Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (2010)

Don't Be Afraid of the DarkLord Emerson Blackwood is a renowned 19th century wildlife painter, who lives in a huge manor called Blackwood Manor. One day, he bludgeons his housekeeper to death in the basement, and afterwards he removes her teeth. Not only that, he also removes his own teeth…and offers them as some kind of sacrifice to a bunch of mysterious creatures living inside the old fireplace, who has kidnapped his son. The creatures reject his offer, and tell him that they only want the teeth of children. And then, just like his son, he also gets dragged in by the creatures. Fast forward to present day, we meet 8-year old Sally who moves into Blackwood Manor with her father Alex and his girlfriend Kim. They want to restore the old manor for a client, to have it put on the market for sale. Very soon Sally gets to hear and see glimpses of the teeth-craving creatures, who are eager to finally get some of those children’s teeth they want…

 

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is a supernatural horror film from 2010, directed by Troy Nixey as his feature directorial debut, and written by Guillermo del Toro and Matthew Robbins. It is a remake of the 1973 ABC made-for-TV film of the same name. In the original Sally was the wife of Alex, not his daughter, but this change kind of fits well for the more apparent fantasy-theme this remake has been given. And yes: obviously, it has Guillermo del Toro’s fingerprints all over it.

 

With the movie’s opening there isn’t much of a mystery plot going on, as we already know that there are some creatures living in the house which craves for human teeth, or specifically those from children. Thus, we already know the mansion is infested with ghoulish tooth fairies. We do find out a little bit more about them as the mansion reveals some of Lord Emerson’s secrets, which includes some of this paintings. Despite a lack of actual mystery, the atmosphere is one of the focal points in the film, blending the gothic mansion interior and exterior with the fantasy aspects and making it spookily fun. As for the monsters themselves, they’re…well, not exactly very impressive. They’re the standard CGI fantasy creature, fitting in a fantasy plot more than a horror one I guess.

 

Now, the original from 1973 is by many deemed a classic, and it appears to have given lots of kids the willies when they saw the movie sometime in the 70’s, and according to del Toro it also gave him quite a fright when he watched it as a child. A remake is bound to not have the same effect, especially when also changing the perspective from a grown woman to that of a child. It works pretty well, but it does of course change the tone of the story quite much. And since Guillermo del Toro was involved in this, I guess that there were also some people expecting a new Pan’s Labyrinth or something, which it is definitely not. It’s a typical movie that plays primarily on childhood fears, mixing in some bits from the world of mythology and turns it into something sinister, but not as dark as what can be seen in the aforementioned film. Overall, I still think it’s a well made gothic fantasy-horror movie, with enough spooky atmosphere to be enjoyable.

 

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

 

Director: Troy Nixey
Writers: Guillermo del Toro, Matthew Robbins
Country & year: US, 2010
Actors: Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce, Bailee Madison, Bruce Gleeson, Eddie Ritchard, Garry McDonald, Carolyn Shakespeare-Allen, Jack Thompson, Julia Blake, David Tocci, Lance Drisdale
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt1270761/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

The Shrine (2010)

The ShrineCarmen is a journalist, and together with her photographer boyfriend Marcus and a few other people they travel to a Polish village in order to investigate the disappearances of some tourists. Upon arriving in this village, they quickly notice that the villagers appear to be secretive and quite unwelcoming. They also find out that no one in the village is allowed to leave, and everything becomes even more mysterious as they notice a strange area in the forest where the fog appears to be concentrated without ever dissipating. The villagers tries to make them leave, but who ever listens to the strange village people warning you and threatening you of doom and gloom, eh? So naturally they enter the fog, one by one. While walking through the dense fog, Carmen comes across a demon statue with bleeding eyes, and she starts hearing strange whispers. Is this statue part of the village’s secrets, and what exactly happened to the tourists who were reported missing?

