A woman finds herself locked in an isolated cabin with something sinister on the other side of the door.
Beast of Prey is a horror short that gives hints of a bigger story underneath, which actually makes it feel a bit like a scene from an actual full-length feature film (and making you wish there actually was one). It’s got good production value and manages to create a lot out of just one small location and one character.
Before The Conjuring 2, there was … The Enfield Haunting – a miniseries in three parts lasting for two hours, produced for the British telly.
Based on the book This House is Haunted by Guy Lyon Playfair, who documented the case between 1977 to 1979 together with Maurice Grosse. So there’s zero signs of The Crooked Man or a scary, demonic nun to be seen here. Nor the Warren-couple, who didn’t actually have that much to do with the case in comparison to Grosse and Playfair. This is a totally separate production with no connection to The Conjuring universe whatsoever, so this probably gives more than a few biscuit-crumbs of truth compared to a typical fictional fairytale written by some Hollywood screenwriter. Or maybe not. The Conjuring films are great for what they are, but when it comes to what’s based on reality and what’s pure hogwash, I just don’t bother to care anymore. Just entertain us at least, dammit!
It’s August 1977 where we find ourselves in the district of Enfield in north-London, where the stressed single mother Peggy Hodgson (Rosie Cavaliero) lives with her three children in a council apartment, with cramped living conditions and a crumbling economy. And weird things happen around the house, such as kitchen chairs that seem to have a tendency to move on their own. But when pencil scribbles are suddenly visible on the wall, the mother has finally had it and blames the kids, especially the youngest daughter Janet (Eleanor Worthington-Cox), who is supposedly an outgoing prankster with a vivid imagination. That same night (or “later that night“, if you take the reference), the mother and the kids are attacked by a drawer section that is suddenly whizzing towards them, something Janet obviously could not do, unless she had some Carrie powers. Since the police can’t put ghosts in handcuffs, the elderly gentleman and parapsychologist Maurice Grosse (Timothy Spall) is sent from the Society for Psychical Research to take a look at this house.
When the case begins to flare up in the media with the famous headline “House Of Strange Happenings“, Guy Lyon Playfair (Matthew Macfadyen) comes knocking on the door. He’s a colleague of Maurice and an author in parapsychology, who sees the brilliant opportunity to capitalize on the case by writing the script for his book, as mentioned. And he does so behind everyone’s back, something Maurice is not so happy about when he accidentally finds out. A quick trivia: Playfair also worked as a consultant on Ghostwatch back in 1992, which was also inspired by the Enfield case. Anyway, it’s not long before things get more aggressive, as Janet starts talking in a demonic-growling voice that is supposed to come from the house’s former tenant – an evil, old man named Joe Watson (also known as Bill Wilkins), a creepy drunk uncle-looking guy, who died in the house.
We get to spend a lot of time with Maurice Grosse, which at this time went through a severe life crisis after his daughter died in a motorcycle accident. He’s a broken, old man who slowly gets eaten up by grief, sorrow, guilt and traumatic nightmares, while he’s using his ghost hunting as both therapy and a hope to come in contact with his dead daughter to get some closure. And in all of this, his marriage with Betty is on the verge of collapsing at any minute. Guy Lyon Playfair, however, is the complete opposite of Maurice – a stiff, stone-cold skeptic, with a “you see what you want to see“-attitude, who is more eager to debunk it all as a hoax than anything.There’s also a mystery-plot that must be solved to get to the bottom of this Joe Watson, aka Bill Wilkins while Mr. Grosse tries to find a spiritual connection between Janet and his deceased daughter, who by a coincidence also was named Janet.
The Enfield Haunting was an overall pleasant surprise, and I hadn’t expected the two hours it lasted to fly away that quickly, especially when we’re talking about a TV Mini-Series. In this case it actually looks way more like a feature film that’s been cut into three episodes, which would have blended even better if the opening and credits where cut out from the DVD (just a minor nitpick). It has a great production value with a solid directing and a script that manages to mix drama and horror in a satisfying and well-balanced way that I find pretty rare. The acting is first-class, especially from Timothy Spall as Maurice Grosse and Eleanor Worthington-Cox as Janet Hodgson who’s more or less the heart and soul in this. The Enfield Haunting has its share of tension and scares, for sure, but it’s not the typical and modern roller-coaster-ride you maybe would expect – so, you would be more pleased if you prefer more grounded, old-fashioned ghost stories on the same level as The Woman in Black and The Changeling.
