Tag Archives: horror movie reviews

Saturday is Horror Day #62 – The Imposter, Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles, The Institute, House

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

The Imposter


In 1994, a 13-year-old blond hair, blue-eyed boy named Nicholas Barclay disappeared from his home in San Antonio, Texas. Almost four years later, the family received a call that Nicholas had been, alive and well… in Spain? Everyone was overjoyed, and Nicholas’ sister Carey was sent to retrieve him and bring him home, which she did. If something seemed a little off, such as the fact that he was now a brunet, with brown eyes, he spoke with a heavy accent, and he didn’t really remember his former life… well, no one really questioned that, just happy to have their boy home.

The only problem was… he wasn’t their son. He wasn’t even sixteen. And the reason he looked nothing like Nicholas was because he was 23-year-old Frederick Bourdin, a serial imposter.

 

This documentary explores the disappearance of Nicholas Barclay and his impersonation by Frederick Bourdin. Bourdi’s, also known as the Chameleon, motive is pretty straight forward. He was in a predicament in Spain and saw the best way of getting out of it was to pretend to be an American, to take the place of a missing child. It was his misfortune to choose a child that he resembled in no way.

And yet the family embraced him.  

This case is not only mind-boggling, it’s confusing. Did the family want so much to believe Bourdin was Nicholas that they could overlook major differences in appearance and personality? Or was it more convenient to pretend he was, because then no one would go looking for the missing boy any more, believing him to have been found. This theory was put forward by a private investigator, who did his own digging, but came up with nothing conclusive. The mother was polygraphed three times, and failed miserably the third time (according to what I read, that was the only one she was sober for)

The documentary leaves more questions than it answers. I believe Nicholas is long dead, and only the family knows where. But proving that is something else. I’ll give this film 3.5 Stars.

Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles


Mysterious tiles have been found in locations across the US, including Philadelphia, New York, St. Louis, as well as in a few sites in South America, such as Rio de Janeiro, Santiago, and Buenas Aires. The tiles speak say Toynbee Idea in Kubrick’s 2001 Resurrect dead on planet Jupiter. But what does this even mean? One man named Justin Duerr was determined to find out.  And so the mystery begins…

 

The parts of the message seem self-explanatory. Toynbee refers to historian Arnold Toynbee, 2001 is a film by Stanley Kubrick, the resurrection of the dead is obvious, as is planet Jupiter. But what do they mean together? And who placed all these tiles? Justin Duerr and his fellow researchers take us on a journey of exploration to discover the meaning of the tiles as well as the identity of the person who placed them.

 

The interesting aspect of this documentary is in the search itself, more than in what the tiles mean. The idea that the dead can be resurrected on the planet Jupiter seems rather far-fetched. But figuring out who was behind it is far more interesting. 

 

It was never explained just how these tiles are embedded in the asphalt, despite Justin’s ideas of how they were laid and by whom. His conclusions regarding the person behind them seem sound, but they never obtained verification. Even so, it’s an interesting mystery, and maybe someday we’ll have a definite answer as to who was behind it. I’ll give this documentary 3.5 Stars.

The Institute

This one will be short because I think I watched maybe 10 minutes before I turned it off. All I know is James Franco is a doctor at some institute for people who need to get away from it all or something like that, it’s supposedly based on true events, and the acting is so abysmal I had to quit watching. My advice is do not watch this.

House


Horror writer Roger Cobb (William Katt) is having troubles. His son disappeared, and his marriage to his actress wife Sandy (Kay Lenz) has fallen apart. He moves into the large house left to him by his aunt, who apparently hung herself there, and where she raised him as a boy. He still remembers her telling him the house is haunted, but that can’t be true… can it?

 

 

Roger is currently working on a new book that chronicles his time in Viet Nam, and the guys in his unit. His agent seems skeptical, but Roger feels this is the story he needs to tell. Roger’s next door neighbor Harold (George Wendt) comes over to welcome him, and quickly reveals that he is a fan. He’s also a bit nosy and doesn’t hesitate to walk into the house at any time. There is a hot blonde living right across the street who sees no problem in using Roger’s pool when the mood strikes her.

 

Roger had intended to sell the house, but something impels him to move in instead. That’s when he 


begins to see things, and he finds himself being attacked by strange monsters, such as the one in his closet. Maybe if he keeps taking his valium, the things that go bump in the night will just go away, right? Except it’s not working so far.

This was actually a lot better than I anticipated, to be honest. I know William Katt was in a show called The Greatest American Hero, but I never watched it. That should have tipped me off that this horror movie would have a comedic touch, and it did, especially when it came to the monsters in the house. They aren’t your garden variety monsters. Sometimes when he was working on his new book, and reliving it all in his mind, I had to wonder if the monsters were symptoms of PTSD or something.  Or it is, like Aunt Elizabeth said, that the house is simply haunted?

