When strange events occur in a neighborhood in Buenos Aires, a doctor specializing in the paranormal, her colleague, and an ex police officer decide to investigate further.
I first heard about this movie from “Shudder“, a streaming site dedicated to horror, which is unfortunately not available in our country (it’s currently only available in the US (and its territories), Canada, UK, and Ireland). Being quite curious due to all the praise it’s gotten from various horror sites and reviewers, I was really pleased when the movie finally got to Netflix and thus gave us the chance to check it out.
The movie starts with a woman that hears whispering voices from the kitchen, which soon escalates into a bloody outcome for her while a terrified husband can’t do anything else but watch. We soon learn that the supernatural occurences is rooted in the neighbouring houses as well, and a group of paranormal researchers are trying to investigate the strange happenings. A dead boy returning from his grave, a naked man hiding under the bed, and strange noises and disturbances are just some of the occurences in the neighborhood that is obviously plagued by something paranormal. When the investigators start their research (the investigators being a group consisting of aged “Ed & Lorraine”- alikes and a nervous cop close to retirement due to health issues) things quickly escalate.
“Terrified” aka “Aterrados” is a solid addition to the paranormal/supernatural genre, and is the kind of movie that focuses its scares on being creepy and suspenseful, with some pretty effective scenes that can easily give you the heebie jeebies. Granted, there isn’t really much of a plot in the movie, and when it ends there are more than just a few unanswered questions. It’s a movie that still stands well planted on its own feet due to atmosphere, suspense and effective scenes alone, and should be well worth a watch.
Director: Demián Rugna Country & year: Argentina, 2017 Actors: Maximiliano Ghione, Norberto Gonzalo, Elvira Onetto, George L. Lewis, Julieta Vallina, Demián Salomón, Agustín Rittano IMDb:https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7549892/
As I had always thought that The Exorcist was William Friedkin’s one and only pure horror movie, I didn’t know what to expect from this slightly obscure little film called “The Guardian” when it finally came into my radar. So let’s check it out.
The movie opens with the text: «For thousands of years a religious order known as the druids worshipped trees, sometimes even sacrificing human beings to them.» After viewing this text introduction, we’re in the home of a high class family where a boy reads Hansel and Gretel to his little infant sister while his parents are getting ready to go on a business trip for some days. As soon as they drive away, the nanny they hired grabs the baby and take her to the woods. The parents returns to the home since the mother forgot her glasses, when they realize that the baby and nanny is missing. The nanny has already sacrificed the baby to a tree where its face is embossed in the tree bark. The nanny gets away, and three months later in sunny California we get introduced to a couple who has a baby on the way. And with their busy career, they of course need a nanny. They have some auditions, and amongst them is the nanny we saw in the beginning. Unaware of her dark intentions, they hire her. The neighbour falls madly in love with her, and one night he follows her when she goes into the woods. There, he witnesses her laying down nude on a tree branch and beginning to fuse with the tree bark, and he realizes that this woman has no business being around children.. or anyone else for that matter.
Sam Raimi was first hired to direct due to his recent success with “Evil Dead II”, but dropped off to make “Darkman” instead (which is awesome, by the way). In came William Friedkin who was going through a tough time and apparently took whatever got handed to him. He also had a scary experience with a nanny himself who put his son in danger, and thus could relate to the two parents and their feeling of hopelessness. So with the director on board who was known for the scariest movie of all time, “The Exorcist” , what could go wrong?
“The Guardian” had a shooting schedule set to two weeks, but ended up in twelve with a chaotic production. The british screenwriter Stephen Volk was hired to write the script, but was never satisfied with the story’s progress. He and Friedkin figured out that the film would be better without the fantasy elements, but the studio disapproved of that idea. The Guardian was heavily promoted as “From The Director of The Exorcist” and his big comeback to the horror genre in seventeen years. And since The Exorcist was a supernatural horror movie with a huge success, they thought Friedkin could just snap with his fingers and repeat the magic. Well, that didn’t work at all. Stephen Volk got a mental breakdown, left the production and made the mockumentary “Ghostwatch” for british TV two years later. Friedkin was left behind with an unfinished script that was rewritten every day while shooting.
