Event Horizon (1997)

Event HorizonThe year is 2047, and the rescue vessel Lewis and Clark is dispatched to investigate the distress signal from a starship called Event Horizon. This starship disappeared seven years ago, during its maiden voyage to Proxima Centauri, and now it has mysteriously appeared in a decaying orbit around Neptune. The eerie distress signal consists of a series of screams and howls, in which the Event Horizon’s designer Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill) believes is the Latin phrase “Liberate me” (“save me”). When the crew of the rescue vessel, joined by Dr. Weir, enters the ship they find evidence of a massacre. They search for survivors, but then the ship’s gravity drive activates and causes a shock wave which damages the rescue vessel. They are all then forced to stay on the Event Horizon, and soon begin having hallucinations which corresponds to their fears and trauma…


Event Horizon is a science fiction horror film from 1997, directed by Paul W. S. Anderson and written by Philip Eisner. The filming took place in Pinewood Studios, and Anderson modeled the starship after Notre Dame Cathedral using an architectural cam program. And oh boy, did this film have a troubled production, where the filming and editing was rushed by Paramount when it was revealed that Titanic would not meet its projected release. Not only did the movie suffer from being rushed, but to top it all people complained about the “extreme gore” during the test screenings, and it’s claimed that some of the audience actually fainted. Even the Paramount executives were shocked by how “gruesome” it was, and demanded a shorter runtime with less gore, so apparently some of the best bits were cut away from the movie. The original 130-minute film was savagely edited on the studio’s demand, much to Anderson’s dismay.


It was both a commercial and critical flop, grossing only $42 million on its $60 million budget. In some way, the movie entered into its redeeming phase when it sold pretty well on home video, where the DVD release sold so well that Paramount actually contacted Anderson with wishes of beginning the restoration of the deleted footage. But, too late, because at this point it had been either lost or destroyed. So thanks a lot for that, you squeamish arseholes who demanded the movie to be cut during the test screenings. Had it not been for you, we’d have a much more disturbing and gory movie.


The movie can be best summed up as a haunted house-story set on a spaceship, which has quite literally been to Hell and back. Thus I guess some people were quick to label it as some kind of Alien meets Hellraiser, which isn’t really the case. Just like the typical haunted house setting, the fears play mostly on the psychological at first, and we already know from the eerie and sinister surroundings that things are not as they should be, with strange things happening that spooks the crew. And let’s face it: supernatural happenings in space is a lot more claustrophobic and threatening compared to happening in some old house. In a house, you can at least run outside…


The dark, empty hallways in the spaceship appear just as menacing and threatening as the hallways in an old mansion, and the visions the characters are seeing are suspenseful and effective. The performances are good, but best is Sam Neill’s performance as Dr. Weir who slowly starts falling into madness and becoming absorbed by the gruesomeness the starship brought back with it. There are no aliens running amok here, just anxiety, paranoia, violence and gore. It’s like the place it came from had been the very depths of Hell itself, which makes it very interesting when you keep in mind that the design of the ship was modelled after the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.


Over the years Event Horizon has developed a cult following as well, sometimes referenced in other works of popular culture. It is an effective horror film albeit not a masterpiece, and it sucks that some of its most disturbing content is lost. Overall, it’s a decent 90s sci-fi horror which will probably forever hold the mystery of what those extra minutes of playtime could have been.


Event Horizon Event Horizon


Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Writer: Philip Eisner
Country & year: UK, US, 1997
Actors: Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Kathleen Quinlan, Joely Richardson, Richard T. Jones, Jack Noseworthy, Jason Isaacs, Sean Pertwee, Peter Marinker, Holley Chant, Barclay Wright, Noah Huntley
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0119081/



Vanja Ghoul









A woman leaves her AI robot M.I.A. to prepare the thanksgiving turkey. The problem is, M.I.A. starts malfunctioning.