 

Look for Richard Moll (Bull Shannon from Night Court) as one of Roger’s Viet Nam buddies. And yes, George Wendt is Norm from Cheers. It’s actually a fun watch, and I look forward to seeing what the sequel is like. I’ll give this film 4 Stars.

Saturday is Horror Day #61 – The Grudge 2, Unfriended

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

The Grudge 2

 


Aubrey’s (Amber Tamblyn) sister Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is being held in Tokyo, accused of burning down a house. Their mother is too ill to fly to Japan to deal with the situation but demands Aubrey do so, even though she has gone no contact with Karen. Aubrey goes and finds her sister under lock and key at a hospital. Karen is actually happy to see her and begs her to get her out of there. Aubrey meets a young man named Eason (Edison Chen) who also wants to talk to her sister. He is a journalist and he is trying to figure out what happened in that house, but Aubrey isn’t receptive to the idea.

Allison (Arielle Kebbel) is the new kid  at an elite academy in Tokyo. But she quickly becomes a target by some of the popular mean girls. Two of them take her to a house which was the scene of some horrific crimes and persuade her to go inside with them. There they play a vicious prank on her, locking her inside a closet, where she sees something horrifying. But the prank backfires when one of the girls goes missing, and Arielle just wants to go home.

 

Meanwhile, in Chicago, Trish (Jennifer Beals) has moved in with her boyfriend Bill (Christopher 


Cousins) and his two kids – Lacey (Sarah Roemer) and Jake (Matthew Knight). She wants to get to know them, but they aren’t sure about her. Jake thinks something strange is going on with their next door neighbors, but he isn’t sure what, other than they’ve come in with someone who huddles beneath their coat and can’t be seen. Strange things begin to happen. Trish and Bill are nowhere to be found, and he thinks there is something wrong. He sees things he is sure can’t really exist. But when he meets the girl next door, she tells him they followed her home.

The Grudge 2 picks up where the first one leaves off. There are three intertwining stories here, which sometimes makes it difficult to follow the plot. I’m still not entirely sure why these things are happening, although the film gives the same explanation as the first one. Again, not a bad film. I hope everything is wrapped up in the final installment. I’ll give this one 3.5 Stars as well.

Unfriended


A group of friends who are Skyping find themselves with an uninvited stranger in their midst, one they cannot get rid of no matter how many times they exit and enter. As if this wasn’t odd enough, someone is posting on the Facebook of a dead girl named Laura, who committed suicide… one year before. The intruder claims to be Laura and is determined to reveal all the group’s secrets, including who posted the embarrassing video that caused her to kill herself.

The intruder, who calls herself Billie, but whose account is linked to Laura’s, wants to play a game of Never have I ever. And secrets are being revealed that will tear friendships apart. But worse than that, breaking the rules of the game could prove to be deadly.

 

This film is told from the POV of the participants, as we watch them Skype on their individual screens. As the night progresses, the teens turn on each other as their secrets are revealed in the midst of this deadly game. It has a fair amount of scares and shock value to be interesting without being too obvious. In fact, at the end you can’t really be sure what exactly happened. 

 

None of these teens is exactly innocent, they were all cyber bullies who received their just desserts. Lesson to be learned – be careful what you do on the Internet, it will live there forever. I did enjoy this and will give it 4 Stars.

Saturday is Horror Day #60 – The Funhouse, Human Centipede III (Final Sequence)

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

The Funhouse


Amy Harper (Elizabeth Berridge) doesn’t get out much, under the watchful eye of her parents, but when the opportunity arises to go on a double date with her friend Liz (Largo Woodruff), she takes it. Amy’s date is hunky Buzz Dawson (Cooper Huckabee) and Liz’s date is the more nerdy Richie Atterbury (Miles Chapin). Amy tells her dad the two couples are going to the movies, instead of their original plans of going to the carnival, as her dad had told her not to go. But they end up there anyway. On a whim, they decide to spend the night in the Funhouse, and Amy tells her parents she is spending the night at Liz’s house.

Amy’s little brother Joey (Shawn Carson) has been a pain in the butt, but he loves horror movies, and he knows where his sister is going, so he sneaks out of the house and heads toward the carnival.  The two couples hide inside the Funhouse, and after hours, they’re making out when they hear a noise. They are able to see a room below them, where the drunken fortune teller, Madame Zena (Sylvia Miles) is talking to the man with the Frankenstein’s monster’s mask, who was operating the Funhouse. They make a transaction for money but when things don’t turn out to the man’s satisfaction, he wants his money back. Although technically he doesn’t say that since he seems to be only capable of grunts. When Madame Zena refuses, he flies into a rage and strangles.

