The Initiation (1984)

Score: 6/10

Length: 97

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 80s, murderer, psychological, recommended

I’d never heard of this movie, but YouTube recommended it for me, and I was pleasantly surprised. I figured it’d be a typical sorority slasher, which it was, though definitely not typical. It was fairly well thought-out, and had a big twist that I wasn’t expecting. When you look back on the clues, it’s easy to guess, and although it may not it be overly original, I just wasn’t planning on a twist of any sorts, so it was exciting! I watched this movie over a few days, as it isn’t exactly thrilling, and I mean, it’s hot out. It’s summer. It’s hard to watch non-beachy horrors right now. But this one is set in a mall! And that’s always fun.

It’s about a sorority initiation gone wrong, where the girls are set to steal the guard’s clothing, and instead, everyone dies. Our main gal has been having nightmares and trying to get therapy. Her dreams might be reality, and she’s in store for a few revealing surprises. There are loads of characters you don’t care about, but their acting is decent and never distracting. There are, of course, needless boob scenes, as this is horror in the eighties, but overall, there isn’t much to turn my nose up at. It was fairly enjoyable, but I could have done with with a fleshier character story build.

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A Quiet Place (2018)

Score: 7/10

Length: 90

Rating: PG-13

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, monsters, aliens, murderer, recommended

This film was smart, original, and had some nice tension. It starts in the middle of the action, and finishes before the craziness dies down. It’s about a family living in a world where there are strange creatures that have taken over, and I’m assuming they can’t see or smell very well, as they attack mostly when provoked with sound. So, the big thing about this movie is that it’s mostly silent. And it’s by that guy from The Office. The silence creates tension and drama, but at the theatre, I was annoyed every time someone cleared their throat or coughed. Would have been cool if the theatre put on a performance version where people dressed up as monsters and grabbed you every time you made a noise. I’d pay a fair amount for that. Anyway, the movie had good actors, a good story, and was well-paced.  It’s a mix of a horror, drama, and action, and that works well, but it all felt a little neat to me. There isn’t much to criticize, but I wasn’t moved enough by it- whether that be scared, stunned, or angry- to have an overwhelming opinion. I almost might have enjoyed it more as a television series. It’s a very watchable movie, and a wide audience will enjoy it.

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.

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.

 

 

Buckout Road (2017)

Score: 6.5/10

Length: 97

Rating: NR

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, recommended, witch, murderer, supernatural, ghost, woods

As seen at CIFF. The director, Matthew Currie Holmes, a Canadian known for his acting, was there and what a personality! He was handing out beers to the audience, and personally thanked everyone for coming. Luckily, it was a good film. Starring Evan Ross (who I just learned is Diana Ross’ son)! It’s all about urban legends, and although it focusses on a few of them, the idea doesn’t over-complicate the film. It centres around a bad boy, a girl with a past, and the sleepwalking twins as they try to solve a curse by investigating the past. The acting was strong, the photography was ideal, and the only thing I wasn’t really so fond of was the end. The whole “never can escape” thing was not the strongest possible ending I hope for, but it was satisfying enough. The movie was engaging, imaginative, and well planned-out, so I was pleasantly surprised, as you never know what to expect at a film festival.

Face Off: The Mist (2007) vs The Fog (2005)

Two types of weather, two very different monsters lurking in what we can’t see. Tonight I’m reviewing The Fog and The Mist to see which one comes out on top!

The Mist (2007)

Score: 6/10

Length: 127

Rating: R

I’m honestly surprised that there’s only one movie about this, but at least there’s a TV show out now. This is your typical people trapped in a grocery store because of mist bug aliens. They do dumb things like continuously try to leave and go out into the mist in search of something or other and ALWAYS DIE. There’s your regular good guy family, the old people, the bad crew, the romance, the family, and the crazy evangelical. All the usual ingredients for the blurry dessert that is this movie. I mean, for it being from 2007, the CGI alien bug monsters weren’t too bad. It’s a typical King movie. Not overly scary, but a good story and decent (although mildly cheesy) acting. A really strong ending to this one as well. The surprising thing, however, was that this movie was two hours (also in typical King fashion), but it didn’t feel long or action-deprived for a second. I’m not overly into bug and alien movies, such as, I won’t go out of my way to see them, but in the end, I didn’t feel like my time was wasted here. I’m sure you’ve also heard about the ending. It’s a great twist, but the desert music is a little over the top.

 

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The Fog (2005)

Score: 3/10

Length: 100

Rating: PG-13

I’m going with the 2000’s version of The Fog, as the eighties are always better, and this is a more fair option. I totally saw this in theatres for some reason, and at the time, it felt very ‘Halloween TV marathon’. It starts off strong with some Fall Out Boy… oh, and Tom Welling from Smallville in a chunky turtleneck. Should be terrifying…

It’s about some ghosts getting revenge in the dumbest way possible. The movie is littered with bad party scenes and awkward flirting, and the acting/script/directing isn’t very strong. There is just so much going on and so many awful CGI effects. It’s a Simpsons and Are You Afraid of the Dark episode wrapped up and spit out into a movie. This fog is just too complex and random and you don’t really care about the characters until it’s too late. The was one part that gave me a jump-scare, and I enjoyed the scenes with the ship as well as the kid with his scotch tape, but that’s about it. There was also a twist ending, and it was so surprising it was truly laughable.

 

My brain might be foggy and my eyes might be misty, but there’s a clear winner here. I’m shocked to say that alien bugs won over leper ghosts, but The Mist was just a better movie in every aspect. I suppose now that I’ve seen them both, the 1980’s version of The Fog likely would have been a tighter race.

We Go On (2016)

Score: 6.5/10 (as a drama)

Length: 90

Rating: NR (PG-13-18)

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, ghost, psychological, supernatural, almost horror

Boy, 2016 is really turning out to be a great year for movies. This is a fantastic idea about a man who goes to the extreme to prove that there is life after death. He puts out an ad and meets with three very different people in the hopes of seeing a ghost or learning about how he dies. But he’s most intrigued by a mysterious caller who seems to see the unbelievable. Our awkward, on the verge of madness hero finds himself tethered to a ghost and struggling to rid himself of the lonely lost soul in love. It all feels like an awful nightmare that isn’t plagued by bad CGI, so it’s actually creepy. The actors in this are mostly from TV or unpopular films, so it’s interesting to see characters by actors with no big Hollywood past. It made them seem very real and more relatable and the acting was pretty decent. It also kind of felt like part adult Are You Afraid of the Dark episode, part novel. Much more of a drama than a horror, but there was lots to appreciate. I’d recommend watching this when you’re by yourself, not ready for a full-on scare fest. This will help you to “keep it together, dude.”

Annabelle: Creation

Score: 7/10*

Length: 109

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, murderer, toys, prequel, devil, ghost

Waaaaaaaaaaaaay better than the first one. Probably to do with the director, David F. Sandberg, who also did Lights Out. There are a few upcoming directors I’m following, and this guy might add himself to my list. The screenplay is by Gary Dauberman (Annabelle and the upcoming It and The Nun) and of course, it’s produced by James Wan. I don’t usually discuss the people behind the movie, but this is a real winning combination of horror minds. Lulu Wilson also stood out to me- I remembered her from Ouija: Origin of Evil, and Deliver Us from Evil. I hope she continues with the horror genre. So this one stuck with the demon/ ghost girl/ doll theme pretty well, although three things is already pushing it for me. I don’t particularly find dolls scary, so I’m glad the demon was involved. I feel more and more the importance of a movie’s consistency and main focus not muddied by other entities and useless storylines, so this was mildly refreshing. I was glad that the film focussed on the scares and darkness instead of lame CGI and a billion different monsters like some lazy movies…*cough*… Insidious. There were a few scenes and effects I could have done without, but overall, it was pretty solid. The acting was decent, and this film really knew how to drag out the tension. There were even a few cute touches thrown in, such as the original Raggedy Ann doll and the nun from The Conjuring, lurking in a photo. I could have done with more of a backstory to the girl and the doll and I’m still waiting to learn more about the demon. After seeing the first Annabelle, disappointment of the second installment was inevitable, however, I was quite impressed, which was most likely due to my low expectations.

*Friend score average: 6.2