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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Call (2020)

The CallSeo-yeon is a 28 year old woman who has traveled to visit her sick mother in the rural area where she grew up. Finding that she has lost her cellphone, she goes to her rundown childhood home where she finds an old cordless phone. Soon, she starts receiving calls from this phone, where a woman claims she is being tortured by her own mother. Thinking of it as someone who have just dialed the wrong number, Seo-yeon decides to investigate the matter when more calls from this mysterious woman comes through the old phone. She finds out that the woman making the calls, Young-sook, lived in the same house in 1999…which is also the year Young-sook claims to live in when making the calls. Seo-yeon lives in 2019, which means there’s a 20 year timegap between her and the caller. The two women make contact through the phone calls, and starts exchanging information about the time they live in and their own lives. Seo-yeon explains that when she was a child, her father died in a fire. Young-sook is then able to prevent Seo-yeon’s father from dying in that accident, and Seo-yeon’s life immediately changes: both of her parents are now suddenly there and healthy, and their house is no longer in the rundown state it used to be in. Happy about the turn of events, Seo-yeon starts searching for Young-sook in order to find out what kind of life she is living these days, in the present…only to find an old newspaper article about how Young-sook was killed by her mother during an exorcism. Seo-yeon tries to warn Young-sook about what is going to happen, and by doing so, unleashes an unexpected chain of events.

 

The Call is a South-Korean Netflix horror-thriller, directed by Chung-Hyun Lee, which is an exciting ride from start to finish. I hadn’t read much about it before watching it, so I didn’t know anything about how the movie’s plot would unfold (and that’s the best way to experience movies like this, in my opinion). At first it gives the appearance of being a rather sweet story about two girls meeting each other despite the difference of time being between them, but it all transpires into something much darker. The two main characters, Seo-yeon and Young-yook, are delivering strong performances, and I really liked the turn of events unfolding throughout the story.With a runtime of almost 2 hours, there wasn’t really a moment without suspense or some kind of excitement, but it isn’t until the first two thirds of the movie that the plot starts to delve into its more sinister part.

 

There is a mid-credits “twist” that apparently felt a bit off-putting to some people, but overall it just points out the numerous twists and turns that could be caused by so-called time traveling (a concept that could easily be considered a bit paradoxical by itself). I didn’t think this ending ruined anything per se, but it definitely gave assumptions of the possibility of a sequel.

 

All in all, The Call is an exciting and gripping Korean thriller, which was released on Netflix globally on November 27, 2020.

 

WARNING: watch the trailer at your own risk, it pretty much spoils the entire movie. Which seems to be a common mistake in many trailers these days…

 

The Call

 

Director: Chung-Hyun Lee
Original title: Kol
Country & year: South Korea, 2020
Actors: Park Shin-Hye, Jeon Jong-seo, Sung-ryung Kim, Lee El, Park Ho-San, Moon Chang-gil, Oh Jeong-Se, Kyeong-sook Jo, Grace Lynn Kung, Ryu Kyung-Soo, Dong-hwi Lee, Jonny Siew, Yo-sep Song, Chae-Young Um
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt10530176/

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delirium (2018)

DeliriumTom (Topher Grace) has been recently released from a mental institute. He’s inherited a large mansion after his father committed suicide just a few days before, and here he needs to serve 30 days under “house arrest”. While the large mansion isn’t exactly the worst place to be quarantined, and you could say he hasn’t exactly got any reason to complain (with a big indoors pool and all!), things do, of course, turn out to be not too great. He’s plagued by visions and hallucinations of his father’s dead body, and he hears noises around the house that makes him believe someone’s inside there with him. Will he be able to fight the ghosts from his past, or will the mansion and his memories make him lose his sanity for good?

 

Delirium is a psychological thriller directed by Dennis Iliadis (Last House on the Left 2009), which is a typical “does this really happen or is the protagonist just crazy” kind of film. While many of these movies can end up being too predictable or too twisty for its own good, Delirium offers enough space for proper doubt of the events as well as realizations about what’s really going on. Very often during the movie, you’ll be kept wondering if Tom is really experiencing the things he sees and hear, or if it’s all his illness coming into play.

 

Since Tom is locked inside the mansion for the entirety of the movie, it’s important that the house and interior itself adds to the feeling of approaching madness, which it manages pretty fine. The mansion, with all the rooms, hallways, pool, etc. is big enough for him to explore, but also big enough for other things to…reside. This makes it more exciting when he actually hears or sees something, as he is also well aware that he can’t really trust his own eyes. And since we, the viewers, only see what he does, we’re in the same position of doubt. There’s bound to be some confusion, but the movie is called Delirium, so that shouldn’t really come as a big surprise…

 

While by no means the most exciting of thrillers and without any real scares, Delirium is still a decent psychological thriller, where the visuals of the lavish mansion with its secret passages and long hallways, helps building the creepy atmosphere.

 

Delirium

 

Director: Dennis Iliadis
Country & year: USA, 2018
Actors: Genesis Rodriguez, Patricia Clarkson, Topher Grace, Callan Mulvey, Robin Thomas, Harry Groener, Daisy McCrackin, Cody Sullivan, Jorge-Luis Pallo, Josh Harp, Braden Fitzgerald
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt2069797/

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Die Hard Dracula (1998)

Die Hard DraculaDie Hard Dracula. How can it go wrong with a title like this?

 

The film opens with quick a prologue we’ve heard thousand times about Vlad The Impaler and his battle against the Turks, as we see images of people literally sitting on poles in their underwear with no blood, no gore, nothing. Not a single attempt to make us believe that we’re looking at tortured and impaled people in a dark middle ages scenario. You’re just a few seconds in, and you already ask why the hell this movie was made and why it even exists. The visuals are just flat out dreadful, and calling it amateurish doesn’t do it justice, it’s even far beyond that.  It’s almost a cliché thing to say, but it’s really hard to put words on how ridiculously bad this is. And this is just the first ten seconds or so.

 

And after 300 years, Dracula has finally had it with Romania and its God-fearing whining people. As he lies in his coffin, we hear his first lines in the distinct Romanian accent: “No more pray! Three hundred years I listened to this awful praying and boOolshit. I can’t stand it no more.” We then get a scene where his casket flies over the European landscape (yes, with Dracula in it) with the tune of Ride Of The Valkyries playing. What really is there to say … It’s pure movie magic. He lands in his new castle in Moravia, Czech Republic.

 

After the opening we jump over to sunny California, where we meet the young couple Julia and Steven, who have fun with water skiing. But tragedy suddenly strikes when Julia loses the grip and disappears into the sea and assumingly drowns. One night Steven and his father see a shooting star, and Steven says “I wish Julia was alive“. His dad then follows up with this line: “You know the old saying … see a falling star, a wish may come true“. Steven responds with a blank stare like if he was a lobotomized mental patient : “Yeah … I wish … I really wish ….” No tears, no emotions. He’s probably the worst actor in this film. Anyway, the shooting star hits a random coffin some place in Moravia that resurrects a young, recently deceased woman back to life, who Steven ends up imagining is Julia. Yes, seriously. After the shooting star incident, he then jumps on a plane to Prague and goes from pub to pub, only to get more and more drunk and disappointed. A lot of nonsensical bullshits happens, but he eventually ends up in a tavern where he meets this girl, who then gets kidnapped by Dracula. Van Helsing finally pops up from nowhere, just in time, who teams up with Steven to kill Dracula and save the girl.

 

Die Hard Dracula

 

Van Helsing is played by Bruce Glover (father of Crispin Glover), and he acts more like a confused half-drunk uncle you just want to put to bed with wishes of a better tomorrow. Most of the actors seem to be either drunk, or just on something. I would be too, if I was acting in a film like this. We see Dracula in several shapes, played by several actors, one worse that the other.  We see him as a big, fat slob that looks  like Jabba The Hut and a rotten potato with a wig, and his regular shape where he looks more like Meat Loaf in a porn spoof (just without the porn), to mention some examples.

 

Dracula also shows off some display of magic powers by throwing fireballs, and shooting lightning from his fingers as he acts like a mental lunatic who tries his best not to impersonate Emperor Palpatine. Several of Dracula’s dialogues were dubbed with the most stiff and lifeless voiceacting that you could’ve heard from a discarded PS1 game. Dracula is the funniest part in this demented madhouse of a movie, for sure, and has a lot of laughable dialogues. And we get the most retarded sex scene with the tune of the the Nutcracker playing. Merry Christmas.

 

Die Hard Dracula

 

The effects and set-design is a whole another level of absurdness, if not lazyness. While a castle somewhere in Czech Republic was used as the exterior for Dracula’s Castle, the interior set-design is just a room, covered with white cow wallpaper, or whatever it is. It’s something straight out of an elementary school play. The Dracula costume was probably bought at Walmart. The ending puts the level of stupidity all up to eleven which gives a clear indication that we would never see the sequel Die Hard Dracula With a Vengeance, directed by Tommy Wiseau, as much I would have loved to see that one.

 

And that was Die Hard Dracula. Pure mentally retarded trash from start to finish where someone just picked up a camcorder, a mic and goofed around with friends during a long weekend. And God knows what went through their heads. They probably had the time of their lives making this, like they where some teens making their first movie in someone’s backyard, but the result is something even their mothers would struggle to give legit compliments to. Especially considering that the writer, producer and director Peter Horak was at whopping 55 years old when he made this, after working as a stuntman in Hollywood for two decades. At least he got to see his masterpiece become full circle when it finally got released on DVD from Alpha Home Entertainment before he died in 2017.

 

Die Hard Dracula

 

Director: Peter Horak
Country & year: USA, Czech Republic, 1998
Actors: Bruce Glover, Denny Sachen, Kerry Dustin, Ernest M. Garcia, Chaba Hrotko, Thomas McGowan, Talia Botone, Nathalie Huot, Peter Horak, John Slavik, Robert Coppola, Eddie Eisele, Paul Lackey, Joseph Miksovsky, Margie Windish
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0162930/

 

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Willy’s Wonderland (2021)

Willy's WonderlandA quiet drifter finds himself in a situation where he’s stranded in an isolated little town. His car is in need of repairs, but he’s not able to pay for it…however, he gets an opportunity to pay for the expenses by spending a night in an abandoned family fun center called Willy’s Wonderland, by cleaning it from top to bottom and thus preparing it for its supposed re-opening. While locked inside the place, however, he finds himself in battle with a bunch of possessed animatronic mascots whose obvious intent is to rip him apart.

 

Willy’s Wonderland starring Nicolas Cage as the quiet/mute janitor, is a ridiculous yet entertaining horror movie, with a premise that probably rings some bells if you’ve ever heard about the game series Five Nights at Freddy’s (FNaF). While I haven’t personally played any of the games, it’s also about killer animatronics (although they only come alive at night) and a security guard that needs to survive the nights. Other than that there appear to be several differences, but since I haven’t played any of the games I can’t really delve too much into any of that.

 

Now, the plot itself is kind of ridiculous, but it actually works pretty well for a movie like this. Willy’s Wonderland, before its abandonment, was a typical Chuck E. Cheese type of restaurant aimed for children, with animatronics who would happily sing songs like Head, Shoulder Knees and Toes, and everything seemed to be all fun and pleasantries. Except that the place was run by a child killer, and the employees had the same urges as he did. When the police got on to what they’d been secretly doing at the place, that’s when all hell would break lose.

 

As for performances, Nic Cage is, well… Nic Cage, he pretty much plays himself and there’s nothing wrong with that. He doesn’t deliver a single line during the entire movie, and his lack of surprise towards the murderous animatronics (despite going in full Cage-Rage mode and smashing them to bits and pieces), somehow implies that he knows fully well what’s going on at the place, and can make you speculate whether he might be a a sibling to one of the children that were killed at the place in its hay-days, or something like that, and has seen it as his mission to take on the child killers once and for all. We don’t know anything about his character (not even his name), which makes you wonder if a sequel (or prequel) has ever been in the plans. The other characters provide decent performances as well, but everything is pretty much carried on Nic’s back. Now, as for the animatronics…they actually look pretty good, and were played by stunt people in costumes (with the exception of Ozzie the Ostrich, which was a puppet).

 

With some fun practical effects and a silly yet entertaining plot, Willy’s Wonderland is a campy cheese-fest filled with whimsy and blood spatter, and definitely not for people who want their entertainment to have a more serious tone, but pleasant enough for those of us who every now and then like to watch a movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s fun and cheesy, and sometimes, that’s enough.

 

Willy's Wonderland

 

Director: Kevin Lewis
Country & year: USA, 2021
Actors: Nicolas Cage, Emily Tosta, Beth Grant, Ric Reitz, Chris Warner, Kai Kadlec, Caylee Cowan, Jonathan Mercedes, Terayle Hill, Christian Delgrosso, David Sheftell, Jiri Stanek, Jessica Graves Davis, Taylor Towery, Chris Schmidt Jr., Christopher Bradley, Duke Jackson, Billy Bussey, BJ Guyer
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt8114980/

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resurrection Corporation (2021)

Resurrection CorporationDottor Caligari is an undertaker who finds himself in an existential crisis since no burials are taking place in the city anymore. Why? Because “Resurrection Corporation”, a company run by a man named Potriantow, has found a way to bring the dead back to life. Caligari and his companion Bruta, a loyal young woman whose heart is a clockwork-mechanism which Caligari himself has inserted into her, decide to find out more about Potriantow and his death-defying business who has turned Caligari’s life and ambitions upside down. They visit the castle of Potriantow’s supposed mentor, but soon find themselves facing unexpected dangers.

 

Resurrection Corporation is an indie black and white animated movie from Italy, which pays an inspiring homage to films like The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari, Nosferatu, Der Golem and Vampyr. The movie was completed in 2020, which fits perfectly with the 100th anniversary of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. It mixes Gothic expressionism with comedy, and oh boy, does it get crazy at times! The director, Alberto Genovese, is also behind a Troma-distributed film called Sick Sock Monsters From Outer Space, which from the trailer looks so mind-blowingly hilarious that we decided we just have to check it out sometime.

 

The animation is reminiscent of the South Park-style, which probably sounds a bit weird considering this is actually a pretty dark and atmospheric movie despite the comedic parts in it… but together with the more detailed and surreal backgrounds it actually fits pretty well. The voice acting is overall engaging and solid (we watched the Italian version). The protagonist, Dottor Caligari, is pretty much a very self-centered man who, to be honest, comes off as a bit of an asshole… in contrast to his companion Bruta, who comes off as the most sympathetic character in the whole movie. This does make for some interesting character interactions, and the viewing experience was anything but predictable.

 

Overall, Resurrection Corporation is a fun and unique ride, with amusing characters, a crazy plot, and a music score that together with the atmospheric graphics manages to set the tone in all the scenes. It is an inspired indie animated feature that pays homage to several black and white classics, while adding its own bizarre comedic elements.

 

Resurrection Corporation is currently available on streaming on Amazon (US and UK).

 

Resurrection Corporation Resurrection Corporation

 

Director: Alberto Genovese
Country & year: Italy, 2021
Voice actors: Antonio Amoruso, Alessandro Bianchi, Eliana Farinon Lazzarino, Erik Martini, Paola Masciadri, Marco Soldá
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt9890120/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mortuary Collection (2019)

The Mortuary CollectionIn Raven’s End, Mortician Montgomery Dark manages an isolated and creepy mortuary all alone. After a recent funeral, that of a young boy, Montgomery gets an unexpected visitor. A young woman named Sam has noticed his “Help Wanted” sign outside of the mortuary, and practically demands an interview right away. He decides to give her a tour of the old, creepy place, and Sam shows an interest in the small coffin that belongs to the boy which Montgomery has just performed the funeral for. He starts telling Sam stories about some of the residents of the town, and the weird and unexpected ways they died.

 

Mortuary Collection is like a “Goosebumps” styled movie, just for a more adult audience. While we have horror movies aimed at a younger audience like Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, this one increases the blood ‘n gore with a few notches. At first glance, it feels a bit more on the “spooky” side rather than something that will provide any actual scares…which for the most part is pretty accurate. It does deliver some rather nasty scenes and imaginative twists and turns throughout its tales, however, which makes it a darn nice Halloween movie with gorgeous visuals, some decent bloody/gory scenes and a lot of fun!

 

The movie contains four stories: one set in the 1950’s, where a woman is using the restroom while going through the wallets she’s been pickpocketing during the ongoing party outside. But while inside the restroom, the medicine cabinet starts acting weird. The second story, Unprotected, is set in the 1960s and it’s considerably longer than the first story, and brings us a pretty twisted take on the horrors of not using a condom. This one was pretty fun and inventive, although it felt a little bit dragged out during its first moments. The third story, Till Death, is about a man who takes care of his catatonic wife, and when the doctor gives him a well-meant advice to let her “accidentally” overdose on painkillers, he must make a very difficult choice. This is by far my favorite episode, which is both sad and actually a bit horrifying in its thematics. Then there is the fourth story, The Babysitter Murders, which is actually Sam’s story (fun facts: the director actually made a horror short by this name in 2015. Also, although not related to this movie: The Babysitter Murders was actually the original title of the horror movie Halloween, until Yablans suggested setting the movie on Halloween night and thus naming it Halloween instead, to which Carpenter agreed).

 

The stories themselves are overall pretty entertaining and spookily fanciful, but the haunting visuals are what really puts the cherry on top. The Victorian-era styled mortuary (where its exterior is actually the Flavel House Museum in Astoria, Oregon) with its Victorian-styled interior and decorations, and Mr. Montgomery Dark himself which looks like a typical horror show host, just gives everything the perfect Halloween vibe. It’s a little bit cheesy here and there, but it fits with the subject matters portrayed in the stories and the tone set throughout.

 

Mortuary Collection is a pretty good Halloween movie: whimsical, bloody, and with enough gorgeous visuals to feed your eyes with tasty treats.

 

The Mortuary Collection

 

Director: Ryan Spindell
Country & year: USA, 2019
Actors: Tristan Byon, Eden Campbell, Hannah R. Loyd, Clancy Brown, Caitlin Custer, Christine Kilmer, Mike C. Nelson, Jacob Elordi, Brennan Murray, Michael Bow, Ema Horvath, Ethan Clossin, Anthony Farrington Jr., Darryl Love, Clavacia Love, James Bachman, Jennifer Irwin, Sarah Hay, Barak Hardley, Darrell Salk, Phyllis Applegate, David Fierro, Fernanda Romero
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt7781432/

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021)

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do ItThe third installment of The Conjuring franchise sets the focus on the young man Arne Cheyenne Johnson – a case that is most noteworthy for being the first murder case in US history where the defendant tried to plea not guilty due to being under control of demonic forces. And as soon as the Warrens meets with Arne’s lawyer who believes he has no chance to get a plea deal, Ed delivers his rather thought-provoking phrase “The court accepts the existence of God every time a witness swears to tell the truth. I think it’s about time they accept the existence of the Devil.” This is a real quote from Ed, and possibly the most rational thing he ever said.

 

Arne received a reduced sentence of five years, and both he and his wife have later appeared in an episode of the TV series A Haunting on Discovery Channel, called Where Demons Dwell. The episode only deals with the possession of David, and not a single word about what happened to Arne later, oddly enough, which is the most interesting aspect of this whole messy case. In 1983, two years after the trial, a movie made for TV titled The Demon Murder Case starring Kevin Bacon in one of the roles was aired. The film seems to be completely forgotten and seen by very few. So we just  have to jump thirty years later and take a look at the latest film loosely based on the case, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It.

 

We are at the home of the Glatzel family where the Warren couple, Ed and Lorraine, are in the middle of a chaotic exorcism seance of the young boy David. His sister Debbie and her boyfriend Arne Johnson are among the helpless witnesses, while all hell breaks loose which never seem to end. Arne finally gets enough, and pulls off a Damien Karras to urge the demon to rather take him – which makes Ed’s panic button go off just before he faints from a heart attack and gets rushed to the hospital in a coma. While everything seems to be back to normal, Arne and Debbie decide to take the relationship one step further by getting engaged and move to the country. Arne has clearly not been completely himself after he invited the demon into his meatsuit, and things take a really brutal U-turn when he one day gets piss drunk, starts to hallucinate and ends up stabbing his landlord, Bruno, to death 22 times. As soon as Ed wakes up from the coma, a battle is set to convince the justice system that Arne killed under the influence of demon possession, and they’ll try to save him from the death penalty. What happened in real life will always be up for debate, but it gets more tempting to assume that it was more the alcohol that made him do it than anything else, and only used his invitation of the demon as a desperate excuse. But this alone is of course not enough material to fill a supernatural horror film, so just like the two previous films, it diverges completely from facts to fabricated fairytales with its own imaginative mythologies, which includes satanism and an ongoing curse to find the source of.

 

James Wan, who directed the two first films, is only responsible for the story and worked as producer, while the newcomer Michael Chaves has taken over the torch as director with only The Curse of La Llorona and some short films under his belt. David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick got the challenging task to write the script, which was enough for me to not lower the expectation to zero, after watching Orphan, another great horror flick he also wrote. And the story is really good here, and more complex than the previous two, which mixes supernatural horror with elements of True Crime which opens everything up to a more adventurous field trip rather than just being stuck in a haunted house scenario, which honestly only James Wan is able to really master. The film is rich in locations such as scary basements, gothic underground tunnels, and a morgue where the Warren couple gets attacked by a giant monstrous man who could be something straight out of a Resident Evil game. There’s also a nod to The Exorcist as seen in the trailer, which was nicely done, and the scene with the waterbed made me think of a certain Elm Street film. Even though the film is not as edge-of-your-seat scary, it has a ton of atmosphere with some really great visuals, creative set-designs and a steady pacing that keeps the entertaining value on track, and overall a compelling story and mystery to get invested in. So yeah, Michael Chaves has proven himself to be a competent director to trust in, I would say. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are as usual great and convincing in their  roles with as good chemistry as in the first two, and the acting in general is strong and solid all over the board. It was also fun to see John Noble in one of the roles, whom I haven’t seen since the Fringe days.

 

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It

 

Director: Michael Chaves
Country & year: USA, 2021
Actors: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ruairi O’Connor, Sarah Catherine Hook, Julian Hilliard, John Noble, Eugenie Bondurant, Shannon Kook, Ronnie Gene Blevins, Keith Arthur Bolden, Steve Coulter, Vince Pisani, Ingrid Bisu, Andrea Andrade, Ashley LeConte Campbell, Sterling Jerins, Paul Wilson
IMDb: //www.imdb.com/title/tt7069210/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Color Out of Space (2019)

Color Out of SpaceNathan Gardener and his family moves to his late father’s farm somewhere in rural New England, in the hopes of living a quiet life and escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Just when they start to settle in, a meteorite crashes into their yard which emits an otherworldly color (a color out of space). One of the children (Jack) is traumatized by the event, and seems to be affected in strange ways. He becomes obsessed with the well in the garden and claims he’s got a “friend” there. Strange flowers and plants starts growing, animals suffer grotesque mutations, and the Gardener family’s life transforms into a colorful nightmare.

 

Color Out of Space is based on a short story by H.P. Lovecraft. The director, Richard Stanley, last directed a film way back in 1992 (Dust Devil), so there was a 27 year pause until his comeback. Things didn’t start out all that trouble-free, however, as the movie lacked funding when Stanley revealed the project in 2013. In 2015 it was announced that the production company SpectreVision would produce the film…but it was still delayed until 2018, around the time when Nicholas Cage was confirmed to play the leading role, and then the filming started in Portugal in 2019. Sometimes, things simply just take time. Stanley first stated that this is the first movie in a planned trilogy of Lovecraft adaptions (the next one supposed to be based on The Dunwich Horror). However, in March 2021 the trilogy was canceled after Stanley was accused of domestic abuse by his former partner Scarlett Amaris, and SpectreVision cut all relation with him.

 

Many of Lovecraft’s stories have been made into film adaptions, some more successfully than others. And most of them have a varied love/hate reception…and this movie is no exception to that rule. And it isn’t even the first time Color Out Of Space was adapted to the screen…there are actually as much as four earlier adaptions, including a 2010 German black & white adaption that’s called Die Farbe aka Color Out of Space.

 

As this story was originally published in September 1927, and Stanley’s movie adaption goes for a more modern take on things, there are some changes here and there. For those that have read the original Lovecraft story, you’ll know that the color is described as one that humanity has never actually seen…but that is, of course, not really possible to portray in a movie unless it was made in black and white (like the German 2010 adaption). However, the purple-pink-ish color used here actually looks pretty good and makes for a highly visual and mesmerizing treat. It’s a Lovecraftian snack-bag filled with goodies that can be enjoyed by many: visually wonderful, a dosage of some pretty good body horror moments, all mixed in with the classic cosmic terror and the fear of the unknown. That being said, I can understand why it’s not tickling everyone’s pickle as some people might be put off due to the changes, and others might find the humor in it a bit weird. Like with nearly every Lovecraft story that’s been adapted to the screen, there’s both love and hate for it.

 

Overall, I think Color out of Space is an entrancing surreal cosmic horror movie. Stanley is also a Lovecraft fan, so the film is filled with a nice handful of easter eggs that people who have read Lovecraft’s other stories will recognize (like the daughter, whose name is Lavinia). And of course, it’s always a pleasure to watch Nicholas Cage go bonkers in a horror movie.

 

Color Out of Space

 

Director: Richard Stanley
Country & year: USA, Malaysia, Postugal, 2019
Actors: Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson, Madeleine Arthur, Elliot Knight, Tommy Chong, Brendan Meyer, Julian Hilliard, Josh C. Waller, Q’orianka Kilcher, Melissa Nearman, Amanda Booth, Keith Harle
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt5073642/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul