It (2017)

It (2017)It’s 1989 in Derry, a small Maine town. A group of bullied kids who calls themselves “The Losers Club” experience frightening things when a creepy clown named Pennywise starts terrorizing the little town. Children go missing, and the kids band together in the hopes of destroying the creature.

 

Based on Stephen King’s monster of a book, “IT”, this first chapter of an installment of two movies in total follows the original story in certain parts while also adding something new to the mix. The book has been on the screen before, in the TV mini-series from 1990 (starring Tim Curry as Pennywise). Now, as many readers of Stephen King’s work are well aware of, some of his stuff is pretty hard to translate from written text to the screen… and “IT” is no exception in that regard. The original story contains a lot of stuff that is outright weird (and even some things that would probably not be “acceptable” to include in a Hollywood movie, even by today’s standards). Many readers and fans of the book might feel disappointed by a lack of some things they may have loved, like for example Maturin the Turtle, a character that was left out in both adaptions. Then again, there are those of us that have both read the book and still enjoy both movie adaptions on their own.

 

Now, one of the strongest qualities of this movie is the performances by quite a well-chosen cast. The actors are doing a terrific job in every scene they’re in, and Bill Skarsgård’s performance as Pennywise the Dancing Clown is nothing but stellar. Like in the book, one major part is the bonding between the kids, something that is also being focused well on in the film. The members of “The Losers Club” not only has to face the horrifying shape-shifting entity, but also the bully Henry Bowers and his gang, which adds additional suspense. The history of Derry is rather rich on detail, and as our protagonists delve further into the backstory and origins of the feared clown they’re both hunting and are being hunted by, we get some insight into It’s long-lasting reign of terror. It is coming out of hibernation every 27 years to feast, repeating the cycle over and over.

 

When the kids experience the frightening visions caused by the entity, who uses their worst fears against them to scare the living daylights out of them, it’s always a pleasant experience with a mix of straight-out horror and even some comedic parts. It’s fun and it’s scary at the same time. The film has been criticized for being heavy in CGI usage, and while there are some scenes that are not exactly top-notch in that department (like when Georgie is getting his arm chewed off), there’s also some scenes that works pretty well. Also, the scenes where Pennywise’s eyes are pointing in different directions is actually a trick Bill Skarsgård is doing all by himself.

 

Today’s audience will probably automatically draw parallels to “Stranger Things” (and that series actually includes a major role by Finn Wolfhard, who’s playing Richie in “IT”), which is also set in the 80’s and features a group of kids battling supernatural forces. In the recent years, we’ve had quite a lot of “kids grouping together to fight scary things”, also including the excellent “Summer of 84” which has a pretty ballsy ending (review coming on Horror Ghouls later!). However, with “IT” being a story from 1986, with an earlier movie adaption in 1990, it’s got a different fanbase that is not sold mainly on 80’s nostalgia, but rather on the story itself and the iconic Pennywise. It’s a fun ride and a very good adaption, despite not being able to grasp at every single subject from the original story (which would, in my honest opinion, not really be possible without making it a total mess anyway).

 

It

 

Director: Andy Muschietti
Country & year: USA | Canada, 2017
Actors: Jaeden Martell, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Bill Skarsgård, Nicholas Hamilton, Jake Sim, Logan Thompson, Owen Teague, Jackson Robert Scott, Stephen Bogaert
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1396484/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE DOLLMAKER – Short Horror Film

A grieving mother latches on to a magical surrogate for her lost child. But small miracles come with big consequences..

 

“The Dollmaker” is a creepy and a little sad horror short about a couple that has lost their son. They’ve gotten in contact with a doll-maker that makes a doll by using a lock of the boy’s hair, clothes he’s used and something he valued, and promises the parents that they’ll be able to see their son again through the doll. Seeing the simple ragdoll they’re both sceptical…but upon touching it, they realize that magic really does happen. But spells tend to come with a set of rules…and if broken, there will be consequences.

 

THE DOLLMAKER - Short Horror Film

 

Director: Al Lougher
Country & year: USA, 2017
Actors: Perri Lauren, Sean Meehan, Daniel Martin Berkey, Aiva Onfroy
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7253316/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE DOLLMAKER // Short Film from Al Lougher on Vimeo.

 

The Mangler (1995)

The Mangler (1995)It’s a regular day at the Blue Ribbon Laundry service, run by the tyrant Bill Gartley (Robert Englund), where the employees are almost treated like worthless slaves under horrendous working conditions. One of the workers, Sherry, cuts her hand on a clamp connected to the laundry press, causing her to spill some blood over the machine. This somehow awakens a demonic force inside the the mangler. Yes, we’re talking about a demon-possessed laundry machine (!) It goes from bad to worse when one of the elderly workers drops her pills on the mangler, and tries to collect them. Bad idea. Her hand is getting trapped by the machine, and her entire body is rolled into the mangler and spews her out like a big pile of shit. What a way to go. It’s one of those scenes where someone makes so incredibly dumb decisions that you just can’t feel sorry for them. But yummy for the mangler, I guess.

