Saturday, October 31, 2015

31 Days of 31 Horror Movies for Halloween: Day 31 - Mama (Happy Halloween!)

Day 31: Mama
Via: DVD
Release Date - 2013

Synopsis: On the day that their parents die, sisters Lilly and Victoria vanish in the woods, prompting a frantic search by their Uncle Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his girlfriend, Annabel (Jessica Chastain). Five years later, miraculously, the girls are found alive in a decaying cabin, and Lucas and Annabel welcome them into their home. But as Annabel tries to reintroduce the children to a normal life, she finds that someone -- or something -- still wants to tuck them in at night.

SPOILER ALERT - If you have not seen the movie do not read.

Last but definitely not least, Mama. I put this on my list after watching the short a few weeks back, and let me tell you this was a great film to end this 31 day journey. The main plot is my biggest pet peeve about this film, but it did not disappoint. So, like most new ghost or exorcism movies, this was based on a spirit seeking revenge for something. There are so many films with this plot that I wasn't expecting much out of it, even when it was presented by Del Toro. However, the cinematography, editing, use of color and sound, but especially the effects and the acting, made this film very enjoyable. So much, that even before I was at the end, I knew I would be watching it again. 

Ok, so the premise is that a dad kills a bunch of people including his wife. He kidnaps his 2 girls, Victoria and Lilly, and while on the road, they all get in a wreck. They manage to survive but they are lost in the woods. As they walk through the woods they see an abandoned cabin. They walk in, make themselves at home and wait. But not before dad decides the best decision for all of them is for him to kill the girls. He is about to pull the trigger on Victoria when suddenly, a dark spirit grabs him and takes him away, presumably dead at this point. The girls are left all alone, we think,  in the abandoned cabin to fend for themselves. It turns out the spirit who killed their father is the one who takes care of them throughout the years.

Flash forward to 5 years later. The girls' uncle, Lucas, has been on a quest to find them; going into debt hiring people to keep searching in the woods. One day as a team "looks around", they happen to come across the same abandoned cabin where we last saw the girls. They break in and find the girls living but in a very feral state. The rest of the film is about the relationship Lucas, his girlfriend Annabel, and the girls build as Lucas gains custody. They seem to be on a pretty good path until Lucas gets into a mysterious "accident". Annabel is now the one in charge. Let me just take a quick moment to say how awesome it was to see a punk rocker girl be the hero of the movie. It touched me in a very special but naughty place. Ha. 

So, I suggest just watching the film to know the rest of the story. There isn't a surprise ending or anything, but the way all the various relationships between foster parents and the girls develops is really sweet and chaotic. A horror film with a warm underlying narrative. Best finish I could ask for.

Friday, October 30, 2015

31 Days of 31 Horror Movies for Halloween: Day 30 - Evil Twin

Day 30: Evil Twin
Via: Amazon Prime
Release Date - 2007

Synopsis: Evil Twin is a 2007 South Korean horror film. When an accident claims the life of a young girl, Hyo-jin. Her twin sister, So-yeon fell into a coma and awakens 10 years later.

SPOILER ALERT - If you have not seen the movie do not read.

Asian horror films are always so well made. Right off the bat this reminded me of "A Tale of Two Sisters", another South Korean film that has a good plot but even better timing, editing and acting. Evil Twin is basically that, the story of an evil twin. Like most Asian horror flicks based on ghosts, the spirit at hand is seeking revenge upon someone. Hauntings and murders occur because the spirit is unhappy, there is something unresolved, something that needs closure. So I can't really explain the whole plot in detail because the one thing that kept me from truly enjoying this film was also the most important aspect of the storyline. The subtitles. The subtitles are so bad that I had to pause and guess what they were trying to say. The basic storyline goes like this: There is a young girl who after an accident, cannot recall anything regarding that traumatic event. She gets hints here and there when tragedies begin to occur in her village. As more tragedies occur and the plot of her relationship between her and her deceased twin sister come to light, the more villagers blame her for the ongoing deaths.

SPOILER ALERT - Why the spirit is mad:

We learn that the deceased twin sister is the spirit haunting the victims and she will not rest until she gets satisfaction. But what happened? Well, when the twin sisters were young, they had some sort of incident when they both happen to fall into a lake. Their mother, the only one around with them when this occurred, was not strong enough to save them both, so she had to choose. Simple plot but great execution on setting the mood and creating an atmosphere that displayed chaos, anxiety, fear, sadness and hope.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

31 Days of 31 Horror Movies for Halloween: Day 29 - Human Centipede 3

Day 29: Human Centipede 3
Via: Netflix
Release Date - 2015

Synopsis: To punish his prisoners, a sadistic warden (Dieter Laser) and his right-hand man (Laurence R. Harvey) hatch a scheme to suture 500 inmates together.

SPOILER ALERT - If you have not seen the movie do not read.

Well, it had to happen, The Human Centipede 3 was bound to make its way into my life.
Ok, this is weird to say considering the second film had a baby getting stepped on, but this might have been a little over the top. For starters, I hated the first Human Centipede. It lacked acting a good storyline and it just seemed super cheesy. I loved Human Centipede 2. It was dark, gritty, acting was disturbing and on par, the effects and sound were great. Human Centipede 3 tried to do a different genre with the same characters from 1 and 2, but it pretty much failed. I almost got the feeling that this was a full length porno. I don't mean that because of the constant bjs on screen, but the tone. The acting was incredibly dramatic and poor, the way in which it was edited and shot was almost professional. It was like a scat movie with bad dialogue and soap opera-esque acting. 

The main story revolves around a warden who loves to tortures his inmates. That's basically it. His side-kick, some administrative type has the idea of creating an inmate human centipede. That's the whole movie. There are scenes that are meant to make you sick to your stomach but they just seem desperate. Like a child screaming at the top of their lungs, "LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!"
Gore without substance. Three words to illustrate the ridiculousness of this movie: kidney rape scene.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

31 Days of 31 Horror Movies for Halloween: Day 28 - Kruel

Day 28: Kruel
Via: Amazon Prime
Release Date - 2014

Synopsis: Jo O'Hare starts out as a typical teenager dealing with typical teenage problems, including fighting with her parents and dealing with an unfaithful boyfriend. Soon Jo finds herself much bigger problems when she is accused of recklessly causing the death of a young boy in her care. The unbearable guilt turns to determination when she sets out to prove that the outrageous, neighborhood ice-cream man is really a psychotic monster responsible for the disappearance the boy. With the help of her ex-boyfriend, Ben, Jo begins a journey to find the truth which will lead her to the darkest side of evil and put everyone s life around her in jeopardy.

SPOILER ALERT - If you have not seen the movie do not read.

Ok, guilty as charged. I knew that picking a movie based on the cover was a bad idea, but oh my was it ever a bad idea. What was the first hint this film was going to be horrendous? Well, the opening scenes. The acting is terrible all around. Especially with the mother character and the boyfriend. So we begin with a couple...basically the whole first half drags on about this couple and their troubles. Jo and her boyfriend Ben are two stupid teens. Stupid Ben cheats on stupid Jo and the film has to explain to you about this terrible hardship they must endure. Boo-fucking-hoo. The beginning is really just that. Introduction to Jo and her typical suburban family. Meet her cheating her typical suburban friends. Oh yeah, our villain is some random ice cream truck driver who makes an appearance for about 5 minutes. Then the plot goes back to the couple. 

Nothing happens.
Jo is a nanny for 2 boys who live in her neighborhood. One day, while watching the youngest, Elliot, they get a visit from Ben. Ben drops by after various attempts to speak to Jo. I guess he's sorry for cheating. How sweet! Jo is in the front yard with Elliot as Ben pulls up. She stupidly leaves Elliot on his own and gets distracted while talking to Ben. Elliot's older brother comes home and asks about Elliot's whereabouts. Of course Jo doesn't know. Queue the freak out and search party. Oh and random information from Ben about how he saw a man fishing without bait. A suspicious man who might resemble the random ice cream freak.

That's really where the film lost me. Well, to be fair, it lost me with the poor acting from everyone. Actually, Jo wasn't that bad. In fact, she improved as the film went on. But the cover made it seem like the storyline was about this creepy-ass clown. But, it's not. It's about a boring story of a girl who gets cheated on and makes poor decisions. There is absolutely no explanation as to why the ice cream freak is there or why he takes Elliot or Jo until practically the very end. The ending is too lame to even write about. There is no substance to any of the plot. The editing is awkward and makes the timeline seem off. The cinematography is good, but that's mainly the only positive aspect of this movie. No story, no satisfaction.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

31 Days of 31 Horror Movies for Halloween: Day 27 - Spring

Day 27: Spring
Via: Amazon Prime
Release Date - 2015

Synopsis: An aimless young man (Lou Taylor Pucci) takes an impromptu trip to Italy and becomes involved with an alluring genetics student (Nadia Hilker) who harbors a transformative secret.

SPOILER ALERT - If you have not seen the movie do not read.

Aw. I feel all warm inside after watching this "horror" film. No, but was good.
A unique love story about a troubled American dude who has nothing to live for back at home. He is jobless, without family and no direction. When trouble finds him at his workplace, a dive bar, he has no choice but to find another path. A booty call turns out to give him so good advice. Travel, get away.

He does. He decides to go to Europe where he befriends some guys who are ready to party all night. Which, they do, several nights. As they travel through Europe they come across a restaurant in Italy where our main fella meets a dashing Italian lady. She is quirky and upfront but our shy guy seems hesitant about her. Their first meeting ends with her running off and him making a spectacle of himself. His newly found friends go on their merry way and our fella has to find a job and a place to stay, which he does. As he roams around the city he runs into our dashing lady and quickly resumes his pleas for a date with her. She finally gives in and they embark in a love story worthy of standing side by side with other love stories like "The Notebook". 

