Sunday, December 9, 2018

24 Days of HorrorXmas- Secret Santa (2015)

I will be posting Christmas themed horror films over the next 24 days, for the ninth night I am listing the 2015 slasher movie Secret Santa.

Secret Santa (2015)
Dir- Mike McMurran

A popular trend in horror movies is to mimic the look and style of 80's slasher films to try and capture the spirit of what made that era so popular with filmgoers. Secret Santa is a low budget indie horror about a group of college students who are partying after fall exams only to find that someone is leaving them gifts from a Secret Santa that will reveal the cause of their death. The killer, of course, is inside the house and takes out the drunk and horny students one at a time. The positives of this movie are the creative way that Director Mike McMurran has made the film look like an aged VHS video complete with tracking issues and screen glitches. This creative editing style does help the movie get past its obvious low budget and cast of unknown actors. The gore effects are pretty decent with some creative kills and enough blood to satisfy gorehounds. The negatives are the derivative plot and generic cast of actors who pretty much cover the usual collection of victims. Secret Santa has enough bloody kills to make film worthwhile, and as an homage to 80's slasher films, it indeed is better than other movies I would have picked at the mom and pop video store.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

24 Days of HorrorXmas- Red Christmas (2016)

I will be posting Christmas themed horror films over the next 24 days, for the eighth night I am listing the 2016 slasher Red Christmas.

Red Christmas (2016)
Dir- Craig Anderson

A hooded figure named Cletus pays a deadly visit to a dysfunctional family celebrating Christmas holiday in a remote Australian country home. This horror movie opens with an attack on an abortion clinic that seems out of place in the movie yet this scene will set in motion the events that are shown 20 years later. The film is quite gory with some bloody deaths but not too scary compared to other slasher movies. The film's star is horror movie scream queen Dee Wallace who plays the mother of a family who has to face off with the killer and confront some unexpected ties. Red Christmas does not stand out compared to other holiday themes slasher films and viewers may be put off by what seems a mixed message involving pro-life issues and the violence of slasher movies 

Friday, December 7, 2018

24 Days of HorrorXmas- Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972)

I will be posting Christmas themed horror films over the next 24 days, for the seventh night, I am listing the 1972 horror thriller Silent Night, Bloody Night.

Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972)
Dir- Theodore Gershuny

After the tragic death of his grandfather 20 years prior, a young man wishes to sell the mansion and estate that he inherited, yet the attorney sent to handle the matter is murdered in the house. Not knowing this event has occurred the young man returns on Christmas Eve and meets with the local town officials who wish to purchase the estate for development yet secrets come out about his grandfather, deceased mother and other skeletons that the town's leaders don't wish to share. These secrets come out as each of the town's leaders fall victim to a killer calling himself "Marianne." Silent Night, Bloody Night has a look and feel of a TV movie borrowing some plot points from Edgar Allan Poe's story "The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether." The movie was originally titled Night of the Dark Full Moon and even Death House in later releases but has been shown under the Silent Night name as the film is now in the public domain. The film does predate most slasher movies and can be seen as an influence on Black Christmas and When A Stranger Calls.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

24 Days of HorrorXmas- Christmas Evil (1980)

I will be posting Christmas themed horror films over the next 24 days, for the sixth night I am listing the 1980 horror film Christmas Evil.

Christmas Evil (1980)
Dir- Lewis Jackson

This obscure horror film follows an emotionally unstable man who decides to dress up as Santa and keeps a list of the good and naughty kids in his neighborhood. After he sees the misplaced generosity of his employer, he steals toys and gives them away to children in the hospital, but a murderous streak counters his jolly spirit as he kills a number people who he deems naughty. Christmas Evil is not the usual holiday slasher but is instead a more profound film that shows the antagonist as a man who is troubled by a society that he views as being oblivious to the meaning of Christmas and the lack of concern for sick children and those who have been tossed aside. As a result, we have a villain who is somewhat sympathetic in his desire to entertain and reward children despite the horrible murders he commits. The film is known to be a favorite of John Waters and predated the more vicious Santa dressed killer in Silent Night, Deadly Night.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

24 Days of HorrorXmas- Home For the Holidays (1972)

I will be posting Christmas themed horror films over the next 24 days, for the fifth night I am listing 1972 made for television horror thriller Home For the Holidays.

Home For the Holidays (1972)
Dir- John Llewellyn Moxey

A television movie produced by Aaron Spelling and starring Sally Field, Eleanor Parker, Julie Harris, Jessica Walter, and Walter Brennan focuses on an older wealthy man who invites his four adult daughters to his home for Christmas and reveals to them that he fears he is being poisoned by his wife who is their stepmother. It is revealed that she had been accused of killing her first husband and the sisters are suspicious when a storm traps them all in the remote farmhouse with someone killing the daughters one at a time. This television movie plays out like a dark soap opera with elements of Agatha Christie yet the stellar cast and direction will keep you guessing as plenty of clues are shown that may be red herrings. The standouts among the cast include Sally Fields and Jessica Walter as well Julie Harris who plays the suspicious stepmother to the sisters. An otherwise forgetful movie from the 1970s that gets more attention as being one of the early horror movies that take place on Christmas. 

24 Days of HorrorXmas- Rare Exports (2015)

I will be posting Christmas themed horror films over the next 24 days, for the fourth night I am listing the 2015 Finnish fantasy horror thriller Rare Exports.

Rare Exports (2015)
Dir- Jalmari Helander

This fantasy thriller directed by Jalmari Helander centers on a small community in Finland that encounters some truly bizarre circumstances when an international mining company digs into a local mountain and finds something unexpected. A pair of local boys sneak into the mining camp and learn that the company is looking for remains of Santa Claus. The boys leave for home as Pietari looks into the legends of Santa Claus and is shocked to discover that the target of the mining company may not be as jolly and friendly as they think. To make matters worse the local herds of reindeer that provide for the community are found slaughtered by something that may have escaped from the dig site. Rare Exports started out as a short film and was expanded to a full-length movie by Jalmari Helander and Juuso Helander after the short became popular on the internet. The film is told in a blend of dark fantasy and deadpan comedy, including some of the mythology of Santa Claus in a movie that shows the extreme life faced by the men in this community and how something out of the ordinary has shaken things up. The absolute bonkers outcome is exciting and filled with the kind of action that will keep the audience entertained enough to not question how absurd the plot is. Ultimately the film is about a father and son having to save the community and bond together as the events threaten to destroy the community and maybe more if is not contained. The movie was well received by critics and has gained a following that has pushed the film into cult classic status.

Monday, December 3, 2018

24 Days of HorrorXmas- All Through the House (2015)

I will be posting Christmas themed horror films over the next 24 days, for the 3rd night, I am listing the 2015 slasher movie All Through the House.

All Through the House (2015)
Dir- Todd Nunes

College student Rachel Kimmel comes home for Christmas break and offers to help a reclusive older neighbor Mrs. Garrett with her decorations. She then recalls the young girl who lived there that she tried to befriend until she disappeared one night. As she decorates the home with the help of some friends the neighborhood is terrorized by a lunatic dressed as Santa who kills Rachel's neighbors and friends yet her greater fear may be what she finds inside Mrs. Garrett's home. All Through the House is an independent Christmas themed slasher starring Ashley Mary Nunes and directed by Todd Nunes. While the film follows the usual trope of horror slashers what helps it stand out is the use of practical gore effects that will make this film a treat for fans of 80s style slasher films. The cast is decent given the low budget, but special praise goes to the design of the evil Santa costume and the vast amount of Christmas lights used in the film to help make the movie look festive despite being filmed in California. Even with a plot that borrows from such classic horror movies like The Burning, Sleepaway Camp and Friday, the 13th, All Through the House is a notable effort and should be watched as an homage to the excellent holiday slasher films of the '80s. 

Sunday, December 2, 2018

24 Days of HorrorXmas- P2 (2007)

I will be posting Christmas themed horror films over the next 24 days, for the second night I am listing the 2007 horror thriller P2.

P2 (2007)
Dir- Franck Khalfoun

A young lady finding herself stranded in an office parking garage during a Christmas holiday weekend becomes the target of an obsessed security guard who kidnaps her and holds her hostage. A cat and mouse game ensues as the young lady escapes only to find that she is trapped inside the garage with no way out and no one to seek out help from while she is being stalked with no relief in sight. Alexandre Aja produced this film and compared it to his movie High Tension. The movie is a game of survival that takes place in a setting that is not one often seen used in thrillers. Rachel Nichols plays Angela with believability and shows her will to survive and fight back against an attacker who has all the advantages. Despite looking like a slasher film, P2 is a tightly paced thriller featuring a genuinely realistic villain and a situation that would bring anyone true fear.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

24 Days of HorrorXmas- Black Christmas (2006)

I will be posting Christmas themed horror films over the next 24 days, for the first night I am listing the 2006 remake of the classic slasher film Black Christmas. 

Black Christmas (2006)
Dir- Glen Morgan

A partial remake of the 1974 slasher classic, Black Christmas follows a group of sorority girls who are stalked by a killer who is hiding in the attic of their house after escaping from a mental institution. The young women are planning on going home for Christmas holiday but are caught in a winter storm, and tensions rise after sordid secrets are revealed. The arrival of a family member looking for her missing sister set in motion a bloody night of terror as the killer known as Billy makes his presence known. In an attempt to differentiate from the first film director Glen Morgan uses flashbacks to give the killer more backstory and show the motivation for his evil deeds. The cast is made up of familiar faces including Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Lacey Chabert, Oliver Hudson and Andrea Martin who appeared in the original film. The film is nowhere near the classic that the first film is as the scores of horror films that copied the original have pretty much dried up the creativity well. The one aspect that Black Christmas does excel at is the casting of attractive actresses who despite their stereotypical roles seem more genuine with their use of bad language, alcohol use, and family issues.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Five Families to Avoid Having Dinner With

The Von Geisler Family

Frontier(s) (2007)

Von Geisler is the family patriarch and Nazi member who owns a family Inn and farm near the French border. His daughters seduce some young men who are fleeing a bank robbery and they are soon held captive along with a female friend who is sought as a possible spouse for his son Karl. When she is deemed unsuitable they learn of the families other dark secrets when they are introduced to the meek young girl Eva who looks after the rejected members of the family.

The Parker Family

We Are What We Are (2013)

A small traditional family that owns a large tract of land that has been passed down through the previous generations, the Parkers are respected by the local community who give them their privacy. Yet one of the most cherished family traditions is kept a tight secret and it is in the hands of the daughters Iris and Rose to decide if they will carry on the duties of preparing the special feast after the unexpected death of their mother.  

The Odets Family

Wrong Turn 2 (2007)

The Odets Family is a clan of inbred cannibal mutants who live in the remote mountains of West Virginia. The family ancestors worked in the paper mill until it was closed after years of dumping chemicals in the water supply. The local animal population was wiped out so the family turned to kidnap and murdering travelers to cut up for meals. The Odets suffer from severe birth defects but also possess a strong resistance to pain and can survive attacks that would kill most others. 

The Jupiter Clan

The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

The Jupiter Clan are a family made up of a father, his three sons and a daughter who prey on travelers who get stuck in the desert. The family of mutants was descended from miners who were caught in the proximity of nuclear bomb tests with the radiation scarring them and leaving them to turn to cannibalism to survive. 