Directors: Kristoffer Nyholm Country & year: UK, 2015 Actors: Timothy Spall, Eleanor Worthington-Cox, Juliet Stevenson, Fern Deacon, Rosie Cavaliero, Elliot Kerley, Matthew Macfadyen, Struan Rodger, Charles Furness, Joey Price, Simon Chandler, Amanda Lawrence, Sean Francis IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4036886/
Larry lives behind a window. He can see through the glass. Who will be Larry’s friend?
Larry is a strange and atmospheric little horror short, which builds up a lot of tension and keeps you guessing what’s going to happen next. The ending is a little bit goofy, though, but still unexpected. It was announced earlier this year that Larry will turn into a full length film called Come Play, produced by Amblin Partners, and with Focus Features as the distribution company. It is currently scheduled to be released on October 30th this year (originally it was supposed to be released on July 24th, but due to the pandemic it was re-scheduled to a Halloween weekend release instead).
On the first trip of the world’s most luxurious cruise ship, the Argonautica, the ship’s navigation and communication systems are sabotaged, causing the ship to stop in the middle of the ocean somewhere. Meanwhile, Captain John Finnegan and his crew have been hired by a group of mercenaries with intentions unknown (other than it obviously being something bad) but as Finnegan has promised “no questions asked”, the Captain and his crew don’t realize what is about to happen until they reach the cruise ship. As the mercenaries take over and reveal that they’re planning to rob the ship, they soon realize that something is not right inside the Argonautica. The place is a mess, and people appear to have gone missing. It soon becomes clear that a deadly enemy from the depths of the ocean has wrecked havoc on the ship, and it’s still hungry!
Ah, the 90’s. When creators often made horror movies that was supposed to just be a bunch of fun. When CGI effects were in a (somewhat) young stage and was constantly improved over short periods of time (thus giving various results that would look impressive at the moment, but would age like sour milk in a couple of years). While this decade brought horror buffs everything from gold to crap, there were a fair amount of movies released during this time that, despite not exactly receiving a lot of love, still managed to get cult status later on and still manages to entertain people. Deep Rising is a prime example of one of those movies.
Directed by Stephen Sommers (The Mummy, 1999) Deep Rising is an action-packed aquatic creature feature, and had an astounding budget of $45 million. Now, that’s not exactly a common thing with B-horror movies, and a rather bold step to take…and it only managed to take in $11 million at the box office. Ouch. Still, the movie earned a cult status later on, and is a lot of people’s “guilty pleasure” today. However, I personally don’t see any reason to feel guilty about enjoying this one, especially not if you enjoy B-horror in the first place.
Now, I have to admit…I love horror movies with sea monsters. And most of all, I love these movies if they actually have a plot that is about the frickin’ monster in the first place. There are a lot of monster movies (of various kinds, not just sea monster movies) that focus heavily on other things than the actual monster, and to be honest, this can be a bit hit or miss for me. If I want to watch a creature feature, I mainly want three things: monster, action and body count. While I have enjoyed other monster movies that may not offer much of any of these, I more than often find myself disappointed. I mean…if you can take away every scene or reference to the monster in a movie, and still be left with pretty much the same movie afterwards – then yes, I will be disappointed. Okay, rant over. Deep Rising, despite some flaws, does have exactly what I desire from a sea monster movie, so even after 20 years, I still find myself pleased with watching this 90’s B-horror. So, yay!
One of the highlights in Deep Rising is the monster itself (which it should be, for any creature feature with an ounce of self-respect). While we only see its long tentacles from the start, we later learn that they belong to a larger creature which looks like every fisherman’s nightmare fuel. And the best part is that it doesn’t just eat you, it actually captures you inside the tentacles and “drink you” (slowly digesting you while you’re still alive). This is shown in a scene where one of the characters falls out from one of these tentacles, still alive but severely digested (which is, in my opinion, one of the film’s best scenes). This shows us that each victim to this monster won’t just be easily swallowed/eaten, but will meet a slow and extremely painful death, making the monster even more threatening. A scene featuring the monster’s “dumping ground” is also a highlight, and while this movie is mainly a typical popcorn feature, there’s a lot of gooey gore to appreciate here.
Deep Rising, being a typical B-movie, still had pretty decent special effects for its time. Some of the effects are actually still good, albeit a little outdated in places. Considering that it’s over 20 years old, it’s actually holding up far better than many movies from the same time, and even better than what you can see in some movies today. There’s a solid cast, effects that haven’t aged that badly at all, some awesome gore, and it even has a nice recognizable theme music (when do you actually hear that in movies these days? Damn, nostalgia!) thanks to Jerry Goldsmith who was the composer.
