The Deep House (2021)

Ben and Tina are a young couple from New York, who have a YouTube channel where they are traveling to supposedly haunted houses in Europe while recording their experiences. These urban explorers decides to travel to south-west France in order to seek out a sanatorium that is submerged in an artificial lake, in hopes of getting more likes, views and followers…but upon their arrival to the place they find it crowded with people as it proves to be a popular vacation spot. Not sure exactly what to do next, they meet a local called Pierre, who offers to take them to another place of the lake where he claims that a mansion is located under the water, perfectly preserved and ready to be explored.

 

And so they head along with Pierre, who leads them to the place (which is a fair bit of both driving and walking). Putting in their diving gear and submerging into the lake, they first find some stairs which soon leads to the eerie house. Entering the place through a window on the upper floor, they are both baffled at how well preserved everything seems to be…and they soon find that their presence inside the house awakens something else there.

 

When the French horror duo Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury have teamed up for another horror movie, we’re ready to watch. While their Leatherface movie from 2017 wasn’t much to write home about, they have released earlier gems like Inside, Livid and Among the Living. And a haunted house underwater? Well, that did indeed sound interesting enough to check out!

 

While this movie did sound suspiciously similar to Josh Malerman’s novel A House at the bottom of a Lake, they are quite different despite sharing a similar premise. While Malerman’s novel was initially more a story about the characters themselves, The Deep House is a full-fledged haunted house story. And it does feel exciting and atmospheric during the first half, when they first enter the underwater building and start exploring. Filming underwater can be quite tricky indeed, but the movie has some excellent underwater shots that are really good. Technically and visually the movie shines, there’s no doubt about that.

 

When the supernatural stuff starts happening, it does unfortunately go downhill and it feels like the story pretty much runs out of oxygen (pun intended). While there are some creepy scenes and nice ideas, especially with what they find in the basement, things are getting a bit too jumbled from thereon and everything turns into a cat ‘n mouse game with what is, ultimately, some not-so scary ghosts. We do, at least, get some explanation for the house’s past and the people who lived there, but it’s a little too vague to make any proper impact, and I wish we could have gotten a bit more flesh on the background story of the house and its inhabitants.

 

Overall, The Deep House starts off very promising but falls a little flat once the supernatural events take place, not really being able to keep a tight grip on the preliminary dread one could feel during the first moments of the film. It’s still okay to watch and a little bit different, but not on par with some of the French duo’s earlier achievements.

 

The Deep House The Deep House The Deep House

 

Directors: Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury
Country & year: France, Belgium, 2021
Actors: Camille Rowe, James Jagger, Eric Savin, Alexis Servaes, Anne Claessens, Carolina Massey, Marie Caffier, Marie Bernard
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt11686490/

 

 

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Last Night in Soho (2021)

Last Night in Soho Young Ellie is totally in love with the music and fashion from the swinging sixties, and also has a dream of becoming a fashion designer. She also has a gift: she can see ghosts and things that happened in the past, and she frequently sees the ghost her own mother (who killed herself when Ellie was a child). When Ellie gets the chance to study at the London College of Fashion, her grandmother is both happy and worried for her. Ellie, full of hopes and dreams for her future, moves to London but has trouble fitting in with the other students, and especially her bitchy roommate Jocasta. Unhappy with her current residence, she decides to rent a place in Goodge Place, owned by an elderly lady called Ms Collins.

 

On the very first night there, Ellie has a very vivid dream where she is in the 1960’s, at the Café de Paris. Experiencing things through the eyes of a beautiful blonde woman named Sandie, Ellie becomes mesmerized with her and even goes as far as dyeing her hair blonde and changing her fashion style to match Sandie’s. During her dreams (visions) of Sandie’s life during the 60’s, things take a turn when Sandie ends up living a very different life from what she as aiming for.

