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Tag: horror movies

Movie Review: SPELL

Mark Tonderai’s Spell is missing something, and I don’t mean something intangible, I mean actual parts of the film must be missing. I’m convinced of this, and not just based on certain moments from the trailer not making it to the finished product. Plenty of movies have “missing trailer scenes.” Not many movies feel like they’re missing significant chunks of their own story, however. It’s unfortunate, too, because up until the movie’s missing pieces become too apparent to ignore, Spell was working some fine dark magic. READ MORE

Movie Review: HIS HOUSE

His House is the best horror film I’ve seen this year. It might be the best horror film–or film period–I’ve seen in two or three years, or five. It is what happens when “prestige horror” meets relentless, capital-H Horror. It contains stellar dramatic acting and characters you want the best for and feel afraid for. It has slick, clever scares as well as more aggressive, terrifying imagery. It has shadows you might miss if you blink and full-on assaults from the decaying dead. It has manmade terrors and supernatural ones. It contains secrets and mysteries both ordinary and extraordinary. It tells a story that could be told without supernatural elements; it contains supernatural elements the enhance an already compelling story. READ MORE

Movie Review: TALES FROM THE HOOD 3

Tales From the Hood 3 is a solid return-to-form for the horror franchise. Not great, but strong enough to make me hopeful for a Tales From the Hood 4, one that can hopefully clean-up this film’s lone, glaring weakness and build on its strengths.

The previous entry was a major misfire, much too silly and corny to be effective as either horror or comedy, while the first film has gradually become valued for being a very good horror anthology in the mold of Golden Age horror comics and horror radio stories. The same types of stories that directly influenced Creepshow and the many Amicus “portmanteau” movies that preceded the first Tales from the Hood. READ MORE

“It’s a Robot” – An Underrated Twist

Alien is a masterfully constructed horror film about unknown and escalating threats. Escalation of danger is one of my favorite things to see in a story, whether it takes place in a single scene (Spielberg executes this wonderfully in the opening of Raiders and in the first T-Rex attack in Jurassic Park), or over the course of the entire work. Alien is an exceptional example of the nature of the threat becoming steadily worse over the course of the film.

In many other stories–many of which I love–the animal, monster, demon, killer, etc. is completely or largely known from the beginning of the story, or even before that. Even if you hadn’t read the novel beforehand, the poster and previews for Jaws would let you know that the threat is a massive great white shark. Despite not seeing the shark for much of the movie, the only true and slight unknown is just how big the shark is, which we effectively learn when we hear of its “bite radius,” even before we get our first glimpse of it. READ MORE

Movie Review: TRILOGY OF TERROR

As someone who’s fascinated by how popular horror was in the 70’s, I’ve long wanted to take a deep dive into the television horror movies of the era. It’s one thing for horror to have been a hit at the cinemas and bookstores, but TV is the ostensibly “safer” and more “family friendly” entertainment guest you invite into your home1 It brought you the programming you watched in your living room with the spouse and kiddos. Shows often intended to make you laugh, sometimes intended to make you think, and other times, especially in the extended wake of the success of Rosemary’s Baby, meant to frighten you. READ MORE

Movie Review: IMPETIGORE

I’ve only seen two Indonesian horror flicks, so I can’t fairly comment on the overall health and quality of the region’s horror industry. Especially considering how much I truly enjoyed both films. It would be like watching Halloween and Alien as your first two American horror movies and immediately declaring, “This country never makes a bad horror movie! They can’t miss.”

So I have to rein in my praise for Impetigore slightly. Only slightly. This movie is a bit of a banger. It has some of everything. To open, it features a tense slasher / thriller sequence involving a violent man and a woman–our protagonist, Maya–and a toll booth. Later the movie will feature ghosts, a decidedly decrepit and spooky house with its very own and entirely too-populated graveyard, secret-keeping murderous villagers, curses and sacrifices and rituals and more. It’s packed with so much, yet doesn’t feel crammed with all of this content. Somehow there’s sufficient room for it all. It’s quite an achievement. READ MORE

Movie Review: RED CATS IN A GLASS MAZE (aka EYEBALL)

Nobody can title a horror movie like a 70’s Italian, except maybe a 70’s Spaniard. Twitch of the Death NerveSeven Notes in BlackThe Bird With Crystal PlummageA Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, The House of the Laughing Windows, on and on. While much lower on the notability list, Red Cats in a Glass Maze is pretty high on the rankings of “best ‘unusual’ horror movie titles,” particularly when compared to its alternate, American title, Eyeball.

That simpler, decidedly less metaphorical and less interesting title does reference the goings-on in the film, at least. A killer in a red rain coat is stabbing out an eyeball here and there while killing young American women during a bus tour of Spain. I imagine you’re already thinking, “Wait, during a bus tour? Do all of these killings take place over a short period of time on the bus somehow? Because as absurd as that would be, it would still be less ridiculous than if they were to continue the city-to-city tour after the first murder, much less after the second, third, and fourth.” Well, if you’re up for watching this movie, I hope you’re prepared to turn your brain and its reserve power off, because they do indeed continue the tour. READ MORE

Movie Review: ST. AGATHA

Darren Lynn Bousman directed the last of the even slightly defensible Saw films. He directed Repo! The Genetic Opera, among the last competently made, critically dismissed but sincerely defended cult films to be released. 1. He directed Abbatoir, a film that is almost impossibly disappointing considering its premise.2 He is the director of the eventually forthcoming Spiral, the Saw revival that unexpectedly stars and is spearheaded by Chris Rock. He’s worked steadily for fifteen years, and depending on how you feel about Repo!, has made at most one really good film in that time3. READ MORE

Movie Review: MAY THE DEVIL TAKE YOU

Good horror movies understand and respect gravity. Okay, this isn’t a hard and fast rule by which to judge all horror films, I’m sure there are some great ones that don’t have any respect for gravity. But watching May the Devil Take You brought this to mind.

By gravity I don’t mean “dignity or sobriety of bearing,” which is somehow the 1a definition on merriam-webster.com. I mean weight and “a fundamental physical force that is responsible for interactions which occur because of mass between particles,” the 2 and 3a definitions, respectively. The fact that certain things are heavy. Human bodies, for instance. If one should begin to levitate due to supernatural forces, it should still look like gravity has some influence over it, not like it’s paper on the wind. READ MORE

Movie Review: AURORA

Aurora is a particular kind of letdown. Its excellent premise and relevancy to a specific national event means it isn’t something you can just run back and do-over in a couple of years to get it right. If a future Filipino director wants to try his or her hand at this, it might have to be one from their next generation of filmmakers.

About that premise: Aurora is the name of the film and of a wrecked ship that sits ominously off the coast for most of the film. Based on the Doña Paz disaster–the deadliest peacetime maritime accident in history, and by a considerable margin–the Aurora‘s wreck causes considerable death and suffering. More than you might initially suspect, in fact, unless you’re like me and you’re already fairly familiar with the Doña Paz and how it managed such a heavy death toll. In that case the film’s ultimate “revelation” won’t be much of a revelation at all. And I say that as a man living half a world away. I imagine for Filipino audiences it must have been even less surprising. READ MORE