Tag Archives: Saturday is Horror Day

Saturday is Horror Day #44 – 1408, Honeymoon

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

1408

 

Mike Enslin (John Cusack) is a writer who makes a living visiting and visiting/staying at haunted locations and writing about them, usually debunking them in the process. Once upon a time, he had greater literary ambitions, but this is what currently pays the bills. To finish his latest book, he travels, albeit reluctantly, to New York City to the Dolphin Hotel, where Room 1408 is said to be a place of great evil. Mike hasn’t been back to NYC since… well, just since. But one night can’t hurt, right?

 

 

When he calls to make the reservation, he is outright refused. But after threatening legal action, and finding a law that actually requires them to rent him the room if it’s unoccupied, he shows up, only to be greeted by the manager, Gerald Olin (Samuel L. Jackson). Olin tries to dissuade Mike, attempts to bribe him, but nothing works. Enslin insists on the room and nothing else. So that’s what he gets.

 

Olin gives him a dossier on the deaths that have occurred in that room, and quite a collection that is, including a number of suicides and many unknown deaths. Mike is undeterred and pries into every nook and cranny. But then things begin to happen, and he has to wonder if there isn’t some truth in the stories. The question is will he be able to make it out of this hotel alive?

1408 is based on a short story by the master of horror, Stephen King. If I read the story, it’s been too 

long ago to remember, so I can’t exactly compare the film to the story. However, thinking about this movie reminds me of something I saw in the Witcher TV series. Geralt makes a passing detrimental comment regarding Jaskier’s vocal abilities, and Jaskier insists that Geralt tell him how he really feels. Geralt says it’s like ordering a pie and finding no filling. That’s the feeling I get with 1408. Cusack and Jackson look good, and the special effects are slick and sufficiently spooky, but when you get insist, there is not substance.

 

There are actually a couple of endings. I only watched one. From what I read, the other is even more depressing. Honestly, there was never an explanation given for anything that happened, as if you’re meant to take it at face value and not question anything. But in my mind that is leaving out the best part of the story – the resolution. Were we meant to come away with the idea that Mike Enslin has evolved as a person since his arrival in this haunted room? That bearing witness to the suffering of others, and the knowledge of his own, has made him less smarmy and more understanding?

Do we sympathize with him because of the tragedy in his own life? And disregard the fact that nothing he goes through is explainable? Or is this just an excuse to let the special effects crew have a field day? I didn’t find the movie particularly scary, more weird. I’m sure the story is much better. I would suggest reading that instead. I’ll give this film a somewhat shaky 3.5 Stars.

Honeymoon

Paul (Harry Treadaway) and Bea (Rose Leslie) are a young couple in love and on their honeymoon. They go to a remote cabin owned by Bea’s family. It’s the off season and no one else will be around. Ain’t love grand? While walking the area, they come across a restaurant. They enter the restaurant to see if it’s open, and a surly young man tells them to leave before recognizing Bea as an old friend of his. His wife appears and tries to warn them to leave but her warning is cut short by her husband in a rather forceful manner, leaving Paul more than a little confused.

Paul wakes in the middle of the night only to find Bea missing. Frantic, he searches the woods and finds her standing there. She startles at his touch, but then laughs it off as sleepwalking. Paul isn’t so sure, however. Suddenly he begins to mistrust her. It seems like she is lying about something… or everything. Wakened by a strange light in the middle of the night, he suspects Bea knows more than she is letting on. But he can’t put his finger on what that is.

 

Bea becomes more and more secretive… and Paul begins to wonder who she really is. At first, he thinks it’s her old friend Ben, but when he tries to confront him, Ben isn’t there and his wife Annie is also acting strangely. Can the two women’s actions be connected?

 

This was an interesting mix of horror and sci-fi. The best things about the film are the performances of the lead actors. I liked Harry Treadaway in Mr. Mercedes and Penny Dreadful. Rose Leslie is best known for playing Jon Snow’s Wildling girlfriend Ygritte in Game of Thrones. The atmosphere is chilling and suspenseful as two people who love each other dearly find themselves being torn apart by forces they can’t comprehend. The ending is unexpected and eerie. Definitely worth watching, I give this film 4 Stars.

Saturday is Horror Day #43 – V/H/S Viral

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

V/H/S Viral

As s police chase, in hot pursuit of an ice cream truck, shatters the night, the lives of various people become entwined in different ways.

 

 

 

 

A young man whose girlfriend has been abducted by this strange pursuit cycles furiously after her, determined to save her no matter what.

 

A magician known as the Great Dante rises to prominence after his purchase of a cloak once owned – and feared – by Harry Houdini himself. To what lengths will the magician go to satisfy the needs of the cloak in order to keep his strange new powers?

 

An inventor has spent months on a secret project, and to his wonderment he succeeds in discovering a parallel world, which includes a carbon copy of himself. The “two” men talk, and as each is curious about the other, they decide to trade lives for fifteen minutes.

Young skateboarders who are filming themselves need a better place to film, so they talk an acquaintance into funding a trip to Tijuana and get more than they bargained for.

 

This film, like the others in the series, involves found camera footage taken by the protagonists in the various stories. The thread that holds these stories together is the police chase of the ice cream truck, and the pursuit by the young man determined to save his girlfriend. But the other stories matter too. 