 

Last Night in Soho is directed by Edgar Wright, an English director previously known for Shaun of the Dead (2004) and a mix of movies in many other genres (like for example Scott Pilgrim vs. the World). In the leading roles we find Thomasin McKenzie as Ellie (Old) and Anya Taylor-Joy as Sandie (The Witch). The result is an enchanting story about a girl feeling nostalgic over the dazzling 60s who ends up getting another taste of that decade than she expected.

 

Nostalgia is a strange little thing. We can find ourselves longing back to the past, mainly focusing and remembering the good things about it and blocking out the bad, glorifying it into something it not necessarily was. Personally, I also find myself taken by “older times”, which had architecture that I find considerably more favorable than a lot of what is being built today. I also long back to the time when music had an actual melody you could hum to, when movies had their own theme songs that was memorable and enjoyable, when 2D animated features was still a thing (it seems to be getting a bit of a comeback these days, though), etc. And yes, now I sound like one of those typical old grannies that complains about how “everything was better before!”…but of course, while one may long for certain things from the past, we all know that not everything was necessarily all that great as a whole. Like Ellie, who is being so taken by a decade she didn’t even grow up in, glamorizing it by focusing on the parts she loves: the music and the fashion, while simultaneously getting her nostalgic views of the 60s cracking into pieces as her visions of Sandie’s past shows her that not everything was necessarily that wonderful after all. Her old landlady Ms Collins (played by Diana Riggs, who passed away in 2020) appears to be a bit baffled as to why Ellie is so smitten with a decade that is her own time rather than Ellie’s, and Ellie starts explaining why she loves it so much. The old landlady simply nods a little and agrees that “the music was better”. In other words: hinting that the decade may not have been just as good as Ellie has pictured it in her own mind.

 

Speaking of the music: I have to think the music usage in this movie is part of what makes it such a gripping experience. Together with the expressive colors, the music just puts a cherry or ten on top of the whole thing, using some of the 60’s songs in a great way. For example You’re my World, being played two times during the movie (first the original performed by Cilla Black, and a wonderful rendition sung by Anya Talor-Joy (Sandie) herself during a dramatically dazzling scene in the final parts of the movie). There’s also a scene with Sandie Shaw’s Puppet on a String, which was UK’s entry to the Eurovision Song Contest in 1967 (and won), which is using the song’s rather playful and jolly tone to portray something that isn’t….quite so jolly. There’s a lot more, of course, and I have to admit it’s been quite a while since I watched a movie (on the big screen) that had both visuals and a soundtrack so enchanting!

 

Overall, we both truly enjoyed Last Night in Soho. It’s a movie that has both style and substance, with a little bit of Suspiria and Dario Argento, and a good dash of the Swinging Sixties. Also, the movie was filmed on location in London, so that’s another plus from me (yeah…there was a time when movies were filmed on actual locations and not just in a green screen room. Imagine that!)

 

Last Night in Soho Last Night in Soho Last Night in Soho

 

Director: Edgar Wright
Country & year: UK, 2021
Actors: Thomasin McKenzie, Aimee Cassettari, Rita Tushingham, Colin Mace, Michael Ajao, Synnove Karlsen, Jessie Mei Li, Kassius Nelson, Rebecca Harrod
Alan Mahon, Connor Calland, Pauline McLynn, Josh Zaré, Terence Stamp
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt9639470/

 

 

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Antlers (2021)

A middle school teacher, Julia, becomes interested in the life and well-being of one of her students. He is harboring a dark secret, one that will lead to terrifying encounters with a legendary ancestral creature.

 

Antlers is based on Nick Antosca’s short story The Quiet Boy, a story that I truly enjoyed…not to mention that I also find myself intrigued by the mythology surrounding the Wendigo, which this story could be considered a modern take on. Anyway: needless to say, I got a little bit hyped up for this movie…and it was also delayed twice due to Covid-19 (originally it was supposed to be released in April 2020). So, after finally being able to see the movie on the big screen, did it live up to the hype? Well…so far, people’s opinions of it are quite mixed, and I can see why.

