The Call of Cthulhu (2005)

A man is organizing the affairs of his recently deceased uncle, and accidentally comes across a series of notes and paper clippings which tells about the Cthulhu Cult and an ancient horror lurking beneath the sea. Intrigued by all of this, he continues to investigate, getting more and more drawn into the mystery of this cult and the creature Cthulhu, which is a gigantic entity worshipped by the cultists: a creature in the shape of an octopus, a dragon, and a caricature of the human form. There is an occult phrase that, when translated, says “In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming“, meaning that the cultists await its return. As he learns more and more about this cult and the cosmic entity they worship, he gets closer to losing his sanity completely.


H.P. Lovecraft is one of the most influential horror writers of all time, especially his Cthulhu mythos. His works have even created a sub-genre within horror that’s called “Lovecraftian horror“. While there aren’t actually that many movies that are fully based on his stories, there are a lot of them who are heavily inspired by his tales of cosmic horror.


The Call of Cthulhu is both a faithful rendition of H.P Lovecraft’s short story by the same name, as well as a homage to the black and white silent movie era. This, of course, means you get lots of gesticulation from the actors since the dialogue is shown only with intertitles, aka title cards, causing body language and facial expressions to have a much bigger significance in order to portray the character’s feelings and emotions.


The film’s highlights are, of course, the creative visuals. The soundtrack is also top-notch, fitting every scene perfectly and fulfilling the film like hand in glove. In such a nightmarish tale of cultists and ancient horrors, I think it hits the nail on the head with portraying the intended feeling of impending doom, where the protagonist’s investigations slowly reveals upon him just how insignificant humankind really is.


I dare say that you do not need to be a Lovecraft enthusiast in order to appreciate this movie. There’s a lot of mood and atmosphere to admire here, especially if you can value the 1920’s style.


The Call of Cthulhu


Director: Andrew Leman
Country & year: USA, 2005
Actors: Matt Foyer, John Bolen, Ralph Lucas, Chad Fifer, Susan Zucker, Kalafatic Poole, John Klemantaski, Jason Owens, D. Grigsby Poland, David Mersault, Barry Lynch, Dan Novy, Daryl Ball, John Joly, Jason Peterson
IMDb: //


Vanja Ghoul














Next of Kin (1982)

Linda inherits her mother’s Victorian mansion, located in the middle of the Australian dusty farmlands. It’s been remodeled as an retirement / nursing home, run by Connie and the doctor Barton. She’s quick to settle in, but it isn’t long before nightmares begin to haunt her, while some of the old people start to die in mysterious ways. She finds her mother’s diary that reveals one dark secret after another, and opens repressed memories. She begins to see a figure in her bedroom window, the water tap turns on by itself, the house cat begins to hunt shadows in the hallways, and candles seem to light up by themselves. One of the female nude statues in the garden has had one of her tits crushed. Much of what Linda is beginning to experience is the same thing her mother noted in her diary. Linda’s underlying paranoia skyrockets to eleven as she believes someone is tapping her phone late at night while she talks to her boyfriend, Barney, the only one she can barely trust.


This obscurity from Australia is a slow-burner where the film takes its time to find out if it’s a gothic ghost story, or a psychological thriller just to make you as confused as the protagonist. The film has been compared to The Shining (1980), but I would say it’s more in the same alley as Roman Polanski’s “Apartment Trilogy” with some similarities from Dario Argento’s Suspiria, where the atmosphere is the center focus with some really disturbing moments. And if you get creeped out by old people, well, this film is clearly (not) for you.


This is also the first and last feature film of Tony Williams, which is pretty unfortunate, because with a far more ambitious script I believe he would have made some really great stuff. While the film got its cult following in USA, it flopped in Australia. And the film’s cinematographer, Gary Hansen, died in a helicopter accident shortly after its release. Life is unfair.


And here’s a warning: Don’t watch the trailer. It spoils everything. Yes, it’s one of those.


Next of Kin


Director: Tony Williams
Country & year: Australia, 1982
Actors: Jacki Kerin, John Jarratt, Alex Scott, Gerda Nicolson, Charles McCallum, Bernadette Gibson, Robert Ratti, Vince Deltito, Tommy Dysart, Debra Lawrance
IMDb: //


Tom Ghoul














The Skull (1965)

Dr. Maitland is collecting esoterica, and one day the guy who is his regular source of such items offers him a skull that is supposedly the remains of Marquis de Sade. He soon discovers that the skull is possessed by an evil spirit who turns people into crazed killers.