 

Mulder and Scully is apparently unavailable, so the police officer John Hunton (Ted “Buffalo Bill” Levine), a bitter, burned out shell of a man who eats pills like it’s candy and clearly has his head filled with his own demons, is set to investigate. Some local inspectors views it as a glitch of the safety features and closes the case as a “work accident”. But Hunton gets instantly traumatized by the sight of what’s left of the mangled woman, and he’s just pissed that the machine is still running. And the day isn’t even over before another accident happens. Hunton’s brother-in-law is convinced that the machine is possessed, and after the demonic forces spread to the local town and possesses a refrigerator (yes, really) that then suffocates a kid, it’s time to find out what the hell is really going on on Gartley’s Laundry service.

 

The Mangler is based on a short story by Stephen King, inspired by his own experience from working in an industrial laundry service before he became a full-time writer. If the working conditions were as horrid and dreadful as in the story, it’s no wonder the setting inspired him to write a horror story. The highlight in this movie is clearly Robert Englund as the deranged owner of the laundry, Bill Gartley. He looks like an over-the-top cartoon villain with hidden, delusional desires to conquer the world. He gives it all, with the impression that he was just happy and excited to finally play a whole different villain than Freddy Krueger, and he owns every scene he’s in. Director Tobe Hooper didn’t sleepwalk through this movie, and it’s a clear big step up after the complete dumpster fire “Night Terrors” that he made two years earlier.

 

The Mangler came and went in 1995, butchered by critics, flopped at the box office, and was the last movie with wide theatrical release from Tobe Hooper before his crumbling career went completely downhill. What a shame. Rest in peace. This is not a masterpiece by any means, and with a premise like this where a laundry machine is demon-possessed, it’s a story that probably works best on paper. Still, this could have been so much worse. The film has a great level of energy, great performances by Robert Englund and Ted Levine, a lot of cheesy fun, gory and blood-spattering scenes, and a completely wild bat shit-crazy ending that shows us it doesn’t give a fuck. Despite the negative reception, two direct-to-video sequels were made, “The Mangler 2” (2002) with Lance Henriksen getting possessed by a computer virus, and the unofficial sequel “The Mangler Reborn” (2005).

 

The Mangler

 

Director: Tobe Hooper
Country & year: South Africa | UK, 1995
Actors: Robert Englund, Ted Levine, Daniel Matmor, Jeremy Crutchley, Vanessa Pike, Demetre Phillips, Lisa Morris, Vera Blacker, Ashley Hayden, Danny Keogh, Danny Keogh, Todd Jensen, Sean Taylor, Gerrit Schoonhoven, Nan Hamilton
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0113762/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOW TO BE ALONE – Horror Short

This horror short follows Lucy, as she struggles to survive an increasingly bizarre and horrifying night. Lucy’s most secret fears begin to manifest and attack her, and she must fight for control of her mind…and ultimately her life.

 

“How To Be Alone” is a weird horror short starring Maika Monroe (It Follows) who struggles with being alone when her husband (played by Joe Keery from “Stranger Things”) is away working the night shift. She tries to get through the night by making plans and keeping herself occupied…but it’s just not that easy.

 

HOW TO BE ALONE - Horror Short

 

Director: Kate Trefry
Country & year: USA, 2019
Actors: Maika Monroe, Joe Keery, Evan Miller
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8526524/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOW TO BE ALONE from 4WT Media on Vimeo.

 

Queen Crab (2015)

Queen Crab (2015)A young girl (Melissa) is playing nearby the pond close to her family’s residence, and finds a cute little crab whom she names Pee-Wee (yeah, you could probably make some STD jokes here). She decides to keep it, and starts to feed it some of the weird fruit from her father’s laboratory where he’s experimenting on a formula to make things grow larger. Soon, Pee-Wee starts to grow much bigger (I’m talking about the crab, of course). After an accident that kills both of Melissa’s parents, she lets Pee-Wee back into the pond and goes to live with her uncle, the town sheriff. Many years later, Melissa is still caring for her secret giant crab pet (who is, despite the name, actually a female). All is well until “Pee-Wee” gets some huge crab babies that start to cause trouble all over town…

 

“Queen Crab” aka “Claws” is a low budget ($75.000) creature feature with old-fashioned stop-motion effects, that can easily be considered a homage to the monster movies of the 50’s and 60’s. It’s written and directed by Brett Piper, and while this movie was actually our first introduction to his work, the guy has been going at it since the 1980’s. Some of his earlier work includes titles like “The Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell”, “Drainiac”, and “Shock-O-Rama”. Specializing in low-budget horror and monster flicks with old school effects, he’s built himself quite the portfolio, and I expect that we at Horror Ghouls are likely to check out more of his movies.

 

Now, “Queen Crab” is definitely going for a “so bad it’s good” feeling, but there is unfortunately a lot of scenes with little progression, and that makes the movie feel somewhat dragged out in places. The acting is a mix of bad/laughably bad, but that’s most likely intended. I’d reckon that the customer base for movies like this are already familiar with low-budget indie horror films and their usual flaws, and if you belong to this group you’re more likely to enjoy it for what it is. There’s no denying that the stop-motion effects is the movie’s main selling point, and combined with the bad/laughable acting and goofy premise, you’re actually getting a rather decent indie monster film. Surprisingly, there’s even a certain charm to it in regards to the “relationship” between Melissa and her giant monster crab.

