Polaroid (2019)

Polaroid (2019)Bird Fitcher is a teenage girl who loves old things, and is working a part-time job at an antique store. When a co-worker brings in an old Polaroid camera, she’s really excited, and starts using it, snapping pictures of her friends. She soon realizes that something is not quite right with the camera, as the photos show a shadowy figure looming over the persons on the photo…and very soon it becomes apparent that the photos taken with the Polaroid camera has a very deadly effect.

 

This is based on Lars Klevberg’s horror short from 2015, by the same name (you can watch it here: Polaroid Horror Short). And while this movie has been released just recently, it’s not really new…it was originally set to be released in 2017, but due to the Weinstein Company bankruptcy it was almost like the entire movie had been flushed down the drain as a result. However, in 2018, Lantern Company (which had acquired a lot of the Weinstein Company’s assets) and an international distribution company called “13 Films” decided to have the movie released in 2019. In the meantime, however, Lars Klevberg more or less “debuted” with his “Child’s Play” remake, which received a fair amount of positive reception as well as doing quite well at the box office. So…a happy ending after all, it seems.

 

Now, while I personally think that Lars Klevberg’s “Polaroid” short is well made and quite creepy, I’m afraid to say that I didn’t quite get the same feeling from this feature film. Now, horror shorts have the advantage of keeping things subtle, and not necessarily giving away the “why’s” and “how’s”. This is something that often gives them a more creepy vibe since the mystery is kept, the boogeyman isn’t revealed and is kept in the shadows. In feature films, however, viewers are more likely to be pissed off by things being too vague or questions not being answered…in movies, as opposed to shorts, we more or less expect answers to what is happening. And sadly, this is what can turn a creepy concept into something that ends up more or less like a typical “run-of-the-mill” horror movie. Unfortunately, “Polaroid” does end up in this category.

 

That being said, Lars Klevberg does manage to build up the tension and atmosphere in some of the scenes, and while lacking any real scares I’m going to judge it as what it’s clearly intended to be: a teenage horror flick, meant for a younger audience. Those of us that have already seen a fair share of horror movies will probably get a Déjà vu all to quickly (we’ve seen it before, done better…but also done a lot worse). When getting closer to the final act, the film also does offer up an interesting twist to the Polaroid’s reason for being cursed/haunted, which was a welcome surprise.

 

So: just consider this movie an easy-going teenage horror, and bring some popcorn, and you might find something to enjoy here.

 

Polaroid

 

Director: Lars Klevberg
Country & year: USA | Norway, 2019
Actors: Kathryn Prescott, Tyler Young, Samantha Logan, Keenan Tracey, Priscilla Quintana, Javier Botet, Mitch Pileggi, Davi Santos, Katie Stevens, Grace Zabriskie, Madelaine Petsch, Erika Prevost, Shauna MacDonald, Rhys Bevan-John, Emily Power
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5598292/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Golden Glove (2019)

The Golden Glove (2019)Hamburg, Germany in the early 70’s. It’s a regular day at the tiny, cramped pub Der Goldene Handschuh (The Golden Glove). A playlist with depressing German schlager songs are being played in the background as we get introduced to a group of outlived and wrinkled prostitutes, and hardcore alcoholics. One of them likes to suck on used tampons, by the way. Yuck. But the worst of them is probably Fritz Honka, a hideous, disgusting, crooked aberration of a man, who brings hookers to his filthy horror chamber of an attic apartment that has not been cleaned since the last century, and stinks worse than you probably can imagine.

 

Fritz is a deranged, greasy homicidal maniac who develops a bad habit of killing the women he brings home with him in the most brutal ways, in pure volcanic rage like an orangutan on speed, if they don’t meet his sexual standards. He then cuts the bodies in pieces with a saw while listening to German percussion music, wraps them in newspapers, and hides them in a crawl space attic that only he has access to through his apartment. Although Fritz is trying to hold back the corpse stench by hanging tree-shaped air fresheners (wunderbaums) around his attic apartment, the neighbor who lives underneath him is constantly complaining that it stinks. And it’s only a matter of time before there are so many decomposing body parts dumped in there that maggots starts to find their way between the cracks and says hello to the neighbors.

