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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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.

Tales of Halloween (2015)

This (mostly) Halloween-themed horror anthology is comprised of 10 stories which are individually rated below. (Segments are rated in comparison to each other, not to movies of the horror genre as a whole.)

Length: 92

Rating: R

Language: English

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Sweet Tooth (dir David Parker)

Score: 7/10    Villian: monster, human

It’s almost a shame that they put the best story first. I forgot that I was watching an anthology and was disappointed when it ended. Although I liked some of the others, I might have preferred to watch a whole movie about this. It’s a simple spooky story about a monster who eats your insides if you inhale all the candy and don’t leave him any. It’s fun and creative, with an ending I can appreciate. I’m sure this was the reason I bought that box of over-priced Halloween candy at the grocery store.

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The Night Billy Raised Hell (dir Darren Lynn Bousman)

Score: 5/10    Villian: devil/demon

A young kid dressed as a devil is pressured into pulling a prank on an old man. He is tied up while a look-alike demon wreaks havoc on the town with the old man devil snickering behind trees and such. The hot mom line was a little overdone and the cheesy noises and sound effects take away from the short. I would have preferred the same idea without the comedy.

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Trick (dir Adam Gierasch)

Score: 5/10     Villian: human

On Halloween, kids decide to trick instead of treat, killing the young adults in vicious ways. That’s all I can really say. I wish this segment had more. It was way too simple and easily forgettable. It deserves a like review.

 

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The Weak and the Wicked (dir Paul Solet)

Score: 5/10            Villian: (monster), human

A kid who is bullied by three hoodlums on bikes returns as a young adult with an evil spirit to invoke his revenge. It’s mostly shots of the female leader of the pack slowly sucking on a cigar and trying to give fire eyes.

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Grim Grinning Ghost (dir Axelle Carolyn)

Score: 6/10             Villian: ghost

Nothing much happened in this segment either, but I could easily empathize with the main character and it has a nice climax build-up. The acting seems genuine and this is a nice, little spook. It’s about a woman at a party who is told a story about a ghost who cackles behind you as she follows. If you turn around, she gets you. After the party on the way home, the tale  comes to life as the frightened gal wills herself not to turn around.

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Ding Dong (dir Lucky McKee)

Score: 5.5/10           Villian: monster/human

This strange story about infertility feels like I’m watching the Babadook in a Bjork video. Probably the strangest out of the bunch and the most unsettling. A couple unable to reproduce, struggle to keep cheery faces on when floods of children come to their door. As the husband tries to make light of the situation, the monster inside his wife appears more and more. The husband is dressed as Hansel, however, he looks more like Stewart from MadTV.

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This Means War (dir John Skipp and Andrew Kasch)

Score: 6/10           Villian: humans

Two generations of Halloween-lovers fight over the better way to enjoy the holiday. Loud, metal music, gory decorations, and a big party -or- classic family fun with animatronics and spooky effects. In the end, no one wins. The idea worked well for a short story, but there weren’t really any surprises, and it left the episode feeling too cute.

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Friday the 31st (dir Mike Mendez)

Score: 3/10             Villians: alien cartoons, possessed humans, and Jason

Deformed freak and movie murderer Jason Voorhees meets a cartoon alien that looks like it could be from an Eiffel 65 video. He finds the creature annoying and stomps on it, which in turn allows the alien to possess a female victim who launches herself at Jason. They hack away at each other and then the alien goes home. I don’t think I need to give any additional comments towards this description.

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The Ransom of Rusty Rex (dir Ryan Schifrin)

Score: 4/10                        Villian: gremlin

Two men kidnap what they think is a child, but what turns out to be a little imp-gremlin of sorts. The vertically-challenged monster torments the kidnappers as they do everything possible to get rid of it. This episode is mildly comical, but easily forgettable.

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Bad Seed (Neil Marshall)

Score: 6/10            Villian: killer pumpkins

This is probably my second-favorite segment, as the director really understands how to make horror cheesy and fun. It’s about an evil jack-o-lantern that eats humans head first. The idea isn’t anything fantastic, it’s the delightful little ending that gives it a small sparkle… of doom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

All Hallow’s Eve (2013)

Score: 4.5/10

Length: 83

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, clown, murderer, monster, alien, supernatural, woods, underground, holiday (Halloween)

A boy gets a video tape in his Halloween candy bag and convinces his babysitter and older sister to watch it. The Debra Messing- look-alike sitter allows the kiddies to sit through the first of the three short films on the tape, and then sends the kids to bed and watches the other two stories by herself. The first is about a clown who kidnaps young women and chains them up underground for a disfigured drooling freak to eat. One of the women escapes and wakes up only to find herself chained to a table and surrounded by “witches” (or weird skin-monsters). The second story has a girl being chased around the house by a charcoal alien, and the third one focuses on the clown, who stalks a girl, gruesomely killing others along the way. At the end, the babysitter finds herself in her own horror film. Each of the stories has its own bit of tension, but none of them are overwhelmingly original or scary. The clown, Art, however, is actually quite terrifying. I noticed the director/ writer also did his own special effects, and I have to say he did a pretty decent job. This is not one of those movies that’s overly memorable- you could probably watch it every year, not quite remembering what happens.

photo credit: http://i.ytimg.com/vi/QiPqBLB5ITI/maxresdefault.jpg