Fragile (2005)

FragileMercy Falls is an old hospital that’s about to get closed down, but due to a horrible train accident the main hospital, St. James’s, can’t take in any more patients. Thus, Mercy Falls will need to stay partly open for a while more, keeping some of their patients there and the children located in the children’s ward. One of these children is Maggie, a little girl suffering from cystic fibrosis. She is terrified of “Charlotte”, someone she claims to see. One of the new nurses, Amy Nicholls, bonds with Maggie as they have something in common: they’re both orphans. Maggie confides in Amy, telling her about this Charlotte character which Amy later finds out is some kind of urban legend at the hospital, where several children have claimed to see her over the past two decades. When Amy starts looking even further into the mystery about Charlotte, she discovers that all the other children who claimed to have seen Charlotte are deceased, and she fears that Maggie might be next.

 

Fragile (aka Frágiles) is a supernatural horror film from 2005, directed by Jaume Balagueró (who is most known for the two first REC movies). He came up with the idea for this film after seeing an old photo of a little girl suffering from Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a horrible disease where bones are easily fractured, also known as “brittle bone disease”.

 

Fragile is going in a well trodden path, but the savoring points of the film is the atmosphere from the old, gloomy hospital where the Bearwood College in Berkshire, England, was used for the exterior shots. There’s certainly a fair amount of good old-fashioned gothic atmosphere, tinged with mystery. The story unfolds slowly, where you’re being introduced to the main character Amy Nicholls (Calista Flockhart), various nurses and the sick children in the hospital. Since the plot starts with knowing that the hospital is about to be completely abandoned, but having to postpone it for the children due to the full main hospital after the train accident, you get a feeling of the characters being in an even more isolated and threatening situation. And of course, there’s the abandoned floor where we know something terrible happened. It’s all a nice recipe for a solid, albeit not especially strong, ghost story. Its suspenseful, atmospheric, and quite decent.

 

The ghost here, though…well, she’s something that looks more like she came from a Hellraiser movie and wandered into the wrong set. While there are certainly a lot of horror movies where the ghosts appear a bit over-the-top malformed (like for example the Insidious franchise), she does feel a little bit misplaced here amongst the otherwise traditional gothic elements. Then again, this does make her first full appearance an unexpected surprise. The scenes when she is more obscured works a lot better though than the ones where we see her full on, but overall we don’t really get to see all that much of her.

 

There’s a scene where the children are watching an animated “Sleeping Beauty” film (nope, not the Disney one, as you might have guessed), and this animated film was actually created specifically for this movie. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be anywhere in its entirety, aside from in the clip from Fragile. This animated clip does have a certain significance to the movie’s sad but sugar-coated ending.

 

Overall, Fragile is a familiar-looking entry into the supernatural genre of vengeful spirits, mostly held up by its atmosphere and moody locations.

 

Fragile Fragile

 

Director: Jaume Balagueró
Writers: Jaume Balagueró, Jordi Galceran
Country & year: Spain, UK, 2005
Actors: Calista Flockhart, Richard Roxburgh, Elena Anaya, Gemma Jones, Yasmin Murphy, Colin McFarlane, Michael Pennington, Daniel Ortiz, Susie Trayling, Michael Gatward, Scarlet Carey, Cameron Antrobus
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0422272/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

Nazis at the Center of the Earth (2012)

Nazis at the Center of the EarthNazis at the Center of the Earth. How can you go wrong with a title like that which sounds more like a drive-in flick from the 1970s, or something that Robert Rodriguez, once upon a time, could have made under his Grindhouse banner? Well, first off – this is from the cheap film company The Asylum which is, in the most recent decade, most known for its own original Sharknado franchise. Besides that, we can mention a neverending list of shitty low-to-non budget mockbusters such as Titanic II, Transmorphers, Atlantic Rim, AVH: Alien vs. Hunter, Invasion of the Pod People, Independents’ Day (yes, really), Battle Star Wars … And the list goes on like a non-stop diarrhea of the most shameless clickbait titles to fool people with one brain cell to trick them into watching something familiar to a mainstream Hollywood film. Their Paranormal Activity Entity wasn’t the worst as far as I remember, although it’s ages since I saw it.

 

The one we’re talking about here is their own warped version of Iron Sky, only here the Nazis aren’t coming from the moon but from the depths. And mockbuster or not, the title is enough to get my attention as I eat fat turkeys like this for breakfast, and it turned out to be as fun and crazy as the title would suggest, with even more surprises. In other words; the best way to experience this loony ride is to go in blind as this review will contain some spoilers.

 

We are at the research center Niflheim in Antarctica where two scientists are out on the snowy fields, ready to sample the surface for their research. When they unfold something metallic under the snow with a swastika painted on it, they get captured by a group of Nazis wearing gas masks, and they take them to a bunker somewhere deep underground. The leader of the research team, Dr. Adrian Reinstad (Jake Busey, the son of madman Gary Busey) heads out with his crew to find them.

 

One of the crew members, named Silje, is supposed to be Norwegian, by the way. And she speaks the language just as clearly and fluently as Brad Pitt speaking Italian – or like these two guys from an episode of The X-Files.