 

The Shrine is a supernatural horror film from 2010, directed by Jon Knautz. The plot in the movie is one you’ve probably seen or heard a few times already: people coming to some place abroad and ends up in unimaginable danger. Now, horror movies about people traveling to some foreign place and finding themselves either trapped, hunted or otherwise caught in some kind of horrific troubles, is something that seems to be a scary premise for many. As for a setting in Europe, the torture-porn flick Hostel is probably the most well known among these. Apparently Europe is a terribly scary and mysterious place, or at least according to some horror filmmakers.

 

Now, The Shrine is not a torture-porn flick, but a supernatural horror movie which anchors its focus on the mystery it presents to you. There are a few nasty kills, but nothing over the top. The movie’s main strength is the atmosphere and the suspense created from the plot’s mystery of the disappearances, the foggy forest and the creepy demon statue. The scenes with the fog in the forest and the statue were all great elements of heightened suspense and a feeling of mystery and wonder. While the movie is supposed to be set in Poland, the Polish village Alvainia is a fictional. And of course it was not filmed in Poland at all, but in Canada.

 

The Shrine has some good moments, and ends with a straightforward kind of “twist” at the end which explains things rather than muddle them (which is the case in some twist-oriented movies, unfortunately). The average horror fan will most likely find themselves feeling that they’ve seen much of what happens here before as it does throw in a fair amount of clichés, but it still manages to offer some unexpected twists and turns. It is one of those horror movies that may feel a little bit sluggish and a tad too derivative in its first moments, until it starts picking up the pace and makes you realize this wasn’t that bad after all. Thus, The Shrine comes off as an overall well-crafted supernatural thriller.

 

The Shrine

 

Director: Jon Knautz
Writers: Jon Knautz, Brendan Moore, Trevor Matthews
Country & year:
Canada, 2010
Actors:
Aaron Ashmore, Cindy Sampson, Meghan Heffern, Trevor Matthews, Vieslav Krystyan, Laura de Carteret, Ben Lewis, Julia Debowska, Monica Hewes
IMDb:
www.imdb.com/title/tt1341710/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

The Silent House (2010)

The Silent HouseLaura and her father arrives at a secluded cottage which they are going to repair, as the owner wants to put the house out for sale. Having planned to spend the night inside the house, with its unstable and unsafe upper level and windows that are nailed shut, they soon experience that things do (of course) go wrong. A radio starts playing a sinister melody, and after Laura turns it off, her father goes upstairs to check on an other noise. Laura hears a commotion from upstairs, and shortly afterwards she finds her father’s murdered body downstairs. In a state of grief and fear, she tries to escape from the house but someone has locked all the doors. As she moves around in the dark house, trying to find an exit, more sinister things happen around her…

 

The Silent House (La Casa Muda) is a Uruguayan horror movie directed by Gustavo Hernández and made with a tiny budget of $6,000. The film is made to look like it was filmed in real time, in one continuous 88 minute take, but the real story is that it was actually shot over four days. Despite not being filmed in one take, the length of the takes are still rather impressive though. The film is based on what is supposed to be real events that took place in 1944 in a village in Uruguay, where two brutally tortured men’s bodies, missing their tongues, were found in an old farmhouse. In that regard, one could consider The Silent House as a typical gimmick-film, with the supposedly “single-take” filming as well as the supposedly “true story” (which there is no actual information about to be found anywhere online, it seems). As for the single-take gimmick, there’s been numerous other films going for the same thing while having in fact been edited to appear that way. Most notably, Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope from 1948. Movies that rely heavily on gimmicks are often off to a troublesome start, though, and not surprisingly the movie’s reception was quite varied.

 

The Silent House is mostly leaning heavily on atmosphere, where inside the house the only light comes from two halogen lamps and some candles. The darkness in the house makes the viewer look for clues as to what might be hiding there, as the protagonist keeps cautiously sneaking around. It’s mostly a psychological thriller, with bits of haunted-house clichés like a haunting melody playing, a “don’t go upstairs” caution, and spooky imagery. Despite there not being much of a plot, it still manages to create a very tense atmosphere but the problem is still the pacing, which makes the film a little dull at times and some scenes dragging on for a little bit too long.