Now, if you don’t enjoy Stephen Sommer’s films or typical silly fun movies, I guess you’d better give this one a miss. However: if you, like me, enjoy putting on a ridiculous and energetic B-horror movie that doesn’t have any other goal than simply entertain you (and also having a pretty cool sea monster), then check it out. Just remember to put your brain on hold first, and enjoy!
Directors: Stephen Sommers Country & year: USA | Canada, 1998 Actors: Treat Williams, Famke Janssen, Anthony Heald, Kevin J. O’Connor, Wes Studi, Derrick O’Connor, Jason Flemyng, Cliff Curtis, Clifton Powell, Trevor Goddard, Djimon Hounsou, Una Damon, Clint Curtis, Warren Takeuchi, Linden Banks IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118956/
A Sheriff comes under fire when two S.B.I. Agents question his involvement in an unsolved murder that shares distinct similarities with a recent homicide.
“Miner’s Mountain” was written, produced, co-edited and directed by Bennett Pellington, and was made over the course of 6 years. The result is a high quality horror short filled with atmosphere. It would have been awesome to see this turned into a full length film!
Director: Bennett Pellington Country & year: USA, 2019 Actors: Henry Bazemore Jr., Anthony Reynolds, Myke Holmes, Julie Ivey, Eli Walker, Fidias Reyes, Tatum Osborne, Zach Jones IMDb:https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10701072/
Birdemic: Shock and Terror is a a romantic thriller, according to writer, producer and director James Nguyen. Calling this an amateur film is a pretty big understatement. Just take a look at the movie poster. That really says it all. And this is not Sharknado-level of bad, which is a cinematic masterpiece, along with the rest from Asylum films, compared to this one. Because going into this movie without knowing anything about the circumstances around it, one could quickly get the assumption that this is made by some young amateurs for shits n’ giggles with a budget of a monthly salary from Walmart. Instead, we get to watch the result from a full-grown, batshit crazy dude in his mid-forties, which in all seriousness believes he’s made “pure cinema” with “aHollywood-style to it”. I’m not kidding, this is his own quotes from his own mouth. So, colleagues such as Tommy Wiseau, Neil Breen and Lewis Schoenbrun should just sit down, take some notes and learn from the great master himself.
In Birdemic: Shock and Terror we get the pleasure to meet Rod (Alan Bagh), which is a young, successful software salesman from Silicon Valley. He randomly meets his old classmate Nathalie (Whitney Moore) in a restaurant, and they start to date. And suddenly, out of nowhere, eagles and vultures start to attack and kill people. And how and why, you may ask? Because of global warming. And people needs to be punished and taught a lesson to live more climate-friendly. And as the tagline says: Who will survive?
James Nguyen is really careful to use precisely the first half of the movie to give Rod and Nathalie some solid character development before all hell breaks loose. We get a series of date scenes that really should convince us that these two are in love with each other, with a chemistry that is as electric as a public fart in an elevator. The level of cringe and awkwardness is quite astonishing, where the dialogues could as well have been written by an alien who just assumes how earthlings talk and interact. The acting skills by Alan Bagh is especially worth mentioning – which is so stiff (as a Rod), totally emotionless and so robotic that he comes more across as a classic psychopathic serial killer in sheep’s clothing, just graduated from the University of Ted Bundy. I digress. Whether he is a bad actor, or acts bad on purpose, as if he was fully aware of the kind of film he has messed himself into, is not easy to say. The only one here who barely manages to behave like a normal, functioning human being is Withney Moore, although there are several scenes where she seems to really struggle not to laugh. I can’t really blame her for that. I can’t really blame no one for their bad acting, or for acting badly on purpose for that matter, in a film like this. I would do it myself, if I got the chance, really.
But the most important aspect of Birdemic: Shock and Terror is of course the deep and important message behind it. Huh? Birdemic has a message? Here’s a drinking game: take a shot for every time James Nguyen says “global warning” in the DVD’s commentary track, and you’ll be dead by alcohol poisoning way before the end credits. There’s a scene with a hippie climate activist with some really crazy eyes, who gives a preach and shows our protagonists how climate-friendly he lives by building a small treehouse, which some ten-year-olds could have done better. And to emphasize that he has lived in the wild nature for many years, he has a ridiculous wig with a ponytail that doesn’t look fake at all. The conversation ends abruptly when he says “I hear a mountain lion! I gotta get back to my house and you better get to your car!” Okay, whatever. There’s also a scene that, according to Mr. Nguyen, pays a tribute to John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “Bed-Ins for Peace”, just to squeeze in a quick anti-war statement. And the scene is, as the rest of the movie, horribly shot with murky image quality, making it look more like something straight out of a home-made amateur porn.
Criticizing the technical aspects is as meaningless as judging something that could have been shown on America’s Funniest Home Videos in the 90s. There’s really no point, it’s just that bad. But, ok: The CGI effects look like some unused layers from a discarded Nintendo 64 game, and I guess it all was filmed on a cheap camcorder, edited in Windows Movie Maker, and audio mixed with a hair dryer. Since there is a lot of driving in Birdemic, I would assume that the entire budget on 10.000 dollars went to gasoline, and the rest to God knows what. Most of the film was shot without permit (guerrilla-style) in crowded areas, and Mr. Nguyen actually had the nerves to yell at some joggers during a scene to not get into the frame. He and the crew also ended up getting kicked out of some areas. Well, making “pure cinema” with a “Hollywood-style to it” isn’t easy, it seems.
Anyway, one thing I would give Mr. Nguyen credit for, is the way he promoted the film after getting rejected by Sundance. In haste and desperation he got the brilliant idea of driving around in a van, decorated by stuffed birds, fake blood, the sounds of screeching birds out of the speakers, and with a paper sign that read “BIDEMIC.COM”. Yes, in pure James Nguyen fashion he spelled his own movie title wrong. However, this excellent pr-stunt got people to notice it to such a degree that it blew up everywhere, even in the mainstream news globally. Vice also made a mini documenatry that covered some of the circus and insanity that followed. Mr. Nguyen spent two years touring the film around the states where the people couldn’t get enough of Birdemic: Shock and Terror, and it became a real cult hit. But what James Nguyen was not aware of at all, and probably never will be, is that probably 99 percent of the people who flocked to the theatres were from the same audience that laughed themselves to tears by The Room. A prime example of being celebrated on all of the wrong reasons. So the last laugh is on James Nguyen, even though it seemed the guy really had the time of his life and enjoyed the party as long it lasted.
A sequel came two years later, called Birdemic 2: Resurrection, which is more or less the first film all over again where several of the same actors amazingly repeated their roles. The film received a worse reception than the first, maybe because people expected something different than a remake that only refers to itself from the first film. A far clearer and polished image quality didn’t help much either, as it came and went. A third film was planned with the title Birdemic 3: Sea Eagle to end this as a trilogy, and in 2016 he started an indiegogo campaign in the hope of raising half a million dollars. No more than 596 came stumbling in before the campaign ended. Oof. Both Birdemic: Shock and Terror and Birdemic 2: The Ressurection are available on amazon.com, and it’s still a fun experience to watch back-to-back, with the right mind-set… and some booze.
Director: James Nguyen Country & year: USA, 2010 Actors: Alan Bagh, Whitney Moore, Tippi Hedren, Janae Caster, Colton Osborne, Adam Sessa, Catherine Batcha, Patsy van Ettinger, Damien Carter, Rick Camp, Stephen Gustavson, Danny Webber, Mona Lisa Moon, Joe Teixeira, John Grant IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1316037/
Upír z Feratu (also known as Ferat Vampire and Der Autovampir) is a black Ferat racing car that sucks blood from its driver’s feet through the pedal. Even if you wear shoes with thick soles. And you understand the hilarious pun, right? nosFERATu. Har-Har.
If you expect a crazy Maximum Overdrive-ish thing here, or a miniature car with bat wings fluttering with strings in the light of the full moon, Ed Wood-style, you can just give this a pass right away. It is impossible not to expect something real special when you hear a title like DER AUTOVAMPIR while taking a look at its cover, and with Dracula himself appearing in the original poster. Be ready to be really underwhelmed, for this pretty obscure film from Czech Republic is obscure for a good reason.
The plot goes something like this: A foreign car manufacturer has created a whole new car design that is using human blood as fuel. Dr. Malek has realized from the start that there is something really fishy about this company, and is not at all happy when his colleague, Mima, has signed a contract with them to work as a rally driver. Dr. Malek comes in contact with another bizarre guy, a scientist, who looks more like a creepy uncle that you never would allow babysitting your kids. He also likes to sneak up on people while they shower. Fuck this guy. However, he is convinced that this Ferat lives on human blood. And in order to convince Dr. Malek what they’re dealing with, he puts on an old roll of Nosferatu to lecture him about vampires, as if he was a five year old. And nothing much really happens from here. We get a completely random sex scene where someone cuts himself on a broken bottle that happens to contain blood. There’s also a completely random scene where an old, disorientated grandma is run over by someone (off screen) during rush hour. Just because of shock value, I guess. Except it’s so poorly filmed that it isn’t shocking at all. The film builds up to a rather anticlimactic sequence with a rally racing which you probably couldn’t give a shit about unless you’re a big fan of cars and… well, rally racing.
I must also point out that this is not a comedy, or a parody, this is made in all seriousness with serious actors, dry as sandpaper and with really dull dialogue that doesn’t help much to keep the interest up. And to make it look more serious, Dr. Malek is played by a guy who looks like a clone of Bill Gates, and is as bland, wooden and uncharismatic as a potato. However, one has to be a complete mental imbecile to take any of this as seriously as the communist censorship board in the Czech Republic did by cutting away the only two scenes containing blood, and the only thing that reminded the viewer that this was actually a horror movie. Well, “horror” is a word that fits very loosely anyway. These scenes are now added back on the limited German DVD/Blu-ray release, but they’re too tame and downright weak and silly to add any form of shock value. And if you expect some great visuals here, there’s not much. Most of the scenes are filmed out in the broad daylight, mainly in the outskirts of Prague that comes off a bit cheap and lazy. I’m not sure what to make out of Der Autovampir, to be honest, or what the appeal is. There’s several eye-rolling and unintentionally funny moments here for sure, which is impossible for a film like this to avoid, but as a whole, you’re not missing out a damn thing unless you’re in for a few chuckles.
Director: Juraj Herz Country & year: Czech Republic, 1982 Actors: Jirí Menzel, Dagmar Havlová, Jana Brezková, Petr Cepek, Jan Schmid, Zdenka Procházková, Blanka Waleská IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0083264/
When one would think that Evil Ed was the only splatter film Sweden had to offer, we came, by a coincidence, across this title called Wither – a homage to TheEvil Dead, spiced with its own Swedish folklore called Vittre (Wither) to add some of its own personality to it. It was promoted as the first Swedish zombie movie when it came out in 2012, and the film received a very polarized reception in its home country, everything from praise to pure panning. One of the biggest newspapers in Sweden was obviously so offended by the film that the reviewer spent a full five sentences commenting on the film while the rest was spent on personal attacks against directors Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund. Classy. But someone who clearly liked the movie must be producer Dallas Sonnier, who hired the duo to direct the twelfth Puppet Master movie a few years later. Cheers for that! Now, back to Wither:
A group of young party-ready people go to an abandoned house for a weekend far in the woods to get loose. They have no idea who owned it, except that the previous occupants left the house rotting like a sinking ship with all the belongings inside. At the same time, an elderly man with a rifle is lurking in the area, looking for his missing daughter. Maybe not the best place to spend the weekend. After a quick exploration in the immediate area, two of the kids find another abandoned house where one of them sneaks inside through the window where she comes across a cellar trapdoor. And what do we say then? Don’t go in the basement! Yeah, right. She returns to the gang that is well underway with the party. Traumatized by what she saw downstairs in the basement, she locks herself in the bathroom and suffers panic attacks. It goes from bad to worse when she starts pissing blood, her eyes have become bloodshot, and she collapses. Then she resurrects like a demonic zombie, hungry for human flesh. And there’s full blood-splattering carnage from here on.
One can also draw more comparisons to the 2012 remake of The Evil Dead (which is awesome, by the way) with its gritty, serious tone. There is no over-the-top gallows humor here, and while one may not care much about the characters and who’s what, the acting is pretty decent. Technically, the film looks good with some great effects, good make-up, and probably a usage of several gallons of fake blood that the actors had to slip through. A strong and crisp soundtrack also helps, but the film has its obvious weaknesses. The script halts in which several scenes become too tedious, and the last 30 minutes could honestly have been trimmed down a bit or two. A main protagonist to root for, an Ash if you will, is also missed here. However, I still enjoyed the film as a whole, and it probably helped with some low expectations. But one thing is certain: if you want blood, you got it!
Directors: Sonny Laguna, Tommy Wiklund Original title: Vittra Country & year: Sweden, 2012 Actors: Patrik Berg-Almkvisth, Lisa Henni, Patrick Saxe, Johannes Brost, Amanda Renberg, Jessica Blomkvist, Max Wallmo, Anna Henriksson, Ingar Sigvardsdotter, Ralf Beck, Sanna Ekman, Julia Knutson, Jessica Darberg IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2140671/