 

This film is based on the true story about serial killer Fritz Honka, who killed up to four prostitutes from 1970 to 1975 in the red light district of Hamburg. The one we see in the brutal opening scene was 42-year-old Gertraud Bräuer. A hairdresser and part-time prostitute who refused to have sex with him, and ended up as his first known victim. She was sawed into small pieces, and dumped in the bushes in the local area. The remains were found by the police, but Honka escaped. For this time. It would take four years before Honka killed again. The infamous bar, Der Goldene Handschuh, is still open with the new banner “Honka Stub”. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a cheap statue of the guy inside as well. A stage play of Fritz Honka has also been performed in Hamburg. It’s also worth mentioning that writer and Director Faith Atkin grew up in the same area in Hamburg during the same time period Fritz Honka was finally captured by the police.

 

The most remarkable thing here is how raw and downright authentic everything looks. The technical aspects, all from set-design, sound, photography, editing, is top notch. The costumes are right on spot, and they really did an impressive job to reconstruct Fritz Honka’s horror attic. The 1970s-look is flawless, and the grim, thick atmosphere of pure despair and hopelessness  in The Golden Glove pub reeks all over the place, and feels like it was shot in a real pub with real hookers, alcoholics and whatnot. All the actors here are hundred percent dedicated, no matter how far the scenes go and what endless humiliations the actors have to put themselves through. It all seemed like a pure nightmare to shoot, especially for the poor ladies. If they all got away with their mind in check and no need for any therapy sessions after this grueling experience, then just be impressed and give them a big applause.

 

Films such as “Maniac” and “Henry: Portrait of a A Serial Killer” comes to mind, but our friend Fritz Honka takes it on a whole new level. It’s brutal, yet absurdly hilarious at the same time. I haven’t seen anything like it, really. It’s a pretty unique and distinctive look at a madman’s everyday life, living in a hellish, chaotic, stinky downward spiral of an environment where you almost expect the stench of piss, shit, sweat, booze and other extreme body odors dissipating from the screen to attack your nostrils at any moment. Thanks to Honka, that bastard, I can’t enjoy the smell of wunderbaums the same way again, that’s for sure. And speaking of the star himself, Jonas Dassler, he’s just absolut fantastisch as Fritz Honka.  An eleven of ten-star performance. Cheers for that, or as they say in Deutschland: Tost!

 

So, make yourself welcome to The Golden Rabbit Hole. Just be glad you’re only witnessing this from a screen, and is free to take a shower when you’re starting to feel too itchy.

 

The Golden Glove

 

Director: Fatih Akin
Original title: Der goldene Handschuh
Country & year: Germany | France, 2019
Actors: Jonas Dassler, Margarete Tiesel, Adam Bousdoukos, Marc Hosemann, Katja Studt, Martina Eitner-Acheampong, Philipp Baltus, Hark Bohm, Greta Sophie Schmidt, Tristan Göbel, Laurens Walter, Victoria Trauttmansdorff, Tom Hoßbach, Jessica Kosmalla, Heinz Strunk
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7670212/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE TAKING – Horror Short

Some old houses have secrets. Dark secrets. It bleeds into the wood and soaks the very soul of its foundations. For young Isobel and her Grandmother, they discover through the course of one eerie night that some secrets weren’t meant to be unraveled. They’re coming…and they’re taking…

 

“The Taking” by Matt Eskandari is a suspenseful and atmospheric “haunted house” horror short.

 

THE TAKING - Horror Short

 

Director: Matt Eskandari
Country & year: USA, 2004
Actors: Blaine Saunders, Kay Stratton, Tess Tarin, Josh Rushing
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0427926/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wind (2018)

The Wind (2018)Lizzy Macklin and her husband Isaac lives isolated on a harsh and untamed land in the Western frontier in the late 1800s. Soon, a newlywed couple (Emma and Gideon) moves into a house close by. The isolation starts cracking Emma’s psyche, causing her to suffer from Prairie Madness (an affliction that causes a mental breakdown due to the isolation and harsh living conditions, something that would happen to European settlers who were not used to living like this). Emma is clearly not able to get used the the isolation, and starts raving about “demons of the prairie”. Emma’s madness soon starts affecting Lizzy as well, and she starts wondering if there really is an evil demonic presence out to destroy them.

