Phantasm IV – The return of the return of the Tall Man

I love horror and I love Shudder. Shudder is what my Netflix queue should be and always failed. It is a cheap streaming alternative to ripping off your favorite movies by illegally downloading them and paying the artists jack. Shudder brings so much horror joy to us that if you are still stealing content because ‘you can’t afford’ it then you really need to get off the internet.

This time I heated up Phantasm IV: Oblivion aka “There was a 3rd movie?”. The Tall Man does not disappoint. I think he is the scariest mofo to ever stomp ass on an ice cream man and I know he’s featured in a few of my nightmares as a kid. Angus Scrimm plays the role perfectly. He goes to show that not everyone has to be Freddie to be scary in the 80s. Subtlety kills and this guy slays them all. But not even the Tall Man could escape 2016–the accursed year that took everyone worth staying alive for…

Let’s sit back and remember one old man whose balls you most definitely didn’t want to touch (wait…)

Hellbenders – the movie needs to be a Netflix series

Quick pick for this month after a long absence. Hellbenders is a horror-comedy about a group of Holy people with the sacred mission to take down the forces of evil by any means necessary. The concept here is rather brilliant–only a sinner can truly take the devil back to hell. This group of misfits just might be humanity’s last (and worst) hope to stop the total annihilation of the world.

As my first movie on Shudder, this was a great find. The acting, for the most part, is pretty decent. The premise (as already stated) is brilliant. The stopper here is the writing. The gags sometimes seemed force and there are parts that were best left on the cutting room floor of the writer’s room. With all that said, I stand by my statement–this would make a great Netflix (or Stars) series.

Conjuring 2 – Why horror movies exist

Long time no see. I’ve been busy doing that ‘review for pay’ job I’m a bit fond of, but it’s back to my own review for a quick look at Conjuring 2. Conjuring 2 is the movie The Witch should have been but drastically wasn’t. It is the ‘if you believe, you will be scared and probably have to research most of this on the way home–with the lights on’ type of movie. Hell, even if you aren’t a believer in the after-life, this movie is packed with ‘scares’ that work. The setups are patient things and my hats off to James Wan on this. The payoffs for the ‘monster scares’ are rather sinister in parts.

At one point, I honestly didn’t know who was screaming–the girls on the screen or the ones in the row ahead of me.  That is how good this movie is.  I did not see it in 3D. I do not know if a 3D version exists, but if it does–you better bet your ass I’ll be in on it.

If you haven’t seen the ‘rebirth of real horror’ (aka Conjuring)–it’s okay (no it isn’t! GO OUT AND SEE IT NOW!).  You don’t need to see the first one to enjoy the sequel. Oh, and speaking of sequels I have it from this website that the Nun is getting a treatment of her own. Oh mama…

The Witch is awesome…unless you wanted horror

Before my almost non-existent horror video blogs are boycotted, let me start out by saying, “I like The Witch”. I think it was well done. I think the writing and the acting and everything in between was well done. It works brilliantly as a period piece exposing the all too familiar push of religion in the US. It works brilliantly as a tale about the way society manipulates women and punishes anyone who dares think her body is her own.  In that aspect, it is rather well done as horror. The horror of “Sweet Jesus, this is still the time we live in.”

However.

Scary in the sense of “I can’t sleep at night/What was that? Fuck you, cat! Gave me a heart attack!”? No. It just isn’t horror in that sense. It isn’t. Unless you were traumatized by a cult (or any religion) and/or had a really bad experience at a petting farm, well, it won’t be scary to you. The BEST line I have seen describing this movie comes from TheStranger.com  The review by Rich Smith was pretty spot on, but the Comment by Michael Crowl is priceless.

“I’m glad she escaped her horrifying family. She’s happy now.” That’s what hit me like a bucket of blood-milk as I walked home from the theater.
You’re both wrong. The Witch is basically Sixteen Candles with a better ending and more goats.” – Michael Crowl

The #VaticanTapes – a movie that wasn’t

I think it was just a brief moment ago that I wrote about this killer zombie movie from down under. I said zombie genre was the bestest in the whole wide world–except, of course, for possession films. The Vatican Tapes taunted me at my local dvd store (no longer local, boo!) for some time before I broke down and rented it for 99 Canadian cents (that’s like 3 pennies and a Hail Mary for you US peeps). At first I thought I had quite the bargain. The acting–solid. The special effects–nothing to cry about. The concept? A young woman becoming the Anti-Christ while a Vatican team rushes to save her and the world? It’s been done, but the story was engaging.

Then the thing ended.

Ever see a movie that has a lot of promise from cover art to 9/10s of the film done only to completely drop the ball at the end? If not, try watching The Vatican Tapes because that’s exactly what this film did. The fault is 100% directly with the writers. I don’t like to push ‘how to’ books, but fucking hell, someone buy these guys Save the Cat. They followed Blake Snyder’s beat sheets almost perfectly, you know, until they stopped their movie 10 minutes shy. (When I say 10 minutes shy, I literally mean this. The dvd said 91 minutes for the movie. The credit sheet started at 81 minutes. I fast-forwarded through 10 minutes of credits to see if the real ending was anywhere. Nope–just 10 minutes of credits.)

At least I have Age of Ultron (hey, MARVEL, where the heck is my digital copy you promised me?!) to wash this disappointing movie away.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSi_2g6PoWo

 

Zombie Down Under – Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead

Zombie movies. How I love them. I seriously think the only movie genre that can trump a zombie movie is the possession genre. I haven’t seen anything worth mentioning on the possession end, but darn if I didn’t find a gem on US Netflix. It’s called Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead and it’s a sleeper. I am shocked at how little I’ve heard about this (apparently) award-winning film. Out from the land down under (where beer does flow and men chunder, or so I’ve been told and choose to believe), this gem is what Mad Max should have been (I can’t be the only one to think that the claims of “Furiosa” as a feminist role model is laughable, right?).

The movie is dark. It’s funny. It’s a bit gory (not too much blood, really). It even has a boomerang in it. I mean, need I say more?

Go. Go to Netflix US now and plop yourself down for an hour or two. Play a bit of Men Without Hats or Men at Work, or just have it bloody raining men (hallelujah!). Either way, just press play.

Inner Demons – #Netflix US gem

I’m back in Canada for a bit and that means my VPN is stuck on Netflix US.  I’m not sure why Netflix Canada has such a poor selection of horror (or even non-horror…).  One great gem that is now trending is Inner Demons.  Inner Demons is a low budget indy film that, although given low star ratings, is actually damn good.

The premise is simple:  A formerly ‘good girl’ turns to drugs to suppress the demon trying to control her body. The writing and acting are both rather strong through most of the movie.  The ending (almost) works well.  I won’t give spoilers away, but this is one of the few ‘let’s do a mock reality show’ films that I actually watched to the finish.  If you are looking for 30000 scares a second then pass this one by, but if you want a horror film that spins from the newspaper reality, then this is your movie.

inner-demons-poster

 

#CrimsonPeak a new shade of Awesome by Guillermo del Toro

Image Credit: Kerry Hayes
Image Credit: Kerry Hayes

I’ve been busy a bit. A new magazine launch will do that for you (not to mention the letters of applications that are being sent out to  universities. Oh, the life of a recent PhD!). I am never too busy to get into a great horror show though. I love horror and I love my friends, so this is a great mix of the two.

Crimson Peak is the newest offering from Guillermo del Toro. If you don’t know who that is then stop reading right now and watch Pan’s Labyrinth or The Strain. He’s done other great things but those are my recent favs. Basically, all you need to know is Guillermo del Toro = Genius.

Crimson Peak is his latest offering and, from what I saw, it looks to be stelar. A period piece with excellent casting, directing, writing and costumes. Seriously–take a look at the trailer and tell me this doesn’t make you feel excited to be a horror fan.

I’ve got a lot on my plate (I just had a screenplay of mine optioned!) but I can always make time for Awesome and Crimson Peak definitely looks to fit that bill.

#Horror #Hellraiser and the Hellbound Heart by @realclivebarker

Hellraiser_poster

Hellraiser. This movie made me love the bad guys. Tell me you didn’t cheer for the Cenobites. Tell me that you actually liked the vacant headed heroine of the movie. This movie, quite simply, builds like a great orgasm. Okay, so not that intense. But the image is there. The image and the use of bodily fluids are quite prevalent in the movie. The story is a morality tale with a slight twist. The twist is–we start to want the people to get punished. They are representatives of the human race and, yet, we want them to be destroyed. We want them to be consumed. This isn’t because the story isn’t strong (it is), or because the characters aren’t likeable (they are) but because the Cenobites are so fricken cool and a total embodiment of the taboo that we want them to win.  We want them to win because we don’t want them to leave our sight.

There might be some sort of comfort to know that there is an order–even in Hell and even if it is the Order of the Gash.

If you haven’t read the book that the story is based (The Hellbound Heart) then you really need to pick it up. Clive Barker is a masterful story teller. He is simple. Direct. Dark. Having his words for this story come off the page is a real treat for me as a writer. I grew up watching the movie (and grew up a few yards from where the Hellraisers are filmed), but it is the story and style of Clive Barker that really pushes this through.

Yes, I know. I usually leave you with the trailer to the film. This time…Let’s just say I love Ozzy and Motorhead.

 

 

#Horror The Groundhog Day of the #LivingDead

Night_of_the_Living_Dead_afficheGroundhog Day. We all know the movie. We all love the movie. That is when Bill Murray has the same day happen to him again and again and again. I grew up in the frozen ghettos of Northern Wisconsin; I knew what reliving the same day after day after day felt like. No, it isn’t the absolute death of culture that I was trapped in that made me feel like Groundhog Day, rather it was NBC playing the Night of the Living Dead every–single–night before having the station sign off.

That’s right. The one channel (we sometimes got PBS for Doctor Who…sometimes) our tin foil laden television (now with colour!) could pick up was NBC. Let that sink in for a bit.

The good news is, the Night of the Living Dead kicked some major booty. It was scary. It was intense. It was what hope could be if not stomped on by every other creature on this blue marble of ours. I won’t bore you about the story. I will, however, tell you what lesson we can learn as writers from this masterpiece.

MAJOR SPOILERS:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Struggle sells. We rooted for the man to survive. He almost did. Almost. Why did he have to die? Think of it: Why do we have our ‘favourite’ characters live in our stories? Does your audience connect with those stories? I’m guessing they don’t. Why not? Because life isn’t like that. We like to see, even in fantasy, something real happen. Throw a car at your protagonist. See how she gets out of the way. Hell, even Superman died. Why? Because he became boring. Kryptonite wasn’t his weakness–not having a real one was. The same applies to the Living Dead. He dies because he has to.

Who do you have in your own story that is ‘too precious’ to throw a curve ball? Maybe a favourite character or even a line (darling) you just can’t toss. My suggestion, and that of Romero, is to kill them (or at least toss a car their way).