Jenny Seagrove, who plays the Nanny, was also unhappy with the fantasy elements and wanted the movie to be a down-to-earth psycho thriller about a nanny who kidnaps babies. She called the movie awful and told the studio that it would be just wrong to have a nanny who’s a druid and becomes a tree. Well, who could blame her.. When “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” was released two years later by Warner Bros, which became a huge financial success, she rang a friend at Universal who simply said: “Don’t. Don’t even talk about it, you were right”. Ouch. The film was cut for theatrical release and for Cable TV. In the TV version the director was credited as Alan Smithee, the pseudonym directors use when they’re so unhappy or embarrassed of the final product that they don’t want to be associated with it. However, Friedkin has stated on a commentary track on one of the DVD’s that he didn’t even know about the TV version, and views The Guardian as his most personal film.
Seagrove has said in retrospect that the film is “good fun”, and that’s a great way to summarize it. It’s no masterpiece, but far from boring. It’s a rather bizarre movie with full of cheesiness, some great gore, nudity, a scary tree that gets mutilated with a chainsaw in Evil Dead-Ash-style while tons of fake blood is pouring out. Makes me wonder if Sam Raimi actually had some input on that aspect. And of course we have an authentic birth-giving scene.
Director: William Friedkin Country & year: USA, 1990 Actors: Jenny Seagrove, Dwier Brown, Carey Lowell, Brad Hall, Miguel Ferrer, Natalija Nogulich, Pamela Brull, Gary Swanson IMDb:https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099710/
Carol Anne has now moved to her uncle and aunt at the John Hancock Center in Chicago where she attends a special school for gifted children and visits a psychologist regularly. She would prefer to not talk about the past, but the shrink hypnotizes her to do so and can assure Carol Anne that talking about the past will make it go away. In this case it makes the dark forces enter her life again and a certain scary old man starts to manifest in mirrors and reflections. To quote Tangina: He’s back!
The idea of placing the story in a large skyscraper works for the most part. It creates its own claustrophobic setting. I especially like the idea with the mirrors. Gary Sherman, most known for low-budget exploitation films, does a decent job with the technical aspects concidering the production problems caused by Heather O’Rourke’s sudden death at the age of 12, four months before the last day of shooting. It almost stopped the production completely, and like «Poltergeist II», the entire ending sequence had to be rewritten. While it somehow barely worked in the previous film, it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever here and it just leaves a big question mark over your head. The movie starts actually pretty good and strong, but develops with ridiculous plot holes, messy editing and scenes that don’t go well together. Heather’s death in mind gives a more sad than satisfying end to the Poltergeist saga.
Director: Gary Sherman Country & year: USA, 1988 Actors: Tom Skerritt, Nancy Allen, Heather O’Rourke, Zelda Rubinstein, Lara Flynn Boyle, Kipley Wentz, Richard Fire, Nathatn Davis IMDb:https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0095889/
After losing the house, Steven also lost his job and the family is now completely broke, thus they have moved into Diane’s mother’s house. It’s hard times, but they do all they can to live a normal life. One day a mysterious old man named Kane, a creepy looking reverend, shows up in their life. And he is especially interested in Carol Anne.
The same actors are back, except the one who played Dana, who became the first victim of the so-called “Poltergeist curse”, which I will not go into here. Jerry Goldsmith composes a lot more dark and sinister soundtrack that enhance the atmosphere. But the one who steals the show here is the eccentric actor Julian Beck as Reverend Henry Kane. He completely owns the few scenes he’s in and really gets under your skin. Despite his little screentime he became such a horror icon that the thrash metal band Anthrax depicted him on the cover of «Among The Living». Unfortunately, he died of stomach cancer before the film was finished shooting. Due to this, a final sequence had to be completely rewritten.