 

Anyway – they descend into a huge, dark pit that takes them to something that at first looks like an alternative Narnia dimension. But with a further look, it’s a huge underground world with trees, plants, and a forest where a fortress can be seen in the distance. Here they meet the evil Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele (Christopher Karl Johnson), with the infamous badass nickname The Angel of Death, who performed torturous experiments on victims at the Auschwitz II concentration camp during WW2.

 

Nazis at the Center of the Earth

 

So, the big question is: why is he still alive, and what’s his agenda?

 

Wikipedia can tell us that Mengele died by drowning after he suffered a stroke while swimming in 1979. That’s of course BS and pure falsification of history as we here learn that he actually kept himself alive all these years by taking organs from victims and replacing his bones with mechanical skeletons. And with his army of Nazi zombies, he’s still experimenting, so he finally can reanimate none other than der Führer himself. The plan here is to rise up to the surface with a war spaceship, so they can finally take over the world and create the perfect Arian race. Of course.

 

The film has apparently one of the highest visual effects shot counts in an Asylum production with a budget of $200,000. And still, it looks like a Lada trying to be a Plymouth Fury flooded with empty bottles of Vodka, Smirnoff and Jägermeister. Not a single outdoor scene looks realistic with its cheap digital backgrounds. The snow vehicle we see at the beginning looks like something from PlayStation 2. We see people who are supposed to be in the distance in the fake-looking Antarctica when they’re clearly copied and pasted with lousy use of green screen. It’s also made in a serious way with actors who really try to act professionally, which just makes it more amusing. A great recipe for a funny-bad movie, for sure, and in my judgment, not made bad on purpose like the Sharknado films. There’s some decent gore here, which is the only legit quality to point out.

 

But what’s takes the cake here, or the big Golden Raspberry, if you will, is the true star of the film: Please kneel and give your salute to –  Robo-Hitler (James Maxwell Young), where Hitler’s head is attached to a cyborg machine. Yes, you heard that right. This actually took me off guard, I did nazi that coming, and my eyes teared up from laughing. Everything here is just perfect; the way he stomps with his cyborg body like a mecha boss from a Sonic the Hedgehog game, the amateur acting, the goofy faces, the whole naive, enthusiastic energy. What more is there really to say? Nazis at the Center of the Earth is an epic schlockfest and a true gem in its category which is available on Blu-ray at Amazon.com, and last time I checked, on Tubi.

 

Nazis at the Center of the Earth Nazis at the Center of the Earth Nazis at the Center of the Earth

 

Director: Joseph J. Lawson
Writer: Paul Bales
Country & year: USA, 2012
Actors: Dominique Swain, Jake Busey, Joshua Michael Allen, Christopher Karl Johnson, James Maxwell Young, Lilan Bowden, Marlene Okner, Adam Burch, Maria Pallas, Abderrahim Halaimia, Trevor Kuhn
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2130142/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

Nightwatch (1994)

NightwatchMartin is a young law student who’s looking for a typical student job: something that will earn him a bit of money but won’t get in the way of his studies. He ends up seeking a job as a night watchman at the Forensic Medicine Institute, which seems to be perfect. Just sitting there all alone at night, being able to spend some of that time studying. It doesn’t take many nights before paranoia starts setting in, and several unexplained things start happening at the place. Is the job just getting under his skin and fraying his nerves, or is something else at play here? Things get worse as one of the victims of an uncaught serial killer is brought in to the morgue, and just as Martin seriously starts wondering if he’s losing his mind, something happens that ends up making him the prime suspect of the murders.

 

Nightwatch (Danish title Nattevagten) is a Danish horror thriller from 1994, written and directed by Ole Bornedal. After Bornedal released his television film Masturbator (1993), he got the inspiration for Nightwatch after visiting the morgue, which he found to be “both scary and beautiful”. It made him think about how, on the outside of a morgue the daily life continues on, while on the inside you’re standing there with the realization that this is where everything ends. Upon release, the film was a huge success in Denmark where it sold 465.529 tickets. In fact, it got so popular that it ended up being a bigger box office hit in the country than Jurassic Park the previous year.

 

The movie starts out fine enough, with a quick introduction to Martin and the other main characters. When he gets the job and the old, soon to be retired, night guard shows him around, there’s a checklist of “rules” the guard advices him to follow: get yourself a radio. When going into the room with the stiffs, just look straight ahead and never to the sides. And so on. If this wasn’t a movie from 1994, you could’ve thought this setup was based on some kind of classic Creepypasta story. However, like with many things that happen in this movie, you’re thrown a load of red herrings already from the start in order to make you just as confused as the main character ends up being.