Thanksgiving is a fun horror short reminding us that perhaps we should not be too trusting towards AI technology…



Director: Alex Magaña
Writer: Alex Magaña
Country & year: USA, 2023
Actors: Cat Hamm, Clara Carlo, Sara Podwol, Vera Kniffin, Stephanie Collins








The Orphanage (2007)

The OrphanageLaura is a woman who once was adopted from an orphanage in Spain, and is now returning to the place with her husband Carlos and their seven-year-old son Simón. It’s been 30 years since Laura was adopted from there, and the orphanage is now closed. She plans to reopen the place and turn it into a facility for disabled children. Simón claims he has befriended a boy named Tomás, whom he draws as a child wearing a creepy-looking sack mask. This mysterious friend also tells Simón a secret Laura and Carlos have kept from him: that he is adopted. This revelation makes Simón angry, and he and Laura starts arguing which ends with her slapping him across the face. Even though she immediately regrets this, the damage has already been done, and he runs away. When looking for him, she encounters the sack-mask child who locks her inside the bathroom, and after managing to escape she is unable to find Simón anywhere. At night, banging sounds can be heard from within the walls of the orphanage, and old secrets from the place slowly starts unveiling.


The Orphanage (El orfanato) is a gothic supernatural horror film from 2007, and the directorial feature film debut of J. A. Bayona. The script was written in 1996 by Sergio G. Sánchez, and it caught Bayona’s attention in 2004, and he then went on to ask his long-time friend Guillermo del Toro to help him produce the film. The movie was well received, and won seven Goya awards. New Line Cinema bought the rights for an American remake, which was later cancelled.


As many classic ghost stories go, it’s rich in emotional struggles and relies more on visceral impact than jump-scares. There is a deliberate slow pace that feels rewarding more than protracted, offering a steady build-up of mystery and suspense. The movie manages to unravel the old orphanage’s mysteries in a way that keeps you engaged, while the dusty rooms and forsaken grounds all offers a sense of disquiet and foreboding, along with the sinister presences from the past that start making themselves known and reveal their secrets. Belen Rueda does a good performance as Laura, a woman devoured by loss and a desperate yearning for the truth.


A sense of sadness and despair is what appears to be deeply rooted within the story of The Orphanage, aided with spooky surroundings and, of course, the obligatory medium and séance scene. With a masked child appearing to be an imaginary friend (they’re always bad news in horror movies, we all know that), noises behind the walls, restless spirits of children and something terrible from the past that remains to be revealed, it’s all a recipe for a grounded ghost horror movie that treads along a safe path while still being able to held a steady course for an intriguing viewing experience. It’s not breaking new ground, but what it does, it does well.


So overall, The Orphanage offers a fine gothic ghost story, often more poetic than horrifying and more atmospheric and sad than scary. A perfect watch if you want an old-fashioned ghost movie that’s both creepy and beautiful.


The Orphanage


Director: J.A. Bayona
Writer: Sergio G. Sánchez
Original title: El orfanato
Country & year: Spain, 2007
Actors: Belén Rueda, Fernando Cayo, Roger Príncep, Mabel Rivera, Montserrat Carulla, Andrés Gertrúdix, Edgar Vivar, Óscar Casas, Mireia Renau, Georgina Avellaneda, Carla Gordillo
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0464141/



Vanja Ghoul








Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)

Case 39Dr. Henry Jekyll is an English doctor in Victorian London, who is head over heels in love with his fiancée Muriel Carew. They both want to get married as soon as possible, but her strict father orders them to wait as he’s obviously not considering the good doctor to be quite good enough for his precious daughter. And he’s not entirely impressed after Jekyll’s speech during a dinner, where he claims that within each man there’s strong impulses for not only good, but also for evil. And this is also exactly what the doctor starts experimenting with: creating a drug that is supposed to unleash his evil side (because, that sounds like a really good idea, right?). And upon drinking it, not only does his whole demeanor change, but his appearance as well. The well-mannered and respectable Dr. Jekyll has now transformed into the savage brute Mr. Hyde…


Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a 1931 pre-Code horror film, directed by Rouben Mamoulian and based on the famous 1886 gothic novella by Robert Louis Stevenson. It was the first horror movie to win an Academy Award, and upon viewing it I have to say the movie really appeared to be quite ahead of its time in regards to its quality and visual effects, as well as its boldness. As it was made just before the full enforcement for the Production Code (aka the Hays Code, which was a set of self-imposed guidelines for all motion pictures released between 1934 and 1968 which prohibited suggestive nudity, profanity, realistic violence, sexual persuasions and rape) it managed to get away with some of its content which is quite sexual (for its time), mostly embodied in the character of the bar singer Ivy. The movie premiered in Los Angeles on December 24, 1931 and opened in New York City on December 31, 1931. It grossed $1.3 million in domestic rentals, making it a box office hit. It also had a very high budget for a horror film at the time, at $535.000.


Visually, the movie looks great with its period-accurate studio sets which were all built for the movie, 35 sets in total. The camera work comes off as quite playful for a movie from this time period, where it’s always moving and giving us interesting views and perspectives, with great use of light and shadow. The effects were surprisingly good, and the transformation scenes were actually held a secret for decades until the director revealed in The Celluloid Muse (1969) that the make-up was applied in contrasting colors with a series of colored filters that matched it, which enabled the make-up to be exposed gradually or made invisible. The looks of Mr. Hyde was inspired by the popular image of him depicted in media and comic books, displaying him as simian and with large teeth. It may come off as a bit goofy at first, but it fits well with his drunken caveman-like behaviour. And while the story behind Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde has been theorized to the left and the right and to the high heavens and hell below, it still goes without saying that the allegory for alcoholism/substance abuse is clear as day. Perhaps not a surprise, as Stevenson learned at a young age the devastating side effects from strong drink.


The movie version is very different from the original story of the book, to the point where the only similar factors are that the doctor creates this potion for evil and turns into Mr. Hyde. In the original story he is more homicidal, while in the movie version his violence tends to be more sexually motivated. Despite the differences, the core remains the same: a good man unleashes his evil side, and for that there’s dire consequences both for himself and those around him. The idea of there being some kind of evil beast hidden beneath our very selves is a common idea, and how the civilized person will always try to suppress urges which may cause harm.


A remake of the film was actually made just 10 years later, in 1941, by MGM who bought the negative and the rights to both Mamoulian’s version as well as the 1920 silent film, paying $1.250.000 for it. So yeah, they could do the whole remake-stuff back in the days as well, obviously. But MGM took it a lot of steps further: they actually recalled and destroyed every print of the 1931 film they could get their hands on, in order to promote their own version and avoid any kind of comparison or competition. Fortunately, they were not able to destroy all the copies of the movie, as a print was rediscovered in 1967.


Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde has remained one of the most famous pieces of English literature, often considered to be a very defining book for the gothic horror genre. There’s been lots of media referencing it, everything from movies to comics, games and animation. There’s everything from other takes of the story, to parodies and small references. It’s undoubtedly one of the most influential horror stories every written. The phrase “Jekyll and Hyde” is also often used to refer to people with very shifting personalities, and let’s face it: Stevenson’s 1886 story will forever be relevant because we all have a Hyde within us, and we all have the responsibility to control him and make him stay inside, and not offer him the aiding tools that will let him out.


Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde


Director: Rouben Mamoulian
Writer: Samuel Hoffenstein, Percy Heath
Country & year: US, 1931
Actors: Fredric March, Miriam Hopkins, Rose Hobart, Holmes Herbert, Halliwell Hobbes, Edgar Norton
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0022835/



Vanja Ghoul









Jasmin sees a fist-sized hole in a brick wall. She’s hypnotically drawn to it and can’t focus on anything else. An increasingly morbid obsession begins, until the hole suddenly disappears.


O is a bizarre and creepy surreal horror short about addiction.



