A young woman comes home one night to find her front door unlocked and suspects she might not be alone in the house.
“VICIOUS” is a creepy and suspenseful horror short, where a young woman is still trying to cope with the loss of her recently deceased sister. Coming home one late evening, she finds the door unlocked…and while she’s not able to locate any intruder inside, she still feels that she’s not alone…
In the small mine town community of Harmony, a young coal miner named Tom (Jensen Ackles) causes an accident that kills five men and puts another, Harry Warden, in a coma. A year later, Harry wakes up and causes a massacre at the hospital, and in the meantime a group of teens are having a party at mine tunnel 5, one of them being Tom. Harry shows up and causing further bloodshed, but the police does not succeed in catching the killer…
Ten years later, the mining town has gotten the unfortunate title “The Murder Capital of America” by the media, while they are still trying to move on from the past. Tom, who is pretty much not welcomed by most of the townspeople, happens to stop by to sign some papers to sell the mining tunnel where the killings took place. Bad news is that the signing has been postponed to Monday, so Tom has some time to kill (pun intended) before he leaves the town for good. After Tom checks into a motel, the killings start to happen again by a certain familiar figure wearing a gas mask.
“My Bloody Valentine” is the remake of the 1981 version, here with Jensen Ackles (or just Dean Winchester, if you will) in the main role. And it’s pretty much like watching Ackles just playing Dean having a really bad weekend with a reduced energy level. The Kiefer Sutherland effect, as I like to call it.
I don’t know if this is the same version that got screened in theaters back in 2009, but if so, the “Friday The 13th” remake which came same year looks like a kiddies movie made for Disney in comparison. A funny coincidence is that Jared Padalecki, known as Dean’s brother in “Supernatural”, also had a role in the Friday remake. As if they made a bet on which movie that would turn out to be the goriest. Well, Sammy, I guess you owe Dean a drink.
This was also the first 3D film with an R-rating, and it clearly shows. Heads are being chopped off, torsos cut in half, hearts ripped out, and whatnot. There’s also a scene where a midget lady gets impaled by a picksaw. No mercy given. And of course, there’s no slasher without a hot chick being chased while she’s stark naked. Some of the 3D effects looks pretty silly without the glasses, though, but it’s still a an entertaining slasher with some great death scenes.
Director: Patrick Lussier Country & year: USA, 2009 Actors: Jensen Ackles, Jaime King, Kerr Smith, Betsy Rue, Edi Gathegi, Tom Atkins, Kevin Tighe, Megan Boone, Karen Baum, Joy de la Paz, Marc Macaulay, Todd Farmer, Jeff Hochendoner, Bingo O’Malley, Liam Rhodes IMDb:https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1179891/
MEOW is a bloodstained genre mash offering life lessons in demonic cats, dubious landlords and overbearing mothers.
“MEOW” is a cool horror short filled with synthwave music and suspense, where a young woman is moving into a new apartment and gets herself a cat…and after a few incidents, she starts wondering if her new pet is capable of murder…
Director: Christopher Jopp Country & year: USA, 2019 Actors: Eleonore Dendy, Shawn Dunbar, Charles Hubbell, M.P. Johnson, Nancy Marvy, Andrew Morgan IMDb:https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6443836/
It’s 1968, and we’re in a small town called Mill Valley where a group of teens are dressing up and getting ready for Halloween. This trio consists of Stella, an aspiring horror writer, a nervous nerd named Auggie, and the prankster Chuck. It’s their final year of trick-or-treating on Halloween together, and they’ve planned to use it as an opportunity to play a trick on the local school bully Tommy. This ends up with Tommy’s car getting vandalized, and he and his gang starts chasing them into a drive-in theater. While the trio is desperately looking for a hiding place, they all enter a young man’s car. His name is Ramon, and Stella immediately feels attracted to him as it becomes clear that he also shares the same passion for horror movies as she does. When Tommy and his gang are out of the way, Stella suggests that they visit the haunted house nearby: the old Bellows family residence. The Bellows family had a daughter, Sarah Bellows, whom they locked inside the house. No photos of the girl existed, and the story tells that she hanged herself inside the house after being accused of causing the death of several children after reading them some of the scary stories she used to write. When the group of teenagers enter the old house, they find the secret entrance to the room where the family kept Sarah locked in…and one of her “Scary Stories” books. Stella brings it back home with her, but when she starts reading it, a new story suddenly starts writing itself on one of the blank pages. Sarah Bellows is back at telling scary stories again…
“Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” is a movie that plays a lot on the nostalgia for those of us who have read the book series by the same name, with the infamous illustrations by Stephen Gammell. The illustrations have played the biggest role in making the blood run cold in many a child’s veins when browsing through the pages, and the movie is actually taking clear references from the actual drawings themselves, even more than from the original stories. Like for example “Harold”, the scarecrow story. The story in the movie is nothing like the original story (in fact, the original story from the book is much darker), but in the movie’s setting it works in order to tie it up with the rest of the characters. And the woman from the story called “The Dream” is so much like the character from Stephen Gammell’s original illustration that I actually got a little chill. Now, in order to tie the original stories together with the plot in this movie, changes had to be made of course. Many of the stories from the original books were also based on folklore and urban legends, and thus some of the characters in the movie actually references to remembering some of the stories from their earlier childhood. There is also a new addition to the movie: the “Jangly Man”, which is a character composed from several of the stories and Stephen Gammell’s illustrations (including the “Me Tie Dough-ty Walker” story). While there aren’t references to every single story in the series of three books, there’s enough to keep you satisfied.