 

“The Wind” is a western horror-thriller written by Teresa Sutherland, and director Emma Tabbi’s feature film debut. Western horror is still a somewhat rare thing to come by, where most horror movies in this genre belongs to the “lesser known” list (probably with the exception of “Bone Tomahawk” from 2015, which managed to get a fair amount of publicity). And this is despite the setting of the western period being pretty perfect for all kinds of horror-related ideas…but oh well.

 

Now, “The Wind” is a movie that focuses more on psychological horror and a fair amount of relationship-based drama, and for this reason it’s chugging along rather slowly. In other words, it’s very likely to not keep everyone’s attention, and the suspense it’s trying to build is somewhat subtle and does not always matches the pace. The movie has a strong and chilling start, but then starts jumping back and forth in time to show us a series of recent scenes and “flashback” scenes. A lot of the story is told through flashbacks, and sometimes it can actually be a little confusing to follow.

 

All that being said, “The Wind” is beautiful to watch with some great cinematography, and there’s definitely some atmosphere to appreciate. Still, there could have been a lot more actual horror to “The Wind”…but if you’re in for a slow horror mystery with a bit more drama than chills, you’ll likely find something to enjoy here.

 

The Wind

 

Director: Emma Tammi
Country & year: USA, 2018
Actors: Caitlin Gerard, Julia Goldani Telles, Ashley Zukerman, Miles Anderson, Dylan McTee, Martin C Patterson
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8426594/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bride of Frank (1996)

The Bride of Frank (1996)

Frank (Frank Meyer) is an old, toothless, depleted scarecrow of a human being, working in a warehouse close to the New Jersey harbor. The movie starts with our friend Frank telling us that this is a story of love and evil, before we witness him luring a girl into his trailer to knock her skull with a club. He puts her on the ground to taste her blood, before he drives over her head and eats a chunk of her scattered brain. This was only a dream sequence, by the way. Frank wakes up in his bed in an office in the warehouse, where he lives with his cat, and washes his skid-marked underwear with his toothbrush. Eww..

 

His coworkers, who mainly treats him like a dog, decides to be a little nice to old Frankie for a change by arranging his upcoming birthday party. A very bizarre event, to say the least, where a random guy comes in, dressed like a nerd with rabbit teeth and big glasses trying to ruin the party by throwing insulting comments at Frank. The coworkers wraps the guy into plastic, and gives Frank the great honor of cutting his head off with a knife. Afterwards, Frank takes a shit on the remains. Happy Birthday. He didn’t get what he wished for, though, which was tits. They make up for this the next day by taking him to a cheap strip club that makes him more obsessed with tits than ever, and he starts talking about nothing but tits. “Tits! I really want tits! Tits! Big tits!” He wants big tits as much as a junkie craves for heroine. Frank’s boss puts an ad in the newspaper, and Frank makes himself ready to date some…big tits.

 

There isn’t much progress to talk about in this rather shoddy underground film, and you get the impression that the movie was shot with complete improvisation by the actors, probably with a script that was scribbled on a toilet paper as they went along. We’re 47 minutes in before the funniest scenes starts, where we finally see Frank’s first date. Which of course goes from bad to worse, where Frank discards the ladies by killing them if they don’t meet his standards, while the poor cat is being a witness to it all. Frank Meyer is the high light here. He is an absurd nutcase of a character to look at, falling in and out of consciousness as he mutters his dialogues, assumingly with a whole cocktail of chemicals running through his fragile body. Or maybe just drunk as a sailor, who knows. Nevertheless, he’s pure comedy gold and the only reason to give “The Bride of Frank” a watch. Frank Meyer obviously didn’t win an Oscar for his performance, and this is the only film he’s appeared in. You can hear him sharing a commentary on the DVD with the director and some other dude, where he is, I suspect, the one who inhales from the bubbling crack pipe.

 

The Bride of Frank

 

Director: Steve Ballot
Country & year: USA, 1996
Actors: Morgan Tara, Frank Meyer, John Kolendriski, Victor Delvalle, Bruce Frankel, Jim Moresca, Rena Ballot, Arnell Dowret, Steve Ballot, Eric Kaplan, Eddie Regan, Sal Mogavero, Bernard Briley, Sergio Lopez, Charles Gambino
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0261587/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KOOKIE – Horror Short Film

Bree, a dishonest 9-year-old receives a terrifying visitor after a parenting lesson goes horribly wrong.

 

“Kookie” is a fun little horror short about a bratty and dishonest little girl. She keeps taking more cookies from the jar than she’s allowed to, until her mother puts the cookies in a terrifying clown jar in hopes of scaring her greedy hands away from it. Of course, the girl can’t resist the temptation, no matter how creepy she thinks the clown jar looks…

 

KOOKIE - Horror Short Film

 

Director: Justin Harding
Country & year: Canada, 2016
Actors: Ava Jamieson, Alana Elmer, Jarrett Siddall, Jessie Garon
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5594566/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bread and Circus (2003)

Bread and Circus (2003)Here we have the film that was heavily promoted as “Norway’s first splatter film ever”, which is not really true. But I can at least agree that this is the first Norwegian splatter film that got a wide DVD distribution, which was quite a unique thing in a small, tiny country like Norway. This is almost twenty years ago. Time flies.

 

The film starts with Mother Earth having sex, and a young man in his twenties (Martin Loke) then pops out from a vagina located at the earth’s grassy surface, while the sun shines on a hot, ordinary summer day. A monk-like creature comes along and cuts the umbilical cord as the new-born screams like a schizophrenic mental patient. He then suddenly wears a suit, and has a suitcase handcuffed to his arm as he gets thrown into the society. He follows a pathway and meets a random guy. While they have a beer, he tells our new-born a life lesson-story about how evil society is if you don’t kneel to the authority, and conform to the social norm in a perfect sheep mentality. All forms of outcasts and those who dear to think freely are seen as serious threat to the society, and they get hunted down and killed by the military under orders of The King himself. As the story goes on with a tirade of amateurish, messy, incoherent scenes, including a scene with a guy getting a bottle stuffed in his butthole, you start to wonder what the hell you’re really watching.

 

The acting is unbelievably, ridiculously, bafflingly bad, and is the funniest thing about the movie. And the dialogue was sloppily dubbed in post-production, which doesn’t synchronize at all. It’s reeks of amateur-hour all the way, and the “humour” is on the cringiest middle school level. Director and screenwriter Martin Loke is a huge fan of Peter Jackson’s “Bad Taste” which reflects in the effects and some of the camera work. But when Bad Taste had  its own style and energy to it, this comes across as the drunken poor man’s version. With a budget of 600,000 Norwegian kroner (approx. $ 68,3348), the film should at least look better. I suspect that most of the budget went to  municipal goods like military stuff and access to certain restricted locations. And almost like there wasn’t any budget for a half-decent soundtrack, the score is primarily filled with classical music from Beethoven, which just feels completely out of place and makes the movie even weirder. The “Actors” are mainly friends and family of Martin Loke, who mostly give the impression of standing in front of the camera as a big favor they would never do again. The political and social statements Martin Loke is trying to make us reflect on is for sure more relevant today than it was twenty years ago. But aside from that, this is nothing but a demented, bizarre and messy oddball of a movie which will guarantee some great laughs for sure. Some of them unintentionally, of course.

 

The most impressive thing about “Bread and Circus” is that Martin Loke showed it at the Cannes Film Festival of all places, and sold it to seven countries. How he actually managed to do that with a film like this, God knows. But, okay, I give him my respect for that.  The film was later given a 10-year anniversary edition from the Nordic Another World Entertainment with some extras. A U.S. release is also available at Amazon.com.