The Sawyer Family 

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

The Sawyer family is a collection of cannibals who live in an old house in a remote Texas town, Drayton Sawyer operates a gas station and BBQ restaurant that serves as a cover to lure travelers who are kidnapped, tied up and left to Leatherface to cut up with his chainsaw. The family also includes the crazy twin brothers Nubbins, Choptop (TCM 2) and Grandpa who despite looking dead is very much alive and enjoys the taste of human blood.  

--Bonus Round--

Farmer Vincent Smith

Motel Hell (1980)

Farmer Vincent has built a reputation with his smoked meats and fritters. He is proud to tell people that he uses all natural ingredients and no preservatives, yet Farmer Vincent has some secrets and one does not want to wander into his motel unless they want to be a part of the menu. 

Monday, November 19, 2018

Her identity was stolen, yet the thief is someone all too familiar

Cam (2018)
Dir- Daniel Goldhaber

The perils of the internet and new media are the subjects of this 2018 horror film by first time director Daniel Goldhaber. Madeline Brewer stars as Alice who works as a camgirl under the alias Lola. When introduced we see her performing in front of a webcam and hosting a broadcast where she interacts with fans who reward her for her performance. It is shown that her attempt to reach higher levels are being thwarted by a rival so she knows she has to get creative and do something more risque. After she participates in a show with another camgirl she finds her account has been hacked and she is no longer able to access her profile. Alice is then shocked to discover that someone who looks like herself is performing on her webcast as Lola and pushing the limits beyond her own comfort level. What happens after will test her resolve as she faces the consequences and aftermath of her doubles actions. Cam was written by Isa Mazzei who worked as a camgirl and used her experience to create the role of Alice and Lola. In this role you see the life of a sex worker as most would never expect, its a job and one that requires planning, preparation and most importantly the desire to share intimacy with strangers who share no physical contact with her. Cam is a feminist horror film with a protagonist who knows her family will not approve of what she does but it gives her the freedom to own a home, live her life as she chooses and when that freedom is threatened she will fight back to regain her identity even if its made up. Cam is unlike most other horror films being released as it does incorporate the all too real-life risks and dangers that social media can bring about while telling a compelling story of a woman who fights back to protect herself. As a male viewer, I was reminded of how women are often objectified and victimized even by those who are sworn to protect them, and how we all must open our eyes to understand how our lack of awareness often makes it tougher for women to feel safe or treated equally.  In this respect, the movie Cam is one of the more important films of our age and will reach out to all viewers of all genders.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Overlord aka JJ Abrams makes a Castle Wolfenstein movie

Overlord (2018)
Dir- Julius Avery

World War 2 movies have been quite popular for many years with improved special effects adding to the realism along with better narratives thanks to the success of Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers. Taking elements of Band of Brothers the JJ Abrams Bad Robot-produced movie Overlord starts off with some pretty intense battle scenes as a platoon of paratroopers prepares for a mission prior to the D-Day Invasion. This group is tasked with the destruction of some communication towers in a small French village that is occupied by Nazi's. Plans go haywire as the plane is hit and many of the men are lost leaving a small band of soldiers led by a Sgt who is the explosives expert and a fresh private who has not seen action. Once inside the village, they meet a young woman who hides them in her home and then reveals that the castle they intend to attack has something sinister going on inside. Overlord was produced in a secretive manner and there was speculation the movie was going to be a part of the Cloverfield universe. Instead, the movie becomes what could have been a great Castle Wolfenstein movie that never got made. The action scenes are intense and rival most war movies, the film also has excellent creature effects and is quite gory even for a war movie. The latter half of the film treads into territory that is already quite familiar but the standout performance of Jovan Adepo and Wyatt Russell keep the film exciting and entertaining. I watched the film back in September 2018 during Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas and the movie was well received by critics and was one of the standout films of note along with Halloween and Suspiria.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

1 Day to Halloween- 2018 A Quiet Place

Over the next 100 days, I will present one movie of significances in horror, suspense or thrillers for each year from 1919 to 2018. The last film presented here is the 2018 science fiction horror movie "A Quiet Place" starring John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe and directed by John Krasinski.

A Quiet Place (2018)
Dir- John Krasinski

A year after an unknown event has left the world largely empty of people a family somehow survives by keeping as quiet as possible. Despite all efforts to maintain as normal a life as the circumstance allows the threat of death looms closer as the family prepares for its future. Living in fear of a hostile outsider has been seen in movies with the antagonists ranging from native rivals to Nazis to rabid animals. How one can survive and fight back is portrayed quite effectively in this thriller from first time Director John Krasinski. The cast includes Krasinski's real-life wife Emily Blunt along with hearing impaired actress Millicent Simmonds who displays a fantastic range of feelings and emotions despite her handicap. The tension of the outside threat is offset by the internal conflict that the family faces as the parents struggle to protect their children while trying to raise them with some semblance of normalcy. A Quiet Place has an innovative yet straightforward concept that is directed quite effectively, the feeling of fear is ever present but hope still looms as the father finds ways to improve the situation for his family and shows the courage that is stronger than any concern he may feel. When confronted with the threat of death facing your family one can hope that we all would show this kind of courage no matter who stands in your way.

Monday, October 29, 2018

2 Days to Halloween- 2017 Get Out

Over the next 100 days, I will present one movie of significances in horror, suspense or thrillers for each year from 1919 to 2018. The next film presented here is the 2017 horror satire "Get Out" starring Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford and directed by Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener, and Bradley Whitford.

Get Out (2017)
Dir- Jordan Peele

A young black man dating a white woman finds himself in a bizarre world as he visits her folks in a seemingly perfect neighborhood where every other black person he meets seems to behave rather strangely. As he meets her family and friends his suspicions become more apparent as he notices peculiar events that seem to suggest that the family is hiding something from him. Get Out is the directorial debut for comedian Jordan Peele who stated that The Stepford Wives was a huge inspiration for his film. Racism plays into the film's plot quite heavily yet is shown in subtle ways that seem invisible at first but reveal themselves toward the end. The film benefits greatly from the cast that includes Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener, and Bradley Whitford. Get Out was a huge hit with audiences and critics earning an Oscar for Best Screenplay for Jordan Peele.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

3 Days to Halloween- 2016 10 Cloverfield Lane

Over the next 100 days, I will present one movie of significances in horror, suspense or thrillers for each year from 1919 to 2018. The next film presented here is 2016 Psychological horror film "10 Cloverfield Lane" starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher and directed by Dan Trachtenberg.

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
Dir- Dan Trachtenberg

A young woman survives a car wreck to find that she is in a bomb shelter with a strange older man who tells her a great disaster has happened and that it is dangerous to go outside. She must decide if he can be trusted or if she needs to escape from someone who may be mentally unstable and dangerous. 10 Cloverfield Lane started out as a script called The Cellar and had no tie to the Cloverfield Universe until JJ Abrams team was given the script and the movie was produced in secret as the companion  to the 2008 found footage classic. The movie was a big hit with fans and critics who praised the film for its suspense, great cast, and tension that built up toward a shocking conclusion. 

4 Days to Halloween- 2015 The VVitch

Over the next 100 days, I will present one movie of significances in horror, suspense or thrillers for each year from 1919 to 2018. The next film presented here is 2015 supernatural horror movie "The VVitch" starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie and directed by Robert Eggers.

The VVitch (2015)
Dir- Robert Eggers

A family living in a Puritan community has been outcast over disputes by the father with the church. The family of six make a living struggling on a remote tract of land and when one of their children disappears the family unit begins to suffer as tensions mount over concerns that the eldest daughter may be under the influence of dark forces. These concerns are bolstered as the rest of the children begin to suffer illnesses and show behavior that is suspected as the result of witchcraft. The VVitch was well received by critics who noted that the slow build of tension worked well in this period movie that uses the remote setting to create the spooky environment for the story to unfold. Special praise goes to Anya Taylor-Joy for her role as the eldest daughter Thomasin. 

Friday, October 26, 2018

5 Days to Halloween- 2014 A Girl Walks Home Alone

Over the next 100 days, I will present one movie of significances in horror, suspense or thrillers for each year from 1919 to 2018. The next film presented here is 2014 Persian language vampire movie "A Girl Walks Home Alone" starring Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Mozhan Marno, Marshall Manesh, Dominic Rains and directed by Ana Lily Amirpour.

A Girl Walks Home Alone (2014)
Dir- Ana Lily Amirpour

The people of Bad City face crime, drugs and all manner of sin while not knowing that a more significant threat is out there in the form of a lonely vampire who walks the streets at night in a black chador looking for her next victim. Described as a vampire western, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is pretty unconventional for a vampire movie as Director Ana Lily Amirpour blends a beautiful tale of female empowerment in a society where women have no freedom and are often victimized. Iranian-American actress Sheila Vand plays the unnamed vampire quite impressively despite little dialogue, her fearless spirit and desire to seek some justice show that even though she is a predator she has some humanity left in her as she punishes those who hurt women. The movie was shot in black and white and is in Farsi despite being filmed in California. Watching this movie, I was reminded of another vampire film Byzantium that also featured a young and mysterious female vampire seeking to end her loneliness while knowing her secret makes it all but impossible.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

6 Days to Halloween- 2013 The Conjuring

Over the next 100 days, I will present one movie of significances in horror, suspense or thrillers for each year from 1919 to 2018. The next film presented here is 2013 supernatural horror movie "The Conjuring" starring Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ron Livingston, Lili Taylor and directed by James Wan.

The Conjuring (2013)
Dir- James Wan

Ed and Lorraine Warren were two of the most famous psychic investigators in the 1970s, and their account of ghostly events in an 18th-century farmhouse is portrayed in the 2013 movie The Conjuring. The Perron family move into the old house with their five daughters in 1971, soon after strange events occur that worry the family. The Warrens are called in to investigate the home and when they find out the truth of one of its former occupants the danger only worsens as the spirit lashes out. Inspired by actual events The Conjuring arrived in 2013 to rave reviews by critics and moviegoers who were scared by the movies supposed truthful background.   The movie was a big hit and has been followed by sequels that focus on a number of their other ghostly encounters including the doll Annabelle and The Nun.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

7 Days to Halloween- 2012 The Cabin in the Woods

Over the next 100 days, I will present one movie of significances in horror, suspense or thrillers for each year from 1919 to 2018. The next film presented here is 2012 horror comedy movie "Cabin in the Woods" starring Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford and directed by Drew Goddard.

Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Dir- Drew Goddard

A group of college students set out for a getaway adventure in a cabin in the remote woods and find themselves about to face terror at the hand of some scary backwoods redneck zombies. While the party tries to figure out the situation, they may not realize that these terrible events may be the work of some corporate puppet masters with an agenda? This meta-horror movie gained not only critical praise but was well received by movie fans who were surprised at the original concept and the unexpected twists that seemed to reinvent the slasher movie as well as inject some witty commentary on the very nature of horror films.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

8 Days to Halloween- 2011 You're Next

Over the next 100 days, I will present one movie of significances in horror, suspense or thrillers for each year from 1919 to 2018. The next film presented here is 2011 home invasion horror movie "You're Next" starring Sharni Vinson, Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen, Amy Seimetz, Ti West, Barbara Crampton and directed by Adam Wingard.