 

Originally, the movie was seen as a rather gruesome little flick, and while there are some topics that certainly are controversial (necrophilia, under-aged prostitutes, etc.) none of these topics are displayed in a manner that’s exposed enough to be adequately disturbing. Sure, it was probably an entirely different experience back in ’94 when Scandinavian movies didn’t have much to offer in the horror genre to being with, but seen with modern eyes it’s not really going to crawl under your skin. There are several effective scenes here though, especially when Martin takes his rounds in the morgue when he’s not sure exactly what is going on, and the scene of a grisly murder that happens during the soundtrack of a cheesy, upbeat Danish song (Lille Lise let på tå) that provided a perfect paradoxical effect. Overall it’s a fun and exciting thriller with lots of twists and turns, and although there are some slight pacing issues throughout, it keeps you entertained and guessing what will happen next.

 

While the movie was a huge success in its home country, there were some who didn’t exactly find themselves pleased with the whole situation. Apparently, the film caused a rise in number of people who had withdrawn their organ donation wills, and Professor Morten Møller claimed it was due to the film’s distorted image of doctors, students and researchers’ treatment of the dead and their body parts. He stated: “The movieNightwatch’ has certainly not had a positive effect on us. I don’t know what people imagine. That we should be sexually interested in the dead and want to lie down on their bed? A crazy fantasy that has not the slightest hold in reality.” Oh well…in any case, there’s no doubt that Nightwatch certainly had quite an impact in its home country.

 

There was also an english-language remake of the film released in 1997, also directed by Bornedal, and this year, a whole 30 years later, we get a sequel which is called Nightwatch – Demons are Forever. It was originally released in Denmark in December 2023, but it’s starting to hit the theaters elsewhere in May this year.

 

Nightwatch Nightwatch Nightwatch

 

Writer and director: Ole Bornedal
Country & year: Denmark, 1994
Original title: Nattevagten
Actors: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Sofie Gråbøl, Kim Bodnia, Lotte Andersen, Ulf Pilgaard, Rikke Louise Andersson, Stig Hoffmeyer, Gyrd Løfquist, Niels Anders Thorn
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110631/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

The Rift (1990)

The RiftNATO sends out a crew in order to find out what happened to their missing submarine, the Siren I. For this, they use the experimental submarine the Siren II, and along with this crew the designer of the sub is amongst them. He finds that the corporation who had the submarine built, Contek, has made several modifications to the original design. He is not very happy about this, and the mood is already a bit strained and a lot of things definitely feels a bit off with the whole mission. When they get signals from Siren I‘s black box, they are led to an underwater rift that is full of toxic weed, something the on-board scientist points out should have been impossible since there shouldn’t be any plant life at this depth. Of course, they find out that Contek and Siren I had a lot of secrets, and the full truth of their mission is yet to be revealed to them.

 

The Rift (aka Endless Descent) is a B-horror movie from 1990, directed by Juan Piquer Simón who also directed movies like Pieces (1982) and Slugs (1988). There were a lot of underwater horror and thriller movies released around this time, most notably The Abyss from 1989, which was also one of the very few of these that became a box-office hit. Of course, like with many prior movie successes, there will always be those who try to jump on the bandwagon in hopes of traveling along with the popularity. The results are often a blend of meh-movies and some true B-horror schlock, in which the latter often deserves their own little spot here in the crypt of the Horror Ghouls.

 

Sure, the plot if somewhat threadbare and slightly silly, but the acting is overall decent enough for a movie like this, with Ray Wise having one of his more typical roles. The effects aren’t that bad either for an obvious low budget, and even though there isn’t an abundance of blood and gore, the death scenes are often vicious enough. While the movie starts off a little slow and sluggish, barely threading the water it’s supposed to dive into, it does start offering up some more intensity and surprises as we go along. There are at least some deep sea atrocities to set your eyes on here, including some giant killer seaweed, although the best creature feature parts are saved for the final scenes of the movie.

 

The Rift has its fair share of brutality, and serves up some amusing underwater sci-fi schlock. While it isn’t a movie that’s crazy enough to be especially funny, it is at least an okay popcorn-flick. Overall an average B-Horror movie, not great but entertaining enough.

 

The Rift

 

Director: Juan Piquer Simón
Writers: Juan Piquer Simón, Mark Klein, David Coleman
Country & year: Spain, USA, 1990
Actors: Jack Scalia, R. Lee Ermey, Ray Wise, Deborah Adair, John Toles-Bey, Ely Pouget, Emilio Linder, Tony Isbert, Álvaro Labra, Luis Lorenzo, Frank Braña, Pocholo Martínez-Bordiú
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099701/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

Absentia (2011)

AbsentiaTricia is a woman who lives alone in a house in Glendale, California. Her husband has been missing for seven years, and the time has finally come to declare him in “dead in absentia”. This is a tough decision for Tricia, and her younger sister Callie comes to stay with her during this time. Daniel’s death certificate is being worked on, and Callie helps Tricia look for a new apartment. However, when the date for declaring him dead approaches, Tricia starts having nightmares and experiences terrifying hallucinations of him, where he appears to be angry and frustrated. Her psychologist says this all stems from the guilt she feels, but declaring him dead after all these years is still the right thing to do so she can finally move on. Callie, who is a former drug addict, tries to keep her days busy by jogging around the neighborhood, and one day she runs into a creepy tunnel where she sees a man who appears to be shocked that she can see him. He begs her to contact his son, but she assumes this man is just a confused and possibly dangerous hobo and runs off. She later comes back and leaves some food for him, but he’s not there anymore. Later, when Callie has decided to finally sign Daniel’s death certificate and get it over with, she sees a bloody and barefoot person in front of her house. When she sees that it’s Daniel, she is first a little confused as she thinks it might be yet another of her creepy hallucinations of him…but then she realizes it really is him, in flesh and blood. At the hospital, he appears to be disoriented and severely malnourished, and can only explain that he’s been “underneath”…