The story with the parallel world was particularly interesting/disturbing. The skateboarder story was slow at first, but once it picked up, it was buckwild. There is actually a story after the credits, not sure why this was done this way, called Gorgeous Vortex. Honestly, I didn’t care for it, and couldn’t really tell you what happened. That being said, I did like the rest of the movie and thought it was well-done for this genre and it certainly held my interest. I’ll give this film a solid 4 Stars.

Saturday is Horror Day #42 – Freaky, Trick ‘r Treat

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Freaky

 

A serial killer whose nickname is The Butcher (Vince Vaughn) is loose in the peaceful town of Blissfield, and the body count is rising! But Millie (Kathryn Newton) is a teen with problems of her own. Her beloved father died the year before and her mother ( Katie Finneran) hasn’t come to terms with his death yet, seeking solace in a bottle. Millie’s sister Charlene (Dana Drori) is a cop who buries herself in her work. Millie is sweet, but timid, and there are kids at her school who bully her. She has two best friends, Nyla (Celeste O’Connor) and Josh (Misha Osherovich), but even they cannot fill her with the confidence in herself that she lacks.

 

When Millie’s mother fails to pick her up from a school event on time, Millie finds herself face to face with The Butcher. He is armed with a strange knife he stole at the scene of his latest murder. But something strange happens when he strikes at her with the knife, and he ends up bloody instead. If that isn’t odd enough, the next morning Millie and The Butcher awaken to find out they have swapped bodies!

 

The Butcher finds himself in Millie’s house, with her family, and it’s blowing his mind. He comes close 

to killing her mother, but ends up going to school instead. Millie is shocked, to say the least, at her voice and her appearance. She frantically heads toward the school, but the fact that she resembles a wanted serial killer is not a plus! She runs into Nyla and Josh and they are scared of her, even when she tells them who she is. It takes some doing, but she convinces them of her identity, regardless of who she looks like, using information known only to Millie. Josh does some research on the knife in question and learns about the curse. Further, he discovers that they have a small window in which to reverse what has happened or Millie will be stuck in this killer’s body forever!

 

This movie is like the demented version of Freaky Friday. Although it’s funny, there are definite horror elements here as well. Vince Vaughn is great, both as The Butcher and Millie in The Butcher’s body. He plays the terrified Millie well, adopting all the mannerisms of a teen-aged girl. The cast is great, no complaints there. Maybe the situations and characters are somewhat predictable and formulaic, such as the school bullies who get their comeuppance, the minority best friends, family distanced by tragedy,  The way everything done is just fun and satisfying. I enjoyed watching it and would recommend it. I am giving this a solid 4 Stars.

Trick ‘r Treat

On Halloween, all things are possible, and people aren’t always what they appear to be…

 

 

 

 

Laurie (Anna Paquin) is out with her girlfriends for some fun. Realizing Laurie is a virgin, they are determined to find just the right guy for her, someone who will make her first time memorable. Steven Wilkins (Dylan Baker) is a school principal who has a secret hobby… he’s a serial killer.

 

 

A group of teenagers are on a scavenger hunt. They invite the shy weird girl Macy (Britt McKillip). The 

group ends up at the site of an infamous local school bus massacre, where things begin to go wrong.  Danielle (Lauren Lee Smith)is not as filled with the Halloween spirit as her husband Henry (Tahmoh Penikett). She can’t wait for the night to be over. But perhaps she should be careful what she wishes for. Mr.Kreeg (Brian Cox) is a crotchety old man who lives next door to Principal Wilkins. Very reclusive, he has no use for other people or for celebrating Halloween. He may change his mind before the night is done.

Trick ‘r Treat consists of five intertwined tales that take place on Halloween night, all with the common theme of expect the unexpected. Nothing is what is appears to be, and you can assume nothing. The way that the timeline intersects and how it relates to each story is brilliant. The stories all fit together perfectly. I like Anna Paquin in everything she does, and this is no exception. Also, Brian Cox does cantankerous well.

 

The stories are both humorous and scary and contain great twists. The cast is good, the writing is solid, and the direction and cinematography are quality, not something you always get in horror films. Definitely well worth watching, I give this film a solid 4 Stars.

Saturday is Horror Day #41 – Messiah of Evil, House on Haunted Hill (1959)

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Messiah of Evil

Arletty (Marianna Hill) is concerned about her father, Joseph Lang (Royal Dano). The artist kept in touch with her ever since he moved away, but his letters have become fewer and fewer and now they’ve stopped altogether. Arletty travels to the small seaside town of Pointe Dune to find him. But when she goes to his house, there is no sign of him. 

 

 

The next day she goes to a local art shop, but they know nothing of his whereabouts. However, a group of people have also been asking about him. Arletty meets the group, which consists of Thom (Michael Greer), Laura (Anitra Ford), and Toni (Joy Bang). Arletty is a little taken aback by their obvious arrangement, but when she questions them, they know nothing of her father. Later, they show up at her father’s house, claiming she is the reason why they were kicked out of their hotel and can’t find a place to stay. She reluctantly agrees to allow them to stay with her.

 

The town of Pointe Dune is… odd… to say the least, and the inhabitants are not particularly friendly. Arletty finds her father’s journal and begins to read. But nothing is making sense. Laura decides to leave Thom and Toni and heads out. She is offered a ride by a strange man in a pickup truck. In the bed, a group of people sit, necks craned toward the sky. She quickly regrets her decision and tries to get away, but to no avail.

A bored Toni decides to go to the movies. Thom and Arletty begin to compare notes and realize, too 

late, that maybe Toni shouldn’t be alone. Later, Arletty is taken to the beach, where a body has been discovered. They say her father had an accident while creating a work of art. But Arletty knows better.  Did she imagine someone breaking into her dad’s house? What in the world is going on and how can she and Thom get to safety before it overtakes them?

This film was made in 1973, and it certainly looks like it, with minimalist sets, horrible fake blood, and off-screen violence. Although the filmmakers weren’t shy about a certain amount of nudity (at least what they could get away with back then). I get the feeling whoever wrote this was on drugs, and not particularly good ones. It has the look and feel of a psychedelic trip. Also, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. 

If you look on IMDB.com, this film was tagged as vampire, vampire cult, and vampire messiage. But these are not vampires in any sense of the word, rather they are zombies. One reviewer called it a “macabre little gem”. I would disagree with that. Surrealistic? Quite possibly. Dread? Not really. So don’t expect too much. Do look for Royal Dano and Elisha Cook Jr. You might remember the latter from House on Haunted Hill, with Vincent Price. Or The Maltese Falcon, with Humphrey Bogart.

Reading the review on IMDB, I almost thought we watched two different films. I am giving this film 2 Stars. Watch at your own risk.

House on Haunted Hill (1959)

Frederick Loren (Vincent Price) is a millionaire with too much money and time to indulge his macabre sense of humor. To celebrate the birthday of his fourth wife Annabelle (Carol Ohmart), he rents out the House on Haunted Hill, but she is less than pleased when he makes up the guest list himself, and not a one of them is a friend of either one. The guests have all been chosen by him and made the same offer – spend the night in the haunted house and receive $10,000 in the morning! That’s an offer few people could refuse. To add to the spirit of the occasion, Loren has them arrive in hearses.

Lance Schroeder (Richard Long) is a young, handsome pilot. Dr. David Trent (Alan Marshal) is a psychiatrist. Ruth Bridges (Julie Mitchum) is an older woman who has become jaded with her life. Nora Manning (Carolyn Craig) is a typist at one of Loren’s companies, but has never met the man. Watson Pritchard (Elisha Cook Jr) is the realtor who rented Loren the house. They are all strangers to one another and unsure why they’ve been invited to the party.

 

Annabelle instantly shows herself as petulant and demanding, insisting she will not come to the party. 

Relations between husband and wife are obviously strained. But Loren insists she make an appearance, and makes his point rather handily. Pritchard is a doom-and-gloom sort of fellow, warning everyone about the murders that have taken place in this house, and the ghosts that inhabit it, helping to create an atmosphere rife with terror. Loren doesn’t help allay their fears with his choice of party favors  pistols inside of small coffins.

Mild-mannered stenographer Nora is very sensitive and quick to pick up on strange things. When she and Lance explore the basement, Lance disappears and Nora sees a ghost. But no one will believe her. Again, later, when she finds a human head in her suitcase, the evidence disappears before anyone else can see it. She wants to leave but the unexpected departure of the servants, who have locked down the house in their wake, handily puts an end to that. They are all stuck there until the following morning!

Tensions begin to build as more and more eerie things happen, and Nora is just about at her breaking point. Armed and hysterical is no way to go through life, and may just lead to someone getting hurt. The question is, will it be by one of the trapped people inside the mansion, or by one of its ghostly inhabitants?

 

I’ve seen House on Haunted Hill many times and I never tire of it. Vincent Price is in his element as Frederick Loren, the millionaire with bad taste in wives. Annabelle is number Four. And yet, there is something mysterious about the deaths of the first three and the possibility that he had something to do with their deaths.  I love Vincent Price in everything he does. The film was directed by William Castle, who also brought us 13 Ghosts, both black-and-white films. Known for his gimmicks, for this film he used “Emergo” in theaters, which involved a skeleton on a wire that would swoop over the heads of the audience.

This film is still eerie and fascinating, even after all these years, and is definitely worth watching. I give it a sold 4.5 Stars.

Saturday is Horror Day #40 – Looking Glass

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Looking Glass

After suffering a devastating personal loss, Ray (Nicholas Cage) and Maggie (Robin Tunney) buy a motel in the middle of the desert to start over again. But things are strange from the get-go.  Ben (Bill Bolender), the man who sold them the motel, isn’t there on their arrival, having left the keys and a hastily scribbled note outside the door. When Ray calls him, he is very mysterious and doesn’t seem inclined to discuss anything, but wishes them well.

Even though they aren’t officially open, a woman arrives and Maggie checks her in. Then a trucker named Tommy (Ernie Lively) shows up. Apparently he’s a regular, and prefers to be in Room 10, which was always the arrangement with Ben. Ray has no problem with that and gives him the key.

Local law enforcement, Howard (Marc Blucas) shows up, looking for the pot of coffee Ben usually has going. Ray obligingly makes him a pot. The deputy says the coffee is so good he’s going to come by every day.

 

 

 

There is a lot of work to do on the motel, but Ray is handy. In looking around, he discovers an entrance that has been padlocked and chained shut. He cuts off the lock and heads inside to a storage area. But then he notices something weird, in the wall, close to the ceiling. He decides to investigate and discovers a small tunnel. Ray crawls through the tunnel and up a ladder to find himself peering into Room 10, where the maid is vacuuming. Something is very strange here, but what?

Ray and Maggie’s relationship is on edge. Ray sneaks off to the looking glass and begins to spy on 

various guests and what they do in that room, which makes him horny and sends him back to his wife. But when someone throws a dead pig into the motel pool, Ray realizes something is off here. He can’t reach Ben any more, and the deputy keeps asking to have Ben contact him. Suddenly Ray feels as though his world is spiraling out of control…

This wasn’t a bad film, but it is a sort of confusing one that could have benefitted from some clarification. Or even explanation. I confess to being a huge Nic Cage fan, so I’ll try anything he’s in once. I did like this better than Prisoners of the Ghostland. It makes more sense than that one. Even so, we are left with questions. Such as the true nature of their daughter’s death. Also, the motivation of the killer who is identified at the end. Like I said, not a bad film, but not great either. Worth watching for Nic alone, but even this isn’t necessarily his best effort. I’ll give it 3 Stars

Saturday is Horror Day #39 – The Raven (2012), Horror Express

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

The Raven

Baltimore is being plagued by a series of strange murders which have left the police baffled. The latest involves a mother and daughter found dead in a locked room with no exit. Detective Fields (Luke Evans) thinks the scenario sounds author. Author Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack) has a reputation more for being an alcoholic than a writer, and he’s worn out his welcome in more than a few places. His girlfriend, Emily Hamilton (Alice Eve) has a disgruntled father on the police force (Brendan Gleeson), who has no use for the writer and threatens him if he should come near his daughter again.

Recognizing that the murders have been inspired by the works of Poe, Fields approaches him and enlists Poe’s reluctant aid in solving the murders. The serial killer is obviously enamored of Poe’s fiction, and has imitated such stories as Murders in the Rue Morgue. Emily’s father is giving a ball, to which Poe has pointedly not been invited, although they have secretly planned to announce their engagement that night. Fields warns the captain to cancel the ball, but to no avail. Realizing that this is just like The Masque of the Red Death, Poe sneaks inside to await the killer. But when the man dressed as Death rides into the company, it turns out he is just a diversion for the real crime – the kidnapping of Emily. Things just got real.

 

Hamilton reluctantly accepts Poe’s help as they race against time to rescue Emily. But the killer is adept at spreading false clues. Poe is afraid if they don’t find her, she will die. He would rather give up  his life in exchange for hers. Will that become necessary.

This is a pretty good cast, especially John Cusack as the alcoholic writer. At the beginning of the film,

the question is posed regarding the last few days of Poe’s life, before he is found on a park bench. I don’t believe this movie answers that question, at least not in my mind. As I said, good cast. I liked Luke Evans in The Alienist, and the young policeman, John Cantrell, is played by Oliver Jackson-Cohen, whom I liked in The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor. The newspaper editor is played by Kevin McNally, who played in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie as Gibbs. The story is an interesting one. Direction seemed good. And yet I thought it didn’t quite hit the mark for me. The only real passion seen is that of Poe himself, and Detective Fields.  No build-up of tension, no real excitement. The revelation of the killer is almost an anti-climax. I’m not sure if that’s a matter of editing or not, maybe better pacing? Or is it the writing itself? It was fun to see how much of Poe’s work would be referenced. I think, on the whole, the story needed to be edgier. As I listened to the music in the ending credits, I couldn’t help but think the movie could have matched that in edginess and would have had a better feel.  More depth. It was, as I said interesting, but it could have been more. I’ll give it 3.5 Stars.

Horror Express

While on an expedition in China, British anthropologist Professor Saxton (Christopher Lee) discovers an interesting specimen, a half human creature that may be millions of years old. While waiting to transport it aboard the Trans-Siberian Express, he runs into rival anthropologist Dr. Wells (Peter Cushing). They are obviously not the best of friends, and Saxton works to conceal his find from Wells. At the station, two men turn up dead, their eyes turned white. But no one has a clue as to what has happened.

Room on the train is scarce, as Saxton and Wells discover when they end up as roommates. Also on the train are Countess Irina Petrovska (Silvia Tortosa), her husband Maryan (George Rigaud) and a monk, Father Pujardov (Albert de Mendoza) who besides being rather religious seems very devoted to the Countess and resembles the mad monk Grigori Rasputin. Wells is traveling with his assistant, Miss Jones (Alice Reinhart), as well as a Russian beauty (Helga Liné). The Count and Countess are not what they appear to be, and seem intent on seducing Dr. Wells. Wells is more interested in what Saxton has brought with them, and bribes the baggage man to take a peek when no one is around. That does not turn out well for him.

 

The dead all have the same strange white eyes. The two professors perform an autopsy on the baggage 

 man and discover that his brain is smooth, unlike a normal brain, which has a wrinkled surface. Also, the creature Saxton has discovered and brought onto the train has disappeared! Is there a link between the murders and this thing, whatever it might be?

This film was made in 1972 and reminded me of a Spanish Hammer film. Yes, there are some things about it that are a bit hokey, such as the special effects. But there are also some things I’ve never seen in a horror film, such as the prehistoric vampire who doesn’t drink blood but sucks people’s thoughts via his glowing red eyes. 

 

Also, there is Cushing and Lee. They are worth watching at any time, two great horror actors that I love! Although rivals, they are forced to work together to solve these murders. Then you have an unexpected appearance by Telly Savalas as a Russian cossack policeman who is more than a little flambuoyant.  Prehistoric vampire, Trans-Siberian railroad, zombies, and Telly Savalas, along with Cushing and Lee – a recipe for fun. I enjoyed this film and will give it a solid 3.5 Stars.

Saturday is Horror Day #38 – Krampus: Origins, Jeepers Creepers 3, Prisoners of the Ghostland

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 Krampus: Origins, Jeepers Creepers 3

I am going to make these reviews short, basically because I didn’t finish either one.  Krampus: Origins takes place during WWI. There are soldiers, there are nuns, I think. Orphans. But mostly it has bad acting, bad writing, and a ridiculous story. I gave up after fifteen minutes.

I got farther with Jeepers Creepers 3 but also gave up, both because of problems with the disk and because I was really confused as to what was happening. I have the feeling this one takes place between the first and the second, which makes no sense to me, and it was boring. I’m not going to rate either one, just recommend avoiding both of them.

Prisoners of the Ghostland


Hero (Nic Cage) and Psycho (Nick Cassavetes) rob a bank, but things go horribly wrong. Hero hadn’t intended for anyone to get hurt, much less an innocent child. In attempting an escape, Hero unwittingly causes another child, a young girl, to be injured and her mother killed.

 

 

 

Years pass. The warlord of Samurai Town, the Governor (Bill Moseley) has a tight grip on the inhabitants of this pseudo Western town. But when his adopted granddaughter Bernice (Sofia Boutella) disappears, he calls on the only man he believes capable of finding her and bringing her back to him – Hero. He promises Hero his freedom when he accomplishes his mission. But of course there is a catch. Since he doesn’t trust the man, he has outfitted him in a special leather suit with some interesting modifications. Namely, explosive devices set to go off at pre-set times or under particular circumstances. He has three days to find Bernice, each passing day chiming on a wrist band. When he finds her, she has to speak her name into the wrist band, and he will have two more days to return her.

 

Another explosive device is around his neck, and another around his crotch – to make sure Bernice comes back pure and unviolated. He gives Hero the keys to a car, and he takes off. Hero runs into trouble and crashes his car, finding himself in a strange place with strange people. He shows them the picture of Bernice and asks if anyone has seen her, but no one is talking. There is something really off about this place. Some of the girls are dressed like mannequins. And some of the men are concerned with a giant clock and a prophecy regarding the starting again of time.

Hero locates Bernice and tells her she must come back with him… even if she doesn’t want to. She 


actually left Samurai Town of her own volition. But Hero is running out of time – and body parts – and he has to bring her back. But what is he bringing her back to?

I can’t say this is an uninteresting film, or that it doesn’t have some very unusual sequences and pretty shots. But I can say it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. As if someone edited out some of the important scenes that might have helped to create a more coherent story.

The basic premise is easy enough to understand. Hero needs to find Bernice and bring her back before his suit blows up and he will be set free from prison. But the subplots are … confusing at best. The large clock? Is that the atomic clock? Or it is making a statement that the people are all prisoners of time? I don’t know. There is a strange Japanese style Greek chorus, as well as the human mannequins. And from what I can tell there are references to the aftermath of the atomic bomb, whether the real ones that were dropped in 1945 or future bombs dropped at some indeterminate date. The backdrop of Samurai Town is almost like spaghetti Western meets samurai film, and then they threw in Nic Cage to play the part of the hero. 

Don’t get me wrong. I found the film worthwhile just to watch Nic Cage in action. The rest of it, though, is another matter. Hero feels guilty over the death of the little boy, even though he didn’t cause it, and the ghostly child keeps popping up. Why Hero is robbing banks in Japan, I have no idea.  Then there is the busload of prisoners who end up in an accident and become the victims of some sort of atomic radiation.

All in all, I would recommend it to Nic Cage fans, otherwise probably not for others. Just for that reason, I’ll give it 3 Stars, because I do love me some Nic Cage.

Saturday is Horror Day #37 – False Positive, See No Evil (2006)

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 False Positive

Lucy (Ilana Glazer) and Adrian (Justin Theroux) have been trying for about two years to get pregnant, with no luck. Adrian manages to land them an appointment with Dr. John Hindle (Pierce Brosnan), a highly noted fertility specialist who was Adrian’s teacher in med school. He assures them they are in good hands and he will do everything he can to assure them a baby through IVF. Before long, Lucy is pregnant – with triplets!  Two boys and a girl.

 

Dr. Hindle suggests that three babies will be too much, considering Lucy’s previous history, so suggests he perform a selective reduction and suggests keeping the twin boys, who share a placenta. Lucy is appalled, already having named her unborn daughter Wendy, after the girl in Peter Pan. She wrestled with her conscience and finally agrees to the reduction, but they have to save Wendy, which the doctor agrees to.

 

Lucy’s career seems to be taking off, for which she is ecstatic, although Adrian encourages her to be a stay-at-home mom. But she begins to feel off, not herself. The other expectant mothers in her group attribute this to mommy brain, but Lucy doesn’t think so. Plus she finds Dr. Hindle’s nurse, Dawn (Gretchen Mol), more than a little creepy, and definitely a fervent admirer of the doctor and his work.

Lucy sees an advertisement for a mid-wife named Grace Singleton (Zainab Jah) and despite knowing 

Adrian wouldn’t approve goes to see her. She is comforted by the woman’s manner, and decides to go with her instead of Dr. Hindle. As predicted, Adrian is angry but Lucy’s mind is made up. However, when the time comes, things don’t go as planned, and Lucy has to be rushed to the hospital, where a huge surprise awaits her.

I noticed this Hulu exclusive movie and decided to give it a try, primarily because I just love Pierce Brosnan. There is a lot going on here, more than just the pregnancy. The film seems to tackle broader issues, such as male dominance, the role of women, and more. It has definite Rosemary’s Baby vibes. I have to confess I figured out the twist but not the ending. It was a sufficiently creepy film that could have been a little better. Gretchen Mol was creepy in the way she played the nurse, and Pierce was very creepy as well. It was worth watching. I’ll give it 3.5 Stars.

See No Evil (2006)

A routine call goes horribly wrong for two police officers when they are attacked by a psychopath with an axe while attempting to rescue a young woman whose eyes have been cut out. The rookie ends up dead while the other officer is maimed, but only after shooting the killer in the head. Four years later, he’s working at the Detention Center for troubled youth. A group of them have been offered a chance to shave a month off their sentences. All they have to do is a little community service.

The teens end up at the Blackwell Hotel, which has definitely seen better days. But the owner intends to renovate it as housing for the homeless. Kids being kids, they intend to party as much as possible. After all, not obeying the rules is what got them there in the first place. And they didn’t exactly volunteer for this duty, they were impressed into it. The hotel is in terrible shape, and bugs and rats are not uncommon.

 

Unfortunately for them, the psychopath is hiding in this hotel, and he sees them as fresh meat, and he is more than happy to kill and kill again. With no way to contact the outside world, can the teens survive long enough to tell about it?

I have to say that this film is long on blood and short on most everything else, including actual plot or 

character development. Granted, that’s not necessarily a requirement in a horror film, but it helps. I would call this movie an example of horror porn. It moves from one bloody scene to another for the sake of blood and death.

Which is all well and good, if that’s what  you’re looking for. But I had other issues with the movie. Such as these so-called teens looked older than that. What, couldn’t they find actual teen actors?  Also, I can’t believe they could just arbitrarily assign these delinquents to that kind of duty without at least notifying their parents, if not getting written permission.

As I said, the hotel is in deplorable state. Three days of work from these kids is not going to put a dent in what needs to be done. Not to mention, none of them seem to have any experience with this sort of things. Furthermore, I would think before the hotel is ready to be cleaned, they would need to send in an exterminator to help with that pest problem, ie rats and bugs.

Finally, none of the teens seem horribly disturbed by this place, or the thought of sleeping there for three days (I don’t think any of them brought a change of clothes or anything). Someone should be at least a little freaked out here. And one couple chooses to have sex in a maid’s room. God knows how long since those sheets – or anything else in this hotel – have been cleaned. The very thought is disgusting. 

We get some glimpses into the motivation of the killer, Kane,and his overly religious fanatic of a mother who made his life as a boy a living hell. His actual reason comes to light at the end of the film.

The acting is tolerable, nothing to write home about. Most of the horror is of the gory variety, and it’s of the kind that thinks it’s better to be watching it than living it. There is a sequel, which I’ll review once I get it from the library. In the meantime, I’ll give this one 3 Stars

Saturday is Horror Day #36 – Waxwork II: Lost in Time, See No Evil: The Moors Murders, Jeepers Creepers 2

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 Waxwork II: Lost in Time

Mark (Zach Galligan) and Sarah (Monika Schnarre) have just escaped from the flaming ruins of the Waxwork. They’re tired and they just want to go home. Their job is done… or so they think. Little do they suspect that a disembodied hand has survived the inferno and has followed Sarah home! The hand attacks her stepfather. Sarah tries to save him, but her efforts are in vain. Unfortunately, that’s a hard scenario to explain to the police, and Sarah is accused of her stepfather’s murder!

 

Mark is determined to save her, but they need proof. The question is how to get it? They go to Sir Wilfred’s house and find a video message he left for Mark in the event of his demise, with a cryptic explanation of how to go back in time. But the two figure it out and off they go!

 

The second Waxwork film is even campier than the first one as the two would-be lovers seek the evidence they need to clear Sarah of murder (whatever that might be, to prove that disembodied hands do exist and can kill people). Played for even more laughs than the first one, this film is also gorier, so watch out for that spraying blood and flying body parts. At the same time, don’t look for any kind of logic here either.

Doesn’t this remind you of a scene from Die Hard, where one of the bad guys is about to take down Bruce Willis, John McClaine? Not surprising, as this is Alexander Godunov, who also played in Die Hard. And that will give you some indication of what the film makers were going for as they fly through various points in time and pay homage to a number of different stories, some of which I may even have missed.  (One reviewer referenced Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, which I remembered from the first film, not the second). 

We see Baron von Frankenstein and his monster, and also the ship and crew from the movie Alien. There are references to Poe, including the Raven, as well as Dawn of the Dead. One black-and-white sequence has a very funny Bruce Campbell. I believe he’s meant to be related to Mark, but if so, no one mentions it. There is a montage of quick visits that include Jack the Ripper and Godzilla, and a lengthier story that takes place in the time of King Arthur (although they never use his and his knights remind me of the Knights Templar, with their Maltese crosses. John Ireland plays the king, and Michael Des Barres his right-hand man, George. Alexander Godunov is Scarabis, the would-be usurper of the throne. Look for a small cameo appearance by Drew Barrymore in the Nosferatu sequence.

While the film was funny,  sometimes it’s just a bit unbelievable. I mean, Sarah is being tried for murder, and they’re not holding her in the jail? When does that happen? I find it hard to believe either one of them could make her bail, assuming they even set bail for such a heinous crime. The story is inconsistent and weak, and most of the time we forget why they are really traveling in time and just going with the traveling thing.  The ending is rather unbelievable too, and the film is, much like the first one, too long. Better writing would have benefited this immensely. I don’t think there is room for a third. I’ll give this one 3 Stars.

See No Evil: The Moors Murders

In 1965 England, children disappeared without explanation, alarming the community. Maureen and Dave Smith (Joanne Froggattand Matthew McNulty) are a young married couple with a baby of their own. They’re distraught when the child unexpectedly dies. Maureen is close to her older sister Myra (Maxine Peake), although she is wary of Myra’s boyfriend Ian Brady (Sean Harris). Even so, she encourages her husband to get close to Brady, at Myra’s request.

The two couples takes trips out to the moors together, where Brady shows Dave how to fire a gun. They talk about robbing a bank, as the Smiths are low on funds and about to get evicted. Myra comes to get Dave one night and takes him back to their house where he witnesses Brady kill a man. Dave is horrified and tells his wife. Together they approach the police, who pick up Brady and Myra, who lie and say that Dave helped Brady kill the man.

 

Dave tells the police that Brady boasted of having killed someone before. and he shows them photos taken on the moor. The police begin to look at Brady and Hindley as suspects but they have no evidence of the missing children. Life is getting harder for the Smiths, who are looked up as suspects despite the fact that they came to the police of their own volition.  If only they could find the spot where the photos were taken, then maybe they’ll be able to find the childrens’ graves and make a case against the pair.

 

This is the true story of the Moors Murders, a case I read about many years ago. The series is very well done, and very well acted. Most of it is from the POV of Maureen and Dave Smith, and doesn’t glorify the killers in any way. It’s very informative and interesting besides being good drama. I give this series 4.5 Stars.

Jeepers Creepers 2

The Creeper lies dormant for 23 years and then he returns for 23 days in order to feed. Twenty-three years have passed since the last time, and now it’s day 22…

Billy Taggart is helping out on the family farm, putting up scarecrows, when he notices that one is acting rather strangely. Too late, he realizes this is no real scarecrow. Despite his screams for help, his father Jack Sr (Ray Wise) and older brother Jack Jr (Luke Edwards) are helpless to do other than watch as he is flown away by a large creature.

On Day 23, a busload of high school students is returning from a victorious tournament. Suddenly the bus lurches to a halt. The bus driver, Betty (Diane Delano) discovers a strange looking implement has shredded the tire, something very odd and disturbing, as it contains what appears to be a human tooth.

 

It’s getting dark, but no one can get cell reception. So the coach goes out to light some flares and put 

them on the road so they can be seen. But he suddenly disappears. Another adult goes to finish the job, but this time they see what flies out of the sky and grabs him, to their horror!

One by one the adults are picked off, leaving just the frightened teens. But rather than behaving like a team, they fight amongst themselves, which doesn’t help the situation. When they finally manage to make contact with someone, he tries to pinpoint their location, but they only vaguely know where they are. They believe that help is now on the way, but they have only managed to contact Jack Taggart Sr, who is determined to kill the creature who killed his son.

 

I liked this sequel to the original Jeepers Creepers. It has a solid premise and decent acting. Not surprising that it has good production values, it’s a Coppola production. It was certainly creepy, and the division among the team players was realistic, although it never came out and said racism, but it was pretty evident what the problem was, at least for one student.

The part about the student who had some kind of telepathic abilities, though, was a bit much, and really just served as exposition to explain to the kids what they were dealing with. Seemed kind of hokey to me. Still, all in all, it was a decent horror film, and worth watching. I’ll give it 4 Stars.

Saturday is Horror Day #35 – Creep(2004), V/H/S 2, Waxwork

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Creep (2004)

 

Kate (Franka Potente) goes to a party with some friends, but it isn’t quite what she hoped for. A guy she works with, Guy (Jeremy Sheffield) doesn’t know how to take no an answer, making himself quite obnoxious. But Kate has better places to be. Her friend knows where George Clooney is partying that night and has two tickets for them to get in. But her friend leaves without her, so the disappointed Kate heads to the subway, hoping to find her. Having had a bit to drink, she falls asleep and only wakes after the last train has gone.

 

The station is eerily silent with no one else there. To Kate’s dismay, when she heads up, she finds the gates locked and no one around. When after a while a train unexpectedly shows up, she gets on with great relief, only to find Guy there. And he still won’t take no for an answer.  But as he tries to assault Kate, something grabs him and pulls him off the train. Suddenly Kate becomes painfully away there is someone or something else down there. Something deadly.

 

Kate has to navigate the subway tunnels, searching for a way out. Her life depends on it.

This isn’t a half-bad horror movie. It has a creepy premise, and who wouldn’t commiserate with Kate,

who is having a bad night and just wants to get home? That is the secret of horror films. You care what happens to the main character and live vicariously through them, which also means you become scared for them as well, which heightens the thrill of the movie.

 

When Kate runs into George, the new subway employee, she feels a sense of relief at seeing another human being in the same predicament as her, sure that by working together, they can flee this place.  There are a number of jump scares, not unexpected. And the atmosphere is sufficiently icky/creepy to convince me not to go into a subway, ever. But what does bother me is the answer to the riddle, the explanation for the place Kate found, and for the guy who obviously lives in the tunnels and probably has his whole life. One can extrapolate based on what is shown, but that really isn’t quite enough. And so you are left with a great big WHY at the end of the day. I am giving this 3 Stars.

V/H/S 2

 

A private investigator and his girlfriend/assistant are given an assignment to find a missing student by the student’s mother. She gives them permission to go into his house in order to look around. The PI breaks in, but can see nothing, other than a video set-up and some VHS tapes. He has his gf watch the tapes while he searches for clues in the rest of the house.

 

 

What she finds is a series of found footage videos, with different stories. One of the films is about a man who lost his eye in an accident and is given an experimental prosthetic eye with a camera. The only downside is that the camera sees all, and he’ll have virtually no privacy. After coming home from the doctor’s office, he begins to see strange things. People who look like they are dead. Naturally he starts to freak out. And then he receives a visitor – a girl who was also in the office. She says she needs to talk to him and he will want to hear what she has to say. Apparently she had a cochlear implant, and now she can hear the dead people he can see.

 

A young man has a video channel and is going to make a video of his bike ride. But inside the woods, he almost runs into a woman who is covered with blood, screaming that he has to help her boyfriend. Panicked, he tries to help. But what he sees in the woods is a lot worse than an injured man, and when he returns to the woman, it seems she has met the same fate. Things just go downhill from there.

Young documentary makers want to film an interview with a cult leader in Indonesia. He reluctantly 

allows them to visit the cult in their compound. But from the beginning, something seems off, maybe even unnatural. They all refer to the Leader as the Father, and he talks about taking them to their safe haven. Shades of Jim Jones! Or is it something worse?

 

Two brothers and a sister are left home alone for the weekend while Mom and Dad are away. The boys decide to prank the sister and her boyfriend when he shows them and interrupts them in the bedroom. They vow revenge. But what starts out as a simple prank becomes far worse when aliens decide to attack on that night, and they want to take the boys with them.

This film is similar to the one before in that it involves found footage on a video tape. But the stories are different, and each is told rather well. And there is more than a sufficient creep factor for horror buffs. The couple who are the investigators are the framework the film is built on, their story framing the whole. The one about the implant could be a glimpse of the future. The alien story might be a little over the top, but feasible if you believe in aliens. The cult story is very damn creepy, because I’m sure there are people out there just that fanatical about their cult leader. Definitely worth watching. I give it 4 Stars.

Waxwork

 

A new waxwork museum has just opened up in the middle of a well-to-do residential neighborhood, and some of the teens are curious. A couple of teenage girls receive an invitation from the proprietor (David Warner) to come for a private party at midnight, and they can bring some of their friends. But no more than six people, please.

 

 

Mark (Zach Galligan) likes China (Michelle Johnson), but she is rather flirtatious, to put it mildly. He agrees to go to the waxwork to be with her. The group assembles outside the door on time, but a couple of the kids chicken out, to the disappointment of the diminutive man who answers their knock. The group begins their tour of the wax exhibits, and are surprised at how lifelike they appear.

 

 

 

Some of the exhibits include Count Dracula, Jack the Ripper, the Mummy, the Marquis de Sade, as well as others. But something strange begins to happen. One by one, the teens find themselves inside the different exhibits. More than that, they are part of the exhibit. And suddenly they find they are fighting for their lives in order not to become permanent parts of the exhibits.

 

 

 

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this comedy horror movie, but I became really interested. Okay, the characters are a little stereotypical teens, but that works in this context. It’s watching what happens when each gets pulled into a different exhibit that makes it interesting. The girl’s reaction to the Marquis de Sade (J. Kenneth Campbell) is not what you would expect, neither is the girl who winds up with Count Dracula (Miles O’Keefe). David Warner is handsome as ever, and look for John Rhys Davies as a werewolf, and Patrick MacNee as Sir Wilfred.  A fun romp, although maybe it could have been tightened just a bit. There are a few moments that last too long. I give this a solid 3.5 Stars.