• Zombeavers (2014)

    The new era of horror comedy is under way. With the success of movies like Piranha 3D and Sharknado,the floodgates opened to allow for a wide range of crazy ideas, many involving some sort of animal.

    The movie starts with a canister of bio hazard waste falling off of a truck, which makes its way downstream to a beaver dam and breaks open. The story shifts to three sorority sisters on their way to a secluded cabin to get some rest and relaxation away from their boyfriends and college stress. So far, none of this is exactly new territory. The boyfriends show up and the fun starts as the zombeavers attack.

    The writers understood what they were making and they did it well. It’s less about building suspense and more about playing with the established trends in the genre. At one point, one of the girls tries to call the police and the line is dead. Cut to the phone box and it’s clear the zombeavers chewed through the phone line.

    As things progress further out of control, there are some interesting developments that keep the momentum going. By the time it’s over, I’m left hoping they will make a sequel.

    Rating:


  • Saw III (2006)

    Part 3 is where things go a little bit nutso. The movie picks up roughly where the last one left off, but quickly side-steps into new territory. Jigsaw/John Kramer is bed-ridden with the full effects of his cancer taking over. His lady accomplice kidnaps a surgeon to perform a cranial surgery to relieve pressure from his brain. Meanwhile, a grieving father is playing the Jigsaw game specifically designed to prey on the emotions surrounding the death of his son.

    The difficulty with this movie is that it’s all over the place. The mystery of the previous two is gone. Everything is out in the open and the pacing is very uneven. There are some twists, but you’d have to care to really feel their impact.

    The best word to describe this movie would be “torturous” because not only is it a chore to get through, it goes way too far to the extreme of movie killings. They dub these types of movies “torture porn” for a reason. The gore is off the charts, but totally done for the sake of topping what has already come before. There is almost no suspense. It’s just: “here’s something new and sick to witness.” I liked these movies better when it was like watching an escape room play out and the audience joined the characters trying to decipher the mystery of what was going on.

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  • The Legend of Hell House (1973)

    Based on the novel Hell House by Richard Matheson, this haunted house flick finds a physicist named Dr. Barrett and a few other people commissioned to investigate a house with a history of paranormal activity.

    Dr. Barrett brings a huge machine that is supposed to rid the house of bad energy and his wife. There are also a couple of psychics to help with the spirit hunting. Will they be able to leave the house with the lives and their sanity?

    It definitely feels like 1973. Every electronic device is huge and boxy. It was a time when suspense and danger had to be conveyed in subtle ways. I’m sure it was all very effective back then, but aside from an eerie tone, there isn’t much in the way of fear-inducing imagery. Some of the possession scenes with pitch-lowered voices were kind of cool, though.

    I wouldn’t call this a classic, but it’s OK for the time period.

    Rating:


  • Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever (2009)

    Following the events of the first movie, the flesh-eating infection that took out most of the cast at the cabin is back to take out some of the new cast. Rider Strong’s character starts things off with a bang and the tainted nearby water supply is picked up for bottling at a local plant.

    The new characters are a couple of high school kids who have to deal with the infectious disease during their prom. Then you got Deputy Winston from the first movie and his cousin for some comic relief. No one is safe as the CDC converges on the area to stop the spread of the disease.

    There is a lot of blood and gore, but none of it is tied together in any meaningful way. I don’t really care about the characters and the story is basically just some scenes strung together. There are some funny parts and it’s nice that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it also doesn’t give any good reasons to enjoy what I’m watching.

    Rating:


  • Saw II (2005)

    The Jigsaw killer is back and only Detective Donnie Wahlberg can stop him. The movie opens with a guy falling victim to a Jigsaw game. The detective is called in to identify the body and becomes much more involved in the investigation. They catch Jigsaw, but it’s never that easy and a new game begins with the detective’s son and a group of people locked inside a death trap house. Can the detective figure out where they are and rescue his son before the time runs out?

    There are plenty of twists and gory death scenes. It manages to keep things fresh without sacrificing too many believable elements.

    Unfortunately, it didn’t have the same suspense or impact as the first movie. Some of the performances were a bit ham-fisted and the characters weren’t as dynamic, making it hard to invest in their struggles.

    I really liked how the killer became front and center after being captured, which is the opposite of the first movie keeping him shrouded in obscurity. Usually, I don’t like it when then monster/killer is revealed or too exposed, but this kind of works as a reversal of movie traditions.

    Rating:


  • XX (2017)

    Horror anthology movies are still alive and well. While this is nowhere near as good as Creepshow or Tales from the Darkside: The Movie, it does have its moments.

    Of the four, I liked the third one the best. It was called “Don’t Fall” and involved a group of campers who find some cave paintings that serve as a warning. One of the friends becomes possessed by a deadly spirit in the night and goes after the other friends.

    The second story “The Birthday Party” was more funny than scary, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

    The other two stories were just average, and frankly, pretty unmemorable. In “The Box.” some guy on a train shows a kid what’s in his present box, which inexplicably causes the boy to stop eating. Anorexia is pretty terrifying, but I just didn’t get what this one was trying to do. Then, “Her Only Living Son” was about the child of Satan or something.

    Rating:


  • Saw (2004)

    This is the movie that revitalized the horror genre in the early 2000s and launched a new franchise that has, so far, spanned eight films.

    Two dudes wake up in a nasty bathroom chained to opposite ends of the room. It is revealed that some sick individual has kidnapped and placed them in this room as a kind of twisted game. One of the dudes is told he must kill the other dude by 6 o’clock or else his family will be murdered.

    At its core, the story is quite simple, but there are many intricately designed parts that keep it interesting. It’s like watching an escape room play out with the highest stakes possible.

    It is really hard to believe that the budget was $1.2 million. Danny Glover and Cary Elwes each should have made more than that for their roles. If this is what can be done with a shoestring budget, why are there so many mega budget movies that stink?

    Rating:

     


  • Cabin Fever (2002)

    A group of college kids decides to take a nice little break from the college grind by going to a cabin in the middle of nowhere. Little do they know that an infectious disease is starting to spread in the area and shit’s about to get real ugly.

    This is Eli Roth’s first movie and while this seems like an obvious premise that has been done too many times to count, what makes it different is the way it’s delivered. The characters and dialogue are both fresh and fun. In particular, the sheriff’s deputy is hilarious and there are a couple of scenes with a weird kid that add some quirkiness to the mix.

    The cast includes Rider Strong, James DeBello, and Joey Kern. There is so much blood and gooey guts. It’s nasty. All in all, it’s a fun time to be had.

    Rating:


  • Final Destination 2 (2003)

    Death, uh, finds a way… Why couldn’t they get Jeff Goldblum to be in these movies? Then at least there would be one thing worth watching.

    A year after the events of the first movie, a girl named Kimberly has a premonition about a bad highway accident and manages to escape the mayhem unharmed along with a bunch of motorists who never made it onto the highway.

    With the help of a police deputy who was also spared from the accident, Kimberly discovers connections to the people who cheated death on Flight 180 before perishing in horrible freak accidents. They enlist the help of Ali Larter’s character from the first movie and things get really ridiculous when the characters “figure everything out” and “connect all the dots” about how death is stalking them and who is going to die next.

    I found this movie to be incredibly boring with a hair-brained premise that only gets worse as it tries to explain the absurdities away. It’s like when you lie and then you have to keep adding lies to sell the original lie and it compounds and grows and eventually the lying fatigue sets in. Yeah, it’s exactly like that.

    Rating:


  • I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

    It was the late 90s and teen horror movies were super popular. It all started with Scream and just kept growing. Like Scream, this movie was also written by the teen horror master, Kevin Williamson. The main cast consists of Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr, and Ryan Phillippe. The movie starts with the four kids having fun and making bad decisions. As they drive on a winding road after having too much to drink, they run over a fisherman and presumably kill him. They try to dump the body and the guy wakes up.

    Flash forward to a year later, the four haven’t spoken to each other much. Jennifer’s character receives a note suggesting that someone out there knows what they did. The panic sets in and the four re-group, but still refuse to go to the cops about the whole ordeal.

    A big guy in a fisherman’s slicker and hat starts killing people with a hook. He’s clearly after the group as a form of revenge for the murder of the poor guy that fateful night. Who is the fisherman killer? Who knows what they did?

    This movie is missing something that Scream had and just never feels like it’s quite ready for prime time. Sure, all the elements are there, but the characters are pretty flat and the story just never pulls the viewer in. Why should I care if these rich d-bag manslaughtering teens survive or not?

    Hey, at least they didn’t put any Creed songs in the soundtrack.

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