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/

 

 

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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/

 

 

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Malignant (2021)

malignant After going through a traumatizing event, Madison starts having visions of grisly murders which are carried out by her childhood imaginary friend, Gabriel. Having believed that Gabriel was just a figment of her own imagination, she must try to figure out who he really is and why he has come back to torment her and those around her.

 

James Wan, after an absence from the horror genre since Conjuring 2 (as a director, at least) he is now finally back with a brand new movie: Malignant. And while most people connect James Wan with haunted houses, ghosts and demons (because of the Conjuring and Insidious movies), he stated early on that Malignant would be something completely different. And that, indeed, it is.

 

At the movie’s opening, we go back to 1993 and witness a large, gothic building which is some kind of medical research facility, where the researchers are struggling with a patient called Gabriel, who kills and maims the nurses. We get a slight glimpse of this “Gabriel” fellow, and then we fast forward to present day and meet Madison, who lives in a beautiful victorian house with just the right exterior and interior for a proper creepy atmosphere. And of course, we step right into James Wan-ish territory with creepy hallways and things moving in the dark. While building up at first to be somewhat Conjuring-esque, it shifts and mixes in what is an obvious homage to giallo films (for those who don’t know, “Giallo” is a term for murder mystery thrillers with lots of blood and gruesome murders, mixed with detective/suspense elements).

 

While it definitely felt good to be able to see another horror movie directed by James Wan, I can easily see how people might be a bit divided regarding their experience with this movie. Those who expect James Wan to have done another movie in the same vein as his haunted house flicks, might be put off due to this being something completely different. In fact, while we were watching it at the big screen, there were some people who left the theater when the first bloody murder scene was shown. Clearly, some people didn’t expect the movie to take that route, despite it having been given a strict R rating…but perhaps they thought that this rating was given because of titty scenes or something (which there are none by the way). Who the fuck knows.

 

James Wan did indeed do something very different with Malignant, and to be honest it was quite a pleasant surprise. Therefore, my advice would be to see this movie and not expect some kind of “Conjuring 4” or whatever. This isn’t a new haunted house flick, it ain’t another jump-scare carousel. It’s a throwback to the late 80’s/90’s slasher/thriller/giallo films, and if you’re familiar with these kinds of movies you’re most likely going to take a lot of the references (like the color usage, the killer wearing black gloves, etc.). Malignant is a decent slasher with atmosphere and creepy scenes, and a good amount of effective blood ‘n gore.

 

Malignant Malignant Malignant

 

Director: James Wan
Country & year: USA, 2021
Actors: Annabelle Wallis, Maddie Hasson, George Young, Michole Briana White, Jean Louisa Kelly, Susanna Thompson, Jake Abel, Jacqueline McKenzie, Christian Clemenson, Amir AboulEla, Mercedes Colon, Ingrid Bisu, Ruben Pla, Jon Lee Brody, Ray Chase, Mckenna Grace
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt3811906/

 

 

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Cat Sick Blues (2015)

cat sick blues

It’s a quiet evening and two young ladies are chilling, smoking bong and watching cat videos on YouTube, like most of us do. Then they hear some noises on the roof that sounds like their cat. When one of them goes up to check, she gets surprised by a tall, skinny person wearing a cat mask. She’s too high to get scared, of course, and laughs it off as if it was a prank. He chops her head of with a shovel and throws it down the stairs, and strangles the other one.

 

We then learn that the person behind the mask is a young man named Ted, who’s turned into a homicidal maniac after losing his beloved cat.  When he’s not out killing, he spends his nights jacking off to a cam girl, who’s dressed as a cat. Of course. And he really worships his cat more than anything and wants it back. And to do so, he got the genius idea to kill nine people, collect their blood, to resurrect his cat. He later extends his cat persona by adding a big strap-on dick with spikes (supposed to be penile spines, I guess) because … well, why not.

 

We then get introduced to Claire, who owns one of the many viral cats on YouTube. She gets an unexpected visit from an obsessed “fan” that you wouldn’t want to get near to. Stupidly enough she invites him in, and he (take a wild guess) rapes her, after he accidentally breaks her cat’s neck and tosses it out the window. She attends to a pet grieving group where she meets Ted. They start dating, fucking, and they have a chemistry like two lobotomized potatoes with a relationship that goes in a bizarre direction which you’ll never see coming. And when Ted is not dating Claire, he’s out body counting.

 

As a cat-person myself, I was hoping to get an antagonist to feel or at least root for. But no, Ted proves to be just a deranged and complete soulless, cold-blooded serial killer from the very start, who clearly enjoys raping and killing innocent young ladies for the hell of it while feeding his morbid, obsessive fetish fantasies. And when even fellow cat persons gets body counted by him, that’s a big  no-no, from me at least. He also kills the cam cat lady we saw earlier for no reason. There’s a lot of sadistic cat killers out there, by the way. Why not hunt some of them, in Dexter-style, which no one would miss anyway? Before I take this shit too seriously I’ll just point out that the idea itself for Cat Sick Blues is pretty genius and unique, just too bad we don’t get any depth or backstory of the killer.

 

On the more positive note, the film is overall  pretty entertaining for what it is, a pure demented serial killer slasher. If you’re in for the gore and kills, you will not be disappointed. As a low-budget film, and the debut feature of Dave Jackson who made it by crowdfunding from Kickstarter, it looks pretty impressive. While there’s some clearly experimental stuff going on with slow motion and scenes that slip into some out-of-place artsy moments, the killing scenes are straight to the point, with some nasty visuals that will probably get your dick as hard as Ted’s strap-on. Also a great use of practical effects with heads smashed to pieces, and chopped off, and of course some throat slashing with some sharp cat claw gloves. Even Selena Kyle would be intimidated by this maniac. And as little as there is to wrap one’s mind around Ted’s deranged head, I have to give actor Matthew C. Vaughan some credit for his acting-style and use of energetic cat body language while he goes hunting for victims.

 

Cat Sick Blues is available on DVD from Wild Eye Releasing.

 

Cat Sick Blues Cat Sick Blues Cat Sick Blues

 

Director: Dave Jackson
Country & year: Australia, 2015
Actors: Matthew C. Vaughan, Meg Spencer, Jeni Bezuidenhout, Danae Swinburne, Rob Alec, Mahalia Brown, Shian Denovan, Smokey, Rachel Rai, Noah Moon, Matthew Revert, Andrew Gallacher, James Arnold-Garvey
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt4185862/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Redneck Zombies (1989)

redneck zombies

Redneck Zombies is probably most known for being one of the first films that was shot entirely on videotape (VHS) and released direct-to-video. Combined with that the film was shot on video and the result being what it is: a complete trashy home-made schlockfest with amateur actors and a script that seems to have been scribbled on toilet paper as they went along, didn’t impress the distributors very much. They basically told director Pericles Lewnes to fuck off, and after having enough rounds of rejections, he finally decided to try his luck with Troma – which is pretty odd he didn’t do in the first place since Redneck Zombies feels like pure Troma from start to finish, and just the title itself could probably give Lloyd Kaufman an instant hard-on. Most of Troma’s trademarks are all over the place: the outlandish over-the-top looney tunes acting with dialogues that are so stupid you’ll lose some braincells while watching, a demented plot which makes no sense, blood, greasy gore, puke, and I wish I could say tits. Whatever.

 

The plot goes something like this: It’s a regular day in the middle of redneck-nowhere in ‘Merica where the soldier Tyrone is transporting a barrel full of toxic waste. As he drives along the bumpy hillroad, smokes a joint and talks shit to his passenger dog, the barrel suddenly rolls off the jeep and further down a valley. The valley of redneck Hell no-go zone that is. When he tries to retrieve it, he immediately gets gunpointed by Ferd, a redneck slob who wants the barrel, since it already trespassed on his “land”. After Ferd scares him away with a warning shot, in true second amendment-style, he trades the barrel with a clan of imbecile inbreds who mixes the waste with moonshine and starts to drink the damn thing like there’s no tomorrow. And you can’t in a million years guess what happens next … the liquid turns them into zombies. Who could possibly know. But they are not some  regular zombies, no-no, they’re REDNECK zombies! Good lord.

 

At the same time, a group of city slickers are camping nearby, which seem to have the same level of IQ as the rednecks, or they are just as bad actors. The only thing that differentiates the rednecks from the “civilized people”, to use that word loosely, is really the dress code. And to no surprise they eventually stumbles upon the redneck zombies and a lot of weird, retarded, crazy shit happens. I can mention the scene where the rednecks start to drink the waste and the TV screen goes into a full psychedelic acid-trip, and the effects are just horrendous.

 

While the plot seems seemingly straightforward, the film throws in a lot of random filler scenes that gives us some nuggets of what the heartland has to offer, and to give a more authentic impression of the redneck community. Here we learn that The Elephant Man himself is still alive and well, but still covering his head with a burlap sack with one hole in it to peek through. The rednecks calls him Tobacco Man, since he sells tobaccos from his vendor van. He’s also some kind of a prophet which the rednecks worships, and rambles some weird, crazy nonsense with a dark baritone voice.

 

There’s also a complete random parody of the hitchhiker scene from Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Well, why not. And we get some scenes of a redneck lady with her beloved Perky the Pig, where she promises him that he won’t end up as bacon. When we thought we’ve seen it all in redneck hell, we jump right into a scene where two dudes are watching chickens getting slaughtered on TV, and who have a girl in the living-room, wrapped in duct tape. Of course. There’s some scenes that are shot like it was a sitcom where the only thing missing is fake laugh tracks. This film has some serious symptoms of schizophrenia, and I believe even Dr. Phil would agree on that.

 

The gore delivers, for the most part, at least. Heads are being scalped, beheaded with a shovel and crushed with bare hands, eyes gouged out, limbs ripped apart and so on. It’s juicy, greasy and at times, a little gruesome. Some looks cheap, others looks almost too competent for a film like this. It’s also hilarious that the zombie make-up was made by cornflakes. Yes, really.  My final verdict? Get drunk, pretend to be a young teenager and you’ll probably have a blast with this one.

 

Redneck Zombies

 

Director: Pericles Lewnes
Country & year: USA, 1989
Actors: Steve Sooy, Anthony M. Carr, Ken Davis, Stan Morrow, Brent Thurston-Rogers, Lisa M. DeHaven, Tyrone Taylor, Anthony Burlington-Smith, James H. Housely, Martin J. Wolfman, Boo Teasedale, Darla Deans
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0093833/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perfect Blue (1997)

perfect blueMimarin Kirigoe is a J-Pop star who decides to leave her group (“Cham”) in order to pursue a life as an actress. But her life takes on a quick turn for the worse after this decision, and Mimarin starts losing her grip on reality. An online fansite of her appears, describing things from her life in such detail, and in such a personal way, that the only person who could know about these things is herself…and she is constantly confronted with sightings of her alter-ego: the Mimarin who wanted to remain a pop-star. While struggling with differentiating between fantasy and reality in her now paranoid existence, people around her gets murdered.

 

Perfect Blue is more or less what you would get if you decided to mix anime, David Lynch, Hitchcock, and a dose Dario Argento. The result is an animated psychological thriller that works incredibly well. You get your eyes as well as your brain cells stimulated, and you never know exactly which of Mimarin’s experiences are rooted in reality, and what happens only inside of her fragmented head.

 

Satoshi Kon (R.I.P.) knows how to build a story of this type, something he’s proven time and time again (like in Paprika, Paranoia Agent, Millennium Actress, etc.) Building a story where you’ll witness a character’s gradually broken psyche can easily be a difficult task, where you’re supposed to make it a bit confusing and mystical, while also making sure the viewer doesn’t get thrown off completely. The reason Satoshi Kon for the most part does this very well, is probably because he doesn’t seem to give a damn whether the viewer pays attention to everything or not. He’s got a story to tell, and he tells it the way he thinks best. If the viewer loses track, it’s due to not paying proper attention. When the director gives himself a free reign like that, he also avoids any tedious “spoon-feeding”. The result is a movie that is rare in many ways, and can be perceived as both exciting and surprising along the ride.

 

The violence is executed in a very effective way, and the animation (although it could be perceived by some as a little bit outdated today) is holding up to a good standard. Facial expressions, body language and movements look natural, and fits the situations the characters find themselves in. The music also fits very well, where you make transitions from the cheesy and lively J-Pop music from Cham, to the more action-filled and sometimes ominous music score in the other scenes. This makes the atmosphere successfully creepy.

 

When it comes to the movie’s conclusion, you may sit back with a feeling of thinking that this choice was a tad bit too easy. Not that the ending is predictable – far from it – but there’s something about the otherwise complexity of the rest of the movie that kind of warranted a bit more complex ending as well. Still, it’s at least good that the movie decided to let the viewer have a proper explanation without a lot of loose threads.

 

Simply put, Perfect Blue is a well done anime psycho-thriller that is likely to hold on to being a classic for a good time to come.

 

Perfect Blue Perfect Blue

 

Director: Satoshi Kon
Original title: Pâfekuto burû
Country & year: Japan, 1994
Voice actors: Junko Iwao, Rica Matsumoto, Shinpachi Tsuji, Masaaki Ôkura, Yôsuke Akimoto, Yoku Shioya, Hideyuki Hori, Emi Shinohara, Masashi Ebara, Kiyoyuki Yanada, Tôru Furusawa, Shiho Niiyama, Emiko Furukawa, Aya Hara, Shin’ichirô Miki
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0156887/

 

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The Empty Man (2020)

the empty manWe start in Bhutan, and the year is 1995. Four friends (Greg, Fiona, Ruthie and Paul) go hiking, and Paul starts hearing a strange whistling sound that no one else seem to notice. Trying to investigate where the mysterious sound is coming from, he suddenly falls into a crevice and Greg must try to get him back up again. After climbing down, Greg finds a catatonic Paul, and when trying to touch him he whispers “touch me and you’ll die“. Paul and Greg are not entirely alone down there, though…there is also a huge deformed skeleton embedded into the cave wall. No matter how mysterious this all looks, Greg’s priority is to get Paul out of there, and the group takes him to an empty house right before a snowstorm hits the place. Paul is still in a catatonic state, and the group soon find out that he’s being slowly possessed by an evil spirit.

 

In Missouri, 2018, James is a former detective who is struggling after the death of his wife and son in a car accident a year ago. When the daughter of one of his friends runs away from home, where the only clue she’s left is a bloody message saying “The Empty Man made me do it” written in the bathroom, he tracks down this girl’s friends and he eventually finds out that they tried a ritual a few nights ago: summoning the Empty Man. As the legend goes, on the first day you would hear the Empty Man, on the second you would see him, and on the third he would find you. When the teens start turning up dead, James delves further into the legend of the so-called Empty Man, and gets thrown down into a dark and crooked rabbit-hole.

 

The Empty Man is a horror mystery thriller directed by David Prior, and based on a comic book series created by writer Cullen Bunn and artist Vanesa R. Del Rey in 2014, published by Boom! Studios. While initially thinking it might be yet another supernatural teen slasher, it was obvious right from the start that this was something entirely different. The opening with the cave and the deformed ancient skeleton set a few expectations for something a bit more eerie and weird than a run-of-the-mill homicidal entity, and yup – those expectations were certainly met. With a lot of truly creepy scenes and a steadily building atmosphere of dread, The Empty Man manages to entwine you into a nightmarish story with cults and cosmic horror.

 

While the movie is overall very exciting and suspenseful, I have to admit that I’m not sure exactly what I think of the ending. At one point during the last part of the movie we kept joking that it’s been so entertaining and suspenseful so far, that it didn’t really matter even if it had some bullshit twist-ending where he got captured by aliens or eaten by Bigfoot or something…and while, of course, neither of those happened, the ending still felt a bit more of a “whuh..?” rather than an “a-ha!” experience, and I think that some parts needed a bit more explanation for the ending to feel more satisfying (note that I haven’t read the comic book series, and didn’t even know it existed until after watching this film). It still doesn’t detract from it being a pretty good movie, though, with creepy atmosphere and a lot of suspense. It’s sad to say that some people might steer clear from it due to its “supernatural entity killing off teens” premise, which might give some Bye Bye Man or Slenderman vibes…but as a whole that is not what the movie is about at all. This means that those who might watch it under the premise of seeing an easy supernatural teen-slasher, would also get something entirely different than they bargained for…

 

The Empty Man is a solid mystery thriller, and well worth a watch.

 

The Empty Man

 

Director: David Prior
Country & year: USA, 2021
Actors: James Badge Dale, Marin Ireland, Sasha Frolova, Samantha Logan, Evan Jonigkeit, Virginia Kull, Robert Aramayo, Ron Canada, Jessica Matten, Aaron Poole, Stephen Root, Jamie-Lee Money, Owen Teague, Joel Courtney, Phoebe Nicholls
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt5867314/

 

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Old (2021)

Old Horror Movie ReviewGuy and Prisca are a married couple who have decided to travel to a luxurious tropical resort with their two young children, Maddox and Trent. It will be their last family vacation before they divorce, something they have decided to keep a secret for the children in order to let them have one great vacation together before splitting up. The resort’s manager tells them about a beautiful secluded beach that he admits to only revealing to some of his guests, and they travel there together with three additional parties: a rapper called Mid-Sized Sedan and his female companion, a surgeon named Charles with his wife Chrystal, their young daughter Kara and Charles’ mother Agnes, and Jarin and Patricia, a husband and wife. A driver (played my M. Night Shyamalan himself) takes them to the area where they can get to the beach, but he refuses to go anywhere near the place himself. Not suspicious at all…

 

After walking through a cave they get to the beautiful beach, and is indeed stunned by the place. Everything quickly turns into disaster, however, when one of the people ends up drowning, quickly followed by Agnes suddenly dying. They try to go back through the caves where they came from in order to get help, but no matter how often they try, they end up dizzy and disorientated inside the cave and eventually blacks out, returning back to the beach every time. One strange event after the other takes place, and when the children have turned into teenagers the group realize that the area is rapidly aging them. Additionally, they also discover that each of the parties at the beach have at least one family member with an underlying medical condition.

 

Old is an adaption of a graphic novel from 2010, by Pierre Oscar Lévy (writer) and Frederik Peeters (artist), called Sandcastle. Mr. Shyamalan got it as a Father’s Day gift, and explained that his inspiration for making a movie adaption of it was that he could work through a lot of anxieties he had around aging and the inevitable death, and his parents getting older. And who doesn’t think about aging and death, unavoidably shuddering at the thought of your loved ones and yourself getting older and perhaps suffering from age-related problems? We are constantly reminded of these things through media, and you can hardly browse through anything without there at least being one ad or article about how to “stay young”, how to keep from aging with this or that (bullshit) remedy, how to avoid certain age-related health issues by eating/doing/buying x, y and z, etc. No matter what fear people have in regards to getting older, most people have them to some degree, whether it be due to the risk of health problems, watching their loved ones grow old and die, or more trivial matters like losing their youthful appearance and attractiveness. And all of these themes are displayed through the various characters that find themselves trapped on the beach where their age is rapidly increasing. Some of these themes aren’t really thoroughly explored, however, and some of the characters behave a bit oddly with some clunky dialogue here and there. There are times when you can’t help but to chuckle a bit over certain things that happen, but with an odd and somewhat surreal tone it felt more intentional than unintentional.

 

The cinematography is great, but shouldn’t come as much of a surprise when looking at the cinematographer’s name: Mike Gioulakis, who also did the cinematography in It Follows and Us. The film was also shot on 35mm, whereas M. Night Shyamalan has previously only shot films digitally since The Last Airbender (2010).

 

The ending is something that I’m a bit tempted to write about, but I will need to steer clear of that in order to avoid spoilers. All I will say is that the old saying “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions” comes to mind…

 

Old

 

Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Country & year: USA, 2021
Actors:Gael García Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Rufus Sewell, Alex Wolff, Thomasin McKenzie, Abbey Lee, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Ken Leung, Eliza Scanlen, Aaron Pierre, Embeth Davidtz, Emun Elliott, Alexa Swinton, Gustaf Hammarsten, Kathleen Chalfant, Francesca Eastwood, Nolan River, Luca Faustino Rodriguez, Mikaya Fisher, Kailen Jude, M. Night Shyamalan
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt10954652/

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cannibal Apocalypse (1980)

Cannibal Apocalypse

We’re in the jungles of Vietnam where two American POWs are being held captive by some natives. A group of troops, lead by Norman Hooper (John Saxon) is about to rescue them. While they succeed after a tirade of bulletstorm, flamethrowing and throat-slicing, the two captives seems to have been turned into cannibals by some virus. And those who gets bitten leaves people with serious cravings for human flesh like a hardcore heroin addict. Or just zombie cannibals, if you will. The next who’s to be infected is Norman, when he gives out a helping hand to get them out of the hole they’re trapped in.

 

This was a flashback nightmare, by the way, and Norman wakes up sweaty besides his wife in their home in Atlanta, Georgia, and now struggles daily to not get his cravings and triggers by looking at raw meat, and fears ending up a cannibal himself. He especially struggles not to take a bite out of the teenage girl next door, who has a crush on him.

 

Things doesn’t get better when Norman receives a phonecall by Charles Bukovski (Giovanni Lombardo Radice) who wants to hook up for a drink. He’s one of the guys who’s gotten turned into cannibalism, and Norman smells Bad News and says “another time”. Charles seems to have lost his mind completely, as he’s just hunting for his next fix and wanders around like a deranged serial killer. He goes into a movie theater, where he can’t resist it no more when a coupe starts to make out in front of him. He bites the chick’s neck like Dracula, and the Zombie Apocalypse has just started.

 

I hadn’t heard of this film until it suddenly popped up on Netflix (Norway) of all places, fully uncut and ready for the whole family to watch on a Friday night. I remember there was a time when films like this was totally banned in most countries, and you had to import a VHS copy from US to watch in the basement with friends while the parents were far out of sight. Yeah, things have changed. This film was also on the Video nasty list because of two seconds where a sewer rat is getting torched by a flamethrower.

 

And no, as you’ve probably already figured, this is not your typical cannibal flick with confused half-naked natives running around sunny jungle surroundings, big turtles getting ripped apart, penis severing/castration, et cetera… We’re in a gritty urban setting where the police, and some angry bikers, gets involved to hunt down the cannibals through the streets and sewers. It’s more action-packed with some really great tension filled moments, and of course a bit of the mandatory Italian sleaze. Not the most complicated plot, really, but overall an entertaining Grindhouse flick with an interesting take on the cannibal genre and a crazy, unhinged character. But I’ll never  get used to hear saxophone music during killing scenes, though…

 

Also known as Invasion of the Flesh Hunters and Cannibals in the Streets.

 

Cannibal Apocalypse

 

Director: Antonio Margheriti
Original title: Apocalypse domani
Country & year: Italy, Spain, 1980
Actors: John Saxon, Elizabeth Turner, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Cinzia De Carolis, Tony King, Wallace Wilkinson, Ramiro Oliveros, John Geroson, May Heatherly, Ronnie Sanders, Vic Perkins, Jere Beery, Joan Riordan, Laura Dean
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0080379/

 

 

Tom Ghoul