 

Overall, The Silent House is an atmospheric and different little horror film, albeit a little dull at times and offering a twist in the end which does feel a little confusing and ends up leaving more questions than answers.

 

There was also an english-language remake made in 2011, called Silent House.

 

The Silent House

 

Director: Gustavo Hernández
Writers:
Oscar Estévez, Gustavo Hernández, Gustavo Rojo
Original title:
La casa muda
Country & year:
Uruguay, 2010
Actors:
Florencia Colucci, Abel Tripaldi, Gustavo Alonso, María Salazar
IMDb:
www.imdb.com/title/tt1646973/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

Violent Shit 4: Karl the Butcher vs Axe (2010)

Violent Shit 4: Karl the Butcher vs Axe

Less Violence – more Shit.

 

Karl the Butcher has been dead for 25 years, and now spends his time in Hell, chained to a chair in a dark room. He gets a message from Satan that he has to go back to Earth to kill a new potential Butcher (known as Axe). “Make a wish”, Satan says. Karl wants his mask back. A naked blond chick gives him his mask whom he then rips the head off, before he resurrects on the surface. Of course, what else did you expect?

 

It’s now the year 2023 and world has become an apocalyptic wasteland which has been split into gang communities. Among them, we get the pleasure to meet the female trinity gang led by the complete unfunny nutcase Queen Scara, who captures and ties up men, attaches their dick to a tube connected to a “sperminator” that drains them from sperm (of course) which Scara drinks while she gives the worst and obnoxious performances I have probably ever seen from a woman. It’s actually so bad in the most painfully cringy way possible that the witch from Troll 2 is Oscar worthy in comparison. The two other ladies, and rest of the cast for that matter are just as awful, but Scara really sticks out, and this trinity gang has a lot of unnecessary screen time with scenes that really drags on and on. I didn’t even chuckle once, and it’s obvious that they act bad on purpose. It looks like something you would see on a bad unintentionally unfunny YouTube film/skit.

 

Where was I… as soon as Karl the Butcher (played by Andreas Schnaas as usual) emerges to planet Earth, he wastes no time to hunt for Axe and other victims. He kills a random naked chick with some really big, solid boobies before he enters one of the gang communities. The word that Karl the Butcher is back from Hell spreads fast, and the female trinity and some other gangs comes to hunt him down. And yeah, who’s this Axe person, you may ask. He’s just some dude who lives with his lady in the woods (played by co-director Timo Rose). He also wears a mask and has a funny-looking axe which looks like a cheap Halloween prop from some Walmart discount bin, and there’s nothing interesting about him. When he finally stumbles upon Karl, the whole premise takes an unexpected turn when The Butcher and Axe rather decides to team up and become buddies, when they realize that the gangs is out to kill them both.

 

It took two long decades before Andreas Schnaas finally gave us the not-so long anticipated Violent Shit 4: Karl The Butcher vs Axe, co-written and co-directed with Timo Rose. And I have to say I was a bit curios to see what two directors would come up with in the so far final chapter in the Violent Shit series. And it still looks like shit, as it’s probably meant to be, with overall inept directing, and still amateur hour all way through. The biggest sin here is that it’s mostly boring. It’s also the least violent of them all where it’s too far between the killing scenes, or the Violent Shit, if you will. Instead we get less Violence and more Shit with yawn-inducing and terribly written dialogue scenes where the “actors” seem to be bored out of their minds.