Now, “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” is not a horror movie for gore-hounds or those looking for something really scary. It’s a visually rich film with the excellent dark fantasy-mood that Guillermo del Toro has become so known for, and the direction by André Øvredal (who previously made “Trollhunter” and the quite dark and scary “Autopsy of Jane Doe” is confident and strong. Also keep in mind that the books were all written for and intended for children (so why they had some of the most nightmare-fueling illustrations you could possibly find is a bit mind-boggling, but really cool nevertheless). Still, the movie is really entertaining and chock-full of atmosphere (and actually some creepy scenes as well). You’ll also easily be able to enjoy it without having read the books, but there’s still no doubt that this movie will probably get a stronger hold on those of us that have read (and seen) them.
There’s also possibilities for a sequel or two here, and I hope they use that opportunity. Maybe a trilogy, just like the books. We’ll find out, sooner or later!
And, of course, the Horror Ghouls own the books and have done so for some years now. Here’s some photos from the books, and you’ll easily be able to see the similarities of the characters from Stephen Gammell’s illustrations. And for those interested in getting their hands on these books: they used to be out of print and not so easy to get your hands on (aside from some eBay listings), but they had a reprint a couple years back. The books had a reprint earlier as well, but that version didn’t contain Stephen Gammell’s illustrations as instead they hired Brett Helquist for the job to make new ones. While Brett Helquist is a very talented illustrator, known for making the art for books like “A Series of Unfortunate Events” and many others, the new illustrations just weren’t as bloodcurdling as the originals by Stephen Gammell. Thus, the replacements in the previous reprint did of course disappoint a lot of people. But now, you can easily get your hands on the books with the original drawings!
Director: André Øvredal Country & year: USA | Canada, 2019 Actors: Zoe Margaret Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Dean Norris, Gil Bellows, Lorraine Toussaint, Austin Zajur, Natalie Ganzhorn, Austin Abrams, Kathleen Pollard, Stephanie Belding, Hershel Blatt, Brandon Knox, Jane Moffat, Amanda Smith IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3387520/
Clare (Joey King) lives together with her father, who is collecting scrap metal and junk in order to make a living. In addition to feeling embarrassed whenever her father goes dumpster diving, she’s also plagued with nightmares and memories from a childhood trauma: her mother committed suicide by hanging herself in the attic, and Clare was the one who found her. Due to this, Clare is troubled with a lot of “what if’s” in addition to a general dissatisfaction over the life she’s currently living. One day she gets a Chinese music box as a result from her father’s recent scrap hunt, and this box is supposed to grant wishes. Trying it out merely for the fun of it, she soon realizes that the wishes actually comes true. What she doesn’t realize until it’s too late however, is that the wishes come at a price…
Being granted wishes is not a concept you’ll only find in “Aladdin”. There are many stories dealing with this concept, and much darker ones too. One prime example would be “The Monkey’s Paw”, a horror novel from 1902 by W.W. Jacobs, where each wish is meddling with the fate of the one making it…and in quite a horrible way. “Wish Upon” is some kind of modern version of this, where each wish is only fulfilled by either the death or ill fate of someone else (example: wishing for wealth – the rich uncle dies and they inherit his house and money). It does take some time before our protagonist realizes the price tag on each of her wishes, but it isn’t until most of the people close to her falls victim to her wishes in some kind of way, that she decides that she must stop making them. But of course, it’s not just that easy…
“Wish Upon” is directed by John R. Leonetti, who also directed the first “Annabelle” movie from the Conjuring-universe. That being said, “Wish Upon” is a much milder dish which doesn’t live on jump-scares or scary things hiding in the dark. Instead, it’s a typical easy-going PG-13 horror flick that is well served together with some popcorn and candy on a Saturday evening. For what it is, the movie plays out pretty well.
