Tag Archives: Saturday is Horror Day

Saturday is Horror Day #68 – The Blackcoat’s Daughter, The Mist

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

The Blackcoat’s Daughter


Rose (Lucy Boynton) and Kat (Kiernan Shipka) attend a rather exclusive private school for girls. But they have something else in common – at winter break, they’ve both been left behind by parents who never arrived to pick them up. The head of the school, Mr. Gordon (Peter James Haworth) tries to make the best of a bad situation, asking Rose to look after Kat. They will both be looked after by the nuns, but even so he feels responsible for them. Not enough to forego his own vacation, though, and off he goes.

Each girl has a secret, and neither is exactly enamored of the other’s company. Rose is afraid she is pregnant, and doesn’t pay attention to the admonishment not to leave the school, having her boyfriend pick her up for the evening. The isolated Kat has been hearing voices, a demon telling her what to do. His voice is growing more and more insistent.

 

Meanwhile another girl, who calls herself Joan (Emma Roberts) is traveling toward the school. She is noticed sitting all alone by a couple, and the husband Bill (James Remar) offers Joan a ride, although his wife Linda (Lauren Holly) is less than thrilled. Bill goes out of his way to be kind to Joan, and she fears an ulterior motive. But he finally confides to her that she reminds him of his late daughter.

 

An uneasy Mr. Gordon returns prematurely to the school, only to be met with a most disturbing sight.

I have to confess that the film can be rather confusing, as there are three timelines here but they seem to be happening simultaneously, although they aren’t. I won’t give away any plot points, but I honestly had to look up an explanation of the ending to understand what I saw. Then it made sense. Having said that, I spent more time wondering what was going to happen, but if I should watch it again, at least I would understand it better. The music does indeed set the scene. And coincidentally, this was directed by the same guy who directed Gretel & Hansel, which I just reviewed. That guy is Oz Perkins, whose very famous father was Anthony Perkins. I guess horror genes run in the family.

Now that I understand the ending, I like it better and might give it a second watch sometime. For that reason I’ll give it 4 Stars.

The Mist


A major storm in a small town in Maine has wrought major damage to the dismay of the residents, locals and part-timers alike.  David Drayton (Thomas Jane) is on shaky terms with his next door neighbor, attorney Brent Norton (Andre Braugher), but they set aside their differences and begin to heal the rift in the aftermath of the storm, as both have suffered property damage. Norton’s vehicle was destroyed, so he asks to ride along with David and his son, Billy (Nathan Gamble) to get a few things at the grocery store. The store is pretty crowded with people who have also come to make purchases, and tempers are a bit frayed. But then a local, Dan Miller (Jeffrey DeMunn) stumbles into the store, blood on his clothes, claiming he just saw someone get taken by something in the strange mist that is creeping up on them, and no one should go out there.

 
 

David volunteers to go to the back of the store to look at the generator, and while he is there he hears something. He reports his findings to some of the men but they’re skeptical, so he takes them back there. They hear nothing.  A teenage boy offers to go outside. David warns him not to go, that something’s out there, but they don’t listen, and the grown men encourage him, overriding David’s concerns. But something is out there and it has tentacles….

 

 


The Mist is based on a Stephen King short story of the same name. The story is actually better, of 


course, but they did a good job with the movie. You can imagine being caught in this supermarket, with these other panicked people, not knowing what is going on outside, and then seeing these very scary creatures that no one is equipped to deal with. What would you do? I don’t know, to be honest. Watch for the unexpected ending. I had already been spoiled for that, so it was no surprise, but I won’t disclose that here.  I’ll give this movie 4 Stars.

Saturday is Horror Day #67 – Gretel & Hansel, Rec

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 Gretel & Hansel

Forced from their house by an uncaring mother, siblings Gretel (Sophia Lillis) and Hansel (Samuel Leakey) are left to fend for themselves in the dark and forbidding woods. Almost immediately they find themselves in trouble, rescued through the intervention of a kind hunter (Charles Babalola). But their peace is short-lived for he tells them they must make their own way.