 

The film isn’t completely hopeless, though. It has it’s Snchnaas trademark moments with limbs getting ripped apart, static close-ups of beheading, castrations, bad choreographed fighting scenes with goofy, cartoonish sound effects, and of course some fresh nudity. It’s nothing new to see, but better than nothing, I guess. The final act is the most entertaining part with gunfights, silly video game-style fights, and of course when Karl the Butcher drinks some green liquid and becomes the Super Butcher, just like Super Shredder from Turtles 2. And his jacket-up bicep-costume looks something like this. Yes, really.

 

And of you still haven’t gotten enough Violent Shit and the murderous adventures of Karl the Butcher, there actually exists an Italian remake from 2015 of the first film, called Violent Shit: The Movie.

 

Violent Shit 4: Karl the Butcher vs Axe is available on DVD from Synapse Films.

 

Violent Shit 4: Karl The Butcher vs Axe Violent Shit 4: Karl The Butcher vs Axe Violent Shit 4: Karl The Butcher vs Axe

 

Directors: Timo Rose, Andreas Schnaas
Country & year: Germany, 2010
Actors: Andreas Schnaas, Timo Rose, Magdalèna Kalley, Eileen Daly, Eleanor James, Marysia Kay, Marc Rohnstock, Mario Zimmerschitt, Marc Trinkhaus, Timo Fuchs
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt1517076/

 

Related posts: Violent Shit (1989) | Violent Shit II (1992) | Violent Shit III: Infantry of Doom (1999)

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010)

Birdemic: Shock and Teror (2010)Birdemic: Shock and Terror is a a romantic thriller, according to writer, producer and director James Nguyen. Calling this an amateur film is a pretty big understatement. Just take a look at the movie poster. That really says it all. And this is not Sharknado-level of bad, which is a cinematic masterpiece, along with the rest from Asylum films, compared to this one. Because going into this movie without knowing anything about the circumstances around it, one could quickly get the assumption that this is made by some young amateurs for shits n’ giggles with a budget of a monthly salary from Walmart. Instead, we get to watch the result from a full-grown, batshit crazy dude in his mid-forties, which in all seriousness  believes he’s made “pure cinema” with “a Hollywood-style to it”. I’m not kidding, this is his own quotes from his own mouth. So, colleagues such as Tommy Wiseau, Neil Breen and Lewis Schoenbrun should just sit down, take some notes and learn from the great master himself.

 

In Birdemic: Shock and Terror we get the pleasure to meet Rod (Alan Bagh), which is a young, successful software salesman from Silicon Valley. He randomly meets his old classmate Nathalie (Whitney Moore) in a restaurant, and they start to date. And suddenly, out of nowhere, eagles and vultures start to attack and kill people. And how and why, you may ask? Because of global warming. And people needs to be punished and taught a lesson to live more climate-friendly. And as the tagline says: Who will survive?

 

James Nguyen is really careful to use precisely the first half of the movie to give Rod and Nathalie some solid character development before all hell breaks loose. We get a series of date scenes that really should convince us that these two are in love with each other, with a chemistry that is as electric as a public fart in an elevator. The level of cringe and awkwardness is quite astonishing, where the dialogues could as well have been written by an alien who just assumes how earthlings talk and interact. The acting skills by Alan Bagh is especially worth mentioning – which is so stiff (as a Rod), totally emotionless and so robotic that he comes more across as a classic psychopathic serial killer in sheep’s clothing, just graduated from the University of Ted Bundy. I digress. Whether he is a bad actor, or acts bad on purpose, as if he was fully aware of the kind of film he has messed himself into, is not easy to say. The only one here who barely manages to behave like a normal, functioning human being is Withney Moore, although there are several scenes where she seems to really struggle not to laugh. I can’t really blame her for that. I can’t really blame no one for their bad acting, or for acting badly on purpose for that matter, in a film like this. I would do it myself, if I got the chance, really.

 

Birdemic: Shock and Terror

 

But the most important aspect of Birdemic: Shock and Terror is of course the deep and important message behind it. Huh? Birdemic has a message? Here’s a drinking game: take a shot for every time James Nguyen says “global warning” in the DVD’s commentary track, and you’ll be dead by alcohol poisoning way before the end credits. There’s a scene with a hippie climate activist with some really crazy eyes, who gives a preach and shows our protagonists how climate-friendly he lives by building a small treehouse, which some ten-year-olds could have done better. And to emphasize that he has lived in the wild nature for many years, he has a ridiculous wig with a ponytail that doesn’t look fake at all. The conversation ends abruptly when he says “I hear a mountain lion! I gotta get back to my house and you better get to your car!” Okay, whatever. There’s also a scene that, according to Mr. Nguyen, pays a tribute to John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “Bed-Ins for Peace”, just to squeeze in a quick anti-war statement. And the scene is, as the rest of the movie, horribly shot with murky image quality, making it look more like something straight out of a home-made amateur porn.

 

Criticizing the technical aspects is as meaningless as judging something that could have been shown on America’s Funniest Home Videos in the 90s. There’s really no point, it’s just that bad. But, ok: The CGI effects look like some unused layers from a discarded Nintendo 64 game, and I guess it all was filmed on a cheap camcorder, edited in Windows Movie Maker, and audio mixed with a hair dryer. Since there is a lot of driving in Birdemic, I would assume that the entire budget on 10.000 dollars went to gasoline, and the rest to God knows what. Most of the film was shot without permit (guerrilla-style) in crowded areas, and Mr. Nguyen actually had the nerves to yell at some joggers during a scene to not get into the frame. He and the crew also ended up getting kicked out of some areas. Well, making “pure cinema” with a “Hollywood-style to it” isn’t easy, it seems.

 

Birdemic: Shock and Terror

 

Anyway, one thing I would give Mr. Nguyen credit for, is the way he promoted the film after getting rejected by Sundance. In haste and desperation he got the brilliant idea of driving around in a van, decorated by stuffed birds, fake blood, the sounds of screeching birds out of the speakers, and with a paper sign that read “BIDEMIC.COM”. Yes, in pure James Nguyen fashion he spelled his own movie title wrong. However, this excellent pr-stunt got people to notice it to such a degree that it blew up everywhere, even in the mainstream news globally. Vice also made a mini documenatry that covered some of the circus and insanity that followed. Mr. Nguyen spent two years touring the film around the states where the people couldn’t get enough of Birdemic: Shock and Terror, and it became a real cult hit. But what James Nguyen was not aware of at all, and probably never will be, is that probably 99 percent of the people who flocked to the theatres were from the same audience that laughed themselves to tears by The Room. A prime example of being celebrated on all of the wrong reasons. So the last laugh is on James Nguyen, even though it seemed the guy really had the time of his life and enjoyed the party as long it lasted.

 

A sequel came two years later, called Birdemic 2: Resurrection, which is more or less the first film all over again where several of the same actors amazingly repeated their roles. The film received a worse reception than the first, maybe because people expected something different than a remake that only refers to itself from the first film. A far clearer and polished image quality didn’t help much either, as it came and went. A third film was planned with the title Birdemic 3: Sea Eagle to end this as a trilogy, and in 2016 he started an indiegogo campaign in the hope of raising half a million dollars. No more than 596 came stumbling in before the campaign ended. Oof. Both Birdemic: Shock and Terror and Birdemic 2: The Ressurection are available on amazon.com, and it’s still a fun experience to watch back-to-back, with the right mind-set… and some booze.

 

Birdemic: Shock and Terror

 

Director: James Nguyen
Country & year: USA, 2010
Actors: Alan Bagh, Whitney Moore, Tippi Hedren, Janae Caster, Colton Osborne, Adam Sessa, Catherine Batcha, Patsy van Ettinger, Damien Carter, Rick Camp, Stephen Gustavson, Danny Webber, Mona Lisa Moon, Joe Teixeira, John Grant
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt1316037/

 

 

Tom Ghoul