• Vampire In Brooklyn (1995)

    This is one mess of a movie. One part horror, one part comedy, one part romance. That’s an awkward combo even when it’s not directed by horror master Wes Craven.

    Eddie Murphy plays Maximillian, a vampire who arrives in New York by boat and wants to find his soulmate, a half vampire police detective played by Angela Bassett. It’s like Bram Stoker’s Dracula meets Coming to America.

    Let’s start with the obvious problems:

    • Eddie Murphy as a villain – it’s just so unexpected
    • Eddie Murphy’s accent – is it Jamaican? European? What is it?
    • Eddie Murphy’s wig – holy fake hair, Batman!
    • Eddie Murphy’s voice-over – this is not how you tell a story
    • Eddie Murphy plays multiple characters – it’s just what he does!

    At no point is it very scary. The characters are boring and don’t give you anything to care about. It starts out fun, then all the blood is sucked out at around the 30-minute mark and it’s just a downward spiral from there. You have two options:

    1. Fall asleep
    2. Spend 45 minutes making popcorn

    Rating:

    Currently available for streaming on Amazon Prime (DON’T DO IT)


  • Summer of ’84 (2018)

    In the summer of 1984, a teenage boy becomes obsessed with his theory that a neighbor is the local serial killer who kidnaps and murders boys. He convinces his friends to search for evidence to support his theory.

    There was a lot to like in this movie. It was mysterious. The characters are likable and there is a good dynamic among the four friends. The 80s vibe and throwback nostalgia was appropriately rationed, so as to not be ridiculously in your face.

    I was concerned about the slower first half, but it worked out well as a slow burn build-up to the second half. The tension keeps building until the final climax and you’re left with a dread and many possibilities for a sequel. I’m not saying there should be a sequel, just that it ends in a way that is both satisfying and wide open.

    The whole time watching, I was getting vibes of The Goonies, Stand By Me, and The ‘Burbs. The music was also quite enjoyable with the synth tones that drive, haunt, and caress when necessary.

    Rating:

    Not available to stream.


  • Species II (1998)

    Well, they made a sequel and it’s a stinker. Basically, they amplified the sex and gore, while dumbing down the story even further. Luckily, not many people went to see it in the theater, so they only ended up making two more direct-to-video sequels.

    The movie starts with three astronauts on a mission to Mars. One of the soil samples they collected, contained some sort of alien goop which infected two of the three astronauts during their return trip. Rather than properly quarantining them when they are back on Earth, the doctor tells them they are not allowed to have sexual relations for 10 days (WTF?).

    The main astronaut guy, Patrick Ross (Justin Lazard), starts humping every woman he encounters and alien spawn babies pop out in horrific fashion after 5 minutes. The dude then keeps all his alien brood in a barn on the remote family farm.

    Meanwhile, Natasha Henstridge is back, this time as Eve, another alien/human hybrid. She senses some new alien has arrived and starts to get really horny after the scientists “activate” her alien DNA to give her the telepathic ability to locate Patrick. Great move, jackasses.

    Other returning cast members included Michael Madsen as the hitman guy and Marg Helgenberger as the lab scientist, collecting their paychecks. The performances aren’t the worst, but Natasha Henstridge was only hired for her body (again) and the astronaut Patrick guy, who is essentially the main character, has almost zero charisma or talent.

    Some of the special FX were laughably bad, like the creatures at the end flopping around like bad puppets. There really isn’t much to redeem this pile of alien goop.

    Rating:

    Available for streaming on Hulu


  • The Relic (1997)

    I vaguely remember seeing this movie in the theater when it came out. It’s one of those horror movies that tries really hard to be exactly like every other horror movie, but it keeps moving fast enough to engage the viewer.

    The beginning shows an anthropologist guy in South America involved in some tribal ritual before heading back to Chicago with some cargo for the museum where he works. The ship arrives, but no crew or passengers are alive. The story then shifts to the meat and potatoes with the mainish character being evolutionary biologist, Dr. Margo Green (Penelope Ann Miller). She works in the museum and as people start dying in brutal ways, she investigates the cargo that arrived from South America to piece together what might be doing the killing. Tom Sizemore plays a police detective investigating the ship and murders. He’s smart, so he puts things together for the audience.

    The suspense builds nicely as the creature of the movie is not seen until the end. I have to imagine this was done less for the suspense and more for hiding the awful CGI. The real creature FX from Stan Winston were great, though, it’s just when they had to pop in some CGI that it all went to hell.

    The gore was also a plus as it’s got bodies, severed heads, blood, bones, brains, autopsies, you name it. For a mainstream Hollywood movie from the late 90s, it’s pretty nasty.

    Overall, it’s nothing special, but fun for a creature flick. Once was definitely enough.

    Rating:

    Currently available for streaming on Amazon Prime


  • The Curse (1987)

    This is definitely one of the worst movies I’ve seen in a long time. It almost starts to venture back into the “so bad it’s good territory”. The basic premise is that a meteor crash lands on a farm and this alien goop seeps into the water, which then starts turning people into acne monsters with zombie-like tendencies.

    The only real “talent” involved is Wil Wheaton, better known as Wesley Crusher from TV’s Star Trek: The Next Generation. He’s not that great of an actor, but he at least tries his best. The rest of the cast is mountains of awful. Stiff delivery, bad timing, and no real attempt to be convincing.

    Nothing is particularly scary and while there are definitely some goopy scenes, I would not call it “gory”.

    The most frightening part is the writing. It took a good portion of the movie to understand the family dynamic on this farm. Wil’s character is this boy who is being picked on all time by a football-loving bully “brother”, but they are not actually related. He is related to his sister (played by his actual sister) and his mother, Frances, who has apparently married the patriarchal farmer evangelical guy, Nathan. I really should not have to spend 30-40 minutes trying to piece this all together. Either tell me flat out or be more convincing in the relationships. At no point did it feel like any of these people were related to each other in any way.

    All in all, this was a steaming turd of a movie and not in a good way.

    Rating:

    Available to stream on Starz


  • Species (1995)

    As a teenage boy, this movie had everything. Blood, aliens, and boobs. The story starts with a prologue implying that S.E.T.I. picked up on some alien radio transmission. It then dives straight into the action with a super human teen girl escaping from a government research facility. The head of the facility, played by Ben Kingsley, assembles a team of scientists (and a hitman) to track down the girl who is revealed to be an alien/human hybrid.

    The girl turns into some goopy cocoon thing on a train and comes out as Natasha Henstridge, a.k.a. SIL the hot alien chick. Her primary motivation for the rest of the film is to find a suitable mate and breed or kill trying.

    The alien was created by H.R. Giger, the twisted mind behind the original xenomorph of the Alien movies. It’s not until near the end that you get to see the actual creature in full glory, but when you do, it’s pretty unsettling. And then it birthed an alien/human baby thing (Spoiler alert?).

    A lot of the little twists and turns the story takes were not exactly revolutionary, and the super smart scientists all come off as really dumb. For example, SIL fakes her death using a body of a lady she kidnapped and her own chopped off thumb as a decoy. The scientists test the thumb, which was found away from the burnt car, and match the DNA, leading them to believe she died in the fiery car explosion. What about testing the charred remains of the body? Can that not be done? I feel like they would have been able to put out the fire fast enough to leave behind some DNA material to test (hello? bones?). If not immediately, they could have revealed the test later, like when they are all partying for a job well done. “YEE-AH! We did it! — oh, what? The body DNA didn’t match… ok, back to work, boys.” Instead, the Forest Whitaker “empath” character starts having the feels that she’s not dead and the Michael Madsen hitman character’s gut senses something is not right.

    It’s a fun horror/sci-fi popcorn movie, but just enjoy the boobs and turn off your brain.

    Rating:

    Available for streaming on Hulu and Amazon Prime


  • Zombi 3 (1988)

    This is Italian horror at its finest. Directed by Lucio Fulci and Bruno Mattei, Zombi 3 is a schlock rip-off of Romero’s Night of the LivingDead series. Everything about it is over-the-top, outrageous, and extreme.

    The story starts with a scientist injecting a corpse with a serum he created called Death One. The corpse comes back to life and thus begins our odyssey. The serum is then stolen by some thugs and unleashed on one of them in the escape. The ailing, soon-to-be zombie thug heads to a nearby resort and spreads the toxic serum by coming into contact with several employees at the resort.

    The craziness continues and you’ve got zombie birds, machete-wielding zombies, badass army dudes, and some hilarious musical cues. The acting may be great, but I wouldn’t know because the English dubbing made it hard to tell. The blood and guts were some of the best the Italians had to offer. There were some “so bad it becomes good” moments and it mostly delivered on the B-grade horror level.

    Rating:

    Not available on any of the main streaming services


  • Wish Upon (2017)

    A dumpster-diving father (Ryan Phillipe) finds an ornate Chinese box and gives it to his daughter, Clare (Joey King), as a gift. Little does she know, the box grants its owner seven wishes in exchange for a blood price. In other words, with every wish, someone dies.

    It’s kind of a Wishmaster meets Final Destination movie, and it somehow works out even though the movie is a series of missteps. Some of the acting and dialog were laughably bad, but it managed to fit in rather well. There was a certain charm and wit that kept the movie from totally sucking.

    I liked the pacing and the ending the most. It never felt too long and the movie ended the most natural way possible.

    Wish Upon will never end up making anyone’s top ten list, but it was better than 50% of the horror movies out there, and that’s saying something.

    Rating:

    Currently available to stream on Amazon Prime


  • The 9th Annual 31 Days of Blood and Gore

    It’s crazy that this is the 9th year of doing 31 horror movie reviews in October. At one point, a couple of years ago, I thought I’d run out of horror movies, but not only are there thousands I’ve never seen, there are at least 30 coming out new each year. I have an enormous spreadsheet of possible horror movies and it keeps growing.

    This year, I have a good mix of new, old, and total schlock. There will never be a dull moment and get ready to shit your pants.

    Some new features this year:

    • Link to the YouTube trailer for the movie when clicking on the movie poster picture
    • Info about where to stream the movie if currently available (in the unlikely event you’d actually want to watch any of these)

  • Mandy (2018)

    From the director of Beyond the Black Rainbow, comes a wild cinematic journey of love and vengeance. On the surface, it is pretty thin on plot, but what makes the film shine is an incredible aesthetic where every frame is like a painted canvas. The attention to detail is pretty rare these days, or at least the uncompromising vision along with the attention to detail.

    Nicolas Cage plays a logger who lives in a remote cabin with his girlfriend, Mandy (Andrea Riseborough). A cult led by an egomaniac decides to take Mandy for their own, but ends up killing her, which creates a monster in the form of raging Cage looking for revenge. Before taking out the cultists, he must first dispatch a group of sinister bikers. The crazy of Nic Cage is perfect for this role, and it’s probably his best performance of the last 20 years.

    The film is set in 1983 and it definitely has the feel of that era without being overtly nostalgic. There are also some great throwbacks to the horror of the Hellraiser movies, as well as some David Lynch tonal elements.

    The only real downside, other than the simplistic story, was the pacing and length. There were a few times that it kind of lingered when it should have moved on, but honestly, a lot of the lingering added to the build up of tension. Some scenes in the second half were so brutally intense, it was surprising that movies could even accomplish that feat anymore.

    Rating: