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The Returned (2013)
After a bloody opening, one would expect the rest of the movie to follow the typical shenanigans of a living dead creature fest; however this is not the case. The Returned plays out more like a drama that displays the desperation of Kate and Alex as the supply of a protein (needed to be injected once a day) that keeps one from returning to the living dead becomes scarce. Alex is one of "The Returned' – the label for those who are lucky enough to get the solution within four hours of being infected, and his wife Kate is a doctor who treats the survivors.
Overall the movie was very captivating with a top notch cast and a realistic premise of how the response to a shortage of such a protein would be carried out in our society today. The visuals were exquisite, including a few gory scenes. My only criticisms are the ending (which I won't mention specifics here) that seems unnecessary and a moment where a Security Guard is drinking coffee out of an empty cut. Despite these setbacks, it's worth a watch! 8/10
All Hallows' Eve (2013)
In this horror anthology, Sarah is babysitting two children on Halloween night. While sorting through their candy, a VHS tape falls out. After a democratic vote they decide to watch the film, thus the three tales begin.
The first story is about a college student who is abducted by an evil clown while waiting for the train. She wakes up with a chained loosely wrapped around her neck amongst two other victims. When she suggests they try to escape by going down the tunnel, the other two plead for her to stay? Will she make it out alive? At this point the film is shut off and the babysitter puts the kids to sleep. She then resumes watching it. The second story is about a woman who is terrorized in her new home while unpacking by visitors from another world.
The third story is about a lone traveler being pursued by a clown on Halloween Night. No matter how far she drives, the clown always seems to catch up. After the third film is complete the babysitters own story concludes in a usual bloody fashion.
Honestly, I thought this movie was quite terrible. Don't get me wrong, I love watching horror anthologies, even low budget ones! However this movie took too many ideas from other movies. For example many of the scenes revolving the clown seem to have been taken right out of the movie "IT." The third tale is obviously a remake of the third story in Creepshow 2. Sure a clown is the antagonist instead of a hit and run victim. The story still plays out the same. The VHS tape mantra is also completely similar to V/H/S.
A Word of Caution
Any horror movie with a running length of under eighty minutes is bound to be low budget; therefore, questionable. Knowing this simple fact, I was able to be engaged in this rather slow paced horror film, despite the obvious plot holes and loose ends...
Pros: The main actress did a good job at the leading role. I didn't really like the main character, but ended up feeling sympathy for her in the end. The gore was subtle but still made you feel uneasy. Also the camera work portrayed the feeling of drunkenness well.
Cons: The plot definitely needed some work. The whole idea of being drugged (which is clearly implied) and then having unprotected sex with such horrific consequences is terrifying, but sadly an opportunity missed. Watch at your own risk!
Nothing Left to Fear (2013)
Everything but fear
Pastor Dan and his family relocate to the a small town in the Midwest for his new job. His daughter Becky, upon arrival, begins having horrific nightmares. These night terrors provide the audience with a bit of horror until the main plot actually begins to unravel. By the time the mystery is revealed, you'll be scratching your head and wondering what just happened.
Pros: The acting was decent and the budget was right. We also have the nightmares, which are creative and foreshadow the story, without giving it away too much.
Cons: The creature in the movie was CGI and looked cheap. Also the plot did failed to explain why the town was accursed to begin with.
I give it 6.5 out of ten. For a similar movie that was made right, I recommend The Shrine.
Never Drive During a Tornado Watch
A mother and her three daughters are going on a weekend trip when they soon find themselves caught in the middle of a storm. A tornado heads directly for their car so they seek shelter in an abandoned wine cellar. They discover they are trapped and whoever owns the house wants to keep it that way. Within the shadows something begins to stir. They are not alone in the darkness...
I give it a B- because although predictable, it offers good acting and the feeling of claustrophobia. The characters are also likable and more three dimensional then cereal box creature features. The creatures themselves wouldn't make a five year old wet their pants, but it's the idea that suppose to be scary. Check this movie out if you are a horror fan. It's at least entertaining.
Scary or Die (2012)
A Decent Horror Anthology
Although not entirely original at parts, Scary or Die is a modern "Vault of Horror" or "Trilogy of Terror." We are presented with five tales of the macabre as a zombie clicks on the clips on a you-tube like site.
The Crossing: When three Mexican hating rednecks murder two innocent Latino men at their dump site, they are punished three-fold.
Tajeum Lament: A Japanese man who recently lost his wife saves a woman who looks similar to her. She convinces him to meet her for a night and it's going to be a night to remember.
RE-Membered: A man with a body in his truck is pulled over by a policeman, he's about to let him go when he hears a rattling in the trunk. We've all seen it before.
Clowned - A young man is bitten by an evil clown that eats children. He begins a metamorphism into the same creature that attacked him.
Love Come Back: You can already guess what happens in this revenge story.
I give it a C because although it's entertaining, sometimes it's way too predictable.
Truth or Dare (2012)
Revenge for the Fittest
When the movie began, I wondered if I was watching a British version of the 1987 classic "Slaughter High." A teenage prank goes wrong and a year or two later the tormentors are all invited to a "reunion." They arrive only to discover they're the only ones present. To make things stranger, our antagonists are forced to walk through a muddy path that leads to an old cabin despite the fact that the manor was clearly deserted.
However as soon as they meet the brother of the one they victimized and begin playing the same game used to humiliate him (a mix of Truth or Dare and Spin the Bottle) This is when the feeling of dread begins to mount and it doesn't let up until the end.
Overall, it was suspenseful, yet a few illogical inconsistencies require a fair amount of willing suspension of disbelief.
The Bleeding (2011)
A stranger only known as “”Nick” runs into some car trouble on his way out west and asks for the hospitality of the Smith family and a place to stay the night. Marilyn Smith is skeptical at first, but she decides to give him a chance. She clearly is the alpha male of the family. Nick is invited to the dinner table and the awkwardness of the family ensues with her husband Matt and daughter Gloria (Blackbird). He discovers the Marilyn has cut his food for him, which is a bit of literary irony on the fact that he turns out to be a surgeon, and he cuts people up.
Clearly, something is amiss, After dinner Nick ends up wandering into Gloria's room in which she proceeds to snap the neck of a blackbird in front of him. After Marilyn witnesses the debauchery, she rushes him to the attic. She is embarrassed and explains her daughter is not considered “normal”.
Nick reminisces about the last family he “helped” and the madness begins… This movie is very unexpected and deserves credit where it is due. The characters are multi-dimensional and their dialogue is crafted well in a way that creates believability. The reasoning behind the title “Bleeding House” becomes apparent halfway throughout the film and it’s worth the wait.
Lynch Mob (2009)
Today's Special: Roadkill Stu
Weasel, a psychopathic pedophile, is caught kidnapping a minor from the park when he runs into an investigation team during the act. He manages to cut a deal with the authorities claiming he will help them take down the main mafia in town. He soon finds himself in Lynchberg, (No pun intended) Georgia, a seemingly ordinary small town. However things are not as they seem. The township is accursed for lynching an innocent slave and are trapped in their village for eternity. As if that isn't brutal enough, they are also condemned to a human only diet. The mob that Weasel betrayed track him to Lynchberg to enact their revenge. As soon as they arrive a feast of madness ensues.
Filled with gore (enough fake blood and intestines to fill a swimming pool), violence, gratuitous nudity, the living dead, and a pedophile as the main protagonist, any serious horror scholar should give it a gander. With that said, if you're looking for something scary or suspenseful; this movie is far too campy to be taken with much seriousness.
My Rating: 5 out of 10 Alan "Skip" Bannacheck "The Horror Cyclopedia"
Dark House (2009)
Dare Enter the Dark House (Creepy Laughter)
The infamous Darroh (or something similar that almost sounds like dark) House in which seven foster children where brutally murdered 14 years ago, is being reopened as a horror attraction called Dark House. The owner of this horror bonanza (Waltson) hires six actors from an advanced acting class to scare the audiences. One of them, Claire (played by Megan Ory), witnessed the brutal suicide of the children's tormentor and views this new position as a way to bury the demons of the past.
To assist are brave actors, the house works by an advanced hologram system designed to react to fear and excitement. The system gets possessed by the evil ghost of the foster mother and madness ensues. Soon our main protagonist and her friends realize they are locked in with no escape. To makes matters worse these holograms have the power to do real harm. Will they make it out alive?
Overall I believe this movie grades into solid C (C+ maybe). The hologram idea is a little far-fetched, but it creates an interesting movie, not a terrible scary one. The acting is on cue with this type of movie (Including Jeffery Combs from the infamous Re-Animator) and the ending is a surprise, a rarity these days. If your in for something a little more cheesy then Waxwork, give it a gander.
Worthy Sequel of a Decent Film
The movie follows right after the massacre of the previous film. Skye flees to her mother's house (who abandoned her as a child) and upon her arrival discovers she has a half sister named Alex, who resembles the likes of Madison (Rich and Popular). Her mother decides she can stay for the time being after Sky fills her in on the tragedy she just endured. Alex is soon talked into throwing a party in her Father's "Club", which coincidentally Little do they know, Charlie Rotter is indeed alive and he's come to crash their party.
This movie should fare well with most. My Super Psycho 16 II is paced rightly and well directed. It has an interesting cast of characters and is sound on developing conflict amongst the main players. It does however fail to avoid some horror movie clichés (including advertising apple products all the time) such as nightmares, teenage drinking, and knives that look like they came from a pirate ship. I recommend for horror fans and people who aren't offended by slasher movies.
My rating: B-
Bad Dreams (1988)
Horror at the Hospital
Cynthia reawakens from a 13 year old coma after a tragic fire murdered off her fellow cult members called "The Unity." She is sent over to a mental institution and placed in with the Borderline Personality therapy group. She begins dreaming and hallucinating about the leader of the Unity named Harris. Soon members of the therapy groups begin dying in apparent suicides. This may be because Cynthia made a pact to die with the unity, yet she survived.
This movie had a similar Nightmare on Elm Street feel, but Harris is no Freddy. He is a genuinely spine-chilling phantasm, especially when he appears as his burned skeleton form in the elevators and hallways of the institution. The acting was convincing enough, and the leads did a very good job. The actor who played Ralph was the best. There is one cliché', the fellow patient who warns Cynthia "There is no escape from him." And something similar. Not too mention the evil psychologist with bad intentions and a love affair.
Overall watch this movie if you can. It deserves a B+ for how it is put together. I recommend this to any horror fan.
I've seen a lot of horror movies, but this film gave me an unsettling feeling afterward, something I hadn't felt in years. The plot begins with a brother desperately trying to find his sister. He cuts himself up and starts shouting violently at a park, in order to get arrested. He gets thrown into a maximum security area which is a wonderful set. He soon discovers an experimental drug given to patient is turning them into cannibals.
The result is gruesome, the patients who have "changed" are sliced with meat cleavers, knifes, and many other sharp objects. Not too mention falling down a shaft. There is a monster at every turn, leaving the viewer in constant anticipation
This movie has the longest zombie chase scene I have seeing.making it worth a watch.
A Good Supernatural Horror Story
Jennifer is a recluse at an all girl's boarding school. Unlike her fellow peers, she is from a poor farming family and because of that and her smarts, she is humiliated over and over again. When her life is threatened, she taps into an old power she once had, the power to conjure up the serpents (a few of them larger then Godzilla) to ensure her survival.
A lot of reviews have been calling Jennifer a Carrie clone, however the movie goes in its own direction. Jennifer is a lot more outgoing then Carrie, who practically was a mute. When Sandra, the queen bee, accuses her of providing the answers to a test, she blatantly denies it. The parental figure of both Carrie and Jennifer are both religious zealots in their own way. Carrie's mother is more violent, while Jennifer's father goes on drunken rants.
For a 1978 film I think the pacing was good up until the climax which was a mere seven minutes long. With a low budget and technical limitations, we were given hand puppets with missing eyes versus actual demonic looking snakes. The musical score hit the beat, and the cinematography was decent. This story definitely deserves a remake, in my opinion.
I give it an eight out of ten, because the acting and plot were in order.
The Bannachecker - Horror Encyclopdia
Beware of Absinth
A professor, named Jonathan, in social arts notices a seductress that seems to appear at all of his lectures. He makes the mistake of approaching for she is much more menacing then Alicia Silverstone in "The Babysitter." She successfully conjures up a love spell on the Jonathan and convinces him not only leave his girlfriend, but to relocate to a Manor in the countryside. Meanwhile, the audience discovers she is secretly working on an Experiment to harvest human souls in order to achieve eternal life (a Tale From the Crypt episode comes to mind.).
Overall the movie deserves a C for it is fairer then poor, but doesn't scream in exclamation. The character Jon seemed awkward at times and a tidbit flatlined of emotions, Ligeia was represented well as the antagonist and gives a convincing performance. The manor doesn't disappoint and leaves a lot to the imagination; It has a Gothic touch that Poe fans will enjoy. I'll leave up to whether it's worthy of screening up to you, Dear reader.
An Average Satanic Cult Film
In the beginning of the movie we see Sean and his girlfriend presumably trying to halt a satanic ritual. When the dynamite fails to ignite, Sean is greeted with death through being hung by barbed wire. The rest of the film is directed at his family’s torment afterwords.
First off, there is the mother Helen, who suffers from sleepwalking. After discovering some Satanical scrapbooks in her dead son’s room, she starts experiencing waking nightmares which we assume are of the past and what her son was uncovering. Granted there is some chilling sequences and good lighting effects, but the CGI here can be somewhat cheap too.
Secondly, we have the daughter Kate, who is encouraged to join theater at her high school. Kate wins the leading role and is paired up with the theater hunk and seems to be optimistic. Unfortunately her mother discovers the director of the play named “Miss Bliss” is the one responsible for conjuring up the demon known as “The Collector of souls.” You can guess where the film goes from here.
Overall the movie deserves a 6/10. There are a few good twists and the plot isn’t as cliché as one would expect. The filmography is above par for a B-grade film. The acting wasn’t flawless, but the cast did a convincing job, the left is up to willing suspense of disbelief. I would recommend this for die-hard horror fans into movies about cults.
Alan "Skip" Bannacheck -The Horror Encyclopedia
The House of the Devil (2009)
Well Crafted Horror Film
Samantha, a sophomore at a nearby college tries to score a babysitting gig in order to pay for her new place. Although the viewer is aware that the man's comments seem off key, Sam seems unaware of it. She convinces her friend Megan to drop her off in the middle of nowhere because she is so desperate for money. Can Samantha survive a night in the house of the Devil?
Ti West, a fairly unknown director, has released a great tribute to the horror genre of this film. The cinematography is similar to a movie that would have been released during the time it takes place, the mid-eighties. (Although Megan seems to be driving a 1992 Volvo 240 DL). Everything from the clothing, hairstyles, music, and films angles was thoroughly though out and it is apparent in the film's construction.
Anyone who enjoys a mystery/suspense horror film should make sure to catch this movie.
8 0ut Of 10
The Forest (1982)
A Detailed Summary
The movie starts with a pair of campers, a man and a woman presumably together, hiking alone in the vast wilderness. Sure enough the man hears something and it pangs him so much he goes to investigate it. Our killer greets him with a stab to the stomach. He then chases the girl and slashes her throat. The camera during the opening scene is from the point of view as the killer.
We next meet our four main characters, two couples, one in which is on the rocks. The men joke about how the woman would never be able to handle camping alone at a double date, sparking the token blonde's ambition to leave a week early. Unexpectedly, the men leave the same day and their car breaks down.. They end up arriving in the evening. When the men arrive, they are warned about people disappearing in the forest by a crazy Ralph doppleganger. They ignore the warning and venture into the blackening night and an eighties song plays in the background with lyrics about being murdered in the dark forest. The men get lost.
In the next scene we realize that this isn't just another The Burning clone, but a ghost story! The women, scared and lonely are huddling together by the fire. Two children appear in the shadows and decide to play peeping Tom. Well they are obviously ghosts by the way their voices echo! Their mother appears with blood dripping from a hole in her forehead and asks the two ladies if they've seen her children, before disappearing of course.
The children run home to papa and tell him about the two beautiful ladies by the river. This causes quite a stir and he gets up, grabbing his knife from atop the fireplace. "Daddy's going hunting," The little girl, exclaims with bad acting. It is apparent here, that the dad isn't a ghost like his children.
Freaked out by something in the woods, the token blonde splits, running blindly into the night, carrying a knife. She encounters the father who explains he's starving and it will be quick. This doesn't make sense because of the panther growls we heard earlier (Maybe he's allergic! Are panthers honestly even in California?) She ends up wounding him slightly before getting stabbed in the head. A thunderstorm erupts and the men seek shelter, which turns out to be where papa resides. Clearly someone lives here because there's a fire and something weird is roasting over it. The children appear and warn them of papa, who shows up moments later. They disappear as soon as he arrives.
For whatever reason, our killer only goes after females. He invites the men to have something to eat and tells us the story about his ex wife. We are given a flashback of his wife getting caught cheating. The old man doesn't tell them however that he kills her and her lover afterwards, but daydreams about it. We aren't given the reason for the children's demise. The men go to sleep and are left unharmed. The next morning the men discover the empty campground of their wives. After a brief discussion they split up. One is to stay at the campsite, while the other goes and gets help. The one that is going back to his car breaks his leg. We are then reunited with the children as they explain to the surviving woman that they are ghosts who killed themselves from being sad about their mother. They agree to help the woman reunite with her friends
The following scene defies the logic of the movie when papa kills the guy waiting at the campsite. He was also dating or married to the blonde. Somehow the children realize he is murdered and tell the woman about it. She decides to see it for herself and obviously runs into the killer. Luckily the children make him stop by threatening to leave him forever. You know where this is going.
Overall the movie deserves four stars out of ten, and that's being generous. For all its misgivings, the musical score is well done. It's still watchable too. There are some camera angles that look professional, and some of the sets are done well. The plot is unbelievable. There is such a thing as willing suspension of disbelief, but with the toad 6 miles away; I can't imagine the token blonde would take off like that in the middle of the night. I mean, come on!
- Alan "Skip" Bannacheck