Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare (1987) review

Rock n Roll Nightmare posterDirector: John Fasano

Starring: Jon Mikl Thor, Teresa Simpson, Jim Cirile, Jillian Peri, David Lane, Denise Dicandia, Frank Dietz, Liane Abel, Adam Fried

Also known as: The Edge Of Hell

“You killed no one, Bub. Or is it less familiar to call you Beelzebub? Or do you prefer Abaddon? Or, as the Hindus called you, Shaitan? Or, as you are known to answer to, Ahriman? Belial? Apollyon? Asmodeus? Because, you see… I do know you.” (John Triton, Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare)

Well, now. Where to begin.

If you aren’t aware of Jon Mikl Thor, his Wikipedia page describes him as “a bodybuilding champion, actor, songwriter, screenwriter, historian, vocalist and musician”.

Having now watched Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare, which was both written by Thor and starred him in the leading role, I’m almost tempted to edit that page and remove “actor” and “screenwriter”. Continue reading “Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare (1987) review”

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The Last Exorcism Part II (2013) review

The Last Exorcism Part II posterDirector: Ed Gass-Donnelly

Starring: Ashley Bell, Julia Garner, Spencer Treat Clark, David Jensen

CHRIS – “Is it true that you’ve never had a boyfriend?”
NELL – “What? Who’s been saying that? It’s none of anyone’s business.
CHRIS – “No, I just… I think you’re really pretty. And…”
NELL – “No. No boys. I was pregnant though. But I think they took it away. Well, at least I thought I was. See, I told you I was nuts.”

In 1999, The Blair Witch Project was released. Masquerading as an unfinished documentary and winning audiences over with its found-footage style camerawork, it was massively succesful.

A year later, the inevitable sequel Book Of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 was released. Gone was the fake documentary gimmick and the first-person viewpoint, replaced with the typical glossy, commercial, high-budget presentation the first film was praised for subverting.

Most people despised the new direction the series had taken, and Blair Witch 2 was roundly panned. I actually quite liked it, but that’s for another time.

Why am I giving you this seemingly pointless history lesson? Because The Last Exorcism Part II is this decade’s Blair Witch 2. This time, however, I agree with the general consensus: it’s shite. Continue reading “The Last Exorcism Part II (2013) review”

The Last Exorcism (2010) review

The Last Exorcism posterDirector: Daniel Stamm

Starring: Patrick Fabian, Ashley Bell, Iris Bahr, Louis Herthum, Caleb Jones, Tony Bentley

“I’m not comfortable that we’re in a house with someone who’s doing pictures of my head being chopped off.” (Daniel, The Last Exorcism)

In most exorcism movies, a priest has to convince a skeptical parent that their child doesn’t have mental issues and an exorcism ritual is needed to save them.

The Last Exorcism is interesting because it does the complete opposite. Instead, it’s the priest who doesn’t have faith in the ritual and it’s the parent who’s adamant it should take place. Continue reading “The Last Exorcism (2010) review”

11/11/11 (2011) review

11-11-11 posterDirector: Keith Allan

Starring: Jon Briddell, Erin Coker, Hayden Byerly, Aurelia Scheppers

“Numbers are not merely symbols, Mr Vales. They hold great power. And they have that power because we give it to them. When these numbers align his fate is sealed. Your son must die before his birthday, and if you don’t kill him, I will.” (Annie, 11/11/11)

By this point I’ve become accustomed to groaning “oh for fuck’s sake” every time a movie opens with the words “The Asylum presents”.

In a way, it’s understandable. It’s just muscle memory every time I see the name of a studio known for producing shameless low budget knock-offs of popular movies.

The plan is simple: by giving their films a similar name the Asylum aims to trick unwitting parents who think they’re renting little Jimmy a slice of triple-A Hollywood blockbustery… or, at the very least, some sort of official spin-off. Continue reading “11/11/11 (2011) review”

Alice Sweet Alice (1976) review

Alice Sweet Alice posterDirector: Alfred Sole

Starring: Paula Sheppard, Linda Miller, Niles McMaster, Mildred Clinton, Brooke Shields

Also known as: Communion (original title), Holy Terror (re-release title)

“Maybe you are afraid that God will send St. Michael to take another of your loved ones. When St. Michael took my little girl, I only thought of how cruel God was.” (Mrs Tredoni, Alice Sweet Alice)

It’s generally a bit of a taboo in film to combine children with murder. Usually that means filmmakers are wary of killing a kid in a movie – that’s crossing the line – but it also works the other way too.

That’s why it’s difficult to come up with a sizeable list, off the top of your head, of films which feature a scene in which a child murders someone.

Alice Sweet Alice isn’t scared of such taboos. Not only does it include a child being killed mere minutes into its runtime, its entire plot also revolves around the notion that another child may be killing people. Continue reading “Alice Sweet Alice (1976) review”

Heretic (2012) review

Heretic posterDirector: Peter Handford

Starring: Andrew Squires, Michael J Tait, Jen Nelson, James Zakeri

TOM – “You need to go now, Father. You need to walk away.”

JAMES  – “I can’t do that, Tom.”

TOM – “Yes you can. You did when we asked for your help. I came to you, I confessed to you. And so did she. And what did you do? Three Hail Marys and a Go Fuck Yourself.”

I don’t think I could be a priest. One of the reasons for this is I haven’t been to a chapel in years (I’m fairly sure one of the requirements is you have to do that every now and then), but another is that I couldn’t be trusted to keep my parishioners’ confessions a secret.

“What’s that? You’ve been fiddlng the dog? Um, say a Hail Mary and… um, hang on… what? No, I’m just texting… someone. It’s unrelated, I promise.” Continue reading “Heretic (2012) review”

The Craft (1996) review

The Craft posterDirector: Andrew Fleming

Starring: Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, Rachel True, Skeet Ulrich, Christine Taylor

BONNIE – “The almanac says today will bring an arrival or something.”

NANCY – “Yeah, wonderful, I’m getting my rag.”

When you’re a teenage girl, moving to a new city and having to join a new school must be a pain in the arse at the best of times. When the head jock at the school makes matters even worse by telling everyone you were a crap shag even though you never did anything with him, there’s only one logical solution – become a witch.

At least, that’s the conclusion Sarah (Robin Tunney, starring these days in The Mentalist) comes to. She decides to get friendly with three weird girls who have an unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Each of the girls wants to harness the power of the ‘creator’ Manon for their own reasons. Bonnie (Neve Campbell) has massive scarring on her back and wants to be able to shed it so she can feel self-confident again. Continue reading “The Craft (1996) review”

Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) review

Exorcist II: The Heretic posterDirector: John Borman

Starring: Linda Blair, Richard Burton, Louise Fletcher, James Earl Jones

FATHER LAMONT – “I’ve flown this route before.”
HELICOPTER PILOT – “Oh yes?”
FATHER LAMONT – “Yes. It was on the wings of a demon.”

I’ve said plenty of times before that The Exorcist (and its subsequent Director’s Cut) is one of the greatest movies ever made. It’s terrifying, it’s spectacular, it’s faith-challenging and it’s supremely acted. In a way then Exorcist II: The Heretic is even more impressive, because it takes one of the finest films ever and follows it up with a sequel so brain-achingly bad it’s without doubt the biggest drop in quality in film sequel history.

Set four years after the events in Georgetown, 18-year-old Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair again) is now living in New York with her mum’s friend Sharon (Kitty Winn, also returning from the first film) while her mum is off making another movie. Regan claims she doesn’t remember any of the events of the first film, but she’s being monitored by a psychiatrist anyway. The psychiatrist, Dr Tuskin (Louise Fletcher) reckons Regan’s suppressing those memories and she wants to try hypnosis to free them.

Exorcist II: The Heretic
This facial expression sums up Exorcist II better than any mere words can

Meanwhile, a priest called Father Lamont has been assigned by the Church to investigate the death of Father Merrin at the end of the first film, so he visits Regan to try to get answers. So far, so normal. But this is still only the first ten minutes or so. Then it gets bad.

It’s said that when Exorcist II had its premiere, the audience were fine with it until the “synchroniser” was introduced. At this point the audience burst into hysterical laughter and the film could never win back their respect. It’s little wonder why – it’s the exact moment all the accolades and reputation earned by The Exorcist are flushed down the toilet and the series turns into hokey sci-fi mumbo jumbo. Continue reading “Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) review”

The Beyond (1981) (Video Nasty review #7)

The Beyond posterDirector: Lucio Fulci

Starring: Catriona MacColl, David Warbeck, Cinzia Monreale

Also known as: Seven Doors Of Death (USA)

“Be careful what you do, because this hotel was built over one of the seven doors of evil.” (Schweik, The Beyond)

Though Italian director Lucio Fulci may be best known in the UK for his video nasty Zombi 2 (better known as Zombie Flesh Eaters), it’s another video nasty that most horror fans worldwide associate with him. It’s understandable, because The Beyond is easily one of his better films.

After starting with a flashback in which a poor sod in New Orleans is crucified in a cellar by a mob who think he’s a warlock, we fast-forward to the present day (well, 1981) where we meet Liza (MacColl), who’s moved from New York to New Orleans to inherit, refurbish and re-open a decrepit hotel.

The Beyond
Here’s a joke for you love, what do you call a blind… oh Christ I am so, so sorry

It becomes clear very quickly that, as luck would have it, the hotel is built on a gateway to Hell, and as such there’s a whole load of shit going down in the basement including the zombified remains of the lad from the flashback. That’s Hell, not Hull, mind – though I appreciate it’s hard to tell the difference. It’s up to Liza along with her friend John (Warbeck) to try to figure out how to stop this from happening. Continue reading “The Beyond (1981) (Video Nasty review #7)”

The Shrine (2010) review

Director: Jon Knautz

Starring: Cindy Sampson, Aaron Ashmore, Meghan Heffern

“There is no retribution.” (Carmen, The Shrine)

Top tip for any budding filmmakers out there – if you’re going to set a film in a foreign location, make sure you read up on it first. Otherwise you’ll end up like The Shrine, a film set in the fictional Polish village of Alvania. That’s Poland, as in the country that doesn’t use the letter V in its language. That said, cultural inaccuracies aside, The Shrine is a half-decent horror that starts slow but ultimately ends well.

It tells the story of Carmen, a journalist who’s investigating claims that some tourists are travelling to Europe and going missing, only for their bodies and luggage to turn up in separate European countries. Carmen uses one of the missing persons’ journal to discover that they were last seen in Alvania, so she heads there with her photographer boyfriend and Sara, her intern.

I wonder if you'd be offended watching this film if you were Polish

When they get there they find an odd, dense fog in one section of forest, inside which sits an evil-looking statue. After entering the fog and seeing some weird shit, Carmen and Sara decide it’s time to leave but before the trio can get out of Alvania they’re captured by the locals, who it turns out don’t take too kindly to people who stand in their creepy fog.

To say too much more about The Shrine would be spoiling it, so I won’t. One thing I will say though is that it takes a pretty long time to get going. Once the three are captured things pick up a little and a couple of particularly nasty, gory scenes set the tone (tip – if you’re squeamish about sharp things slicing your heels or poking your eyes, it might be best to look away).  Continue reading “The Shrine (2010) review”