The Guardian (1990)

The Guardian (1990)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.

 

The Guardian

 

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: //www.imdb.com/title/tt0099710/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MIKUS – Award Winning Horror Short

A man is unpacking his childhood stuff and finds a purple man made of paper. He decides to tape the purple man to the wall…not aware of what this will cause.

 

This simple yet effective horror short is a perfect example of building up tension. You know something is about to happen, but have no idea what it’s going to be…

 

MIKUS - Award Winning Horror Short

 

Director: Todd Spence, Zak White
Country & year: USA, 2018
Actors: Paul Goetz, Whitney Gries
IMDb: //www.imdb.com/title/tt9281508/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LILY – short horror film by Sylvain Pelissier

An old handicapped man, Mr. Bariani, is at the complete mercy of his mean carer, Myriam. Taking advantage of his weaknesses, she is constantly bullying him and making his life miserable.

 

This movie is a little French gem that manages to be quite engaging, touching the subject of the (unfortunately) not so uncommon maltreatment of the elderly and those with reduced mobility.

 

LILY French Horror Short

 

Director: Sylvain Pelissier
Country & year: France, 2016
Actors: Chrys Bens, Pascal d’Iverneresse, Catherine Lecoq, Stephane Muller
IMDb: //www.imdb.com/title/tt7917970/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poltergeist III (1988)

Poltergeist 3 (1988)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.

 

Poltergeist III

 

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: //www.imdb.com/title/tt0095889/

 

Sequel of:
Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986) //horrorghouls.com/reviews/poltergeist-2-the-other-side-1986/
Poltergeist (1982) //horrorghouls.com/reviews/poltergeist-1982/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986)

Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986)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.

 

Poltergeist II: The Other Side

 

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: //www.imdb.com/title/tt0091778/

 

Sequel of:
Poltergeist (1982) //horrorghouls.com/reviews/poltergeist-1982/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poltergeist (1982)

Poltergeist (1982)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.

 

Poltergeist

 

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: //www.imdb.com/title/tt0084516/

 

Sequels:
Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986) //horrorghouls.com/reviews/poltergeist-2-the-other-side-1986/
Poltergeist III (1988) //horrorghouls.com/reviews/poltergeist-3-1988/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE MAIDEN – short horror film

“The Maiden” is a short horror film from 2016 by director Michael Chaves. Michael is also the director of “The Curse of La Llorona“, a horror movie that is coming to the theaters in April. In addition to this, he is also going to be the director of the upcoming “Conjuring 3” (whatever that’ll be about, since no plot is yet known).

 

Michael’s first entry into the horror world, however, is his short movie “The Maiden” from 2016, where a real estate agent tries to sell a haunted house.

 

The Maiden horror short

 

Director: Michael Caves
Country & year: USA, 2016
Actors: Alia Raelynn, Penny Orloff, Brian Knudson, Sunnie Pelant, Betsy Sligh
IMDb: //www.imdb.com/title/tt5192436/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE MAIDEN – short horror film from Michael Chaves on Vimeo.

The Haunted (1991)

The Haunted (1991)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.

 

The Haunted

 

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: //www.imdb.com/title/tt0102007/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The House Next Door (2017)

The House Next Door (2017)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.

 

The House Next Door

 

Director: Milind Rau
Country & year: India, 2017
Actors: Prakash Belawadi, Khushi Hajare, Andrea Jeremiah, Atul Kulkarni, Avinash Raghudevan
IMDb: //www.imdb.com/title/tt7471004/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Truth or Dare (2018)

Truth or Dare (2018)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.

 

Truth or Dare

 

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: //www.imdb.com/title/tt0099611/

 

Vanja Ghoul