The film really takes its time developing the deep relationship between our couple. However, it's still a horror film of some sort, so we get a glimpse of the true identity of our leading lady. She seems to be negatively affected by the sun or by a lack of flesh on which to feast on. There are clips of her as a vampire or werewolf or squid. It's a bit confusing. Alas, the bloody effects, the sound, the editing and cinematography are really great. It can get a little lovey-dovey at times but not to the point where I wanted to puke. This is a horror film your sissy girlfriend might like, or your cool, goth girlfriend might want to act out. Either or, you win...if you have a girlfriend. There is a point where all goes to hell and our couple's story hits a point of no return...or does it?

Watch it, enjoy it, act it out with your ghoulish chick.

Monday, October 26, 2015

31 Days of 31 Horror Movies for Halloween: Day 26 - Tales from the Dark

Day 26: Tales from the Dark
Via: Amazon Prime
Release Date - 2013

Synopsis: Tales from the Dark 1 is a 2013 Hong Kong portmanteau horror film directed by Simon Yam, Lee Chi-ngai, and Fruit Chan. The film is split into three stories based on short stories by Lilian Lee.

SPOILER ALERT - If you have not seen the movie do not read.

I love, LOVE foreign horror films. Especially Asian horror films. They don't treat the audience like an idiot. Their subject matter can be something that would be considered too complex for an American audience. All three short stories are based on revenge. Revenge of the dead.

The first short revolves around a poverty stricken man who is trying to do his best to get work and also keep any job he does manage to get. It is revealed that he is living within an unused area of a cemetery. His situation worsens when he is fired from multiple jobs. Desperation sets in and he decides he will do anything to try to make a living. He comes up with the idea of holding urns for ransom. Pretty messed up idea. He steals 3 urns and leaves a note were the urns were kept. It is a ransom note notifying loved ones to pay up if they are wanting the missing urn of their beloved deceased. One of the spirits comes back to warn their loved one about this man and quickly plots his revenge on the thief. 

This was a great looking film. In fact, all of these shorts are shot and edited well and the acting is pretty good. The only other factor that is true for all stories is the poor translation. You can get the overall idea of what some of the characters are saying, but there is definitely a cultural difference and poor translating keeping the full narrative consistent and without confusion.

Ok, the second short revolves around a fortune teller who is trying to close his shop in order to get his wife back. She doesn't believe in that kind of stuff and it's causing friction between her, her husband and their son. He sees spirits here and there but his wife doesn't want anything to do with it. While dining together, a girl happens to appear to him. This apparition opens up the story to a sort of unsolved mystery where our fortune teller must solve. He meets a couple who come to him for fortune advice and end up being the catalyst for the spirit's downfall.

This is mainly where the Chinese and Americans differ. These shorts present ghosts as a regular aspect of life. They are beings who are trapped for various reasons and they come to seek revenge or a path to reincarnate and rest in piece. That alone, is not a very Western ideology.

The last short deals with a cultural myth that seems to be based on the spiritual and witchcraft subjects. There is a time in the lunar calendar where people seek witches to "beat their villains" It seems it is a custom for the client to seek a witch, give them a photograph or story about a bad person they would like the universe to harm, or kill in some cases. The witch will take the photo or an illustration representing the "villain' and beat them with a shoe while chanting words of hate. By the way, when I say witch I mean an old lady who practices these rituals. Don't think of your typical witch in black looking all creeper. Think of your grandma and her wise ways. In this last story the witch happens to be part of the ritual in a very personal way.

These were all very enjoyable and had a learning aspect of cultural and spiritual attributes that would be great to anyone with an open mind.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

31 Days of 31 Horror Movies for Halloween: Day 25 - Out of the Dark (Chinese)

Day 25: Out of the Dark (Chinese)
Via: Netflix
Release Date - 1995

Synopsis: Tenant Mr. Li of an apartment high-rise is weary of the return of his late mother's ghost. When she appears in the apartment, she haunts Li and his wife, who she blames for her death. Caught in the commotion is a crazy girl named Kwan and the apartment building's inept security guards. They are repulsed by all the paranormal activity; therefore, they seek the unlikely help of an escaped mental patient, Leon, a Professional-type wannabe who just happened to be passing by the apartment high-rise when all the ghostly events were taking place.

SPOILER ALERT - If you have not seen the movie do not read.

I have NO idea what I just watched. The synopsis kind of explains the gist of the film but it doesn't really tell you how insanely confusing it is. I really have no idea what the plot was. There is a story of a mother haunting her family who takes possession of her grandson. Some crazy punk chick who is just weird. There's also a group of security guards who make bets to see what items fall from the apartment building they guard and where all these characters reside. Also, there is a mental patient who is a ghost hunter/buster? There is a drag queen that causes one of the guards to puke a lot, oh AND a pot of flowers that can sense when a ghost is around. Um, yeah. None of this made sense but was pretty damn entertaining. I can't explain anything because there is way too much to list.

The main chunk of the film is spent with the mental patient ghostbuster trying to teach the guards, the punk chick and other characters how to beat fear. He blows himself up quite a few times with some cheesy dynamite and challenges them to touch poop to get over their fear. There are parts with all of them flying, chats about ghosts not liking milk and a death with the use of a banana peel. Yeah...just watch it.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

31 Days of 31 Horror Movies for Halloween: Day 24 - You're Next

Day 24:  You're Next
Via: Amazon Prime
Release Date - 2011

Synopsis: The Davisons, an upper-class family, are extremely wealthy -- but also estranged. In an attempt to mend their broken family ties, Aubrey (Barbara Crampton) and Paul (Rob Moran) Davison decide to celebrate their wedding anniversary by inviting their four children and their children's significant others to their weekend estate. The celebration gets off to a rocky start, but when crossbow-wielding assailants in animal masks suddenly attack, the Davisons must pull together or die.

SPOILER ALERT - If you have not seen the movie do not read.

Hmmm. This...was quite a ride. I read the description from an Amazon reviewer to see what it was about, only to find out it was a comedic horror movie. Which, for the most part, it wasn't. Maybe that reviewer just paid attention to the last half. The beginning is of a couple who gets murdered by some masked killer who writes "You're next" on their window. Then the real story begins. It's a new day...

The basic plot is about a big family who gets together at the parents' huge house for the weekend. All characters are pretty much defined within the first 5 minutes. You have pairs of couples all illustrating different attitudes. The overly happy sister, the bullied brother, the troubled mother, the asshole brother and the creepy brother. Our focus will turn right when everyone is sitting down for dinner.

No, not an old Batman episode...but killers are on the loose.
So the boyfriend of the overly happy sister sees something outside through the window. CRASH!
He gets hit in the eye by an arrow. AaaaHHHHH FREAK OUT! Le Freak, C'est Chic!

So everyone goes bananas and we find out there are several masked killers, like in the beginning, who are trying to kill the family for whatever reason. Slowly more and more family members get killed and we see that one of the brothers' girlfriend, Erin, is a badass. She takes control of the situation, helps out the injured and tries to find weapons and solutions to the matter at hand. True badass.

The film gets really ridiculous as more killings happen. Which is why I think that reviewer might have thought this was a comedy. The undertone is definitely serious though. I'd say it's more of a dark humor type of vibe towards the end. The end has a bit of a twist, but if you are paying attention it's not much of a stretch to figure out. Everything was pretty spot on in the film except for the blood. It just looked really cheap and fake. Maybe that was the point, but with the editing and nature of the whole film I think maybe the blood could have been darker and runnier. Good film either way.

Friday, October 23, 2015

31 Days of 31 Horror Movies for Halloween: Day 23 - Housebound

Day 23:  Housebound
Via: Netflix
Release Date - 2014

Synopsis: A would-be thief (Morgana O'Reilly) is remanded to the custody of her estranged mother (Rima Te Wiata), who turns out to be correct in her assertion that evil spirits are afoot in their family domicile.

SPOILER ALERT - If you have not seen the movie do not read.

At first it appeared like this was going to be the same ol' haunted house movie. A household falling prey to various spirits whose origins are later explained. It seemed even more predictable when a cop joins the plot and pretty savvy regarding the paranormal. So, let's dive in and explain why it wasn't your typical haunted house movie.

Kylie, Eugene, Amos and Dennis are really the only names you will need to know. Kylie, our main character, is introduced by botching a burglary of an ATM. Her punishment is to be on house arrest for a period of time. While there, she seems to get on her mom's nerves which leads to various altercations. While learning more details about Kylie's relationship with her mom and stepdad, we also start to see hints of paranormal activity happening in the house. Kylie's probation officer, Amos, is called in when an incident triggers her ankle bracelet. As Amos searches the premises,  Kylie and her mother notify him about ongoing paranormal activity. Amos is somehow a bit of an expert regarding the matter and he quickly helps the family out.

Dennis, Kylie's counselor, is introduced and he is the only one not phased by the paranormal stories from the family. He believes Kylie has a mental disorder that is causing her to create these wild stories about apparitions. As the film continues, we find the origins of the house was a place for mentally troubled teens who were mysteriously murdered. The place shut down and the murders were never solved. Ok, so the neighbor is a suspect, then we really find out who Eugene is and the origins of Dennis. I actually won't give away the ending because it's good. The film keeps you guessing for a bit.

Ok, so this film was entertaining for various reasons. It is cheeky and funny at times so it doesn't take itself too seriously. However, there are some really good jump scare parts and other scenes that turn out to be really creepy. The effects are fun and overall the plot was not predictable. The final kill scene was hilarious and bloody. Acting was good and cinematography and editing made the whole film very enjoyable. The bear image is actually of one of the creepiest scenes in the whole film.

I have 8 days left and I am pretty happy to be getting close to the end. This has been a good project but very exhausting at times.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

31 Days of 31 Horror Movies for Halloween: Day 22 - Nightbreed

Day 22:  Nightbreed
Via: Netflix
Release Date - 1990

Synopsis: Aaron Boone (Craig Sheffer) is haunted by terrifying nightmares of a city of monsters. He goes to see a psychiatrist, Dr. Decker (David Cronenberg), for help. But what Boone doesn't know is that Decker is really a serial killer. Decker frames Boone to take the fall for his murders, and Boone is killed by the police. But Boone is brought back to life by the monsters of his dreams, the Nightbreed, who in turn join Boone in his quest to stop Decker from killing again.

SPOILER ALERT - If you have not seen the movie do not read.

Hmmmm...this was an interesting film. When watching a Clive Barker flick, one must remember to always be open to the ridiculousness that is Clive Barker's creatures and twisted imagination. With that said, it wasn't a bad movie, it also wasn't a good movie. It was pure entertainment.

Our main character is Boone. Your typical "bad boy" renegade who is apparently mentally disturbed. Or so his psychiatrist, Dr. Decker, wants him to think so. The film has several stories going on which made it a bit messy. I believe if they had made a separate movie about Dr. Decker and Boone it would have been a great slasher film. The fantasy story line with the monsters would have been a great separate movie in itself. In any case, Boone is haunted by his thoughts. He knows of an unknown, dark world that calls to him. This world is inhabited by the Nightbreed. Tortured souls left to live in the underground of a cemetery. Meanwhile, Boone's psychiatrist is trying to convince Boone he is guilty of murdering several families in his sleep, when in fact, it is the doctor himself, who is carrying out all of these deaths.  That's basically it. Tons of explosions, an exorbitant amount of weapons owned by the Canadian police or mounty, hunting Boone and the Nightbreed, a love story that has tragedies and extreme french kissing, and lots of boobs. Also, very funny parts due to some dramatic acting by all characters. This is a movie you have to watch and just enjoy.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

31 Days of 31 Horror Movies for Halloween: Day 21 - Nude for Satan

Day 21:  Nude for Satan
Via: Amazon Prime
Release Date - 1974

Synopsis: Italian Gothic horror that tells the tale of a man who stops at a remote castle hoping to get medical help for an injured woman, only to find the inhabitants mirror the darker sides of the woman and himself.

SPOILER ALERT - If you have not seen the movie do not read.

Regardless of what you're thinking, I did not put this on my list merely because of its title. Amazon recommended it and I haven't seen anything from this time period yet. Ok, I have seen some terrible horror films, but all those others tried for real, to be good. Effort was put into the narratives, the casting, the editing and execution. Nude for Satan, however, is so deliciously horrendous, it can be put into the category of bad cult films like The Room and Troll 2.

This movie is from the 70's, so have that mindset when reading the following...
For starters, it is dubbed from Italian. Whatever was lost in translation didn't help the nonsensical dialogue. Here are two actual quotes.
"Don't think about the present, think about the now."
At another point in the film: "Make yourself at home." Not more than 10 seconds later... "Think of this as your house."

The sound is the first strike. The sound stops abruptly at many times and doesn't match the video. ALL of the footsteps, regardless of location onscreen, are those of someone walking inside of a house with wooden floors. This is especially hilarious for the outdoor scenes.
The first door we see is clearly big and heavy but the sound effect used was that of a regular, small, wooden, old door.
The lightning doesn't match the thunder, not to mention there is absolutely no rain present throughout the "big storm".
The cat is obviously some man going "meow".
Mouths half-closed while laughing is clearly the audio.

The kissing is incredibly awkward and funny from both of our main characters. This is basically a soft-core porn trying to be a horror film. However, a soft-core porn has some sort of sense of reason. This, not so much.
The spider looks like a piece of dirt with sticks as legs and two cherries glued to it for eyes.

The plot makes absolutely no sense and new characters without explanation are introduced throughout the film. For some reason there are people in this "castle" who are shady and appear to be from the 1900's according to their attire. When two "modern", stranded characters wonder into the castle, they encounter (separately), their dopplegangers. I am halfway into the film and still have no idea what the hell this is about. Oh, and yes, there is nudity.

