Category Archives: Saturday is Horror Day

Saturday is Horror Day #16 – The Hills Have Eyes 2 (1984)

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

The Hills Have Eyes 2 (1984)

While headed to a race, a group of bikers make the unfortunate decision to go off the beaten path in order to save time and get to the race before it starts. However, they soon find themselves being stalked by some of the locals, who just happen to be a family of survivalist inbred cannibals

Can this end well for anyone?

 

You know the saying, stupid is as stupid does. That pretty well sums up this film. Stupid people doing stupid things. Another saying goes You play stupid games, you win stupid prizes. That applies here as well. The decision to take a short cut despite posted signs that warn travelers not to leave the paved road was a terrible one. Especially since they are familiar with the story of the family who came to an untimely end there and they actually know of the survivors. Not to mention that one of the people with them is actually a member of that family! She should have known better, right?

 

On top of an unbelievable plot, add poor acting and a terrible script. While Papa Jupiter died in the first film, apparently his brother, The Reaper, has come to take his place. He doesn’t speak, just grunts a lot, unlike his nephew, Pluto, whom I don’t remember speaking very much in the first film. The plot is contrived at best, and unbelievable. Hard to believe Wes Craven is responsible for this garbage.

I don’t recommend watching it, seriously. I gave the first film 3 stars. I’ll give this one a shaky 2 stars, maybe even 1.5. These people deserved to die for being so stupid. But not the dog. I hope the remake of this franchise is better. I’m going to give it a go.

Saturday is Horror Day #14 – The Boy, The Hills Have Eyes (1977) (x-posted at Full Moon Dreaming)

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

The Boy

In order to escape from a bad situation at home, Greta, an American nanny (Lauren Cohan) takes a job in a large house in a remote village in the English countryside. Upon arrival, she meets Malcolm (Rupert Evans), who works as the handyman for the elderly couple who have hired her. Although she is not open to any sort of relationship, he assures her that he won’t press, and she relaxes into a friendship with the likeable Malcolm.

 

The couple who hired her are the Heelshires, and when they introduce her to their son Brahms, Greta is

shocked to discover that their “son” is a doll. An actual, doll. Although she is creeped out by this, she remains polite as the mother and father treat the doll as though he were real. They are going on their first vacation in many years and can’t wait to get away, leaving her with a list of rules that must be followed.

From the beginning, Greta finds the house to be spooky, and not only does she hear things behind the walls, but the doll seems to shift locations on its own. Some of her things disappear too, and once she finds herself trapped in the attic.

 

Some of the rules are even creepy, such as reading to Brahms in a loud voice. Also, he loves to listen to his music loud as well. The couple don’t throw leftovers away but freeze them instead. But when Greta contacts her sister who sent her there, her sister tells her she’s imagining things and to tough it out. Meanwhile, she finds herself being drawn more and more to Malcolm.

And then Greta finally discovers the truth. Now what’s she supposed to do?

At first, I wasn’t sure what to make of this film. I mean the idea that this old couple would treat a doll like a flesh and blood child, and then pay for a nanny just so they could go on vacation, seems absurd and maybe a little idiotic. But keep watching, and things fall into place. There are even well-placed subtle clues if you know where to look.

There is a certain creepy factor to this story which only adds to the atmosphere. What could have been something trite and stupid is actually rather unique, and it stands out from other horror films in not being the same old same old. This was definitely worth watching, and I give it a solid 3.5 stars.

The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

While en route to California, a family vacation is sidetracked when the father decides to search for a rumored silver mine. Misfortune follows when their car runs off the road, stranding them in the middle of nowhere. The problem is they are far from anywhere, but they are far from alone.

 

 

There are people in the hills, uncivilized backwoodsmen who have an appetite for meat… of any kind. The situation quickly becomes a survival of the fittest, as the family fight for their lives against people who have no problem with killing everyone they see.

 

 

This film is an early Wes Craven, after his debut with The Last House on the Left. Like that, this film has scenes of harsh violence and there is a definite creepiness factor with this family of savages in the desert. It’s an interesting watch, especially for the 70’s, as the stranded family struggles to survive when there seems no help of rescue. Look for Dee Wallace as the mother with the young baby in this (you might remember her as the mother in ET).  I plan to watch the sequel, and then the updated versions, done in 2006. I do recommend watching this, and I give it a solid 3 stars.

