• Gate II (1990)

    gate iiIt’s sequel time! Terry, the ugly not Stephen Dorff kid from the first movie, is back and his life has gone to shit after the events of the first movie. He’s all alone and his dad is an alcoholic. For some reason, he thinks that opening the demon gateway and harnessing its power will somehow get things back on track. Yeah, that makes a whole lot of no sense whatsoever.

    When the movie fails to make any plot progress, we get boring scenes such as Terry helping his dad with a necktie, Terry falling asleep in class, and Terry longingly staring at a ballerina music box.

    Then there is the fun stuff like one of the little demon creatures being kept as a pet in a cage. And it swings on the little bird perch. Truly wonderful. And Terry and some girl can wish for stuff and the demon provides, but the stuff turns to shit after about a 24 hour period. Like, actual dookie. It’s spectacular. Also, be careful wishing for stuff from a little stop-motion demon that swings in a bird cage.

    The sound design is also great as most of the dialogue sounds like ADR, so it often sounds too present in the mix or else like it was not recorded in the same space as the rest of the sounds. The music alternates between straight up 80s poppy fun and the worst horror/suspense synthesized strings score.

    The middle part up until the end really drags. I was willing to give a pass on some of the tedious stuff, but the 90-minute run time felt more like a Peter Jackson Hobbit movie.



  • The Gate (1987)

    the_gateTwo friends dig a hole in the main kid’s backyard. They find a geode and unwittingly set in motion events to open a gateway to some hell dimension. Strange stuff starts happening.

    The 80s are strong with this one, particularly the fashion, music, and special FX. I liked the little demon creatures that looked mostly done in cheesy stop-motion.

    There were some good suspense moments and a tad of gore. A few times, I thought that the action could have been moving a bit quicker. The pace seemed too snail-like.

    When it’s over, the climax was kinda “meh”. There is still a lot to like about this movie. It’s fun seeing Stephen Dorff as a young kid. There are definitely better 80s horror movies, but you can still watch this one for its B-grade antics.



  • Night of the Living Deb (2014)

    nightofthelivingdebAfter a one night stand, Deb and her guy friend awake to find themselves crotch deep in a zombie apocalypse. They go places and bicker and really shouldn’t be alive by the end of the movie. Survivors can only survive when their brains are functioning better than the zombies.

    I kept thinking how Deb reminded me off Kimmy Schmidt from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. That would have been a much better movie if the Kimmy Schmidt writers had done a zombie apocalypse after she get’s away from her cult/kidnappers.

    Unfortunately, this falls into the same bucket as Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse. The jokes are few and far between. The premise and execution don’t add anything to the genre. There is nothing memorable or interesting to watch. About the only good thing is Ray Wise.

    Bottom line: this is a waste of time trying to be fresh, but ending up stale.



  • The Witch (2016)

    the-witch-final-posterThis is one of those period pieces that takes a bit to get going, and then you start wondering: “Is this thing even moving?”

    At the beginning, a family is banished from the town due to a disagreement. Living out in the wild means the family must do more prepping for when winter comes. It also means the baby of the family gets abducted into the woods. Being that this is like Oregon Trail, sometimes members of your party just get lost to the woods. What are you going to do?

    Much of the suspense comes from the slow build up of tension and it relies heavily on the things you don’t see. Then there are the things you do see, which are often pretty disturbing.

    I had high hopes for what could have been something pretty special, but ultimately it never really lived up to the hype. It kind of felt like an M. Night Shyamalan movie without the twist/payoff. The production was good, the acting and the cinematography were superb. I guess it really falls short in the story category where the limitations leave the viewer feeling less engaged.

    Even the goat couldn’t save this one, and I really like goats.



  • Child’s Play (1988)

    childs-play-posterHis name is Chucky and he wants to plaaaaaay.

    A serial killer transfers his soul to a kid’s doll and an unlucky boy gets the evil doll as a birthday present. What’s the worst that could happen?

    As the story progresses, the boy becomes aware of the danger from the Chucky doll, but there is no way any adult would believe his story. They just think he’s a kid with some emotional problems as the body count rises. Maybe the kid is killing people and blaming the doll.

    The reason why the movie works so well, even though it’s got some flaws, is that it is rooted in the fear of creepy toys coming to life and causing mayhem. What better way for a serial killer to disguise himself and continue his killing spree?

    Yeah, it’s a bit unorthodox at times, but Chucky is one of the iconic horror villains along with Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, and Freddy Krueger. This is the first of many sequels and you have to recognize that this movie is a classic no matter what.



  • House II: The Second Story (1987)

    houseiiThis is another one of those “How is this a sequel?” movies. It’s like the American Horror Story series on FX, it doesn’t have much connection from season to season other than it’s about supernatural/scary stuff.

    The plot in a nutshell is about this guy named Jesse and his girlfriend who move into this old mansion that has been owned by Jesse’s family for many generations. Then Jesse’s friend and girlfriend show up to stay with them. The house has a history, particularly of Jesse’s parents getting murdered by a ghost looking for a crystal skull in the flashback prologue scene.

    Once Jesse and his friend uncover a picture of the crystal skull with Jesse’s great great grand pappy, they decide to go dig up his grave to look for the skull. What they find is Jesse’s great great grand pappy who is kind of a zombie/ghost who tells them the crystal skull background story and commissions Jesse and his friend to be the guardians of the skull. Then the skull gets stolen by a hulking brute and taken through some portal on the second floor to an otherworldly jungle.

    It’s even more of a comedy than the other House movie. There really isn’t much horror, except for maybe Bill Maher’s performance.

    I liked how the first movie had George Wendt and this one has John Ratzenberger. What is it about these movies that attracts Cheers actors?

    I can’t say I like this one as much as the first one, but it has its moments. You just have to roll with it and hope for the best.



  • Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015)

    scoutsguidezombieapocalypse_posterBetter tagline: “Boys will be boys.”

    A janitor at a government research facility unwittingly jump-starts a zombie takeover, and it’s up to three slacker boy scouts and a stripper to save the world, or just stay alive.

    The production value was good. The pacing was good at the beginning but fell apart at times. The comedy was also inconsistent. I laughed a few times, but it was nowhere near as funny as Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland.

    Bottom line is that this type of movie has been done numerous times before. If you’re going to do it, go big or go home. Bring in a new twist or give it an edge that will push the envelope beyond what’s already out there. I thought having the main characters be boy scouts would be a nice twist, but it only delivered on that front part of the time.

    It had a couple of good moments, but nothing to make it stand out as a horror comedy for the new generation. Damn millenials.



  • Zombie (1979)

    I’m surprisedZombie I didn’t review this yet. It’s one of my favorite Italian horror movies. Directed by Lucio Fulci, it was called Zombi 2 in Italy, because they were trying to cash in on the success of Dawn of the Dead (known as Zombi over there).

    The plot is typical with characters being terrorized by zombies. Some of it takes place on an island and some is in New York. There is nothing particularly earth-shattering about the story, but it’s interesting enough to keep things going.

    What really shines is the mood. It’s just got an eerie vibe and there are plenty of memorable scenes: the abandoned boat in New York harbor, the splinter in the eye, the shark fighting the zombie underwater.

    The blood and gore are top-notch. It’s got that orange-red look that is common for late-70s European horror. Most of the gore is just excessive, but some of it is cringe-worthy. You’ll never be the same after you see the wood splinters slowly penetrate the eyeball.

    If all of that is not enough, it also delivers on the boob front. Scuba boobs underwater. It doesn’t get much better.



  • Society (1989)

    Bill is asociety-poster high school teenager in Beverly Hills. His family is rich, but he feels like an outsider. And he’s a little bit cuckoo. But he’s got a Jeep and a hot girlfriend that only cares about going to the biggest party of the year. And he has daymares. But his family is kind of incestuous and he walks in on his sister in the shower. Eww.

    You are supposed to wonder if he is or isn’t a total nutball. I wish I could say that the mystery was enough to keep the mess together for the what-seemed-like-an-eternity running time. I will say that it’s refreshingly different, but not quite fresh enough. Most of the acting is horrendous and there are some really terrible lines of dialogue. “Don’t do that.”

    The big reveal at the end is where the meat and potatoes show up, but it’s too little, too late. I think the premise could have made a great Tales from the Crypt or Twilight Zone episode, but as a feature length movie, it goes on for too long.

    At no point do I really feel like the main protagonist, Bill, is in any danger. It could have been much more frightening if the characters had depth and there was some sort of actual menace to contend with.

    I think there was supposed to be a thinly veiled social commentary on income equality or something to that effect. Wait, it was released in 1989. No one gave a shit about that stuff back then.



  • Nightmares (1983)

    nightmares1983Horror anthologies were popular in the 80s. I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe people liked smaller stories that packed a concise punch. Movies like Creepshow, Tales from the Darkside: The Movie, and Twilight Zone: The Movie were just a few that managed to pull it off (more or less).

    Nightmares is not a very good anthology. The four stories are supposed to be based on urban legends or something (this was back before the internet).

    Story 1: someone is hiding in your back seat when you go to get gas and a pack of cigarettes. The urban legend itself is pretty boring and the way it was executed here had no real terror. That’ll teach you for buying cigarettes. Har har, ya limey bizz-natch.

    Story 2: Emilio Estevez is a punk video game nerd (wat?), who wants to be the best. He manages a high level achievement and the game comes to life in full Tron special effects. This one was probably the best of the lot, but only for the cheese and bad graphics.

    Story 3: Lance Henriksen is a priest who is finding his beliefs swaying to the dark side when an ominous pickup truck starts to give him heck. This is an urban legend?

    Story 4: This big ass rat terrorizes a small ass family. There were a couple tense moments thanks to keeping the rat nicely hidden. The climax was super cheap, though. Everyone is like “oh, it’s a cute rat” instead of pew pewing the mother-effer.

    These stories felt more like some of the less enjoyable episodes of Tales from the Crypt. It’s mostly a forgettable waste of time. I only watch these things because I’m an 80s purest and a horror completest. If I were just wanting to watch a fun anthology movie, this would not be on the list.