 

Absentia from 2011 is written, edited and directed by Mike Flanagan and produced by FallBack Plan Productions. It was partly funded by over 300 donors through a Kickstarter campaign, where the goal was to raise $15.000 and they ended up with $25.000 which was a bit more than one third of their final budget. Mike Flanagan has been serving several titles into the horror genre over the years, including Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016), Dr. Sleep (2019), the TV mini series The Haunting of Hill House (2018) and many more. While Absentia is one of his very earliest work, there is actually a little bit of an easter egg here where in the psychologist’s office we see the Oculus mirror on the wall, which had been previously used in Flanagan’s short Oculus: Chapter 3 – The Man With the Plan from 2006, and was later included in his feature film Oculus from 2013.

 

This movie is definitely a slow burner, where the mystery regarding Daniel’s disappearance and the tunnel nearby keeps you guessing and curious throughout the movie. The mood is dire and depressing, with a steady build of unease. There’s a fair amount of subtlety here, which doesn’t always work in the movie’s favour, but at other times perfectly boosts the underlying feeling of unease. Like, the small detail of seeing posters nearby the creepy tunnel of missing dogs, implying that it’s not only Daniel’s that’s gone missing in that neighborhood. The small nudge to the old children’s tale The Three Billy Goats Gruff, an old Norwegian folktale which was first published in 1844, is also a nice touch where using something from old folklore and twisting it into something else in modern time.

 

While Absentia is by no means any masterpiece or a must-see, it’s still a nice watch if you want something eerie and slow-paced where it’s all more about mood than substance.

 

Absentia

 

Writer and director: Mike Flanagan
Country & year: USA, 2011
Actors: Katie Parker, Courtney Bell, Dave Levine, Justin Gordon, Morgan Peter Brown, Jamie Flanagan, Doug Jones, Scott Graham, Connie Ventress, Ian Gregory
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1610996/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

Uninvited (1987)

UninvitedWe’re at a genetic research facility, where a bunch of crazy scientists have decided to genetically alter a house cat into some kind of mutant. Why? Well, probably because crazed scientists always think “can we” when instead they should have been thinking “should we”. It goes just as well as one might expect: the cat escapes, leaving a trail of blood in its wake. Don’t be fooled, though, because this mutant kitty isn’t all that bad. After escaping, it meets a nice man who gives it food, who is then mugged by two thugs who steal his truck. The cat jumps on it and have them both killed, using its pussy power and serving up some instant karma right there. Go kitty! Those aren’t the only sleazebags we meet, however, as a multimillionaire by the name of Walter Graham is preparing for an escape to the Cayman Islands in order to avoid the usual: tax evasion, criminal prosecution, and all that stuff those islands provide a safe shelter from for felons like him. He’s made sure to bring with him enough money and liquor in order to make the journey pleasant. Before boarding his luxury yacht, however, he does of course make sure to bring some booty together with the booze, inviting two young nitwitted girls aboard. The girls bring along three boys as well, much to Walter’s dismay. But not only that, they also bring along…dun dun dun…a certain orange feline one of the girls just found close to the harbor! Walter protests even more about the cat, saying it’s not invited. Well, too late, everyone’s already on board and he’d better start the trip to the Caymans without further delay before even more uninvited guests ends up on deck, specifically those from the authorities. Best to haul ass out of there and get the party started! Of course, things quickly goes awry when the drunken captain gets killed by the cat after threatening it, and falls into the deep blue sea. Since no on else witnessed this, they believe it was an accident, but it so happens that one of the boys aboard is a biologist, who decides to inspect a blood sample from what they assume is the captain’s blood, and finds abnormalities in the blood cell count. It doesn’t take long before they realize they have a very dangerous uninvited guest aboard the luxury yacht, with a mutant killer kitty on the loose!

 

Uninvited is a creature feature B-horror film from 1987, written and directed by Greydon Clark. Back in the day it was released on VHS by New Star Video, and here in Norway it was released as Killer Cat. It later got a DVD release in 2009 by Liberation Entertainment, and in 2019 a remastered version was released by Vinegar Syndrome.

 

If you haven’t guessed it already: this one is totally B-cheese all over the place, topped with some catnip for good measure. It’s ridiculous as hell, which of course is part of the charm, but it’s also a bit of a mess and somewhat uneven. There are periods where things are crazy and fast-paced, and then there are periods where everything slows down before it amps up the pace again. It’s worth sitting through the more boring parts though, and of course the highlight of the movie is the cat itself. Already from the start, the mutant cat is more the hero than the villain here, where many of the characters are utter scumbags, so at first it appeared to take a bit of the “monster misunderstood and good, humans bad” trope, but the kitty doesn’t discriminate, and not only the baddies are killed. So, who are you actually supposed to root for..? Well, it doesn’t really matter in the long run, because of course you’re rooting for the cat! Which is constantly meowing during nearly all its screentime. Except it isn’t, because for some retarded reason they decided to play the two stock-sound meowing effects on repeat whenever we see the cat on screen, despite the cat’s mouth being closed. It’s both hilarious and annoying at the same time, and while I would like to say “take a shot for every time the cat meows without even opening its mouth”, I think I’d rather not, because you’d end up with alcohol poisoning before getting halfway through the movie. Yes, the constant meowing really is that much.

 

The cat itself is for the most part a cute and fluffy one, but the mutation has caused it to sometimes let loose a monstrous Mr. Hyde version from inside its own mouth. Whenever this happens, this monster crawls out of the cat’s very obviously fake head, and sometimes attack people in true Hobgoblins style (meaning the people just hold a puppet while shaking it, pretending for dear life that it’s alive and trying to kill them. Just as convincing every time). Some of the filming was indeed done on a boat, at least, as the director paid $15.000 in order to rent the luxury yacht for two weeks. But this is of course not the only place the film was shot. Like in many B-horror movies, some inventive ideas had to be used, and of course the classic of filming stuff in the director’s garage was a thing here. Other than that, there were several shots featuring a miniature of the yacht which was done in the director’s own swimming pool.

 

Uninvited is one of those B-Horror movies that makes me glad we have badges instead of ratings here at Horror Ghouls. Because, how the fuck are you supposed to properly rate a movie like this? At one hand, a simplistic take on the movie’s quality would be something akin to a 4/10, but on the other hand it’s a 8/10 when it comes to B-horror entertainment value, topped with extra cheese and overall a ridiculously fun pastime. So, if you enjoy those kinds of movies, check it out if you can. The Vinegar Syndrome releases are out of print and going for a hefty price at eBay, but it’s also available on several streaming sites.

 

Uninvited Uninvited Uninvited

 

Writer and director: Greydon Clark
Country & year: USA, 1987
Also known as: Killer Cat
Actors: George Kennedy, Alex Cord, Clu Gulager, Toni Hudson, Eric Larson, Clare Carey, Beau Dremann, Rob Estes, Shari Shattuck, Michael Holden, Austin Stoker, and a cute fluffy ginger cat
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096341/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

The First Omen (2024)

The First OmenFirst off, just let me say, in the most dry British gentleman-accent as I’m raising my glass of brandy, that: metal up your arse and Hail Satan!

 

Because who in the right mind would have thought that we’d get a pretty decent prequel to The Omen from 1976 in the year of 2024? Huh… but here we are. Unfortunately, the timing for the promotion for The First Omen couldn’t be much worse as it came straight after The Exorcist: Bieber Believer. *Fart*. People seemed to be finally fed up to the throat with soulless rehashed franchise revivals and didn’t give The First Omen much thought of the day. I was one of them. Here we fucking go again. Satan wept. Then the film came, people saw it, and I was as surprised as everyone else with the common reaction as it was better than expected. It’s a shame that the film underperformed at the box office, but as I said: bad timing. They should have waited another year when the corpse of Believer had once and for all rotted to dust and was faded from everyone’s memory. Oh, well. The motivation for giving it a chance on the silver screen peaked higher when I noticed that the film was directed and co-written by Arkasha Stevenson, who was also involved in the brilliant, sexy and satanic mini series Brand New Cherry Flavor (2021). This is her feature-length directorial debut. And she has learned from the best and knows how to direct a horror movie, that’s for sure.

 

The year is 1971 and the young woman, Maggie (Nell Tiger Free) has arrived in Rome, Italy, where she’s met by Cardinal Lawrence (Bill Nighy) to drive her to Vizzardeli Orphanage, where she is about to start a life as a nun. The place is filled with red flags (or red omens, if you will) as soon as she sets her first footsteps into the orphanage. She sees some children’s drawings on the wall, but the one that takes her attention is a more sinister drawing made by the mysterious, quiet girl Carlita (Nicole Sorace). Maggie knocks on her door to introduce herself to this Carlita, who hides behind her bed. She crawls at Maggie like a cave girl and gives her a big, wet lick on her cheek. Welcome to Italy, baby. We soon learn that she isn’t quite right in her head and Maggie gets some strong advice from the shunned priest Father Brennan (played by the demon voice himself, Ralph Ineson) that it’s best to keep a distance from her. So many omens here. What was the first omen again..?

 

Anyway, the film spends a good chunk of time letting us get to know Maggie. Since she hasn’t taken her vows yet, and is basically still free as a bird, her roommate Luz dolls her up and takes her to the disco where Maggie gets her very first sexual arousal. Sure you wanna marry God, honey? Meanwhile, Father Brennan is dedicated to exposing the evil plans of the church. Because we’re in a time when Italy is in a rebellious revolution where young protesters are on the streets and setting cars on fire and such. But the most alarming of all: more and more people have turned their backs to the Lord Jesus Christ. And the church can’t have that. No spoilers, but what the writers did here was quite ballsy, I must say, and some aspects are also straight facts when it comes to sexual abuse, which is an open secret in the Catholic Church and has been for many years. Here, they take it a bit further. And since Italy is still a hardcore Christian country where they still believe that every single mental problem is demon possessions, I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if several audiences died of heart attacks while they were holding their crucifixes and rosaries. Chiama un ambulanza, por fervore!