Not the best sequel, it feels pretty unnecessary to be honest, but is still a fun watch with some great practical effects, some scary moments, great atmosphere and brilliant soundtrack.
Director: Brian Gibson Country & year: USA, 1986 Actors: JoBeth Williams, Craig T. Nelson, Heather O’Rourke, Oliver Robins, Zelda Rubinstein, Will Sampson, Julian Beck, Geraldine Fitzgerald IMDb:https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091778/
The Freeling family of five, Steven, Diane and their children Carol Anne, Robbie and Dana, plus the dog Buzz, live a quiet family life in the town of Cuesta Verde. Their youngest daughter, Carol Anne, wakes up one night and starts talking to the TV in the living room while it’s on static, and strange events in the house starts happening during the next days. Their parakeet dies, furniture moves by itself, and one stormy night the dead tree in the back yard suddenly wakes to life, almost “eating” little brother Robbie while Carol Anne is sucked into the closet by supernatural forces and disappears. The family later hears her screams for help from a static TV channel, and decides to seek help from a group of parapsychologists in order to get her daughter back.
The family learns, among other things, from the medium Tangina that there is a portal to another dimension in the house where the daughter is trapped, and figures out a plan to go in there and find her.
To be 35 years old, «Poltergeist» is still holding up, much thanks to Steven Spielberg’s great input and the amazing effects of Industrial Light & Magic. Tobe Hooper (who, sadly, recently passed away) directs, and the movie mixes the style of Hooper and Spielberg pretty well. The shock values and the family aspects are very well put together, and the film spends some time to develop the characters. Many great scenes stands out here; the scene with the tree, the clown, the face-ripping scene and the crazy climax is just bone-chilling. Also great soundtrack by Jerry Goldsmith. «Poltergeist» will always have a specieal place in my heart, and is at least on my top 5-list of haunted house/ghost movies.
Director: Tobe Hooper Country & year: USA, 1982 Actors: Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, Beatrice Straight, Dominique Dunne, Oliver Robins, Heather O’Rourke, Richard Lawson, Zelda Rubinstein IMDb:https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084516/
Before The Conjuring, Annabelle and The Nun there was an obscure movie made for TV called “The Haunted”.
In the 1970’s, Jack and Janet Smurl moves to a big house in West Pittston, Pennsylvania, together with Jack’s parents who resides in one part of the house. Janet, being a housewife and spending most of the time alone in the house, starts experiencing strange things like unexplained noises and a dark shape showing up while she’s cleaning the house. As things escalate, they contact a pair of priests who, instead of helping them, advice them to seek family counseling. In desperation Janet seeks out the well-known paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, and the war against the paranormal has started.
“The Haunted” can in many ways be seen as the first “Conjuring” movie, and is based on what the Smurl-family experienced in the period between 1979-89. However, this TV-movie is pretty obscure and doesn’t even have any official dvd release. Which is quite sad, as this is a pretty good haunted house horror movie.
My first meeting with this movie was in the early 1990’s when it was shown on “TV3” under the norwegian title “Hjemsøkt av djevelen” (which means “Haunted by the devil”). At that time (and age) it was the scariest movie I had seen and it caused a couple of sleepless nights afterwards. There are several scenes in the movie that are quite effective because they play the good game of “less is more”. There is, however, an incredibly cheesy scene where Jack Smurl is attacked and sexually assaulted by a demon in the living room, with pink lighting effects and a smoke machine. Aside from that, the movie does have a serious tone and is suspenseful and creepy, and it would be nice to see it released on dvd someday. Or, at the very least, on streaming (like Netflix, Prime, and so on). As of now, the only options you have are bootlegs or YouTube.
