following “My Undead Girlfriend.”
“A Woman Scorned” – Then comes the screeching halt. This one makes me wish “Genital Genocide” hadn’t been deleted from the version I saw, because this is a weak ending to the anthology.
A very flat and generic revenge tale, it’s about a chick that ties up, taunts, and then kills her cheating boyfriend and his piece of ass.
ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE (2014)
Another in the modern wave of grindhouse films, All Hell Breaks Loose has a promising start. Kids sitting around a campfire talking about a legend of a psycho killer are interrupted by—and mutilated by—a biker gang. Same biker gang then targets newlyweds, killing the groom and kidnapping the bride.
While the grindhouse style is strong and there’s some humor and plenty of violence and blood, the movie gets repetitive fast and doesn’t deliver the punch grindhouse films need. The bikers, apparently demons because they have black eyes, hang out in a strip club. “God,” a sort of cowboy pimp in white, brings the groom back to life to get revenge and kill them all. He keeps fucking up, so they keep killing him instead, requiring God to bring him back to life to try again. And that’s it, over and over, for the rest of the movie. Finally, the groom teams up with a pervy priest to fight the bikers in a church, giving us a final battle of guns and guts. A very forgettable experience overall.
SHE WOLF RISING (2016)
I expected She Wolf Rising to be my kind of indie, but while it has a lot going for it, nothing ever comes together as a whole.
Tiffany Shepis plays a scream queen (awesome) who also happens to be a monster (awesome), although she’s more like a demon than a wolf, despite the title. Apparently, Tiffany’s finest performance was in a lost movie, so she asks a random male fan with a bangin’ body to help her find the lost footage.
The story unfolds as the main hunk describes his horror romance with Tiffany to his cute friend.
Their banter is funny and one of the highlights of the film, as are the scenes of Tiffany killing victims, even if they do rely on CGI blood splatters. With these three being the strongest part of the film, it should have been called My She Demon Scream Queen Girlfriend and revolved around the two guys trying to stop the Tiff monster.
Instead, a majority of the film consists of a bunch unnecessary characters and disjointed scenes slapped together. For instance, the main guy goes to talk to a screenwriter, but the scene appears to be nothing more than an excuse to score a cameo by Debbie Rochon as the writer’s muse demon mother. There are even a few bizarr-o dream sequences—including one in which the main guy has sex with Tiffany in the background while scream king Joe Zaso, shirtless and bloody, feels up his own nipples in the foreground. There’s also a cool freaky demon woman in this dream–wish she had been in the movie more.
Just when it seems like nothing makes sense—it gets worse. Suddenly, it seems to be a movie within a movie. The cast sits with a director watching a movie, and the director briefly becomes a psycho killer with a chainsaw…before Tiffany once again returns as a demon. Just for the hell of it, indie horror queen Alan Rowe Kelly makes an appearance in the final scene as Tiffany’s agent.
With bright spots including a hilarious geek character, bare boy butts, and Creepshow-like comic book art interludes, Uncaged was on its way to being one of my favorite new werewolf movies…until it went off on a tangent.
Three friends take a trip to a vacation house in the country, where one of them begins to suspect he’s a werewolf. Meanwhile, a local chick witnesses an “animal” attack, and her psychotic drug dealer husband believes she was having an affair with the victim.
Watch out for that bottle!
The film carries viewers along at a quick pace right up to the moment when the crazy jealous husband forces the three boys to join he and his wife for dinner—suggesting that all werewolf hell is going to break loose as night falls. Instead, the movie chooses not to go for the “obvious” (I guess), instead melting down into disjointed, illogical moments, characters with no clear motivation, and confusing transitions that make it seem like crucial scenes were simply cut from the movie.
Here are just some of the headaches you’ll encounter. A guy accidentally shoots someone, so he simply buries the body and goes on with life. Crazy drug dealer and his henchman force the three friends to come to dinner, yet when all three suddenly announce at once that they need to leave before the main course is served, they face absolutely no resistance. Guy knows a werewolf is coming for him, but instead of getting the fuck out of the house in which he’s staying, he invites a chick over for sex. Two characters take off completely on their own at different times with entirely with different agendas, yet suddenly appear together at the same place in the next scene. Characters wake up in the morning, but two seconds later it’s night again. Worst of all, a guy wakes up naked in a barn and discovers a dead body nearby, yet he covers his package like this is a moment for modesty! WTF?
Don’t be embarrassed…
he’s stiffer than you are.
The werewolf action hits only at the end of Uncaged, and while there’s some impressive gore, it’s all over in a flash. The monster makeup is like something straight out of Teen Wolf, not a hardcore werewolf film, and the final battle to the death might as well be from Teen Wolf.