 

Maggie is also witnessing a morbid birth scene in the orphanage, which should be enough to take the hint and fly right back to the USA and never look back. But she hasn’t seen anything yet, nor does she know that she’s just a number waiting to get her belly pregnant. She starts to see cryptic visions and a creepy nun in the corner in her dark room and her mental state slowly starts falling apart to pure paranoia while questioning her faith. Nell Tiger Free (free the tiger?) is really outstanding, which gives a colorful emotional range to her role. She’s emphatic, sweet and likable and no one would guess that she was the mother of the most evil kid on the planet.

 

The film wasn’t as scary I’d hoped for, though. But nevertheless, the film wins me over with its gothic atmosphere and overall grim sense of premonition constantly looming in the air (it’s after all an Omen film). It has a great build-up with a string of unpleasant moments and a tension that boils up to the predictable, yet highly effective climax. Arkasha Stevenson directs the hell of the movie, which is overall beautifully shot with some great scenery of Rome and its old, antique surroundings. Despite some few lame jump scares thrown in, which is almost unavoidable, this is a solid quality film in old-school form that also stands well on its own legs.

 

Although this prequel does it very best to blend it all in with the first film, there’s an obvious change here, and that’s the jackal, the dog that actually gave birth to Damien. But, of course, we couldn’t have a two-hour movie with a dog running around in the streets of Rome, that wouldn’t be the best recipe for a prequel. The jackal is a key figure here, though, but thus far the keyholes has only produced girls. And that’s as much I can say before spoiling, because the desperate motivation here is everything.

 

I also like the writing on the poster that says The Most Terrifying Movie of The Year, a quote from the Fox studio themselves. That’s cute. Maybe not the most terrifying of the year 2024, we still have to see ’bout that, but certainly the most terrifying film in the franchise since Damien: Omen II (1978). There’s also a cool nod to the lift scene from that film plus other references without going too much into member berry lane. Hearing Ave Satani (originally written and composed by the great Jerry Goldsmith) for the first time in a movie theater, here with a remix version by Mark Korven, was epic in itself. The film also opens the door to a spin-off sequel, and I can’t say I’m very enthusiastic about that idea.

 

The First Omen The First Omen The First Omen

 

Director: Arkasha Stevenson
Writers: Tim Smith, Arkasha Stevenson, Keith Thomas, Ben Jacoby
Country & year: USA, Italy, Serbia, Canada, 2024
Actors: Nell Tiger Free, Ralph Ineson, Sonia Braga, Tawfeek Barhom, Maria Caballero, Charles Dance, Bill Nighy, Nicole Sorace, Ishtar Currie-Wilson, Andrea Arcangeli, Guido Quaglione, Dora Romano
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5672290/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) (2011)

The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)The first film was My Little Pony, compared to what we were going to witness in The Human Centipede 2 (Eat Shit and Die), as writer and director Tom Six said with a great enthusiasm. And that couldn’t be more true. This is the film that should have all the buzz words the first one was bombarded with.

 

This one also takes another whole approach in terms of tone, style and plot, of little there is. This time shot in crisp black and white where we get the pleasure of meeting Martin (Laurence R. Harvey), a sad existence of a human. He’s a short, middle-aged, mentally challenged and morbidly obese outcast with some even bigger, hideous eyes. Picture a morbid live-action version of Humpty Dumpty mixed with the Tweedle Boys and some bloke who shouldn’t be near any children. Martin lives in a bleak and nihilistic world with his old mother in a cramped and depressing apartment complex in East London. His mother hates his fat guts and just wants to kill him. Luckily, Martin is suitable enough to have a job as he works as a tollbooth clerk in a parking garage where he mostly spends his time watching the DVD of The Human Centipede. Yes, this is the real world, you see, where the first film was just a movie. As Martin also has a centipede as a pet, the only friend he presumably ever had, he’s is obsessed with the film and is fantasizing about himself making his own human centipede – because, after all, the film told us that it was 100 % medically accurate.

 

Martin starts to collect the victims for his centipede experiment of twelve people to lure them into his own warehouse. One of the victims is also fully pregnant. Yup, this nasty sequel holds no punches. But his biggest wet dream is to get his hands on the actress Ashlynn Yennie, who also starred in the first film. And in order to get her from the US to an obscure warehouse somewhere in London, Martin has a genius plan: he’ll trick her to believe he’s a casting agent for Quentin Tarantino. Yes, she’s up for a surprise.

 

Tom Six wanted to have more blood and shit in the sequel, which lacked in the first film. And blood and shit you’ll get, in gallons. The film goes all the way, even the extra footsteps, with the brutality to put the poorest taste in the audiences mouth, and maybe pleasing a depressed Roger Ebert this time. But in the midst of the shooting of The Human Centipede 2, some drastic changes had to happen when Tom Six was told to change it to black & white to make it appear less gory. The black & white only adds more to the imagination and enhances the gritty and grimy atmosphere. And it’s still one of those films where you want to take a long shower after watching. So it works in that sense and serves its purpose. There’s a color version, to my knowledge, that was included in a Blu-ray set, which I haven’t seen.

 

I wouldn’t recommend a movie like this to anyone unless you have a bucket full of a sick & dark sense of humor and hate your neighbors. And having some self-destructing personality flaw, sadomasochistic behavior mixed with some strong misanthropic tendencies is a plus to fully enjoy this movie with some ghoulish schadenfreude glee. The ending goes completely off the rails and hilariously batSHIT, where the tagline 100% medically INaccurate couldn’t fit more. A real shitshow in the purest form where it’s OK to have a sadistic laugh or two. I hope that the real centipede they used in some scenes wasn’t harmed though.

 

Fun trivia: The director views it as an anti-bullying film and tweeted It should be mandatory to watch THC2 in school classes…It deals with a character that is bullied and what to do! And a high school teacher in Tennessee did just that by showing the film to her class. After she was suspended, Tom Six gave her an autographed copy of the film.

 

Tom Six followed up with the third film, The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence). It was, of course, like the others, banned due to highly explicit sexual violence, as well as an abundance of potential obscenity. This was Six’s attempt to make a pure comedy in some bizarre sitcom-style, where I’m inclined to believe that the film was banned because people died of the painfully cringe humor more than anything – and seeing Dieter Laser in a full non-stop psychotic meltdown-mode, while trying to commit suicide in almost every scene by getting his blood pressure as high as possible. The centipede aspects are shoehorned in at the last minute, which makes the trilogy anticlimactic like a quick, dry fart. Watch the first two.

 

I can also mention that Tom Six’s newest film is called The Onania Club – which is about a group of elite upper class women in Hollywood who get their pussy wet and horny by witnessing others’ life tragedies, all from the extreme pleasures of seeing images of holocaust victims to people dying of cancer. And judging from the trailer, it looks as cheap and amateurish as a YouTube skit. It was originally set to be released back in 2017, but has been further delayed because there isn’t a single distributor on the planet who wants to touch it. And if the film can’t match any standards even for a company like Wild Eye Releasing, then it has to be worse than herpes. The Human Centipede films, however, are mostly out-of-print but can be found on eBay.

 

The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)

 

 

Writer and director: Tom Six
Country & year: Netherlands, USA, 2011
Actors: Laurence R. Harvey, Ashlynn Yennie, Maddi Black, Kandace Caine, Dominic Borrelli, Lucas Hansen, Lee Nicholas Harris, Dan Burman, Daniel Jude Gennis, Georgia Goodrick, Emma Lock
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1530509/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

The Human Centipede (First Sequence) (2009)

The Human Centipede (First Sequence)Two young American ladies, Lindsey and Jenny, are visiting Germany. While driving through a forest they get a flat tire. And since they don’t know how to change a tire, they have to go on foot with their high heels through the forest while it’s raining to hopefully find some help. Luckily, they come across a house where the lights are on. They ring on the doorbell and out comes Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser) who invites them in for a glass of water while he’s calling the car service.

 

You have a really lovely home. Do you live here with your wife?, asks one of the girls. No… I don’t like human beings, he answers in the most unironically way with his creepy German accent.

 

Okay, then. Thanks for the water, but now it’s time to leave. Oops, too late. Because Dr. Heiter has laced their water with some strong sedatives, and soon they’ll wake up in his lab basement, strained to their hospital beds. Because, you see, this doctor has a very special passion, and that is to make the world’s first human centipede. And according to the poster, this is done with 100% medical accuracy. So this is perfectly safe to try at home, kids.

 

The Human Centipede was, at the time, the most  brutalshockingsickeninggruesomegrossrevoltingdisturbingdisgusting (and add all buzz words possible) piece of horror film that has ever been made on planet Earth – and probably the most hyped and viral thing that only Megan is Missing (2011) could come close to. The buzz for this film was so colossal and huge that it managed to crawl its way into the mainstream pop-culture and was even mentioned as a parody game of Pac-Man in an episode of The Simpsons. There is also a porn parody titled The Human Sexipede. Anyway – people who haven’t even seen the film call it the most disturbing thing ever. But for most of us who have actually seen it, we can confirm that this is a prime example of how a morbid concept like this sounds so much more horrific on paper with a pretty brilliant poster design that is cryptic enough to toy with your darkest imagination.

 

Because this is not exactly the body horror you’d expect to see from directors like David Cronenberg, Brian Yuzna or the horror mangas of Hideshi Hino and Junji Ito. It’s not even close to being as gruesome and graphic as the title and the poster would trick you to believe. Yes, it’s supposed to look more realistic and grounded with the less is more approach, but still… It’s quite underwhelming, and nothing but comical to see the actors squeezing their noses between their ass-cheeks to make us believe that they’re Frankensteined together, as they’re moaning like they’re in some scat porn video. The only legit disgusting moment here is the snot hanging from the nose of the Asian guy, who got lucky enough to be the first link to the centipede experiment. I can’t imagine the actors being proud to be in this and have ever shown it to their moms and dads and their friends – Hey, look at this horror film I’m in where I’m eating ass and breathing farts. 

 

There are many unique ways to be totally humiliated on screen as an actor, but this has to take the shit cake – only until the far more fucked-up sequel The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) came and said hold my anus. And there’s no wonder why actresses who showed up to the casting sessions walked out in disgust after discovering what they were about to sign on to.

 

The Human Centipede was mostly filmed in a residential home in the Netherlands with primarily four actors and a small budget. The film could have been so much worse, but our villain, Dr. Heiter, makes sure to keep us entertained. He looks like an elderly meth-addicted Robert Pattinson with stage four cancer. A solid-looking mad-scientist villain, in other words, with an electric performance by the eccentric German actor Dieter Laser (1942-2020) which makes this film worth a watch alone. And speaking of meth… Dieter approached his role with method acting, didn’t mingle with either cast or crew between the takes, and pretty much kept to himself. According to Dieter, the white jacket he wore was by a real Nazi doctor from WW2. He took the role so seriously to a point where he started to feel some Nazi guilt, and got into a fight when he accidentally kicked the Asian guy. Welcome to showbiz. Tom Six views the film as a reflection on fascism and his fear of doctors and hospitals.

 

But at the end of the day, The Human Centipede is an unintentionally twisted, silly little comedy that got hyped out of proportions just because of its title alone, and it’s not to be taken seriously for even half a second. Our old friend Roger Ebert, on the other hand, hated the film so much that he gave it zero stars – which should be enough to pique your curiosity, if you ask me.

 

The Human Centipede (First Sequence) The Human Centipede (First Sequence)

 

Writer and director: Tom Six
Country & year: Netherlands, 2009
Actors: Dieter Laser, Winter Williams, Ashlynn Yennie, Akihiro Kitamura, Andreas Leupold, Peter Blankenstein, Bernd Kostrau, Rene de Wit
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1467304/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

Creep (2004)

CreepKate is waiting for the train at Charing Cross Underground station. She falls asleep, and when she wakes up there’s nobody around and the place has been locked up for the night. Even if the entire place has been deserted and she’s the only one there, an empty train suddenly arrives. Not knowing what else to do, she boards it, hoping to get away from the place. Then, it stops and all the lights go out. Then she finds out that the place was not entirely abandoned after all, as she meets one of her coworkers who keeps following her around and eventually attempts to rape her. She is saved by someone unknown, who drags the guy out of the train, and when Kate sees a glimpse of him covered in blood, she starts running. Then Kate meets a homeless couple, Jimmy and Mandy. They also have a dog called Ray. After offering some payment, Jimmy reluctantly agrees to follow Kate to the night guard, but they will be hunted by someone else who is prowling the underground station, looking for victims…

 

Creep is a horror film from 2004, written and directed by Christopher Smith (who later directed Triangle (2009). Creep was his directorial debut, and there was also a game made called Creep: The Last Tube in 2005 which was used to promote the film. While the game went down nearly 14 years later, the developer helped making sure the game didn’t end up as lost media, and was uploaded to Archive.org.

 

Creep may at first appear to be similar to The Midnight Meat Train, but those are very different. In Creep, a lot of the movie relies heavily on portraying Kate’s feelings of being trapped and surrounded by danger all around. The movie doesn’t start off with lengthy character depictions or backstories, we simply see a young woman waiting for a train and nodding off, waking up in a place that appears to be deserted. Places that use to bustle with people where you’re used to seeing them filled with the regular everyday stress, will always seem slightly surreal and nightmarish when totally empty. Of course, Kate eventually finds that she is not entirely alone after all, there’s danger from all around and this is what makes all the twists and turns come somewhat unexpected. I say somewhat, since there is a short opening scene in the film which hints that there is indeed someone malicious in that underground station. And the actor playing this someone, this creep, is Sean Harris (who has the leading role in Possum from 2018) who is a method actor who didn’t socialize with anyone throughout the shoot. Also, none of them ever saw his makeup prior to shooting the scenes, a process which took seven hours each day. Whew! I also guess going into it so blindly must have been quite an experience for the other actors, and probably caused some genuine reactions.

 

While there are some grisly scenes and a little bit of gore here, some scenes are offscreen so there isn’t really enough to warrant a gore-badge. There’s a little bit of illogical nonsense here and there, but nevertheless Creep is an overall fun horror movie well worth a watch.

 

Creep

 

Writer and director: Christopher Smith
Country & year: United Kingdom, 2004
Actors: Franka Potente, Sean Harris, Vas Blackwood, Ken Campbell, Kathryn Gilfeather, Grant Ibbs, Joe Anderson, Jeremy Sheffield, Sean De Vrind, Ian Duncan
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0381966/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul