Director: Levan Gabriadze
Starring: Shelly Hennig, Matthew Bohrer, Courtney Halverson, Heather Sossaman, Moses Storm, Will Peltz, Renee Olstead
KEN: “It’s probably just a glitch.”
VAL: “Well the glitch just typed.”
Here’s a tip about being in horror films that Scream forgot to address. If you were either directly or indirectly involved in someone’s death, it’s probably a good idea to lie low on every major anniversary of said offing.
For some reason, those affected usually decide to take revenge one, five or ten years to the day after the incident. Personally, I’d go for the element of surprise: “It’s been seven and a half months since you killed me, so time for you to get all dead and that.”
Unfriended takes place exactly a year after high school student Laura Barns committed suicide. Guess what happens next. Continue reading Unfriended (2014) review
Director: Tobe Hooper
Starring: Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, Heather O’Rourke, Oliver Robins, Beatrice Straight, Zelda Rubenstein
“This house has many hearts.” (Tangina, Poltergeist)
What do you get when you combine Steven Spielberg at the height of his power – right after directing E.T. – and Tobe Hooper, director of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre?
The answer is simple: you get one of my favourite films ever.
First though, some housekeeping. It has long been debated whether Hooper had much influence during the making of the film, with many reports and actor testimonies claiming that Spielberg had most of the creative control.
You see, Spielberg had a clause in his contract that stated that while he was working on E.T. he wasn’t allowed to direct another movie. It’s claimed, then, that Hooper was brought in to take on the role of director while Spielberg pulled the strings behind the scenes. Continue reading Poltergeist (1982) review
Director: Bradley Parker
Starring: Ingrid Berdal, Dimitri Diatchenko, Olivia Dudley, Devin Kelley, Jesse McCartney, Nathan Phillips, Jonathan Sadowski
“So, there’s this place called Pripyat. It’s the town right next to Chernobyl. Uri, who is really excited to take us there, is an extreme tour guide. He’s going to show us this city that was abandoned overnight. Literally. They had no time to take anything. Factories, schools, stores, homes apartments, everything’s still there. Imagine the photo shoot you could have there, Amanda.” (Paul, Chernobyl Diaries)
I’ve got a fascination with abandoned towns. I love the idea of exploring a location trapped in time: a once thriving place that, for whatever reason, was suddenly abandoned and left to nature to take over.
The premise of Chernobyl Diaries speaks directly to that part of me. And then ruins it all by throwing in baldy zombie mutant things. Continue reading Chernobyl Diaries (2012) review
Director: Vincenzo Natali
Starring: Maurice Dean Wint, David Hewlett, Nicole De Boer, Nicky Guadagni, Andrew Miller, Julian Richings, Wayne Robson
“It’s all the same machine, right? The Pentagon, multinational corporations, the police. If you do one little job, you build a widget in Saskatoon, and the next thing you know, it’s two miles under the desert, the essential component of a death machine. I was right! All along, my whole life, I knew it! I told you, Quentin. Nobody’s ever going to call me paranoid again! We’ve gotta get out of here and blow the lid off this thing!” (Holloway, Cube)
I’m a sucker for low-budget mystery films that put extra focus on their script to make up for their lack of grandeur elsewhere. Sometimes you get the most out of a storyline when you’ve got the least to work with.
Recent examples include Exam – in which eight candidates are sat in front of desks, given a blank sheet of piece of paper and told to answer ‘the question’ – and Devil, in which five strangers are trapped in an elevator also occupied by a nasty presence. Guess what it is.
Cube is similar to these in that the majority of the film was shot in a single room, although here it acts as a number of similar rooms. Look, it’ll make sense in a minute. Continue reading Cube (1997) review
Director: Vincenzo Natali
Starring: Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, Delphine Chanéac
ELSA – “You’re in no position to talk to me about right and wrong.”
CLIVE – “And you are? Really? Why the fuck did you want to make her in the first place? Huh? For the betterment of mankind?”
The need to show people the disasters that befall people when trying to play God is something that has been part of horror cinema almost from the beginning.
From as early as the 1910 version of Frankenstein cinema has relished in showing us how things can go massively tits up when we mess around with nature’s natural progression.
Splice is a more modern take on this, but while it may serve as a warning on the dangers of genetic engineering, it also serves as a warning on how horror films with good ideas can somehow end up a bit rubbish. Continue reading Splice (2009) review
Director: Ed Hunt
Starring: Lori Lethin, KC Martel, Elizabeth Hoy, Billy Jacoby, Andy Freeman
“Mommy, mommy, come quick! Daddy fell!” (Debbie, Bloody Birthday)
My birthday is coming up soon. I’ll be 32 on 8th April, thanks for asking. Feel free to send me presents.
Even if you don’t, it’s unlikely my birthday will be as grim as that of Debbie, Curtis and Steven, the three 10-year-old villains in Bloody Birthday.
That’s right, I said 10-year-old villains. Bet you’re starting to get interested now. Continue reading Bloody Birthday (1981) review
Directors: Chris Kentis, Laura Lau
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese, Eric Sheffer Stevens, Julia Taylor Ross, Adam Barnett, Haley Murphy
“Daddy?” (Sarah, about a hundred times, Silent House)
Here’s a fun fact: there are actually more movies about haunted houses than there are houses in North America.
Okay, that isn’t true. But it’s getting to the stage that I wouldn’t be surprised.
Silent House at least tries to do something different by introducing a rarely used gimmick: the entire film is presented as one single shot.
Granted, it does cheat a little bit – more on that later – but the concept is at least enough to keep your interest for a while. Continue reading Silent House (2011) review
Director: Jeff Burr
Starring: Gordon Currie, Chandra West, Ian Ogilvy, a load of puppets
“You do see my problem, don’t you? You are asking an awful lot of me. A little monster, an agency or cult protecting some ancient magic… you must admit it is rather fantastic.” (Jennings, Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter)
You can’t have a successful horror film series without at least one entry boldly (and falsely) claiming it’s the final one.
The sixth Nightmare On Elm Street film, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, was succeeded by three more films starring the finger-gloved freak.
Even better, Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter – the fourth film in the series – was actually far from the final chapter, with Jason appearing in eight subsequent movies.
So too, then, was the case with Full Moon Pictures’ cult series Puppet Master which claimed this, the fifth film in as many years, was to be the last. Continue reading Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter (1994) review
Director: Fred Olen Ray
Starring: Jay Richardson, Linnea Quigley, Gunnar Hansen, Michelle Bauer, Dawn Wildsmith
“I’d stumbled into the middle of an evil, insidious cult of chainsaw worshipping maniacs. I had to wonder if we’d let our religious freedom go too far in this country, or maybe our immigration laws were just too lax.” (Jack, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers)
Fred Olen Ray is something of a cult figure among B-movie fans. He’s been writing, directing and producing low-budget films ever since the ’70s, and what most of them lack in glitz they make up for with gusto.
More often than not, the title of a Fred Olen Ray film is a good indication of what you’re getting, as proven by other notable examples of his work including The Brain Leeches, Bad Girls From Mars, Attack Of The 60 Foot Centerfolds and Dinosaur Island.
So too is the case with Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, his twelfth outing as a director and his first starring ’80s horror ‘scream queen’ Linnea Quigley. Continue reading Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (1988) review
Director: Wes Craven
Starring: Maren Jensen, Sharon Stone, Ernest Borgnine, Michael Berryman
“If thine eye offends thee, pluck it out. If thine own hand offends thee… then in God’s name, cut it off.” (Isaiah, Deadly Blessing)
There’s an interesting story told by screenwriter Glenn Benest in Arrow Video’s upcoming DVD release of Deadly Blessing (this review is based on a review copy of said DVD).
The story goes that a young Sharon Stone, in her first big role, had just come from a modelling career and had no idea how to act or what to do.
Like a deer in headlights, Stone kept asking director Wes Craven for guidance and help her with her acting.
The cast and crewmembers looked at each other and Craven explained that he didn’t do that sort of thing, he was more about setting up shots and the like. “GOD DAMN IT,” Stone then screamed at the top of her voice, “WOULD YOU DIRECT ME?” Continue reading Deadly Blessing (1981) review