Director: Dominik Balkow
Writer: Dominik Balkow
Country & year: Germany, 2022
Actors: Nadine Scheidecker
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt17013484/








Case 39 (2009)

Case 39Emily Jenkins is a social worker who has been assigned to the case of 10-year-old Lillith Sullivan. It appears that some kind of emotional struggle has appeared between the little girl and her parents, and Emily suspects child abuse. She gets her suspicions well confirmed when Lillith’s parents actually try to kill her by putting her in the oven, Hansel & Gretel-style. The parents are, of course, placed in a mental institution while the most likely traumatized girl is sent to a children’s home. But she begs for Emily to look after her. And with her heart totally melted by this unfortunate, innocent little girl, Emily manages to get the board’s agreement of looking after her until a suitable foster family comes along. After Lillith moves in with Emily, strange things begin to happen. Maybe this little girl isn’t so innocent after all…


Case 39 is a supernatural horror thriller from 2009, directed by Christian Alvert. Upon its release, the reviews and overall reception was rather poor, and it barely managed to cover the budget of $26 million with a gross of $28.2 million. It was often being described as unoriginal and frightless, and thus, the expectations upon viewing it was rather low as I remember. Still, we found it to be a rather decent and suspenseful thriller, despite its unoriginality and lack of actual scares.


Like many “evil children” movies, the performances of the actual child actor is paramount for the viewing experience, and Jodelle Ferland (from Silent Hill and Tideland) does a very fine portrayal of the evil Lillith. While the movie totally lacks an actual mystery as it becomes quite apparent that the child is, in fact, evil incarnate, it still manages to be suspenseful enough to hold the entertainment value. The most creepy parts of the movie might be the very start, when Lillith is still with her parents and we get to wonder if there really is a case of domestic abuse here, or if it’s something else, only to be provided with a scene of the parents actually trying to bake their own child in the oven. Of course we know already at this stage that there’s something wrong with the child, but it’s still a pretty messed up scenario, especially considering that there have been cases of this actually happening in real life, like this rather grim case from 1984 where the parents claimed to have been “cooking Lucifer”. I wonder if this movie was a little inspired, perhaps.


As you can imagine, the movie centers around how Emily is gradually coming to realize what we, the viewers, already knew from the get-go: that Lillith is evil and also responsible for many of the horrible things happening around her, especially concerning another one of Emily’s cases with a young boy. Yeah, it’s often clichéd and not devoid of some tired jumpscares, but on the whole it works. So I’d say that Case 39, while suffering from predictability and very standard cinematography, redeems itself with a good construction of characters and gradual buildup of tension and suspense.


Case 39


Director: Christian Alvart
Writer: Ray Wright
Country & year: Canada, US, 2009
Actors: Renée Zellweger, Jodelle Ferland, Ian McShane, Bradley Cooper, Callum Keith Rennie, Adrian Lester, Kerry O’Malley, Cynthia Stevenson, Alexander Conti, Philip Cabrita
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0795351/



Vanja Ghoul








The Boneyard (1991)

The VoidAlley Oates is a well-respected psychic who’s received several prizes for helping the police solve crime mysteries over the years. Most of her job was to solve brutal crimes which involved children, which seems to have taken a toll on her mental health. Now she’s a deeply depressed, overweight (if she wasn’t already) middle-aged woman who spends her time burying herself in her bed under a mountain of blankets.


For some strange, bizarre reasons, this lady made me think of the nanny from Duckula. She’s got hands that could break coconuts, and I bet that her big, solid solid figure could easily crash through walls. Wouldn’t mess with her.


Anyways – life goes on as children are still missing and the local police need her help. A police man manages to drag her out of her hibernation cave to the the local basement morgue to unravel some dark mystery about three ghoulish corpse children. We learn that the bodies of the kids are possessed by some Asian demons called Kyoshi, and as they’re getting trapped in the basement, the ghoul juniors are about to wake up at any moment to get the schlock party started.


The Boneyard starts off with a dry and serious tone, more than it should, with static and boring dialogue scenes that didn’t leave the best first impression. But that starts to shift slightly when we enter the morgue and get introduced to the wacky receptionist, Miss Poopinplatz (lol) and her cute little poodle named Floofsoms. From here on, the film starts to loosen up and get more drunk as the silly, B-movie fun starts to set in.


