It always feels safe to take a horror ride with the familiar, but were Blood Feast, Hell House LLC: The Abaddon Hotel, and The Gallows Act II all joyrides? Let’s find out.
BLOOD FEAST (2016)
A Herschell Gordon Lewis classic gets a remake that’s big on gory practical effects and quite stylized, but is so darn boring despite a great performance by 80s horror fave Robert Rusler.
The plot is similar to the original, only this time the psycho protagonist runs a diner with his wife (horror queen Caroline Williams) and daughter (Sophie Monk of The Hills Run Red). Herschell Gordon Lewis also makes a pointless cameo—in an internet clip.
Updating the details, Rusler goes off the deep end after he stops taking his “medication”. He starts envisioning and then worships an Egyptian Goddess, builds a shrine to her in his diner basement, and begins torturing, killing, and cannibalizing people while wearing an Egyptian mask.
The death scenes are gruesome and often sexual, but everything else about this remake drags, so it was a struggle to get through it.
The family angle was a fresh touch, but it didn’t add enough to the story to propel it forward at all. As obsessive as I am about owning all movies in franchises once I’ve started collecting them, I really can’t be bothered making room on my shelf for this one beside Blood Feast and Blood Feast 2.
HELL HOUSE LLC II: THE ABADDON HOTEL (2018)
Hell House LLC is one of few found footage films that I actually think is quite effective. While aspects of what I thought made it work are here in the sequel—same creepy setting, unnerving camera pauses and editing, cuts back to still objects to find they are now closer to the camera, etc.—part 2 takes a different approach to telling the story, and it tends to intrude on the claustrophobic suspense.
A “real or fake” debate show with a panel being interviewed by a host is the catalyst for presenting the footage. It begins with a few short and frightening clips of others who went to the boarded up Hell House location and were never seen again.
This includes one pair of guys returning from a fashion show and following a young woman into the building while repeatedly calling her “sweetie” and “honey” so that we know they simply must be gay. Although in reality no gay dude is dumb enough to follow a bitch into the cellar of a haunted building, let alone two gay dudes. Even so, this one lands on my list of does the gay guy die? movies.
It’s not until halfway through the film that the actual cast goes into the building, hoping to do yet another story about the tragedy in the first movie. This is when it feels just like the first film, including the clown. If only they wouldn’t keep inserting debate show clips in between the footage, which constantly shatters the feeling of dread.
As is often the case with movies that get sequels these days, the film tries to embellish upon and revise the history of the plot to create a larger story for, you know, the next sequel, which I’ve yet to see.
THE GALLOWS ACT II (2019)
I think I’m one of few people who really like The Gallows, and I even appreciate the different direction this sequel takes. I just wish it had clocked in at about fifteen minutes shorter, because it becomes repetitive and loses steam.
This young woman entering a new acting school longs to be famous but just can’t seem to get a bigger following on her internet video channel. Then she sees a video of someone doing The Gallows challenge—film yourself reading an excerpt from The Gallows play and see if there is some sort of supernatural attack.
She films it, she posts it, she gets hundreds more followers, she’s compelled to make more videos. And then she begins getting visions of death and hangings, along with visits from the executioner. Eek! Even the hard copy of the play she has in her possession starts to come after her.
It’s all the usual tween scares, but they’re done just right, making for a fun popcorn movie filled with chills and jump scares. Plus she has these damn creepy mannequins in her place and never turns on more lights despite a shadowy presence lurking around her home.
With many moments that feel like something from an Elm Street movie, it kind of makes sense that when she first meets her love interest, he’s wearing a red and green striped sweater.
Like I said, the movie just needed to be shorter, but I guess that would have been a challenge considering there are over 30 minutes of already deleted scenes on the Blu-ray!