 

The hungry children come upon some mushrooms, but before Gretel will allow Hansel to eat them, she insists on talking to them first. Apparently the mushrooms tell her to eat them, so they do. Continuing their journey, they come upon an isolated house. Hansel insists the house smells of cake and wants to go in. Gretel peeks through the window and sees a veritable feast has been laid out. She reluctantly helps Hansel to enter the house through a window, and he begins to check out the cornucopia before him. Too late, Gretel sees that he is not alone. An older woman (Alice Krige) comes to the door and beckons Gretel to come in as well. But can they trust her?

 

This version of the familiar children’s story is more like the original dark Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Everything about this place is foreboding,  with the emphasis being on finding your own way, telling your own story. The children have grown up on the story of the beautiful baby, but now they learn that what they thought was the truth was a lie. And the reality is much uglier than the fantasy. Very dark and brooding, don’t expect your childhood story in anyway. I think it was well done. I’ll give it 4 Stars.

Rec

Angela (Manuela Velasco) is a young TV reporter who covers the night beat with a show called While You Sleep. Tonight she is going to spend some time at a local fire station as her camera man, Pablo (Pablo Rosso) films. She hopes they will get a call so they can see some action.

Be careful what you wish for…

 

 

After a period of inactivity, during which the firefighters are seen eating, then getting some sleep, a call finally comes through and Angela and Pablo accompany them to an apartment building. Once inside they learn from the residents, who are massed in the lobby, that they heard screams. A police offer named Joven (Jorge-Yamam Serrano) tries to prevent them from filming, but Angela won’t be deterred. Going up to the woman’s apartment, they find her screaming and covered in blood. They try to calm her down so they can get her into an ambulance so she can be treated, but she unexpectedly attacks and bites one of the firemen.

 

 

 

The situation goes from bad to worse when they attempt to leave and find that they are not permitted to do so! What is going on here? Joven tells them to calm down and everybody stay downstairs, as he is in charge, but he isn’t really helping the situation with his boss mentality. Something is definitely not right here. No matter how they try to leave, they are blocked at every turn. Things begin to come to light… such as the little girl has tonsillitis, and her dog is sick at the vet. The Japanese woman has a father sick in bed up stairs. There is a penthouse, but no one lives there. And then they find that the building has been sealed and no one is getting out, while inside, things are heating up in the worst possible way.

 

Rec is a Spanish found footage film from directors Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza. It holds your interest from the beginning as the bizarre tale slowly unravels before your eyes and you begin to realize just what is going on. I think the writing is good, and so is the acting, and it will keep you wondering what’s going on up until the very end. A must-see film if you enjoy found footage movies. The good news is that there are sequels, and I’ve already requested the next one! I give this film 4.5 Stars!

Saturday is Horror Day #66 – Freaks (2018), The Conspiracy

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Freaks (2018)

 

Chloe (Lexy Kolker) is seven, but she’s never been beyond her front door, kept inside by her vigilant and paranoid father (Emile Hirsch). He cautiously schools her on what to say if someone asks her who she is and what she likes, even though that isn’t her name at all. Chloe longs to go outside. Her mother is dead, and all she has is her father. He tells her that when the time comes she will go across the street to live with the neighbors, and Nancy will be her new mother. Chloe wants a mother more than anything, and that day can’t come fast enough.

 

Chloe peeps outside when her dad is sleeping, although he tries to stay awake as long as possible, saying he can’t protect her when he’s asleep. She spots an ice cream truck, and she really really really wants an ice cream. The older man in the truck (Bruce Dern) looks her way and smiles at her. One day Chloe sees the girl across the street getting ice cream and she tells her in her mind to bring her one, and she does. Then the man himself shows up and takes her to his truck, saying they’re going for a ride. The odd thing is he has a photograph in his truck. When Chloe asks who that is, he says it’s her mother… his daughter. And they have to rescue her. But her mother is dead, so how can that be?

 

Freaks is set at a time when some members of the population have developed certain powers which set 

them apart from the others, and they have been labeled as freaks by the rest, who are terrified of them and what they can. Scientists predict that each generation of freaks is stronger than the last. Chloe’s mother Mary (Amanda Crew) single-handedly destroyed the city of Dallas. Chloe’s father works to keep her safe, but his powers only work when he’s awake.

 

Chloe has some astonishing powers of her own. She can get into people’s heads and make them do things. Grandpa is positive he can use her to rescue her mother. The concept reminds me of the TV series The Gifted, but they were ore of an offshoot from the X-Men universe  and these are just ordinary people with extraordinary powers.

 

I was really glad Bruce Dern turned out not to be the neighborhood pervert. He seems at odds with Chloe’s father but eventually they decide to work together for the common good. The movie is well done, the story is great, and so is the acting. But at the same time, it’s bleak and harsh, and not something I would choose to watch again. Look for Grace Park as an FBI agent, last seen on Hawaii 5-0. I’ll give this movie 4.5 Stars.

The Conspiracy

Two filmmakers, Aaron (Aaron Poole) and Jim (James Gilbert) are making a documentary about conspiracy theorists, particularly Terrance (A.C. Peterson). But in the middle of filming, Terrance disappears, his apartment ransacked, the multitude of clippings he had tacked to his walls torn down. 

 

 

Aaron and Jim pursue their investigation, which leads them to the existence of a secret society known as the Tarsus Club. They discover an informant, Mark Tucker (Bruce Clayton), who helps them gain entrance to the club, which is holding some sort of meeting in someone’s expensive home in the middle of nowhere. The club is populated by obviously wealthy, established members of society. Jim and Aaron and welcomed as new members, and told to enjoy The Hunt.

 

The two young men find themselves in over their heads, continuing to film as the hunt begins.

My first problem with this film is that it always felt like a film, never a documentary. If you’re going to 

say it’s a documentary, it should feel like one. I understand the filmmakers are making a point about conspiracies and getting to the truth of the question of who is in charge, who pulls the strings. But I found my attention wandering early on, and I found it hard to maintain interest, or even to care about these guys and their so-called documentary.

Is the Tarsus Club just a stand-in for the Masons or the Illuminati or some other group of the week? Personally, I believe the wealthy control everything, but I don’t think they all hang out together and plan what’s going to happen. I believe they have their own spheres of influence and control things accordingly.

 

At the end of the film, the film goes horribly wrong for the two young men in a way they hadn’t anticipated, and then one disappears. Just not a lot of meat to this story, and I think it was just not worth filming. I’ll give it 1.5 Stars.

Saturday is Horror Day #65 – Rampant, Phantasm II

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 Rampant

There is unrest in Joseon. Some people fear that the king is far too interested in impressing the nearby Qing dynasty of China than furthering the cause of his own people. One who believes this is the Crown Prince (Kim Tae-Woo), who is determined to aid his people by the acquisition of  European arquebuses. But the plot is discovered and the prince must commit suicide. Unbeknownst to him, the Europeans have brought more than guns, they have brought zombies.

The Crown Prince’s younger brother Prince Ganglim (Hyun Bin) has been in exile in Qing for some ten years, during which time he excelled at drinking and womanizing… and swordsmanship. He returns at his brother’s request to take care of the pregnant Crown Princess. But the Minister of War, Kim Ja-joon (Jang Dong-Gun) has no wish for that to happen. When Ganglim and his companion, Hak Su (Man-sik Jeong) arrive in Jemulpo, they are beset by assassins, and then find themselves up against zombies. 

 

Having seen the demons first hand, Ganglim and Hak Su head to the capital to warn of what is going on. But things are worse than he expected. And no one believes him, not even the Minister of War. Which is odd as he is the one who brought it to pass. As the number of zombies continues to grow, Ganglim realizes it is up to him to save the kingdom.

 

I really liked this film. From the previews, I had thought it was a werewolf movie, but no, it’s zombies. It might not be quite as fast-paced as Train to Busan, but I was won over by Prince Ganglim as he turned from playboy to zombie killer, one worthy to be a king. His companion Hak Su is hilarious, and the repartee between the two is very funny.  Well worth the watch. I give it 4 Stars.

Phantasm II

Mike  (James Le Gros) has been in a mental institution for about seven years, after telling the fantastic story of what happened to his brother, including the Tall Man and his evil dwarfs. Gradually coming to realize he has to tell the doctors what they want to hear, he manages to get released and heads immediately to the cemetery. Reggie (Reggie Bannister) finds him there.  Reggie doesn’t really believe Mike and he’s just trying to protect him… until they reach Reggie’s house and see what the Tall Man has done! Now it’s war!

Mike and Reggie are determined to destroy the Tall Man, and he isn’t hard to follow, but he is hard to catch. Reggie picks up a hitchhiker on the side of the road who he is attracted to by the name of Alchemy (Samantha Phillips). There is something odd about her. Mike thinks she’s been in his dreams, but in those she’s been dead. Mike can’t help but think about Liz (Paula Irvine) and is intent on finding her. Unknown to him, her grandpa has died and she is helping her grandma through the ordeal of the funeral. Things go very wrong when her grandpa unexpectedly comes back from the dead, thanks to the Tall Man.

 

When Reggie and Mike take Alchemy to her hometown, she finds it sadly changed over the past ten 

years. In fact, it’s become like a ghost town. They decide to stay at the bed and breakfast owned by Alchemy’s mother, although it too is boarded up and vacant. Now it’s time to deal with the Tall Man and his minions once and for all!

The second installment of the Phantasm franchise has its moments, both humorous and creepy. I’m glad Reggie survived the first film, he ends an element of both humor and humanity to the film which Mike lacks. I could do without his hitting on the first woman he sees, but whatever. What I don’t get is when Mike and Liz are reunited after seven years, how she recognizes him so quickly and how they feel compelled to suck face while standing inside an open grave, in the middle of dealing with the Tall Man. Call me crazy, but that sort of thing can wait, surely. 

Angus Scrim as the Tall Man is the best thing about the film. More of the mysterious pronged orb that flies through air with reckless abandon and cores its victims. Now I am confused as to how it knows who to attack. See the movie and ask yourself the same thing. All in all, not bad. I’ll give it 3 Stars.

Saturday is Horror Day #64 – Black Sunday (1960)

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 Black Sunday


When a witch (Barbara Steele) and her minion (Arturo Dominici) are burned at the stake after first being forced to endure the mask of Satan, they vow to wreak their vengeance. Two centuries later, two doctors,Dr Kruvajan (Andrea Checchi) and Dr Gorobec (John Richardson) are on their way to a medical conference. when their carriage breaks down. While the driver fixes the carriage, they stroll about some nearby ruins and discover a strange tomb. The older doctor recounts the strange tale of the witch and the mask. The coffin is accidentally damaged, revealing the mask and the body. They pull it off, only to discover how well preserved the body beneath is. Shrugging it off, they continue to the next town and take a room.

In a nearby castle live Prince Vajda (Ivo Garrani) and his son Constantine (Enrico Olivieri) and his daughter Asa (Barbara Steele). A medical emergency requires a doctor and the two older physician is summoned. When he doesn’t return, the younger doctor learns through an eyewitness that the man who came for him was a stranger, not Boris, the stablehand. Boris is later discovered murdered. Alarmed, Dr Gorobec heads to the castle.

 

Strange things are afoot including secret passages and various clues which lead them to believe the witch intends to be reincarnated in the body of the princess. It seems that there are vampires afoot. How can they be combated?

Despite the fairly common storyline, Black Sunday stands out for the way in which it was filmed. It’s stylish and rather elegant, enhanced I feel by the black and white film, although clearly color would have been a choice in 1960.  It also stars Barbara Steele, considered to be the queen of the 1960 horror genre. The film is Italian, but I saw it dubbed, which probably detracted from the overall effect, but I had no choice. Even so, it has a very Italian Gothic feel and is not short on chills and shivers. Worth watching. I give it 4 to 4.5 Stars

Saturday is Horror Day #63 – House II: The Second Story, Phantasm: Remastered, Creep 2

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

House II: The Second Story

I’ll make this quick as I don’t think I got through even ten minutes, put off by the horrendous acting and stupid storyline. This is not a sequel to the first House, it’s not even the same house, definitely not the same characters. I wanted to kill the main character’s girlfriend almost immediately because of her terrible delivery. My only regret is that I didn’t watch far enough to see John Ratzenberger in what I understand was the best scene in the movie. Ironic that he’s in it as George Wendt was in the first one. Coincidence? Maybe, but an odd one if so. Just avoid this one at all costs.

Phantasm: Remastered

Teenager Mike (A. Michael Baldwin) is going through a rough period. First his parents die, then his brother Tommy (Bill Cone). People say he committed suicide, but that’s not even close to the truth. Now all Mike has is his other brother Jody (Bill Thornbury), and Mike’s afraid Jody is going to take a powder on him and leave him all alone. To be honest, he has reasons to fear that because Jody wants to leave town, very much. As a result, Mike tends to shadow Jody wherever he goes, much to Jody’s annoyance.

Jody forbids Mike to go to Tommy’s funeral, but as usual, Mike doesn’t listen, hiding in the woods near the creepy mortuary where their parents and now Tommy are interred.  But after the funeral, when everyone has left, Mike sees something strange. The man who works at the funeral home, the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) single-handedly lifts Tommy’s casket and puts it back into the hearse, then drives away. Mike tells Jody but his brother scoffs since he knows how heavy that casket was, having been a pallbearer. Jody’s friend Reggie (Reggie Bannister) tries to console Mike, but to no avail. He even offers to let Mike ride along with him the next day on his ice cream vending route, but Mike isn’t interested.

 

Mike is determined to get to the bottom of the strangeness at the funeral home. He goes to consult with his friend’s grandmother, who is a fortune teller, and she gives him some advice. Mike breaks into the funeral home and ends up being attacked by a flying ball with spikes. And he keeps seeing strange squat figures in hoods. What the devil is going on here?

 

This version of the movie was remastered thanks to JJ Abram and Bad Robot, and I can see the difference. The best thing about this movie is undoubtedly the Tall Man, who is the actual stuff of nightmares. I would not want that man after me. I’m not going to say it’s great moments in acting, but for what they are doing, most everyone does well enough. The friend Reggie is an interesting character, and I think he’s a good counterbalance to the irresponsible Jody. I’ve seen this movie a few times over the years and I still enjoy it. I think it accomplishes what it sets out to do and is well worth the watch. I give it 4 Stars.

Creep 2

Sara (Desiree Akhavan) has a web series called Encounters, where she provides niche services to people in search of them, such as a man who wants a mommy. But she is not particularly successful and is ready to give up when she spies an ad from someone in search of a videographer who is willing to pay $1000 for one day’s work. She decides that perhaps this could be the subject she’s been waiting for and contacts him so they can meet. He sends her an address and she drives three hours into the woods to find him.

The man who calls himself Aaron (Mark Duplass) greets her with a green smoothie which he jokingly claims is poisoned. And thus their encounter begins as she films him from the get-go. Aaron is self-confident and assured, and within the first ten minutes of their meeting has confessed to Sara that he is a serial killer, that he has killed 39 people, but that he will not kill her that day.  He even shows her a video of him killing his last victim. Thrown for a bit of a loop, she goes to the bathroom to regroup and film herself. She is determined she will do this and it will be great, but for safety sake she tucks a knife into her shoe.

 

Aaron’s attempts at scaring Sara meet with failure, somewhat to his surprise, as he begins to discover that perhaps he has met a sympathetic spirit. Someone who can appreciate him for who he is. And so their day begins.

 

This film is, of course, the sequel to 2014’s Creep, with Mark Duplass. But he had a different name 

then, having taking Aaron from the name of his last victim. What makes this film particularly interesting is that Sara is not the hapless victim the original Aaron was. She is smart and determined, and she isn’t about to let this Aaron have his way. The film is a bit of a wild ride as we watch these two spar for dominance and at any given moment we are left wondering who is controlling who, and who is actually in charge.

I admit that I really enjoy this film, maybe even more than the first one. There is supposedly going to be a third film in the series but nothing has happened yet, and this came out in 2017. We can only hope Duplass comes up with another great story for the next one. An interesting note, this film was largely an outline, so a lot of what you see is the two actors playing off each other and improvising. I give this film 4.5 Stars.

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.