 

Not a masterpiece by any standards, but if you’re in for some campy “shut down your brain first” kind of fun with old-school effects, you’ll most likely find yourself entertained!

 

Queen Crab

 

Director: Brett Piper
Country & year: USA, 2019
Also known as: Claws
Actors: Michelle Simone Miller, Kathryn Metz, Richard Lounello, A.J. DeLucia, Steve Diasparra, Danielle Donahue, Ken Van Sant, Yolie Canales
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2319456/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GEIST – Animated Horror Short

A shipwrecked fisherman is led to a dark secret within this short animated thriller.

 

“GEIST” is a CGI animated horror/thriller short, that builds up a ton of suspense and atmosphere, and the animation provides amazing visuals. While the “twist” is somewhat predictable, it’s still a pretty thrilling and quite emotional short.

 

GEIST - Animated Horror Short

 

Directors: Ben Harper, Sean Mullen
Country & year: Ireland, 2015
Voice Actors: Cormac O’Sullivan, R.M. Clarke
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5143626/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GEIST from Giant Animation Studios on Vimeo.

Haunted Hospital: Heilstätten (2018)

Haunted Hospital: Heilstätten (2018)We are introduced to the YouTube channel Prankstaz.tv, run by two mildly sociopathic douchebags who make prankster-videos where they break into a morgue (among other things) and takes a selfie with one of the cadavers. And all just to see those precious views on YouTube. Reminds me of a certain guy with a similar channel who went to Suicide Forest in Japan in late 2017, to film a fresh corpse hanging from a tree and laugh at it and mock it afterwards. So, here we get a satirical glimpse at how toxic and obnoxious the YouTube prankster-community can be, and how far they are willing to push the shock factor to get the desired attention and views.

 

However, the next project by The Prankstaz is to spend a night in the closed and abandoned Beeliz Heilstätten (or Beeliz Sanatorium), outside of Berlin, which was used during the Nazi era. The sanatorium is supposed to be haunted by a woman, or simply “patient 106”. She killed herself by slitting her wrists in a bathtub after she got pregnant with one of the doctors, and it’s said that she cursed the place. They bring some other YouTubers along with them: a local historian to creep us out with the sanatorium’s dark past, and of course a medium. After they’ve installed static cams in every corner and start to settle in for the night, it doesn’t take long until some spooky shit starts to happen. Of course.

 

The location is also based on the real sanatorium, Beelitz Heilstätten, where the Führer himself was treated for a leg wound in 1918. So yeah, this place goes way back, and was in its time the biggest building of this kind. But the place is most known for the murders by serial killer Wolfgang Schmidt, who allegedly killed five women on this location in the 80’s. A homeless man also hung himself in the sanatorium after it got closed down and abandoned in the early 90’s. A scene from “The Pianist” (2002) was shot here, and Rammstein used the location for the music video “Mein Herz Brennt”. In “Haunted Hospital: Heilstätten” they used Heilstätte Grabowsee as the location, another huge abandoned sanatorium outside of Berlin. And yes, “Grave Encounters” (2011) comes to mind, and they share much of the same qualities, I would say. A huge, dusty, decayed, broken down mental facility with narrow corridors that just seem to go into obscurity, great sound design, thick atmosphere, pretty much the ingredients you need to make a great found footage horror.

 

And then there’s a twist, which you will probably see a mile away, but unfortunately was very poorly executed. But besides of that, “Haunted Hospital: Heilstätten” is a pretty solid found footage horror that deserves a watch.

 

Haunted Hospital: Heilstätten

 

Director: Michael David Pate
Country & year: Germany, 2018
Actors: Nilam Farooq, Farina Flebbe, Sonja Gerhardt, Maxine Kazis, Lisa-Marie Koroll, Emilio Sakraya, Tim Oliver Schultz, Davis Schulz, Timmi Trinks
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7214470/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CLICK – Horror Short Film

Five bored children enter an imposing, decaying building that has been abandoned for years. Finding a room with a light switch, they decide to play a game of turning it on and off…but upon doing so, one of the kids disappear each time the lights are turned on again. Suspecting each other of playing pranks, they continue the game…

 

“CLICK” is one of those creepy horror shorts that builds slowly, and brings on a ton of great atmosphere due to the dystopian scenery. Note: the actors in this horror short does have a strong Yorkshire accent, but it contains subtitles if you have any difficulties understanding what they’re saying.

 

CLICK - Horror Short Film

 

Director: William Prince
Country & year: UK, 2010
Actors: Francesca Parker, Lucy Hird, Daniel Leach, Samuel Holland, Jamie Spencer
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1692297/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VICIOUS – Award winning horror short

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…

 

VICIOUS - Award winning horror short

 

Director: Oliver Park
Country & year: UK, 2015
Actors: Rachel Winters, Isabelle King, Alex Holden
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4811402/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Bloody Valentine (2009)

My Bloody Valentine (2009)

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.

 

My Bloody Valentine

 

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/

 

Tom Ghoul