Return of The Living Dead meets a very low-budget version of George Romero’s Day of the Dead is maybe the best way to describe this odd little film. The gore is very minimal here though, yet The Boneyard has several moments of solid fun value and special effects. The little kids who run around in their ghoulish rubber costumes add to the goofy charm. And then we have one of the characters who turns into an animatronic monster straight from Beetlejuice. The film rounds off with a crazy climax which could as well have been a deleted scene from Peter Jackson’s Braindead. Some name-dropping here, I know, but you get the point. Overall, it’s nothing spectacular but has its unique scenes and moments that make it an entertaining midnight watch. Ruff, ruff.


The Boneyard is on Blu-ray from 88 Films.


The Boneyard The Boneyard The Boneyard


Writer and director: James Cummins
Country & year: US, 1991
Actors: Ed Nelson, Deborah Rose, Norman Fell, James Eustermann, Denise Young, Willie Stratford, Phyllis Diller, Robert Yun Ju Ahn, Richard F. Brophy, Sallie Middleton Kaltreider, Janice Dever, Cindy Dollar-Smith
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0101497/



Tom Ghoul













REMAINS – Horror Short Film

After bringing home the ashes of her infant son, a mother begins to believe that there’s something alive inside of his urn.


Remains is a chilling and emotional horror short by Dylan Clark, who also made Portrait of God and Seagrass.

REMAINS - Horror Short Film


Director: Dylan Clark
Writer: Dylan Clark
Country & year: USA, 2023
Actors: Jennifer Taher, Will Walberg
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt27954433/








The Void (2016)

The VoidHere we have one of the more grimmer throwback horror-80s movies which seemed to be made by accident, or followed by a witness to an accident to be more correct. You see – other than producing their own low-budget horror films, the creative guys Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski from Astron-6 (Father’s Day, Manborg, Psycho Goreman and more) have also worked on bigger Hollywood films such as It, and Scary Stories to Tell in The Dark with special effects and art designs. They also worked with one of the greatest; Guillermo del Toro and Jeremy Gillespie was working at Pinewood studios where del Toro was in pre-production of his magnum opus which never happened: At the Mountains of Madness. After the project crashed and burned due to the high budget costs and the fact that del Toro refused to add in a love story and a happy ending to the studio’s demand, Gillespie and Kostanski got inspired to make their own low-budget spin on the story. And with their obsession for the 80s and the old school of filmmaking, it was natural to make it as a throwback.


It’s around past midnight when the small town sheriff, Daniel Carter (Aaron Pole), picks up a wounded guy on a rural road and takes him to the local hospital. Here we also meet our small group of characters, among them a cute young pregnant woman who’s about to give birth. And let’s hope that nothing bad happens to her and the baby (ha-ha). To bring this John Doe to the hospital seemed to be a very bad idea as weird things started to happen, such as the lights flickering and the phone shutting down. From here, it gets messy pretty quickly around the hospital when one of the nurses gets shot by the sheriff after she stabs the eyes of one of the patients . The lights shut down and the hospital gets surrounded by a group of cloak/hazmat suit-wearing cultists who have no intention of letting anyone get out of the building. Some ancient supernatural forces have also seemed to awaken in the basement which transforms dead people into the most grotesque-looking mutants that has been put on film in modern time.


It’s valid to mention that this is not an Astron-6 production which focuses more on humor, as this one has a far more serious tone. The Void is also crowdfunded on Indiegogo with a raise of only 82,510 dollars (!), which seems like a box of molded breadcrumbs for an ambitious Lovecraftian project like this. Having that said, the film looks pretty damn good with overall solid, creative filmmaking with a long string of clear inspirations from 70s and 80s classics. We have the siege element from John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13, the claustrophobic paranoia from The Thing, the morbid, grotesque madness from Stuart Gordon’s From Beyond and the cryptic vibe and atmosphere from Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond, to mention some – all blended into its own unique, beefy and tasteful love letter for us older gorehounds. A great soundtrack by Blitz//Berlin which also suits the grim retro style perfectly like a penis in vagina. Except for some very few visual effects, there is no CGI here, only the usage of gallons of fake blood and sticky, top-tier latex monsters that could be something straight from 1987.