 

Now the couples want nothing more than to get away from this place. But that seems less and less likely, and the creature knows they’re there and is after them. Turns out he’s dealt with this sort of problem before. Can the teens make it out of the Funhouse alive?

This film has something of a pedigree, with director Tobe Hooper, who you may recall from such films as Poltergeist and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. And writer Lawrence Block. Their combined work adds some quality to what is otherwise a forgettable film. It’s not so much that it’s bad, but I think the “freak” who is the oddball in the film and prone to violence if not handled correctly has been a bit overdone. There is no explanation of what is wrong with him, and how he came to be the way he is.

 

All in all, not a bad film and worth checking out. I’ll give it 3.5 Stars, mostly because I like Tobe Hooper

Human Centipede III (The Final Sequence)


To be honest, I wasn’t going to touch on this despite watching it today, but I’ll give it a brief mention anyway. First, you need to watch the first two, just because. They’re not exactly sequels but they also are. In the second one, we saw the first one as a film on DVD, and now in the third one, the first two are films on DVD. The doctor from the first film, Dieter Laser, is back as Bill Boss, the sadistic tyrant of a prison warden. Laurence R. Harvey, who was in the second film, is back as Boss’ accountant, Dwight Butler. Boss is beyond bad and terrorizes everyone, including his secretary Daisy (Bree Olson) and makes inappropriate sexual demands on her (not that there are appropriate sexual demands, just saying). 

Butler is obsessed with the Human Centipede films and makes Boss watch them, but he isn’t impressed. Neither is he impressed with the idea of making a human centipede at the prison, although Butler argues it will solve a lot of problems, including morale, discipline, and budgetary issues. The prison doctor, Dr. Jones (Clayton Rohner) is also a fan of the films and claims he can make it happen. Together, he and Butler think they have even improved the original techniques. Btw, Dr Jones is lucky to be able to work there, as Boss reminds him, because he has no medical license, so can’t be employed anywhere else. Boss changes his mind when the plan meets with the approval of Governor Hughes (Eric Roberts), although the governor doesn’t really realize what they intend to do.

 

Well, there is the basic premise. Let me just say it’s the weakest entry of the three, and most of the film consists of Boss’s ranting and raving and sadistic treatment of everyone inside that prison. Of course it’s gory, it’s a Human Centipede. Is there an actual 500 man centipede? Yes, but not until almost the very end. If you just want to finish the series, go ahead and watch it. If you want the same experience as the first two, do yourself a favor and skip it.

Well, I guess that wasn’t really brief, was it? Look for Tom Six playing himself. And you might remember one of the prisoners as playing the president in The Fifth Element. Anyway, I’ll just give it 2 Stars and will not rewatch.

Saturday is Horror Day #59 – Ju-on, The Forgotten

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Ju-on

Rika Nishina (Megumi Okina) works as a volunteer for a senior health center. She is dismayed to find herself being sent alone to a client’s home, believing she is not ready to go alone. But she ends up going anyway. The house is a mess, and the woman she was sent to care for seems to be nonverbal.  While cleaning up, Rika hears a noise upstairs and goes to investigate. She finds a strange little boy, who says his name is Toshio. Wait, did he just turn into a cat?

 

Kazumi (Shuri Matsuda) comes home to find a messy house. She is annoyed because her husband’s sister, Hitomi (Misaki Ito) is coming for dinner. Kazumi’s husband Katsuya (Kanji Tsuda) is acting strangely, and he’s being no help. When Hitomi arrives, she can’t find anyone, and her brother’s mother-in-law is non-communicative. When she does find her brother, he is acting strangely and practically pushes her out the door.

 

Something strange is happening at Hitomi’s work, and it’s unnerving her. Late at night, most people gone for the day, she encounters a ghostly figure in the ladies room and hurries to tell security. The guard assures her he will check it out and to wait there. She watches in horror at what she sees on the cctv.

 

A young girl, Izumi (Misa Uehara) is walking home from school with her friends when she becomes frightened of a poster of three missing young girls. She hides away in her room, and tapes her window and draws the curtains, claiming that all three of them watch her! Turns out she knows more about the disappearance of her three friends then she lets on.

Ju-on is the original Japanese film that The Grudge was made from.  As the story unfolds, we see the story of this house from several different viewpoints until we get all the way back to where the grudge began. I think it’s more well-made than the Grudge, to be honest, and has a higher creepiness factor.  I plan to watch the sequels of each and will keep you posted. I’ll give this one 4 Stars.

The Forgotten

Although it’s been fourteen months since his death, Telly (Julianne Moore) just can’t let go. Every day, she goes to his room and looks at the things he left behind, looks through his photos and watches videos of him. But then one day, the pictures are gone, and the video has been erased.  She confronts her husband Jim (Anthony Edwards), who  refers her to her therapist, Dr. Munce (Gary Sinise). They both tell her that there is no child, she miscarried her pregnancy and what she thinks she knows are false memories.

