The House that Jack Built (2018)

Score: 7/10

Length: 155

Rating: NR (but definitely R)

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, murderer, gore porn, shaky cam, devil

If you’re not familiar with Von Trier, his films are quite imaginative and intense. This one is even artsier than his usual, and a thousand percent more nauseating. The movie can kind of be split into three parts. Serial killer hilarity and gore, frantic arty scenes, and weird fantasy hell. There are apparently two parts that are “shock factor” causing some to walk out. The duck scene I closed my eyes for, so I can’t really comment on that. But the shooting children wasn’t very shocking. Are these people blind to Aleppo??

Serial Killer Hilarity
Yes it might be a little intense for some, but I really loved the realness of the awkwardness. Both Matt Dillon and Uma Thurman were fantastic. I loved the obsessive cleaning thoughts and how easy it was for our murderer to get away with being sloppy. The irony of something so vile bringing a laugh through the haphazard approach is disturbing in and of itself.

Frantic Art Scenes
There I was, in a sold-out theatre, with my eyes closed trying to breathe deep and slow while clutching my turquoise Powerade. The whipping the camera back and forth and spinning around in circles in addition to the colourful grass that’s being trampled was almost as rough an experience for me as watching the Blair Witch Project. I appreciate the camera movement from characters and from character to scene, but lordy, I really could have done without the motion sickness.

Weird Fantasy Hell
We’ve been watching this movie now for two hours and suddenly… Wait. Are we still watching the same movie? Serial Killer Matt is now on a firy bridge in hell? This part of the film did not fit at all, but it was an entertaining ending and a bit of a relief. There was no bad CGI or over-the-topness, so I was okay with the random fantasy.

I’m not really sure what to say. Points for uniqueness and creativity, but isn’t that what’s expected in a Von Trier? The unexpected? I’m not too happy about the mysterious duck scene, but I didn’t mind the gore and the acting was very well-done. Perhaps not the director’s finest works, but a must-see for weirdos.

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Hereditary (2018)

Score: 8 the first time, 8.5 the second /10

Length: 127

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, recommended, SPOILERS, supernatural, murderer, devil, psychology

Here comes a spoiler in stars that you may or may not want to read. I, personally, would have appreciated it before watching the film. *No matter what direction you think the movie may be going in, it is supernatural and demonic.* I spent half the movie paying attention to the wrong clues because I was hell-bent on it being about multiple personalities. I love Toni Collette, she has a really emotional ugly cry and always gives it her all. I loved her show about D.I.D. titled, United States of Tara. The pieces mostly fit together and everything was making sense, until the ending smacked me across the face like a wet glove. My friends have also mentioned that they weren’t prepared for the ending, even though they had most likely watched the previews and went in open-minded. This is just one of those films that you have to watch, read up on, and watch again. The ending definitely wasn’t a predictable let-down like in The Witch, but it seems to leave the viewers intrigued, though left in the dark. It’s about a family with two strange kids going through the motions of grief. Moreover, it’s the story of a woman suffering complicated relationships and horrible circumstances. Each character is well-fleshed out, and even though most aren’t entirely likeable, they’re captivating and unique at the very least. The family members are just relatable enough to watch, but each are tormented in their own individual and strange ways. Psychology intermingles with tension and witchcraft, and the viewers who find the beginning too slow, I’m sorry, don’t appreciate strong acting and character build. I wasn’t bored for a second, even though there weren’t many jump scares or bloody scenes until the second half. Overall, I thought everything in this film was strong from the costumes to the location to the pure creativity. The ending could have been glued together better to make it easier to stomach and understand without having to research it online. I recommended seeing the movie with a chocolate bar in your hand.

The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018)

Score: 7/10

Length: 85

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, slasher, woods, recommended, murderer

I didn’t notice that the title included “Prey at Night” which is obvious, meaningless, and just plain dumb. The director for this sequel is different, but he follows the original enough so that you can’t tell if you don’t focus on it. This one has a tense but loving family (though the mom and dad have a lot of similarities to the couple in the original) who stay at a trailer park and are stalked and killed off by the three masked strangers. Since there are more people to kill (an aunt and uncle, others in the campsite), there are fewer mind games and slow tension scenes which is the only thing making this film stand apart from the first. Strong acting from Bailee Madison who I’m excited to see evolve from the over-dramatic characters she played in R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour. A few scattered jump scares and mini-twists make this second-go entertaining, but it’s lacking the intense tension that makes the original a memorable favorite.

From A House on Willow Street (2016)

Score: 3/10

Length: 90

Rating: NR (R)

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, woods, demon, zombie, monster, murderer, ghost

This movie is a mess. The idea isn’t too bad: the daughter of a wealthy man is taken hostage, but the kidnappers soon find out that their plans have changed when she turns out to be possessed by a demon. Somehow, this film is short yet feels long, and is overly complex, yet dull. There’s lots of gore, the makeup isn’t bad, and the characters all have a story. But ugh, it’s just all over the place and with the ridiculous CGI… over it. The acting was a little painful, but the movie starts off decent focussing on the kidnappers instead of the victim. There are a few scares that don’t make sense yet and although it’s fairly guessable, the movie feels like it’s going somewhere. As it continues towards the crash and burn that is the ending, watching it gets harder and harder to bear. The Indian priest’s character and lines were just awful and awfully acted. I found I cared less and less about everyone as the film went on and then those goddam spiky tongues. Unfortunately unforgettable. I’d say it’s a mix between Th13teen Ghosts and Don’t Breathe, but those are both good movies and this one is not.

Top Ten Horror-Comedies

I may love French romance-comedies and horrors of all sorts, but horror-comedy is my true favorite genre. So as you can imagine, it was really hard to narrow it down to just ten fantastic films. I could have easily done twenty, but I like a challenge. This list is not of the movies I think deserve to be labelled as the best per se, but they are my personal choices based on preference. (Which is why you might see a lack of zombie movies on here. There are great movies out there, but I just want a very small teaspoon of zombie in my horror cereal.) Here are my favorite, funniest, fright-filled films accompanied by their snack pairings, because nothing goes better together than fear, laughter, and sugar.

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10. Dead Alive or Braindead (1992)

I don’t even know quite how to describe this movie, but there are definitely some very scarring scenes included in this memorable monstrocity. Zombies, rats, blood, gore, and disgusting monster babies… this is for sure one to watch on a first date.

Snacks: Well, to be honest, probably nothing, but chips sound like a safe option.

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9. Snarknado (2013)

Lame CGI, C-list actors, and a ridiculous plot- this one’s got it all! Several spin offs were created based on this films crazy, creature creation. It doesn’t really make any sense, but it’s action-packed and loads of fun to see these over-dramatic actors battle sharks whipping around in a tornado.

Snacks: if you don’t live in Iceland and can’t get fermented shark, try a shark or whale-shaped candy instead from your local 711.

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8. The Gingerdead Man (2005)

One of my favorite Christmas movies, if not just for the title of the original, and more importantly, the sequels (Passion of the Crust, Saturday Night Cleaver). Gary Busey is a serial-killer-turned-cookie who creepily, and kind of cutely, stalks the girl who sent him to the electric chair. It’s barely over an hour, so it’s not much to chew through.

Snacks: gingerbread men, obviously, and perhaps a holiday beverage of sorts

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7. Scary Movie (1996)

This is an iconic nineties movie that mocks a bunch of classic, popular horror movies. It spawned loads of other comedy copycat films that were all pretty bad cheese-fests, but a few have the potential to squeeze a laugh out of you. This film in particular pokes fun at Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, The Blair Witch, The Exorcist, and a whole slew of others including unscary films as well. Holding it all together is a story about a teenager being stalked by a slasher-killer.

Snacks: I’d be funny and say mashed potatoes (from the scene in Scary Movie 2), but I’d also like to recommend a snack you’re actually going to eat, so how about Jiffy Pop and a batch of special brownies.

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6. Cabin in the Woods (2012)

This quirky, sarcastic, horror movie turned out to be a surprise hit. It’s the usual crew of young adults vacationing at a cabin in the woods. I’m not going to ruin anything, but if you know nothing about this film, I suggest you watch it continuing to know nothing about it beforehand. It’s imaginative and unexpected at every turn. The only downfall to the movie is the cheesy ending cushioned by an appearance by Sigourney Weaver.

Snacks: a good old-fashioned pizza with loads of various toppings

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5. Killer Klowns From Outer Space, 1988

Kooky karnivals klowns kausing kalamity. Characters straight off a poster and whimsical sci-fi make this lesser-known movie a kult klassic. It’s bad, but it’s also good. Nothing beats silly alien-clowns who cause havoc and terror with their popcorn guns and deadly cream pies.

Snacks: Kotton kandy and ice kream

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4. Dead Snow (Dod Sno), 2009

Another one I saw at film festival, and I’m ashamed to say that even though I OWN the second one, I still haven’t gotten around to seeing it. Here, nazi zombies (that are actually scary af) attack a group of young adults staying at a ski lodge. Dumb and extreme decisions are made, somehow resulting in laugh-out-loud hilarity. These zombies aren’t dummies that are falling apart, they’re determined, undead, soldiers on a mission. Yikes.

Snacks: hot chocolate

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3. What We Do in the Shadows, 2014

Probably one of my favorite movies of the decade- it was genuinely funny and creative, and unfortunately, that was pretty shocking to me. I wouldn’t think I’d be attracted to a film that can be described as a documentary about vampires living in New Zealand. But the characters are lovable and hilarious, the story could carry on for decades without letting go of your interest, and there is just nothing to hate about this heart warming, blood-sucking, horror-themed comedy.

Snack: fries (“chips”) or spaghetti (“worms”)

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2. The Rocky Horror Picture Show, 1975

An iconic cult film that I’m saddened is not on Broadway yet. A couple arrives to a castle where a transvestite and his alien assistants create a man, host a party, kill a biker, and sing a lot of sexy songs. It’s a musical that’s fun for everyone fun. There’s nothing better than a movie theatre or bar event where everyone dresses up and throws half of their props in the air. Look forward to a purse full of uncooked rice.

Snack: hot dogs (frankenfurters) and Hot Lips candies

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1. Troll 2, 1990 (alongside Best Worst Movie)

I saw Best Worst Movie at a film festival and then fell in love with the ridiculousness that is Troll 2 shortly afterwards. It has absolutely nothing to do with Troll 1 and the trolls are called Goblins… the words troll isn’t heard once. The town is named Nilbog, which is Goblin spelled backwards, and the goblins turn people into plant goop because they’re vegetarians. In a land where popcorn fills sexy trailers and hospitality is literally pissed on, anything can happen in this mean, green, horror-comedy machine.

Snack: corn on the cob, popcorn, green jello, green cupcakes, milk, anything vegetarian

 

Title image from House IV, another fantastic horror comedy.

Top Ten Most Memorable Horror Movie Masks

I’d first off like to apologize for my absence. I’ve been working on a few Top Tens, and even though I saw a crapload of horror movies in October, I went on a sunny vacation right after and forgot most of them. So now, I present to you, an interesting theme: masks! Masks are the ultimate murdering accessory. Although makeup is more in than attachable face plastic, there are lots of awesome famous horror movie masks out there.

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I’d like to start off with an honorable mention that couldn’t be included in this list because it’s a tv show: Goosebumps, The Haunted Mask. This was most likely one of the first ever spooky masks that I encountered, in the book and then on tv. The mask that doesn’t come off has definitely been done before, but that doesn’t make the it any less awesome. I plan to add this detailed, green monster to my costume collection someday.

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10. Alice, Sweet Alice;s Plastic Make-up Mask (1976)

Although this movie isn’t super well-known, this type of see-through, second skin is still in every store selling Halloween costumes today. The plastic, makeupped adult face supposedly worn over a child’s innocent face makes it even creepier, as worn with a yellow rain jacket in the film. There is also a similar, updated version in V/H/S.

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9. Halloween III: Season of the Witch’s Silver Shamrock Masks (1982)

The Jack-o-lantern, witch, and skeleton masks intended to melt children’s faces appear only in this installment of Halloween that has nothing at all to do with Michael Myers. Although entertaining, the whole Stonehenge thing and evil mask-manufacturer situation doesn’t really make a lot of sense.

      

8. Terror Train’s Groucho Marx Mask (1980)

On New Year’s Eve, a murderer kills college kids on a train. He wears several different masks on the train that he swaps with his victims, but they don’t quite have the off-putting creepiness that the Groucho seems to have.

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7. Trick ‘R Treat’s Burlap Sack (2007)

This film is technically an anthology, but I find that it’s really only remembered for the character, Sam. It’s kind of cute, kind of creepy, and definitely silly-scary underneath.

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6. Phantom of the Opera (1925)

The phantom changes over time, but the mask doesn’t really. The first film is included in this list because it’s the only one that is actually a horror film besides the virtually unknown 1989 version with Robert Englund. It’s white, it’s simple, and it’s close enough to the iconic half-mask in the musical versions.

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5. The Strangers’ The Man in The Mask, Pin-Up Girl, and Dollface Masks (2008)

This is one of my favorite movies, as I’m terrified of stalkers and this had great tension and character story. Each of the torturers wears a mask, but the face has nothing to really do with anything besides their gender. They’re all equally scary in that they don’t have any rhyme or reason to them, and the faces behind them are never revealed.

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4. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s Skin Mask (1974, 2003, and sequels)

Leatherface is inspired by Ed Gein who was obsessed with making things out of human body parts such as bones and skin. Throw in a chainsaw and some off-beat, grotesque characters and you’ve got yourself a gore fest phenomenon. Whether it be the original or the remake, both have the iconic stitches and skin mask. I wonder how Leatherface would feel about a peel at the spa.

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3. Scream’s Ghostface Mask (1996 and sequels)

If you asked people to blurt out the first Halloween mask that comes to mind, I bet Ghostface would be at the top of the list. Inspired by Edvard Munch’s The Scream painting, this franchise and its unforgettable mask made a huge dent in film history.  The return to the slasher was immensely popular, and ever since the film’s release, the Ghostface mask has been on shelves. Even though the movie has some nineties cheese, the twist is all that matters.

2. Halloween’s Michael Myers (William Shatner) Mask (1978 and sequels)

Let’s be real here, this is a bad mask. Even when you see it sold in stores the hair’s all matted and the skin is lumpy. But it serves its purpose in the movie, because the expressionless face easily gives you the creeps. Halloween is just another slasher movie with no real backstory, but it’s a fun, mindless film to watch, and there are lots of sequels to binge-watch on my favorite holiday.

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1. Friday the 13th Part 3’s Hockey Mask (1982 and sequels)

Jason Voorhees sure is a man of the times. His mask style changes in each movie, and although for the most part, he sporting a generic hockey mask, he also tries on a sack and a metal, alienlike option. Jason is supposed to be a deformed psychopath, so I suppose any old mask will do. The great thing about the Friday the 13th films are that there is a little bit of comedy, a few scares, and countless ways to kill featured. Jason has a decent backstory, and the original film’s twist makes up for the fact that the mask doesn’t appear.

 

 

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.

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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.

The Void (2016)

Score: 5/10

Length: 99

Rating: NR (R)

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, monster, zombie, murderer, supernatural

IIIIIII don’t know about this Canadian movie. One friend hated it, one friend liked it. I fall right in the middle. On the one hand, I liked the cult members standing outside staring, not moving and the quick scene with the monster-zombies in the basement. On the other hand, I’m really over the cop, the pregnant lady, and a mishmash of unlikable others being trapped in the hospital. The third idea with the eighties alien-monsters was kind of fun, but it didn’t quite feel like it fit in. I also liked the first half a lot better than the second, and was pretty disappointed with the ending. I even went back to see if I missed something, because it took me three tries to finish this as I kept falling asleep. After all this, I’m left giving it an “inbetween” score because it’s just so equally good and bad. Made me want to watch Society again.

The Neighbor (2016)

Score: 5.5/10

Length: 87

Rating: NR (But clearly R)

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, murderer, underground

As a Canadian, it pains me to put no ‘u’ in the title, but I suppose it’s an American movie and the paper mache mask on the cover makes up for it. It felt very familiar early on, like I had seen at least some of it before. Probably before passing out and then forgetting about it. This action-thriller film is about  an errand-man whose wife is kidnapped by their neighbour before they plan to split with a bag of cash. Josh Stewart does a great job of looking like Sean Penn’s druggy brother, but the acting from everyone is pretty decent.  I appreciate that the women weren’t just victims, they fought hard. It feels like The Collector series, but lacks some of the originality. Most of the gore seemed to be dead animals which definitely could’ve been skipped, but there were a splatter of blood and guts scenes throughout.  It had artistic spots, but it just wasn’t anything special or creative. Not a bad movie at all, but also not a memorable title or story. I could definitely see myself accidentally watching some of it again.