You're Next (2011)
Dir- Adam Wingard

A family reunion in remote vacation home results in terror as a group of masked assailants stalk the occupants and target them one at a time. They soon find the actions of an unlikely guest turning the tables on them. Home invasion movies are terrifying because the thought of someone coming into your home has always been a fear that is very real and in many instances does not end well. Often compared to The Strangers, You're Next is more similar to the 1971 terror classic A Bay of Blood and is a much better home invasion movie than The Strangers. Adam Wingard directs the film with a wicked sense of humor that plays well with the tension shown by the cast, the constant arguing, and stress by the surviving family members makes the film much more entertaining especially in the final act. Australian newcomer Sharni Vinson joins a cast that includes horror movie directors Joe Swanberg, Ti West, and scream queen Barabara Crampton. With so many home invasion movies making the rounds it was great to see a film that shook up the usual formula and delivered a genuinely entertaining and exciting horror film. The film has positive reviews, and special praise is often given to Ms. Vinson for her excellent performance that will make her fan favorite.

Monday, October 22, 2018

9 Days to Halloween- 2010 Tucker & Dale vs. Evil

Over the next 100 days, I will present one movie of significances in horror, suspense or thrillers for each year from 1919 to 2018. The next film presented here is 2010 comedy horror movie "Tucker & Dale vs. Evil" starring Alan Tudyk, Tyler Labine, Katrina Bowden, Jesse Moss, Chelan Simmons and directed by Eli Craig.

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010)
Dir- Eli Craig

Two simple redneck buddies find their weekend cabin trip interrupted by a pack of seemingly suicidal college students who are having the worst weekend ever. Despite their attempts to offer friendly help, the two buddies find the students are not at all interested in their support until they rescue a young blonde girl who then finds her new friends are being targeted instead of welcomed. As crazy as it sounds Tucker and Dale is a scary movie yet it is one that is turned upside down with the two supposed villains being decent guys who are mistaken for murderous killers by a series of unfortunate circumstances. A well-made film that plays off the clichés of so many horror movies and still delivers a compelling splatstick film that is clever in its concept and very original.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

10 Days to Halloween- 2009 Zombieland

Over the next 100 days, I will present one movie of significances in horror, suspense or thrillers for each year from 1919 to 2018. The next film presented here is 2009 post apocalyptic zombie comedy movie "Zombieland" starring Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin and directed by Ruben Fleischer.

Zombieland (2009)
Dir- Ruben Fleischer

Columbus is a young man trying to survive a zombie apocalypse as he details his rules for making it through and thriving when faced by an army of the walking dead. Along the way, he teams up with a group of survivors who have to work together as they try to find a rumored safe zone. The great ensemble cast and buddy comedy theme set this film apart from other zombie movies while still retaining some terrifying zombie moments.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

11 Days to Halloween- 2008 Let The Right One In

Over the next 100 days, I will present one movie of significances in horror, suspense or thrillers for each year from 1919 to 2018. The next film presented here is 2008 Swedish vampire horror movie "Let the Right One In" starring Kare Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, Ika Nord, Pete Carlberg and directed by Tomas Alfredson.

Let the Right One In (2008)
Dir- Tomas Alfredson

Oskar, a young preteen boy who is bullied by his classmates befriends a young girl named Eli who has a secret she shares when they bond as friends. Eli is a vampire of unknown age and lives with an older man who takes care of her needs and gets her fresh blood. Eli sees that Oskar is bullied and encourages him to stand up for himself. This new friendship gives him the confidence to face his bullies and to learn what love can mean despite her secret. Let The Right One In succeds because of the way Eli is portrayed as a vampire, she is a shy girl who feeds because she has too but opening up to Oskar shows some humanity still present in her. Based on a novel, the film would be remade in the US and is one of the few remakes that stands on its own.

My spoiler free review of Halloween (2018)

Halloween (2018)
Dir- David Gordon Green

It has been 40 years since the release of John Carpenters Halloween, and after numerous sequels and a reboot the complex relationship between Laurie Strode and Michael Myers is presented in this film. Director David Gordon Green has pretty much wiped the slate clean by ignoring all of the sequels and followup films involving Michael Myers. This film is a direct sequel to the 1978 film and has Michael Myers confined for 40 years in a state mental institution. Laurie Strode has spent the past four decades preparing for a showdown and having two failed marriages and an estranged daughter as the price for her vigilance. Halloween is approaching, and a transfer to a new facility enables Michael to escape with Laurie fearing for the safety of her family as well as herself. The concept for this Halloween film is an exploration of one woman's obsessive preparation bourne out of the survivor's guilt she faces after all these years. Laurie's relationship with her daughter and granddaughter has suffered dramatically while her paranoia has made her an outcast. The film does pay homage to the original with some easter eggs thrown in from some of the other films despite ignoring their storyline. Jamie Lee Curtis takes her role as the most seminal final girl and shows she is ready for any fight. Judy Greer plays her estranged daughter who wants nothing of her mother's paranoid fears. Newer comer Andi Matichak excels as Laurie's grandaughter Alyson, who acts as a bridge between for mother and grandmother while trying to enjoy her school life with her friends and boyfriend. The film is well made and recreates the same dread that the original movie pioneered back in1978. The movie does contain some gore scenes, but they are not as graphic as Rob Zombie's recent remakes. Finally, special praise goes out to the original director of 1978's Halloween John Carpenter who provides the score to this new version.

Friday, October 19, 2018

12 Days to Halloween- 2007 REC

Over the next 100 days, I will present one movie of significances in horror, suspense or thrillers for each year from 1919 to 2018. The next film presented here is 2007 Spanish found footage horror movie "REC" starring Manuela Velasco, Ferran Terraza, Jorge-Yamam Serrano, Pablo Rosso and directed by Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza.

REC (2007)
Dir- Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza

A Spanish news crew follows a team of firefighters on a routine call only to discover that the apartment building they enter is quarantined, and they are now trapped. As they try to find a way out the occupants discover the police will use deadly force to prevent their escape and as people begin to fall ill a far greater threat emerges. One of many films that use found footage style, this one stands apart with its terrifying plot and efficient use of confusion and fear brought about by the reactions caught on camera. REC was praised by critics and is considered one of the ten best horror movies of the decade. Followed by many sequels and, an American remake titled Quarantine that had its follow-up sequels.

13 Days to Halloween- 2006 The Host

Over the next 100 days, I will present one movie of significances in horror, suspense or thrillers for each year from 1919 to 2018. The next film presented here is 2006 Korean monster movie "The Host" starring Song Kang-ho, Byun Hee-bong, Park Hae-il, Bae Doona, Go Ah-sung and directed by Bong Joon-ho.

The Host (2006)
Dir- Bong Joon-ho

On the banks of the Han River a simple food vendor watches in horror as a monster emerges from the river and takes his daughter. Fearing that he has lost her he gets a message showing she may be alive and in the sewers. Yet as he begins his quest to rescue her he finds that outside parties are working against him to hide the secret about the creature. The Host was one of the biggest films to open in South Korea, this success along with excellent review helped the film to gain a following outside of the Asian market. Critics praised the movie for its effective blending of various genres, by mixing family struggles, distrust of the government and of course the amphibious monster that was not as large as many other monsters in movies but shown in great detail.  

Thursday, October 18, 2018

10 Horror Movies Directed by Woman I Recently Watched

Here are some of the great indie horror films I have watched this year that were directed by women and serve as a reminder to studios that women are just as capable of directing horror films as men. 

Prevenge (2017)
Dir- Alice Lowe

A pregnant woman reeling from the death of her lover is compelled to commit murders by her unborn child who goads her into seeking revenge for her daddy's death. As if being a single mom wasn't already tough enough in this wicked black comedy by Alice Lowe who wrote, directed and stars in this movie while she was seven months pregnant.

The Devils Doorway (2018)
Dir- Aislinn Clarke

Irish director Aislinn Clarke's film "The Devil's Doorway" uses a Magdalene Laundry as the backdrop for this found footage movie that focuses on a pair of priests who are sent to investigate a reported miracle. Once inside the Laundry, the priests are met with hostility from the Mother Superior and appalled by the conditions the young women are subjected to in their custody. The real terror emerges when the younger priest begins to hear voices of children in a place that has no children and witnesses some unexplained events.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)
Dir- Ana Lily Amirpour

Described as a vampire western, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is pretty unconventional for a vampire movie as Director Ana Lily Amirpour blends a beautiful tale of female empowerment in a society where women have no freedom and are often victimized. Iranian-American actress Sheila Vand plays the unnamed vampire quite impressively despite little dialogue, her fearless spirit and desire to seek some justice show that even though she is a predator she has some humanity left in her as she punishes those who hurt women.

American Mary (2012)
Dir- Jen and Sylvia Soska

A medical student who finds herself in financial distress take a job in a strip club where she uses her surgical skills to perform surgeries that are unethical and possibly illegal. Her reputation soon draws more clients and even more extreme procedures like body modification. Her attempt to get back into the normal world of a medical residency is hampered when she is drugged and raped by a former teacher, and she then decides to use her skills to seek revenge.

Tales of Halloween (2015) [Grim Grinning Ghost Segment]
Dir- Axelle Carolyn

A woman leaves her mothers home after heating a ghost story to find her journey home filled with strange occurrences. She suspects she is being followed and it may be the ghostly figure from her mother's story.

XX (2017)
Dir- Jovanka Vuckovic, Annie Clark, Roxanne Benjamin, and Karyn Kusama

Four stories are presented in this anthology horror film directed by four women; the directors include Jovanka Vuckovic, Annie Clark, Roxanne Benjamin, and Karyn Kusama. The stories include a man with a mysterious box who leaves a mother curious about its contents. A married woman planning a birthday party for her daughter finds her husband has an unfortunate event. Four friends on a desert trip find mysterious cave drawings that then result in the appearance of an evil creature. The final story is about a mother whose teenage son is about to learn a dark secret about himself.

Raw (2016)
Dir- Julia Ducournau

A veterinarian student who is a vegetarian develops a strange hunger for raw meat when she is forced to consume meat during a hazing incident. From there she develops a craving for raw flesh that soon has her seeking out more exotic fare to include human flesh.

The Invitation (2015)
Dir- Karyn Kusama

A man takes his girlfriend to meet his ex-wife after being invited over to a dinner party. Once there he is reminded of some personal tragedies that occurred and finds even more unsettling information that makes him suspicious of the intentions of his ex-wife

Revenge (2017)
Dir- Coralie Fargeat 

Jen (Matilda Lutz) is spending a romantic weekend with her wealthy boyfriend until two of his friends show up for an unannounced hunting trip. Jen is creeped out by their leering glances and when she refuses the advances of one of the friends her world is abruptly shaken as she is assaulted sexually and left for dead after her boyfriend shows his true colors of indifference toward her. Her will to survive pushes her to seek out her justice as she uses her skills and wits to survive in the punishing heat of the desert that she is left alone to die.