Telly encounters Ash (Dominic West) in the park where her son Sam and his daughter Lauren once 

played together. Lauren was also on the plane crash that killed Sam, but Ash claims he has no daughter. A baffled Telly goes to his apartment, and uncovers evidence of Lauren. Suddenly he remembers.

Telly and Ash find themselves on the wrong side of the law. They try to convince Detective Pope (Alfre Woodard) that they aren’t crazy. When she goes to investigate, two men from the NSA try to take her case but she isn’t having that. What has the NSA to do with anything? Nothing federal here.

 

A strange man seems to be everywhere they are, and he tries to take them in, but they manage to escape. Telly and Sam come to the conclusion that no one would go to such lengths concerning dead children, so their kids must be alive. What is going on though?

For having such a good cast, and an interesting premise, this film simply falls flat. It isn’t bad, per se, but it really isn’t particularly good either. I believe these stars have given better performances, so I have to wonder what drew them to this script to begin with,. because it isn’t very good. Let’s look at this in some context. In 2004, Anthony Edwards was still starring in ER, so perhaps he was already anticipating his move to the big screen and didn’t care how he got there.  Julianne Moore had already done Hannibal by that point, as well as The Hours, so she shouldn’t have been exactly desperate for work. Maybe Gary Sinise wasn’t in big demand back then and thought why not?

I did watch the extended version with the alternate ending, which I have to believe is better than the theatrical. Still, the premise is somewhat predictable and yet leaves questions. Mainly exactly who and why. Unless you’re just a fan of these particular actors, I wouldn’t rush to watch this. I’ll give it 3 Stars because I do like Julianne Moore.

Saturday is Horror Day #58 – Zombieland: Double Tap, The Grudge (2004)

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Zombieland: Double Tap

Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) have banded together in the face of the Zombie Apocalypse into a family of sorts. Columbus and Wichita are a couple, and Tallahassee is like Little Rock’s protective father. They decide to take up residence, at least for a while, at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, aka the White House. But nothing lasts forever. When Columbus pops the question and presents Wichita with a huge blue rock surrounded by diamonds, and Little Rock decides she’s being stifled, the sisters do what they do best – they leave.

 While exploring a mall, Tallahassee and Columbus run across another person, a ditzy blonde named Madison (Zoey Deutch), who attaches herself to the, particularly Columbus, who is nursing a wounded heart. Wichita returns unexpectedly to restock her weapons, but she also tells them that Little Rock has left her as well, stealing their vehicle and leaving a note. Karma indeed. Before she left, they’d picked up a hitchhiker, a peace-loving hippie named Berkeley (Avan Jogia), who leaves with Little Rock.

 

The group hits the road, their new destination Graceland, home of the King, hoping to catch up with Little 

Rock there.. However, when they arrive, they discover that the mansion is ruined, and they end up instead at The Hound Dog Cafe where they meet Nevada (Rosario Dawson). Nevada is more than capable of taking care of herself, and sparks fly between her and Tallahassee.

When Madison becomes infected, it becomes Columbus’ job to put her down before they head to Graceland. But now that Madison isn’t there, maybe they’ll find them at the hippie haven of Babylon.

 

The sequel to Zombieland has less emphasis on zombies and more on the relationships within the group, although there are zombies, especially at the end. And, as Columbus explains at the beginning, the zombies have changed, and some are even harder to kill. I think the narration at the beginning got on my nerves. Also, I didn’t like Wichita and Little Rock in the first film, and I’m not more inclined to like them in the second. Now there is a very annoying ditzy blonde who got on my nerves too.

The sequel doesn’t have the charm of the first film, but I’ve seen worse. It’s worth one viewing, wouldn’t watch either one again. Look for Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch as clones of Tallahassee and Columbus. Also, I recognized Avan Jogia from a show I used to watch called Now Apocalypse. I hope there isn’t going to be a third film, to be honest. I’ll give this one 3 Stars.

The Grudge (2004)

A house in Tokyo, scene of an horrific event, is the starting point for a number of mysterious deaths. Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is sent to the home to care for its stricken inhabitant, Emma (Grace Zabriskie). The regular caretaker, Yoko (Yoko Maki) is a no-show. But Karen quickly discovers all is not right in this house, including a mysterious boy. Or is he a boy? Sometimes he seems like a cat.

 

The woman’s son, Matthew (William Mapother) and his wife Jennifer (Clea DuVall) have barely moved into the house when strange things begin to happen. Jennifer sees strange things she can’t explain. Is there someone else in the house, someone who means them harm?

 

Matthew’s sister Susan (KaDee Strickland) is concerned about her mother. She also lives in Tokyo. And her brother is acting weirdly, making prank calls during which he only makes strange noises. Working late one night, she hears strange sounds and then sees a strange otherwordly woman who means her harm. She reports her dilemma to the security guard who goes to check out, and Susan watches in horror on the CCTV as the woman seemingly manifests from nowhere.

Inspector Nakagawa (Ryo Ishibashi) has been assigned to the case, and he tries to make sense of what 

Karen has told him. He realizes something foul is afoot and goes to the house with the intention of burning it to the ground. But something prevents him from carrying this out.

This Sam Raimi movie is a re-make of a Japanese film, Juon. I haven’t seen that yet, but I intend to. The story is good, but sometimes I found the acting lacking, mostly from the Western actors. Almost as if they didn’t belong in what feels like a Japanese story. I like Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but I think she came off a little wooden in this role. That’s just my opinion, of course. I am going to keep watching the series and will let you know when I view The Grudge 2. I have to say that I did like Ted Raimi in his role, and I remembered Ryo Ishibashi from watching him in Audition.

 

Not a bad film, it just felt a little off. I’m looking forward to seeing Juon, and hope for better things. I will give this one 3.5 Stars.

Saturday is Horror Day #57 – Hell House LLC III: Lake of Fire, Evil Dead (2013)

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 Hell House LLC III: Lake of Fire

Nine years after the tragic events that transpired at the Abaddon Hotel, the hotel is slated to be torn down. But the last minute intervention of billionaire Russell Wynn (Gabriel Chytry) saves the hotel. He has decided it’s to be the site of his successful audience-interactive show Insomnia.  He invites journalist Vanessa Shepherd (Elizabeth Vermilyea) to bring a crew and film a behind-the-scenes documentary of the grand opening.

Russell’s team sets up as Vanessa’s crew films. Everyone has been given cameras which they are encouraged to use for additional footage for times when the crew isn’t around. Of course, everyone is familiar with the stories surrounding the hotel. But they’re just stories, right? And stories can’t hurt you.

 

It begins not with a bang, but a whimper. Glimpses of half-seen figures. Movement where none should be. And of course, everyone is scared of the basement, where the horror occurred. Not to mention the creepy clown mannequins, which are still there and still creepy. Russell has given explicit instructions that no one is to go into the hotel at night. But some of the crew get to drinking, and dare each other to go into the basement. The only one brave enough (or is that drunk enough) to accept the challenge is Jane (Bridgid Abrams). But she quickly learns what a foolish mistake that was.

Russell’s show Insomnia is a modern-day rendition of Goethe’s Faust, which a man sells his soul to the 

devil by making a bargain with him. People make such deals all the time, for different reasons. Does Russell Wynn have such a reason? Does it have anything to do with the horrific car crash he survived just a couple of years previously which left him with the large vertical scar on his face?

As the night of the opening of Insomnia nears, some of the cast and crew back out, afraid of what they have seen. But Russell is determined that the show must go on. However, at what price?

This is the third installment in the Hell House trilogy. Again, it consists of found footage from various sources chronicling the events leading up to one particular night. Compared to the first two films, it doesn’t have the same level of bloodshed (at least not until the end). But the creepiness factor is definitely there. Also, look for some by now familiar faces. I think the actors did a good job. All in all, it was worth watching. Is this the end of the series? I would think so, but you never know. I’ll give this 4 Stars.

Evil Dead (2013)

Mia (Jane Levy) has a problem with drugs, one her friends intend to help her with. Mia’s brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) and three other friends all take Mia to a remote cabin in the woods. Unbeknownst to David, they are determined not to let Mia leave, even if she wants to go home. They plan to see it through until the end. David doesn’t like that idea but he isn’t being given a choice.

 

The cabin hasn’t been used in a very long time. From the moment she enters, Mia complains of a bad

smell that no one else can smell. But then David’s dog scratches at a rug. They move it only to discover bloodstains and a trap door leading to a basement. And yes, something smells. They go into the basement only to discover that some sort of Satanic ritual was performed here.

As the friends predicted, Mia wants to back out shortly after arrival, but they aren’t having it. Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) discovers a strangely bound package in the basement. Cutting through the wire that binds it, he discovers a book, bound in what seems to be human flesh. Opening the book, he makes out a few words, which he reads aloud. Huge mistake on his part. Now the trouble begins.

Enter the demons!

 

Mia is battling her inner demons, outside in the rain, when the summoned demon arrives and ends up possessing her. But her friends can’t tell the difference from Mia suffering from withdrawal issues and Mia possessed by a demon. And so people begin to die…

Let me start by saying Sam Raimi did it better. His movie was campy, sure, but it was funny, and you had to root for Ash (Bruce Campbell). I didn’t care about any of these people, to be honest. Now, if you like your horror filled with blood, then this might be for you. It’s full of it. In fact, I’d say this is not for the squeamish. At the same time, I have to ask how people keep losing limbs and never seem to go into shock or die from blood loss or anything, and in fact seem to take each amputation in stride.

Watch through the end of the credits (if you’re still watching by the time the credits roll) for a ten second cameo. All in all, I hope they don’t make a sequel. If they do, I don’t think I’ll watch it. I’ll give this 2.5 Stars, and a Razzie for worst performance by a demon.

Saturday is Horror Day #56 – Zombieland

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Zombieland


Something has gone horribly wrong, and the United States of America has become Zombieland. Life will never be the same again. Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) is just trying to get back to his family in Ohio, traveling the dangerous highways, trying to avoid being eaten. He has certain rules that he lives by to ensure his continued existence. In his experience, you ignore these rules at your own peril. Such as Always Check the Back Seat. And Wear Seat belts.  He meets up with another human unexpectedly, Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), who is on his way to Florida. The two decide to travel together, at least for now.

Tallahassee is a little odd, to say the least, especially when it comes to his obsessive search for Hostess


Twinkies, which thus far has been pretty pointless. While Columbus is a stickler for his rules, he is also a compassionate guy. When the two run across two sisters, Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), he can’t help but feel sorry for them. Little Rock was attacked and is about to turn into a zombie. Rather than suffer such a fate, she implores Wichita to end it all, but she finds she can’t and asks Tallahassee and Columbus for help. That does not turn out well for the guys, and the girls manage to scame them out of their vehicle and most of their possessions.

The two groups cross paths again and travel together for a while. The girls reveal they are headed toward an amusement park, where they spent some very happy times before. Columbus finds himself more and more attracted to Wichita, but finds himself foiled every time he makes a move. And just when he thinks things are going well, the girls ditch them again.

 

Can Columbus accept this ending, or will he pursue the girl of his dreams through a dangerous zombie-filled country?

This movie is a mix of humor and horror, with a decided emphasis on comedy. The zombies are pretty blood-curdling, and I sure wouldn’t want to be trapped with these things as they are not the slow lumbering figures of early films. They move along far too quickly for my taste, even though they are not articulate. One of the funniest scenes involves Bill Murray playing himself. 

All in all, this was a fun watch. I would recommend it. I’ll give it 4 Stars.

Saturday is Horror Day #55 – Grave Encounters 2, Hell House LLC 2: The Abaddon Hotel

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 Grave Encounters 2

Aspiring student filmmaker, Alex Wright (Richard Harmond) is directing his first horror film, with the help of his friends and fellow students. As horror movie aficionados, they hold differing opinions on the film Grave Encounters. Alex disdains it, giving it only 1 star out of 4. But something happens to not only change his mind, but now he is obsessed with the film and he’s convinced that it was more than just a movie – it really happened.

Alex claims that the original cast of the film can’t be found – because they all died. When he receives what appears to be a casting call for a music video by the same director who directed Grave Encounters, Alex flies to Los Angeles to talk to him and ends up being thrown off the set. Undeterred, he believes he has located the film’s star, Sean Rogerson, who played Lance Preston, and goes to his home where he and his friends are entertained by Rogerson’s strange mother. She tells them Sean will be home soon and they can wait in his bedroom for him, but the bedroom appears not to have been lived in for a long time.

 

Convinced he is on the right track, Alex locates what he believes to be the site of the original film, an abandoned psychiatric hospital in Canada, and off they go. Pulling up in front of the house, they are shooed off the premises by a security guard who tells them the premises aren’t safe because of asbestos contamination, but they don’t buy that story. What else can they do but return in the dead of night and break in.

 

Grave Encounters 2 begins with the premise that the first film was just that, a film, and the film students are reality. This is also a found footage film, taken by the students themselves.  The sequel starts a little slowly as we meet Alex and his friends and explore his aspirations of being a major film maker. But once they get into the hospital, the pace picks up and the creepiness begins.  I think it’s mandatory to watch the first film before this one (although common sense would suggest the same thing) if for no other reason than because you’ll pick up on things more easily, and you’ll recognize the various locations inside the hospital.  There are some definite twists here, and some decent scares, as well as a high creepiness quotient. I did like this film and I’ll give it 4 Stars.

Hell House LLC 2: The Abaddon Hotel

 

Eight years have passed since the horror that took place at the Abaddon Hotel one fateful Halloween night, and there are still no answers as to what actually happened. The hotel is still abandoned, and the town of Abaddon would be happy if people would just leave the mystery and the hotel alone. But people are curious, and solving this mystery would obviously be a journalist’s dream come true.

 

 

Jessica Fox (Jillian Geurts) is just such a journalist. She’s received an anonymous tip that convinces her 

the answers to what happened lie within the hotel and she has to be the person to find them. She assembles a team, including lone original survivor Mitchell Cavanaugh (Vasile Flutur) and self-proclaimed supernatural expert Brock Davies (Kyle Ingleman) to break into the hotel and investigate.

Other people have attempted to find answers at the hotel prior to this adventure, and some of these people have simply disappeared, leaving behind strange footage of what they saw. Undeterred, the group break into the hotel through the back, split up, and begin to search.

 

The sequel to Hell House LLC is a combination of found footage as well as an interview from a local news program involving some of the interested parties. It starts a little bit slow as they establish some of what has been going on in the last couple of year prior to this. One of the interviewees is a representative of the town of Abaddon who insists the whole thing is a hoax and these people are just money hungry. The footage from other failed attempts is chilling, and once the group gets into the hotel, the action picks up. Watch carefully or you’ll miss things. The creepy mannequins are still there, and just as creepy as ever, and beware of jump scares. 

 

I did like this sequel and feel it was worth watching. I’ll give it 3.5-4 Stars. There is another one, will watch that later.

Saturday is Horror Day #54 – Hell House LLC, Grave Encounters

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 Hell House LLC

The grand opening of a Halloween haunted house in the Abaddon Hotel in 2009 leads to inexplicable tragedy. Fifteen people died, including both those on the tour and the staff. Five years later a documentary crew travels to the small town of Abaddon, seeking answers. However, these are not readily forthcoming.

 

 

A video taken by one of the guests on the tour ended up on You Tube. Plus the owners of the attraction have everything documented from the time they first arrived. The documentary crew locates a surviving member of the staff, Sara Havel (Ryan Jennifer) who reluctantly talks to them and tells what she knows of that night, and the time leading up to it.

 

From the moment of their arrival, the hotel is found to be in less than good shape and very creepy, but

that can only serve to heighten the atmosphere they want to create on Halloween night. The friends have definite ideas on how to achieve the effects they want in order to scare the wits out of their guests, including very eerie mannequins, a haunted bar and piano, and a basement that will provide the biggest scares and serve as the finale to the tour. Sara will be chained to the wall, her job being to scream her head off.

Even before opening night, things begin to get creepy in the haunted hotel. Mannequins are inexplicably moved, mysterious sounds can be heard. At one point, Paul (Gore Abrams) mysteriously disappears,, and when he reappears he has no explanation for what happened, or much of anything else. Tensions begin to run high. And then opening night arrives, and all hell breaks loose….

 

This found footage pseudo documentary was pretty well done, in my estimation. Between the film taken by the event staff and that of one of the guests, there is a pretty complete picture of that night, even if it’s not always clear what happened or why. There is a definite creep factor which only grows as the events unfold. Have you ever wanted to scream at the screen to tell the people to get out of there. By the end of this movie, that is how I felt.

I think this was a pretty scary film and it was well done. I look forward to seeing more of the series. I’ll give this one a strong 4 Stars.

Grave Encounters

Lance Preston (Sean Rogerson) leads a team of paranormal investigators in the reality TV show Grave Encounters. Every week they visit a different haunted site and lock themselves in to encounter and record the supernatural. The sixth episode of the series is being filmed in an abandoned psychiatric hospital. Lance and his cast have themselves locked in by the hospital caretaker Kenny (Bob Rathie) who promises to return to unlock them the following morning at 6 am. Lance and the others aren’t particularly worried because they realize something the TV audiences don’t – they are fakes, and they are not above paying someone to say he saw something he didn’t. So what’s a night locked up in an abandoned building?

They set up cameras on various floors in order capture whatever happens. Kenny the caretaker gave them a tour of the building before he made his departure, mentioning various points of interest. Such as the window which is sometimes found to be unlocked… from the inside. Or the bloody tub where a young girl killed herself.  The abandoned building is very dilapidated and neglected, but what’s one night among friends?

 

Strange things begin to happen.  The high-strung Matt (Juan Riedinger) disappears. A feeling of foreboding pervades the air, and things are starting to get real. More real than they’ve ever been in the history of this fake TV show.

Grave Encounters consists of the found footage of the filming of the TV show, some 70 hours.  Filmed 

on a shoestring budget and at night, using flashlights, there is a distinctly creepy and unsettling atmosphere about this hospital. If I’d ever considered a paranormal type lock-in before, this film cured me of the idea.

A lot of the horror is subtle yet creepy, but don’t worry. There are jump scares as well. At first the film crew goes into this hospital with the attitude of this being just another job, but that changes as they begin to realize that just maybe they’ve run across an actual haunted building. I thought the cinematographer did a good job giving Grave Encounters the appearance of found footage, and the actors are very believable in their descent into terror

 

I thought this film succeeded in being creepy and scary and was well worth watching. I give it a solid 4 Stars.