Abstract ideas can be good, but they need structure. You can't explain your film as artsy and abstract just because you don't know what the fuck you're doing.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

31 Days of 31 Horror Movies for Halloween: Day 20 - Death Tube

Day 20:  Death Tube
Via: Amazon Prime
Release Date - 2010

Synopsis: Hideaki is kidnapped and he wakes up the next day in his classroom along with his classmates. They are all trapped and held captive by by hooded figures and everyone is forced to play a brutal and violent game or be killed.

SPOILER ALERT - If you have not seen the movie do not read.

I haven't really seen any gory horror films yet, besides Dumplings, that was just more disturbing than gory. Any Asian horror flick will not disappoint in this realm. Welcome, Death Tube.

Death Tube is within the genre of the internet video chat horror flicks like Smiley. Except this one goes further into the world of the taboo and explores the subject matter of live snuff films. This is almost like the first Saw movie combined with the Darknet. Picture a sadist kidnapping his victims, putting them in separate rooms and toying with their lives by making them play games to save each other. That's the plot. Done and done.

The beginning of the film is pointless so we will skip to the games. There are various victims trapped in their own individual rooms. They can communicate with each other via their webcams. They can see each other and have all been presented with different tasks to complete. If they all complete their challenges within their respective time frames, their lives will be spared. As each one completes a task, the timer begins to wind down. One player down. The story keeps going until all players make it to the unexpected second round where they are all put against each other in yet more challenges. The whole film is just disturbing and awkward in a good way. For God's sake, did you see the picture above?

No factors were terrible. The real kicker is the ending. The unexpected comes to be the final "a-ha!" moment. If you've seen any Japanese movies or television then the crazy acting and over-the-top characters will not surprise you. It's a dark film with a dark nature but entertaining because it doesn't try to be anything else but a weird snuff oriented movie. Humorous at times and annoying at others.

Monday, October 19, 2015

31 Days of 31 Horror Movies for Halloween: Day 19 - Short Horror Films

In order to spice it up and keep myself interested in this project, I decided to watch some horror shorts on Youtube. You can watch them all below. My 2 cents on each one are also here.

2012 Mama - Creepy as hell. A short by Guillermo del Toro that inspired the full length movie a year later. Of course this is the best short of the bunch. Creepy style, great acting and editing. I will watch the full length this month.

2014 Skypemare - Good editing, lots of boobs, so-so story, good ending. This short starts out almost like "Smiley". It is a Skype chat that turns into someone trying to kill the person on the other end of the chat. However, the ending makes this entertaining enough to watch all the way through.

2013 Scrambled - Award winning?! Really? So-so plot, so-so acting. Horrendous camera movement.
This film had an interesting plot. Instead of a tooth fairy, let's make up a blood fairy. Oooooo! Yeah, lame. The camera movement in this alone made me not want to watch all the way through, but it was...ok. Camera seems like it's found footage from all the motion, but it's not a found footage film. The main character seems to make really stupid decisions for himself and is confusing. Nothing is really explained and nothing really happens.

2013 Charlie - Dumb, just some guy in his house the whole time.
Really, that's all this was. Some guy in his house being haunted by some spirit. No explanation no plot, no other real narrative or dialogue. Charlie looked like the Joker and the fades were really long. So long I thought the movie ended three times.

2013 - Victim (Based on Slender Man) - Dumb, boring.
Like Charlie, absolutely nothing happens in this short film. It is some dude getting haunted by The Slender Man. That's it. Different scenery, same dude with same awful acting.

2014 - Cynthia - Terrible. For starters, the sound engineering is awful. Someone just downloaded a crappy editing program and thought it'd be good to make some scary echoes with it. Also, test the levels so your video audio matches the effects put in afterwards. I've heard of less is more, but more sounds would have actually set the atmosphere instead of the horribly acting main character saying, literally how he was feeling and thinking. Why is the ghost mad about her husband cheating? Why does the husband kill her? The plot is just messy and confusing. There is a random white-faced something that has no explanation. There are plots that can get away with being artsy and broad, but this was just idea after bad idea put into a big pot and edited together to create whatever the hell this was.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

31 Days of 31 Horror Movies for Halloween: Day 18 - The House at the End of Time (La casa del fin de los tiempos)

Day 18:  The House at the End of Time (La casa del fin de los tiempos)
Via: Netflix
Release Date - 2013

Synopsis: Dulce encounters apparitions in her house and unleashes a terrible prophecy. Thirty years later, Dulce, now an old woman, returns to unravel the mystery that has terrorized her for years.

SPOILER ALERT - If you have not seen the movie do not read.

I love, LOVE, movies that loop. This seemed like your typical scary movie. A woman, Dulce, and her family, 2 boys and husband live in somewhat poverty. There seems to be a spirit that haunts them and the film follows the pattern of scare here, scare there, possible explanations of the activity but nothing solid. The film is mainly focused on our main character, Dulce, who goes to jail for allegedly killing her husband. We only see a glimpse of said murder in the beginning scenes. We move forward in time to 30 years when she is out of jail and goes back to her move where the murder occurred. Ok, so before I go on, the only bad thing about this movie was the makeup on Dulce when we see her as an old woman. It looks really fake and plastic-looking.

The movie was a bit slow but the ending made it worth sticking with it.  I won't go into too much detail regarding the ending, but the story explains Dulce's troubles with her husband, a former marriage, the death of one of her boys and the actual murder we see in the beginning. Here is the kicker, all of this is explained through time travel. Yup. That's all I'll say. Because of its originality I believe this can be put in the same category as Cabin in the Woods. It starts out as any horror flick but the ending is so vastly different that it keeps you interested.

Great sound, editing, acting and plot. I was mad, sad and confused until the last moments.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

31 Days of 31 Horror Movies for Halloween: Day 17 - The Ward

Day 17:  The Ward
Via: Netflix
Release Date - 2010

Synopsis: No one believes the claims of a young woman (Amber Heard) that a dead patient is stalking the residents of the psychiatric facility.

SPOILER ALERT - If you have not seen the movie do not read.

Wow, um, ok. This was terrible. I was hoping John Carpenter would blow me away like he did for The Thing or Halloween, but instead he yawned my day away. 
The plot is super simple and lame. Some girl gets put into a mental institution where she meets other girls like her. They are all haunted by some ghost that may be trying to get her revenge.

First of all, the editing is horrendous. There are several scenes where the timeline is in real time, but the way it is edited makes the viewer think more time has passed. It got really confusing. A lot of the beginning felt like they had too much footage of nothing and decided to make it into something. The acting was terrible, the effects were subpar and the ending tried too hard. The plot already had enough holes and lacked explanation for some important details but they just decided, hey, let's end it like Identity. Problem solved.

Nope. Didn't work. The only good thing was the cinematography and the sound engineering was pretty good. Other than that, this movie was not worth even a background noise position.

Friday, October 16, 2015

31 Days of 31 Horror Movies for Halloween: Day 16 - A girl walks home alone at night.

Day 16:  A girl walks home alone at night
Via: Netflix
Release Date - 2014

Synopsis: Residents of a worn-down Iranian city encounter a skateboarding vampire (Sheila Vand) who preys on men who disrespect women.

SPOILER ALERT - If you have not seen the movie do not read.

Ok, this is going to sound weird, but this movie was good, not great, but nothing really happens. It's not really a horror movie. I wasn't scared or jumped from anything. It is a love story, but not cheesy like any other sparkly vampire show or movie nowadays. I honestly cannot write much about this, just telling you the characters in the movie tells you all you need to know. There's a drug dealer, a junkie, a whore, a "bad boy", an innocent child and the skateboarding vampire. Acting was great, editing and cinematography was amazing but the plot was weak. Original but weak. I finished the film and wasn't sure how to feel. Like I said, it wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. I would not watch it again, but DO recommend anyone watches it once.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

31 Days of 31 Horror Movies for Halloween: Day 15 - The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Day 15: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
Via: Netflix
Release Date - 1920

Synopsis: At a carnival in Germany, Francis (Friedrich Feher) and his friend Alan (Rudolf Lettinger) encounter the crazed Dr. Caligari (Werner Krauss). The men see Caligari showing off his somnambulist, Cesare (Conrad Veidt), a hypnotized man who the doctor claims can see into the future. Shockingly, Cesare then predicts Alan's death, and by morning his chilling prophecy has come true -- making Cesare the prime suspect. However, is Cesare guilty, or is the doctor controlling him?

SPOILER ALERT - If you have not seen the movie do not read.

Well, I'm pretty positive this is the film that inspired Tim Burton's style.
Sunken eyes, sharp corners and a woman whose physical attributes look very much like Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas. This is another film I would prefer not to divulge in terms of the ending. It's from the 1920's, yet still threw me for a loop. I'm so used to quick edits, effects, sound, voices and anything that stimulates the senses that I grew a bit bored. That wasn't the film's fault. It's our current state of affairs with over stimulation via technology. I actually enjoyed this film very much. I can see why its ratings are so high. It's a classic. Great acting and editing and incredibly imaginative sets and atmosphere. The only I had a problem with was the lack of detail. There are many parts where the film leaves you guessing as to what the actors are saying. They try to fill in the gaps with actual text but some of the parts are just completely lost.

The story revolves around Dr. Caligari and Cesar. Cesar is a man who has been sleeping for 23 years straight and is a fortune teller. There is a string of murders that happen around the same time Dr. Caligari and Cesar show up. Who is really to blame?

That's basically it. Keep watching until the end.  

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

31 Days of 31 Horror Movies for Halloween: Day 14 - Blurb

Day 14. I sleep less and less as the nights go on. I wake up in night sweats, breathing hard like someone is chasing me. A ghost? A demon? An unknown creature? Paranoia seems to be heightened. I see eyes in all corners of the streets, of rooms, of all enclosures. Why did I think this was a good idea? Who's out to get me tonight?