 

Saturday is Horror Day #13 – Stonehearst Asylum, Mary (2019) – (x-posted at Full Moon Horror)

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Stonehearst Asylum

 

Edward Newgate (Jim Sturgess) is a new doctor who has gone to Stonehearst Asylum to obtain practical experience in order to complete his education. The asylum is run by Silas Lamb (Ben Kingsley), who has what Newgate finds to be an unusual method of treating his patients. He makes no effort to cure them, claiming that they are happier as they are. And he allows them the freedom of the asylum. Lamb’s assistant, Mickey Finn (David Thewlis) is rude and crude, with a twisted sense of humor. Newgate finds himself drawn to one of the inmates, Eliza Graves (Kate Beckinsale). She is beautiful and enigmatic, and he longs to learn more about her.

 

Wondering about Lamb’s methods and philosophy, Newgate explores the asylum and discovers more than he bargained for in the form of cells containing inmates who are locked up for some reason, including a man named Benjamin Salt (Michael Caine). They question who he is even as he questions them as to why they are there. But can he believe what they tell him? Can Salt be the real superintendent of the asylum?

 

Are the inmates really running the asylum?

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this film, based on a story by Edgar Alan Poe (which one, I have yet to discover). I figured out the twist right away, but after that, all bets were off. If you’ve ever seen the film Asylum, you might know what I’m referring to. Otherwise, I won’t give that away, although it’s fairly obvious early on.

 

The settings are well done and very turn of the century, as 1899 is about to become 1900, which event

must of course be celebrated. I think it was well written, and has quite the cast. David Thewlis is quite the chameleon. He can play the sweet, mild-mannered Remus Lupin, or this maniacal madman who doesn’t ever seem quite right. Kate Beckinsale is a tragic figure as Eliza Graves, who supposedly bit off her husband’s ear, which is why she has been placed in the asylum. A fact that Mickey Finn doesn’t hesitate to bring up. Look for a funny moment when Newgate finds humor in Finn’s name.
 
While this film may not be filled with jump scares or the traditional trappings of horror, it has its own horror and creepiness factor, which leaves you wondering until the end what is going to happen. Guess if you like, but I bet you won’t see it coming. I give this a solid 4 stars.

 

Mary (2019)

David (Gary Oldman) and Sarah’s (Emily Mortimer) marriage is foundering on the rocks, after Sarah’s infidelity, but they are working at staying together, for themselves and for their two daughters. When David runs across a less than perfect ship for sale, he envisions their future as the owners of this vessel, which they will use for charter tours and which will provide for their future. Sarah wants to say no, but she’s not really in a position to go against David’s wishes, so she bites her tongue and agrees to the purchase, although it will take everything they have and then some.

They decide to take the family on a trial run/vacation, and head up toward Bermuda, along with the crew, which consists of David’s friend Mike (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), and a young man named Tommy (Owen Teague). Tommy and the older daughter Lindsey (Stefanie Scott) hit it off right away, and it seems to be smooth sailing…

until it isn’t.

Sarah thinks she is seeing and hearing things, and Tommy thinks the masthead, which comes from the original vessel, speaks to him. Younger daughter Mary (Chloe Perrin), who is artistically inclined, is drawing strange figures, for no apparent reason. The further out to sea the ship goes, the worse it gets. Sarah is beginning to think there is an evil entity on this ship, and it’s after her family!

 

This wasn’t a bad film, but it wasn’t a great film either. Not really scary, maybe a couple of jump scares. My biggest problem is that the story behind what’s going on doesn’t really make sense to me or explain anything. The acting and directing aren’t bad (look for Gary Oldman’s manager in a small role at the beginning). But the story is definitely lacking, and if you can’t become invested in the story, what do you have? A movie that tries too hard and achieves too little.

 

If you’re a fan of Oldman, you might enjoy it. Or if you like creepy spirits on a ship in the middle of the ocean. I’ll give it a shaky 3 stars and say everyone meant well, but it just didn’t work well enough.

Saturday is Horror Day #11 – Nosferatu (1922) – (x-posted at Full Moon Dreaming)

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 Nosferatu (1922)


A young married man  named Thomas Hutter (Gustav von Wangenheim) is sent on a business trip by his employer Knock (Alexander Granach). The purpose of his trip is to help finalize the sale of a house in England to a distant customer, Count Orlok (Max Schreck) in Transylvania. Although missing his wife Ellen (Great Schroder). Hutter dutifully makes the trip. But the closer to the Count’s home he gets, the more the people become nervous and afraid for him. He can’t even get transportation all the way to his destination, as the driver refuses to go any closer. But as he sets out to walk the remaining distance, a carriage appears, and its strange driver beckons to Hutter to get in.

