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Gorehound Mike’s 2017 Naughty and Nice List

Gorehound Mike’s 2017 Naughty and Nice List

Christmas time is finally upon us, and just as we put away our favorite Halloween movies, we also get out those classic yuletide classics. Or clas-sicks as the case may be. Instead of a rehash of all the countless holiday horror films, I thought I`d give you my rundown of favorite and least favorite. Or my Naughty and Nice list.

NAUGHTY

Elves (1989)

Elves (1989) / Fair use doctrine.I have oft heard of this VHS era film, and I finally decided it was high time to check it out. And seeing how I was making this list — and checking it twice — what better excuse? Elves is interesting in that it takes the horror holiday movie in a different direction than just a killer Santa, and I respect that a lot. The plot as insane as it also attempts something just a little bit more creative as well. However, sadly, the film takes itself far too seriously, and the lack of the titular elves is disappointing. Mix this with an all over the place plot, bad dialogue, and even worse acting, and you have a film you wouldn’t want to give to your worst enemy.

Silent Night (2012)

Silent Night (2012) / Fair use doctrine.Silent Night, Deadly Night (1980), if we are being totally honest with ourselves, wasn’t a stellar movie. However, I love it for its over-the-top camp and intentional tongue-in-cheek humor. For me, those are the main reasons it’s a cult classic that really deserves the love it gets from fans. Silent Night, however, is pure garbage. It lacks any of the fun, dark sense of humor that made the original a fan favorite. This time around we get a cold, joyless movie which muddles through its confused plot just to get to a kill scene. The real horror is seeing a once great actor like Malcolm McDowell reduced to this bottom of the barrel crap.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 (1987)

Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987) / Fair use doctrine.And speaking of Silent Night, Deadly Night, Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 is bad despite its cult infamy. “It’s Garbage Day!” Yes, Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 has some fun moments, but it recycles a huge chunk of the first film, so much so that I feel like the director of the first should be credited as co-director. Talk about lazy. After the film is done “recapping”, the rest is just lazy, cringe-worthy dialogue and a rather dull plot. Once you get past its “cult status”, it’s really just part one with a small amount of crap added to fill out its runtime.

To All a Goodnight (1980)

To All A Goodnight (1980) / Fair use doctrine. I don’t mind a good killer Santa movie, but one thing a movie shouldn’t be is dull. To All a Goodnight seems to follow the slasher pattern but forgets to inject anything original, interesting, or compelling. Despite a few good kills, the film is essentially a snooze fest and seems to get lost in its own inept plot.

NICE

Krampus (2015)

Krampus (2015) / Fair use doctrine. It’s rather fitting that I’m writing about Krampus for two reasons. One is that December 5th is Krampus day, and the second is that two years ago I saw this gem in theaters. The Krampus trend has been incredibly popular for a while now, and it was only a matter of time before someone made a movie to fill the void. Thankfully, we got Krampus, a wildly creative black horror comedy, that (surprisingly) has a heart in its dark twisted center. Many have compared it to Gremlins as it acts as both a legit horror movie with moments comedy and yet actually sneaks in a message (without being heavy-handed or sappy). I really implore anyone who hasn’t seen it to do so ASAP as it’s a really fun movie and something that has future cult classic written all over it.

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) / Fair use doctrine. NAUGHTY! Of course, no holiday horror list would be complete without this trashy but fun horror gem. Silent Night, Deadly Night isn’t what you’d call a great movie; however, I love it — flaws and all. It wisely doesn’t take itself too seriously and plays up its camp status. It’s the black comedy that really keeps this from being too clichéd or too depressing. And when you’re dealing with kids in horror, it’s a good route to go. Some films have cult status that I feel isn’t really deserved, but I have to say this one truly is an enjoyable film, and it’s awesome that it is as beloved as it is.

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010) / Fair use doctrine. Looking for something from a different country? Look no further than Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, a highly clever film from Finland. Instead of killer Santas or little elves, Rare Exports takes a totally different spin on the holiday horror and the end result is fast-paced, creative, and (most importantly) engaging. You really invest in the characters, and the film’s childlike perspective really helps sell the fantasy and horror of the piece. I can’t say enough great things about this movie, and if you are looking for something completely different, you will not be sorry. Not a slasher, but a damn clever little movie that deserves to be more praised.

Christmas Evil (1980)

Christmas Evil (1980) / Fair use doctrine.Christmas Evil may just be my favorite on this list. It has more of a special meaning to me since the star, Brandon Maggart, gave me an exclusive quote for my book The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema, which follows my review of the film. For anybody who has never seen Christmas Evil, it’s not a traditional slasher like Silent Night, Deadly Night; rather, it is more psychological. To me, this makes it more disturbing and interesting – think Santa Claus meets Taxi Driver. This is not to suggest it doesn’t have any bloody moments, but the fact that they are used sparingly makes the impact all that more shocking. Anybody willing to give it a chance, Christmas Evil is a masterfully done movie and well worth checking out.

Black Christmas (1974)

Black Christmas (1974) / Fair use doctrine.The granddaddy of all slashers is often cited as Halloween (1978); however, as much as I love and respect that film, Bob Clark’s Black Christmas did it first. Black Christmas is a wonderful whodunnit slasher that really grips you from the very first frame and doesn’t let up until your nerves are shattered by the twists and turns. Its setting and tropes would be often copied, including its killer point of view, the setting of girls alone in a dorm, and the mystery surrounding the slaughter. I will even say I enjoyed the remake a lot though not as much as the classic 70s version.

That is my Naughty/Nice list -I hope you all enjoyed it, and I hope everybody has a very Horrifying Winter Holiday and a Scary New Year.


Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Cannibal Claus (2016)

MOVIE REVIEW: Cannibal Claus (2016)

Santa is a little bored this year and needs to get his Jolly’s . He’s looking for some fun , murderous escapades and a few Ho Ho Ho’s along the way.

A perfectly fitting synopsis for this particular little Christmas film! Cannibal Claus is DEFINITELY not for the kiddies (or any prudes). This 65-minute descent into sexually-fueled homicidal madness is, however, just the perfect film to enjoy cheesy goodness.

Early on we are introduced to our perverted but insatiable Kris Kringle and his escapades. Santa breaks into homes, kills people, dismembers, and eats them. “I think it’s time for some head” was one of my favorite lines as he then proceeds to face fuck the dismembered head of one particular blonde bimbo! Body parts begin to fly, and the amazing prosthetics and gore is such a thrill to watch.

Though it had a meager $1,200 budget, it’s easy to enjoy the blending of gore, cheesy gags, and (of course) the actual use of sex, sex, and more sex. Pure genius.

Although treated to images of a dealer snorting cocaine off a girl’s ass and other women in barely anything, I honestly didn’t find it sexist. It’s all in good Christmassy fun. I felt myself lighten up and even have a laugh as Santa said, “Ho ho ho, motherfucker!”

Bob Glazier is a devious delight as our Kris Kringle and is joined by an ensemble of actors and actresses who clearly enjoy the Sleaze Box world (like the sci-fi filmmakers’ Asylum casts). Glazier goes all out (quite literally in one scene) to impress us as the homicidal, people-eating, holiday favorite. This makes the movie Bad Santa look tame and is definitely going to be a new addition to my beloved laughs during the silly season. Santa surely is dreaming of a “White Christmas”, and with the film’s tagline, “You’re only as good as you taste”, I’ve no doubt that you’ll laugh as hard as I did while watching some scenes.

This was my introduction to the wild world of The Sleaze Box, and I admit I felt a combination of repulsion and hilarity. (I kid you not – I was wheezing I was laughing so hard!!) Now I must check out more in the future!! Sleaze Box here I come!!!

Cannibal Claus (2016) poster / Fair use doctrine.

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW (SHORT): Shriekfest: Remnants (2016)

MOVIE REVIEW (SHORT): Shriekfest: Remnants (2016)

Remnants (2016)

Venue: Shriekfest

Director: David Ugarte; Writers: Eric Joel La Fuente, Corey Schubert; Stars: Hugh McCrae Jr, Terrance Roundtree, Reavis Dorsey, Corey Schubert; Rating: UNK; Run Time: 16 min; Genre: Short, Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2016

Hugh McCrae Jr. in Remnants (2016)

Gorehound Mike here bringing you yet another short film entry from last month’s Shriekfest and this time around we have a short from a talented newcomer David Ugarte. His fourth and latest film, entitled Remnants, tackles the tried and true subject of demon possession. Two cops are called to a scene of a grisly double murder but things start to get strange as they begin to investigate further. Seems that a priest was performing a ritual upstairs and the cops may not be alone. At first I was not sure about Remnants as it seemed to fall back on some horror clichés and a little bit too familiar demon possession tropes; however, it actually seems to rise above it. It’s clear that Ugarte really knows his craft and employs some great expressive camera work, slick editing, and visual style to help both build a nice amount of eerie vibes as well as move the story forward. However, for me, what really saves this short from becoming too standard is the incredibly creepy makeup work that is nothing short of awe-inspiring considering its low budget. The gore effects were also nicely done, and Candy Domme really has a future in the business. Sure, I would have liked a nice clever twist or two, but I gotta say Remnants was a great little horror ride that totally did the trick. I can honestly say I am very excited to see what these guys have in store in the future.

Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: The Babysitter (2017)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Babysitter (2017)

The Babysitter All Boys Wish For But Shouldn't

Hello, I am the Horror Madam, and I am honored to be joining all of the amazing writers at House of Tortured Souls!
I thought it would be nice to start out here with a lighter horror film to get my feet wet, so I’m going to talk about a new dark comedy horror film called The Babysitter. It is a Netflix original film released this past October 2017, and it is only available on Netflix at this time.
Emily Alyn Lind and Judah Lewis in The Babysitter (2017) / Fair use doctrine.When The Babysitter starts out, it is reminiscent of a John Hughes movie: a nerdy young boy in glasses with a cute girl just waiting for the bus in front of their nice school. You realize quickly that this is not a normal boy going through puberty while pining for the girl next door, and when the girl's father pulls up in his bitchin' mid-life crisis hot rod and gives our young protagonist grief, you start to get curious. But it’s certainly not horrific. Yet.
Next, we see the boy, Cole, played by Judah Lewis (who, according to IMDb was a finalist to play Spider-Man but lost out to Tom Holland), riding home on his bike. Like you would see in any coming of age tale, Cole is harassed by some neighborhood bullies. Unlike other movies of that ilk, Cole is saved by his extremely beautiful babysitter, Bee, played by Austrailian actress Samara Weaving (who appeared in Mayhem and the amazing Ash vs The Evil Dead). You may be asking yourself, where have I heard that last name? Samara is the niece of the very talented Hugo Weaving from such great films as The Matrix and V for Vendetta. Good genes in that family.
Bee shows up with the sun shining on her making her look like a guardian angel sent from above and the song "Boys Wanna Be Her" by Peaches playing in the background, setting the stage for her character's persona. But what you see is what she wants you to see, hiding her true intentions. More on that in a moment because The Babysitter uses enough of its own foreshadowing.
Samara Weaving in The Babysitter (2017) (bikini) crop / Fair use doctrine.Now we start to see the relationship between Bee and Cole which includes a great dance scene and a short slow motion presentation of their time together including a great homage To Fast Times At Ridgemont High with Bee coming out of the pool in the same bikini that Phoebe Cates wore in said film. We also see a game that Cole made up about what would your Intergalactic Dream Team be when facing The Big Bad. Bee's answer is great and on point showing further that she is a young boy's wet dream.
Cole wants to see what happens when he goes to sleep and Bee's boyfriend comes over, so he pretends to sleep and slips down to see what is going on. There is a group of people with Bee, and they are mixing spin the bottle with a truth or dare game. This involves some very hot girl-on-girl kissing and movie quotes. Notably, one particular line involving Fredo from The Godfather. But I digress. The boyfriend in question is a teenage nerd who is very uncomfortable at the party. He is afraid to kiss Bee, but when she finally calms him down and kisses him it looks like the young man has entered bliss but that is when the madness ensues.Robbie Amell and Bella Thorne in The Babysitter (2017) / Fair use doctrine.
From that moment on, we see so many fun and extremely bloody deaths. And I am not kidding about the amount of blood, at one point I remember thinking that it reminded me of old Monty Python skits where copious amounts of blood just spurt and spurt and spurt again.
Warning: Spoilers
The Babysitter was written by Brian Duffield, who also penned Insurgent and Jane Got a Gun, and Directed by McG (also from Michigan), who is best known for one of the longest-running shows on TV, Supernatural. The parents are played by Leslie Bibb from Talladega Nights and Ken Marino from We Are the Millers and Role Models, who provide even more comic relief.
I really enjoyed this movie for its clever wit, great lines, monstrously bloody scenes, and a killer soundtrack, especially a climax scene with Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. I hope I gave you enough insight without spoiling too much, I hate when reviewers do that. So with that, I leave you with the tagline "That dream girls can be a nightmare". Or maybe they are just the Big Bad.
Posted by Horrormadam in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE (SHORT) REVIEW: Megrim (2016) at Shriekfest

MOVIE (SHORT) REVIEW: Megrim (2016) at Shriekfest

Megrim (2016)

Venue: Shriekfest

Director: Stuart Valberg; Writer: Stuart Valberg; Stars: Max Physer, Pascal Yen-Pfister; Rating: UNK; Run Time: 13 min; Genre: Short, Comedy, Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2016
Hello, this is your fiendish reporter reviewing the entries from the Shreikfest horror film festival, 5-8 October 2017. The next film is entitled Megrim written and directed by Stuart Valberg. An unnamed artist (Pascal Yen-Pfister) wants to create a masterpiece, but instead of using oil paints, he decides to choose an unknown man (Max Physer) to donate his blood. From frame one, it's clear that director Stuart Valberg has a nice visual flare, drenching the film with mood and tension. His use of tightly framed medium shots gives an almost unbearable feeling of dread and claustrophobia as does his use of atmospheric lighting. I really enjoyed the stripped down one room stage feel, and its simple and effective plot is clearly having a bit of fun with films like Saw (the artist's reasons seem very Jigsaw-like). This, indeed, is where this short shines, as it is eerie and moody yet has a dark sense of humor which makes it more interesting than a simple bloodbath. The film is just two actors, and both do a fantastic job. Actor Pascal Yen Pfister really shines in this film, and he plays with the razor-thin line of having fun with the role yet not going too hammy and he walks the line brilliantly. While I enjoyed Megrim, I really wished it would have pushed the black comedy just a little further while also providing a little more cat and mouse between the two very talented actors. However, this leads me to my next point, which is that (and I rarely say this with shorts) with some clever writing, I feel like this could easily be translated into a full feature. With a great sense of style and solid writing, Valberg provides an interesting darkly comic spin on the torture porn sub-genre and does it with skill and that will no doubt take him incredibly far as a writer-director.
Michael Vaughn is a cult film historian and has been featured in magazines such as Scream (UK) and Fangoria as well as websites like Films in Review. Currently, he has a book coming out entitled The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema due out in November, 2017.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE (SHORT) REVIEW: Tethered (2017) at Shriekfest

MOVIE (SHORT) REVIEW: Tethered (2017) at Shriekfest

Tethered (2017)

Venue: Shriekfest

Director: Daniel Robinette; Writers: Daniel Robinette, Jeff Cox, Aaron Sorgius, Kayla Stuhr, Jeremy Tassone; Stars: Jared Cook, Grace Mumm, Kayla Stuhr; Rating: UNK; Run Time: 12 min; Genre: Short, Drama, Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2017
Hello, again, your fiendish reporter here giving you the low down on the films from Shriekfest. This time we are looking at a short by Daniel Robinette entitled Tethered. A blind boy named Solomon (Jared Cook) is left by his mother in a harsh land. He is tethered to a rope and left a recording by mother explaining the rules on how to survive, the most important being to never ever go beyond the rope. Daniel Robinette turns out a wonderfully bleak yet beautiful horror short that takes a simple premise and milks it for everything its got and then some. He builds a world that is steeped in reality yet has an otherworldly feeling and features a finale that is oh so effective. Cinematographer and co-writer Aaron Sorgius paints an eerie and gorgeous picture with his camera and the location and sweeping camera shots really give this short a more epic and wider scope. Jared Cook does an incredible job and, with little to no dialogue, gives a stellar, almost silent star-like performance. Equally great is Kayla Stuhr in a short but unnerving role. I was really impressed with what Robinette was able to pull off with a paper-thin plot and modest budget. It just goes to prove my point that a scary movie can be made without flashy gimmicks or buckets of blood. And it's refreshing to see a crop of new horror filmmakers that are focusing on plot and visuals to tell a story instead of falling back on tired clichés. Tethered is a tension-filled harrowing and creepy short and I would love to see this expanded into a full feature film.
Michael Vaughn is a cult film historian and has been featured in magazines such as Scream (UK) and Fangoria as well as websites like Films in Review. Currently, he has a book coming out entitled The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema due out in November, 2017.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE (SHORT) REVIEW: Play Day (2017) at Shriekfest

MOVIE (SHORT) REVIEW: Play Day (2017) at Shriekfest

Play Day (2017)

Venue: Shriekfest

Director: Greg Mazzola; Writer: Sophia Rose; Stars: Sophia Rose, Thomas Downey, Jim Nieb, Craig Tate, Harrison Samuels; Rating: UNK; Run Time: UNK min; Genre: Short, Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2017
Your fiendish reporter bringing you another offering from the 2017 Shriekfest. In this short, a lonely man named Steve (Thomas Downey) is looking for that special somebody on the Internet. Nothing wrong with that except instead of a dating site he has chosen an online service called Play Day. Little does he know his payment for this might just be in blood. Writer Sophia Rose and director Greg Mazzola manage to take the premise of online love something terribly routine and totally turn it on its head and the end result is incredibly different. The core concept is explored just enough to give the audience a clear idea of what's going on without feeling the need to over-explain things. Also, it tapped into a psycho sexual-dark web theme which I did not expect and was impressed with. On the technical side, Mazzola gives the low budget film a professional gloss with nice visuals, good editing, and a nice score. My one complaint with this short was actor Thomas Downey. While I think he's a solid actor he defiantly went a little too campy which in a certain context is alright but it doesn't help when it somewhat undercuts the creepy vibes the film is building. When Downey starts to go really barking mental I thought the short totally went off the rails but thankfully a good ending helped save it. Play Day may have some issues however I couldn't hate it because it's really interesting and it takes a familiar troupe and completely remixes it, which is something I love to see. I very much hope that Greg Mazzola and writer Sophia Rose expand this into a feature even if it was just 80 mins or so. Overall, Play Day is great little film, and I look forward to seeing what else they have in store.
Michael Vaughn is a cult film historian and has been featured in magazines such as Scream (UK) and Fangoria as well as websites like Films in Review. Currently, he has a book coming out entitled The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema due out in November, 2017.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE (SHORT) REVIEW: Conduit (2017) at Shriekfest

MOVIE (SHORT) REVIEW: Conduit (2017) at Shriekfest

Conduit (2017)

Venue: Shriekfest

Director: Tim Earnheart; Writer: Tim Earnheart; Stars: Corrie Fleming, Matt Dy, Tyler Totten, Ayuba Audu, Reeve Bareceloux, S Joe Downing; Rating: UNK; Run Time: UNK min; Genre: Short, Horror, Thriller; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2017
Hello, again! Your fiendish reporter coming at you with another short film presented at this year's Shriekfest. Conduit is written and directed by Tim Earnheart whose previous shorts include Working with Damien (2016) and 180 (2015). The FBI is set into an upscale cabin to rescue a little girl who was kidnapped. Little do they know that something far more sinister is waiting for them inside. Conduit is really a brilliant little horror film, and Earnheart takes the ghost film and turns it on its head, taking the tropes and tossing them right out the window. The added action of the FBI raid further gives this an altogether different spin on the supernatural subgenre. With strong and eerie imagery, slick professional editing and a great score, it struck all the right cords with this film critic. Thankfully the audience isn't hit over the head with backstory and I love how things are purposely left vague. In fact, I hope Conduit gets expanded into a feature film because I`d love to be filled in on the mysterious aspects. This feature is effects driven and thankfully the FX expert, HM Grandy, does a great job crafting some truly grisly and realistic make-up - especially when you consider this was done on what I am guessing was a modest budget. Supernatural films are tricky to make effectively and without clichés, but Tim Earnheart and company go into it with an above interesting premise and keeps it fresh with great visuals, gore, and a fantastic ending.
Michael Vaughn is a cult film historian and has been featured in magazines such as Scream (UK) and Fangoria as well as websites like Films in Review. Currently, he has a book coming out entitled The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema due out in November, 2017.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE (SHORT) REVIEW: Ghosted (2017) at Shriekfest

MOVIE (SHORT) REVIEW: Ghosted (2017) at Shriekfest

Ghosted (2017)

Venue: Shriekfest

Director: Sevgi Isabel Cacina; Writer: Sevgi Isabel Cacina; Stars: Asger Folmann, Shandel Love, Tony Nevada; Rating: UNK; Run Time: UNK min; Genre: Short, Comedy, Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2017
Hello, again, from your creepy correspondent coming at you again with another short film review from LA's Shriekfest earlier this month. So far I've really enjoyed every short from this film festival -- which is pretty darn rare. However, all good things must come to an end, and that end here is with Ghosted. A woman named Sandy (Shandel Love) goes to a shrink with a strange problem, namely that she is haunted by a jealous ghost (Asger Folmann). Written and directed by Sevgi Isabel Cacina, Ghosted is definitely the first weak link I have come across (so far). The biggest issue is a sloppy plot which is not compelling and has aspects that seem needless and, in the case of the ending, confusing. This is labeled as a horror comedy and also a "Fable" (according to the Vimeo link), but, honestly, I didn't get any horror or comedy. And that's a shame because I think the set up is an interesting one. Sadly, the acting, while not terrible is not at the same level as the previous fest entries. It's not all bad as the film is very well shot, and it makes the most of a modest budget. It is also clear Cacina knows how to put together a film with a nice flow editing-wise. I really hate to dump on a movie because even short films take a great amount of time and energy to make, but this one just didn't have a strong, focused screenplay, and it greatly suffered for it. I still would like to see what else Sevgi Cacina has to offer in the future.
Michael Vaughn is a cult film historian and has been featured in magazines such as Scream (UK) and Fangoria as well as websites like Films in Review. Currently, he has a book coming out entitled The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema due out in November, 2017.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE (SHORT) REVIEW: The Armoire (2017) at Shriekfest

MOVIE (SHORT) REVIEW: The Armoire (2017) at Shriekfest

The Armoire (2017)

Venue: Shriekfest

Director: Evan Cooper; Writers: Evan Cooper, Brodie Cooper; Stars: Hannah Barlow, Strange Dave, Evan Cooper, Bradley Rose; Rating: UNK; Run Time: UNK min; Genre: Short, Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2017
Hello! Your fiendish reporter here kicking off my Shriekfest viewing with The Armoire, an impressive little gem by newcomers Evan Cooper and writer Brodie Cooper. I watched a lot of short films and, frankly, most of them are terrible. But, to be fair, it's much harder in some ways to make an effective short film because you have to perfectly nail the story theme and mood in a brief amount of time. So when I viewed Evan Cooper's debut The Armoire, I was pleasantly surprised. Emma (Hannah Barlow) is an aspiring actress who just moved into an apartment in LA and must find cheap furniture as she is on a shoestring budget. She seems to hit the jackpot when she finds a wonderful old armoire. Has she made the find of the century or does something sinister dwell within? Cooper skillfully avoids the pitfalls a lot of filmmakers make by telling a simple story yet allowing the true horror and suspense to slowly build and build like a tightrope until the frightening finale. His methods for creating this are equally simple, utilizing great camera work and creepy sound design rather than flashy gimmicks or MTV quick cuts -just pure old-fashioned storytelling. I also love the fact that Evan and writer Brodie Cooper didn't feel the need to overexplain things, giving it a kind of wonderful and scary simplicity. He also doesn't shy away from having some mystery and it leaves you thinking about it after the credits roll. The bulk of the film centers around one actor, Hannah Barlow and thankfully she has what it takes to carry the film. Her acting is solid and she has a natural ease that is both refreshing and also makes her relatable. The fact that this is the filmmakers' first short film is even more impressive, and I cannot wait to see what wonderful tricks they have up their cinematic sleeves. Watch this in the dark if you dare. I am okay with admitting it made me jump.
Michael Vaughn is a cult film historian and has been featured in magazines such as Scream (UK) and Fangoria as well as websites like Films in Review. Currently, he has a book coming out entitled The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema due out in November, 2017.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
John Roisland’s 2017 Top 5 Halloween Movies

John Roisland’s 2017 Top 5 Halloween Movies

Ah, yes. It's that time of year again! October is a truly magical time. Not only do we get to see the changes as Mother Nature transforms life to death, covering us in her cool, crisp air and the skeletal images of the now bare trees. We get to break out the long-awaited hoodies, pumpkins, and all things pumpkin spice (it truly IS a scary time of year), and we get to decorate houses for my personal favorite holiday - HALLOWEEN! For horror fans, Halloween isn't one day. It isn't JUST October 31st... Oh no, no, no! This is simply the day that you build up to. October 31st is the climatic orgasm of autumn. Aside from decorating, costumes and trick or treating, you must also enjoy masses amounts of horror movies!!
Many pride themselves on doing the 31 Days of Horror challenge where they watch at least one horror movie per day throughout the month of October ending on Halloween night itself! A fun challenge for all horror fans! The beauty with this is you pick it. Any style horror film is up for the challenge, be it classic monster movies such as Dracula and Frankenstein or slasher films like Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Or maybe you prefer something from the paranormal - The Exorcist or Angel Heart - or perhaps some great Indie horror films like Circus of the Dead or Pieces of Talent. Whatever your flavor is, it's all good, and it's all up to you to decide.
There are a million and one different ways you can mix and match your Halloween viewing. I personally TRY to stick with the theme of Halloween in my choices. I've always enjoyed the holiday horror-themed films, so I figured it only made sense that my Top 5 Halloween Films are the same. Now please don't confuse this with my personal favorite horror movie... No, these are my HALLOWEEN go-to movies and are not ranked!

Hotel Transylvania (2012)

I adored this film as it brought back some classic monsters and threw them in to an animated film that adults and kids could both honestly enjoy together. It's important to teach the kids about horror at a young age. After all, isn't that where horror is home?

Trick 'r Treat (2007)

The first time I saw this sleeper hit I instantly fell in love with it! It brings many Halloween superstitions to life in one film that mixes a few stories and rolls them all together in one beautifully filmed trat. A new and true Halloween classic!

The Houses October Built (2014)

This is another sleeper hit that grew and has reached cult status. This film actually had a profound impact on me and climbed straight to the top of my all time favorite films list! It's hard for me to actually say enough about this film other than it's not just watched at Halloween in my house!

Halloween (1978)

John Carpenter's all time classic Halloween film about the Boogie Man himself introduced the world to Michael Myers. Halloween is one of the original slasher films that still keeps movie goers on the edge of their seats year after year.

Sleepy Hollow (1999)

For years Tim Burton has brought his dark beauty to the silver screen, and he captured my heart with this one. You see, the story of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman is my all time favorite story and has been since I was a child. The Burton brought the imagery and dark scenery to life in ways that honestly I had only dreamt about. So this is a must for me!

I do have tons of personal go-to films that I would have loved to mention, but then it wouldn't be a top five would it..? Some have said my list is a bit on the childish side... Well, Halloween brings out the kid in me more than any other time of year, so I usually tell them to deal with it!Freddy Kruger-Deal with it / Fair use doctrine.
I hope you've enjoyed diving into a personal side of me, and if you're so inclined, please leave me your list in the comments. I'd love to hear them... Until then, HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!
Keep it Evil...
Posted by John Roisland in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 2 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Better Watch Out (2016)

MOVIE REVIEW: Better Watch Out (2016)

With the holidays approaching us at a rapid pace, it's time to break out timely classics to relive fond memories both old and new, and also welcome new breeds of terror and macabre based around our favorite holidays. Which brings me to a new film that I not only had the pleasure of viewing but also had the most fun while watching, too!!!
Better Watch Out is a film that takes place around the Christmas season. It opens with a clever Christmas text soaked in blood red over a gorgeous small suburban town covered by inches of the white stuff and beautifully decorated houses from top to bottom while a cheerful Christmas song plays to make you feel all gooey inside at first, even though you know that feeling won't stay calm for long and soon your bones will be shaking.
This is how most holiday horror films should start out.
Better Watch Out 3 / Fair use doctrine.Luke, played by Levi Miller (Pan), is a 12-year-old who has the hots for 17-year-old Ashley, played by Olivia DeJonge (The Visit, Scare Campaign) who is coming over to babysit while Luke's parents head off to a Christmas party. After talking over his plan with his best friend Garrett, played by Ed Oxenbould (The Visit, Paper Planes), about how tonight is the night he will finally score with his babysitter, Ashley arrives and Garrett says his goodbye and rushes home to leave the two alone. Within seconds after Garrett leaves, Luke quickly tries charming her by drinking wine, watching horror movies, and talking trash on guys she has dated in the past, making it known that he, in fact, has a crush on her.
Better Watch Out 1 / Fair use doctrine.While she spends the majority of the time on the phone with her present boyfriend, Luke spends his time alone sitting on the couch thinking of how he can impress the girl of his dreams. That all changes when there is a knock on the door and a pizza is delivered without anyone in the house calling for one. Could it have been Luke's parents or could it be the start of a night they will never forget? The two realize that someone or something is breaking in the house with a shotgun and from there the film takes a horrific wrong turn with surprises around every corner and laughs as well.
Better Watch Out 4 / Fair use doctrine.Better Watch Out was a fun romp from start to finish. It's 90 minutes of clever dialogue, tension build, and overall a bloody good time. I can't express how much fun I had while viewing this film. It keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout its running time, and it never falls short of anything. All questions are answered, and the pacing was highly acceptable. If I wasn't laughing, I was cringing and ready for the following minutes to unfold in front of my eyes. This will definitely be one to add the list of holiday favorites each year.
Better Watch Out6 / Fair use doctrine. / Fair use doctrine.If you're a fan of holiday horror, especially Christmas-themed horror, then you better give this a look. You won't regret it. At all.
Better Watch Out is now available in selected cinemas as well as VOD platforms.
Posted by Jonathan Hughes in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
BLU REVIEW: Hack O Lantern – Just in time for Halloween!

BLU REVIEW: Hack O Lantern – Just in time for Halloween!

Hack-O-Lantern
Massacre Video Blu Review

The leaves are changing, there is a crisp chill in the air and every die-hard horror fan is gearing up for the greatest holiday of all: Halloween. Every year I try to buy at least one Halloween-themed Blu to add to my collection, and this year it just so happens that Hack-O-Lantern slashes its way in HD. This is super exciting news as this boasts not only a brand new transfer but a host of new features. Truly we live in a golden age of home media with weird little gems like this getting the special edition treatment. Lets me be totally real for a second Hack-O-Lantern is awful…I mean god-awful but I still love it. Yes, the plot is all over the place. Yes, the dialogue is laughable with an ending that frankly makes zero sense, yet it has just the right amount of 80s cheese-tastic nostalgia that makes it endearing.
  • Picture: Horror fiends that grew up watching the crappy VHS or a VHS rip off Youtube will be totally blown away but the new print. As per Massacre Video, the original film elements were found using a 2k scan completely restores it to all its trash glory. I can honestly say that this film will never look as good as it does. Colors are natural and thankfully aren’t blown out like some 2k scans. The scenes at night really take advantage of this new scan.
  • Sound: As with the picture, the sound is great and includes a 2.0 mix and for those purists, an original Mono is included.
  • Special Features: Hack-O-Lantern thankfully isn’t bare bones and fans of this seasonal favorite aren’t tricked but treated to a host of new goodies. The highlight is a wonderfully entertaining interview with stars Gregory Scott Cummins and Katina Garner. And as I’m a huge commentary fan, I was delighted that one was recorded with producer Raj Mehrotra. Other features include some great behind the scenes stills, a rare public access interview with the cast/crew and trailers. Oddly, though, the trailer for this film is not present, and I find this is strange to leave out. Minor complaint though.
  • Overall: Massacre Video did a bang-up job on one of my favorite VHS titles. Not only does it look and sound amazing but it features some great extras. You won’t find any tricks only treats with this Blu and should be considered a must on any collector’s shelves. I`d even say this makes my short list for best Blu of 2017.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Cult of Chucky (2017)

MOVIE REVIEW: Cult of Chucky (2017)

WELCOME TO THE CULT

Cult of Chucky - on set / Fair use doctrine.1988 was a very awesome year when it came to films, not just horror films, but films in general. Think about it. We were given Beetlejuice, Die Hard, Rain Man, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Big, The Naked Gun, The Great Outdoors, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 - The Dream Master, Friday The 13th part 7 - The New Blood and, my personal favorite, Halloween 4 - The Return of Michael Myers. 1988 was also the beginning of a new franchise, a new serial killer, and a new beginning to what would be highly welcomed to the circle of favorite slashers. To this day, he is still one of the most notorious, diabolical, 18 inches of serious business to ever hit the silver screen, and his name is Chucky.
Cult of Chucky - Chucky up close / Fair use doctrine.Child's Play may not have been very original when it was first released, but it sure did create some sort of disturbance in the air - especially when Hasbro released the My Buddy doll, which very much resembled the Good Guy doll. The films have been highly enjoyable, some more than others, but that is typical of a franchise that spits out sequels every other year. Don Mancini, the man who created the franchise and has been there for its entirety, brought Chucky back to his original roots with Curse of Chucky in 2013, and it was most definitely one of the better films in the franchise. Curse of Chucky had not only surprises throughout, but it also was a darker throw back to the franchise after that horrible bad taste in the mouth that Mancini threw up with Seed of Chucky. A year after the release of Curse, Mancini tweeted #chucky7 and that was the teaser that surfaced the net stating that he is working on a follow-up to Curse. Well, it's been four years since the last film, and was it worth the wait? Find out below.

Cult of Chucky - The Review

Cult of Chucky ad / Fair use doctrine.It's been four years since Chucky, the notorious killer doll, came back to life in front of our eyes and on our TV screens. and we have all been waiting to see if the sequel would be as good as if not better.
Cult of Chucky - Chucky did it / Fair use doctrine.Nica Pierce (Fiona Dourif) has been living in a maximum security facility after being charged with the murders inside her home four years prior. Still believing that she is not crazy and that Chucky did in fact murder her entire family. Dr. Foley (Michael Therriault), who has been treating Nica since she arrived, decides it's time for a fresh start and relocates Nica to a better facility with much more freedom than what she is used to. Moments after her arrival, we are introduced to Michael (Adam Hurtig), Madeleine (Elisabeth Rosen), Claire (Grace Lynn Kung), and Angela (Marina Stephenson Kerr), who tells Nica that Chucky is coming back for her during one of their sessions. Seconds later Dr. Foley introduces a Chucky doll to the circle and shortly thereafter things take a wrong turn, and everyone's favorite foul-mouthed killer doll voiced by (Brad Dourif) again returns and the murders begin in extremely gory ways.
Cult of Chucky - Chucky armed / Fair use doctrine.What makes this film really amazing to watch is that the whole time you're not sure if this is really happening or you're going crazy simply because you're surrounded by padded walls and inmates. Even when the blood flows, and believe me, the blood flows hard, you're still not really sure whether or not you're going crazy or these people are really meeting their horrible demises.
Cult of Chucky - Chucky injured / Fair use doctrine.One of the other high points in this film is the cinematography. It's a gorgeous film from start to finish with amazing camera angles and creative lighting. The whole inside of the institute is pure white, as is the outside, and snow covers the landscapes. Cult of Chucky is one of the best-looking films in the entire franchise. Don Mancini also manages to ante up the surprises, and trust me, there are more than enough to please any die-hard fan of the franchise. Chucky even raises the level of voodoo in a whole new way, and it's not only fun but wild to watch and take in all at the same time.
The film also welcomes back Chucky's very best friend Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent), who has a much bigger role this time around, and let me tell you, it's a warm welcome back. Alex is amazing and also ruthless as hell. Without giving anything away, he has a few tricks up his sleeve, and every time he is seen on screen, it's a treat. The franchise also welcomes back Jennifer Tilly, who is still a piece of violent eye candy with that same voice of a dark angel. Cult of Chucky is fun and a real joy to watch. I can't wait to see where they are going take the franchise next, but I'm sure Mr. Mancini has something great in mind. Congrats to the cult, you've outdone yourself once again!!!
Cult of Chucky arrives on DVD, Blu-ray, and Netflix on October 3, 2017.
Posted by Jonathan Hughes in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Jeepers Creepers III (2017)

MOVIE REVIEW: Jeepers Creepers III (2017)

Jeepers! What the Hell Did I Just Watch?

First things first, as a fan of the first two films from writer and director Victor Salva, I was highly excited when news broke that the third film in the Jeepers Creepers franchise was finally moving forward. After finding out that the film would only get a special one night screening, I rushed to get my tickets because I knew that the film was going to sell out and I would be surrounded by other fans of the Creeper. And that is just what happened. It was a packed house, and everyone seemed quite eager to check out the new entry that has been in talks since Jeepers Creepers 2 hit theaters back in the summer of 2002.
Jeepers Creepers III - poster / Fair use doctrine.The film opens directly after the events of the first film. The police force is in shock after witnessing a hideous winged figure fly out a window with Darry. Moments later, we are surrounding the Creeper's iconic automobile with the ominous tag "BEATNGU ". Brandon Smith returns as Sgt. Tubbs, who is trying to put the pieces together with the rest of his team, and within seconds we are introduced to Sheriff Tashtego, played by Stan Shaw (Rocky, Snake Eyes, and Harlem Nights) who already knows what the town is dealing with since he was around to see it 23 years prior. Sheriff Tashtego and Sgt. Tubbs team up to take this ancient living creature out for good. We are then introduced to Addison (Gabrielle Haugh), who lives on a farm with her batshit crazy grandmother, played by the very talented Meg Foster (Masters of The Universe, Stepfather 2, and Rob Zombie's 31), who seems to have ongoing conversations about her being in danger with her deceased son, whom the Creeper took the last time he was in town.
Within the first six minutes of the film, I knew right away what I was in for and if I was going to enjoy the new chapter. Let's just say, after the six-minute mark, I realized what I was watching was a dud. The majority of the film was shot in the daytime, and that was a huge mistake (number one of many). The makeup effects were dreadful, and the Creeper resembled a bad Halloween costume that anyone could pick up at Wal*Mart for $6.88. Last, but certainly not least, the visual effects were so laughable that it looked as if they paid some sixth grader a bag of M&M's to do the job. On top of all this, there was absolutely no tension built, and the characters weren't very likable, except for Sgt. Tubbs and Sheriff Tashtego, but not even they could save the film. It's a shame to say that this is the weakest film in the franchise; no effort whatsoever was put forth to make it worthy of the Jeepers Creepers name. The audience should have been jumping out of their seats and rooting for the Creeper, but instead I am quite sure that the majority of them were, like me, wiping tears from their eyes because they just spent over $30.00 for two tickets to a film that will be forgotten by the time they drive home from the theater.Jeepers Creepers III 02 / Fair use doctrine.
I was really hoping for so much more, but, in the end, how much can someone really expect from a sequel that was made almost 15 years later? The answer: not much at all.
Posted by Jonathan Hughes in MONSTERS AND CREATURES, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 1 comment
MOVIE REVIEW: The Devil’s Candy (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Devil’s Candy (2015)

The Devil's Candy poster / Fair use doctrine.The Devil's Candy is a 2015 horror film both written and directed by Sean Byrne (The Loved Ones (2009)) and starring Ethan Embry, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Shiri Appleby, and Kiara Glasco. I must admit - if not for the recommendation from a friend regarding this film, I may never have seen it. I'm glad he told me about it! The Devil’s Candy seemed to be kind of a sleeper hit that really packs a punch!
The Devil's Candy is the story of a young family who purchase an old farmhouse in southern Texas and quickly realize that along with the mortgage comes a horrific history that threatens them all. Ethan Embry plays Jesse Hellman, a loving husband, father, metal head, and painter. After moving into the family's new home, Jesse becomes almost possessed through his painting. Pruitt Taylor Vince co-stars as Ray, a man who suffers from demonic voices in his head, has been on an ultra-violent killing spree of young children, saying he needs to feed them to him. But Ray is also having a homecoming – to the same home that Embry and family now inhabit.
As Jesse's paintings become more and more detailed and violent, Ray gets closer and closer to the home, as do his abductions and brutal murders. Ray suffered from violent tendencies as a child, even being hospitalized due to them, and now he wants to come home.
Ethan Embry, known for playing fun-loving, almost goofy, characters (Dutch, Empire Records, Can't Hardly Wait), may seem an odd choice. In my opinion, though, Embry needs more serious/darker roles because HE NAILED IT! Although he plays the good guy and proud father in The Devil's Candy, he displays a dark side through his character’s possession and is brilliant!
The Devil's Candy - Pruitt Taylor Vince 02 / Fair use doctrine.Co-star Pruitt Taylor Vince (Constantine, Monster, and Identity) is NEVER a letdown in his performances, and his stellar job as Ray Smilie is so believable that he gives you nightmares during the day.
The Devil's Candy - Ethan Embry / Fair use doctrine.The film moves quickly but doesn't skip ahead or leave any stone unturned in the storytelling. My only gripe with lies with the film’s lighting. While all normal shots are filmed fine, too many of the action scenes are near unwatchable. I've viewed the filmed a few times now (yes, I'm a fan of it), and it’s just too dark no matter how the lighting is in the room. I’ve even tried adjusting the contrast on my TV set. Still not helping. Don’t get me wrong; I don't mind when a film has off screenshots that make you use your own imagination. Oftentimes it’s more effective - and disturbing. But when a scene is shot on film for the audience to view but is too dark for viewers to make out anything, then I have a problem with it.
The Devil's Candy is currently playing on Netfilx, and I seriously can't stress enough that you should sit down and watch this it. Truly this is one of the best overall horror films I've seen in a while.The Devil's Candy title / Fair use doctrine.
Posted by John Roisland in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
EXCLUSIVE PRE-RELEASE REVIEW: The Houses October Built 2

EXCLUSIVE PRE-RELEASE REVIEW: The Houses October Built 2

Exclusive Look at The Houses October Built 2

Director: Bobby Roe; Writers: Zack Andrews, Bobby Roe; Stars: Brandy Schaefer, Zack Andrews, Bobby Roe, Mikey Roe, Jeff Larson; Genre: Horror; Rating: Unrated; Runtime: UNK; Release Date: 22 September 2017
The Houses October Built 2 is the highly anticipated follow-up to the sleeper hit The Houses October Built (2014). While the original kind of flew through under the radar, it has since gained a huge cult-like following of fans - myself being one of them!
To summarize the original for any one who may not have seen it, five friends in an RV tour parts of the southern states in search of the ultimate haunt. While on this quest, they catch wind of a strange and intriguing haunt called The Blue Skeleton. Sensing this is just the thing they’ve been searching for, they begin to pursue The Blue Skeleton. Through word of mouth and clues that are mysteriously given to them, they eventually find themselves in the middle of what quickly becomes a life or death haunt, ultimately bringing viewers to a satisfying cliffhanger. As the film ends, viewers are left wondering WHAT HAPPENED!?!
The Houses October Built 2 is the highly anticipated follow-up to the sleeper hit The Houses October Built (2014). While the original kind of snuck through under the radar, it has since gained a huge cult-like following of fans - myself being one of them! >The Houses October Built 2 picks up right where the original left off and answers all the questions generated at the end of the first film! Fast forward to one year later. The group is now both famous and infamous in the haunt industry from having survived their encounters with The Blue Skeleton – encounters which were live streamed – and are now sought after to make celebrity appearances at haunts nationwide. Instead of seeking unique and terrifying haunts, the tables have turned and the haunts are seeking out them. So back to the RV they go!

Through the group’s stops and travels, however, viewers are shown a blueish colored feed of the group as they are videotaped – one of the group in particular. Brandy, who has been nicknamed Coffin Girl, seems to be targeted. On their journey, the group stop at a few very cool haunts, including haunted hay rides, a Zombie Pub Crawl, and (for the physically fit) a Zombie-Run! One of the haunts, however, was a tad more extreme than the others - something Brandy is now totally against as her last trip has left a few mental scars.
As in the first film, lead Zack Andrews is still on the lookout for the extreme and eventually catches wind of one and off they go. Keep in mind that the further the group goes down the rabbit hole, the more intense and disturbing the secretive videotaping becomes.
I'm not going to go any further because I refuse to give away any spoilers away. I will say one thing, however, and that is that the first film really left viewers wondering. Hell, three days after I first watched The Houses October Built 2, I was still in my head asking myself, “WHAT THE FUCK?!?” LOL!!! Folks, the cast and crew did it again. And, as with the first film, when you think it’s over and you start to understand what happened, pondering it more deeply and questioning everything that has gone before, BAM!
The Houses October Built 2 stars the same great cast and continues showcasing great real life haunts and Halloween events. This haunt realism was a big part of the original film’s appeal, garnering a huge fan base with a very small character base. Filling the film with actual haunt actors, The Houses October Built gave complete credit to the hard-working haunt actors as well as both supporting and helping revive the life and spirits of haunts across the world!
I don't know if The Houses October Built 2 can ever be any better than its original, as I adore the film, but it gives it one hell of a run! Zack and Bobby – you two are incredible! Great job!
SUPPORT THIS FILM, LIMITED CITY THEATER SHOWINGS,
VOD AMAZON PRIME, 9/22/17!
Keep it Evil...
Posted by John Roisland in EXCLUSIVE, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: IT (2017) (1 of…???)

MOVIE REVIEW: IT (2017) (1 of…???)

When we are kids, we watch movies, read books, and hear stories that we carry with us throughout our lives. IT, the super long novel by Stephen King, is one that King’s Constant Readers, as well as most horror fans, have carried with us through our youth. The original adaptation, released in 1990, as a miniseries, started with the youth of Derry, Maine, and ended with the adults when Pennywise returned 27 years later. Of course, the time the film was made plays a large factor in how it was portrayed. So we have to look at it that way in regards to content and exactly what boundaries could be pushed and what couldn’t. Since it was a TV miniseries and the rules were different then, IT really was a different adaptation altogether.
Looking back on the original, I have always felt it to be rather boring and a little too much on the cheesy side. This opinion does not reflect on the actors themselves, but on the direction and the script. I do not speak for everyone, but for me, the story could have been told in a way that wasn’t so much like an after school special about talking to strangers and more like an actual horror film. In other words, the miniseries was like a Goosebumps version compared to what we are allowed to see now in films. IT was very kid friendly so to speak, and for the time it was made, it was definitely on the verge of causing concern for the people of the world. Tim Curry is a great actor and did very well putting that scare into the youth of the early 90s. As horror fans, we need to go into this re-envisioning of the story with fresh eyes and a fresh mind - regardless of who you are. Try to avoid comparing and contrasting both films. And now, on to how this new movie, which was not only a better portrayal but also much scarier.
When I walk into the theater, I was actually amazed that we had fancy seating, all recliner like and cozy. That was a bit weird to me as I’m used to the poor people theaters with sticky floors and immensely uncomfortable seating. Big kudos to United Artists theater in Fishers, Indiana for being awesome in that regard.
I am pretty sure there were 20 minutes of previews, and a couple of them looked really good. Saw 8, though, that horse has been beaten to death. Give it up already. Mother is, I’m pretty sure, a spin-off of Rosemary’s Baby. I can’t for the life of me remember the two that actually looked really good though. I’ll figure it out later. Ha!
Spoiler warning skull_smallRight from the start, the movie gets you all hyped up because it’s set in 1988-89 which, for many of the movie-going public, is when we were young and have some of our earliest memories of life. Those that are into that whole holding on to nostalgia, this is perfect for that. The soundtrack alone was fantastic, and the fashion, lingo, and settings definitely invoke the late 80s. The movie starts with Billy (Jaeden Lieberher) and Georgie Denbrough (Jackson Robert Scott) in a bedroom making a paper boat with Georgie super excited to get it going. Bill instructs Georgie to get some wax to waterproof the paper boat and allow it to float. The foreshadowing comes immediately upon Georgie entering the basement, scared but carrying a 1980s-era walkie talkie that squealed and made a lot of noise to communicate with Billy on the whereabouts of the wax. Yes, that’s important to the film.
Not five minutes later, Georgie is running down the street chasing the paper boat in the rain, but the boat is at the mercy of the water and quickly falls into the a sewer drain. Pennywise the clown (Bill Skarsgård) appears in the drain with his famously evil grin and gains the attention of Georgie, who doesn’t really find it odd that a clown is just hangin’ ‘round in the sewer. There was some struggle, some blood, and a lot of screaming. I’ll just say this: those who haven’t seen the original or read the book, that’s all you need to know; however, those who have seen or read the original know just how fast IT jumps the gun and gets bloody fast.
Flash forward to 1989, almost a year after Georgie goes missing, and the kids are all leaving school. Each one is focused on for character development, a really cool and quick way for the movie to get past all the rhetoric and get to the action on what is to come. The bully, Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton), and his crew terrorize all of the “Losers Club” and just sets a tone that you may believe he is working with Pennywise to abduct kids so that he is safe from harm. There wasn’t a lot of storytelling in this film it was really straight on, get down to business. Pennywise shows up to each kid that was focused on in Derry, and presenting fears to them that could cause them to panic and freeze, enabling Pennywise to snatch them up. What he didn’t realize is that they’re stronger than that. As the stories cross together, the Losers Club all hang out and become closer enjoying some of their summer. It is finally opened up that these things are happening. Each kid giving a brief story of what they saw. Stan Uris (Wyatt Oleff) sees a creepy painting that frightens him, and the woman in it comes to life. Michael Hanlon (Chosen Jacobs), who is home schooled, sees Pennywise hanging in a meat locker. Beverly Marsh has the infamous drain incident where blood comes shooting out like – not unlike Johnny Depp’s death scene in A Nightmare on Elm Street. Eddie Kaspbrak, my favorite character, sees a leper, and Billy, of course, sees Georgie. Ben Hanscom (Jeremy Ray Taylor) also has an encounter. Richie Tozier (Finn Wolfhard) is the only one who (I think) had not seen Pennywise beforehand. Richie makes it a point to mention this as well. Is he funny and smart sassy? Very much so and way much more so than the Seth Green was in his portrayal. Richie really sets the comedic tone for the movie always cracking jokes about sex, penis size, and just generally making fun of everyone. I can relate to this guy pretty well. For example, when Ben gets cut up and beaten, Richie says something about him bleeding Hamburger Helper. HA! So this kept the lightheartedness pretty well throughout the movie even though there were dire things happening all around them.
After a few dozen jump scares and plot development, the kids come together and discover that the key to finding him is in the Well House, which we see is an abandoned and almost certainly condemned house that probably shouldn’t be standing. Eddie, Billy, and Richie man up and go inside to look around. With some fear tactics and an encounter with Pennywise, Bev comes in and stabs the clown in the head giving some wiggle room for the boys to get out of the there. I know I’m vaguely telling what’s up. But y’all don’t need too much info because this is where IT really takes off.
So, with all of that said, the movie from beginning to end was fantastic - and we actually see who and what floats and where “down here” is (which always bugged me about the miniseries). Finally, the Losers Club comes together and decides that if IT comes back, then they will return and fight it again, leaving room for a sequel of course. However, I don’t feel like it needs one. Still, ending like with a “just in case” situation was good after everything played out as it did and they got free. The ending was pretty solid and could be left standing as is. To me, this movie works a standalone film on its own accord. Not only was the direction solid, the script excellent, and the acting on point, but it was seriously a great scary movie. The way I see it is that the original was something thrown together because someone had an idea, and at the time was a good one. This film, though, had a lot of thought and time put in into it, which gave it a better quality story and made it much scarier, creating a fearfest that I believe ANY horror fan can appreciate.
Check out what some other attendees thought of IT in my video below.

EDITOR'S NOTE: As many staff members are attending IT, there will be more reviews to come. Please stand by.
-Woofer McWooferson, Editor-in-Chief
Posted by Schock in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 1 comment
EDITORIAL: In Defense of: Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000)

EDITORIAL: In Defense of: Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000)

Hello, horror fiends. In my new series “In Defense Of...”, I look at movies often loathed, you know, those fugly, redheaded, stepchildren in the genre. But are they really worth the hate? After all, a lot of now classic horror films were once looked down upon by other like-minded genre fans. Day of the Dead (1985) is a prime example. So all I ask is your time and open mind because you never know, you might just see a movie in a totally new light.
Oscar nominated director Joe Berlinger seemed like an interesting choice when it was announced he would helm the sequel to the mega hit The Blair Witch Project. Berlinger is known for award winning documentaries such as Brother's Keeper and the hugely successful Paradise Lost trilogy. He is currently directing a project about Ted Bundy (Zac Efron is slated to play Bundy).

Opening Statement or Sequels Don't Always Suck

For my first film, I want to look at the ill-fated sequel to the smash hit The Blair Witch Project (1999). Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 was looked at by many fans as a quickly slapped together film to keep the Blair Witch money train chugging along. But it's really not the cinematic turd we unfairly dismiss it as. I’m going to use the term ballsy a lot because that is exactly what the Joe Berlinger was when attempting to tackle the sequel to the huge runaway hit the first Blair Witch was. He could have taken the easy route and simply sent another batch of kids in the woods screaming and looking into the camera and sobbing etc., but he didn’t. Instead, he chose to take the template of the first film and do what a good sequel should do, which is expand the mythos and take the series in a different direction.

Studio Interference

When defending Blair Witch 2, you have to have some context. The director’s vision of Blair Witch 2 is totally different than what we see in the final product all thanks to studio interference. For example, key scenes were re-arranged along with additional violent scenes, etc. It was further confused by adding Book of Shadows to the title when, in fact, there is no book in the movie. That, my friends, was - you guessed it - the studio suits’ bright idea and not the director’s. On a side note, I’ve heard of fans making their own “director’s cut” versions using details from the shooting script and listening to the commentary. (SERIOUSLY, the commentary is amazing. You must listen to it. ), and (surprise, surprise) it's much better. Sadly, the odds of seeing an official director's cut is slim because Artisan (now Lions Gate) doesn’t really do a lot to cater to fans. Even The Blair Witch Project (1999), a film that put them on the map, didn’t get a tenth-anniversary release because I guess they figured why bother.

What Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 Got Right

After viewing last year’s stinkfest which was Blair Witch, it only reinforced the idea that Blair Witch 2, for all its flaws, at least attempted to explore interesting themes and ideas. Not only does it all but ditch the whole found footage concept, which is pretty ballsy in and of itself, it is a clever take on Luigi Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author. Each character in Book of Shadows represents an aspect of the film. Jeff is the opportunist cashing in on the film; Kim is the goth girl who was drawn into the film’s dark themes and subject matter; Tristine and her husband are the brainy skeptics; and Erica is the Wiccan who found the film to be offensive to the witch community. Again this is so much more interesting than simply another batch of kids going off into the woods... God, I hate Blair Witch (2016).
In short, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 is much more lofty than the remake/rehash we got last year. With the filmmaker's background in documentary film, he explores blurring the lines between fiction and reality and the very real danger in doing so. Also, the cliché imagery throughout is purposefully placed because the young people are so steeped in media that it’s the only way they relate to things once shit gets weird. The fact that The Blair Witch Project exists (in the sequel’s context) as a work of fiction rather than a part of its own universe is another incredibly ballsy move and helps to further echo its core theme while also giving an interesting slice of meta. Its cast is solid and the pacing moves at nearly breakneck speed. It also has a pretty good soundtrack which is now nostalgic for people of my generation.

Closing Statement or Before You Pass Judgment

I'm the first person to admit Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 is flawed largely due to studio tampering, but it doesn’t deserve the 4.0 rating on IMDb! It attempted to give the audience something a little more challenging than simply a run of the mill cash grab remake (which, AGAIN, Blair Witch (2016) totally was) by introducing interesting themes and concepts. Thankfully, I’m not alone in my respect for this film, and it seems other fans are coming out of the woods and proudly reclaiming Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2. I still hold out hope that Lions Gate will release a director’s cut to allow fans to see the film as the filmmaker intended.
Michael Vaughn is a published genre writer and has appeared in Fangoria, Scream (UK) in print as well as sites like FilmsinReview.com. He also owns the blog “Gorehound Mike's Weird Cinema”. Currently, he has a book coming out entitled The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema, which compiles over 300 reviews spanning films from all over the globe and covering multiple genres.
Posted by Mike Vaughn in EDITORIALS, MOVIE REVIEWS, PARANORMAL, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Sharkenstein (2016)

MOVIE REVIEW: Sharkenstein (2016)

Holy crap. You have GOT to see this movie.
Sharkenstein is not your average bad shark movie. This one takes bad shark movies to a whole new level. It's one of those movies that makes you wonder exactly what the hell the creators were going for. Did they know how bad it was going to be? Was the goal to make a hilariously awful film? How long did they film before they decided to chuck it all in the bin and go for broke with a bat shit level of insanity?
This is not a quality bad shark film like the Sharknado films. It’s not even a Sharktopus. This movie makes the special effects in those films look like Avatar. I’m not sure if the shark in this film is a puppet, claymation, or a combination of both. Whatever it is, it’s hilarious. Seriously, the animated sharks in Shark Tale were more convincing and terrifying.
The story is equally awful and ridiculous. It all has to do with three “kids” on vacation (Greta Volkova, James Carolus, and Titus Himmelberger). They're referred to as kids in the film, but I'm pretty sure the one dude is pushing 40. Also, there’re Nazis, a mad doctor (Jeff Kirkendall), and the brain and heart of Frankenstein’s monster.
I’m not really sure how it all ties together because I was laughing so hard that I couldn’t hear the movie. Does it even matter? At one point the brain and heart of Frankenstein’s monster are put into the shark to make it immortal.
Now, I’m no expert on transplanting human hearts and brains into sea creatures, but I’m pretty sure it’s a bit more in depth than the three and a half minutes they put into it.
The story and battle culminates on land (yes, you read that correctly) at a lighthouse filled with a shit ton of explosives that mysteriously look exactly like road flares. There’s also an angry mob, a hunky but none-too-bright harbor worker (Ken Van Sant), and something about a retired porn star who thankfully remains clothed.
The last part of the film is akin to some sort of fever dream I once had when I was all hopped up on prescription cough syrup and had a fever of 105°.
I cannot recommend this film enough. It’s not great. It’s not even good. It’s awful, but it’s exactly the kind of awful that makes it endlessly entertaining.
Fair use doctrine.
Posted by Richard Francis in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 1 comment