It’s Groundhog Day! Actually, it’s college student Tree’s (Jessica Rothe) birthday. She wakes up in a dorm room of a random guy and proceeds to have a mostly awful day, ending with her being murdered. Then the day repeats and she must figure out who murdered her and stop it from happening.
There is just something about time loop movies that is so enjoyable. This movie is no exception. Where Groundhog Day was all about the comedy, this movie is about the mystery and thrills. The first and second act work well at building the suspense, but the third act seemed to fall apart.
I really liked Tree’s character development. She starts off as this naive sorority girl, but turns into a bit of a badass by the end. You either shit or get off the pot, and well, she decides to shit. Metaphorically, of course.
Available to stream on: HBO (subscription required)
What’s in a name? This movie explores the summoning power of words when three college kids, Elliot, Sasha, and John move into a spooky off-campus house and unknowingly unleash a supernatural serial killer called the Bye Bye Man.
It’s kind of like Candyman for a new era. What makes it interesting is the subtle scares and the psychological downward spiral of the characters. Is there really a Bye Bye Man or is it just the characters going nuts?
There were some moments of awful acting (mostly screaming parts) and the story missed the mark a couple of times. There were some really tense moments and times when I expected jump scares, but was pleasantly surprised when the choice was made to not go with the easy terror. Instead there was a lot of building suspense and keeping the story mysterious. The ending is both perfectly fitting and bittersweet.
Available to stream on: Netflix (subscription required)
What the 1922 Nosferatu couldn’t achieve due to the time period, this version does in spades. The 1979 German production directed by Werner Herzog takes the familiar story of Jonathan Harker (Bruno Ganz) and his quest to sell property to Count Dracula (Klaus Kinski) in Transylvania.
This is the art house version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and it is masterfully done. Normally, I prefer my movies to be pedal-to-the-metal action, or at least that way when they are shitty horror movies. This movie is slower, but the pacing is good. It is slow when it needs to be to sell the atmosphere and let the story breathe.
The ending is a nice climactic event with an even better twist. It leaves you with a cold, dark feeling of despair, just the way I like it.
While this pretends to be a sequel and does employ the use of the trioxin gas that created zombies in the first two movies, there isn’t much about this movie that makes it a worthy successor to the masterpiece Return of the Living Dead or the passable Return of the Living Dead Part II.
The plot is fairly basic: an army brat named Curt is in love with his girlfriend Julie. Curt’s dad works at a top secret army research facility that does experiments on re-animating corpses for weaponizing purposes. After Curt crashes his motorcycle trying to run away with Julie. Julie is killed. Curt brings Julie to the research facility with his dad’s access card he stole at the beginning of the movie. Using the trioxin gas to re-animate Julie works, but also sets in motion the zombie apocalypse. Thanks, Curt!
The biggest departure from the other two movies is the tonal shift. Instead of the comedic, tongue-in-cheek tone of the first two movies, which poked fun of the material and never tried to get too serious, this movie decides to abandon all the comedy and it suffers.
Julie’s slow transformation to the ultimate zombie badass was kind of interesting in a uniqueness sense, and rolling in her weird self harm fetish gave it some extra depth. However, the rules for zombie creation and transitioning were kind of murky, but only because I had time to think about it instead of laughing at some zombie gags.
The production value and acting were both B-grade awesome (suckfest), but the make-up and special FX were good enough for this type of movie.
Available to stream on: Amazon Prime (subscription required)
And now for something completely different. This is the classic unauthorized retelling of Bram Stoker’s Dracula in silent film form.
I can imagine this movie being quite amazing when it originally came out. This was all the people had and it probably freaked them out.
The choppy, grainy, dirty, black and white visuals make it really hard to see what is going on half the time. It was also strange reading the sparse dialogue as title cards between scenes. Then there is the score, which started out as mesmerizing ominous organ/orchestral music and eventually started to sound like nails on a chalkboard, but got better again toward the end.
There is no doubt that, for the time period, this a unique and interesting flick. With all of its flaws, the director’s vision and cinematography were decades beyond the technology they had available to them. When your story must be told in visuals alone, you must pay attention to every detail and it is clear that care was taken to make Nosferatu a true symphony of horror.
A lot of upsets this week. Jets upset the Cowboys. Steelers upset the Chargers. The refs upset the Lions…
The Saints hold onto the #1 spot while the Patriots continue their tour of the worst teams in the league. The Dolphins are working towards being the only team in history to have an undefeated and winless season.
About the only good thing about this pile of turd was that it was one of Demi Moore’s first films.
It’s the future and things aren’t so good. This doctor guy infects himself with a parasite to keep it out of the hands of an evil group that wants to use the parasite to do bad things. The hunt is on as the bad guy, Wolf, hunts down the doctor in his Lamborghini.
The B-grade quality really shines, as the plot, editing, FX, and everything feels like wading through a murky swamp. To top it all off, it was a 3D production, so there are plenty of close up shots on stuff so that it would look like it was popping out of the screen when people wore their blue and red sunglasses. Did I mention it has Demi Moore?
“Do you still like scary movies, Sydney?” It had been 11 years since Scream 3, when they decided to jump start the series with this fourth installment featuring the main cast as well as Kevin Williamson writing the script and Wes Craven in the director’s chair.
On the anniversary of the original Woodsboro murders, a copycat Ghostface killer starts offing teens with a phone call and a bit of slashing. Sydney (Neve Campbell) is back in town to promote her new book, but becomes a prime suspect when a bunch of evidence turns up in her rental car. Sheriff Dewey (David Arquette) and Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) return to try to solve the mystery killings.
I was a big fan of Scream and Scream 2. When this one came out, I was hoping it would take a new direction or reinvent the slasher genre as the first one did so well. Unfortunately, it’s just a whole lot of the same old stuff: jump scares, plot twists, movie within movie humor, attempted witty dialogue, etc.
If you want more Scream, it is here and ready. If you want something more interesting, keep searching.
When a tsunami traps a bunch of wankers in a grocery store, things take a horrific turn when a blood-thirsty shark comes to do a little shopping at the human meat market.
After Piranha 3D was a hit in 2010, there was a rush to make aquatic horror movies in an attempt to cash in on the popular sub-genre. Except that Piranha 3D was actually fun and inventive.
Bait 3D suffers from uneven pacing, idiotic characters, and some awful CGI. For a 90-minute movie, it takes a little too long to get to the meat and potatoes. When it does get going, there are several brake pumps that kill the momentum. It’s like someone trying to drive stick for the first time and stalling out with a lurch.
The lead character, Josh, is the unlikely hero. He was a lifeguard and is now a stock boy at the grocery store. Nothing about him screams badass, and yet, he starts doing all kinds of badass things.
The CGI sharks are only slightly better than Deep Blue Sea from the late 90s, which tells me that almost no money was put into the digital FX. And then there were the obviously done for 3D moments so that it would seem like 3D was worth the extra ticket fee.
If you are thinking about watching this, don’t. Watch Piranha 3D instead.
Available to stream on: Amazon Prime (subscription required)
This is one of those horror movies that tries really hard to be witty and smart, by paying homage to and poking fun at some of the common horror themes. In the end, though, it doesn’t really succeed at much of anything.
The main character is Maggie, a film student whose dreams about a fiery accident give clues about a past that may be back to haunt her. Things really heat up as Maggie’s film class decides to whip up an all night movie marathon at a local rundown theater. Little do they know, a sinister creeper is also planning some deadly festivities for the same night.
The movie is pretty snooze-worthy as it never manages to excite, scare, or deliver any comedy. About the only thing good about it was the makeup FX.