Hutter finds the castle eerie and the count peculiar. But business is business, and once he is done he can


return to his beloved wife. While going through some papers, Hutter accidentally drops a miniature of his beloved, which the Count picks up. The odd nobleman seems quite taken with Hutter’s pretty missus, to his consternation. Things get even eerier when at night, he spies the Count loading coffin-shaped boxes onto a wagon, all by himself! When Hutter investigates during the day, he discovers the Count lying in a coffin, and realizes he has to get out of there as soon as possible! But he is stricken by a strange illness, and begins to wonder if he will ever make his way home.

Ellen anxiously awaits her husband’s return, in the company of her husband’s friend, Harding, and Harding’s sister Ruth (Ruth Landshoff). In the meantime, the Count has acquired passage for himself and his boxes on a ship bound for England. But strange things begin to happen on this vessel. Sailors grow sick and die, but no one can determine the cause. And when the ship pulls into the port, there is no one left alive.

 

The village begins to be troubled by mysterious deaths for which the citizens find a scapegoat – the increasingly erratic Knock, who has fallen under the Count’s spell, albeit from a distance, and who looks forward to the master’s arrival.

Hutter returns at last, to Ellen’s relief, and she finds the book he was reading while in Transylvania, Nosferatur, which gave him such terrible nightmares. He warns her not to read the book but she can’t help herself, and finds herself drawn to the mysterious Count. According to legend, only a beautiful maiden can break the curse of Nosferatu, by keeping him in thrall until the cock crows, and with her blood. Ellen knows what needs to be done…

This is the German film that started it all, the first cinematic version of Dracula, even before Bela Lugosi enchanted us so so me years later. Director F.W. Murnau has given us a cinematic classic. The reason  it wasn’t called Dracula, even though it’s taken from the novel by Bram Stoker, had to do with problems with the Stoker estate  This film is silent, and being silent, of course everything is told in the actor’s actions, as well as the dialogue cards. To those unused to silent films, the action may come across as melodramatic and over the top. But even almost a hundred years later, Nosfterau has a presence that can’t be denied. The music, the cinematography, the editing, as well as the performances, add up to a classic horror film which stands the test of time. This is my first time viewing it, but won’t be the last. One of the scenes which impressed me was the arrival of the ship, an ordinary event, and yet so not ordinary considering what is about to unleased on an unknowing city. Next time I’ll watch it at night, I’m sure it will add an element of gothic horror.

I recommend this film, and give it a solid 4 stars.

Saturday is Horror Day #10 – The Flesh and the Fiends, The Thompsons

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

The Flesh and the Fiends


In 1828 Scotland, medical research and anatomy studies depend on having cadavers to study. Dr. Robert Knox (Peter Cushing), an eminent surgeon, purchases bodies from a pair of ne’er-do-wells, Burke (George Rose) and Hare (Donald Pleasance), who are not above robbing a grave in order to supply the good doctor.

 

 

Before long, the lazy pair discover that they can get corpses without the trouble of digging them up and get more money for the fresher bodies, namely by killing people on the streets in the middle of the night! Dr. Knox remains oblivious to what they are doing, and never questions their methods,  although his assistants do. When Dr. Knox’s niece Martha (June Laverick) comes to stay after an absence of three years, she catches the eye of Dr. Mitchell (Dermot Walsh), while student Chris Jackson (John Cairney) becomes enamored of a young woman, Mary Patterson (Billie Whitelaw), who is known to frequent pubs and likes to have a good time.

 

Burke and Hare come under suspicion as people begin to turn up missing. How long can Dr. Knox turn a blind eye to their shenanigans?


I am a long-time Peter Cushing fan and was thrilled to find this film I wasn’t familiar with, on Shudder. It has the feel of a Hammer film, although it isn’t one. Peter Cushing is great, as always, and I enjoyed watching Donald Pleasance play the creepily sinister William Hare. The film is based on the true story of Burke and Hare, and can also be seen in The Body Snatcher, with Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. The Flesh and the Fiends is a little known, underappreciated gem among horror movies. It has a definite dark and creepy atmosphere, and is well worth viewing, especially for the performances of Cushing, Pleasance, and Rose. I’ll give it a solid 4 stars.

