Masters of Horror: The Washingtonians

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: Peter Medak (The Changeling, Species II)

Evil Category: old white people with bad teeth

Score: one out of five really bad childhood car songs

The summary for this sounds really neat. But let me share with you this line from the opening family scene: “Oh my. Look at the mess that you’re making. When did my princes turn into such a little slob, huh? Just like her daddy!” You never realize how difficult acting is until you see really bad acting. The idea that if you found a scroll you thought was written by George Washington, and you didn’t immediately take it to an appraiser is absurd. This episode is about a family who moves into their grandparent’s house, and discovers the friend old folk in the town are bunch of cannibals who like to dress up and act like George Washington. This episode really proves that this is just Goosebumps for adults.

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Get Out (2017)

Score: 6.5/10

Length: 104

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, murderer, almost horror, psychological

This film was very hyped-up with super reviews but I was careful not to let it get my hopes up, just in case. It’s a good movie, with an original idea, but it seems to be more of a mystery-thriller than horror to me. Perhaps it was all the TSA jokes. It felt like a combination of The Skeleton Key, Being John Malkovich, and Under the Skin, (which are all fantastic films) and I enjoyed the mix of psychology and sci-fi. I was glad to not have to yell at the screen when things made no sense. The characters were well-thought out and well-developed. Daniel Kaluuya (you’ll probably know him from Black Mirror) is very relatable in his roles, and Allison Williams was an easy choice for the waspy white girl. The movie is about a guy who goes to meet his girlfriend’s family, but something is not right- all the help, who just so happen to be black, seem to be dazed and acting fake like they’re existing in some sort of deluded pleasantville. It’s clear they’ve been brainwashed into being servants and sex slaves, but it’s a little bit more tricky and strange than that. I thought I’d save this to the end- this is the first movie directed by Jordan Peele. You might not recognize the name, but you’ll recognize his face. He’s a comedy TV actor mostly, but appeared recently in Keanu. The comedic flare to this film makes quite a bit of sense now, but I’m still pretty shocked that he directed it.

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.

friend favorite

Nosferatu (1922)

Score: 7.5/10

Length: 80

Rating: NR

Language: French, English

Categories: 20s, black & white, vampire, murderer, silent, horror-comedy

Original Title: Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens

I had the absolute pleasure of seeing this recently at the Seattle Paramount Cinema, which is a stunning 3000 person theatre, for their Silent Movie Mondays. And it just so happened to be on Halloween, when the classic vampire flick was playing. There was an organ player, a costume contest, photo booth, and lots of adult candy. The winner of the contest was a Nosferatu-dressed little girl who had no idea what was going on as her dad gushed nearby. She had the teeth and fingers and headwrap, and it was pretty cute. Nosferatu is completely silent, accompanied only by the organ (which was quite popular back then) or other instruments. It is completely filmed in black and white, however, it’s shown with different film filter colours such as sepia, blue, and pink to convey different moods. It is quite beautiful in its simplicity, but even horror fans might find it easy to nod off when all the lights are out. It’s about a real estate agent, Hutter, who travels to sell The Count an empty house across the street. Unfortunately, the vampire leaves a trail of blood as he lusts over Hutter’s wife.  My favorite thing about this film is that you assume the constantly fainting female is the damsel in distress, when in fact, she saves the day, and it is her husband, and in fact, the vampire, who are the idiots.

Film Face Off: Fright Night

Tonight, two films of the same name are up against each other. The classic eighties version, and the more recent, 2011 remake. Vampire entertainment at its best!

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Fright Night (1985)

Score: 4/10

This teen thriller starts off with some inspiring and suspicious 80s tunes, and then all of a sudden, thirty minutes through… BAM! the vampire changes and confrontations are already happening. It’s the classic premise for any Goosebumps or Bailey School Kids book- a vampire is living next door! This film also includes the longest ever vampire sex dance, followed by a lengthy retro love bite scene. Unfortunately, Dude just doesn’t do it for me- as a regular guy or an idiotic looking vampire. Each vampire’s teeth look more dumb than the last, and I’m not a fan of any horror movies over an hour and a half (I’ll only let Stephen King get away with it), but it’s all worth it, because the end is full of over-the-top amazingly bad CGI, and a fantastic green slimy goop vampire melting scene.

 

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Fright Night (2011)

Score:4/10

The second does good as a remake, using lots of the same bits from the original, including the many pointed and jagged little vampire-monster teeth. Anton Yelchin and Toni Collette are fun and relatable characters, and really aid douchey Colin Farrell as the vampire who enjoys face-posing after sucking blood. I didn’t love macburger as the turned-friend. He just wasn’t the right balance of likeable and killable. The CGI used was silly and almost 90’s-style, but I didn’t hate it. I’m not sure what other options there were for this type of movie, really. It’s great around Halloween when you want a light movie to watch with your teenage sister.

In conclusion…

In a rare twist, I gave these two movies released almost thirty years apart the same score. Both cheesy and fun, both barely watchable, with the exception of Halloween night. The remake is just that- a remake, but I liked that about it, as I doubt many of the kids watching it today have ever even seen the original, and for the rest of us, it’s the nostalgia we wanted.

The Convent (2000)

Score: 5.5/10

Length: 79

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, demon, murderer, zombie, almost horror, horror-comedy, gore

A goth gal turned preppy along with her goth friend and idiot jock friends explore an abandoned church where a woman seeking revenge killed a bunch of nuns and a priest. Nods to Demons and Evil Dead. Demon nuns with glowing face cracks, gnarly pointed teeth, and black eye rings. They look fantastic, though the  scary simplicity of the nun from The Conjuring 2 nudges out these gals for first place. I delighted in the over-used scream sound clips, the gay devil-worshipper, and Coolio’s appearance as a gangsta cop. On the other hand, I really could have done without the bad Run Lola Run music. It’s funny, but it was probably funnier before some of the more awesome horror-comedies of our time were released. The fire effects especially made me chuckle, and I think the light hearted mish-mash of films somehow tied everything together. I wouldn’t have changed many things about this film, but it could have been funnier and gorier with stranger characters and mood-controlling music.

Sharktopus (2010)

Score: 3/10*

Length: 89

Rating: TV-14

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, monster, murderer, almost-horror, animal, horror comedy, painful

Your average, badly filmed, badly acted D-list film. But somehow less with a sense of humor? I didn’t notice many jokes or puns, and it was more sleazy-cheesy than knowingly ridiculous. There were lots of deaths, but I wanted more, and I wanted more creativity than the shark using its tentacles to snap up gals in bikinis. And I don’t remember the last time an octopus used its tentacles to stroll around the beach, just walking around on land. The CGI is bad like you’d expect and want, but after you see the abomination a few times, you’re over it. I see why now that in the movie franchise there are new mixed creatures fighting with the sharktopus. It gets old fast, and as you realize that this movie is actually trying to put in effort, the less exciting it becomes. It’s about a government-created monster made for the military who is murdering beachgoers in Puerta Vallarta. An investigative reporter and her cameraman follow the creature as well as the daughter of the scientist and some unprepared employees who are looking to put a stop to the seafood madness. It was a bit difficult to continuously pay attention to this film without wanting to look at my phone, but I will for sure be watching the other entries in the series.

*All points are for the idea of the sharktopus in general.

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)

Score: 4/10

Length: 92

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, horror comedy, mockumentary, murderer

I scored about a 6 on the scale of ‘hopes up, super excited’ to see this Dexter-esque mockumentary about the “how” of a serial killer. But it is shockingly bland. As you may know, What We Do in the Shadows quickly became one of my favorite movies, and is also a mockumentary about the how, what, and tmi, with vampire roommates. It’s creative, hilarious, and engaging. You really care about all of the characters. I could give two fucks about Leslie and the reporter. I mildly appreciated some of the humor behind making horrible murder-tasks into day-to-day chores. But it just was not imaginative or action-packed enough for me. You bet I fell asleep and had to watch the ending in the early morning. Lots of horror buffs enjoyed this film, and you bet I appreciated what it was going for. But no matter how hard I try, I still don’t think it was that good.

Vamps (2012)

Score: 6.5/10

Length: 92

Rating: PG-13

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, almost horror, horror-comedy, vampire, murderer

From the director who brought us Clueless and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, comes a film about roommates who are vampires, living it up in the Big Apple (mostly just at night, of course). It simply could be described as ‘a girl-version of What We Do in the Shadows’. It’s little more full of drama, sweetness, and romance-nonsense than the aforementioned, but that can be appreciated. These movies have their time and place (or mood). It’s not easy to find an upbeat vampire horror-comedy about two innocent gal-pals. A little slow at times, but the characters are likable and I was satisfied with the story. It’s super light, like a cucumber sandwich. I enjoyed the little bits like when they use embalming cream instead of moisturizer or they try on outfits for their stem. And there are quite a few stars who make appearances such as Sigourney Weaver, Richard Lewis, and Malcolm McDowell. Out of all the recent (chick-flick) comedies I marathoned, this was by far the most refreshing, and I only rolled my eyes once or twice.

Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977)

Score: 7/10

Length: 77

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 70s, murderer, demon, haunted house, recommended, good-bad, horror comedy

I can’t believe I have never heard of this movie. It is FANTASTIC. It’s about a killer bed that eats people, but not in the way you might imagine- it creates this sort of yellow, soda-foam bubbles that suck the object or person into the bed. You’d assume also that the bubbles are flesh-deteriorating chemicals, however, the bed makes loud crunching sounds when it eats. First, we see it eating some wine and chicken wings, and then some people trying to have sex. You know even before the title appears that this movie is going to be pure awesomeness. To add a side dish to your meal of weird, there is also a boy, trapped behind a painting in the wall, who has to hear all the horrors of the bed. In a voice that sounds like Stewie Griffin, he makes comments to the bed and himself for most of the movie. We also randomly hear the thoughts of a few of the other characters. Another strange thing is that no one screams except the bed devil. They just make struggle noises. And believe it or not, this movie isn’t even labelled as a comedy. It’s pure horror genre which makes it even more hilarious. Surprisingly, even though this film was completed in 1977, it wasn’t released until 2003, and I have no idea why. What I’m thinking is, the director thought it was a great movie, and then someone told him how bad it actually was, and he hid it away in shame for years. Then maybe, some people from the Hoarders TV show came by his house to clean, found a copy of this film, watched it secretly, and then convinced Mr. Barry to share his art with the world. The story focuses around three women, but the bed is also shown eating various other people and objects. The history of the bed is told in detail and the entire movie is pretty much narrated by thoughts. There is one scene that is incredibly painful to watch, where one of the girls struggles for what feels like years, to get free of the bed and then pull herself and her bloody legs up the stairs. But there weren’t too many bad parts otherwise. This movie was unique, simple, strange, and it’s shame it took so long to come out. It’s spectacular for the sound effects alone. Both me and my bed enjoyed it!

 

photo credit: https://rhandawatches.files.wordpress.com/