Southbound (2015) [Siren Segment]
Dir- Roxanne Benjamin

A trio of female musicians find themselves stranded in the desert after their tire goes flat, a friendly couple offers to assist and invites them into their home. Once inside they are served a meal that the vegetarian in their group declines. She then sees her friends disappear with the couple involved in some possible cult behavior.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

14 Days to Halloween- 2005 The Descent

Over the next 100 days, I will present one movie of significances in horror, suspense or thrillers for each year from 1919 to 2018. The next film presented here is 2005 horror movie "The Descent" starring Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Mendoza, Alex Reid, Saskia Mulder, Nora-Jane Noone and directed by Neil Marshall.

The Descent (2005)
Dir- Neil Marshall

Six women go cave exploring and find their journey beneath stalled when a cave-in traps them. Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) has suffered a personal tragedy that has her sanity and well being called into question and the stress of the events tests the women as Juno (Natalie Mendoza) presses them to move on knowing they are trapped. The trouble worsens when they learn that not only are they in an unexplored cave but there may something else to fear. Neil Marshall wrote and directed this intense and tension-filled thriller that terrified its audience with its claustrophobic setting and dynamic mostly female cast. The film received wide critical acclaim and was praised for the mostly-female cast as well the claustrophobic setting and creature design that made the film one of the scariest movies of the decade. The Descent is considered one of the best horror movies of the 21st century and one of the best British horror films ever made.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

15 Days to Halloween- 2004 Shaun of the Dead

Over the next 100 days, I will present one movie of significances in horror, suspense or thrillers for each year from 1919 to 2018. The next film presented here is 2004 horror movie comedy "Shaun of the Dead" starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield, Lucy David and directed by Edgar Wright.

Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Dir- Edgar Wright

Shaun is a happy go lucky bloke with few worries and not much responsibility. Along with his best pal Ed, the two live in a flat outside of London and don’t concern themselves too much with life outside of video games and beer. Shaun’s girlfriend wants Shaun to show more ambition, and the opportunity arises as their town is overrun by zombies. With the crisis at had, Shaun takes charges and heads out to defend his friends and family at the local pub. Shaun of the Dead was well received for its balance of terror and satire, making it one of the best zombie movies in recent years.

Monday, October 15, 2018

16 Days to Halloween- 2003 A Tale of Two Sisters

Over the next 100 days, I will present one movie of significances in horror, suspense or thrillers for each year from 1919 to 2018. The next film presented here is the 2003 Korean psychologial horror movie "A Tale of Two Sisters" starring Im Soo-jung, Mon Geun-young, Yum Jung-ah, Kim Kap-soo and directed by Kim Jee-woon.

A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)
Dir- Kim Jee-woon

A young Korean girl comes home after spending time in a mental institution. She is at odds with her new stepmother and turns to her younger sister for support when events in their house begin to get strange with visions of her deceased mother and other ghostly figures. These disturbing events call into question her sanity as well as revealing dark moment in her family's history. A Tale of Two Sisters was based on local Korean fairy tales and has been adapted into movies before yet this version became the top box office hit in Korea and was widely praised by critics around the world. The film was remade in the US and released in 2009 as The Uninvited but was widely panned as an inferior remake.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

17 Days to Halloween- 2002 28 Days Later

Over the next 100 days, I will present one movie of significances in horror, suspense or thrillers for each year from 1919 to 2018. The next film presented here is 2002 apocalyptic horror movie "28 Days Later" starring CillianMurphy, Naomie Harris, Brendan Gleeson, Megan Burns, Christopher Eccleston and directed by Danny Boyle.

28 Days Later (2002)
Dir- Danny Boyle

A coma patient wakes up to find that the city has been overrun by a virus that results in crazed behavior. After being chased by infected groups, he then finds some survivors as they try to make their way toward a sanctuary. Danny Boyle directed this film, and its success helped fuel the resurgence of zombie films. 28 Days Later stood out from previous zombie movies by introducing the kinetic fast moving zombie making the threat even scarier. 28 Days Later would perform very well in the box office worldwide and would win praise from critics for its great execution and an outstanding cast.

18 Days to Halloween- 2001 Session 9

Over the next 100 days, I will present one movie of significances in horror, suspense or thrillers for each year from 1919 to 2018. The next film presented here is 2001 psychologcal horror movie "Session 9" starring David, Caruso, Pete Mullan, Josh Lucas, Paul Guilfoyle and directed by Brad Anderson.

Session 9 (2001)
Dir- Brad Anderson

A hazmat team is charged with cleaning an abandoned sanitarium. During the week-long job, one of the crew finds a collection of audio tapes that reveal some truly disturbing events. Directed by Brad Anderson, Session 9 was shot in a portion of an abandoned State Asylum adding to the authentic atmosphere.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Non-Paranormal Found Footage Movies

Found footage movies have enjoyed great popularity in the past 20 years since the release of The Blair Witch Project, here is a collection of found footage movies that don't involve the paranormal, the Devil or the supernatural.

Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

Like the spaghetti westerns of the sixties, Italian cannibal films were the rage in the seventies. Like many of those westerns, these films had similar plots as well as the same tragic conclusions. A group of white explorers would enter the dense jungle of the Amazon rainforests and meet up with seemingly friendly cannibals who were only looking to have these guests as their next meal. With the many films made one wonders why no one noticed the very similar techniques and stories. We see women gang-raped, and men getting their testicles cut off or having their skulls opened up for a dessert of fresh brain. Everyone seemed to be a potential meal for each other. Cannibal Holocaust is considered by many to be the most graphically intense and brutal film ever made even when compared to its grotesque contemporaries. 

The Last Broadcast (1998)

A documentary filmmaker named David Leigh details the mysterious deaths of the hosts of cable access show titled Fact of Fiction. Steven Avkast and Locus Wheeler were amateur investigators who hosted a cable access show and running out of ideas turned into the urban legend of the Jersey Devil to invigorate their ratings and bring in new viewers. They plan to do a live broadcast on location in the Jersey Pine Barrons and stream it on the internet so the audience can witness their reactions and boost their popularity. A few days later Avkast and Wheeler are found dead, and the mystery of who was responsible may be on the video footage that was located by the police.

My Little Eye (2002)

Five adults agree to spend six months together in an isolated mansion with cameras capturing their every moment as part of a reality series. What motivates each contestant is a one million dollar prize yet as the sixth-month mark approaches tensions begin to develop between the group when a mysterious package arrives with a gun and the appearance of a stranger who claims he does not know anything about the contest. My Little Eye was inspired by the reality series Big Brother and plays out similarly yet the contestants are not aware of the sinister intent of the specific audience that is watching them.

The Last Horror Movie (2003)

A wedding video cameraman and his assistant use their video equipment to videotape murders they commit. They record their victims from start to finish and seem to focus on people who rent the very tape they are making as it is left in a video store. He then speaks to the viewer and questions their reasons for wanting to watch a movie like this. The Last Horror Movie certainly presents the audience with a thought-provoking question, if you knew you were watching a real tape with murder would you keep watching. 

Alone With Her (2006)

A tech-savvy stalker installs some cameras in the apartment of a woman he wishes to pursue. He then watches her so that he can approach her and use the information he observed to seduce her. Although the movie does employ a few techniques that make it less a found footage movie, Alone With Her does make the viewer feel unsettled by the having you the audience witness his creepy activities. Casting Colin Hanks would go against the usual style of having unknown actors to make the film seem more amateurish. In an age where we pretty much surrender our privacy Alone With Her is a terrifying reminder of just how far technology can enable stalkers to pursue their victims much easier.

Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007) 

This pseudo crime documentary details the events surrounding a fictional serial killer who operated in the New York town of Poughkeepsie in the 1990's. It begins when police raid a house and find hundreds of videotapes inside, it is revealed that the tapes document untold numbers of abductions and murders committed by an unknown assailant all cataloged and numbered in order. The serial killer never allows himself to be seen unless he is disguised and in many of the tapes he tortures his victims physically, emotionally and psychologically. Police and crime experts appear in numerous interviews trying to profile the killer and look for patterns that could aid in his capture. The serial killer is given a name, but not much else is learned about him due to the random nature of the crimes that he appears to plan in a deliberate attempt to confuse authorities.

Cloverfield (2008)

A monster attack on New York City is seen through the shaky video camera of a group of friends who flee the city and face threats from the creature as it tears through the city. Matt Reeves directs this found footage film that made excellent use of viral marketing to play up the fear as we see the events unfold before seeing the creature entirely.

Home Movie (2008)

A series of home movies document the descent into darkness for the Poe family and what happened to them at the hands of their children. What starts as the perfect family in a remote upstate New York home takes a shocking turn as the children are shown to be hiding something from their parents. The children are deeply disturbed, and the further along the movie goes the audience witnesses the acts of cruelty and horrible events that leave the parents terrified and looking for help. Home Movie has a much more disturbing and realistic feel than most other found footage movies as this one seems so genuine and foreboding given the outcome of the family’s tragic fate. Easily one of the most disturbing films in recent years and one of the best made found footage films

Evil Things (2009)

A group of friends from New York City that went on a weekend trip disappeared with no evidence left to explain what happened. A video is found later that shows the group traveling to the house and noticing a van that is following them. After arriving at the remote home, they find a videotape that confirms someone is observing them and recording their activities. Evil Things is a low budget found footage movie that seems to borrow from some more famous films. 

The Bay (2012)

A leaked tape reveals an interview with a reporter speaking out on the coverup behind the events of a tragic July 4th in a Chesapeake Bay town that resulted in many deaths. A series of videos show the events from some people including some oceanographers, a young doctor and a reporter who is on what seems to be a puff piece story covering the holiday festivities. A deadly outbreak is shown throughout the day, and the cause may be related to the local water treatment plant and a mutant breed of parasites. The Bay is a compelling eco-horror film that employs found footage in an efficient manner that builds on the tension of the cast while creating a chilling atmosphere for the survivors. Director Barry Levinson made the movie to help bring attention to the issue facing the Chesapeake Bay, and they do so in a way that might show what a real eco-disaster might look like and how it may be played out.

Chronicle (2012)

A teenage student begins to video the events of his life to include his mother dying of cancer and his alcoholic father. At a party, he and a few friends go into the woods and find a mysterious object that makes their nosebleed as the camera cuts off. When the camera comes back, the three teens are shown with the power to move objects and the ability to fly. The powers begin to make one of the boys more hostile as the camera captures some of the darker moments as he lashes out more and potentially harming others. Chronicle is very different from most other found footage films and seems more like a superhero origin story with the boys learning how to use their powers and the dangers they pose. 

The Den (2013)

A young student working on her graduate degree decides to use a webcam to chat with strangers to see what kind of people she can meet. It gets worse when another stranger is shown killing the obsessed fan and now targeting her, her family and friends for reasons that are not clear to her. The Den is a found footage movie that shows some of the dangers of social media and the world of the dark web.

The Sacrament (2013)

The real-life tragedy of the Jonestown massacre would be the inspiration for the 2013 film by director Ti West. In that film, a man travels to find his sister and bring her home from the cult she has joined. The hospitable treatment will soon give way to far sinister things when he is unwilling to join their ranks.

Europa Report (2013)

This found footage movie details the events of a doomed mission to one of Jupiter’s moons. Despite losing contact with Earth and some incidents, the crew continues the mission only to find that something mysterious may be under the ice. Europa Report was released on video on demand to good reviews, the claustrophobic feel of a spaceship adds the tension significantly as the crew faces an unknown threat with no help from Earth. A great slow-burn thriller that has gained an audience in recent years.