Category Archives: Guest Author

Saturday is Horror Day #20 – The Hills Have Eyes 2 (2007)

 The Hills Have Eyes 2 (2007)

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes


As this film opens, a naked restrained woman on a bad writhes in agony. It soon becomes clear she is in the throes of labor. And when she finally delivers, she can’t believe what she sees.

On an undisclosed and hidden site thought to be long abandoned, technicians are installing listening devices, but to what end? There’s no one out there… or is there?

 

 

It’s the last day of training for a young group of sassy National Guard trainees. Out in the middle of the desert, they find a deserted research camp. Where is everyone, and what is going on? They receive a distress call that seems to be coming from the hills and decide to investigate. Can this end well for anyone?

 

This is the sequel to The Hills Have Eyes (2006), which was a remake of the original 1977 West Craven film of the same name. The story is not just a rehash of the first sequel, luckily, and is much better made. Again we see the mutants, who were better explained in the 2006 film. Apparently they’re still intent on reproducing to replace their dwindling numbers (guess they aren’t concerned with further genetic mutations). 

The National Guard trainees as characters are a diverse and interesting group, and the story is 


sufficiently creepy and cringy to warrant a view. Although I have to wonder why the military, who obviously knows about these people, doesn’t just come in and deal with the situation. I mean, why eavesdrop? And the ending is somewhat ambiguous. Do they intend to make more? Your guess is as good as mine.

 On the whole, I’ll give this film a good 3.5 Stars. Worth taking a look.

Saturday is Horror Day #15 – Night of the Living Dead (1968), Brahms: The Boy 2

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Barbra and her brother Johnny make a yearly pilgrimage to their father’s grave on behalf of their mother, in order to place flowers on his grave, despite the fact that it’s a six hour round trip. And they only stay for a few minutes, while placing the flowers.

 

 

Johnny is a playful brother and likes to tease his sister by scaring her, telling her that people are coming to

get her. He points at a lone man who is slowly making his way through the cemetery, and tells her “They’re coming to get you, Barbra!” Laughing, he turns away, but his laughter ends abruptly when Barbra is attacked by the man. Johnny goes to her rescue, only to be thrown violently down, hitting his head on a tombstone.

Barbra runs for her life but can’t get far in the car, because Johnny has the keys. She coasts as far as she can then runs to the nearest home. She enters the farmhouse and looks around but there is no sign of life. Heading upstairs, she makes a gruesome discover – a grisly corpse, looking much the worse for wear. Terrified, she runs, only to see headlights and then a man comes rushing in. His name is Ben and he needs gas and stopped there, seeing the gas pump behind the house. Unfortunately, Barbra has no idea where the key is. And the number of people outside only seems to be growing, as they work at getting inside, trying to kill Barbra and Ben.

 

It turns out that there are people hiding in the cellar. Mr. Cooper and his wife and ill daughter, and Tom and his girlfriend Judy. Cooper doesn’t see the point in leaving the cellar, but Ben says they’ll be sitting ducks there. As night falls, things go from bad to worse…

Director George Romero’s film started a trend in horror films that continues to this very day, namely the zombie film. Although over forty years old, this film withstands the test of time. It was a very low budget film, and the zombies were played by friends and relatives. I’m willing to bet you won’t soon forget the final ironic scene. Worth revisiting, for sure. I give it a solid 4 stars.

Brahms: The Boy 2

After a horrific home invasion, Liza (Katie Holmes) and Sean (Owain Yeoman) decide to make a fresh start somewhere else, so they move into the remote English countryside, along with their son Jude (Christopher Convery). Ever since the incident, Jude hasn’t spoken, communicating only with the use of his writing pad, and his parents are naturally concerned.

 

 

Delighted with their new home, they decide to explore the area around it. Jude spies a hand sticking up from the dirt. He unearths it to discover a most unusual doll. He takes it home and they clean it up. Jude seems to like the doll, which bodes well for his recovery, right? When asked his name, Jude writes that it is Brahms… and that the doll told him this. Of course his parents chalked that up to their son having a great imagination.

Or does he?

 

Jude seems to be growing more and more defiant after presenting his family with the rules according to Brahms. Of course no one in their right minds would go along with such rules. Not to mention it’s only a doll, right? But Liza becomes very concerned when she finds pictures Jude has drawn, showing him standing over the dead bodies of his parents, holding a shot gun. She confides her concerns to Jude’s therapist, with whom he remains in contact via Facetime

Jude tries to tell them that Brahms will hurt them if they don’t follow the rules. Accidents happen, but are they really accidents? Is Jude acting up in Brahms’ name… or is there something more sinister going on?

Liza is determined to get to the bottom of things. They live near a manor house known as Heelshire,

abandoned and desolate. Liza follows Jude there and discovers a small entrance that leads behind the walls. Later, the caretaker/man in the woods tells her about the previous family, whose son killed a young girl and then lived for thirty years behind those walls. What was the boy’s name, she asks. 

Brahms.

Liza knows she has to do something or she’ll lose her son – and maybe her whole family – forever.

This is the sequel to The Boy, which I recently reviewed. And what made the first film interesting has been completely changed, but into what?  ****SPOILERS FOR THE BOY ahead*** In the first film, the doll turned out to be just a doll, and Brahms was actually alive and living in the walls. Much creepier than believing in a strange doll entity, right? But in the second film, there is no such explanation, and it’s all on the doll.

How does that even work? I don’t know, but stretches credulity. The film itself isn’t badly made or directed, despite the thin plot. However, Katie Holmes doesn’t give a particularly strong performance. Christopher Convery as Jude is sufficiently creepy, and so is the caretaker, played by Ralph Ineson, whom I never could decide if he was safe or sound or batshit crazy.

At the end of the film, Liza discovers that this doll goes back a long time, which seems to negate the premise of the first film.  Although the two films share the same director, I think someone else wrote the second, which explains much. I’m not sure what sort of vibe they were going for, but if it was supposed to be scary, it failed. 

Okay, I just read something about the ending explained. Let’s just say, it missed the mark, at least for me. I hope they’re done with this franchise. There are better films to watch. I’ll give this 2.5 stars, and shaky ones at that.

Saturday is Horror Day #12 – The Dentist 2 (x-posted at Full Moon Dreaming)

The Dentist 2

Dr. Alan Feinstone (Corbin Bernsen), the murderous dentist committed to a mental hospital after committing a number of murders (not to mention tearing out his wife’s tongue) has escaped, thanks to an inattentive psychiatrist. Deciding he’s done with dentistry, and all that other stuff, Dr. Feinstone becomes Dr. Caine, and settles into the peaceful small town of Paradise, Missouri. But Fate is not done with our good doctor, not yet….

Upon his arrival, Dr. Caine goes to his bank to retrieve his false IDs (obviously he’s thought ahead and

planned for this eventuality). He ends up renting a cottage behind the home of his very attractive landlady, Jamie (Jilliam McWhirter). Unfortunately, the doctor’s cap falls off his tooth and he is forced to go to the only dentist in town. This dentist is sadly lacking in basic hygiene, to Dr. Caine’s dismay, and he has to lecture him on such simple matters as using gloves and sterilizing his instruments. To make matters worse, Dr. Caine has barely left the man’s office when the cap falls off! He can’t let that stand, and he doesn’t.

Now that the only dentist in town is dead, Dr. Caine finds himself pressured to pick up the late dentist’s practice, which he is reluctant to do. His romance with Jamie is going well, until he spies her in town with another man, and she seems far too familiar with this man to his taste. All the old feelings come rushing back.

As if this isn’t bad enough, there is a private investigator who has been hired by the doctor’s ex-wife to find him. She wants payback for what he did to her and her lover. It’s only a matter of time until the PI catches up to him. Meanwhile, a woman at the bank is suspicious of the new dentist and starts checking on him.

I actually think I liked the sequel to The Dentist better than the original. Maybe I’m just used to his particular brand of crazy. Or maybe it’s just fun to see what he’s going to do next.  He is at war with his own nature, wanting to do good but unable to control that little devil inside of him who enjoys inflicting pain. It doesn’t help that he moves from LA to smalltown Missouri, and he doesn’t really understand the people who live there. (There actually is a Paradise, Missouri, by the way, across the state and close to Kansas City).

There’s something I’ll never understand about people in horror films, the ones who figure out someone isn’t who they claim to be. And the ones who figure out who they actually are (eg crazed dentist/killer). Why in the world would you let that person know you know who they are? That indicates some kind of a death wish, in my book. Personally, I’d just smile, never let them know I know, and get the hell away from them to alert the authorities. But of course that doesn’t happen, does it? Look for Clint Howard in a small role in this film.

All in all, not a bad watch. I’ll give it a solid 3.5 stars. Wonder if there will be a Dentist 3? Guess we’ll have to wait and find out.

Saturday is Horror Day – the reviews (x-posted at Full Moon Dreaming)

Good morning everyone and Happy Sunday!  Julie here. Hope you’re having a great week and staying safe!

 I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but I am very fond of horror films, and I’m always looking for more to watch. I keep a list of movies that I’ve picked up from various sources. Some are movies they say are too hard to finish, some are unknown gems. And there are some that turn out to be not worth watching. But I like to make Saturday my day of horror when I can. Last night I was watching one movie for the second time, thinking what a little known film it is and underappreciated. So I decided to review the movies I watch, to let my readers know what’s out there, in case you’re looking for something to watch.  I’ll start with yesterday. I watched three films – Black Christmas (1974), The Axe Murders of Villisca, and The Final Girls.

 

BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974) – From what I was reading, this film became the start of the slasher genre. Considering that back then, you could barely swear in movies, this one breaks that barrier for sure. It takes place in a college sorority where someone is hiding in the attic and killing co-eds. Other than being the first of the genre, there are some surprising people you would not expect to find in a horror movie. Olivia Hussey is best known for her portrayal of Juliet against Leonard Whiting’s Romeo in Romeo and Juliet. At least that’s all I know her from. Keir Dullea was in 2001: A Space Odyssey. And most surprising is Andrea Martin, whom I primarily know from SCTV. She’s a great comedian, who knew she did horror too? I guess a lot of actors start out in different genres than they end up in.

Oh, did I forget Margot Kidder? She’s there too, mostly known for having played Lois Lane to Christopher Reeve’s Superman, and for her later mental and emotional difficulties. Kidder is one of the sorority sisters who seems to be going for the record for drinking the most. She is a drunken mess most of the time. In fact, there seems to be a lot of drinking going on here. The sorority sisters are being harassed by a series of disturbing phone calls that no one else takes seriously. More than heavy breathing, there are assorted voices and strange sounds which are unnerving the girls. But the police don’t seem to take the calls seriously. Besides, they have a missing child case on their hands.

 

One of the girls is pregnant and planning to have an abortion, but her boyfriend is adamantly against the idea. The story starts as Christmas break is about to begin. One of the girls’ fathers was supposed to meet his daughter but she never showed up. And the fun has just begun…

Although a little dated now, this is worth a watch, although the genre has come a long way since then. The alcoholic house mother is so ridiculous she’s hilarious, with stashes of booze hidden in the strangest places. One of the policemen’s prank on one of his fellow officers is hilarious, if a little dated (you have to realize that at one time the first two digits of a phone number actually stood for something). All I’ll say about the joke is that you have to know what fellatio is (which the cop didn’t, obviously) in order to fully appreciate the humor.

I guess I rate this at three out of five stars. I did notice there is another Black Christmas, done in 2006, which also takes place in a sorority house. Not sure if it’s intended as a reboot or remake or what, but this one has a few people you might know too, such as Michelle Trachtenberg, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Lacey Chabert. Also, Andrea Martin is in this too, which lends credence to the reboot theory. Also look for Oliver Hudson, son of Goldie Hawn and brother to Kate Hudson.

THE AXE MURDERS OF VILLISCA – 


This film is based on a true story. In 1912, someone broke into a house in Villisca, Iowa and killed the eight people sleeping there. I did some digging. While they call the case unsolved, there was a confession, although the man wasn’t convicted because of a mistrial. To me, that’s just a technicality.

Now it’s years later, as we meet the protagonists of our film. Caleb, Denny, and Jess. Jess is the new girl at the high school, who has a “reputation” due to an unfortunate video of her. Caleb and Denny are best friends, each with his own troubled past. They have a video blog that deals with the supernatural and paranormal. They are going to take a tour of the house in Villisca for their blog, and Jess ends up going along, to Denny’s annoyance. 

At the murder house, mannikins take the place of the murder victims, killed in bed by the axe-wielding fiend. The owner of the house takes the three on the tour, only to cut it short when Jess goes where she shouldn’t. Denny is pissed until Jess suggests they come back later, since obviously the man and his wife don’t sleep there as the beds are all taken with mannikins.

Back inside the house, trouble begins when they discover they are far from alone, and the spirits of the deceased are very much with them. Add to that two other students who like to make life hell, and you have a recipe for disaster.

This film was made in 2016 and has much greater production values than our first film. But in all fairness, it’s forty years later and technology has greatly advanced since the first one was made. The acting is decent for the genre. I didn’t recognize any of the cast other than Conchata Ferrell, who plays the principal of the high school. Everyone has a troubled back story, and these all come out as the movie progresses. Sometimes a little hokey, with the spirit possession and all, but nonetheless entertaining enough for a view. I’ve seen a lot worse.  I think it’s a worthwhile watch, and I’ll give it 3.5 stars.

 

THE FINAL GIRLS – This is the film that got me thinking it deserves more attention than I think it has received. This was actually my second time watching this one.

Max’s mother is a a struggling actress, who is only remembered by her peers and her adoring fans for a teen slasher pic she made twenty years before, Camp Bloodbath. In a tragic accident at the start of the film, she is killed and Max goes to live with her aunt. Three years later, Max is still grieving her mother’s loss when she is approached by her best friend Gertie’s stepbrother, Duncan, to appear at a film festival that night to mark the anniversary of the Camp Bloodbath films. Max is reluctant but agrees to show up when he promises to do her homework for the rest of the year. It doesn’t hurt that the guy she likes, Chris, offers to go. He’s the ex of a former friend of Max (I know, complicated teen lives).

At the film showing, an accidental fire erupts, and Max and her friends are trapped by the screen, the only way out being to cut through it, which they do, and step into… the movie? Suddenly they find themselves inside the film Camp Bloodbath, along with all the cast from the movie. Despite their best efforts, they can’t get away from the place. It’s like a living nightmare. The only way out is to survive the killer, and the only way to do that, from a logical standpoint, is to stick with the final girl. (For those who don’t know, the final girl is the one who survives the killer and ends up killing him in order to do so).

But how well is this plan going to work?


This film is so good, I just loved it. The premise is unique among horror films, and it’s actually very funny, but also has its touching moments, primarily with Max and her mother, who is part of the cast and very much alive within the context of the film. Max gets to experience her again, even if her mother doesn’t realize who she is. But they bond nonetheless. Taissa Farmiga plays Max, and Alexander Ludwig is Chris. If you have seen Vikings, you’ll recognize him as Bjorn Ironside, son of Ragnar Lothbrok. And appearing as Max’s one time friend, Chris’ ex, is Nina Dobrev of Vampire Diaries fame. While I don’t like her in that, she acquits herself well in this film.

The characters in Camp Bloodbath are definite stereotypes, such as the overly horny busty female, and her male counterpart, the quiet brilliant student, and the shy quiet girl. But that’s what also makes it hilarious too. I guess that makes it a horror comedy. Kind of like the Geico commercial that’s a spoof on horror films that shows the teens making all bad choices and the chainsaw-wielding killer shaking his head at their stupidity. This is my favorite of the three I watched yesterday.

I hope you enjoyed my reviews, I hope to do more of these, maybe go back and cover ones I watched before, such as The Autopsy of Jane Done (another little known gem which has Brian Cox in it!).

Enjoy your day and be safe!

Wednesday Briefs: January 27, 2020

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Super Trooper #53 (12.4) by Julie Lynn Hayes

Evan’s night had been a long one, but relatively uneventful. He’d issued warnings to a few speeders, ticketed a couple he recognized as repeat offenders. Helped a stranded motorist with a flat tire and was called to the scene of a domestic dispute which ended with him taking an abusive spouse to jail. Now he was done, paperwork complete and turned in, and he was ready to call it a night.

The trouble was that for once the thought of going home didn’t appeal to him. And that only served to make him feel guiltier than he already felt.

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Wednesday Briefs: November 25, 2020

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Mates Come First: Chapter 2B by Carol Pedroso

Mr. Mosely huffed and the glow dissipated. “Do you know what he looked like when I found him? He had a glamour on, but it was no trouble for me to see through it.” An image shimmered in the air over the counter, and suddenly Mica was looking at a revolving image of Owen’s head. He gasped at the black bruises around both Owen’s eyes. His cheek was sunken in—it could have been broken. The image panned down, and Mica saw Owen’s arm was at a wrong angle and one of his fingers was so swollen Mica doubted Owen would have been able to use it.

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Wednesday Briefs: October 28, 2020

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Phases of Moon: Part 44 by J. Alan Veerkamp

Fergus had been barely able to sit still since Jimmy called.

“I have the rogue. Meet me in an hour.”


Other than a meeting place, the cryptic call had been cut short. Normally, Fergus would have been put off by the brusque disconnection, but the excitement won over. Months of waiting for Jimmy to complete his mission and bring the rogue wolf to him would finally be over. He’d been starting to worry it might never end. Tying up the loose end would go a long way to easing his nights.

Waiting in his truck on the side of the forgotten stretch of dirt road, Fergus checked his phone for the umpteenth time.

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Wednesday Briefs: October 7, 2020

 

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Phases of Moon: Part 38 by J. Alan Veerkamp

“I can’t read this tonight.”

With a beleaguered sigh, Sawyer tossed the paperback on the end table. The prose was questionable, the plot barely existent, and he only purchased it because the swarthy pirate on the cover reminded him of Jimmy.

“You’re so sad, Sawyer.” He didn’t usually talk to himself, but the empty house felt abnormally hollow this evening.

Jada had left for her pottery class over an hour ago. Or was it her yoga class night? For the life of him, he couldn’t remember her schedule. Ugh, he’d been such a lousy husband. No wonder she’d wanted out.

 

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Wednesday Briefs: In Pieces #85 (20.3)

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Here Kitty Kitty: Chapter 26.1, by Carol Pedroso

Tristan kept his senses open but there was no one to be seen. It seemed the prisoner had been telling the truth about how stupid Cheryl’s hired scum were. Once a section was checked they didn’t leave any guards, and no one bothered to recheck.

They turned into a hallway and Kitryn let out a snarl when a man appeared out of nowhere. He then let out a grunt when Tristan barrelled into his side knocking him out of the path of a mage ball just in time.

“Father.” Tristan’s anguished yell echoed through the hallway.

Kersin Nirthfell sneered.

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Wednesday Briefs: December 25, 2019

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

In Pieces #84 (20.2) by Julie Lynn Hayes

They sat out on the patio and talked for a while, giving Ben and Cassie a chance to get to know one another. Ryan was very happy that his two favorite people in the world could finally meet. Afterward, they carried in their luggage and took it to the room they’d once shared. Cassie had made a few changes in the room in the short time Ryan had been gone, but they were good ones. She’d taken out the two single beds and replaced them with a full-sized bed with matching furniture. Ryan was just as surprised as Ben.

“This looks great,” he kept saying, and Cassie beamed.

“I was hoping you would like it,” she said with a knowing glance between the two

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