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  • Green Room (2016)

    Who is the most frightening horror movie villain? Freddy Krueger? Nah. Jason Voorhees? No way. Michael Myers? Shaa–as if! It’s actually a group of well-organized neo-Nazis.

    This has got to be one of the most brutal and intense movies I’ve seen in recent years. I heard it was extreme, but I was not prepared.

    A punk rock band is on the road living out of their van. After a sour gig and almost no cash, they agree to play a small club in a remote location outside Portland, OR. As the band is leaving, one of the band members (Anton Yelchin) witnesses the aftermath of a savage stabbing, which creates a problem for the club’s owner (Patrick Stewart). Things go from bad to worse to the 10th level of hell very quickly as the club owner mobilizes a small army of neo-Nazis to make the problem disappear.

    While I would have liked a bit more character development, the realism and dark tone of desperation sold the story. The cast was exactly what was needed, and Anton Yelchin shines, as usual, despite a more subdued role.

    This is definitely one of those movies where you see it once and you don’t ever need to see it again.

    Rating:

    Available to stream on Amazon Prime


  • The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2017)

    I had higher hopes for this one than I probably should have. The weird thing is that I usually enjoy slow building, atmospheric movies a lot.

    The plot was both mysterious and intricate. The main story follows two girls at a Catholic boarding school before a holiday break. One girl struggling with the possibility of being pregnant and delays her parents’ pickup by telling them the wrong date. The other girl’s parents never show up on pickup day.

    There is then a subplot about a down-on-her-luck girl at a bus station who is helped by a husband and wife. This plot and the other plot align nicely by the end as the details of their identities emerge.

    I did like the eerie tone and the constant nagging suspicions involving some of the characters and their sinister tendencies. The performances were great and the sparse horror elements made them more punctuated when they were revealed.

    It’s not a bad film, it just feels like it is missing something.

    Rating:

    Available to stream on Amazon Prime


  • Cube (1997)

    It was the late 90s and I had heard about this little indie science fiction horror movie about some people stuck inside a maze. When I watched it, I was amazed at the execution of such a simple concept and how it was both satisfying and unsettling.

    The basic premise is 5 people trapped inside some sort of massive Rubik’s Cube from hell. They can move from room to room, but some rooms have horrific traps. Certain characters have training or traits that help to move them through the cube rooms without getting shredded, disintegrated, or dissolved in one of the trap rooms.

    What’s fascinating is the psychological pressure of going on the journey of being locked in the foreign place with a bunch of strangers and imminent death around every corner. So many questions come up, like:

    • Why these people?
    • Who made the Cube?
    • Where is it located?
    • Are aliens involved?

    Even with many of the bigger questions going unanswered, the enjoyment comes from the discovery process and the characters using their skills to solve puzzles enough to think they are making progress.

    I also liked the character interactions and even though there wasn’t a lot of gore, it was pretty intense. My only real complaint is that the acting talent is somewhat lacking. It’s not what I consider to be bad acting. It is not that the actors never took any lessons and had no natural talent. It’s more of a lack of expressing compelling emotion.

    Overall, this is a fun flick that is mysterious and keeps the intensity throughout.

    Rating:

    Currently available to stream on Netflix


  • Stepfather 2: Make Room For Daddy (1989)

    Terry O’Quinn (Lost’s John Locke) is back as Jerry Blake the serial killer, having somehow survived the massive knife wound to the chest in the first movie. This movie starts with him in a maximum security asylum, which he breaks out of after murdering his psychiatrist and a guard.

    With a manhunt under way, Jerry travels from Washington state to Los Angeles where he starts up old shenanigans and assumes a new identity, Gene Clifford. He finds a suburban house to lease and immediately targets and begins to woo the realtor who lives nearby, Carol (Meg Foster).

    Things get complicated when Carol’s ex-husband returns and the mail carrier begins to suspect something is amiss with Gene’s identity.

    Much like the first one, Terry O’Quinn’s performance is the best part of the whole thing. The story and characters are pretty bland. There isn’t much horror or suspense, because the things that create tension just aren’t there. It ends right after the climax, which feels abrupt, but honestly, I’m glad it didn’t linger any longer.

    Rating:

    Available to stream on Amazon Prime


  • Slumber Party Massacre II (1987)

    I will admit I had really low expectations going into this one. I may have seen the first Slumber Party Massacre and it may have been terrible.

    The crazy thing is that this sequel was actually pretty entertaining, even though it is total schlock.

    The story follows Courtney (Crystal Bernard), who was a survivor of the first massacre and is plagued with nightmares involving death and a guy with a guitar drill thing. She and three of her friends have a rock band and decide to go to the one friend’s condo to practice for the weekend.

    Everything is going great as the girls party and have pillow fights. Their boy toys show up to keep things “friendly”. Courtney continues to have nightmares and starts to think she is going insane.

    Out of nowhere, the leather-clad greaser dude with the drill guitar shows up and starts murdering everyone. Things get really tense and a tad bit campy, too. It’s all good fun.

    By the time everything wraps up, you’re left with a sense of satisfaction, and that’s really all you need.

    Rating:

    Currently available to stream on Amazon Prime


  • Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh (1995)

    A schoolteacher in New Orleans, Annie (Kelly Rowan), is haunted by the urban legend of Candyman in this sequel to the 1992 horror hit. Tony Todd reprises his role as the hook-handed Candyman, who murdered Annie’s father at some point in the past. Her brother goes after an author who wrote a book about the Candyman murders, and ends up being framed for the author’s murder.

    There is a bit of back story surrounding the Candyman character, and ultimately, it hurt the mystery and menace of what was otherwise a pretty frightening character. The sad part was that it was kind of the best part of the movie. The plot and characters were so mundane and tedious, I was constantly fighting to stay awake.

    Really, your best bet is to say “Candyman” five times in front of a mirror and hope he comes to stab you with his hook hand before you make the mistake of trying to watch this dogshit movie.

    Rating:

    Currently available to stream on Amazon Prime


  • Hatchet (2007)

    They call this the start of a new classic horror series, but I’m not buying it. Sure, this movie spawned three sequels, but it’s not exactly ground breaking.

    In New Orleans for Mardi Gras, a group of friends decide to take a haunted bus/swamp tour when things take a deadly turn. On the boat tour, they are told about a local legend involving a deformed child, known as Victor Crowley, who used to live in a house in the swamp. The boat sinks, stranding the tourists in the middle of the swamp. What could go wrong?

    Victor Crowley emerges to stalk and kill everyone on the tour in true slasher fashion, because he’s a territorial and vengeful bastard.

    This movie is one gigantic homage to the iconic horror movie serieses of the 80s including: Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. You’ve got a badass supernatural villain character stalking and murdering 20-something idiots in the woods/swamp. They even cast Kane Hodder (played Jason Voorhees a few times) as Victor Crowley.

    The deaths were some of the most gruesome I’ve seen. Dismemberment, belt-sanding, hatchet hacking, and impalement. Lots of blood and body parts.

    It ends very abruptly and you’re left feeling like: “meh.”

    Rating:

    Currently available to stream for free with ads on Vudu


  • The Stepfather (1987)

    Terry O’Quinn, most known for playing John Locke in TV’s Lost, plays a sadistic serial killer who invades unsuspecting families before murdering them when he’s had enough. His new step-daughter Susan has a bad feeling about him and when things get too tense, he begins to setup his next target.

    There are some grisly killings and much of the suspense comes from knowing who the killer is while everyone around him is oblivious. It does the psychological thrilling.

    O’Quinn nails the role without a doubt. His presence and intensity really push the character to the next level. By the time the climax rolls around, I was pretty into it. I jumped a couple of times.

    This is not some horror masterpiece, but O’Quinn’s performance makes it worth watching once.

    Rating:

    Currently available to stream on Amazon Prime.


  • House IV (1992)

    Roger Cobb (William Katt) is back from the first House movie, only to be killed off in the first 15 minutes in an awful car accident. His wife, Kelly (Terri Treas), and daughter move into the old family house, which is run down and looks haunted. You know, a typical fixer-upper.

    Of course, spooky stuff is going to start happening: monsters, blood from the shower head, and hallucinations. The widow Cobb must decide if all of this is worth staying in the house.

    Then a pizza delivery guy shows up and sings a song about being the pizza guy. This might be the most horrifying thing in the movie.

    The plot takes some weird turns when Kelly Cobb visits a local Native American for answers, then some mobster thugs show up to force her into selling the house and land, led by Roger’s brother.

    Seriously, what the crap? Honestly, I would not care if it was at least entertaining, but it just drags and drags until finally the credits roll and the forgetting begins. The first and second House movies were fun and campy, while this one is just a colossal waste of time.

    Rating:

    Currently available to stream here on YouTube.


  • Brainscan (1994)

    The first time I saw this movie I thought it was fairly unique. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really hold up. Edward Furlong (Terminator 2’s John Conner) plays a reclusive high school kid who likes horror and video games. He decides to try a new game called Brainscan, dubbed the ultimate terror experience. As the game progresses, he starts to question what is real and what is the game, while also wondering if he’s turning into a serial killer.

    It’s got a few good moments, and I remember relating to the angst of the teenage characters. The suspense putters out midway through. The plot is dictated by the gimmicky twist that is fairly obvious and probably not even meant to be a twist.

    Frank Langella is the only real acting talent available. The rest are dogshit performances with Eddie Furlong’s range being sullen asswipe to Screamy McSpazzington.

    Finally, I have to mention two scenes that irritated me. Both involved Eddie hiding in some sparse brush with someone standing a foot away and not noticing him at all. The first time: whatever, the guy was just walking in the woods with his dog. The second time was a cop with a flashlight searching for anyone or anything suspicious. I’d say the cop’s ineptitude matches the movie rather well.

    Rating:

    Not currently available to stream.