 

First of all, there’s been more than a few changes to the original story. Some of these changes were obviously made to flesh out the teacher character by adding a trauma of her own, with flashbacks and descriptions of how she and her brother grew up in a home of abuse. I guess this was made in order to clarify why she becomes so taken by Lucas, and how she wants to save him from growing up under similar circumstances. The depiction of just how damaged she is, by subtle hints such as her standing in the store looking at the liquor bottles and always forcing herself to not buy one, is a nice touch. Julia’s childhood trauma is defined in a sufficient way without taking up too much of the story and screentime.

 

Now, since this movie is based on a short story it’s kind of hard to write a review without making comparisons, but I’ll try to keep away from any major spoilers when doing so. In the original story, it’s not revealed until much later why Lucas is living under such conditions, and why he’s doing the things he does. This gives everything a chance to build up with some mystery and suspense. In the movie, however, there’s a very big change: in the very first moments of the movie, we meet Frank (Lucas’s father) who is making meth inside a cave where he and his companion encounters the malevolent spirit, and thus Frank becomes affected. This also changes a major factor in the original story. This does (in my opinion) subtract a bit from the actual horror of the original story, where the movie plays more upon a monster coming to get you, rather than how poverty and desperation can make people bring out the monsters. Oh well…all that aside, the changes in plot doesn’t outright destroy or damage the movie, it’s just a bit different from the original story which, in my opinion, feels both darker and scarier.

 

As for the killing scenes and the horror of how Frank and Lucas’s brother are transformed into hungry and malevolent beasts, there’s nothing to complain about here. There are close-ups of heavily mutilated corpses and gruesomeness all around. Guillermo del Toro as producer for this movie comes as not much of a surprise, as dark fairytales with monsters is kinda his forté. And in the movie’s final moments, when we get to see the wendigo monster in its fully glory, you can easily see his fingerprints all over the place. It’s one of the movie’s definite highlights.

 

If you have read the story (which I recommend, despite there being more than a few changes in the movie), you’ll know that this is not a fast-paced horror story. Overall, I think that Antlers doesn’t really match the darkness and horror of the original story, and there are a few instances where it moves along a little too slowly for its own good. However, it delivers grim and gruesome scenes, some very effective and gory ones too. Visually, it looks great, and the wendigo-monster is awesome. So while I prefer how the story unfolds in The Quiet Boy, I still enjoyed how Antlers turned out.

 

Antlers

 

Director: Scott Cooper
Country & year: USA, 2021
Actors: Keri Russell, Jesse Plemons, Jeremy T. Thomas, Graham Greene, Scott Haze, Rory Cochrane, Amy Madigan, Sawyer Jones, Cody Davis, Lyla Marlow, Jesse Downs, Arlo Hajdu, Dorian Kingi, Ken Kramer
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt7740510/

 

 

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In the Mouth of Madness (1994)

In the Mouth of MadnessJohn Trent used to be a freelance insurance investigator, who is now a patient in a psychiatric hospital. One day, Dr. Wrenn visits him, where Trent recounts his story: after the disappearance of the popular horror novelist Sutter Cane, Trent is having lunch with a colleague. Suddenly, Trent is attacked by an axe-wielding man who is shot dead by the police, and is later revealed to be Cane’s agent. This man went insane after reading one of Cane’s books, and killed his family as a result. And he is not the only one…apparently, some people seem to go crazy after reading Cane’s novels. Shortly afterwards, Trent is hired by the director of Arcane Publishing who wants him to investigate Cane’s disappearance, and also to recover the manuscript for his final novel. Linda Styles, who is Cane’s editor, is assigned to accompany him. While she explains to Trent that Cane’s novels are known to cause paranoia, disorientation and memory loss in some readers, Trent believes it’s all hogwash and considers his disappearance to be a bluff, something done entirely as a publicity stunt. But bizarre phenomena starts happening, and during their investigation, Trent and Linda enters a small town which looks like and includes people that are exactly as described in one of Cane’s fictional novels. Is it all staged, or is something else at play?

 

In the Mouth of Madness is the third film in John Carpenter’s (unofficial) Apocalypse Trilogy, with the first being The Thing (1982) and the second being The Prince of Darkness (1987). The movie is focusing majorly on atmospheric and creepy imagery, and John Carpenter really is good at creating an amazing atmosphere in many of his films. This one comes off as a surreal and bizarre detective story, with some interesting visual effects. Sam Neill does a convincing portrayal of the detective who is gradually falling into the abyss of pure madness as he’s investigating the alleged disappearance of the famous writer.

 

In the Mouth of Madness is a ride that takes you through a bizarre world of madness, although it might appear a little disorientating at times and there’s not offered too many explanations when wrapping things up. Regarding the movie’s concluding and final act…there are some parts that doesn’t make all that much sense. There are also some bits during the movie that appears to be a little involuntarily funny at times, but nothing too distracting. It’s still an interesting and enjoyable experience if you don’t take it all to seriously, where there’s a mix of elements from H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King (whom Carpenter based the Sutter Cane character on). While there’s a lot of Lovecraftian stuff all over the place, the Stephen King vibe cannot be missed.

 

So, overall, it’s well worth a watch if you want something strange with a little bit of Lovecraft mixed with a Stephen King flavour and maybe a little pinch of Twilight Zone.

 

Fun fact: the film that Trent is watching at the end of the movie is called Robot Monster, which Carpenter has stated was his favorite monster movie when he was a kid.

 

In the Mouth of Madness In the Mouth of Madness In the Mouth of Madness

 

Director: John Carpenter
Country & year: USA, 1995
Actors: Sam Neill, Julie Carmen, Jürgen Prochnow, David Warner, John Glover, Bernie Casey, Peter Jason, Charlton Heston, Frances Bay, Wilhelm von Homburg, Kevin Rushton, Gene Mack, Conrad Bergschneider
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0113409/

 

 

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The Manor (2021)

The ManorJudith Albright suffers a stroke on her 70th birthday, and is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. She is moved to a nursing home, a beautiful old-fashioned mansion. While her grandson opposes the move, both Judith and her daughter Barbara insists that this is what will be best for everyone. Judith is a given a room which she shares with another woman. Her roommate is called Annette, but she is nothing but a disturbed, babbling fool who clutches her bible like her life depends on it. Upon staying at the home for a short while, Judith is starting to witness strange behaviour in several of the residents, but doesn’t think much of it, considering that many of the people there are suffering from dementia and are prone to be confused and acting strangely. She befriends a group of other residents whom she starts playing bridge with, and things seem to be rather well…until one evening, when Annette is more disturbed than ever, especially after the cat Ozzie jumps into her bed. That night, Judith wakes up and sees a dark shadow leaning over Annette, and no one believes her about what she’s seen. When Annette dies and Judith also starts seeing that shadow creature in the bedroom, she knows something is very wrong at the nursing home, but of course…no one will believe an old, confused woman…

 

The Manor is one of the movies in the Welcome to the Blumhouse series, which consists of several movies that are all available on Amazon Prime. In this movie, it tackles the theme of the multiple dreads of growing old, with Barbara Hershey in the leading role. Here, she plays the role of a grandmother who is, by all means, definitely too young and healthy in all kinds of aspects for her to become locked inside a nursing home which treats its patients like they’re running a psych ward. We can’t help but feeling Judith’s frustration and desperation when no one is willing to listen to her, and just consider her unstable and ill despite being of perfectly sound mind.

 

As for actual scares…well, there’s not really much. The shadow figure never manages to be more than just slightly creepy, but there is nice chunk of suspense when we try to figure out what is going on together with Judith and her exploration of both the premises and its residents. Scenery-wise it’s great to look at, where the mansion-like interiors of the nursing home gives a perfectly spooky vibe.

 

Overall, The Manor is more of a Goosebumps type of horror movie than a Conjuring one, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. While it’s very easy on the scares, it does have a pretty good amount of spooky atmosphere, and makes for a nice and easy Halloween flick.

 

A little bit of fun fact: the black cat Ozzie is based on Oscar, a therapy cat that lives in the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island, U.S. since 2005. The cat is said to know when someone is about to die, and sleeps next to the patients when they are in their last hours of life. Oscar has “predicted” over 100 deaths.

 

The Manor

 

Director: Axelle Carolyn
Country & year: USA, 2021
Actors: Barbara Hershey, Bruce Davison, Nicholas Alexander, Jill Larson, Fran Bennett, Katie A. Keane, Ciera Payton, Nancy Linehan Charles, Shelley Robertson, Stacey Travis, Devin Kawaoka, Cissy Wellman
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt13372794/

 

 

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Nikos the Impaler (2003)

Nikos the ImpalerWe’re supposed to be somewhere in Romania during the middle-ages, where some evil iron-masked barbarian named Nikos (embodied by Andreas Schnaas) is ready to be executed in a cave by an angry mob. The tone is set in stone already during the first seconds with its horrendous bad lighting, grainy muddy images, bonkers acting with cartoonish dialogue deliveries, and the sheer atmosphere of zero-budget reeking all over the place. It’s what to expect from Andreas Schnaas, if you’re already familiar with his home-made and chaotic splatter films. And just forget about any thick Romanian accents, here they speak fluently American. God bless. Anyway … before they cuts out his entrails and sets him on fire, we get dialogues such as:

 

– Nikos, today you die!

– I. shall. not. DIE!
– I. never. DIE!
– I will return…to seek my revenge!

 

And of course,  Nikos was a man of his word. We jump to present day, all the way to New York City, where Nikos’ iron mask has been stored in a museum as an ancient artifact. Things go straight to a violent shitshow when a robbery goes wrong and some blood gets spilled on Nikos’ mask. He is then resurrected and wastes no time to find new victims to kill in the most brutal ways possible. And lucky for Nikos, the museum is already filled with visitors, ready to be body counted.

 

This is the eighth film of Andreas Schnaas, and it’s pretty established by now that he isn’t a technical, competent director, to put it mildly. There’s isn’t much of an improvement to point out, and Nikos could easily fit right into the Violent Shit series. Nikos has the same level of amateurish look and the the same paper-thin plot as the Shit series, filled with gallons of fake blood, hilariously bad acting, lots of messy low-budget gore, insanity and a lot of shit. Most of the film happens indoors and at night time, and thus suffers from inept lighting and a camera with a lens that looks like it was rubbed by a thin layer of butter. Its blurry, ugly and looks like more shit than ever, and I don’t know if that’s an insult or a compliment, to be honest.

 

Nikos the Impaler

 

But even though Mr. Schnaas never seemed to have the desire to make it to mainstream Hollywood, he rarely fails to entertain. There’s always some raw energy behind his films, and Schnaas  just seems to have one big, wild party while making them, as the madman he is. How much we actually laughs with or at the movie is not easy to tell, but that just makes it even more funnier.  We also see Nikos goes on a murder-spree in the streets of New York and causing mayhem by using his sword to shoot laser against cars. And the explosions looks like something from a Nintendo 64 game. It gets to the point where it’s just so-bad-it’s-good, really.

 

The acting isn’t much to talk about, it’s only stick figures just set up to be killed, played by a bunch of amateur actors. Some of them have some funny dialogues between the kills to keep us entertained, at least. The cult-actress Felissa Rose (that girl from Sleepaway Camp) is maybe the most familiar face among the bunch. Nikos also walks into a VideoTape store (back in a time when they still existed) so we can have some funny cameos from Tromaville, like Lloyd Kaufman and Debbie Rochon – and last but not least the porn actress Darian Caine, who was comfortable enough to be slaughtered in a messy shower scene with a lot of fake blood pouring down her tits.

 

Nikos the Impaler is available on eBay after the limited editions flew out of stock years ago. It’s also on YouTube, but with crappier image quality.

 

Nikos the Impaler Nikos the Impaler Nikos the Impaler

 

Director: Andreas Schnaas
Country & year: USA, 2003
Actors: Joe Zaso, Felissa Rose, Andreas Schnaas, Antonio Tomahawk, Frank Franconeri, Daniel Alvaro, Mike Marino, Hugh C. Daly, Erotida Cruz, Fred Cerniglia, Abbandandolo Brenda, Joseph Michael Lagana
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0309916/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Censor (2021)

censorEnid works as a film censor, and her daily life includes watching some truly brutal and gory movies, choosing what is acceptable for the audience to handle and what should be banned completely. One day she views a movie that makes her believe she can finally solve the mystery of her sister’s disappearance, and she embarks on a quest that blurs the line between what is real and what is not.

 

Censor is a slightly weird little horror movie set in the era of the Video Nasties. If you’re not aware, a “Video Nasty” is a term for movies that were deemed too brutal and inappropriate for people to watch, by the National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association (NVALA) in the United Kingdom. These movies were typically low-budget horror and exploitation films, often heavily criticized for being too violent and for “influencing” people to commit crimes. These days, most of us have (hopefully) realized that media, whether it be movies, games, music, books or comics, cannot be blamed for people’s crimes…but back in those days, in what could probably be best described as some kind of moral panic, they literally thought that movies like this could cause an increase in crime.

 

The idea of a censor, watching tons of material that includes brutal and gruesome things, going bonkers him/herself in the end, is an idea that has already been wonderfully exploited in Sweden’s Evil Ed. Censor isn’t some kind of Evil Edna or anything like that, however…instead, it presents a surreal and creepy downwards spiraling experience of a woman whose trauma manifests and ultimately consumes her.

 

Visually, there’s a lot of nice things to rest your eyes on during the film. Many scenes blends the surrealism with a great use of lighting and colors, making it vibrant and eerie at the same time. Enid’s character is also well put together, coming off as a strong woman who doesn’t even flinch at the grotesque scenes she is witnessing at her job, but instead makes calculated notes about what can be kept and what needs to go, might even be considered a little bit prudish. But the trauma of her sister’s disappearance is always lurking underneath the surface, just waiting to break out into the open. And there is one film she watches that actually opens the crack, which is called Don’t Go in the Church. Enid becomes convinced that one of the actresses is her missing sister, and she becomes hell-bent on finding her. What she really finds is true madness instead.

 

Censor is not a film for everyone, and if you expect another Evil Ed you will probably be disappointed. It is, however, a strangely bizarre and enthralling experience.

 

Censor

 

Director: Prano Bailey-Bond
Country & year: UK, 2021
Actors: Niamh Algar, Michael Smiley, Nicholas Burns, Vincent Franklin, Sophia La Porta, Sophia La Porta, Clare Holman, Andrew Havill, Felicity Montagu, Danny Lee Wynter, Clare Perkins, Guillaume Delaunay, Richard Glover, Erin Shanagher, Beau Gadsdon
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt10329614/

 

 

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Dracula’s Widow (1988)

Dracula's Widow We are in one of the darker corners of Hollywood, Los Angeles, where the young man Raymond Everett (Lenny Von Dohlen) owns a horror-themed wax museum. One day he gets some new deliveries, all the way from Romania, one of which is a casket that contains something you’ll never guess what – Vanessa, Dracula’s widow (Sylvia Kristel). Yes, a living, bloodsucking vampire. So why has she gotten herself all the way over to Los Angeles, you may wonder? No one knows. She doesn’t know, the script doesn’t know, even the Man Who Knows poster we see on the wall on Raymond’s apartment, doesn’t know. So where do we go from here? Who knows.

 

Anyway, as soon she rises from the casket, she goes straight to a bar where she hooks up a random, sleazy guy who will become her first victim to feed her need for human blood. At the same time, two men breaks into the wax museum while Raymond is upstairs sipping red wine and watching Nosferatu. After Vanessa kills one of the men, she goes up to Raymond and claims him as her slave before she puts her teeth in his neck, and wants him to take her back to her husband in Romania.

 

Instead of just giving her a one-way ticket and wish her the best, he tells her the shocking fact that Dracula is dead, and she’s a widow. Now she wants to know who killed him, so she can have her revenge. And guess what – Van Helsing’s grandson, simply named Dr. Helsing, coincidentally lives in Hollywood. Of course. And even though he’s old and fragile, and should rather be at a nursing home, he’s still determined and pretty eager to continue the legacy of his grandfather to hunt down vampires.

 

Dracula's Widow

 

And no joking here, this is the plot so far. We also get a crime investigation side-plot with Lt. Lannon (Josef Sommer) when Vanessa starts to leave more dead bodies around after her ongoing killing spree in Hollywood. When she’s not transforming herself into a bat, she uses her long fingers as daggers to kill her prey. There’s a pretty pointless, yet funny massacre scene with a group of devil-worshippers who are  about to sacrifice a naked blond chick to Satan, where the B-movie glory skyrockets all up to eleven. We see Vanessa turn into a monstrous creature with some really cool prosthetic makeup, as she kills off the whole group which leaves another gory crime scene to Lt. Lannon. He, of course, eventually gets in touch with Dr. Helsing, who easily convinces Hannon that all the killing is done by a vampire.

 

It’s noteworthy to mention that Dracula’s Widow is written and directed by Christopher Coppola, nephew of Francis Ford Coppola, who also made a certain Dracula film some years later. It’s easy to crap all over the film by comparing Christopher to his superior uncle, but Dracula’s Widow isn’t completely hopeless when it comes to cheap entertaining value, with some good old ’80s cheese. It’s a sleazy, gory and just a plain silly popcorn flick to kill off a Wednesday night. Nothing more, nothing less. The funniest moments here is of course the comical over-acting by Silvia Kristel, with her goofy facial expressions that she displays when she tries to look intimidating when she’s not wearing the monster make-up. Lenny Won Dohlen, known from Twin Peaks, has the same angsty look he always portrays. I also like the scenes with Dr. Helsing, that old geezer cracks me up. The guy who plays Lt. Lennon is the only one who takes his role dead serious, even though there’s absolutely nothing to take seriously here.

 

Dracula’s Widow is available on DVD after a quick search.

 

Dracula's Widow Dracula's Widow Dracula's Widow

 

Director: Christopher Coppola
Country & year: USA, 1988
Actors: Sylvia Kristel, Josef Sommer, Lenny von Dohlen, Marc Coppola, Stefan Schnabel, Rachel Jones, Duke Ernsberger, G.F. Rowe, Richard K. Olsen, Lucius Houghton, J. Michael Hunter, Traber Burns
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0097230/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alone (2020)

alone movieJessica is a recently widowed woman, who has decided to move on with her life and start afresh. While traveling, she encounters a suspicious-looking guy multiple times. Hoping that it’s all a coincidence, things become pretty evident when she crashes her car due to a slashed tire. The creep who has been stalking her manages to drug and kidnap her, and the cat ‘n mouse game has started.

 

Alone is a thriller movie released in 2020, directed by John Hyams. It is a remake of a Swedish thriller called Gone (aka Försvunnen) from 2011, by Mattias Olsson and Henrik JP Åkesson. Mattias was also credited as writer for Alone, and Henrik as producer. I haven’t seen the original, so I can make no comparisons in that regard, and the movie seems to be quite rare and hard to get a hold of. Still, the storyline seems to be pretty much the same.

 

At first, the movie builds up to be some kind of Duel-like movie, until it turns into a classic serial-killer hunting game. While there isn’t anything truly shocking or groundbreaking to witness here, and it’s obvious from the start who is hunted and who is the hunter, it’s still keeping your attention from the get-go. It’s somewhat predictable, but still suspenseful enough to keep you on the edge of the seat. The heroine, Jessica, is also not a character who is easily fooled, and she’s smelling something fishy very early on. Despite this, the serial killer still gets her. Sometimes, it doesn’t help if the mouse is aware that the cat is dangerous.

 

There’s a lot of running through the forest and a good amount of action, and the actress, Jules Willcox, actually broke her foot while shooting one of the first action scenes. She finished the shoot while wearing a boot and with the help of a stunt, but naturally this delayed things with a few months as some scenes couldn’t be finished until she was fully healed.

 

Like already mentioned, Alone doesn’t bring anything new to the table, it is a straight-forward cat ‘n mouse thriller where a woman tries to escape a serial killer. Yes, it’s formulaic and doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s still a thrilling ride. So overall, Alone is a simple thriller without any big twists and turns, but the suspense makes up for it and turns it into an enjoyable viewing experience.

 

WARNING: The trailer includes major spoilers. Watch at your own risk (if you haven’t seen the movie and plan to do so, I recommend to avoid the trailer completely).

 

Alone

 

Director: John Hyamns
Country & year: USA, 2020
Actors: Jules Willcox, Marc Menchaca, Anthony Heald, Jonathan Rosenthal, Katie O’Grady, Betty Moyer, Shelly Lipkin, Emily Sahler, Laura Duyn, Brenton Montgomery, Nico Floresca
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt7711170/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Netherworld (1992)

Netherworld reviewCorey Thornton has just inherited a mansion from his recently deceased father, and travels to Louisiana to check it out. Upon his arrival at the grand estate, he meets with a beautiful young girl which is described as “jailbait” (but who is clearly in her mid-20s…) and his father’s live-in housekeeper, who is the mother of said girl. And of course, a black-gloved and somewhat fishy-looking lawyer. Corey discovers that his father has written a will which includes a description of how the old man has, supposedly, found a way to return back from the dead, and in doing so he needs the help of his son. Corey soon ends up at the local pub/brothel called Tonk’s, where he meets a witchy prostitute who harbors the secrets of black magic. And she turns people into birds if she feels like it. Corey is now obsessed with the task of fulfilling his dead father’s wish of bringing him back to life, and seeks help from the strange people in the weird voodoo-brothel in the bayou.

 

Netherworld is a Full Moon Entertainment movie directed by David Schmoeller and produced by Charles Band. Right off the bat the movie sets a certain tone with the illusory opening scene in Tonk’s bar, which features both chicks and chickens in surroundings that resemble a sexy yet uncomfortable fever dream. Downstairs is what you could probably call a funhouse-like brothel with weird hallways and just as weird characters. To top it all we also get to see a flying disembodied hand and a guy that is turned into a bird (although the latter isn’t displayed to the full extent, but more implied). In other words, it gives a certain promise of being a really cheesy popcorn entertainment flick.

 

Then the movie takes a u-turn when we meet Corey and he enters his newly inherited mansion, and a more serious tone is set. While we get to gradually know more about Corey’s dead father and what he tries to accomplish, the pacing becomes a bit of a problem where it’s all moving a tad bit too slow. The scenes at Tonk’s are definitely the movie’s highlights, with creative usage of color and lighting and some pretty cool old-school effects and jazzy sex scenes. The brothel appears to have lots of girls with names of deceased celebrities, including a woman calling herself Marilyn Monroe, who looks…well..exactly like Marilyn Monroe. This is a pretty cool idea, actually…a brothel where deceased celebrities have been brought back to life.

 

While it does move a little slowly and never really gets very exciting, it makes up for it with the visuals and a fun premise. Netherworld is entertaining enough with its slightly goofy concept, perfect for a relaxed saturday evening with some popcorn.

 

Netherworld can be seen on Full Moon Features.

 

Netherworld Netherworld Netherworld

 

Director: David Schmoeller
Country & year: USA, 1992
Actors: Michael Bendetti, Denise Gentile, Anjanette Comer, Holly Floria, Robert Sampson, Holly Butler, Alex Datcher, Robert Burr, George Kelly, Mark Kemble, Barret O’Brien, Michael Lowry, David Schmoeller
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0104987/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul