THE MADNESS: TEN YEARS WEEK 2

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Hi all my fellow horror fans! Well, this week saw a significant decline in movie watching. I was simply busy and didn’t get to all the films I had planned to watch. However, let’s review the ones that were watched.

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Cheerleader Camp 1988 | 1 hr 29 min | USA| Directed by: John Quinn | Written by: David Lee Fein, R. L. O’ Keefe || Type: Slasher | Rating: *** out 5

Summary: Girl is a cheerleader and is having bad dreams. She travels with cheer leading squad that includes 2 guys to a training camp for cheerleaders. Her boyfriend is a bit of a player. His friend is a voyeur and pervert. At the came weird things start happening. People start going missing and found murdered. Everyone wants to know is up to the killings as the camp director tries to hide the issues from authorities.

My Take:  A quick and low down slasher.  It starts out with a nightmare sequence of the lead girl, Allison, wanting to be loved but it is instead attacked. She wakes on the cheer leading squad’s van ride to a remote cheer leading camp. When they get to their destination, cue camp and cheesy circumstance with typical cat fighting, gore, boobs, drinking and drugs, boobs, oddball characters, and non-side splitting one liners. It’s a lot of yuck. It’s not below average, but it’s one that does have a nice twist at the end that is executed well. 

Madness Points: 2 Points

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Rocktober Blood (1988) | 1 hr 29 min | USA| Directed by: Beverly Sebastian | Written by: Beverly Sebastian, Ferd Sebastian | Type: Metal Slasher | Rating:  ***out of 5

Summary: The setting begins in a recording studio. The lead singer leaves and the backing vocalist goes to lay her tracks. Things aren’t going right so they call it a day, Lynn and the sound engineer. Lynn sneaks off to the upstairs jacuzzi before heading home. Meanwhile, Billy sneaks back in, murders the sound engineer and precedes to attack Lynn as she is leaving. She escapes thanks to a security guard. Fast forward, Lynn is reveling in some spotlight success after Billy is sent to jail and she becomes leader of the band, renamed to Headmistress. What Lynn and the others don’t know is Billy has come back to take his revenge. 

My Take:  I think this is the first horror film that has a metal music setting. I am not counting Rockula because that isn’t even remotely metal. Also, Rockula is a horror comedy. This is a slasher! To be honest, it’s kind of hard to top the slasher genre after the bar has been set by Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street. However, Rocktober Blood isn’t exactly a simple slasher. The killer kills Lynn’s friends on his pursuit to make her his number #1 and hides them, making her seem like she is crazy because she keeps talking about an “invisible” stalker/murderer.  It’s not a terribly great movie, and I am only giving it 3 stars because A real metal band named Sorcery put together the music in the film, which was the best decision the filmmaker made. For a movie with a background set in the music industry, they didn’t skimp on the music so let’s applaud them for it.

Madness Points: 2 Points

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The Willies (1990)| 1 hr 32 min | USA| Directed by: Brian Peck| Written by: Brian Peck || Type: Horror Anthology | Rating:  *** out of 5

Summary: Two brothers, Kyle and Josh, and their cousin, Michael (Sean Astin), huddle in a tent in the backyard and decide to tell scary stories to one another, each one of which they claim to be absolutely true. In the first ten minutes of the film, they tell a series of brief stories. Michael tells a story about a nice janitor who actually turns out to be a monster and eats people. The brothers scoff at the story and say that they have an even better story. The second story is about a bullied kid who happens to have a bad attitude himself. He’s not nice to anyone. His past time is collecting flies and making dioramas with their dead corpses. To get more flies, he robs the fertilizer of a neighboring farmer. However, the farmer has a revenge in his eyes and behaves like a spider – weaving a web to catch a fly. When the story ends, the brothers assert their story is more believable.  You will have to watch the movie to discover the ending. No spoilers here. 😉

My Take:  Though this movie has been panned, I enjoyed it. The movie features several stories. It is nice to hear Sean drop a deliberate Goonies reference. Brian Peck, the director and writer,  is actually Scuz from Return of the Living Dead and he enlists two of his castmates for the film – James Karen and Clu Gulager. This is the only movie Brian has written and directed according to Wikipedia. You also see cameos by Growing Pains stars Kirk Cameron (before he turned into a wretched human being), Jeremy Miller, Tracey Gold, and Kirk’s present day wife Chelsea Noble.  Twin Peaks alums Dana Ashbrook (who recently married Day of the Dead star Lori Cardille’s Daugher) and Kimmy Robertson also appear as does Michael Bower, who played Donkey Lips on Salute Your Shorts. The stories remind me of Creepshow and Tales from the Crypt. I think this would make a nice horror watch with your kids.

Madness Points: 2 Points (+ 1 Bonus for #8) = 3 Points Overall

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The Paul Lynde Halloween Special (1976) | 1 hr | USA| Directed by: Sid Smith| Written by: Bruce Vilanch, Ronny Graham, Ron Perlman, Biff Manard, Sol Weinstein| Type: Halloween TV Special | Rating:  *** out of 5

Summary: The Paul Lynde Halloween Special was a Halloween-themed TV special starring Paul Lynde that broadcasted in 1976 on ABC. Margaret Hamilton guest  and in made her first reprisal of her role as the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz. Other guest stars included Billie Hayes as Witchiepoo from H.R. PufnstufTim Conway, Roz Kelly, Florence Henderson, rock band KISSBilly Barty as Gallows the Butler, Betty White, and  Donny and Marie Osmond, who made a brief surprise visit.

My Take:  I was scouring YouTube for old Halloween specials and I happened upon Paul Lynde. I remember him as Uncle Arthur from the show Bewitched. He always managed to crack me up with his sass and delivery. Paul was a stand-up comedian, voice artist, and TV personality. He was a highly recognized character actor with “a distinctively campy and snarky persona that often poked fun at his barely in-the-closet homosexuality.” When he was in college at Northwestern, some of his fellow students included Cloris Leachman, Charlotte Rae, Patricia Neal, Jeffrey Hunter and Claude Akins. Many children would come to recognize Lynde as the voice of the gluttonous rat Templeton in the animated feature Charlotte’s Web.

The comedy is definitely campy and snarky but that is it’s charm. The special has lots of guests.  There is a snarky exchange between Lynde and Betty White that is highly amusing. Watch out for it. This special also marked KISS’s national debut on Television. Paul Lynde has interesting history, and sadly, his life was cut short due to a heart attack, which might have been caused by his substance abuse and drinking issues. It is said that Paul Lynde isn’t looked upon well by the LGBTQ community because he represented To the homosexual community,  “what’s perceived to be a self-loathing era for gay culture.”

Madness Points: 1 Point

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Diary of a Madman (1963)| 1 hr 29 min | USA| Directed by: Reginald Le Borg| Written by: Robert E. Kent based on stories by Guy de Maupassant | Type: Supernatural, Possession, Evil Spirit |Rating:  *** 1/2 out of 5

Summary:  Following the funeral of Simon Cordier (Vincent Price), a French magistrate, his secret diary is read out by a pastor friend to a group that included Simon’s servants and a police captain. The diary reveals that Simon has been influenced by a malevolent entity called a Horla. The Horla is an invisible, corporeal being endowed with limited psychokinesis and complete mind control. The entry implies that Cordier’s horla is one of a whole race of evil beings which devote themselves to driving humans insane.

My Take:  The horla comes in contact with Cordier after he visits a man that is sentenced die because of murder, murder he swears he didn’t commit. However, the man’s eyes begin to glow (our clue something otherworldly is happening) and he flings himself at Cordier, trying to murder him. Cordier fights him off only for him to fall and bludgeon himself to death on the side of some furniture or the ground, you choose.  As a result, Simon inherits the prisoner’s affliction as the horla turns its focus towards him.

As the horla begins to destroy Cordier’s life, Chis fears of going mad overwhelm him and he seeks help from a psychologist, who suggests he take up a hobby. Cordier chooses to resume his hobby of sculpture. However, the horla isn’t done with him yet.

Vincent is always mesmerizing when he is on screen from his posture, physicality, demeanor, voice and delivery – the man was a force to be reckoned with on film. Watching Vincent Price take a character and force him through madness must be the equivalent of watching painter painting. Stroke after stroke, layer after layer, and slowly even in the chaos of impending insanity there is the quietness of perfection. Excellent sets, costuming, hairdressing, supporting players, and a good director helped to make this an entertaining elder horror film.

Madness Points: 2 Points

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Master’s Sun (2013) | 1 hr 29 min | South Korea| Directed by: Jin Hyuk | Written by: The Hong Sisters | Type: Supernatural, Romantic Comedy : Episodic TV Show | Episodes: Watched 3 of 17 | Rating:  **** out of 5

Summary: A young and gloomy woman named Tae Gong-shil (Gong Hyo-jin) is haunted by ghosts after suffering a tragic accident years ago. Her life suddenly changes when she meets the greedy and stingy OO Joong-won (So Ji-Sub), a CEO of a glamorous conglomerate. Whenever she touches him, all the ghosts retreat and she is normal. She feels at peace and ease. She can rest, something that is a rarity for her. Their lives take a new turn as they work together to deal with the terror and sadness brought about by the ghosts, while delving into a kidnapping incident in Joong-won’s past.

My Take:  How can a horror fan not like a story about ghosts? I have only watched three episodes of Master’s Sun. However, I have watched other shows written by The Hong Sisters. They are a solid pair of writings. The main leads have excellent chemistry.  The imagery for the ghosts remind of typical types of film representations of Asian ghosts.  They are not easy to look at, but they can revert their image back to a more human form when they want to do it. Some ghosts want help, some desire the comfort of their former lives, others are gripped in madness, and I am sure there are probably some to come forth that desire to be evil. I will have to report more as I watch the series.

Madness Points: 1 Point per episode = 3 Points Overall

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The Comedy of Terrors (1963) | 1 hr 29 min | USA| Directed by: Jacques Tourneur| Written by: Richard Matheson || Type: Horror-Comedy | Rating:  **** out of 5

Summary: This movie stars Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, and David Niven. This movie surprised me greatly because Vincent Price plays Mr. Trumble, a  horrible, greedy, drunkard. He’s personality is hideous and unscrupulous. Mr. Trumble is an undertaker. To acquire the business, he married the former owner’s daughter. He treats her abominably with crass and snobbery-laden insults. All the meanwhile, he is slowly poisoning her father and disenfranchising the other undertaker, who secretly pines for Mrs. Trumble. Spending his money on booze has cost Mr. Trumble dearly, to drum on money, he does what comes natural to him – pray upon the weak.  Instead of waiting for death to do its job, he speeds it on. However, he begins to get more than he bargains.

My Take:  I didn’t quite set out to make this week about Vincent, but I was starting to think I was having a theme week picking more than one Vincent movie to watch. Vincent is hilarious as a sketchy, drunk undertaker with a heart of coal. His mannerisms are certainly a bit outlandish but reigned in enough that it’s not too much. All the actors and actresses do a terrific job with Richard Matheson’s script. Very witty with a bit of cheese but not dry at all. A very palatable and funny movie. It was cast well.

Madness Points: 2 Points

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The Void (2016) | 1 hr 29 min | Canada| Directed by: Steven Kostanski, Jeremy Gillespie| Written by: Steven Kostanski, Jeremy Gillespie | Type: Lovecraftian | Rating:  **** 1/2 out of 5

Summary: The plot follows a group of people who have been trapped in a hospital by a gathering of hooded cultists. They soon discover that the hospital is a breeding ground for grotesque creatures.

My Take:  The reputation of The Void spread like wildfire. If you like Lovecraft, I think this movie will totally be your jam. It features creepy hooded cultists, outlandish murders, creatures slaying bodies from the inside out with vorpal precision.  There is the creepy Rosemary Baby’s mother, a nurse in over her head, police enforcement, who despite, their best efforts, can’t seem prevent others being wrangled off by tentacles waiting to drag them all to hell. The setting is limited and takes chiefly at a hospital but the psycho rabid’s rabbit hole goes deep. With a highly rich, gross, magnificent sent up of body horror a la Hellraiser – you get a taste of the pleasures of hell but in blindingly white glowing triangle. It’s not fast paced but certainly not slow. I highly recommend this visual feast. Did I mention the sound and score are fantastic!  

Madness Points: 2 Points

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The Devil’s Candy (2015)| 1 hr 29 min | USA| Directed by: Sean Byrne| Written by: Sean Byrne | Type: Supernatural, Satanic | Rating:  *** out of 5

Summary: Ray’s not having an epic year.  He’s hearing voices. When Ray hear’s the voices, bad things happen.

My Take:  Ray is just your average guy trying to shred his guitar to avoid hearing the devil or whatever fowl creature it is whispering in his ear.  His mother doesn’t take him seriously, so, you know she has to go. Ray takes a trip and the house is sold to a new family – a painter, his wife, and daughter. All is swell, Dad really loves painting again. He’s very inspired, by voices. Ray find’s freedom and shacks up in a motel. Ray listens to tapes about the Devil and jams until his neighbors grow tired of him. You would think the dad would be wondering why he’s hearing voices? I might think I was going crazy, how about you? Ray shows back up to his old home and meets Zoey – uh uh, crush time. Zoey wants to invite Ray in but dad is like nope, too young, go away creepy guy. Ray thinks Zoey is the one. How far is Ray going to go to make Zoey number #1?

This movie had a good cast. It was well paced and creepy. One of the reason I think you see mental illness brought up in horror movies a lot is that mental illness is still quite a mystery to many of us. While we have medicine to control the behavior of people, it doesn’t work for everybody or there can be an accident when someone forgets their meds. The brain is one of the most intricate puzzles, and I hope we get closer and closer to understanding. However, the devil is a clever way to explore mental illnesses without exactly demonizing those who suffer from an illness. I thought the ending stumbled a little but ends as it should. It isn’t highly illogical.

Madness Points: 2 Points

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Hellraiser (1987) | 1 hr 29 min | UK| Directed by: Clive Barker | Written by: Clive Barker || Type: Supernatural, Body Horror | Rating:  **** out of 5

Summary: Hellraiser made supernatural, body horror that made that subgenre itsbitch and came  back for more in subsequent sequels. Hellraiser is based on Clive Barker’s The Hellbound Heart. The film involves the resurrection of Frank (Sean Chapman), who had opened the door to an alternate dimension & had his body torn to pieces by demonic creatures known as Cenobites. Flash forward,  Frank’s brother Larry (Andrew Robinson) moves into their late mother’s abandoned house with his wife, Julia (Clare Higgins).  While moving in, Larry has an accident in the attic. Some of his blood spills onto the floor, which somehow triggers Frank’s resurrection. However, to complete his resurrection, he needs more blood. Julia brings Frank what he needs whilst Kirsty (Ashley Laurence), Larry’s daughter, discovers Frank’s puzzle box leading her to square off against the Cenobites.

My Take:  Hellraiser to me is that twisted, body horror rendition of the painting on Sistine Chapel. Barker slaps his paints on his canvas and from it comes this visual mindfuck of a creature. Carnage, masochism, sadism, and more. Human curiosity runs his head smack into a break wall, laughing all the way. It’s a canvas of madness, lust, and the demented but highly intense nature of human nature. What craziness lies in each human being when sanity is stripped by bloody hedonism and exuberant, egotistical wankerdom. For me the film drives home a theme of survival and choices that we are not always asked to make but forced to make. 

Madness Points: 2 Points

Madness Points:  25 Points Bonus for watching The Void, The Devil’s Candy, and Hellraiser with the group

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The Boogens (1981)| 1 hr 29 min | USA| Directed by: James L. Conway | Written by:  David O’Malley, Jim Kouf (as Bob Hunt) | Type: Science Fiction Horror | Rating:  *** out of 5

Summary: A group of guys are working on revitalizing and opening an abandon serious of mines for a company. In the process, they unleash a hidden evil beneath a town.

My Take:  There is a saying that if it was abandoned there might be reason for it especially if many years ago a lot of people died. However, it’s a mine shaft. It was a cave in. What could really be lurking beneath the earth’s surface. Boogens! Our cast come to find themselves up to their ears in sinister camera shots that glance to and away. You really don’t come to learn what a Boogen is until near the end. This tactic is good for adding suspense. What we do get a glimpse of is tentacles with sharp claws as they slash and drag our poor protagonists to their doom. Add a dash of creepy old man lurking, and I think you have a winner! The cast is competent. The dialogue is a bit cornball. There’s not really ti me for a lot of character growth, you just get who you get. However, they keep short and sweet and you get the gist of the characters. Some of the actions takes place in a creepy cabin and some in the old mine shaft. The film gave some good atmosphere in places. This makes for a decent rental, not so sure a buy.

However, if you are fan of movie facts, the opening credits made use of several still image zoom (zoom burst) and panning techniques that predate by several years the motion effects popularized by filmmaker Ken Burns, which later became hugely popular features in Apple Inc.’s iMovie software program (Wikipedia).

Madness Points: 2 Points (+ 1 Bonus for #8)

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The Outing (aka The Lamp) (1987)| 1 hr 29 min | USA| Directed by: Warren Chaney | Written by: Warren Chaney | Type: Supernatural | Rating:  *** out of 5

Summary: The Outing follows a group of teenagers who decide to spend the night in a museum but end up getting stalked by an evil genie.

My Take:  The story initially starts off with a little foreshadowing, magic bracelet and a sinister lamp. We flash forward where a group of adults raid an old woman’s house looking for loot. In the process, they attack the old woman, killing here, and make off with a genie lamp. However, they never manage to escape the house. All leave in body bags the next day. the bracelet and lamp get shipped to a natural science museum. From here on, the genie escapes and the mayhem begins. The movie was panned hard and was especially disparaged for it’s poor special effects. The old lady makeup at the beginning was horrific. It was not very good old age make up. They should have found an older lady to play the part. This film in my opinion is a bit lazy, the dialogue is a bit blown, the special effects are hackneyed, and the character just a bit too much. I gave it three stars because of its potential and the charm it has being a cheesy movie from the 80s. I wouldn’t add it to my collection of films.

Edited Note: Please be aware there is some racially charged language in this movie.  Bad guys don’t generally use nice words, you know. However, one thing I failed to champion is how when two the bad guys (high school setting) were roughing a girl and her friends. The female teacher laid him out all on her own. Early signs of female empowerment even if it came from a B-movie. The principal, who was black, was who the racially charged language was thrown at. He served the punk up proper. Strong figures shown in this movie if they were small scenes.

Madness Points: 2 Points

 

TOTAL MADNESS POINTS: 53 POINTS

 

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THE MADNESS: TEN YEARS Week 1

This year I am playing along with the annual Halloween Horror Movie Marathon Madness. It’s on it’s tenth year and celebrates the joys of horror films and tests the viewing mettle of horror fans.

Week one is ending and I have logged 36 films. Here’s a summary and take of my film picks.

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A Dark Song (2016) || Country: Ireland  || Written and Directed by Liam Gavin || Type: Cultist/Revenge/Supernatural || Time: 1 hr 39 Minutes || Rating: **** out of 5

Summary: A tale of a woman who wishes to contact her dead son and seek revenge on his killers by way of ritual and a guardian angel.

My Take: I have seen movies where the characters try to call on angels or demons. This has to be one of the most grueling endeavors displayed on film. The atmosphere is thick and the interactions between the characters are visceral. Very different. With such a small cast, it allowed for a lot of concentration of the interplay between the two of the leads.

2 Madness Points


Don’t Kill It (2016) || Country: || Directed by Mike Mendez, Written by Dan Berk, Robert Olsen || Type: Supernatural/Comedy || Time: 1 hr 28 Minutes || Rating: *** out of 5

Summary: A demonic force is unleashed and a town is gripped by a chain of murders. A demon hunter comes to town and runs into resistance as well as an FBI officer. All must join forces to destroy the demon before he opens and brings forth evil through a portal that is connected to the town.

My Take: This film won’t win Dolph Lundgren any Oscars, but I like how he has matured as an actor. His voice is delicious and rugged. I thought the demonic possession was hilarious. The noise that the creature made made me laugh but when the movie checked back into being serious, the carnage was awesome. The plot was simple and direct. I thought the female lead and Dolph had good chemistry. I just wish we could have seen Dolph do some more action. However, it’s better than a lot of blockbusters and an easy, enjoyable watch.

2 Madness Points


Gerald’s Game (2017) || Country: USA || Directed by Mike Flanagan Written by Jeff Howard, Mike Flanagan, Based on : Stephen King’s Gerald’s Game ||  Type: Psychological || Time: 1 hr 43 Minutes || Rating: **** out of 5

Summary: Aiming to resolve some marital instability, Gerald and Jessie take a romantic weekend trip to an isolated house in Maine. During some sexual foreplay, which makes Jessie very uncomfortable, Gerald and Jessie argue and Gerald has a heart attack and dies. Jessie is trapped, handcuffed to the bed. The movie follows her torment as she fights to live and free herself.

My Take:  One of the best translations of King’s work to screen. Netflix has been hitting more homers than strikes. The leads had good chemistry. The pacing wasn’t too fast or too slow. The plot made sense. Really loved the inner dialogue amongst the apparitions Jessie saw. What I had a problem with regarding this movie was the lighting of all things. I don’t think they did enough to play up the various times of day and at night, it was extremely hard to make out much detail regarding the midnight cowboy.

2 Madness Points


Tales of Halloween (2015) || Country: USA || Directed by Various, Written by Various || Type: Anthology || Time: 1 hr 32 Minutes || Rating: **** out of 5

Summary: Tales of Halloween is made up of ten stories take place in a suburban American town whose denizens are terrorized by ghouls, aliens, and killers one Halloween night.

My Take:  I enjoyed all the stories in this anthology. It was fun seeing Robert Russler playing a candy hogging parent. He needs more roles. He such a good character actor. My favorite story though is “The Night Billy Raised Hell.” It had a nice element of rebellion but teaches you the concept of consequences and be careful for what you wish.

2 Madness Points

“The Night Billy Raised Hell”: A young boy is about to egg an old man’s house. The man turns out to be The Devil himself and teaches the young boy a lesson.


Holidays (2016) || Country: USA || Directed by Various, Written by Various || Type: Anthology || Time: 1 hr 45 Minutes || Rating: ***1/2 out of 5

Summary: Holidays is a horror anthology film of subversive horror shorts, each inspired by a different holiday like Valentine’s Day, St. Paddy’s, etc.

My Take:  Another film anthology with a fun assortment of horror stories. I liked something about each of them. The one I liked the best was Easter. That was an interesting and dark twist to the story of the Easter Bunny. I can’t say too much because it would spoil it. 

2 Madness Points


The Horrors of Malformed Men (1969) || Country: Japan || Directed by Teruo Ishii, Written by Edogawa Rampo, Teruo Ishii, Masahiro Kakefuda || Type: Ero Guro (Erotic Grotesque) – subgenre of Pink Film || Time: 1 hr 39 Minutes || Rating: **1 /2 out of 5

Summary:  A film banned in Japan because of the disgust it caused theater attendees through its use of mystery and butoh (dance theater) to capture the feeling and surreal qualities of of post-nuclear Japan trauma.

My Take:  This is a movie that is a surreal experience. Not easily decipherable. I think will have to take a second viewing. Considering the inspiration for the film, it’s very jarring to the sense. I can understand why people would have left the theater uneasy by it especially if I went through such a hellish period of history.

2 Madness Points


The Houses that October Built (2014) || Country: USA || Directed by Bobby Roe, Written by Zack Andrews, Bobby Roe, Jason Zada || Type: Found Footage || Time: 1 hr 31 Minutes || Rating: *** 1/2 out of 5

Summary: A group of friends set off on a mission to visit haunted theme attractions. They video the experience and interview workers.  Their filming and interviews inform them about some attractions fail to perform background checks, utilize criminals and disturbed individuals as actors, use real corpses and body parts as props, and perform increasingly dangerous stunts for the sake of scares. During one visit they poke, make fun of, taunt, and harass some of the attraction workers as they seek out an extreme experience called The Blue Skeleton. This behavior doesn’t set well with some of the attraction workers.

My Take:  I frankly did not like Blair Witch Project, but I loved this one. It was a creep fest from beginning to end. The found footage direction of this piece works and all the concerns about employing of people to run haunted attractions is a real concern. Haunted houses are definitely a creepy backdrop for a spooky film. I personally would never put myself in a situation such as extreme haunted event because I feel that gives others too much control over me. I know there is a part 2. I wonder if that would evolve from the first film or it would involve another group of people. The broken doll girl creeped me out the most. The mask is so haunting and iconic.

2 Madness Points


The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) || Country: USA || Directed by Henry Selick, Written by Tim Burton || Type:  Stop-Motion Animated Dark Fantasy || Time: 1 hr 16 Minutes || Rating: ***** out of 5

Summary: Pumpkin King Jack, head of Halloween Town,  has lost his joy for Halloween. It’s become too routine. While wandering, he stumbles across a portal to different places and ends up in Christmas Town. He kidnaps Santa Claus and decides to hijack Christmas and make it his own.

My Take:  This movie is a treasure. It’s artistically gigantic, enthralling, and I see something different each time I watch it. The characters are charismatic. The voice actors did a great job. Loved Elfman’s music. The songs are catchy and add another layer of atmosphere. There’s just nothing I can’t hate about this film. 

2 Madness Points


The Babadook (2014) || Country: Australia || Directed by Jennifer Kent, Written by Jennifer Kent, Based on Monster by Jennifer Kent || Type: Psychological, Supernatural || Time: 1 hr 34 Minutes || Rating: *** 1/2 out of 5

Summary: Is a story that focuses on life after the death of a husband and father. Amelia is exhausted by her grief and weird behavior from her son. To avoid spoilers, the story centers around both characters dealing with their grief and the existence of a terrible, haunting creature in the house.

My Take:  This movie provides a different aspect of dealing with grief and anxiety. The Babadook is discovered by the child and eventually his mother comes to realize that The Babadook is real. We never really understand how and why the Babadook appears. However, we know that once it does, you can’t get rid of it. It’s this supposed to be an allegory for fear, feeling powerless, mental illness? It is an interesting manifestation of terror. I love the black and white nature of the creature. The movie has bleak pallor. Life feels emaciated. Relationships crumbling. Mental illness or physical illness plaguing many of the situations that surround the family. It definitely showcases the cascading troubles that ascend upon individuals who must deal with loss.

2 Madness Points


The Silenced (2015) || Country:  South Korea || Directed and Written by Lee Hae-young || Type: Mystery-Thriller || Time: 1 hr 39 Minutes || Rating: **** out of 5

Summary: Set during the Japanese occupation of South Korea, a young girl is left with a boarding school. She’s sickly and becomes a target for bullying. However, one young girl befriends and helps lift her spirits.  Ju-ran becomes stronger but she notices that girls are disappearing. She decides to investigate the disappearances.

My Take:  The Silenced is a movie that deals with human experimentation. It’s definitely a political piece in my opinion and shines an unfavorable light on Japan’s behavior during their warring time with Asia. There is documentation of their experimentation on other Asians by way of information on Unit 731. If you feel compelled to learn exactly what these Japanese individuals did, you can look it up. Humans are indeed some of the greatest monsters on earth. I am not cherry picking  just Japanese individuals but other nationalities and ethnicities, etc have been guilty of doing such things. It doesn’t mean this is what other people of these groups are like.

2 Madness Points


Return to Horror High (1987) || Country: USA || Directed by Bill Froehlich, Written by Bill Froehlich, Mark Lisson, Dana Escalante, and Greg H. Sims|| Type: Comedy-Horror || Time: 1 hr 35 Minutes || Rating: ** 1/2 out of 5

Summary:  I School. The killer was never caught. Several years later, Cosmic Pictures, headed by sleazy producer Harry Sleerik, has come to the town to make a movie about the murdn 1982, the SoCal town of Crippen was rocked by a series of murders at Crippen Highers, camping out in the high school. However, it seems the killer is still there, and as crew and cast members disappear left and right, it’s up to ex-student/cop/leading man Steven and leading lady Callie to get to the bottom of this.

My Take:  George Clooney has a brief role in this movie. It was funny to see the young George Clooney again. I remember I first saw him as a kid in Facts of Life. I can’t say I hated this or liked it. It was very messy in terms of the timeline and story telling. It became clearer near the end but I found the movie messy and the kills weren’t that memorable. It was kind of boring.

2 Madness Points


Sometimes They Come Back (1991) || Country: USA || Directed by Tom McLoughlin, Written By  Stephen King (Short Story), Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal (teleplay) || Type: Ghost Story-Revenge || Time: 1 hr 37 Minutes || Rating: *** 1/2 out of 5

Summary: A teacher comes back to his hometown to teach at the school he once attended. During his childhood, he and his brother were bullied by gang of older boys. In once incident, it lead to the death of his older brother. While the teacher tries to cope with returning home, his students start to go missing and replaced with the boys in the gang that killed his brother. Taunted and distraught – the teacher struggles to send the revenants back where they belong and end his torment.

My Take:  I finally got around to watching this telling of a Stephen King story. It’s been a while since I have seen Tim Matheson in anything. I felt he did a good job convincing me of what his character was about – a bit tortured but committed to his job and students despite some of them trying to torture him. I liked how it wasn’t his brother coming back asking for revenge but the bullies that were trying come back from the dead. I like how no one can see the car, but he could. It was additional element of fear that is greatly put to good use by the movie Flatliners.

2 Madness Points

 


Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (1987) || Country:  Canada || Directed by Bruce Pittman,  Written by Ron Oliver|| Type: Slasher || Time: 1 hr 37 Minutes || Rating: *** out of 5

Summary: It follows a high school student who becomes possessed by Mary Lou Maloney, a student who died at her high school prom in 1957.

My Take:  Revenge gone wrong sends a promiscuous girl to her death. This sums up this movie. I love the poster for the movie. Kind of ingenious using the locker like a coffin. Some of the killings and events such as Vicki being sucked into the chalkboard, like it was a pool, reminded me of A Nightmare on Elm Street. It was definitely a trippy special effect that shines in the movie. I think my other favorite scene was Mary Lou materializing in human form to gasps of the kids at the dance. The ending even makes me think of the end scene in A Nightmare on Elm Street. 

2 Madness Points


The Children (1980) || Country: USA || Directed by Max Kalmanowicz, Written by Carlton Albright, Edward Terry || Type: Mutation-Zombie || Time: 1 hr 33 Minutes || Rating: *** out of 5

Summary: Also known as The Children of Ravensback. The story is set in a rural township where children are on their way home from school. However, along the way the bus passes through a mysterious toxic cloud. The cloud is radioactive and transforms the children into zombies with the power to disintegrate flesh with their touch.

My Take:  The plot is pretty thin. I wouldn’t say this is an excellent horror movie. It’s lacks good cinematography and employs too many character cliches. Whether it was meant to be this way but the cemetery set up reminded me of Night of the Living Dead. Beyond this, I enjoyed the special effects when the zombified, radioactive children touched people.  What doesn’t come across well is the motivation of the children. Their zombies features are unassuming. Upon further thought, I wonder if someone was in love with Plan 9 from Ed Wood. Bonus for Harry Manfredini’s music.

2 Madness Points


Doctor Butcher (1980) || Country: Italian || Directed by  Marino Girolami, Written by Fabrizio De Angelis and Romano Scandariato|| Type: Cannibal / Slasher || Time: 1 hr 24 Minutes || Rating: *** 1/2 out of 5

Summary: Also known as Zombie Holocaust. A rash of localized cannibalism leads a doctor and morgue assistant/anthropology expert to set of islands in the Pacific. There they ally themselves with another Doctor. However, things are not what they seem and the group which also includes an assistant and his girlfriend are attacked and hunted by cannibals and zombies.

My Take:  Cannibalism but without over the top gore. In other words, it was just enough and the de-eyeballing of the one victim – creeeeeeepy.  I got the shivers when the cannibals were attacking people. It always makes me think back to Temple of Doom and the removing of hearts. *shivers* Cannibal horror films are my least favorite ones to watch. I enjoyed watching this one, especially finding out who the villain was because it’s not the cannibals.

2 Madness Points


The Monster Club (1981) || Country: UK || Directed by Roy Ward Baker, Written by Edward and Valerie Abraham || Type: Anthology || Time: 1 hr 37 Minutes || Rating: *** 1/2 out of 5

Summary: Vincent Price plays a vampire that has a run in with a renowned horror writer played by John Carradine. He invites him back to a special club called The Monster Club. Price gives the author some juicy details about the lineage of monsters which provide a backdrop for three entertaining tales about The Shadmock, Vampires, and Ghouls.

My Take:  I never got to see this anthology. It’s a bit goofy but Vincent is good even when delivering cheese. Nice selection of music and some fun stylized film shorts. I love Donald Pleasance freaking out because he was bitten and became vampire. I have only seen him in Prince of Darkness and the Halloween films. It was a nice change of scenery. I also enjoyed Vincent describing the lineage of monsters. It was amusing.

2 Madness Points


The Prowler (1981) || Country: USA || Directed by Joseph Zito, Written by Neal Barbera, Glenn Leopold || Type: Slasher || Time: 1 hr 29 Minutes || Rating: **** out of 5

Summary:  The movie takes place in New Jersey and concerns a group of college students holding a graduation spring dance, 35 years after a double-homicide occurred, unaware that they are about to be targeted by a masked assailant dressed in World War II G.I. gear who begins a murderous spree as a result of the graduation’s continuation.

My Take:  I had never seen this slasher, and I must say, it gave good death scenes. It did a good job at obfuscating the killer’s identity, but there was a point where, I was just too smart for the movie and figured it out. It still didn’t ruin things for me. By the way if someone says there is a killer running around and stay put – stay put (if by all means you can).

2 Madness Points


Evil Speak (1981) || Country: USA || Directed by Eric Weston, Written by Eric Weston, Joseph Garofalo || Type: Satanic/Revenge || Time: 1 hr 29 Minutes || Rating: *** out of 5

Summary: Your classic tale of a sweet but intelligent misfit kid being bullied by his peers and adults who stumbles across satanic teachings and artifacts that give him the means to get retribution.

My Take:  This movie is very cheesy, but I like my horror films with a piece of cheese. I have never seen Clint Howard lead a movie. He did a solid job acting, and his character was believable. Honestly, I thought he was going to sacrifice that dog, but he didn’t. However, I hate when movies kill animals. :/ One of my favorite special effects in this movie is the gesticulation of the Christ on the Cross. That was creepy.

2 Madness Points


The House By the Cemetery (1981) || Country: Italy || Directed by Lucio Fulci, Written by Lucio Fulci, Giorgio Mariuzzo, and Dardano Sacchetti || Type: Slasher || Time: 1 hr 27 Minutes || Rating: *** out of 5

Summary:  This is the third movie in the unofficial Gates of Hell trilogy which includes City of the Living Dead and The Beyond. A series of murders take place in a New England home–a home which hides some gruesome secret within its basement walls. The movies gives various nods to other horror movies like The Shining, Amityville Horror, and Frankenstein.

My Take:  Lucio Fulci is as independent a filmmaker can be. So, naturally, it’s not easy to understand his movies sometimes especially the ending to this one. I am not sure I get it especially Bob’s connection to Mae. I will have to keep churning over this one. Love Fulci  over-the-top gore. Love the atmosphere and direction. He’s an odd duck I adore very much.

2 Madness Points


Maniac Cop (1988) || Country: USA || Directed by William Lustig, Written by Larry Cohen || Type: Slasher || Time: 1 hr 25 Minutes || Rating: *** 1/2 out of 5

Summary: Maniac Cop stars Tom Atkins, Richard Roundtree, Bruce Campbell, and Robert N’Dar. Tom Atkins stars as  Lieutenant McCrae who is on a mission to find out what cop has gone violent and is unleashing death and mayhem across his City and bring him in despite the inaction and cover up by the Department leaders such as the commissioner played by Richard Roundtree. Bruce Campbell plays a cop who gets caught up and is wrongly framed as the Maniac Cop. The real Maniac Cop is played by Robert N’Dar – a former cop that was sentenced to prison for brutality and trying to uncover corruption in city government.

My Take:  I think the plot for this slasher is logical and the pace doesn’t drag. Tom Atkins gives a fiery and electric performance as always. Bruce Campbell does a good job playing a cheating husband being framed for murder. The movie hits some of my favorite slasher elements like accidentally running into the killer you thought you had got away from, not seeing the slasher until the right moment, the tension of only seeing a glimpse of the slasher because it builds the “who dun it” feel. I liked the special effects makeup on N’Dar. It enhanced but didn’t take away from his role as the maniac cop. One actually on topic and salient point was the scene where people talked about distrusting police officers and seeing police officers do some shady things especially to people of color.

2 Madness Points


Maniac (1980) || Country: USA || Directed by William Lustig, Written by Joe Spinell, C. A. Rosenberg || Type: Slasher || Time: 1 hr 27 Minutes || Rating: *** 1/2 out of 5

Summary: Maniac stars Joe Spinell who plays a man who was traumatized and abused during his youth and later becomes a serial killer that kills primarily women. After killing them, he scalps them and pins their scalps to mannequins in his apartment.

My Take:  Spinell does a good job of presenting a fragile, mentally unstable character. Unlike a lot of slashers, you almost feel sorry for Frank Zito. A lot of horror films that use NYC as a backdrop in the 80s show NYC in a gritty, dirty kind of light only taking a moment to show the more illuminary, touristy feel. Too many modern films fail to capture the underbelly element of large cities (like the Robocop remake). Seedy environments still look to clean, less traveled in. Another thing, I love about this film – Tom Savini splatterific effects – case in point – Disco Boy’s death scene.

2 Madness Points


Sleepaway Camp (1983) || Country: USA || Directed by Robert Hiltzik, Written by Robert Hiltzik || Type: Slasher || Time: 1 hr 27 Minutes || Rating: **** out of 5

Summary:  Opens with teenagers water skiing and a dad and his two children sailing. A tragic accident happens that kills the dad and one of the children. The story flashes forward as we see a mother sending her son, Ricky, and his younger cousin Angela off to camp. Angela is very introverted and becomes the target of bullying by a bunk mate and a counselor. Not long after that a rash of “accidents’ begin followed by murders. This movie has a twist ending and is a cult classic in it’s subgenre.

My Take:  I have never been to camp or camping in my life. These types of movies kind of make me glad I didn’t. Seeing this film for the first time as adult doesn’t ruin the twist, but it definitely makes me think of gender roles in a new way. I think the pacing is good and I can definitely understand what it feels like to be bullied because your introverted. Felissa Rose did a great job!

2 Madness Points


Curtains (1983) || Country: Canada|| Directed by Richard Ciupka, Peter R. Simpson (uncredited), Written by Robert Guza, Jr. || Type: Slasher || Time: 1 hr 29 Minutes || Rating: *** 1/2 out of 5

Summary:  Curtains begins with an actress and her director husband in midst of a performance. We are then led to an office where the couple are talking with the head of a mental health facility. The actress becomes distraught and tries to stab her husband. She is restrained by guards and placed in a straight jacket. The guards and director leave the office and the pair laugh at the performance. The actress, Barbara, is committing herself in order to learn what is like to be in a mental health facility. She wants to understand a psychologically damaged character named Audra. Until a friend enlightens her, Barbara has no idea that her husband has abandoned her and has invited a bevy of attractive actresses to their home to audition for the part of Audra. With the help of her friend, Barbara escapes and pays a visit but only after we have seen the murder of one of the actresses prior to the congregation of those invited to the Stryker household.

My Take:  A slasher with a different premise. When you think that the reason for the killings is revenge, you get a surprise. I enjoyed it. I really enjoyed the chase scene through the property. What I would like to know is if the hag mask they used for the movie was a commonly found mask or mad for the movie. The scene between Stryker and Barbara where he humiliates her in front of the other girls is vicious. John Vernon could tear scenes just by a glance. He was a very underappreciated actor in my opinion.

2 Madness Points


The Midnight Hour (1985) || Country: USA || Directed by Jack Bender, Written by Bill Bleich || Type: Supernatural/Comedy/Thriller/Romance || Time: 1 hr 34 Minutes || Rating: *** out of 5

Summary:  The Midnight Hour wasn’t a theater film but a 1985 American comedy-horror television film that aired on ABC on Friday, November 1, 1985, at 9:00-11:00 PM EST. It starred Shari Belafonte, Levar Burton, Kevin McCarthy, Dick Van Patten and more. It’s Halloween and as nutty teenagers do, they go to a cemetery with a strange book, read some incantations and cause the dead and buried to come alive again. The town is run amok by vampires, werewolves, ghouls, zombies, and other undead. They have until midnight to turn back the mayhem and put evil to bed.

My Take:  A very silly supernatural TV movie that in the end turns in a solid ending. It was campy from the get go but when things started to converge at the end when our protagonists are being surrounded by the undead, werewolves, vampires, etc while they attempt to save everyone and put things right this is when it turned it around, and I was able to appreciate the premise of the story more.  One of the things I liked about it was seeing some similar Thriller makeup being used on the zombies.

2 Madness Points


The Hitcher (1986) || Country: USA || Directed by Robert Harmon, Written by Eric Red || Type: Psychological/ Road-Action Horror-Thriller || Time: 1 hr 37 Minutes || Rating: **** out of 5

Summary: The Hitcher stars Rutger Hauer and C. Thomas Howell. Howell plays Jim, a young man who reluctantly gives a ride to a hitcher (Hauer). After narrowly escaping an attack by the hitcher, Jim repeatedly encounters the man, who is revealed to be a serial killer, and the two engage in a game of cat and mouse.

My Take:  If you wanted thrills, Rutger Hauer can give it to you. He can be dashing, guile, and vicious without even lifting a finger. His body language is incredible. I still think that he is underrated and deserves more recognition than he gits. Hauer sets the scene early and establishes what his character is about. Howell plays a it great as the kid that took on more than he bargained for. However, the hitcher doesn’t expect the kid to get the upper hand and decides on a new game to play with Jim. Ebert hated this movie, but I think it is very entertaining two-person drama with a good backdrop, decent music, some great car chases and crashes. 

2 Madness Points


The Stuff (1985) || Country: USA || Directed and Written by Larry Cohen || Type: Satirical/Horror/Science Fiction || Time: 1 hr 27 Minutes || Rating: *** out of 5

Summary: A bumbling worker discovers some marshmallow-like substance in the snow. He shows others and sells the stuff to a company. Soon, everyone is bombarded with 80s-styled branding and The Stuff is the stuff to have. Everyone’s eating and so should you. A young boy upon looking for a late night snack sees a turned over container of The Stuff. He sees the substance move and becomes convinced it has a mind of it’s own. Meanwhile, a company in competition to the one that own’s The Stuff wants to break the secret of their success. They hire corporate spy, Mo Rutherford played by Michael Moriarty. Mo is just doing his job but he become fascinated by things he sees as he begins to explore this weird and intoxicating dessert.

My Take:  This movie, if done right, could be a great remake for today’s audience as it could touch on genetic farming, poor standards, corporations profiting over the poor health of a nation, etc. I had never watched The Stuff because I am highly squeamish with things bursting or coming out of human bodies (i.e. xenomorphs, etc.). I am more afraid of The Stuff than I am Jason Voorhees. Things that I really liked about the movie was the movie poking fun at the world of advertisement and people’s tendency to invest in a trend. If Bob is doing it, I got to too. The design for The Stuff label was fantastic. In fact, I got an awesome The Stuff patch. I wouldn’t label the acting top notch, but it was passable. It was good to see Garrett Morris is something. 

2 Madness Points


The Stepfather (1987) || Country: USA || Directed by Joseph Reuben, Written by Donald E. Westlake || Type: Psychological || Time: 1 hr 29 Minutes || Rating: **** out of 5

Summary: A man just wants the perfect family, home, and town to live in. However, when Henry Morrison is done with it, he’s done with it. The film opens on Henry cleaning up after murdering his family. He boards a ferry, tosses his possessions, and moves onto a new life and takes up with a widow and her daughter. Tension mounts as Jerry’s (formerly Henry) former brother-in-law has had a story published about his sister’s murder in a paper. Jerry loses it and his stepdaughter catches his outbursts and becomes very suspicious of her new stepfather. Who is Jerry really?

My Take:   I have never had such a thing happen to me, good thing, right? However, it hit home how people can slip between personalities. How who they really are can catch you off guard. How these people manipulate you or you want so badly to not believe in the worst in people that you only see the good. Sometimes we ignore our gut feelings and give people, who we shouldn’t, the benefit of doubt. What makes this film truly disarming is how realistic this situation could be (minus the murder). A lot of social encounters require us to take a leap of faith when we don’t always have all the pieces of a puzzle. There is no monster here but man. This movie teases us with whether or not Jerry will be caught.

2 Madness Points


Brain Damage (1988) || Country: USA || Directed and Written by Frank Henenlotter || Type: Horror Comedy || Time: 1 hr 24 Minutes || Rating: *** out of 5

Summary: A story of a boy and his malevolent leech, who delivers a glorious drug trip in exchange for chowing on brains.

My Take:  This movie is awesome because I love that Zacharle (a horror host) is in it and a leech that likes to chow on brains – how out there is that? But seriously, it addresses the focus on one of the 80s eras issues – Drugs! Remember Nancy Reagan’s Say No To Drug campaigns. It highlights the checked out nature of drugs, how your life changes, how you lose what you had, how you become a target, and how your behavior of others – in this case, other people lose their brains. 

2 Madness Points


Hide and Go Shreik (1987) || Country: USA || Directed by Skip Schoolnik, Written by Michael Kelly || Type: Slasher || Time: 1 hr 30 Minutes || Rating: *** 1/2 out of 5

Summary:  Some teenagers decided to spend overnight in a furniture store, owned by one of the teenager’s dads. Games and sex ensue and so does murder. A game of hide and seek ends up being a game of who will make it until morning alive.

My Take:  I had been searching for this slasher for so long. I remembered the movie’s elements but I couldn’t remember the name. I like the pacing of this movie, and I think it makes a nice complement to Chopping Mall. I think what is really refreshing about this slasher is how confined perimeter in which the victims are trapped. It creates tension and mystery.

2 Madness Points


Audition (1999) || Country: Japan || Directed by Takashi Miike, Written by Daisuke Tengan based on Ryu Murakami’s Audition || Type: Psychological || Time: 1 hr 53 Minutes || Rating: **** out of 5

Summary: A recent widower’s son suggests that he find a new wife. He decides to stage a phony audition to meet a woman he hopes will become his wife. After interviewing several women, he becomes interested in Asami. She seems to like him and he likes her. The man’s best friend is disturbed that all the references on her resume seem to be a dead end. Asami is not the nice woman she appears to but instead is maniacal, ruthlessly jealous person.

My Take:  Very few horror movies provoke a physical response from me. When I say physical response – I mean I felt like throwing up. This movie is very sadistic and unnerving. It was very hard for me to sit through this movie. I am still not sure what to say other than it unsettled me greatly.

2 Madness Points


The Dead Zone (1983) || Country: USA || Directed by David Cronenberg, Written by Jeffrey Boam, Based on The Dead Zone by Stephen King || Type: Supernatural Thriller || Time: 1 hr 43 Minutes || Rating: **** 1/2 out of 5

Summary: The plot revolves around a schoolteacher, Johnny Smith (Christopher Walken), who awakens from a coma to find he has psychic powers.

My Take:  This is one of my favorite Stephen King adaptations to film. Christopher Walken is powerhouse as Johnny, who awakens from a coma to find he has psychic powers. He can touch people’s hands and “know” what will happen to them. His first discovery is that he can foresee the future. His second is that he can change it. This is some terrifying power because it certainly can be used for good or bad or for the right reasons but with the wrong outcome. The characters are very well rounded. Martin Sheen shines as a conniving politician. When we latter see him on West Wing, it is an amazing contrast especially for those unsure of his acting ability. Ebert mentioned something when he reviewed this movie about how it is so good at what it is trying to achieve that you forget it has any supernatural ties. I like films that can submerge you and make you get lost in a depth that allows you to come back time and time again to analyze it. Cronenberg was perfect to direct this movie.

2 Madness Points

 


Bunshinsaba (2004) || Country: South Korea || Directed and Written By Ahn Byeong-ki || Type: Supernatural || Time: 1 hr 32 Minutes || Rating: *** out of 5

Summary: A young girl transfers to a new school. She makes some new friends but they become the targets of bullies. To deal with the bullies, they get together, inscribe a Ouija board with the names of the bullies and recite a curse. The curse leads to the death of their bullies. However, the young girl becomes possessed

My Take:  The topic of bullying is a very salient topic for school children. It isn’t to say that adults don’t do it either. However, films like this are born out of the real situations where many people feel helpless. I remember school. I was bullied and no matter what I said to the administration – no one would lift a finger and resolve the issue. Feeling powerless will drive many people to try unorthodox methods. One thing I like about this movie is that through one of the characters, we see the consequences of engaging an unorthodox methods to resolve an issue and how they can backfire on you. There are consequences for every action we take. That is a takeaway for me.

2 Madness Points


Dark Water (2002) || Country: Japan || Directed by Hideo Nakata, Written by Yoshihiro Nakamura and Kenichi Suzuki based on Dark Water by Koji Suzuki|| Type: Ghost/Thriller || Time: 1 hr 41 Minutes || Rating: **** out of 5

Summary:  The plot follows a divorced mother who moves into a rundown apartment with her daughter, and experiences supernatural occurrences including a mysterious water leak from the floor above.

My Take:  This Japanese horror film is one of my favorites. The movie follows a divorced mother trying to take care of her daughter. She moves into a rundown apartment that has mysterious leak. There is a theme of hydrophobia. We see it in  in the form of rain or moisture in the building, the water tank on the roof of the building to the tap water in the sink. Hideo Nakata, the director, pairs this with some rather gloomy, ominous score. I can’t think of many people that don’t enjoy a good shower, a liberation – that sense of clean. Water isn’t your friend in this movie. It adds to the sad depressing nature of this film. Like the problems that the mother face are drowning her, her efforts to take care of her daughter. In the end, there is this feeling that the mother lets go and sacrifices herself to allow her daughter to have a better future. However, as her daughter returns, she knows upon meeting the ghost of her mother that she will always be watching over her. It’s a bittersweet film. Life is often bittersweet.

2 Madness Points


Death Bell (2008) || Country: South Korea || Directed by Nayato Fio Nuala
and Chang, Written by Chang and Kim Eun-kyeong|| Type: Revenge/Supernatural || Time: 1 hr 28 Minutes || Rating: *** out of 5

Summary: A group of 20 high school students partake in an elite class to prepare for a college exam. Among them are the rebellious Kang I-na, her best friend Yoon Myong-heo, and the class clown Kang Hyun, who harbors an affection for I-na. After several strange incidents, the class is interrupted by a TV showing of the top-ranking student, Min Hye-yeong, being trapped in a glass being slowly filled with water. A voice over the PA system announces that questions will be posed to the class; failure to answer them in time will lead to their death. It also warns them and their two teachers, Hwang Chang-wook and Choi So-yeong, against leaving the school. Leaving would result in death and each challenge they receive will determine who lives and dies.

My Take:  This movie is a tale of revenge and the underdog. Sometimes it seems like the disadvantaged do not have power. This is another tale of how the balance of power shift in the face of a well crafted plan and a little supernatural intervention. I enjoyed this movie because I think most people like a good tale of come uppance. After watching a lot of dramas and movies, the classroom seems to be well used setting for stories. It makes me wonder how hard school life is in South Korea. While not exactly horrific but rather psychological, this movie packs an interesting punch in terms of antics and pacing.

2 Madness Points


Tag (2015) || Country: Japan || Directed by Sion Sono, Written by Sion Sono, Based on Riaru Onigokko by Yusuke Yamada || Type: Suspense/Action Horror/Supernatural|| Time: 1 hr 25 Minutes || Rating: *** 1/2 out of 5

Summary: Mitsuko is who keeps entering surreal experiences where she finds friends and classmates brutally murdered in front of her. She is trapped in a deadly game. How will she escape?

My Take:  I think this movie is underrated. It is a story within a story tale, It is has an interesting premise. I am not saying it’s novel but initially things are rather cryptic and keep you in suspense this plus the hair raising massive death numbers is unnerving. I would like to ask does anyone think they lifted the music from The Walking Dead in the opening scenes or is that just coincidental? It is so similar. I thought the world transitions were interesting and they were smart to plant a groundhog day element, i.e. not changing out principal figures. It’s crucial to have some familiarity and connection with the people involved in the story.

2 Madness Points


The Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971) || Country: England || Directed by Piers Haggard, Written by Piers Haggard and Robert Wynne Simmons|| Type: Satanic/Folk Horror || Time: 1 hr 33 Minutes || Rating: *** out of 5

Summary: Set in early 18th century England, this movie tells the story of a village taken over by demonic possession after a farmer uncovers a deformed skull with an intact eye and fur.

My Take: I have been really enjoying the marathon because I watching films that I never have made time to watch in the past. This is an older UK film that tells how an artifact brought about evil to a village. This artifact belonged to a beast. This movie as Mark Gatiss puts it is a Folk Horror film. It shares things in common with The Witchfinder General and The Wicker Man. The judge represents “dogged enlightenment” and the stamping out of old religions and superstitions. In the Wicker Man, the officer played by Edward Woodward wasn’t so successful as the judge. I think Evil often has a tendency to expose itself with little help from others. There is a pragmatism to justice at times. Work smarter (reason) not harder. This film is dated and it might not resonate with everyone, but I think if you are lover of film, it something to watch to better understand these types of films.

2 Madness Points

 

72 Total Madness Points

(I am too lazy to count bonus points.)

 

 

The Classic Horror Movies TCM Will Be Airing (Commercial Free!) During October

https://thoughtcatalog.com/emily-madriga/2017/09/here-are-all-the-horror/

Movie Review: IT

IT is a story from the fertile mind of the prolific and renowned writer Stephen King. King wrote published the novel in 1986. I turned 10 years old that year. It wasn’t my first encounter with a Stephen King tale. As a kid, I grew up on a rural farm. We didn’t really have a library or at least I was never taken to one. The one at school – we never used it. Thus, I had what few children’s book my mom could scrounge second hand and whatever was in my grandmother’s collection, which include lots of cheap and tawdry Harlequin novels, Stephen King, Bram Stoker Dracula, and Danielle Steele. Needless to say a thirsty and imaginative mind skipped the cheap and tawdry and went straight for the Stephen King. IT wouldn’t be considered appropriate for a 10 year old. If you have read it then you know why. However, let me not deviate because we are here to talk about the theatrical version of IT, which was not the first version of IT.

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IT landed on the small screen, ABC to be exact in the Fall of 1990. It featured the magnificent Tim Curry (Rocky Horror Picture Show, Clue), John Ritter (Three’s Company, Problem Child, Buffy), Harry Anderson (Night Court, Dave’s World), Tim Reid (WKRP in Cinncinatti, Sister Sister), Annette O’Toole (48 Hours, Smallville), Dennis Christopher (Chariots of Fire, Django Unchained), Richard Masur (Risky Business, The Thing), and Richard Thomas (The Waltons, The Americans). The mini-series was contained within 2 parts. While there are many that would complain about the dated nature of the mini-series. I still like it. It was some scary TV watching for those times. You can get away with a lot more on network TV and cable, especially, these days. The acting isn’t Oscar level, but I feel it’s competent. I think there may be some that would say that the acting was hokey but if you analyze the styling of acting on TV around that time period, I think you wouldn’t judge it so harshly. The mini series would be difficult for a newer generation given their exposure to progress of TV shows in terms of writing, acting, and visual quality. It’s a nostalgia piece, and Tim Curry is the definite stand out in the series with his menacing presence.

The new IT movie has the benefits of a big budget and lots of modern technical wizardry to deliver some serious blood curdling imagery. IT was definitely set up to have a sequel. This first film covers the perilous journey of a band of kids terrorized not only at school and home but by a monstrous, pointy-toothed ambidextrous shape-shifting clown.

I am not going to lay out the story, but I am going to dive into what I think makes this movie successful and what hinders it.

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The Good:
  • Excellent Production (script selection, coordinating writing, and editing)
  • Visually Alluring
  • Competent Cinematography
  • Atmospheric Score
  • Non-score musical selections added to the time frame of the film; nostalgic without
          being overly cloying
  • Good casting and acting, especially by the younger cast members; They had great
          chemistry.
  • All the Easter Eggs. 😉
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The Bad:
  • Over reliance on Jump Scares
  • Did not succeed at building tension from beginning to end. This lack of tension detracted from the effectiveness of Pennywise. It felt like a roller coaster ride versus a scary fun house. In other words, very short buildups then a dive and the ride is over way to quick. It’s cheap thrills.
  • I don’t feel it succeeded in making Derry a character in the movie. That place is evil.
 
Like his father and brother, Bill Skarsgård is a very agile and accomplished actor. I was impressed by his delivery and the physicality he gave Pennywise. This is what I feel made him different from Tim Curry. Tim Curry wasn’t so much physical, but he was emotive and psychological. I feel that isn’t Skarsgård’s fault that they direct the current incarnation to behave in a “full throttle” mode. I the rapid, jerky attacks dispelled the tension. I wanted more taunting. I wanted to witness a shark circling it’s prey. However, I guess that we have been force-fed a steady diet of get-to-the action that we look over the finer experience of being immersed. One small complaint – I hate that they go all demon eyes from the get go. I think it is much more scary if they change during his attack stage.
 
For what it is, I am happy and pleasantly surprised. I hope the second installment learns something from the first and builds upon itself. The casting on this is going to be very, very essential. I have to mention my theater was incredibly packed for an 8:30pm showing on a Sunday. It was opening weekend and the reviews and reactions have been favorable. However, I had one of the worst theater audiences I have ever had. There were people playing on their cell phones, making lots of noise. The other thing that really irritated me was the constant laughter at things that were not even remotely funny. When I left there was popcorn everywhere. I felt bad for the theater staff having to go in after everyone to clean.
 
The final verdict is: GO SEE IT!

Brief Review: Beyond The Gates

 

When you watch the trailer you are definitely intrigued by the ode to the  80s and games like Atmosfear and Nightmare. Beyond the Gates cast is lead by preeminent Scream Queen Barbara Crampton and it has a lot of potential to be a highly entertaining film. However, it falls flat. The casting and acting are fine. The sequence of events in the plot flow. However, there are issues that slay the potential of this movie. Those issues are character development and actualization of events.

You are given some basics about the characters – mostly the central character. However, you are not given enough to really care about any of the characters. Honestly, I view myself as highly empathetic, but I felt nothing for these characters. I just wasn’t invested in them and you probably won’t be either.

The events of the film follow a logical path. However, there are only a few scenes which deliver moments that are scary. One particular scene gave me the feeling I had watching “It Follows.” I was sad when the film couldn’t continue this feeling. There wasn’t enough foreshadowing and the actual “beyond the gates” was a snore.

There were moments I liked, but the most consistent think I liked is how freaking creepy Barbara Crampton was. She made the film bearable. It’s a good try, and I have seen some bad horror films or rather misunderstood films. It’s worth a watch but not worth making part of your movie collection.

3 Bloody Fistpumps out of 5

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