The Thompsons


The Hamiltons, now going by the Thompsons, have had to move on, their dark family secret having been uncovered. Knowing little of their late parents’ past, their only clue is the name of a village in England, and the name Manderson. So it’s off to Europe for the Thompsons!

 

 

Unfortunately, they run afoul of a couple of robbers, and Lenny is hurt. Now it’s imperative that they find him help as soon as possible. Francis finds the small village in question, and the pub where he may find Manderson. But again, things go awry, and he gets more than he bargained for. Turns out the Mandersons are kinfolk, and that’s not all they have in common.

 

The second movie begins where the first one ends, picking up in the middle of events as we find Francis trapped in a box, and of course he has to explain what led to this. Cue flashbacks. The entire movie concerns finding these relatives, who are even more sadistic and bloodthirsty than their American cousins, and who have their own plans for them. In particularly, for Darlene, as she seems to be the last hope for the continuation of their bloodline.

Frankly, the plot is thin at best, with not much more than the Thompsons vs the Mandersons. Mainly an excuse for fighting and bloodletting…. and more fighting and bloodletting. That wears thin quickly. The writers seem intent on showing the Thompsons in a more favorable light than in the first film, as if they are trying to make them out to be human. They’re not vampires, they have a disease, one that requires them to have a diet of blood. 

 

Honestly, there just isn’t a lot of meat to this one, and I found myself getting bored. Certainly not scary. The first movie wasn’t great, this one is barely decent. And I’m being kind here. I’ll just give it a soft 2 stars and suggest you find something else to watch. Like The Flesh and the Fiends.

Saturday is Horror Day – Suspiria (1977), Train to Busan

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 Suspiria (1977)

On a dark and stormy night, American Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) arrives at the prestigious German ballet school where she has been accepted as a student only to be told by a voice over the  intercom to go away. Just as she arrives, she sees another young woman rush out of the building, who mutters some strange words before disappearing into the night. Suzy Bannion returns the next day to a much better reception.

 

From the beginning, Suzy shows herself to be strong-minded, a trait not necessarily desirable at the

school, which seems to be oddly controlling. Since a room is not immediately available for her, Suzy makes arrangements to sleep elsewhere and is settled in before going to her first rehearsal. There she falls perilously ill. Despite her protestations, the autocratic dance mistress pushes her until she collapses. The proprietress of the school, Madame Blanc (Joan Bennett) is very solicitous and Suzy is cared for the school’s Professor Milius (Rudolf Schundler) who puts her on bedrest and a bland diet, although he prescribes wine to build up her blood. While she is asleep, someone has gone to her lodgings and brought her things back although Suzy was very clear that she did not want that!

Strange things are happening at the school, including an infestation of grotesque maggots on the floor just below the attic, which necessitates the girls on that floor sleep downstairs in a makeshift dormitory arrangement. Suzy befriends another girl, Sara (Stefania Casini), who tells her a story about a strange snoring noise. Sara wonders where the teachers go at night, since they all leave at 8:30, and what do they do?

 

The blind piano player for the school is cruelly dismissed by the dance mistress, and ends up meeting a horrible death. Suzy and Sara are determined to get to the bottom of whatever is going on at this school But at what price?

This movie was recommended to me, I forget by which site, as a  horror gem, but for the life of me I am not sure why it has garnered such great reviews. The sets are uniquely strange, and the cinematography isn’t bad, sometimes rather effective. Ditto for the background music, with performances by a group called Goblin. The plot is more shocking than scary, and that has to be some of the worst movie blood I’ve ever seen. Straight up looked like red paint.

 

And the acting… oh, the acting…. Sorry, but it was horrible. I think I could do better, and I don’t act. Joan Bennett you may remember from Dark Shadows. I also remember her from an old version of The Man in the Iron Mask. But her delivery has always been rather stiff and stilted, and nothing has changed there. Apparently, this was her last film. The lead, Jessica Harper,  turned down in a part in Annie Hall to do this film. I wonder how she felt about that later.

I read that the actors spoke different languages while shooting and all was dubbed into English later, which accounts for the bad sound of the dialogue. The ending doesn’t provide a satisfactory explanation of what just happened. I leave it to you whether to even bother watching. I’ll just give it a shaky 3 stars out of 5, and hope that the 2018 remake is better.

Train to Busan

Su-an Kim is a young girl who lives with her father, as her parents are currently separated. Her mother lives in Busan, and Su-an misses her greatly. But her father is a busy man, and he doesn’t have time to take her to visit her mother. Seems like he doesn’t have time for a lot of things. Su-an secretly telephones her mother and says she wants to see her the next day, and swears she can take the train alone. Her father overhears, and tries to placate her by giving her her birthday present early. Turns out Dad wasn’t paying attention, and Su-an already has a Wii. So he finds himself agreeing to take his daughter to Busan to visit her mother.

As the train prepares to leave, a young lady manages to climb aboard, but she seems to be in a bad way. And as the train pulls out of the station, something very odd seems to be happening.

 

What began as a simple train ride becomes a fight for survival, as people become rabid zombies right before everyone’s eyes. And this strange phenomenon is happening everywhere. Why and how did this start? And how can anyone survive/ Is there any place that is safe?

 

This was a very unusual zombie film, and I loved it. More than a simple horror film, it is about people and about survival, about working together for the common good. But the situation also brings out the selfish and the brutal in people, who can only see as far as their own needs. Everything in this Korean film is excellent, from direction to acting to story to cinematography. I am looking forward to seeing the sequel.

Word of advice – keep some Kleenex handy for this one, you’ll need it. I give this film a very strong 5 star rating.

Saturday is Horror Day #8 (x-posted at Full Moon Dreaming) – Swiss Army Man, The Babadook

Reviewed by: Julie Lynn Hayes

 Swiss Army Man

Stranded and alone and sure he will never be found or loved again, Hank (Paul Dano) decides to take his own life. Poised on the top of his cooler, his head in the noose, he suddenly spies what seems to be another person washed up on the beach. Almost killing himself to reach that person, he discovers what appears to be a corpse. But appearances can be deceiving, as Hank discovers when the corpse (Daniel Radcliffe) begins to convulse.

 

Beside himself with joy at no longer being alone, Hank discovers that his newfound friend is very flatulent, even if silent. Harnessing the power of his flatulence, Hank finds himself on top of the corpse, whom he names Manny, and is swiftly cutting across the water thanks to his strong gassiness.

 

Hank and Manny thus begin their long journey together, during which Hank discovers all sorts of uses for Manny, in the strange powers he possesses – much like a Swiss Army knife. Manny’s spit is fresh water for Hank, and he can break things with his hands. When Manny spies Hank’s phone, he asks about the girl in the picture. Hank is embarrassed to admit she’s a random girl on the bus he has always been too scared to speak to. He leads Manny to believe the phone is his, and the girl is his sweetheart, giving Manny something to look forward to when they get home.

All right, maybe strictly speaking this isn’t a horror film, but it has a dead guy in it who talks and a 

whole lot more, so I’m including it. And hey, it’s Daniel Radcliffe, whom we saw last week in The Woman in Black. This was a surprisingly different movie than I expected. I think it’s much deeper than strictly the story of a farting corpse. I believe it’s Hank’s journey to find himself, and to work through all the angst in his life. Interpret the ending however you like, but this film will make you think about a lot of things.

The Babadook

Amelia Vanek(Essie Davis) is a single mother doing her best to raise her seven-year-old son Samuel (Noah Wiseman) on her own. Her husband was killed on the night Samuel was born, while driving AMelia to the hospital. Samuel is a very bright, creative boy who loves his mother dearly, but finds himself shunned by the other children and their mothers because they find him to be too different.

 

While Amelia loves her son, she has never gotten over the death of her husband, and she finds herself stressed all the time, which isn’t helped by Samuel’s clinginess, and the way he ends up in her bed because of his vivid imagination. He finds a book on the shelf which he requests she read to him, so she does, about someone called Mr. Babadook. For a children’s book, it sounds scary, and she isn’t sure it’s appropriate for her son. That idea is reinforced when he becomes convinced that the Babdook will get them if she lets him in.

 

The situation goes from bad to worse as Amelia’s friends don’t want to have her son around, his behavior gets him removed from school, and she doesn’t know how to deal with his nightmares, and his insistence that he will save her from the mysterious Babdook. Sometimes, she just wishes, her husband hadn’t been the one to die that night….

The Babdook is a gripping story about a woman who is trying to cope with stress/PTSD and unresolved grief, and then is faced with a supernatural creature who seems to want to take her son. Amelia is doing the best she can, but her continued lack of proper sleep puts them all in grave danger, as she becomes more and more unable to cope with the reality of her life. As the film progresses, we see a reversal in the roles of Amelia and Samuel as she regresses and he becomes more and more determined to protect the mother he loves.

This is a film that really begs to be paid attention to. It’s deeper than you might think it is. I would give it a solid 4 out of 5 stars. But don’t look for a sequel, there won’t be one.

Saturday is Horror Day #7 – The Woman in Black (1989), The Dentist (x-posted at Full Moon Dreaming)

Reviewed by: Julie Lynn Hayes

The Woman in Black (1989) 

 


Grieving widower Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) is sent on business to a remote region, leaving his son Joseph with the nanny. He promises Joseph they will be reunited in just a few days when the nanny brings him on the train to meet him. Arthur is a solicitor who has to go through all the papers left on an estate, which is a tall order indeed. On his arrival, Arthur gets the distinct impression that no one wants him there. His room reservations suddenly don’t exist, and everyone seems determined to put him on the next train back to London. But Arthur isn’t one to give up quite so easily.

 

 


On the train, he strikes up an acquaintance with a man from the village, Sam Daily (Ciaran Hinds). Hitting it off, Sam invites Arthur to dinner the following night and Arthur agrees. The estate where Arthur is to work is sadly neglected and very desolate. And yet Arthur spies a woman on the property, one dressed entirely in black. On his return to the village, he happens to be at the constable’s office when two young boys bring in a girl who is in a bad way, having apparently drunk lye. Before Arthur can even think what to do, the girl dies in his arms. And now the villagers are more adamant than ever that he must go, that it’s his fault the girl died.

 

When he goes to dinner at the house of his new friend, Sam warns Arthur not to talk about children, if at all possible. He and his wife (Janet McTeer) lost their son, Nathaniel, and he doesn’t wish to distress her. But Arthur learns there is more to that story when, at the dinner table, Mrs. Daily talks of how her son liked to draw and still does and then proceeds to jab a knife into the wood table, gouging it severely before her husband calms her down.

 

Sam doesn’t believe in the supernatural, but since his wife’s death, Arthur isn’t so sure. And now he’s seeing and hearing things that make him wonder who is the woman in black, and what does she have to do with the deaths of the children?

I have to admit I wasn’t sure what to expect of this film, or of Daniel Radcliffe. I was just beginning to think it a run of the mill gothic when suddenly it wasn’t. And yes, I’ll admit I jumped at least once. The premise has been used before. We saw it in Dracula with Jonathan Harker going to Dracula’s estate in order to discuss legal matters with him. But this version sees Radcliffe as a grieving widower trying to deal with the loss of his wife while raising the son he loves more than anything.

This film has a definite Gothic atmosphere, and a rather creepy vibe as we watch Arthur become sidetracked from his duties by the mystery of the woman in black, whom he has seen more than once. And every time he sees her, another child dies. I really liked it, and definitely didn’t see the ending coming. Definitely worth the watch, I give it a pretty solid 4 stars.

The Dentist

 


Dr. Alan Feinstone (Corbin Bernsen) is a successful dentist with more than just a cleanliness fetish – he absolutely abhors anything that is even a little dirty. Finding out that his young blonde wife is cheating on him, with no less than the pool man, who is filthy and dirty by the very nature of what he does, sends Alan careening over the edge, spiraling into madness… and revenge.

While spying on the pool man at his neighbor’s house (she’s also carrying on with the man), the good

 


doctor is attacked by her dog, whom he dispatches with cold efficiency. Long overdue at the office, his 


patients are growing impatient, and his loyal office staff is trying to placate them. When the doctor is finally in, he starts to keep his appointments, including that of a budding starlet, April Reign (Christa Sauls) who has been brought by her manager, Steve (Mark Ruffalo). Upset over the perfidy of his wife, the doctor hallucinates and begins to molest the poor woman while in the chair. He comes to himself to find her panty hose on the floor, her bra undone. He hastily tries to make repairs, but ends up shoving the panty hose under the table, and telling her manager to take her out for fresh air as she’s had a bad reaction to something.

As if things weren’t difficult enough, the doctor has been dodging calls from an IRS agent, until the agent shows up on his doorstep and can’t be ignored any longer. How will he deal with him, with so much on his plate?


Luring his unsuspecting cheating wife to his office under the pretext they are going out, he introduces her to a new chair he’s had installed at his office, and to a rather unusual producedure. Later he takes her home and wreaks vengeance on the hapless pool man.

The doctor can’t seem to catch a break, and people are catching on. So, like the Energizer Bunny, he keeps going and going and…

This was an interesting role to see Corbin Bernsen play, as I mostly known him from his stint as the sleazy divorce lawyer Arnie Becker on LA Law. I think he was already not too tightly wound from the beginning with his compulsions and his visions, but the discovery of his wife’s adultery caused him to snap. I think the strength of this film lies in trying to figure out just how far this crazy dentist will go to get revenge, no matter who gets hurt. Not a great film, but I do intend to watch the sequel. I’ll give it a solid 3 stars.

Saturday is Horror Day #6 – Absentia, The House of the Devil (x-posted at Full Moon Dreaming)

Reviewed by: Julie Lynn Hayes

Absentia (2011)

Seven years have passed since Tricia’s husband Daniel went missing. Seven long years of wondering what the hell happened, where did he go, and why. Finally, Tricia decides it’s time to move on and have Daniel declared dead in absentia, since it’s clear he isn’t coming back, for whatever reason. Tricia’s sister Callie joins her in order to help her move on. Callie is something of a wanderer, flitting about from place to place, setting down no permanent roots. And she was a junkie, but she’s clean now and she’s found religion. Also, Tricia is pregnant, but she is reticent about revealing the name of her baby daddy.

Strange things begin to happen. Tricia thinks she sees her missing husband and he terrifies her. Her

therapist assures her it’s just the stress of finally declaring him dead that has triggered these sightings. While on a run, Callie encounters a strange man in a nearby tunnel. His first question to her is, “You can see me?” He creeps her out and she goes on her way, but returns later, with food for the man, as her Christian duty. But he isn’t there.

And then the unexplainable occurs… Daniel returns. 

Tricia’s world seems to be falling apart. Daniel doesn’t seem to be the same man, and she is torn between her husband and the father of her baby. Something very odd is going on, to say the least, but what is she supposed to do?

 

Absentia is a very quiet kind of psychological horror film which revolves around the resolution of grief, never an easy task.  There are some creepy moments, but nothing overtly horrifying. And yet at the same time, the premise is horrifying as we try to suss out what happened to Daniel, and can it happen again? To him… or anyone? The mind sometimes finds certain facts or suppositions difficult to accept. But the easy answer is not always the right one.

This was a good film, worth watching. Decide for yourself what happened. And think twice about entering creepy tunnels. I give this film 3.5 stars.

House of the Devil (2009)

Samantha (Jocelin Donahue) is a college sophomore who longs to move out of the dorm she shares with her friend Megan (Greta Gerwig) and into her own place, one where she won’t have to worry about not getting into her own room because her roommate is entertaining. She finds a great apartment with a very understanding landlady (Dee Wallace) who only asks for $300 first month rent, no down payment. The trouble is Samantha needs the money by Monday and today is Wednesday. She has to do something fast!

An answer to her prayers arrives in the form of an advertisement on campus for a babysitter. One night only for $100. Seems too good to be true… and it is. When Megan drops Samantha off at the house in the middle of nowhere, she tries to persuade Samantha it’s not a good idea, but Samantha is stubborn. They both go into the house and meet the man who placed the ad, Mr. Ulman (Tom Noonan, who played Francis Dolarhyde in Red Dragon). But here’s the catch. Turns out there is no child, just an elderly woman. When Samantha balks, Mr. Ulman increases his offer. Finally, Samantha demands and receives $400. What the heck, it’s just for a few hours. She’ll watch TV and come home with the money she needs.

If only life were that simple….

This is one of those films where you wonder how anyone can ignore so many red flags. Seriously?

Granted, this takes place in the 1980s, so no cell phones, no Internet, only rotary phones and Walkman. Even so, Samantha ignores the signs that even her roommate catches on to, such as the way the guy stood her up initially. His willingness to pay so much for a few hours work (in the 80s, mind you).  If it seems too good to be true, then you can bet it is too good to be true and you should look that gift horse in the mouth.

By the way, look for Mary Woronov of Eating Raoul in the role of Mrs. Ulman, and also the aforementioned cameo by Dee Wallace (ET). I think I spent more time waiting for the other shoe to drop than anything else. Lots of suspense, that’s for sure. The night this all occurs also just happens to be the night of a major lunar eclipse, which is the big thing on everyone’s mind. So, of course, one’s mind runs to what sorts of things occur during supernatural events. 

Certainly not the worst film ever, though hardly the best. Decent production values, and some good music, including The Fixx playing One Thing Leads to Another. I’ll give it 3 stars. And I’ll just add pay attention to the ending.

Saturday is Horror Day #5 – Unearthed, Thirst, Hereditary (x-posted at Full Moon Dreaming)

Reviewed by: Julie Lynn Hayes

There’s nothing quite like a good horror film, am I right? Sadly, the first film on this list is not a good horror film. I didn’t even finish watching it. I’m only including it on this list as a warning to those who might be interested in watching it to watch at your own risk.

Unearthed (2007) – This movie takes place in the desert, where something is attacking cattle. Let me think, what else? The lady sheriff likes her liquor.. And something strange is going on. I can’t really tell you much beyond that because it bored me so much, I turned it off within half an hour. Bad acting, bad writing, and nothing to hold my interest. The only name I recognized in the cast list is M.C. Gainey, who played Bo Crowder in Justified. Nuff said here.

 

 

 

Thirst (2009)

Father Sang-hyum (Kang-ho Song of Parasite) volunteers to be part of a medical experiment, in order to

help people, despite the fact that most of the volunteers before him have died. Although he lives, he requires a blood transfusion which transforms him into a vampire. Returning home, he is looked upon as something of a miracle, and people look to him to help them, unaware of his true nature. They only know he suffered for them.

Going to the hospital to perform his priestly duties, he encounters a childhood friend, Kang-wood (Shin Ha-kyun) and the friend’s mother, as well as the adopted girl who grew up to marry the friend, Tae-ju (Kim Ok-bin). On leaving the hospital, the priest becomes a part of their lives once again, finding himself drawn to the girl he knew so long ago. Tae-ju is less than happy with her dumb husband and his controlling mother, and it isn’t long before these two begin an affair. Once Sang-hyun reveals to Tae-ju what he really is, she is shocked at first, and more than a little disturbed, but it isn’t long before she embraces her lover’s vampiric nature and revels in the potential power they can wield. 

Too bad she has such a dumb husband and a controlling mother-in-law.

Thirst was directed by Park Chan-wook, the same director who brought us The Handmaiden, The Vengeance Trilogy, and Stoker. It is a very well-made and erotic film, an unusual take on vampires, and is not without its humorous moments.

 Although they are both vampires, the priest and the wife are different in temperament. Sang-hyun 

attempts to keep his appetites under control, only taking from those who have already expressed a desire for death in the confessional. One person he feeds from is a kindly man in a coma, whom he says would gladly agree to feeding the priest if he were able to do so. Tae-ju, though, is the opposite. Her new conditions seems to have brought out the cruelty in her nature, and she is more than happy to do away with her husband. Although, ironically, he becomes like a third wheel in their relationship, even after death

This film was well done and very interesting. I enjoyed it and would give it a solid 4 stars.

 

Hereditary (2018)

Annie (Toni Collette) is an artist who designs and builds miniature rooms, taken directly for her life. She is currently in the middle of working on pieces for her next showing when her mother dies. The death of Annie’s mother is a tragic event for her entire family, especially for Annie’s daughter Charlie, who was close to her grandmother. Charlie is a bit different, not given to being very communicative. Like her mother, she is an artist, both mother and daughter being compulsive in that regard.

 

 

The family attempt to pull together and move on with their lives, but tragedy seems to follow them. Annie tries to secretly deal with her grief by going to a survivor’s group meeting, but she isn’t sure that is helping. And her son, Peter, feels the weight of what has happened.

 

But the worst is yet to come.

 

This film was definitely more than I expected, to be honest. Not your run of the mill horror movie by any means. Gabriel Byrne plays Annie’s husband Steve, trying to hold his family together in the midst of so much tragedy. Annie herself is conflicted about her role as a wife and mother. At the beginning we get a glimpse of the controlling nature of her mother, who practically considered Annie’s daughter Charlie as her own.

Annie’s actions seem rather psychotic at times, and one has to wonder if she’s got mental issues going on, or if there is something seriously strange happening to this family. When Annie is approached by a member of the group, Joan, she latches onto her as though she is a lifeline for the drowning mother.  Joan has known grief too, having lost her husband and son.

Peter is suffering his own guilt and torment over what has happened to Charlie, and his mother’s actions

are not happening, as the tension grows among them, until he begins to see and experience odd things as well.

I will admit to having some wtf moments where my jaw dropped. Director Ari Aster did a great job with this film, the cast was wonderful, and the story is far from average. I won’t give any spoilers, but pay attention, particularly to the opening.

I think by the end of the film, you’ll be ready to scream too. I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars. Well worth the watch.