Saturday is Horror Day #53 – Planet Terror, The Craft: Legacy

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Planet Terror

Cherry (Rose McGowan) is tired of stripping and decides to make a new life for herself. She gives her scumbag employer her notice and walks out the door. Dr. Dakota Block (Marley Shelton) is planning to leave her doctor husband William (Josh Brolin), but she has to be careful about it. She can’t let him see the texts between her and her accomplice/lover.

 

 

Something strange is going on at the army base. A group of men arrive, led by Abby (Naveen Andrews). He’s brought something, but quickly discovers that something is amiss. The cage is empty and the subjects not to be found. Things quickly go wrong when a noxious gas is released into the air. Before things get too ugly, Lt. Muldoon (Bruce Willis arrives) and he wants answers.

 

When Tammy’s (Fergie) car overheats, she stops to use water from a pump near a bbq restaurant. The owner, JT (Jeff Fahey) offers her some bottled water and a meal. She takes the water and thanks him but declines the meal, even if it is the best bbq in Texas.  JT calls his brother, Sheriff Hague (Michael Biehn) and tells him a couple of people are hanging outside his place and he’s convinced they’ve been sent to steal his secret recipe. But the truth is far worse than that.

Wray (Freddy Rodriguez) drives a tow truck but his reputation as a troublemaker apparently precedes 

him. He ends up at the same restaurant as Cherry and tries to renew their relationship.

Meanwhile it seems there is an outbreak of pustule-laden zombies, created by the gas at the military base, one that is threatening to destroy the town. What can be done to fend them off?

 

This is not your usual horror movie. It’s campy, schlocky, and very violent. Kind of like an old B horror movie but better. Look for Rose McGowan and her machine-gun leg, as well as Quentin Tarantino in a small role. You might remember Freddy Rodriguez from Six Feet Under, where he played Rico. This is something different for him. And of course my favorite, Naveen Andrews. So damn sexy it’s criminal. He plays a biochemist who knows just what is going on.

This movie was fun to watch, but it isn’t for the faint of heart, let me warn you now. There is a lot of humor, something I appreciate in a good film. This film was originally released along with Grindhouse, but that didn’t do well, so the films were separated. Guess I need to find Grindhouse now. I’ll give this film a solid 4 Stars.

The Craft: Legacy

Lily (Cailee Spaeny) has her life upended when her mother Helen (Michelle Monaghan) moves them into the home of her new love Adam (David Duchovny) and his three sons. Feeling like a fish out of water, Lily starts her new school the next day and meets three girls, Lourdes (Zoey Luna), Frankie (Gideon Adlon) and Tabby (Lovie Simome). During one of her classes, Lily unexpectedly begins her period, and her predicament is called out by Timmy (Nicholas Galitzine), to her horror and shame. She goes to the girls’ room, and while she is pondering what to do, the three girls show up with a pair of shorts and words of encouragement. Lily begins to hang out with them and they make her the fourth in their group of witches.

The girls decide to test their powers, and sneak into Timmy’s home, placing a spell. They almost get caught and barely escape without being seen. The next day, Timmy is like a new man. He’s sensitive and attention and more in tune with his better self. The girls are delighted with this new Timmy and find themselves attracted to him, especially Lily.

 

While delighted to have made such good friends, Lily finds life at home difficult. Adam is very 

tyrannical. He’s a motivational speaker who thinks he knows everything and tries to control everyone around him. Disturbing things begin to happen. Timmy is a friend of one of Adam’s sons, Jacob. One night, Lily casts a love spell that brings him to her room, but they are interrupted before they go too far. Adam texts her to be continued. But the next day brings tragic news.

The girls blame Lily for what happened, disrupting their friendship. But things continue to go downhill. Lily witnesses one of Adam’s group meetings with his sons, and she realizes there is more to them than she realized. She wants to leave there, but how to convince her mother, who is so besotted with Adam? Lily’s accidental discovery of some very shocking news makes her even more vulnerable. Will Adam capitalize on this vulnerability? What is it he actually wants from her, and to what lengths will he go to to obtain it?

 

The Craft: Legacy is a sequel to the original Craft movie of some twenty years before. Again, we have three girls seeking and finding a fourth to complete their coven of witches, and then playing around with their powers. The problem with this movie is we have a different writer and director (Zoe Lister-Jones) and a different cast. But it’s primarily the bad writing and the terrible direction and story that make this film both boring and just plain bad. There isn’t much to it, and it lacks any of the charm of the original. I found myself wishing it would end soon. Luckily, it isn’t very long, just seemed that way.

I love David Duchovny, and even he is terrible in this, so that will give you some idea what this film is like.  I’m going to give it 1 Star and a serious recommendation not to watch it.