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)

 

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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.

Satanic (2016)

Score: 4/10*

Length: 85

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, devil, supernatural, murderer

I’m going to start off real here. The only reason I’m watching this movie is because I hear they stay in a hotel room where a girl slits her throat, and her name is Laney Gore. “Laney Gore bled on the floor of 204.” (My name is also Laney, if you didn’t know). It starts off with some God awful script writing for the four young adults getting high in the car while driving to their first destination, the hotel. They stop at various macabre sights along the way to Coachella, but decide the follow some satanist store owners when they are mean to them in their store. I had to fast-forward through a few scenes like the party and any time the group is in a car. On top of the lame scenes and painful script, the music is mostly not for human ears. The main characters aren’t people you’d feel sorry for, either. After easily outing themselves to a group of Satanists, it becomes crystal clear that the spies deserve whatever comes to them, and you will not be routing for any of them, not even familiar face, Sarah Hyland. I did, however, enjoy that there was no bad CGI and I like the time loop thing even though it didn’t make much sense other than being just another factor in the nightmare that poor ‘Doe Eyes’ has to endure. I was disappointed that we didn’t get to really see any of the deaths, and any favorable feelings I felt were swiftly erased by the wtf ending. I guess Hell is unpredictable.

* Extra point for using my name a lot.

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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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friend Request (2016)

Score: 4.5/10

Length: 92

Rating: NR

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, supernatural, demon, murderer

Well friends, I haven’t reviewed anything in weeks, and here I go picking a lacklustre movie. This came out after Unfriended, and sounded just as bad, to be honest. But really, it’s a decent story idea, unfortunately sprinkled with Facebook bullcrap that is totally unnecessary. It’s about an outcast girl who ‘friends’ a mildly popular, mildly pretty, girl-next-door type. The loner is a greasy-haired, awkward, gothy-looking girl who, in no time at all, gets obsessive, and then angry when her BFF needs go unfulfilled. The Beast wants to make Beauty lonely like she is, so she kills off her friends and posts videos of them dying from Beauty’s Facebook account. Then it turns into a whole witchy-demon-mirror worship situation with lots of artistic fantasy elements which I quite enjoyed. This movie was never destined for greatness, but the problem is that they used social media to add some spice instead of… anything else. The effects are really 50/50 as some are actually well done, but there are lots of scenes that look like they were thrown in last minute to get an audience jump-scare, and I think we’re all over that by now. The videos and photos could have easily been linked to a website or blog instead of Facebook. Of course, they never call it Facebook, everything is just slightly altered, but it’s obviously Facebook. The acting from most of the characters is decent, are there are some really fun tension scenes. I found this film a little more watchable than Unfriended, but there is too much unnecessary nonsense going on for me to recommend this as anything other than a flick to watch when you’ve seen everything else. Just be advised, you will definitely have moments where you want to yell “JUST TURN OFF THE COMPUTER”, because obviously, no one ever does.

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.

Tenebre (1982)

Score: 6/10

Length: 101

Rating: X

Language: English, Italian, most likely

Categories: 80s, murderer, foreign

This film set in Rome features all the top B’s: brown nipples, bad teeth, bralessness, and bright red blood. It starts and ends with some sweet disco pop dance music, helping us to realize early on that this isn’t going to be your typical slasher or jump-scare horror, and I’ve yet to see a Dario movie that is more thriller than it is (murder) mystery. His movies often feel like books brought to life. This gem, that I had the pleasure of seeing on 35mm at a midnight screening, is about a stalker-killer who murders everyone who has any relation whatsoever to a well-known author. The author has recently written and sold a book called Tenebre (I still don’t really understand that it means), about a psychotic killer. The ending reveals a few welcome twists and everything is explained honestly and eagerly. The film is just entertaining enough to keep you engaged in the theatre, though I’d suspect it’d be easy to nod off while watching this at home. I appreciated the constant killings, the acrobatic dog situation, and the little jabs here and there at misogyny. Would definitely include this in a Dario-a-thon. A nice little film full of characters, but obviously not better than Suspiria.