The Bye Bye Man (2017)

Score: 3.5/10

Length: 97

Rating: PG-13

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, monster, ghost, devil, murderer

A nauseating couple and the guy’s childhood best friend move into a house in need of some renovations. They find some old stuff, say the bad bye bye words, and then the ghost-demon or whatever infects their brains, turning people into delusional killers. There’s a lot of stupid garbage in the movie. Like, the obvious one, the name of movie’s antagonist, and the title of the movie. Or perhaps, the dreadful script. The so-called (for reasons unknown) Bye Bye Man, who we see way too much of, reminds me of this guy from Beastly (which I obviously haven’t watched, but I remember the awful movie poster).  However, I did like the whole Vanilla Sky, “what’s real, what’s not??” situation. There were a few mini mind-fucks that caught me off-guard but there were a few dumb ones as well. This is not a film I’d recommend, but I didn’t feel like it was a waste of time or anything and the ending was kind of cute. If only that wit had been in the rest of the film.

The Disappointments Room (2016)

Score: 4.5/10

Length: 86

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, recent, haunted house, ghost, murderer

Kate Beckinsale is a blonde wife and mother who moves into a new home in the country with her family. She starts seeing spooky things in the house, and her husband assumes it’s her mental illness, asking the cliche, “Did you take your pills?”, so it’s pretty original. He continually asks, “Do you believe me?” which doesn’t add to his likability. I don’t know if it was just me, but I got an off feeling about the family right away. The acting was strange and I immediately didn’t like any of them. I could barely understand the husband’s fat-tongue mumbling, and I really could have done with some subtitles. The idea of a room to hide your hideous freak-children is intriguing. Building off of other films and focusing the movie solely around the room is mildly interesting. I did like the dripping chandelier scene; it felt very dreamy. Pretty much any scene where the magazine mom wanders around the house/property- taking photos, slicing knives into a wooden block. There’s a cat that must have been drugged or it’s a thousand years old to let a child squish-hug it and then give it a soapy sink bath. There are some ghost people who are kind of creepy, but don’t really do enough to actually be scary and their makeup is underwhelming. I’m not sure how this film took up more than an hour because it didn’t really feel like anything exciting happened, while somehow, the movie felt short while falling short. This leaves me conflicted on the score, but if I was grading it, it’d definitely be in the ‘C’ category.

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.

Top Ten Canadian Horror Films

Happy Canada 150, my fellow proud Canadians and adoring non-Canadians! Here are my favorite scary Canuck movies to watch after the fireworks, or hungover the next morning, accompanied by Canada’s top snacks.

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10. The Brood  (1979)

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One of four Cronenburg and sons films on the list, it’s about a woman driven by her psychologist to do some pretty strange things, among them, lead a brood of lumpy lawn gnome look-alikes. The skin sack is a hard image to forget, so you may want to have a couple 2-4s and mickeys on hand.

Canadian Snack: Watch a woman lick her bloody baby while you nosh on some flavour-packed Lays ketchup chips and guzzle down a spicy Caesar with a green bean.

Review here

Trailer here

 

 

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9. Terror Train (1980)

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A satisfying New Year’s Eve slasher movie about med students at a costume party held on a train who are killed off by a masked murderer. What a kerfuffle with everyone stuck on that train. Better grab your toques and runners and get a move on.

Canadian Snack: In order to stay up past midnight you’re going to need some caffeine. But since we’re on a moving train, better reach for a Coffee Crisp instead.

Review here

Trailer here

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8. The Fly (1986)

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Jeff Goldblum and Gina Davis are surrounded by a hefty helping of that goopy, slimy, eighties blood and gore. It’s pretty much every superhero story, without the superhero part, leaving just- man turns into fly, and it doesn’t go too well.

Canadian Snack: If there’s one thing that flies like, it’s sugar. So give them what they want in a sweet, buttery treat: the butter tart.

This movie doesn’t yet have a full review.

Trailer here

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7. Black Christmas (1974)

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This is a film about a woman calling for her cat, Claude… I mean… it’s about sorority girls trapped in a house with a mystery killer. And also Christmas! So it’s snowing and no one is really around to help. Better than the 2006 version by a million kilometres, but not necessarily thrilling.

Canadian Snack: Our country doesn’t really have much to do with Christmas dinner, so instead, grab a Tims double double with a maple-glazed donut for breakfast.

Review here

Trailer here

 

 

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6. Dead Ringers (1988)

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Who wouldn’t want to watch a movie about twin gynecologists addicted to drugs, both played by Jeremy Irons? I generally dislike it when a movie is two or more hours long, but I didn’t mind it in this case. Felt like I was just watching a few episodes in a row of Twin Peaks. It’s labeled as a drama / horror / thriller, but it doesn’t have the typical tension of a horror or thriller; I found it heavy on the drama end.

Canadian Snack: Nothing goes better together than a Montreal-style bagel and Montreal smoked meat.

This movie doesn’t yet have a full review.

Trailer here

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5. Antiviral (2012)

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A film about a business that offers diseases (carried by celebrities) to the public, in order to allow the fans to feel closer to the famous person they’re obsessed with. So strange, and so creative with such a fantastically interesting lead character played by Caleb Landry Jones (Get Out). Lots of drug hazes, needles galore, and so many blood-soaked white things that even Tide couldn’t clean.

Canadian Snack: Some good ole fashioned brand-name KD with a dollop of ketchup. The Canadian way.

This movie doesn’t yet have a full review.

Trailer here

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4. Cube (1997)

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Out of the three Cube movies, the first has the best ending- with a twist. A group of people are trapped in a room-filled structure, where each room has a different violent booby-trap waiting for them.

Canadian Snack: We’re too hip to be square, but a homemade nanaimo bar is to die for, and angular enough to accompany this franchise.

Review here

Trailer here

3. American Mary (2012)

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A revenge flick about a med student turned underground body modifier is American only by title.

Canadian Snack: To go with the American theme, believe it or not, the popular sushi order, California roll, was invented by a Japanese sushi chef who moved to Vancouver in the seventies.

Review here

Trailer here

2. Ginger Snaps (2000) 

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Good things come in threes, but the original of the well-known Canadian trilogy is the best. Nothing beats some simplistic teen werewolf angst, eh?

Canadian Snack: Unfortunately, ginger snaps aren’t really Canadian, so instead how bout some Chinese food? Surprisingly, ginger beef was invented right here in Calgary, AB. I think a werewolf would prefer meat over cookies anyway.

Review here

Trailer here

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1. Silent Hill (2006)

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This dreamlike fantasy horror about a mother searching for her daughter in an eerie, ash-covered town gets the top spot. This fantastic goth film is an adaptation of a survival video game and couldn’t have been done better. Around every turn is a mysterious creature, its details creatively imagined. I’d pay a lot of loonies and twoonies to see this at the theatre in 3D.

Canadian Snack: The number one spot deserves nothing but the number one Canadian food. So versatile and comforting, you can’t do better than a proper poutine.

This movie doesn’t yet have a full review.

Trailer here

 

BONUS! The legendary tv show, Are You Afraid of the Dark, is of course, also Canadian.

Looking for more? Try Pontypool, Hobo With a Shotgun, Pin, The Changeling, Videodrome, The Shrine, Prom Night. 

Inferno (1980)

Score: 5/10

Length: 207

Rating: R

Language: Italian, English

Categories: 80s, supernatural, witch, murderer, gore, haunted house

I haven’t been to Italy yet, but it must be really windy, because this movie’s wind game is STRONG. Seriously, I felt like gasping due to so much air. Lots of horrible screechy noises as per usual Dario, and some cruel cat abuse, with a side of a man getting eaten by rats.  My biggest issue with Dario films tends to be that the scenes are a little too far drawn out, and this one has multiple instances. The acting also isn’t great, but the film is artsy, and a good transition from Suspiria to Mother of Tears. I really liked the underwater scenes in the beginning of the film, they’re quite memorable. The house has the same wall colours and unsettling interior decor as Suspiria that I love.  And I mean, this is a gory movie about witches, so I can’t dislike it too much. It’s simply about a girl who finds a book about the mothers and believes her house is inhabited by a witch. The more you know, the more you die. These films seem to decay more with each addition, with Suspiria as the best and Mother of Tears the worst. This middle movie is definitely 50/50 on the good and the bad, but worth a watch, especially if you’re into Dario.

The Bunnyman Massacre (2014)

Score: 2/10

Length: 90 mins

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: recent, murderer, animal, gore porn, slasher, woods, Painful Movie Mondays

This shit starts off hard, with someone in a white bunny costume chainsaw-slicing a school bus full of kids. I figured it was going to be a little more cornier and to be frank, I expected the quality to be worse. There’s some sex- check. Some blood- also, check. And of course, they have’t forgotten the big, fake boobs on a gal who lasts about thirty seconds. In a lesser-used perspective, the movie is focussed more around the killer and his story then the victims. Although you don’t really get the chance to root for any of the victims, you don’t exactly tend to side with the killer either, since we don’t get to see what he looks like until…  I mean, it’s not as wonderful as I’m making it out to be. People are quickly and randomly slaughtered throughout the movie, and it gets old fast. It’s like a an episode of Game of Thrones, except everyone dies in the only episode. Nothing special and not very memorable, but something to watch around Easter. Maybe while eating rabbit, if you’re into that sort of thing. I didn’t actually realize that this was a sequel until later, but I’m not rushing to see the original Bunnyman. Perhaps next year.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)

Score: 4/10

Length: 92

Rating: R

Language: English

Categories: 2000s, horror comedy, mockumentary, murderer

I scored about a 6 on the scale of ‘hopes up, super excited’ to see this Dexter-esque mockumentary about the “how” of a serial killer. But it is shockingly bland. As you may know, What We Do in the Shadows quickly became one of my favorite movies, and is also a mockumentary about the how, what, and tmi, with vampire roommates. It’s creative, hilarious, and engaging. You really care about all of the characters. I could give two fucks about Leslie and the reporter. I mildly appreciated some of the humor behind making horrible murder-tasks into day-to-day chores. But it just was not imaginative or action-packed enough for me. You bet I fell asleep and had to watch the ending in the early morning. Lots of horror buffs enjoyed this film, and you bet I appreciated what it was going for. But no matter how hard I try, I still don’t think it was that good.

Masters of Horror: Family

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 Landis (An American Werewolf in London, Twilight Zone: The Movie)

Evil Category: skull-smitten psychopath

Score: two out of five bare-boned scrub-downs

This is rated as one of the highest in season 2, and I get why (I guess) but I still didn’t really like it. It’s about a man (yes, another episode about a middle-aged white guy) who has created his own disfunctional family. Unfortunately, they are just skin and bones! A couple moves into the neighbourhood in search of a new life after their daughter passes away, and they quickly make friends with their lonely neighbour. Not everything is as it seems, and there are some great twists in this episode, something I haven’t seen a lot of so far of in Masters of Horror which is surprising for a series. Although the ending is really refreshing, the whole episode really dragged for me in the middle. There was too much fluff where there could have been tension, and I don’t know why, but the lazy job of the skeleton’s wiring really bothered me. The acting is good, the idea is fine, blah blah blah, the surprise ending was too little too late. I am really hoping to see some shocking, scary stuff in the upcoming episodes, as this would have fit in better as an story for Desperate Housewives. (Okay, I’m being a bit harsh, but my bad episode tolerance is a little on the low side right now).

 

photo: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/