Director: Robert Mandel Country & year: USA, 1991 Actors: Sally Kirkland, Jeffrey DeMunn, Louise Latham, George Wallace, Joyce Van Patten, William O’Connell, Stephen Markle, Diane Baker IMDb:https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102007/
The young couple Krish and Lakshmi live in an idyllic little neighborhood in a quiet village. They are invited to a welcome party in the neighboring house, the house next door (yes, literally), which is an old house previously owned by a Chinese family. The party turns into a dramatic event when the new family’s young daughter goes outside and, like in a trance, falls into the giant well in the garden. Krish, who is also a doctor, jumps down and saves her, but after this event the girl is not quite the same in the days after. The word “possessed” is not far away, and she is sent to a psychologist who is blaming her for her interest in heavy metal music (as if we were back in the 80s), reading horror litterature and watching horror movies. He is determined that she is easily influenced by horror, and mixed together with the recent move, he believes that therein lies all her problems. Still, her problems grow worse and in the end the family see no other option than calling for a priest and have a good old-fashioned exorcism.
Bollywood is a whole new territory for me, and I wasn’t really sure what I would expect from this two-hour long ghost / possession movie, except a musical number every 10 minutes. Bollywood is known to love adding some music tracks, but in this movie we only get a small cheer- and colorful montage of the young couple, with a pop song that shows us the story of how he and she met, married etc. For a person like me who is not used to this kind of thing in horror movies, I immediately felt that it set a strange contrast in a movie that also captures inspirations from The Conjuring and The Exorcism of Emily Rose, overflowing with a ton of other horror and pop culture references where even a certain Dean Winchester would had lost the overview. Also, Krish works as a surgeon at a hospital called Silent Hill Hospital… yes, seriously. Silent Hill Hospital. Maybe all this was done in order to appeal as much as possible to an international audience, especially in the United States, but this is just overkill. Nor can I avoid mentioning that the psychologist is similar to Roger Ebert, which must be a crazy coincidence.
With its two hours running time, The House Next Door never gets scary, and the frequent broken English mixed into their sentences (Hinglish) makes several moments just involuntarily comical (at least for people like me who isn’t used to this sort of thing). Nevertheless, the film has its strong elements, like beautiful cinematography with a lot of atmosphere, and with its fast pacing and colorful characters, I certainly had a fun time watching it. So if you’ve never seen a Bollywood horrorfilm before, then I can assure you that this will be a compelety new, fresh, unique and somewhat bizarre experience.
While on a partying trip to Mexico, a group of young friends meet a guy who wants them to join him for a game of “Truth or Dare” in an old abandoned church. What starts out as an innocent game, soon turns deadly when they realize they’ve been tricked into an evil demon’s version of the game. If you fail to answer truthfully on the demon’s “truth” questions, or refuse to commit its “dares”, the consequence is a quick and painful death.
Yes, you know this is going to be silly as hell. When I saw the trailer for this movie, I actually decided to skip watching it on the big screen. I normally watch most horror movies that comes out in the cinema, but the incredibly silly “demonic faces” the trailer showed off all the time made it somewhat cringeworthy. Thank goodness for streaming services like Netflix and SF Anytime.
Watching this movie in the comforts of home, I have to admit that I didn’t find it as bad as I had expected it to be. Silly concept/plot? Yeah, sure. The chesire-cat grins of the demonic faces didn’t bother me as much as I had feared, and I found myself entertained enough. These days, I never expect a movie to be able to scare me anyway (after watching so many horror movies, I’m afraid those days are long gone). The movie goes forward just like you’d expect a movie of this kind to do: young sexy people need to battle the supernatural force while being killed off in various ways, one by one, until (after enough of them have been killed off), the remaining ones need to dig deeper into finding a way to solve the “mystery” behind the deadly game and how to escape from it alive. Yes, you’ve pretty much seen it before…it’s a tried a tired formula that every horror movie fan has seen numerous times already, but who cares about that as long as it works to entertain you. Every new movie release doesn’t need to bring a brand new dish to the table in order to be watchable.
Overall, “Truth or Dare” is an easy-going horrorflick to watch on a rainy evening with some pizza and beer. It’s not a masterpiece, but certainly delivers if you’re in the mood for some silly fun.
Director: Jeff Wadlow Country & year: USA, 2018 Actors: Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane, Hayden Szeto, Sophia Ali, Nolan Gerard Funk, Landon Liboiron, Sam Lerner, Tom Choi IMDb:https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099611/
On a subway station in Rome, the young lady Cheryl stumbles into a mysterious man who’s got half his face covered with an iron mask. He gives her two tickets to a horrormovie. She asks him if he’s dressed like that for the promotion of the film, but he does not give her an answer. Her curiosity has been peaked, so she hooks up with her girlfriend Kathy and decides to head for the movie theatre to check out this mysterious untitled film. Other random people pops in, such as an elderly couple who’s probably never seen a horror movie before, some pussy-hound teenagers, a pimp with two hookers, and of course a blind dude with sunglasses with his wife who must explain what happens on the screen to him. You know, the regular moviegoers..
This “mysterious” movie they’re going to watch is about some people who are exploring a tomb site where Nostradamus should be buried. They come across an old latin book written by Nostradamus himself, which is about summoning demons. They also find a demonic iron mask, which is not so unfamiliar to the one we saw in the beginning. Fast forwarding, as they read from the book, one of the people in the movie theatre gets possessed and havoc is about begin with throats getting ripped, scalps torn off and people getting killed in horrible ways. And they also happen to be completely locked inside the building.
So basically, Demons is more or less Evil Dead in a movie theatre… just without Bruce Campbell.
But we have Tony the Pimp. He seems to be a favorite amongst many viewers, and that’s probably ’cause he’s the only one amongst the bland characters who has a shred of personality. He’s badass and got some attitude. There’s was even a short film made about him with the same actor, Bobby Rhodes. You’re almost hoping he’s this film’s backbone and hero in the same way Bruce Campbell was for Evil Dead or Reggie Bannister was for Phantasm. Well, what a missed opportunity. Who wouldn’t want to see a whole franchise where a pimp teams up with his hookers to kill a bunch of Demons/zombies-or whatever?
Director: Lamberto Bava Country & year: Italy, 1985 Actors: Urbano Barberini, Natasha Hovey, Karl Zinny, Fiore Argento, Paola Cozzo, Fabiola Toledo, Bobby Rhodes IMDb:https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089013/
“A house with a death in it can never again be bought or sold by the living, it can only be borrowed by the ghosts that stay behind.”
A young nurse has been hired to take care of an old woman. This old woman is Iris Blum, a prolific horror author that now lives all alone in her New England mansion and suffering from chronic dementia, and needs to be proper taken care of 24/7. When the young nurse, Lily, starts living there in order to take proper care of Iris, Lily starts experiencing certain things that makes her imagination run wild. With Lily being a bit of a scaredy-cat as well, she tries all she can to re-focus and pretend that nothing is happening…until she can’t pretend any more.
“I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House” is a strange dish. While being a haunted house movie, it’s told from a somewhat different angle (from the actual haunting itself, so to speak). The movie starts with Lily herself being the narrator, stating “The pretty thing you are looking at is me. Of this I am sure. My name is Lily Saylor. I am a hospice nurse. Three days ago I turned 28 years old. I will never be 29 years old“. No spoilers to be had there, in other words…we know exactly what will happen to Lily, just not how. That being said, Lily is only part of the haunting: another spectre is already present. A young woman in a white victorian dress, who have a direct connection to Iris and her books…a mystery Lily eventually feels compelled to solve, and will lead to her unfortunate demise. With regards to this movie, I guess it’s fitting to say that sometimes, curiosity really does kill the cat…
I many ways, it’s a little hard to review this movie as a horror movie, because in many ways it’s more like a gothic poem, and certainly more beautiful than scary. It is very slow-paced, and it’s not one that is there to deliver all the answers…however, it does have a pretty good atmosphere and could be well worth a watch if you find yourself in the mood for a slow poetic ghost story.
Director: Oz Perkins Country & year: Canada / USA, 2016 Actors: Ruth Wilson, Paula Prentiss, Bob Balaban, Lucy Boynton, Brad Milne, Daniel Chichagov, Erin Boyes IMDb:https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5059406/