 

Bread and Circus

 

Director: Martin Loke
Original title: Brød & Sirkus
Country & year: Norway, 2003
Actors: Oliver Boullet, Miriam Johansson, Martin Loke, Magne Jahrestein, Silje Andresen, Benjamin Rørstad, Lars Torp, Lars Erik Ringstad Nordrum, Lise Løke, Hilde Løke, Fredrik Løke, Frank Løke, Eivind Pedersen, Andre Iversen, Vegar Bakke
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0377543/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE MONSTER – Short Horror Film

A father helps a young boy get over his fear of Monsters, at a terrible price.

 

“The Monster” is a nice little horror short about a classic theme: a kid that’s afraid of monsters, and his father trying to help him get over his fear. This boy’s father is not like most fathers, though…

 

THE MONSTER - Short Horror Film

 

Director: Neil Stevens
Country & year: USA, 2019
Actors: Aaron Bradshaw, Brian Ramian, Erika Stasiuleviciute
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8510332/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A CHRISTMAS WISH – Horror Short

A little girl thinks Christmas in New Zealand sucks. It’s too hot, there are mosquitoes everywhere, and not a snowflake in sight. But when Lisa wishes for a White Christmas one year, she gets a lot more than she bargained for…

 

A somewhat cute horror short about a girl who wants to experience a White Christmas, but gets it in a way she’ll soon regret…

 

A CHRISTMAS WISH - Horror Short

 

Director: Peter Haynes, Nick Burridge
Country & year: Australia, 2016
Actors: Keira Christina, Hweiling Ow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Russian Bride (2019)

The Russian Bride (2019)Nina is a Russian woman, who lives together with her young daughter Sasha. She has left her abusive and alcoholic husband, but he still causes trouble for her by coming to her home drunk and demanding to come inside and see his daughter. All Nina wants is a new and better life for herself and Sasha, and after joining a typical “Russian brides” website (dating website for people looking for a Russian woman) she gets in contact with a reclusive billionaire from USA. After traveling abroad to meet her new man, she marries him very soon thereafter. However, she soon finds out that the seemingly nice man has other motives…and Nina eventually realizes that she’s put both herself and her daughter in a dangerous position.

 

Those typical “Russian Brides” dating websites is nothing new, and have existed for quite a while. No matter how you may want to label the women using such websites – “gold diggers” or simply someone wanting a better life for themselves – this movie portrays a woman belonging to the latter category. We understand Nina’s desperate need to move away from her stalking and abusive ex, and a rich and gentle elderly man from another country seems like her perfect escape. What could possibly go wrong, right? Well…

 

The story builds up rather nicely, and you see early on that Nina’s new husband has ulterior motives. Since his spacious mansion is also located in a very isolated area, you can feel the overwhelming amount of helplessness that she’s going through, in an other country and no means of escape. Nina and her daughter Sasha are surrounded by snow and nothingness, and solely dependent on her new husband that shows more and more signs of not necessarily having their well-being in his best interest.

 

The suspense in “The Russian Bride” builds towards what we surely expect to be a great reveal and a bloody climax (at least, based on the DVD cover which isn’t exactly toning down on its promise of a certain amount of blood ‘n gore). And we get both, although I would have to admit I think they could’ve stretched it even a bit further as blood ‘n gore goes. There’s room for a lot more than what was given us, but still makes it earn its “Gore” badge.

 

“The Russian Bride” is an okay horror thriller, although it may be worth noting that despite the bloody cover, this kind of stuff is held back for the climax and is not meant to be part of the main focus of the film (so gorehounds may want to sniff around elsewhere). Now, the film does come off as a bit predictable (we know the guy is up to something, we just don’t know what), and it also feels a bit inconsistent with a few things, like a certain paranormal entity that doesn’t really provide much to the film except sugarcoating the end a bit and functioning as a deus ex machina. However, it’s entertaining enough and well worth a watch, despite some flaws.

 

Director: Michael S. Ojeda
Country & year: USA, 2019
Actors: Corbin Bernsen, Oksana Orlan, Oksana Orlan, Lisa Goodman, Michael Robert Brandon, Alison Korman, Yefim Somin, Gregory O’Gallagher, Keenan Johnston, John Paul Brandt, Clement Valentine, Kenneth G. Beaudin, Maryanne Nagel, Blake Brown, Guido Den Broeder
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6214468/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul