Friday, January 30, 2015

The Houses October Built (2014)

As another week has gone by at the institute, I am excited by the fact that today was my last day of the quarter teaching FCC principles. Now, it is up to the class to take their test and get their certifications. Now, we are onto the CB and aircraft VHF Communications Systems. Back to the blog, next up is the 2014 found footage flick The Houses October Built.

Plot/ Beneath the fake blood and cheap masks of countless haunted house attractions across the country, there are whispers of truly terrifying alternatives. Looking to find an authentic, blood-curdling good fright for Halloween, five friends set off on a road trip in an RV to track down these underground Haunts. Just when their search seems to reach a dead end, strange and disturbing things start happening and it becomes clear that the Haunt has come to them...

I was a bit hesitant when I saw this one on the shelves, as it was another found footage flick and honestly, that genre has started to turn me off. While at first glance the storyline seemed interesting, I quickly found myself trapped in the typical clichéd moments that plague this genre. Yes, there are some positives with the haunted houses, and some of the footage is creepy, but there is not a lot going for it other than that. On top of the cliché moments, the characters are flat, the performances uneven, and the pacing drags the overall potential down. In the end, this one definitely suffers from the same issues that many low budget found footage films have and it makes it just blend in with the rest of them. Unless you have nothing else to watch, stay away.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Feed the Gods (2014)

As another night ticks by, I am at least excited by the fact that I was finally able to submit my Jersey Devil short story for review for possible publication. As a writer, there is nothing worse than the wait for results. With that in my head, I decided on a crypto themed movie: 2014s Feed the Gods.

Plot/ Two brothers return to a small mountain town in search of their long lost parents only to discover that the place has a monstrous taste for tourists.

Yes, I am a sucker for any type of Cryptozoological horror flick that comes along, especially if it is not a SyFy Channel original. While this one was not one of those, it was also hard to classify as a Bigfoot movie, as squatch makes but a brief appearance. More of a straight low horror budget entry, there is not anything new in it, as it features the typical head-scratching actions in the script, uneven performances, and seriously amateur special effects. In fact, other than the last quarter of the film, there was nothing in it that kept my interest peaked. In the end, it was not a terrible low budget entry, but it is definitely not one that I would break down a door to find.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wax (2014)

I love low budget cinema and when I find one I have to catch it. This is especially true, when I see the poster, and it reminds me of something Vincent Price would have been in, it is even more intriguing. Next up for review is the 2014 horror flick Wax.

Plot/ Young journalist Mike gets an assignment to spend one whole evening in a spooky wax museum. Initially believing to be alone inside the place, Mike eventually finds himself being terrorized by the malevolent presence of sadistic cannibal surgeon Dr. Knox.

Honestly, I was not expecting much from this one, and was completely surprised with what I saw. This low budget entry was everything that made classic grindhouse/exploitation flicks so awesome except the grainy film stock. The storyline, while somewhat cliché was interesting and twisted, the performances solid, and there was a ton of nudity and gore. Even the cinematography and pacing worked really well and kept me entertained throughout. If there were a downfall, it would be the fact that it was somewhat predictable. In the end, this one was one of the better entries I have seen in some time and an entertaining and worthwhile movie to watch. If you have not seen it, give it a shot it was definitely one of the better ones from Full Moon in a long time.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Speak No Evil (2013)

Luckily, for me, the weather has not been too bad over the past few days, and in turn, I have not had to deal with a lot of craziness on the roads. Couple that with the fact that I little ahead on my college work and now I have time to focus on the blog. Next, up for review is the 2013 no-budget indie possession flick Speak No Evil.

Plot/ When all the children in a small town become possessed, one mother refuses to believe that her daughter is lost to the devil and will do whatever it takes to keep her alive.

Movies about possessed children are often hit and miss, especially when they are dealing with large groups of them, and that was the case with this one. Sure, the storyline was interesting (albeit underdeveloped) and the acting was decent, the children were creepy, but that was not enough to push this up a notch. Between the uneven pacing, lack of atmosphere, and many clichés, the overall horror experience was lacking. In the end, this movie did have some potential, but did not come close to matching it. While not for everyone, this no-budget indie flick definitely has some rough edges. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Jessabelle (2014)

Now that my weekend is over, it was back to the grindstone. Fortunately, I have a solid list of flicks that I must catch up on for the blog. Next up for review is an under the RADAR flick, Jessabelle from 2014.

Plot/ Returning to her childhood home in Louisiana to recuperate from a horrific car accident, Jessabelle comes face to face with a long-tormented spirit that has been seeking her return -- and has no intention of letting her escape.

After being disappointed by Annabelle, I was a little hesitant to jump back into a paranormal themed movie. Fortunately, I decided to look past that experience and give this one a shot. This movie, while a touch clichéd, featured some interesting aspects including a creepy atmosphere, a layered storyline with some decent twists, and some solid performances. More importantly, it kept me interested throughout while watching it with the daughters, something many PG-13 movies do not do. Sure, there is nothing new in this one, and it definitely reuses some of the southern accents that make Louisianan voodoo movies attractive. In the end, this one is entertaining and much better than I expected it to be. If you enjoy supernatural and voodoo themed horror, give it a shot! You could do a lot worse.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Frankenhooker (1990)

Now that I finally feel like me again with the sickness apparently gone and my weekly homework complete, it is time to settle down and focus on catching up on some of the films I have watched this week. One of the more entertaining and fun was one I had not seen in over a decade, the 1990 schlockfest Frankenhooker.

Plot/ A medical student sets out to recreate his decapitated fiancée by building her a new body made of Manhattan Street hookers.

If you are a fan of cheesy 1980s horror, you have definitely seen something from the mind of Frank Henenlotter (Basket Case). While none of these films will ever win an Academy Award, they will definitely live on in many circles as cult classics. This is definitely the case with Frankenhooker! Honestly, one look at the title should be enough to make anyone realize exactly what they are in for: classic low budget schlock at its finest. Yes, the effects range from laughable to bad, the acting is all over, and you must suspend the reality for a while, but that should have been expected. What you do have is an interesting and imaginative storyline mixed with a great balance of comedy and gore, something that many more refined (or popular) horror comedies lack. In the end, this movie is an entertaining romp through B-movie horror. If you love this type of film and have not seen it, check it out! For fans of schlock cinema, give it a shot!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Gingerclown (2013)

I cannot believe that it has been almost a week and I am still fighting off the last parts of this stomach bug. I have no idea what it was, but damn, it has been knocking me out. During this time though I have had a chance to catch a few flicks, one of them is the 2013 cheesefest Gingerclown.

Plot/ To impress the girl of his dreams, Sam enters an old amusement park, where torturous monsters roam the grounds.

Growing up in the 1980s, I have seen my share of big-boxed horror cheese, and honestly, this one fits right it with those. With that being the case, if you do not love that era of straight to VHS schlockfests, this movie will definitely not be for you. Gingerclown is in no way a perfect movie, in fact, it is likely one of the cheesiest, and cliché riddled flicks to come out in some time. Couple that with bad animatronic effects (classic 1980s cheese) that make SyFy Channel CGI look impressive, and it is easy to see where we are headed. Yes, it does have some decent actors doing voice work for the animatronics (Tim Curry and Lance Henriksen) and it does create the feel that it was made in the 1980s, but those are about the best parts. In the end, this movie is bad, but it embraced that realization by trying to recreate one of the best eras of low budget horror. Definitely not for everyone, but if like me you want taken back to your youth and love 1980s schlock (minus the boobs), suspend all reality for a while and give it a shot…

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Annabelle (2014)

Ok, as I continue to battle though this stomach ailment, I have been able to watch a couple flicks in between naps. I am just glad I am feeling somewhat better, although work did beat me down earlier today. Oh well, keep battling and it will pass, hmmm. Next up for review was one of the bigger hyped movies of 2014, Annabelle.

Plot/ A couple begins to experience terrifying supernatural occurrences involving a vintage doll shortly after their home is invaded by satanic cultists.

Having enjoyed The Conjuring, I thought I knew what I was getting into with Annabelle. Unfortunately, I was wrong, as everything I loved about The Conjuring was missing in this one. Yes, the story is loosely based on a true story, but that did not cause the overuse of cliché and lack of originality. Honestly, there were no scares; the characters were flat and unbelievable, and it was slow. Even my 10-year old thought it was “boring.” Yes, some of the performances were decent and the subject matter interesting, but that did little to rescue it from the vast amount of clichés that permeated throughout. In the end, this may not be the worst of its genre, but it is far from the top of the list. If you are a fan of The Conjuring or a horror fan in general, stay away… There are many better choices out there.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Devil's Hand (2014)

I am glad that I am feeling better. Yesterday, some type of stomach thing popped up and knocked me down. While I am not totally back to my normal self, I am at least able to function again. Hopefully, I am at the tail end of it. Next up for review is the 2014 flick The Devil’s Hand.

Plot/ When young girls start to go missing within a religious cult, older followers fear a long-told prophecy while the younger members suspect abusive elders are killing them off.

The Devil's Hand was a low budget entry that takes place within a world that many do not totally understand, which will lead to some uneven reviews. For me, this was an interesting movie that dove into the superstitious aspects of society that were prevalent in our infancy. Yes, this was based in a modern time, but those fears still exist in some places. While this one was not perfect, it does have some solid performances, an interesting premise, and a decent ending. Yes, the pacing was slow, and there was a disconnect with the type of movie being made. More of a Mystery/Thriller than Horror flick, this one goes back and forth and seems to lose its way. In the end, this was not a bad movie, but it was not great either. Sure, it was better than I expected with some entertaining moments, but it may not be for everyone.  

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Houdini (2014)

After spending the night deep in the Mesopotamian and Egyptian myths and legends of creation, I needed some down time. To help ease my mind, I decided to venture into miniseries mode, by watching the History Channel biopic Houdini.  

Plot/ Follow the man behind the magic as he finds fame, engages in espionage, battles spiritualists and encounters the greatest names of the era, from U.S. presidents to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Grigori Rasputin.

Biopic miniseries are always tough. On one hand, they must have an entertainment value that keep fans interested; on the other hand, they often accomplish this by embellishing on reality. That was definitely the case with this one, as it is takes a modern approach to a man that has always fascinated society. Harry Houdini was and is larger than life, but this series embellished his legend more than any other attempt at telling his story. Yes, the performances (especially Adrien Brody) were outstanding, the effects were solid, and the overall feel is entertaining. Unfortunately, this miniseries did not capture the true sadness that permeated through Houdini and his life, and did a disservice to the true story of greatness. In the end, this one would be a great flick to introduce Houdini into ones life, and create a fascination for one to do further research into the legend. It is worth watching for entertainment purposes, but not for a true biographical picture.

Housebound (2014)

Last night, I spent the evening dissecting the movie Horns for a project in my Historical Archetypes and Mythology class. While I love the movie, it definitely was a lot harder than I first imagined pulling that assignment together. To catch up on reviews, the next flick up is the 2014 horror/comedy Housebound. 

Plot/ Kylie Bucknell is forced to return to the house she grew up in when the court places her on home detention. Soon, she wonders if this is her overactive imagination, or if the house is in fact possessed by a hostile spirit who is less than happy about the new living arrangement.

This movie was a weird combination of ghost story, murder mystery, and dark comedy; a flick that was a little slower than I expected. In fact, that may be one of the only downfalls, as the twists that were written in almost overshadowed the comedic events and made the film drag more than I anticipated. The storyline is interesting, the performances solid, and the character actually develop rather well within the confines of this horror/comedy mixture. Unfortunately, it is a quite unbelievable story, and that never allows any one-direction take hold. In the end, this one is a solid flick that is balanced and entertaining with enough comedy/horror to keep fans entertained. Is it perfect? No, but it is one of the better movies of its kind and one that should be seen.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Frozen (2012)

Every once in a while, I want to find something to watch with the daughters and look for something with a lower rating. Speaking of daughters, it is hard to believe that my oldest Genesis turned 17 today. She is an incredible and talented girl and the sky is truly the limit with her. Next up for review during this wintery season is the 2012 flick, The Frozen.

Plot/ After a harrowing snowmobile accident, a young couple is stranded in the woods and must survive while waiting for help to arrive. Events take a turn for the worse after the disappearance of Emma's boyfriend, leaving her on her own not only to battle the elements, but also to elude a mysterious hunter who is tracking her through the forest.

There are times when movies rely on the simplex of mean and provided just enough to keep you watching. In this stripped down ultra low budget flick, the storyline may be simple, but the acting and ideas are solid, and the decision to use the natural soundscape really works to build tension. Yes, it is somewhat predictable, the pacing is a touch slow, and there is really no action, but some of that is expected on a small budget. In the end, this one may not be groundbreaking, but it does feature some entertaining moments and a touch of realism. If you like slower nature based movies, give it a shot.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Earthling (2010)

I am all for some strange Sci-Fi or Horror. Personally, there is nothing better than a trip into the surreal abyss of confusion. To me, I love it when I have to pay attention and think throughout a movie. One movie that made me think is next up for review, the 2010 Sci-Fi flick Earthling.

Plot/ After a mysterious atmospheric event, small groups of people wake up to realize that their entire lives have been a lie. They are in fact aliens disguised as humans. Now they have to make a choice. Live amongst men, or try to find a way back home

In many ways, this is a difficult movie to review. As a low budget flick, there are aspects that really work, especially the opening sequences that did a great job at capturing the viewers’ attention. Unfortunately, there are also some issues that hurt the overall feel. Earthling features some outstanding performances and has an amazing soundtrack, but it also has an irregular storyline that can lead one into confusion. Personally, I loved the disjointed feel and was quite entertained by the originality. However, I am also a huge fan of David Lynch and love surrealistic and strange journeys into the nether. In the end, this low budget entry is definitely not for everyone and will leave many lost and confused. If, like me, you enjoy that, give this one a shot. If you do not enjoy confusion, stay away.