The Void The Void The Void


Writers and directors: Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski
Country & year: Canada, 2016
Actors: Aaron Poole, Kenneth Welsh, Ellen Wong, Kathleen Munroe, Daniel Fathers, Mik Byskov, Art Hindle, Stephanie Belding, James Millington, Evan Stern, Grace Munro
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt4255304/



Tom Ghoul













Night of the Demon (1980)

Night of the DemonNight of the Demon Bigfoot is an amateur monster schlock from 1980, which starts off with a wounded dude, Bill Nugent, lying in a hospital bed surrounded by doctors and a police inspector. He’s an anthropology professor, you see, and here’s his fascinating story you wouldn’t believe, which is about his adventure with a group of his students to track down Bigfoot in the woods of Northern California. And he has to convince the doctors that he’s not insane and that he was the only one who survived Bigfoot after the monster killed all of the students.


And good-fucking luck with that, my dude. Mr. Kallen from Slapped Ham would have loved to have you on his first podcast.


Bill starts with the first story, the first series of flashback scenes where we see Bigfoot killing random people. The first victim is some guy in the forest who’s getting ready to fish by a river. In order to have some suspense here, the monster is shown through POV and off-screen and, just like in the great classic Blackenstein, we have a moment where we see the monster rip his arm off with zero force in silhouette. Someone has clearly taken notes from the very best. While he bleeds to death with the use of the thinnest cranberry juice streaming from his ripped arm, the blood streams down to fill one of Bigfoot’s footprints, following the opening credits.


As Bill and his group of students head into the forest to find our mythic creature, they hear about this lady Wanda. She’s a mysterious outcast who lives as a hermit in a cabin deep in the woods, and the legend says that she knows where Bigfoot is. Okay, then. In the meanwhile, as they’re heading for Wanda’s cabin, we get some more flashback scenes told by Bill as they sit around the campfire to remind us how dangerous this Bigfoot is. All these campfire scenes were shot and added during the post production because the producer wanted to amp up the gore. We see Bigfoot killing people in different ways, but don’t get too excited. In one scene, he even uses an axe and the effect is the cheapest-looking rubber wound sticker they could afford.


The most memorable scene is the biker dude who gets his dick ripped off when he’s about to take a piss. Because this is no laughing matter. This is serious. Dead serious. Just look at the deadpan seriousness on Bill’s face when he tells the story. Don’t you dare to even chuckle or roll your eyes in disbelief. Show some respect for the poor guy.


We also have a campfire story about this random couple who’s about to have sex in a van. This is also the only body count flashback scene (as far as I remember) that was not shot in broad daylight. This is one of the more what-the-fuck-moments where the guy gets dragged by Bigfoot up to the top of the car while the lady can’t decide how to react as she makes orgasms sounds and looks confused rather than terrified. It’s noteworthy to mention that director James C. Wasson mainly produced porn films, so maybe there are some connections there.


Then there’s the star of the film, the man, myth and the legend himself: Bigfoot… and I have to be honest and say that the face-makeup is not the worst I’ve seen. Some effort went in here for sure, and I would assume the make-up artists took some inspiration from the creation of Michael Myer’s mask in Halloween, only here based on the face of Mick Jagger. And I don’t think anything can really top that.


Night of the Demon is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Severin Films, restored and uncut. A fun time for all lovers of schlock and funny-bad movies.


Night of the Demon Night of the Demon Night of the Demon


Director: James C. Wasson
Writers: Mike Williams, Jim L. Ball
Country & year: US, 1980
Actors: Michael Cutt, Joy Allen, Bob Collins, Jody Lazarus, Rick Fields, Michael Lang, Melanie Graham, Shannon Cooper, Paul Kelleher, Ray Jarris
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0081229/



Tom Ghoul