The Witching (2016)

Score: 3/10

Length: 80

Rating: NR

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, anthology, ghost, supernatural, demon, witch, murderer, woods

I know I say a lot of movie feel like a Goosebumps or Are You Afraid of the Dark episode, but this is actually a group of people around a campfire telling scary stories. It’s a shame the campfire group with their podcasts and video recordings are so stupid, because the shorts in this surprise (I thought this was going to be a movie about witches) anthology aren’t as bad as the wraparound. There are six stories in this film. Here’s a short recap of the mediocre tales:

  • Grief – A grieving mother is haunted by her dead son who leaves his toy truck around the house. Turns out it’s not her son.
  • Sleepwalker – A woman wakes up to find her face smeared with black sand and discovers she is being visited by the demon version of the Sandman.
  • The Hourglass Figure – A housewife finds her mother-in-laws secret: an hourglass that stops time for an hour a day. Unfortunately, if the one-a-day rule is broken, there are dire consequences.
  • Next Caller – A radio show host has a guest who tries to prove herself by having God and Satan call into the show.
  • Graveyard Shift – A security guard tries to help a woman who is overdosing, but she runs away and disappears. Turns out she’s a ghost.
  • Sweet Hollow – A woman pulls over for a man who tells her that her tire is loose and tries to fix it. They are apparently going to the same party, so he’s allowed to ride in the car with her, but when she receives a call from her sister, she finds out the man is lying.

As you can probably tell, the shorts are not well thought-out, and not only are they lazy, they’re forgettable. The best out of the group for me was probably the hourglass story, since it’s the most interesting idea. It’s a watchable movie overall, but I definitely wouldn’t recommend it.

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ABC’s of Death 2.5 (2016)

Score: 5.5/10

Length: 85

Rating: NR

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, anthology, murderer, alien, monster, zombie, devil, vampire,  horror comedy, holiday, gore porn

Another film of shorts! This one, brought to you by the letter ‘M’. Because I guess they had a lot of ‘M’ entries. I love anthologies because there is always something for everyone but I really could have done without the scratchy title music. For this review, I’ve decided to give each segment a grade and just a quickie synopsis of a few words.

Magnetic Tape – Silly, gory, nerd fun. (B)

Maieusiophobia – Terrifying waxmation birth. (A)

Mailbox – Skippable vampire trick-or-treat. (C)

Make Believe – Mediocre murder and kid fairies. (c)

Malnutrition – A well-done zombie segment. (A)

Manure – A memorable, May-like poop monster. (A)

Marauder – A hipstertastic black and white tricycle race. (B)

Mariachi – Murders in a death metal music video. (C)

Marriage – A creative and captivating therapy session with a surprise ending. (A)

Martyr – A cult ritual that I could have sacrificed. (C)

Matador – A sick and twisted gorefest of intensity. (A)

Meat – A dark meatmation segment that is unique and thought-provoking. (A)

Mermaid – A stupid mermaid meal. (C)

Merry Christmas – Krampus feels bad for himself with a prisoner who has a face for acting. (C)

Mess – Oh God, why. You deserve to know now that ‘the mess’ is water poop coming from a belly button. (C for can’t. I can’t.)

Messiah – A woman is captured by masked forest-people. (A)

Mind Meld – A clever, gory experiment. (A)

Miracle – Well, it’s about box… it was too short and quick for me to comprehend anything else. (B)

Mobile – A man gets torture text instructions with a twist. (A)

Mom – A light zombie-kid romance. (B)

Moonstruck – An unexpected paper cartoon about romance, betrayal, revenge, and death. (A)

Mormon Missionaries – An encounter with two missionaries takes a turn for the worst. And then it gets worse. (A)

Mother – A giant CGI spider. (C)

Muff – A hilarious hotel sex encounter goes fatally wrong. (B)

Munging – Gross and awful topic, but the corpse’s make-up was great. (B)

Mutant – Eager losers shoot at flying mutants that break out of people’s faces. It was good until the the first bat was revealed, and then it got really bad. (C)

 

XX (2017)

Score: 4/10*

Length: 80

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, monster, murderer, toys, anthology, holiday

This anthology is all female directors and lead actors (but not writers), so the disappointment with the film hit harder than usual. One of the stories is even written by the musician, St. Vincent who is a gifted visionary.  The film has four stories that aren’t related to each other at all, and none of them are original, memorable, creative, or provide any indication that this movie is focused on women. The only thing I can picture myself remembering when thinking of this film later is the strange, doll-head stop motion in between the segments. Also, I get why the film is called “XX“, but considering there’s a band already with the same name, they really could have tried a little harder. This whole film feels like a real lack of effort on everyone’s part.

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The Box

In one line: Cannibals at Christmas.

Good: I liked the mystery around what was in the box and this was probably the best story out of the four. It had clear direction to it.

Bad: The script was pretty cheesy, and there were parts that didn’t exactly make a lot of sense to me.

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The Birthday Party

In one line: Dead dad ruins birthday party.

Good: The struggles of a mom trying to make everything okay for her child’s birthday is relatable. The costumes are also hilarious, and I appreciated the quirky vibe.

Bad: It’s really just an episode of a woman dragging around a man’s dead body and that can get pretty dull.

7

Don’t Fall

In one line: Monsters in the desert.

Good: The monster was fairly well done. Good makeup as opposed to CGI.

Bad: It was a pretty overdone story idea with nothing special added to it.

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Her Only Living Son

In one line: Teenager turns into violent werewolf-monster of sorts.

Good: Again, the mom’s struggles were relatable.

Bad: There wasn’t really an ending, and the son making the mom crawl towards him on her knees was pretty cringe-worthy.

 

* I’m giving this an overall score, as none of the shorts were anything special, and none were better or worse than any other, which is pretty rare. All in all, the meh movie is getting a meh overall score.

Masters of Horror: The Black Cat

Masters of Horror is a 2000s television series with a different director for each of the thirteen episodes in the season, running about an hour long.

Directed by: Stuart Gordon (Re-animator, From Beyond, Dolls)

Evil Category: an aggrevated, alcoholic author

Score: one out of five broken, black ink pens

You’d think this would be about a cat who witnesses something horrible, or a bunch of stories that merge together with the cat appearing in each one, or even just a killer-cat. But no, it’s about Edgar Allen Poe going insane and attacking a cat for little reason. He wants to write poe-try, and his wife is coughing up blood all over the place. The story isn’t too bad, but man, the acting is so painful. I’d be just as well off watching an episode of Days of our Lives. The constant coughing alone is enough to drive anyone to madness, but the cruelty to animals does not in the least get me routing for Poe. That bird clearly just had a smear of ketchup on it and the cat eyeball scene… Jesus. I skipped a lot of it, and I was glad it was finally done watching it in the end. I would have rather watched Secret Window.

Top Ten Canadian Horror Films

Happy Canada 150, my fellow proud Canadians and adoring non-Canadians! Here are my favorite scary Canuck movies to watch after the fireworks, or hungover the next morning, accompanied by Canada’s top snacks.

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10. The Brood  (1979)

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One of four Cronenburg and sons films on the list, it’s about a woman driven by her psychologist to do some pretty strange things, among them, lead a brood of lumpy lawn gnome look-alikes. The skin sack is a hard image to forget, so you may want to have a couple 2-4s and mickeys on hand.

Canadian Snack: Watch a woman lick her bloody baby while you nosh on some flavour-packed Lays ketchup chips and guzzle down a spicy Caesar with a green bean.

Review here

Trailer here

 

 

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9. Terror Train (1980)

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A satisfying New Year’s Eve slasher movie about med students at a costume party held on a train who are killed off by a masked murderer. What a kerfuffle with everyone stuck on that train. Better grab your toques and runners and get a move on.

Canadian Snack: In order to stay up past midnight you’re going to need some caffeine. But since we’re on a moving train, better reach for a Coffee Crisp instead.

Review here

Trailer here

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8. The Fly (1986)

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Jeff Goldblum and Gina Davis are surrounded by a hefty helping of that goopy, slimy, eighties blood and gore. It’s pretty much every superhero story, without the superhero part, leaving just- man turns into fly, and it doesn’t go too well.

Canadian Snack: If there’s one thing that flies like, it’s sugar. So give them what they want in a sweet, buttery treat: the butter tart.

This movie doesn’t yet have a full review.

Trailer here

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7. Black Christmas (1974)

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This is a film about a woman calling for her cat, Claude… I mean… it’s about sorority girls trapped in a house with a mystery killer. And also Christmas! So it’s snowing and no one is really around to help. Better than the 2006 version by a million kilometres, but not necessarily thrilling.

Canadian Snack: Our country doesn’t really have much to do with Christmas dinner, so instead, grab a Tims double double with a maple-glazed donut for breakfast.

Review here

Trailer here

 

 

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6. Dead Ringers (1988)

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Who wouldn’t want to watch a movie about twin gynecologists addicted to drugs, both played by Jeremy Irons? I generally dislike it when a movie is two or more hours long, but I didn’t mind it in this case. Felt like I was just watching a few episodes in a row of Twin Peaks. It’s labeled as a drama / horror / thriller, but it doesn’t have the typical tension of a horror or thriller; I found it heavy on the drama end.

Canadian Snack: Nothing goes better together than a Montreal-style bagel and Montreal smoked meat.

This movie doesn’t yet have a full review.

Trailer here

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5. Antiviral (2012)

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A film about a business that offers diseases (carried by celebrities) to the public, in order to allow the fans to feel closer to the famous person they’re obsessed with. So strange, and so creative with such a fantastically interesting lead character played by Caleb Landry Jones (Get Out). Lots of drug hazes, needles galore, and so many blood-soaked white things that even Tide couldn’t clean.

Canadian Snack: Some good ole fashioned brand-name KD with a dollop of ketchup. The Canadian way.

This movie doesn’t yet have a full review.

Trailer here

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4. Cube (1997)

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Out of the three Cube movies, the first has the best ending- with a twist. A group of people are trapped in a room-filled structure, where each room has a different violent booby-trap waiting for them.

Canadian Snack: We’re too hip to be square, but a homemade nanaimo bar is to die for, and angular enough to accompany this franchise.

Review here

Trailer here

3. American Mary (2012)

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A revenge flick about a med student turned underground body modifier is American only by title.

Canadian Snack: To go with the American theme, believe it or not, the popular sushi order, California roll, was invented by a Japanese sushi chef who moved to Vancouver in the seventies.

Review here

Trailer here

2. Ginger Snaps (2000) 

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Good things come in threes, but the original of the well-known Canadian trilogy is the best. Nothing beats some simplistic teen werewolf angst, eh?

Canadian Snack: Unfortunately, ginger snaps aren’t really Canadian, so instead how bout some Chinese food? Surprisingly, ginger beef was invented right here in Calgary, AB. I think a werewolf would prefer meat over cookies anyway.

Review here

Trailer here

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1. Silent Hill (2006)

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This dreamlike fantasy horror about a mother searching for her daughter in an eerie, ash-covered town gets the top spot. This fantastic goth film is an adaptation of a survival video game and couldn’t have been done better. Around every turn is a mysterious creature, its details creatively imagined. I’d pay a lot of loonies and twoonies to see this at the theatre in 3D.

Canadian Snack: The number one spot deserves nothing but the number one Canadian food. So versatile and comforting, you can’t do better than a proper poutine.

This movie doesn’t yet have a full review.

Trailer here

 

BONUS! The legendary tv show, Are You Afraid of the Dark, is of course, also Canadian.

Looking for more? Try Pontypool, Hobo With a Shotgun, Pin, The Changeling, Videodrome, The Shrine, Prom Night. 

Masters of Horror: Pelts

Masters of Horror is a 2000s television series with a different director for each of the thirteen episodes in the season, running about an hour long.

Directed by: Dario Argento (Suspiria, Opera, Inferno)

Evil Category: the cursed revenge of the trash pandas

Score: one out of five dry-cleaning bills

I put off watching this episode for quite some time just based off the title, and rightfully so. It’s about a big, greasy man who is in the fur business. He’s in love with a stripper who he tries to rape, and when he comes across some fine pelts, it allows him to present a (ridiculous) business proposition to her. He’s going to make her a fancy fur coat so she can wear it and be a fashion model. Seriously?! Don’t worry, the raccoons get their revenge, of course, on the coat wearers. I didn’t realize raccoon fur was so coveted and rare… Not even the gory baseball bat to the face and the headfirst plunge into a trap could save this episode’s stupidity. It’s so not something I needed to watch, and I read a book while watching most of it anyway. Point is only for gore.

Holidays (2016)

The little treat featuring each of the biggest holidays of the year is composed of eight stories from different directors. Definitely one of the better horror anthologies to date.

Valentine’s Day

Director: Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer (Starry Eyes)

Score: four out of five Hershey’s kisses

A bullied outcast (not unlike in Carrie or The Craft) competes with the blonde popular girl for their swim teacher’s heart. Literally and figuratively. I tend to like a movie about obsessive love, and I really enjoyed this one. It’s memorable in a good way.

St. Patrick’s Day

Director: Gary Shore (Dracula Untold)

Score: three out of five snakeskin flasks

A woman who yearns for a child is put off when her new student begins doing strange things involving a snake. After waking in a parking lot, the teacher becomes pregnant with a reptilian creature. This episode is all well and good until it crashes and burns in a field where a silly CGI snake is celebrated by Danny Zuko’s animal-headed posse.

Easter*

Director: Nicholas McCarthy (The Pact)

Score: two and a half religious rodents out of five

A little girl who is uneasy about the Easter Bunny’s visit gets more than she fears when she stays awake and catches the character himself. The Easter Bunny is this creepy-as-fuck Jesus man-rabbit that’s all skin and no fluffy white fur. There’s not much to this one- she sees the creature and then is turned into a rabbit herself.

Mother’s Day

Director: Sarah Adina Smith (The Midnight Swim)

Score: three out of five bewitched baby bumps

A woman who cursed with a pregnancy every time she has sex goes to a fertility ritual gathering. She is drugged and kidnapped in the most romantic way, as she grows more and more pregnant with “the gateway”. This segment seems to focus on beauty over horror, and is in fact quite enchanting with all its natural female power. Sadly, the end really falls flat and is a huge disappointment in its unoriginality.

Father’s Day*

Director: Anthony Scott Burns

Score: four out of five deep daddy directions

Another woman (yup, the leads are all females so far) receives a mysterious package with a tape player inside. The recording is of her father who asks her to come find him. It’s very simple and vague, and relies heavily on the acting and your imagination. The story reminds me a little of Stranger Things, and I’d love to see how this short would do as a full-length film.

Halloween

Director: Kevin Smith (Tusk, the worst horror movie I’ve seen since Human Centipede)

Score: one out of five cringe-worthy car batteries

A douche who runs a scuzzy webcam business gets what’s coming to him when his cam girls rebel and use the power of three to cause some… er… discomfort. I’m all for a revenge story, but I’m not too into torture porn, and I really could have done without this episode ruining my favorite holiday.

Christmas

Director: Scott Stewart (Dark Skies)

Score: two out of five presented realities

Seth Green is out of luck when he is too late to get a last-minute Christmas present until he has the opportunity to steal the game from a man- or save his life. It sounds exciting, but all the episode is only comprised of a few virtual reality revelations and then it’s over.

New Year’s Eve

Director: Adam Egypt Mortimer (Some Kind of Hate)

Score: two and a half axe-girlfriends out of five

A tired single girl goes on a date with a yellow-toothed psycho, but he’s in for the quite the first date. I empathize, because I’d really like to do the same thing to some of the guys I’ve dated. Not a lot happens, and this episode seems like the shortest one, but it’s still mildly entertaining. Really great to watch before bed, because it makes you want to jump up and brush your teeth.

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