The Marquis de Sade was a French nobleman born in 1740, and even those who don’t know about him will most likely know the words derived from his name: sadism and sadist. He wrote several novels, plays, and short stories, and is most known for his erotic works depicting sexual fantasies with a strong focus on violence. The Marquis became infamous due to his sexual crimes and abuse against young men, women, and even children. He was arrested and imprisoned multiple times, including in the Château de Vincennes, where he successfully appealed his death sentence. There, he remained imprisoned (despite an escape attempt). During the rest of his life he resumed to his writing, and during the last four years of his life (until his death in 1814) he began a sexual relationship with 14 year old Madeleine LeClerc, daughter of an employee at Charenton. After his burial, his skull was removed from his grave for phrenological examination. No one knows what happened to the skull after that, so there’s a little bit of historical info serving as the basis of the inspiration for this film.


The movie starts off with a gravedigger opening Marquis de Sade’s grave, chops off the corpse’s head with the spade and takes it home with him. After using chemicals to remove all the flesh and skin, he soon becomes the skull’s first victim. Of course, the skull comes into the hands of Marco, who is providing Dr. Maitland (Peter Cushing) with the esoterica he’s eager to buy for this collection. Sir Matthew Phillips (Christoper Lee) tries to warn him about the skull’s evil abilities, but of course, his warnings go unheeded.


The Skull


The Skull serves as a good example of 60’s horror, and with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing in the major roles it’s a little surprising that it hasn’t attracted more attention. The possessed skull and its levitation and movements with occasionally visible strings can probably be seen as a tad bit cheesy by today’s standards, but that’s just part of the old-fashioned charm of horror films like this. The effects of the Skull itself is a big part of the entertainment of this film, and during Dr. Maitland’s descent into madness due to the skull’s influence on him, there are some pretty tripping scenes.


Now, with the Marquis de Sade as the main focus of the film, you might expect more references to the erotic aspects (of which there aren’t any) but remember that this movie came out during a time where the censoring was pretty strict, so that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Overall, it’s well worth a watch, especially if you want to see the combined talents of Lee and Cushing. And, of course, if you want to watch a floating skull with visible strings attached to it!


The Skull


Director: Freddie Francis
Country & year: UK, 1965
Actors: Peter Cushing, Patrick Wymark, Jill Bennett, Nigel Green, Patrick Magee, Peter Woodthorpe, Michael Gough, George Coulouris, April Olrich, Maurice Good, Anna Palk, Frank Forsyth, Paul Stockman, Geoffrey Cheshire, George Hilsdon
IMDb: //


Vanja Ghoul














Mystics in Bali (1981)

The author Kathy Keen is on a trip in Bali, Indonesia, to do some research on an ancient black magic called Leák. She has already been to Africa where she learned about Voodoo, but she needs more material to fill her book on the subject of black magic. She gets help from a guy called Hendra, who’s got some knowledge of the local folklore, and he also soon becomes her love interest. He takes her to the obscure corners of the jungle where they meet The Queen of Leák, a crazy old witch with a cackling, screaming and over-the-top animated laugh. And it is obvious that the person who dubbed her voice had a really fun time in the recording studio. Anyway, it’s already hard to describe what’s going on here, but it’s something like this: the witch orders Catherine to take off her skirt so that the witch can tattoo something on her leg, using what looks like a long lizard tongue. If this sounds bizarre, you haven’t seen nothing yet. The tattoo is supposed to be a sign that Kathy is now an official student of Leák, and must come to her every night to learn more about this mysterious magic. And it’s straight down the rabbit-hole from here on, where Kathy and the witch dances like drunk hippies, transform themselves into pythons, flying screaming fireballs, and … pigs. You just saw that coming, right? And we get other things that include a flying head which you just have to see for yourself to believe.


The witch uses the body of Kathy to posses her, and wrecks havoc on the locals. This becomes too much for her love interest, who asks his shaman uncle how they can stop Leák and her black magic, so he can get his beloved Kathy back before it’s too late. And after this I can easily understand why Bali is one of the most risky places to visit. Just kidding.


Trying to explain this film to someone on a tired Monday, is almost impossible. And I find it a little funny that this is the first true Indonesian horror film aimed at a western audience. So, if this should be an easy thing to digest for us simple-people in the west without raising any eyebrows, I can’t even imagine in my wildest  dreams what the regular horror movies from that country looks like. And I’m not at all familiar with Indonesian horror films, or Indonesian films at all for that matter, so I’m really eager to take a further look behind that curtain, if I’m even allowed to.


After doing some research one can learn that the film mixes several obscure myths and folklore from Indonesia and Bali, such as the flying head with its organs attached, which is called a Penanggalan. It’s their own version of the vampire myth, basically. The sight of the head floating around with strings, with its primitive effects from the stone age, is just pure cheesy gold. And it’s not easy to tell when the film is trying to be serious or intentionally funny when the completely absurd tone is all over the place. A truly unique oddball of a film, with a lot of bizarre, unpredictable crazy scenes one after another, and highly entertaining, that’s all I really can say.


Mystics in Bali


Director: H. Tjut Djalil
Original title: Leák
Country & year: Indonesia, 1981
Actors: Ilona Agathe Bastian, Yos Santo, Sofia W.D., W.D. Mochtar, Debbie Cinthya Dewi, Itje Trisnawati, Ketut Suwita,
IMDb: //


Tom Ghoul














Ouija Shark (2020)

Ouija Shark (2020)

So, it’s time to check out one of the newest, fresh releases of shitty shark films that have been spewed out like a never-ending diarrhea during the last two decades. This joke of a film is “directed” by Brett Kelly (who goes under the pseudonym Scott Patrick), who’s made a laundry list of no-budget films since 2001, such as Jurassic Shark, Raiders of the Lost Shark, Attack of the Giant Leeches, Avenging Force: The Scarab, Kingdom of the Vampire, Agent Beetle, and so on. Ouija Shark has no relation to Ghost Shark or Shark Exorcist, for those who would even give a shit.


The “plot” can be summed up in one short sentence: A young woman comes across a Ouija board at the local beach, which her and her friends are using to summon a… man-eating ghost shark.


Do I really need to say more? I mean, seriously, just take a look at the damn trailer, that speaks for itself. It’s exactly what you think it is. To even call this a “film” is one of the biggest understatements of the year, having a running time of about one hour and ten minutes, with zero budget, talent or script. It looks more like a compilation of gag reels stitched randomly together. Pure cringe from start to finish.


The shark itself is pretty funny, though, which is just a layer that wobbles around on the screen, while the actors really struggle to seem at least a little bit terrified as they are being chased in the woods in broad daylight. The shark also roars like a lion, which is actually a thing that goes way back to Shark Attack 2 from 2000. I also like the sound effect when the shark is supposed to eat its victims, which sounds like someone taking two bites of an apple in a videogame to increase the health bar. And you can forget about any blood and gore, the victims just disappear into thin air. The lack of effort is quite astonishing, this is a whole another level of not even trying.


One of the cheesiest moments of the film include some scenes featuring a non-convincing fortune teller with a flashing plastic ball, probably bought on the Halloween section at Walmart for under one dollar, while the rest of the budget must have been spent on the fake poster which doesn’t represent the movie in any single way. However, if you know exactly what kind of film this is before pressing the play button, you may at least be in for some good laughs! Because, with the right mindset, low-budget indie horror like this can be an entertaining way to waste a bit of your time.


Ouija Shark


Director: Brett Kelly
Country & year: Canada, 2020
Actors: Leslie Cserepy, Leslie Cserepy, Kylie Gough, Robin Hodge, Staci Marie Lattery, Kyle Martellacci, John Migliore
IMDb: //



Tom Ghoul














The House by the Cemetery (1981)

We’re in New England where Dr. Norman, Lucy and their son Bob moves to a big old victorian house, which by a coincidence lies right by a cemetery. How cozy. One of the former residents was a surgeon in the Victorian era, who did some really shady experiments in the house’s basement. And on top of that, his last name was Freudstein. Nothing bad could ever happen here, right?


Bob starts seeing visions of a mysterious girl with a doll, who says it was a stupid idea to come here, which has to be one of the first The Shining references. His parents do not believe in him (of course they don’t) and his mother is already struggling with her emotional problems while she refuses to take any medicine. After they have entered the house and started unpacking, the babysitter, Ann, comes in, straight from nowhere. A young lady with a menacing stare, ready to trigger Lucio Fulci’s eye fetish to its full maximum. And as soon the door to the basement is open, so is the can of worms.


House by the Cemetery is Fulci’s last part of the “Gates of Hell” trilogy, where he mixes zombies with the supernatural. This has a more of a cohesive narrative compared to The Beyond and City of the Living Dead, but is really slow at times with scenes that just seem to drag on forever. We get a long scene with a bat that could have been cut down to ten seconds, where it cuts straight to a guy who starts the scene with a yawn. Talk about timing. The kid who plays Bob has one of the most ridiculously out of place dubbing ever, that unfortunately ruins every scene he’s in, which just adds far more chuckles and eye-rolling than tension. It’s not the actors fault, but the movie would gain a lot just to remove the dub with a better one.


It’s not my favorite Fulci film, but far from the worst, and it has some great qualities. The soundtrack is good, in which the intro tunes give some serious Castlevania vibes. The technical aspects are pretty solid, with its thick, moody and sometimes gothic atmosphere, just as the predecessors. And several messy gory scenes, filled with maggots, of course.


The House by the Cemetery


Director: Lucio Fulci
Original title: Quella villa accanto al cimitero
Country & year: Italy, 1981
Actors: Catriona MacColl, Paolo Malco, Ania Pieroni, Giovanni Frezza, Silvia Collatina, Dagmar Lassander, Dagmar Lassander, Daniela Doria, Giampaolo Saccarola, Carlo De Mejo, Kenneth A. Olsen, Elmer Johnsson, Ranieri Ferrara
IMDb: //



Tom Ghoul














Pieces (1982)

Pieces (1982)Boston, 1942. The movie doesn’t waste any time and gets straight to the first body count, where a young boy is in his room minding his own business while pinning a pornographic jigsaw puzzle. In comes his strict and unhinged mother, who gives him a few slaps before she throws away that filthy thing. He then picks up an axe, which he happens to be allowed to have in his room for some reason, and chops his mother to death, before he saws off her head while he smiles, and then hides in a closet. When the cops come in, they just assume that the boy was lucky and managed to hide from the unknown killer. Little did they know..


Then we jump 40 years later, still in Boston, where the kid we just saw in the opening have grown up to be a serial killer (No, really? Who would’ve guessed). He hunts down young female students at a college, dressed as a classic giallo-style killer with a black coat, gloves and a big hat that hides his face behind its shadows. And speaking of shadows, the look of the killer is actually inspired by the comic book character The Shadow. He has also developed an obsession with pornographic jigsaw puzzles and is fixating to make his own, personal masterpiece(s) with real body parts. The first victim gets her head chopped off under the blue sky as she lies on the lawn outside the campus, studying. The chunky gardener, played by Paul “Bluto” Smith, is the first to be suspected, of course. The killings are being further investigated by Lt. Bracken (Christopher George) who also has a suspicious eye on the socially stunned anatomy teacher Arthur Brown (Jack Taylor), who looks like a reduced Vincent Price with a bad flu.


The tagline for Pieces says “You don’t have to go to Texas for a Chainsaw Massacre“. It’s probably the best and fitting tagline I’ve ever read for a film like this, and it isn’t an exaggeration either. Pieces is easily one of the goriest slashers from the 1980’s with all the mandatory recipes of Blood, Tits and Gore. The effects really stand out, especially the girl who gets sawed to pieces in the toilet, and some visual highlights like the woman who gets butchered on the water bed. And as bad, wooden and stiff the acting is, which is also the funniest part of the movie, they sure were dedicated enough to deal with gallons of animal blood, fresh from the local slaughterhouse, while organs from dead animals were used as the more gorier effects. Must have smelled just like pure movie magic. There is some really bizarre dialogues here, such as one of the female students saying right of the blue and makes it pretty clear that it’s the middle of the mating season: “the most beautiful thing in the world is to smoke pot and fuck in a waterbed at the same time”. I want a T-shirt with that quote. There’s also a complete random cameo of a Bruce Lee imitator that doesn’t make any sense. But nevertheless, Pieces is a lot of bloody, brainless fun with solid entertainment value that definitely belongs in every gore-hound’s film collection.




Director: Juan Piquer Simón
Original title: Mil gritos tiene la noche
Country & year: Spain | USA | Puerto Rico, 1982
Actors: Christopher George, Lynda Day George, Frank Braña, Edmund Purdom, Ian Sera, Paul L. Smith, Jack Taylor, Gérard Tichy, May Heatherly, Hilda Fuchs, Roxana Nieto, Cristina Cottrelli, Leticia Marfil, Silvia Gambino, Carmen Aguado
IMDb: //



Tom Ghoul














The Enfield Haunting (2015)

The Enfield Haunting (2016)Before The Conjuring 2, there was … The Enfield Haunting – a miniseries in three parts lasting for two hours, produced for the British telly.


Based on the book This House is Haunted by Guy Lyon Playfair, who documented the case between 1977 to 1979 together with Maurice Grosse. So there’s zero signs of The Crooked Man or a scary, demonic nun to be seen here. Nor the Warren-couple, who didn’t actually have that much to do with the case in comparison to Grosse and Playfair. This is a totally separate production with no connection to The Conjuring universe whatsoever, so this probably gives more than a few biscuit-crumbs of truth compared to a typical fictional fairytale written by some Hollywood screenwriter. Or maybe not. The Conjuring films are great for what they are, but when it comes to what’s based on reality and what’s pure hogwash, I just don’t bother to care anymore. Just entertain us at least, dammit!


It’s August 1977 where we find ourselves in the district of Enfield in north-London, where the stressed single mother Peggy Hodgson (Rosie Cavaliero) lives with her three children in a council apartment, with cramped living conditions and a crumbling economy. And weird things happen around the house, such as kitchen chairs that seem to have a tendency to move on their own. But when pencil scribbles are suddenly visible on the wall, the mother has finally had it and blames the kids, especially the youngest daughter Janet (Eleanor Worthington-Cox), who is supposedly an outgoing prankster with a vivid imagination. That same night (or “later that night“, if you take the reference), the mother and the kids are attacked by a drawer section that is suddenly whizzing towards them, something Janet obviously could not do, unless she had some Carrie powers. Since the police can’t put ghosts in handcuffs, the elderly gentleman and parapsychologist Maurice Grosse (Timothy Spall) is sent from the Society for Psychical Research to take a look at this house.


The Enfield Haunting


When the case begins to flare up in the media with the famous headline “House Of Strange Happenings“, Guy Lyon Playfair (Matthew Macfadyen) comes knocking on the door. He’s a colleague of Maurice and an author in parapsychology, who sees the brilliant opportunity to capitalize on the case by writing the script for his book, as mentioned. And he does so behind everyone’s back, something Maurice is not so happy about when he accidentally finds out. A quick trivia: Playfair also worked as a consultant on Ghostwatch back in 1992, which was also inspired by the Enfield case. Anyway, it’s not long before things get more aggressive, as Janet starts talking in a demonic-growling voice that is supposed to come from the house’s former tenant – an evil, old man named Joe Watson (also known as Bill Wilkins), a creepy drunk uncle-looking guy, who died in the house.


We get to spend a lot of time with Maurice Grosse, which at this time went through a severe life crisis after his daughter died in a motorcycle accident. He’s a broken, old man who slowly gets eaten up by grief, sorrow, guilt and traumatic nightmares, while he’s using his ghost hunting as both therapy and a hope to come in contact with his dead daughter to get some closure. And in all of this, his marriage with Betty is on the verge of collapsing at any minute. Guy Lyon Playfair, however, is the complete opposite of Maurice – a stiff, stone-cold skeptic, with a “you see what you want to see“-attitude, who is more eager to debunk it all as a hoax than anything. There’s also a mystery-plot that must be solved to get to the bottom of this Joe Watson, aka Bill Wilkins while Mr. Grosse tries to find a spiritual connection between Janet and his deceased daughter, who by a coincidence also was named Janet.


The Enfield Haunting was an overall pleasant surprise, and I hadn’t expected the two hours it lasted to fly away that quickly, especially when we’re talking about a TV Mini-Series. In this case it actually looks way more like a feature film that’s been cut into three episodes, which would have blended even better if the opening and credits where cut out from the DVD (just a minor nitpick). It has a great production value with a solid directing and a script that manages to mix drama and horror in a satisfying and well-balanced way that I find pretty rare. The acting is first-class, especially from Timothy Spall as Maurice Grosse and Eleanor Worthington-Cox as Janet Hodgson who’s more or less the heart and soul in this. The Enfield Haunting has its share of tension and scares, for sure, but it’s not the typical and modern roller-coaster-ride you maybe would expect – so, you would be more pleased if you prefer more grounded, old-fashioned ghost stories on the same level as The Woman in Black and The Changeling.


The Enfield Haunting


Directors: Kristoffer Nyholm
Country & year: UK, 2015
Actors: Timothy Spall, Eleanor Worthington-Cox, Juliet Stevenson, Fern Deacon, Rosie Cavaliero, Elliot Kerley, Matthew Macfadyen, Struan Rodger, Charles Furness, Joey Price, Simon Chandler, Amanda Lawrence, Sean Francis
IMDb: //



Tom Ghoul














Deep Rising (1998)

On the first trip of the world’s most luxurious cruise ship, the Argonautica, the ship’s navigation and communication systems are sabotaged, causing the ship to stop in the middle of the ocean somewhere. Meanwhile, Captain John Finnegan and his crew have been hired by a group of mercenaries with intentions unknown (other than it obviously being something bad) but as Finnegan has promised “no questions asked”, the Captain and his crew don’t realize what is about to happen until they reach the cruise ship. As the mercenaries take over and reveal that they’re planning to rob the ship, they soon realize that something is not right inside the Argonautica. The place is a mess, and people appear to have gone missing. It soon becomes clear that a deadly enemy from the depths of the ocean has wrecked havoc on the ship, and it’s still hungry!


Ah, the 90’s. When creators often made horror movies that was supposed to just be a bunch of fun. When CGI effects were in a (somewhat) young stage and was constantly improved over short periods of time (thus giving various results that would look impressive at the moment, but would age like sour milk in a couple of years). While this decade brought horror buffs everything from gold to crap, there were a fair amount of movies released during this time that, despite not exactly receiving a lot of love, still managed to get cult status later on and still manages to entertain people. Deep Rising is a prime example of one of those movies.


Directed by Stephen Sommers (The Mummy, 1999) Deep Rising is an action-packed aquatic creature feature, and had an astounding budget of $45 million. Now, that’s not exactly a common thing with B-horror movies, and a rather bold step to take…and it only managed to take in $11 million at the box office. Ouch. Still, the movie earned a cult status later on, and is a lot of people’s “guilty pleasure” today. However, I personally don’t see any reason to feel guilty about enjoying this one, especially not if you enjoy B-horror in the first place.


Deep Rising


Now, I have to admit…I love horror movies with sea monsters. And most of all, I love these movies if they actually have a plot that is about the frickin’ monster in the first place. There are a lot of monster movies (of various kinds, not just sea monster movies) that focus heavily on other things than the actual monster, and to be honest, this can be a bit hit or miss for me. If I want to watch a creature feature, I mainly want three things: monster, action and body count. While I have enjoyed other monster movies that may not offer much of any of these, I more than often find myself disappointed. I mean…if you can take away every scene or reference to the monster in a movie, and still be left with pretty much the same movie afterwards – then yes, I will be disappointed. Okay, rant over. Deep Rising, despite some flaws, does have exactly what I desire from a sea monster movie, so even after 20 years, I still find myself pleased with watching this 90’s B-horror. So, yay!


One of the highlights in Deep Rising is the monster itself (which it should be, for any creature feature with an ounce of self-respect). While we only see its long tentacles from the start, we later learn that they belong to a larger creature which looks like every fisherman’s nightmare fuel. And the best part is that it doesn’t just eat you, it actually captures you inside the tentacles and “drink you” (slowly digesting you while you’re still alive). This is shown in a scene where one of the characters falls out from one of these tentacles, still alive but severely digested (which is, in my opinion, one of the film’s best scenes). This shows us that each victim to this monster won’t just be easily swallowed/eaten, but will meet a slow and extremely painful death, making the monster even more threatening. A scene featuring the monster’s “dumping ground” is also a highlight, and while this movie is mainly a typical popcorn feature, there’s a lot of gooey gore to appreciate here.


Deep Rising


Deep Rising, being a typical B-movie, still had pretty decent special effects for its time. Some of the effects are actually still good, albeit a little outdated in places. Considering that it’s over 20 years old, it’s actually holding up far better than many movies from the same time, and even better than what you can see in some movies today. There’s a solid cast, effects that haven’t aged that badly at all, some awesome gore, and it even has a nice recognizable theme music (when do you actually hear that in movies these days? Damn, nostalgia!) thanks to Jerry Goldsmith who was the composer.


Now, if you don’t enjoy Stephen Sommer’s films or typical silly fun movies, I guess you’d better give this one a miss. However: if you, like me, enjoy putting on a ridiculous and energetic B-horror movie that doesn’t have any other goal than simply entertain you (and also having a pretty cool sea monster), then check it out. Just remember to put your brain on hold first, and enjoy!


Deep Rising


Director: Stephen Sommers
Country & year: USA | Canada, 1998
Actors: Treat Williams, Famke Janssen, Anthony Heald, Kevin J. O’Connor, Wes Studi, Derrick O’Connor, Jason Flemyng, Cliff Curtis, Clifton Powell, Trevor Goddard, Djimon Hounsou, Una Damon, Clint Curtis, Warren Takeuchi, Linden Banks
IMDb: //


Vanja 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, 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: //



Tom Ghoul