Annihilation (2018)

Score: 7/10

Length: 116

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, sci fi, almost horror, woods, book, alien

Let me just start off with making sure it’s clear that this movie doesn’t exactly make sense. But who cares! The acting is decent, the story is creative, and the final product is really beautiful. Yes, it’s low-key ridiculous that a bunch of random scientists venture into this Bermuda triangle of sorts with no face coverage or breathing apparatus’. But once you get past the dumb details, it’s really an engaging movie. I wasn’t bored once, and I never quite knew what was going to happen next. It’s kind of hard to imagine that a sci-fi movie about nature is horror, but I suppose it’s no less horrory than a film like A Quiet Place. The group of women go on an expedition that had been preceded by Lena’s (Natalie Portman) husband. He was the only person to return from the “affected zone”, and now she is following in his footsteps, being interviewed and telling the story of her adventure (to put it lightly). The characters are formed enough for my liking, and there are just so many unique qualities to the movie, allowing me to really enjoy it. The film does seem to have the theme of cancer spread throughout it, but I’m not 100% certain that this is the movie’s main concept. Either way, I thought it was a visually striking movie that is worth a watch.

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

Score: 6.5/10*

Length: 103

Rating: PG-13

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, murderer, monster, alien, underground

Wow. I just saw how long this movie is (an hour and fourty-three minutes), and I’m so surprised. It really didn’t feel that long. I went in knowing little to nothing about this film, except that I didn’t like its related feature, Cloverfield (for obvious shaky cam reasons). I also was aware, however, that even though it shared a similar title, it was a much different story. I appreciated the coincidence of the title and that green time of month, so I figured I’d give it a try in a smaller theatre with my purse full of cheese danishes from Sunterra. This film quite reminded me of my experience with District 9: on the guyish side, but I definitely wasn’t bored. I liked the characters and the small space they were confined to. I enjoyed their dynamic and the tension scattered throughout. My favorite thing about this triller-horror was the back and forth ways my mind was pulled. Is there really something going on outside or is this guy just nuts? The ending is a let down. It’s not a horrible conclusion, but it’s optimistic and boring, and I was hoping for a bleak ending or a cliff-hanger to really tie it all together. There were a few plot holes and useless lines, but it’s a very likable movie. As I mentioned, I went to see this film knowing virtually nothing about it, and I’d recommend doing it that way, but if not: it’s about a woman who crashes her car and is taken in by an army veteran and his carpenter. She is told there is a deadly chemical attack outside and they are safe in his bunker, but the captive soon begins to think it’s all in her capture’s head and plans her escape.

*film friend gave it a 7(ish)

 

photo: http://media.themalaymailonline.com

Circle (2015)

Score: 3.5/10

Length: 87

Rating: Unrated (I’d guess PG-13)

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, murderer, aliens, psychological

As you know, I find these mind-fuck human testing scenarios very interesting. There hasn’t been one of these in a few years and I was very excited to add this to my list of Top Ten Strangers in a Small Room horror movies. It’s a film about a circle of fifty humans, trapped in a room, unable to move for the fear of being zapped! So, some aliens or whatever (I’m not ruining it, there’s no big reveal or anything) play a game to find out who will be the last standing. Each minute a person dies, and it can be at random, chosen by the person themselves, or voted on by the rest of the group, eventually resulting in an assumed person who deserves to be the last one standing. There’s a few things I was looking forward to- the fast-paced action of the movie that would undoubtedly up the stress and tension, and this movie seemed quite different than the others as it had an array of people such as the elderly, children, a pregnant woman, a man missing an arm, all sorts of human-types. Unfortunately, you can’t have a bunch of people standing around arguing for the entire movie and then not have any real ending. The end of the game is smart, yes, but after that, it just is a pile of garbage. Disappointing.

 

photo credit: http://zombieapocalypse.net

Deep Dark (2015)

Score: 3/10

Length: 79

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, monster, murderer, alien, horror comedy, almost horror

This is one of those movies that you get about fifteen minutes through and then pause it to Google what everyone thought of it. And I’m going to tell you right off the bat- you don’t get to see what’s behind the wall. And this could possibly be a good thing if I think back to movies such as Tusk which I hated so much my review was more of a rant. I really got a good picture in my head of what I wanted it/her to look like and I probably would have been disappointed with the director’s version anyway. So this movie is about a weird, slightly gross “mobile artist” who moves into a scuzzy apartment with a hole in the wall. Inside the hole is some sort of female monster or freak or alien or whatever, and he makes friends with the hole that produces slimy, ovary-resembling balls which he adds to his art and who sucks his dick. Yeah, that’s right, you read right. Go ahead and watch it, it’s not like you aren’t going to anyway.

photo credit: www.shocktillyoudrop.com

Goosebumps (2015)

Score: 5/10

Length: 103

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, 3D, recent, almost-horror, horror comedy, zombie, ghost, clown, monster, vampire, werewolf, animal, Stephen Kingy

I went to see this reincarnation of a gem of sorts from my childhood, expecting a cheesy, pun-filled, Jumanji-esque feature. I wasn’t so looking forward to Jack Black, but he did a pretty great job of toning himself down. The only thing I didn’t find amusing was his slight cartoony voice. Though, as Slappy he was dead-on. I recognized the other characters from The Haunting Hour and The Giver, and they all did and okay job. Packed with monsters from Goosebumps books you’ll remember: The Blob That Ate Everyone, killer bees, a vampire dog, The Shocker on Shock Street‘s praying mantis, the ghost from Ghost Beach, the aliens with their freeze-ray guns, the werewolf from Fever Swamp, and a whole bunch more. It even has some folks you might not quite remember, such as the zombies and the horrific clown. Either way, it left out two of my favorites. Monster Blood would have been overkill with the blob already a main character, but I really missed seeing the sponge from It Came Beneath the Sink. Seeing the pointed-toothed dish scrubber would have been a hilarious twist ending. The story- (a few friends and R. L. Stine try to save the town from the monsters in his books that have come to life)- isn’t too overdone nor too inventive. I know it’s a kids movie and you don’t have to try hard when overcoming the plot holes, but there were so many and they were incredibly easy to find story fixes for. An example: the kids open a book and unleash a snowy monster. When they leave the room, we see another book’s lock snap open (although it was untouched). Later, the teens come back to find the book on the floor, where it opens and Slappy emerges. Now, if the book had just been shown knocked down on the floor, that would have made more sense, as at any time, if any of the books could just open and caused havoc… wouldn’t they!? Or the dummy in the bus scenario. There’s no way that they had the time to make a dummy, put it in the bus, and then the dummy drives the bus?! They could have easily asked someone- anyone- to drive the bus. I loved the teeny cameo of R. L. as the drama teacher, and surprisingly, the nostalgic end credits scene was my favorite part of the movie. It was totally unnecessary for this to be in 3D, as it was just what I like to call “3D effects” and not really 3D with shit flying in your face. Overall, it’s nice to see my favorite retro things come back all fresh and new, but I had low expectations and it didn’t exceed them.

photo credit: http://cdn.hitfix.com

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

Top Ten R. L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour Episodes (Seasons 1 & 2)

R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour is a modern-day teen horror show that started in 2010 and plays on YTV (and I’m sure some other channels).  It was extremely hard to pick a top ten for several reasons- I had no emotional childhood attachments to any of these episodes, there are a lot of creative ideas, and none of them are really scary, but they’re all pretty much Goosebumps-style twisty-ended. They all have teenage cheese and they’re all watchable. Here are my top ten most memorable episodes from seasons 1 and 2 of The Haunting Hour!

Let’s start off with my honorable mention:

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Really You, The Return of Lilly D

season 1 episode 1 & 2, season 2 episode 18

So, as you should know by now, doll stuff really doesn’t scare me (dummies are a totally different story), and although I found the doll-scares lame as usual, I know that these are probably the “stand out” episodes for most people watching the show, just like the dummy series in Goosebumps. The episodes do, however, have some fine ingredients: the actors playing the bratty girl as well as the poor, innocent girl are both fantastic, and the doll itself is very well done and lifelike.

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10. Mascot

season 2 episode 8

This episode about a tired, old basketball mascot is silly but creepy and strange at the same time. As an adult, I kind of pictured the person underneath the yellow monster as being a lurky pedophile, dying to stay in high school forever. That is, until its head popped off.

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9.  Afraid of Clowns

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This kid’s paranoia got to me, and I felt pretty bad for him, having to deal with his fear head-on. I mean, if I had to be stalked by a bunch of giant spiders and then chill out in their web, I’d be horrified. The end kind of caught me off-guard, but it made me chuckle a little, which I guess is the intention of clowns anyway.

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8. Creature Feature

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A kid with a love for retro horror flicks gets trapped in a film himself with an ant-like monster. This was a really solid story with the right amounts of campy and tension. There are a few double-episode features in the series, but I didn’t really like any of them as much as this one.

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7. Dream Catcher

season 2 episode 12

Tween girls stay at a camp they’ve been having nightmares about. While some try to stay awake, others encounter an evil, black spider-creep that traps them in his dream web. A Nightmare on Elm Street meets Coraline meets Babadook in this episode centered around gal pals.

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6. The Walls

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A (hilariously over-acting) kid moves into a house where something sinister lurks behind the walls. This slimy creature also likes to be constantly fed syrup. Strangely adult, sickly yet playful, and perfectly intriguing with the usual surprise ending.

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5. Catching Cold

season 1 episode 17

A chubby kid longs for the perfect ice cream which rides in an evil ice cream truck. But the lure of the Kreamy Cold treat is too delicious to resist and the obsession gets more intense with each bite. I love a mix of horror and food, and I’ve never really seen an episode quite like this. Pass the neapolitan.

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4. Perfect Brother 

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Two ridiculously good-looking teen brothers uncover a horrible secret- the perfect brother is perfect for a reason! One will do anything to save the other, and the end is full of fun sci-fi twists. There have been many a kids horror novel about this particular robot-featuring story, but not many TV shows or films aside from Artificial Intelligence.

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3. Flight

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A boy gets on a plane with the reaper and learns a lesson about love and family. Suspicious looks from sinister old ladies make me uneasy and story was going great until the “magical lesson learned” part. My favorite line from the episode was “Do something totally unselfish and way cool”. Obviously written by a dad.

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2. Fear Never Knocks

season 1 episode 11

A brother and sister (Alex from Modern Family) play with their psychiatrist grandpa’s fear machine and unleash their biggest fears. This is the only one I actually found scary, and I had no previous fears of a makeuppy lady with a nylon over her head hiding in the closet. I now have that fear, thanks to this episode.

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1. Pool Shark

season 1 episode 18

Okay, this isn’t scary or amazingly well-acted or anything, and my favoritism for it might have something to do with the fact that I was planning for a trip to Hawai’i when I first watched it. Nevertheless, I was so into the episode, I didn’t really expect the ending for some reason. I liked that this one was about native Hawai’ian history, and similar to the Fear of Clowns episode, family secrets. (Oh, you’re afraid of something?? Well now you are that something.)

*side note: I find it odd that I’ve been watching this on YTV, and they’re really pushing the dating sites and adult diapers during the commercial breaks.

Masters of Horror: Cigarette Burns

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: John Carpenter (Halloween, The Fog, The Thing)

Evil Category: video (cassette tape, still haven’t moved on to DVDs) that you shouldn’t watch, but you can’t help it…

Score: four out of five intestine film strips

I’m surprised I’ve never mentioned this, but I love the title sequence. I love all horror title sequences really, but this one feels like a mix between Charmed and Dexter‘s openings. A movie about a movie (which always seems to be good), where a man searches after the film that made people crazy and violent. Great actors, lots of film nods, and an inventive story, but I kind of wish there was an alternate version that was more realistic, without all the angels and demons. I liked the strange, dreamlike feel, but the idea could have been really scary in a full feature length film focusing on psychology and the effects on the mind. The main problem with this episode is that they chose to base it around a film with a French title- which unfortunately, said by a bunch of Americans over and over sounds increasingly cheesy. Nevertheless, a nice end to the first box of DVDs in the season!

photo: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/Cigarette-Burns.jpg

The Stuff (1985)

Score: 6.5/10

Length: 87

Language: English

Categories: 80s, sci-fi, horror-comedy, murderer, almost horror, good bad

I was saving this little gem for when I was able to get some good, white yogurt that resembled “the stuff”. I picked out some banana caramel (surprisingly not yellowy) Greek yogurt and spoon fed myself this fun little eighties bite of magic. Michael Moriarty is our likable 007 hero, but you also get to see a younger “Earl” from 2 Broke Girls, whose name in the movie is… Chocolate Chip.This film is about an alien goop that is marketed as dessert, but becomes addictive and then kills you from the inside. It features a few lame kill-scenes of awesomeness and charming characters. It’s also probably the inspiration for Goosebumps’ Monster Blood series and Scary Movie. The only thing that makes absolutely no sense to me is why they keep trying to burn the Jet Puffed. Are they trying to make s’mores?

photo credit: http://static1.1.sqspcdn.com/static/f/627490/18057296/1336344574933/the+stuff.jpg