Director: John R. Leonetti Country & year: USA | Canada, 2017 Actors: Joey King, Ryan Phillippe, Ki Hong Lee, Mitchell Slaggert, Shannon Purser, Sydney Park, Elisabeth Röhm, Josephine Langford, Alexander Nunez, Daniela Barbosa, Kevin Hanchard, Sherilyn Fenn, Raegan Revord, Alice Lee, Victor Sutton IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5322012/
The two girlfriends Tara and Dawn are leaving a Halloween party late at night, and stops by a pizza restaurant. After Dawn has taken her “longest piss ever”, a tall and skinny person dressed as a clown-like weirdo comes in with a trash-bag over his shoulders. He sits down by the table across them and gives them an intimidating stare, not uttering a single word. He starts to make faces and evil grins, which is creeping out Tara since she’s the one he’s showing most of his attention to. Dawn, who is slightly drunk and in a funny-mood, tries to laugh it off and plays along by taking a selfie with him. After all, it’s Halloween, so he must be a harmless weirdo who’s just trolling them (or in this case clowning them), right? Oh, well…
After Tara and Dawn have left, Art the Clown (which is the creepy clown’s name) returns to the restaurant to do some unfinished business in a pretty graphic killing scene, which gives us a foretaste of what to come. He chops a guy’s head off to make a Jack-O-Lantern of it, and another guy gets his fingers chopped off before he stabs both of his eyes out. Then Art is going after the two girls to get his brunette (Tara). And anyone that gets in his way gets killed, or executed, to put it more correctly.
“Terrifier” is written and directed by Damien Leone, and based on his short film with the same title from 2011. It is also a spinoff of his previous film “All Hallows Eve” (which I’ve not seen yet). His CV is mainly listing him as a special effects and make up artist, and “Terrifier” shows that he has a good eye and steady hand as a director as well. The film is a love-letter to the 80’s slasher films, with only practical and old school effects. And they are awesome. The death scenes are creative, juicy and gruesome, and even though there’s not much characters here, the actors are doing a good job. “Terrifier” is more a cat-and-mouse game filled with tension from start to finish.
But the man of the hour here is undoubtedly Art the Killer Clown.
In Ed Gein-style we get a scene where Art mutilates a girl while she’s hanging upside-down by her legs, and uses her upper torso as an outfit while he dances around like a drunk schizophrenic lunatic. David Howard Thornton is the actor behind Art the Clown, and he’s clearly having the time of his life playing this character with a high level of energy and enthusiasm. Art is also mute and plays only on facial expressions and body language, and David makes the character creepy and believable, and just a joy to watch. And in this never ending era of remakes and reboots it is a breath of fresh air to see a new slasher villain.
And some great news that broke recently: Terrifier 2, which will also be directed by Damien Leone and starring David as Art The Clown once more, is in pre-production and set to be released in 2020.
Director: Damien Leone Country & year: USA, 2016 Actors: Jenna Kanell, Samantha Scaffidi, David Howard Thornton, Catherine Corcoran, Pooya Mohseni, Matt McAllister IMDb:https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4281724/
West Germany, early 90’s. Peter (Olaf Ittenbach) is a disturbed, hateful young junkie who has dropped out of school, and is spending his days drinking beer, showing authority the finger and participating in gang fights. At home, he argues with mom and dad and clearly shows his disdain for house rules, by telling them to go to hell before entering his boy’s room to shoot up on some heroin. A typical German teenager, it seems. He also has a little sister that he likes to sneak in to after she has gone to bed, to tell her two “goodnight stories” while in full heroin intoxication. Well, this should be interesting..
The first “goodnight story” is called “Julia’s Love” which is about Cliff Parker, a schizophrenic mental patient with 21 murder victims behind him, who manages to escape. He goes straight on a blind date with the young Julia, who obviously has no idea what she’s gotten into. While they’re both in Cliff’s car, he goes out to buy smoke while leaving Julia inside. Then she hears on the radio that a certain lunatic who is on the run has stolen a car that is described similar to the one she’s inside. Julia is in deep shit and from here on there’s anything but love that’s awaiting her.
After this unconventional love story, Peter’s little sister is in shock and tears, and says Stop, I don’t want to hear your stupid stories. Well, we have an additional 47 minutes to fill while the heroin rush is still in full action, so grab your teddy and hang in there.
The second story is called “Purity”, and is about a middle aged priest who lives a double life. Preaching in the daytime while raping and killing ladies at night in a small town community. We also learn that this priest is a full-blown satanist who kidnaps people and sacrifices them under some juicy rituals, while he drinks their blood from a goblet. And just to top that, he looks like a mishmash of Edmund Kemper and Dennis Rader, which by itself is fucking hilarious. He’s the high point of this movie, for sure.
The film’s juicy climax ends straight into Hell, literally. With a tirade of torture-porn scenes where we see Olaf Ittenbach’s true ambition and talents come to light, and where the micro-budget probably went: effects. While most of the effects we’ve seen until this point has been pretty sloppy, he made sure to save some of the best till the end.
However, The Burning Moon is a stumbling underground amateur-reel starring Olaf Ittenbach’s friends, who never tried to act before or after this movie. And of course, with a budget that couldn’t even afford a microphone, some horrible dubbing was added in post production. It’s also obvious that the film tries to go for a more serious and gritty tone, with ultra-taboo subjects, but nosedives by its own incompetence already in the opening credit sequence. It reeks of cheapness and amateur hour all the way, which provides us with some funny scenes and gut-busting moments.
This is Ittenbach’s second film, with a filmography spanning of 18 titles as we speak, and the guy is still active today. This is my first viewing of his works, so I have no idea how (or if) the guy has evolved through the years. We’ll see..
Director: Olaf Ittenbach Country & year: Germany, 1992 Actors: Olaf Ittenbach, Beate Neumeyer, Bernd Muggenthaler, Ellen Fischer, Alfons Sigllechner, Barbara Woderschek, Helmut Neumeyer, Andrea Arbter, Christian Fuhrmann, Herbert Holzapfel, Thomas Deby, Karl-Heinz Nebbe, Karin Dellinger IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103898/
Dani and Christian, a young American couple, are at the brink of breaking up. Christian has already started planning a trip abroad with his friends and is more or less starting to walk out the door on the relationship, but after Dani experiences a horrible family tragedy where she loses her parents and sister in a murder-suicide, Christian can’t make himself break out. Months later, when Dani finds out about his planned trip to Sweden with his friends, she invites herself along with them. One of Christian’s friends, the Swede Pelle, brings them all to a traditional “Midsommar” celebration in a secluded area called “Harga”. All seem to be flowers and sunshine, until it becomes clear that they’ve ventured into a sect whose “traditions” proves to be rather disturbing.
As a Norwegian (Sweden is one of our neighbouring countries) I was already familiar with their summer tradition called “Midsommar” (Midsummer), which is highly celebrated in the entire country and by some considered the most popular tradition (to the point of even surpassing Christmas). It involves decorating your hair with flowers, dancing around the “Majstång” (Maypole), partying and in general having lots of fun. In other words: the real “Midsommar” is a harmless and fun tradition, so just relax: if you want to visit a Scandinavian country, you won’t be killed by crazy sect-members during a summer festival.
Ari Aster made quite a name for himself with last year’s “Hereditary”, which is considered by many as the best horror movie made in recent years. And despite your own personal opinion on that matter, there’s no denying that the guy sure knows how to make creepy and unsettling movies. “Midsommar” is quite different from his previous film, however, and you may probably consider it more as a thriller. It’s primarily a story about a couple breaking up with each other, and Dani’s broken psyche due to her terrible loss. In this movie, Ari Aster has taken folklore and turned it into a bizarre nightmare filled with sunshine and flowers, heavy with symbolism and tons of things open to interpretation. Some of the rituals depicted in the movie are based on actual rituals, while others belong more to myths and legends without definitive proof that they were ever real. Like the “Ättestupa” scene, where two elders are jumping from a cliff to their deaths: this is based on ritual senicide during Nordic prehistoric times, where elderly people either jumped to their deaths or were thrown in order to not be a burden to the household. Suicide precipices and stories of such is debated to be more myth and legend than true, however, and there is no real proof this ever happened. Still makes for quite a horrible scene in the movie, though…
While “Midsommar” may test your patience a little bit, it’s held up strongly by a believable protagonist that you really feel sorry for and sympathize with. Dani has been troubled with an unstable and bi-polar sister for years, who has threatened to kill herself multiple times over and thus having kept Dani on the edge and worried sick for a long time. This was even described as one of the strains on Dani and Christian’s relationship. So, when Dani’s sister actually does kill herself and their parents in a murder-suicide, Dani’s year-long worries all become true and she falls completely apart. So when we see her reactions and behavior throughout the rest of the movie, it makes sense. All the worries had gnawed away at her for years, and made her vulnerable. It wasn’t just an accident or tragedy that happened out of the blue, this was something Dani had feared for years. And it happening at the brink of Christian’s break-up with her, which makes him feel compelled to stay with her, gives the story just the right amount of unease and tension between them. So when they arrive at the festival in Sweden, and is given a fair amount of drugs together with the sunshine and flowers, the movie starts having a really bad and bizarre trip. It’s nightmarish, surreal and emotionally strong, and even quite funny in some parts, and makes for quite an experience.
Side note: it would have been a lot of fun (and kinda fitting) if they could have played Sigge Fürst’s “Bullfest” in the ending credits. No such luck, though…
Director: Ari Aster Country & year: USA, 2019 Actors: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Vilhelm Blomgren, William Jackson Harper, Will Poulter, Ellora Torchia, Archie Madekwe, Henrik Norlén, Gunnel Fred, Isabelle Grill, Agnes Westerlund Rase, Julia Ragnarsson, Mats Blomgren, Lars Väringer, Anna Åström IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8772262/