Cabin Fever

HAUNT: A REVIEW

HAUNT: A REVIEW

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Such should have been the case with this movie, the brainchild of writers/directors Bryan Woods and Scott Beck, who hit a major home run co-writing the script for the first installment of A QUIET PLACE, with that film’s director and star, former ‘THE OFFICE’ ensemble member, John Krasinski.  But for a film that really wowed fans with its unique presentation of a tried-and-true premise within the sub-genre of monster movies, HAUNT won’t provide much of the same potential the duo displayed before, to bring something fresh to the table.

The plot is pretty straightforward as these kinds of movies go. A group of friends, including Nathan (WILL BRITTAIN) and Harper (KATIE STEVENS), are “steered” towards a remote extreme haunt, while out looking for some Halloween night hijinks. Impressed by the eerily silent clown that eventually gives them entrance, after they sign their lives away (literally) and give up their cell phones and the car keys, the night begins to take that deadly turn we all expect it will, as the group begins to suspect that the murder set-pieces they witness throughout the haunt are not faked instances of “smoke-and-mirrors”. Fears most definitely confirmed as they start getting picked off one-by-one.

Highly original? Not even close, especially if you’ve already grown used to this scenario, courtesy of past films like the Tobe Hooper classic, THE FUNHOUSE, or the now-highly controversial creepfest, CLOWNHOUSE. More recently, the franchises for HELL HOUSE LLC and THE HOUSES THAT OCTOBER BUILT are fresher examples.

The qualities that set HAUNT apart from other entries in the haunted-attraction-gone-very-wrong genre are three things: a couple of setups that are clever, (but not really the kind of thing you haven’t seen before and done better in similar films); a little bit of a ramping-up on the gore, and the truly frightening revelation of the killers’ identities behind the funhouse costumes, as dyed-in-the-wool psychopaths. No long expositions or background stories needed here, kids: these killer clowns are who they are, and do what they do, because they love it. Which is always more viscerally arresting and unsettling than that usual “Daddy Didn’t Love Me/Mommy Loved Me Way Too Much” trope.

It also makes certain reveals a lot more effective as shock scenes, but that’s about as far as I want to go in the way of spoilers. The acting by the entire cast overall isn’t anything to make you sit up and take notice, though the guys playing the haunt workers are pretty solid.  Genre fans may or may not recognize him as the guy in the “Devil” mask here, but DAMIEN MAFFEI is the only “name” in the cast, having appeared as one of the titular killers in THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT sequel.  The special visual and makeup effects teams are the real stars here, and one particularly gross bit is a callback to a recent scene in the “Bad Superboy” shocker BRIGHTBURN.

I wish I could point out more remarkable aspects to recommend, but it’s basically not-too-tame yet not-really-horrifying fare. The standard stock characters are here to get killed off, and you do feel empathy for them…well, sort of. The climax, as they usually do, hints that room might be found for a sequel, but it would really have to raise the stakes and the production values to warrant that. (I hope.)

I really can’t give HAUNT much more than two-and-a-half out of five stars.

Posted by Samuel Glass in HALLOWEEN, MOVIE REVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, THRILLER, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: The Green Inferno (2013)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Green Inferno (2013)

If the animal torture sequences in Cannibal Ferox were an absolute deal-breaker for you, fear not, fauna-sensitive horror fan. We’re now venturing into Eli Roth-land, where the animals get a break, and the people are the ones who get turned into ‘ground round.’ And if you’re more than a bit familiar with films in his canon like the Hostel and Cabin Fever sequels, then you probably already know what to expect from his ‘upgraded’ Italian cannibal horror homage, The Green Inferno.

Young, pretty and more than a bit well-off, college student Justine (Lorenza Izzo) sees a demonstration taking place one day on the grounds of the commons and decides that she wants to get involved. Especially when she sees the charismatic, hot-as-sriracha group leader Alejandro (Ariel Levy).

The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.

Having lunch with her dad, Charles (The Sentinel’s Richard Burgi), who as it happens is also an ambassador at the U.N., she mentions her desire to “make a difference”. Knowing how the world actually works, he lets her know that he admires her good intentions but warns (with foreshadowing as subtle as a jackhammer) that there are other, better and saner ways to do what she can to support a cause.

The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.

But as the “cause” goes, so goes Alejandro, and Justine isn’t about to be swayed, even when she is initially rejected by him and the group, for saying exactly the wrong thing. Even her BFF, Kaycee (Sky Ferreira), smells something wrong with the whole deal, and not just because she knows that her buddy has it bad for Alejandro. Like the good best friend she is, she supports Justine, but she sure as hell isn’t going with her (smart girl!)

The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.

You have to hand it to Justine: even when it’s revealed to the group what their real agenda is as far as protesting goes, she doesn’t back down. They’re going to chain themselves to the equipment being used by an unscrupulous company, to tear out a huge part of the Amazonian rainforest, displacing and even killing the members of a rarely-seen indigenous tribe that lives there. Against the armed mercenaries employed by that company to “protect its interests”, the “ecological Scooby Gang” has only one defense: their cell phones. They plan to live-stream the protest simultaneously to news feeds all over the planet, in case the thugs are thinking about going Rambo on them. So public exposure is their only weapon. Yep, sounds like a plan, right?

If you think that this is a recipe for utter disaster, wait until you hear about the other ingredients that are going into this potential shit stew.

The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.

Alejandro flies the group down to the location, they implement the plan, and things go perfectly…well, almost. When Justine screws up the chaining-herself-to-a-bulldozer-part and almost gets herself killed, Alejandro warns them away with the one thing he knows they know not to fuck with: he tells them that she’s the daughter of a U.N. ambassador. Case closed, everyone stands down.

The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.

Only later, does Justine realize that she’s been set up. Getting her involved was Alejandro’s devious plan all along. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the entire group finds out that they’re all pawns in a sick game of greed and “one-upmanship” that never had anything to do with saving rainforests or Indio tribes in the first place.

The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.

Ah, but you know what they say about spilled milk…and plane crashes. Because a crash is exactly what happens to the prop plane that’s supposed to be winging them back to civilization after “mission accomplished.” You can tell that director Roth was taking notes, whenever he was watching films like Survive!, or the initial episode of LOST. Because the staged crash is one of the most realistic, nauseating and terrifying I’ve seen commended to film. So anyone who might be triggered by something of that nature, consider yourself well-warned.

The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.

One of the few survivors of the crash, when Justine comes to, she finds that if she thought things couldn’t get any worse for her or her ‘friends’, surprise! That tribe that Alejandro went on and on about “saving”? They now have her and all those who made it through the disaster in their canoes, paddling down the Amazon River to their remote, very well-secluded village. You ever see Cannibal Holocaust or Cannibal Ferox? Well, then, horror honeys, you know exactly where this is going. Everyone’s headed for a lunch break…and we know who’s on the menu.

The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.

And this is where Roth’s penchant for brutally mean-spirited jollies comes in with gusto. Well, it’s only partly his responsibility. When you remember seeing the names of master effects gods Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger in the credits, you know for damn sure there’s going to be some gnarly shit ahead. And that’s an understatement, to say the least.

The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.

The remainder of The Green Inferno is nothing less than watching Justine and her captive friends go stark-raving insane, while either waiting to become native cuisine, watching their friends being butchered and “prepared” for consumption, or their mostly failed efforts trying to escape that horrific fate. And the most revolting and simultaneously fascinating thing about seeing people turned into ‘people food?’ It’s the almost lackadaisical way in which they go about the killing and the “kitchen prep work.” These people think of slaughtering and eating folks the same way that we think of doing it to animal livestock. Now we get a glimpse of how they must feel!

The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.

And don’t worry: the gallows humor that Roth is known for injecting into his scripts is most definitely present, all through the dialogue, and in several scenes, especially two funny and nauseating parts: one involving the duplicitous Alejandro, dealing with the maddening stress of the situation the only way he knows how; the other with one of the few likable characters, Lars (Robert Rodriguez favorite Daryl Sabara).

The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.

First of all, if more than a few of the actors here look familiar to you, they should. While Roth was prepping for this movie, he found time to make another, the terrific disaster/horror film Aftershock, in which many of The Green Inferno’s cast members appeared, including Roth himself, and it was directed by Nicolas Lopez, (who co-produced The Green Inferno, from the script Roth wrote with Guillermo Amoedeo).

Where the films of Ruggero Deodato and Umberto Lenziexpressed the very “hippy-dippy Seventies” ethos that evil and cruelty are contagious, and that “civilized” man is far more capable of acting out on their most inhumane instincts than any natives ever were, Roth’s darkly nihilistic bent pretty much says ‘get the fuck outta here with all that crap.’ The Green Inferno makes it crystal clear that this point is where it and the films that inspired it part company.

The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.

The unapologetic savagery of man devouring man, both literally and figuratively is inherent on both sides, and the consequences that come due because of that savagery are also richly rewarded all round.

The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.

Gone also are the layers of sleaze and grime that seemed to permeate the Italian cannibal movies. Antonio Quercia’sphotography is razor sharp, and unlike its predecessors, for the most part, there’s no attempt to “cheat” certain angles, pull away from the carnage or allow most of it to happen off-screen. The camera casts an almost casual eye upon the horrors, allowing the audience to see and experience exactly what they would, if they, too, were trapped in a waterlogged, mud-bound bamboo cage, witnessing their friends being butchered and cooked, awaiting their turn.

The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.

Performance-wise, Izzo, Levy, and Nicolas Martinez, who plays Daniel, hail from the Aftershock cast as well, and all give performances as strong as the ones they did in that flick. Though most of the characters here are barely developed enough to even register with viewers, let alone get them to care at all about them, one of the bigger standouts, (sorry, it was there) is Aaron Burns, who plays Jonah. He’s one of the ones who goes through what you might think is unimaginable…until you see this movie, of course.

The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.

And the others are Ramon Llao, unforgettable in Aftershock as ‘Ramon’ and equally terrifying here, credited as “The Bald Headhunter,” and Antonieta Pari in the darkly androgynous role of “The Village Elder.” You want the real Faces Of Death? Here ya go, sunshine. Together or separately, they represent oblivion, ruthless and implacable, and for not being dream-delving child killers, machete-wielding undead murderers in hockey or altered William Shatner masks, or seemingly innocent dollies come to arcane, murderous life, these two characters should haunt your dreams for a very long while to come, thanks to their authentic, enthusiastic performances.

For taut direction that keeps things moving and for those stunning KNB-based effects, I give The Green Inferno three-out-of-five gut-munching stars.

The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.

Posted by Samuel Glass in GORE OR EXTREME HORROR, HORROR HEROES, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 0 comments
History of Horror in December

History of Horror in December


By Woofer McWooferson

Join House of Tortured Souls as we celebrate significant dates in the history of horror in December. Click on thumbnails for full images.

December 1 - 7


12/01/1944 – House of Frankenstein (1944) released theatrically

House of Frankenstein / Fair use doctrine.



Howling II / Fair use doctrine.


12/01/1985 – Howling II: Stirba – Werewolf Bitch released theatrically



12/02/1924 – John Herbert “Jonathan” Frid (Barnabas Collins in Dark Shadows) born

John Herbert “Jonathan” Frid / Fair use doctrine.



London After Midnight / Fair use doctrine.

12/03/1927 – London After Midnight released theatrically



12/04/1954 – Tony Todd (actor in Night of the Living Dead (1990), Candyman, and Final Destination) born

Tony Todd / Fair use doctrine.



Cat People / Fair use doctrine.

12/06/1942 – Cat People (1942) released theatrically



12/07/1945 – House of Dracula released theatrically

House of Dracula / Fair use doctrine.

December 8 - 14


Blade: Trinity / Fair use doctrine.

12/08/2004 – Blade: Trinity released theatrically



12/10/1992 – Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse released on the Nintendo Entertainment System in Europe

Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse / Fair use doctrine.



Paul Wegener / Fair use doctrine.

12/11/1874 – Paul Wegener (director of The Golem: How He Came Into the World) born (d. 1913)



12/12/1941 – The Wolf Man (1941) released theatrically

The Wolf Man / Fair use doctrine.



Phantom of the Opera / Fair use doctrine.

12/12/1943 – Phantom of the Opera (1943) released theatrically



12/12/1997 – Scream 2 released theatrically

Scream 2 / Fair use doctrine.



Wendie Malick / Image: MingleMediaTVNetwork

12/13/1950 – Wendie Malick (actress in the Tales from the Crypt episode “In the Groove”) born



12/14/1955 – Tarantula released theatrically

Tarantula / Public Domain.



Ted Raimi / Image: GabboT

12/14/1965 – Ted Raimi (actor in numerous horror films) born



12/14/2002 – Cabin Fever released theatrically

Cabin Fever / Fair use doctrine.



King Kong / Fair use doctrine.

12/14/2005 – King Kong (2005) released theatrically

December 15 - 20


12/15/1974 – Young Frankenstein released theatrically

Young Frankenstein / Fair use doctrine.



Ghost Story / Fair use doctrine.

12/15/1981 – Ghost Story released theatrically



12/16/1970 – Night Gallery premieres on television

Night Gallery / Fair use doctrine.



The Keep / Fair use doctrine.

12/16/1983 – The Keep released theatrically



12/16/1976 – King Kong (1976) released theatrically

King Kong / Fair use doctrine.



Nancy Kyes / Fair use doctrine.

12/19/1949 – Nancy Kyes (usually credited as Nancy Loomis, actress in Halloween and The Fog) born



12/19/1956 – The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1956) released theatrically

The Hunchback of Notre Dame / Fair use doctrine.



Little Shop of Horrors / Fair use doctrine.

12/19/1986 – Little Shop of Horrors released theatrically



12/20/1996 – Scream released theatrically

Scream / Fair use doctrine.



Maila Nurmi (aka Vampira) / Fair use doctrine.

December 21 – 27


12/21/1921 – Maila Nurmi (aka Vampira) born



12/21/1966 – Kiefer Sutherland (actor in The Lost Boys and Flatliners) born

Kiefer Sutherland / Image: Gage Skidmore


Freddie Francis / Fair use doctrine.

12/22/1917 – Freddie Francis (director and cinematographer of many horror films) born

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12/22/1932 – The Mummy (1932) released theatrically

The Mummy / Fair use doctrine.



Son of Kong / Fair use doctrine.

12/22/1933 – Son of Kong released theatrically



12/22/1944 – The Mummy’s Curse released theatrically

The Mummy's Curse / Fair use doctrine.



Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse / Fair use doctrine.

12/22/1989 – Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse released on the Nintendo Entertainment System in Japan



12/23/1971 – Corey Haim (actor in Silver Bullet and The Lost Boys) born (d. 2010)

Corey Haim / Image: Bree from Worcester, MA



Diedrich Bader / Image: Gage Skidmore

12/24/1966 – Diedrich Bader (actor in Dead & Breakfast) born



12/25/1946 – The Beast with Five Fingers released theatrically

The Beast with Five Fingers / Fair use doctrine.



The Innocents / Fair use doctrine.

12/25/1961 – The Innocents released theatrically in France



12/25/1997 – An American Werewolf in Paris released theatrically

An American Werewolf in Paris / Fair use doctrine.



The Faculty / Fair use doctrine.

12/25/1998 – The Faculty released theatrically



12/25/1999 – Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness released on the Nintendo 64 in Japan

Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness / Fair use doctrine.



Wolf Creek / Fair use doctrine.

12/25/2005 – Wolf Creek released theatrically



12/26/1973 – The Exorcist released theatrically

The Exorcist / Fair use doctrine.



The Invisible Woman / Fair use doctrine.

12/27/1940 – The Invisible Woman released theatrically



12/28/1888 – F.W. Murnau (director of Nosferatu) born (d. 1931)

Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau / Public Domain.

December 29 - 31


Ghost in the Machine / Fair use doctrine.

12/29/1993 – Ghost in the Machine released theatrically



12/30/1942 – Fred Ward (actor in Tremors and Tremors 2: Aftershocks) born

Fred Ward / Fair use doctrine.



Eliza Dushku / Image: Alex Archambault from Dallas, TX

12/30/1980 – Eliza Dushku (actress in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Soul Survivors, Wrong Turn, and Open Graves) born



12/31/1931 – Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) released theatrically

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde / Fair use doctrine.



Sean Cunningham / Image: GabboT

12/31/1941 – Sean S. Cunningham (creator of the Friday the 13th series of films) born



12/31/1957 – The Strange World of Planet X released theatrically

The Strange World of Planet X / Fair use doctrine.



Zombie Revenge / Fair use doctrine.

12/31/1999 – Zombie Revenge released on Dreamcast and arcade

Posted by Alan Smithee in HORROR HISTORY, 0 comments
SPOTLIGHT: Eli Roth – The Busiest Man in Hollywood

SPOTLIGHT: Eli Roth – The Busiest Man in Hollywood

By Tammie Parker

Do you remember when Eli Roth appeared as The Stoner in his own movie Cabin Fever? OH? You didn't realize that was him? Yeah, insane, huh? And to go from this scrawny, Shaggy looking fellow in this bonfire scene from Cabin Fever...

...to this muscular giant with the appropriate title the Bear Jew in Inglorious Basterds...

...is quite the transformation!

Eli has his hands in so much at the moment, I don't know how he has time to sneeze!

Last year alone he produced:

  • Knock Knock
  • The Man with the Iron Fists 2
  • This Forgotten Day in Fright
  • Chainsaw
  • 33 episodes of Hemlock Grove
  • 15 episodes of #15SecondScare
  • 11 episodes of 1 Minute Horror
  • 8 episodes of South of Hell
  • 15 episodes of Real Scares

In addition, The Green Inferno was also (finally!) released.

Already this year he remade one of his first movies Cabin Fever, and just last month the USA was gifted with Clown.

Currently Eli is working on a big film with none other than Jim Carrey. This movie, Aleister Arcane, is based on the horror novel written by Steve Niles (which comic book geeks and horror fans alike know his work!). The story has an interesting twist, Aleister Green (a retired newsman) returns to his home town and hosts a TV horror show titled Aleister Arcane. The township doesn't like it, and puts an end to the show. Aleister soon passes after the end of his show. But he's not finished with this town.

Just recently Eli took a break from filming to play with sharks during Shark Week:

I fell in love with Eli Roth's mind when I watched Hostel and Hostel II.

Eli Roth - HostelEli Roth - Hostel

Eli Roth - Hostel 2I caught interest in Hostelwhen I saw his name and remembered him from Cabin Fever. I thought to myself "OH, this well be interesting!" Boy, was I in for a shock. Aside from pushing the limit with the level and intensity of the gore, the story itself was frighteningly plausible. It freaked me the frack out! I started thinking how possible this could be. I honestly enjoyed Hostel II even more than the first. GIRL POWER!

Eli Roth - Gorgeous
On top of everything else, he certainly is easy on the eyes!

Thanks, Eli Roth! We can’t wait for your next film.

Posted by Alan Smithee in HORROR HEROES, IN THE SPOTLIGHT, 1 comment