31 Days of 31 Horror Movies for Halloween: Day 14 - Dumplings

Day 14: Dumplings
Via: Amazon Prime
Release Date - 2004

Synopsis: The infamous Aunt Mei (Bai Ling), a former gynecologist who performed abortions, makes dumplings with miraculous youth-restoring abilities. Mrs. Li (Miriam Yeung), a former actress desperate to make her womanizing husband (Tony Leung Ka Fai) pay attention to her again, initially refuses to eat them. However, after discovering their potency, she offers to pay Mei any price for more. Things are complicated when Mei is forced to flee the country and the dumplings' power begins to fade.

SPOILER ALERT - If you have not seen the movie do not read.

OK! WTF did I just watch? I am not giving anything away when I immediately tell you the two things this film is about. Abortion and cannibalism. Yeah. 

*Drops mic and walks away*

There is no way to explain the whole narrative of this film. It is deeply psychological and graphic. There is way too much to discuss. The gist of it is this...Aunt Mei is the best dumplings cook known in town. Her dumplings have very special attributes that keep the consumer young. The ultimate fountain of youth. Also, Aunt Mei is 64yrs old but looks to be in her twenties thanks to her special diet. Oh and she was a doctor who used to give abortions. That part isn't really told until halfway through the film. The story focuses on a couple, a wealthy business man and his former-actress wife, Mrs. Li. She is worried he won't want her anymore because she is getting older. His attention is on younger women. Mrs. Li hears about Aunt Mei's special dumplings and decides to go to her for help.

That's basically it. The film is about the journey of Mrs. Li, her relationship, the dumplings and their source, and the psychotic behavior of Aunt Mei. This is a film you just have to watch to have the full experience. Everything is great. Except maybe the sound. The sound effects are great and most of the music is great. There are times where the music is so poor that I thought it was an amateur film. That was my only issue. Other than that, this film was amazingly disturbing and entertaining. This is more of a drama/thriller than a horror film. Still, watch this.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

31 Days of 31 Horror Movies for Halloween: Day 13 - Insidious Chapter 3

Day 13: Insidious Chapter 3
Via: Redbox
Release Date - 2015

Synopsis: When teenager Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott) senses that her late mother is trying to contact her, she seeks help from gifted psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye). However, Elise's tragic past makes her reluctant to use her abilities. After Quinn is attacked by a malevolent entity, her father (Dermot Mulroney) pleads with Elise for help. With support from two parapsychologists, Elise ventures deep into The Further -- where she finds a powerful demon with an insatiable craving for human souls.

SPOILER ALERT - If you have not seen the movie do not read.

I try not to watch sequels or prequels because they are usually bad. However, I enjoyed Insidious so much that thought I would give this a chance. Insidious 2 was a bit weak but still had some good moments.

The main plot, if you haven't seen any of the movies in the series, is that there is a psychic who helps out when spirits inhabit certain individuals. Recurring bad spirits or demons throughout the series are that of a black demon with a red face and an old woman who is bound to kill the psychic.

The story to Insidious Chapter 3 is pretty simple. It takes place before Insidious. A teenage girl, Quinn, is trying to cope with the loss of her recently deceased mother. A friend suggests she sees a great psychic, Elise. She will be able to help her contact her mother and Quinn can have the closure she craves. However, when Quinn visits Elise, she hesitant and tells Quinn she has retired.

After having a small chat, Elise agrees and helps Quinn. However, when Quinn's mother is called upon, a different spirit comes through. An evil spirit of a man who needs the aid of an oxygen mask to breathe. As the days go by, the spirit starts to haunt Quinn. One night she sees his face in the middle of the street which causes her to get hit by a car. As Quinn recovers from her injuries while bedridden, the hauntings begin and increase in severity night by night. This is where the film takes the typical haunting/exorcism timeline where the crescendo will be obvious. Once the spirit is vanquished, the victim will be ok. Sure enough Quinn's condition worsens and the only way to save her is if our "retired" hero steps in to save the day.

I know the Insidious films are unoriginal, but I noticed that I enjoyed them to some extent because of the mood it creates through the great editing and sound effects and score. The man/creature in the mask looked like some haunted house character and its effects were dull. However, the music, and sound paired with the editing made for some great scares. Even when the scene was predictable in terms of a jump scare, I still couldn't help from jumping every time. Loved it. This is a fun horror film for a date night. Simple plot, good acting and great atmosphere. 

Even with all of the positive features, I would still say I haven't been impressed with any of the movies so far. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

31 Days of 31 Horror Movies for Halloween - Blurb

Day 12. 
My dreams have increased in dark activity. I see figures chasing me, I see me protecting those I love from demonic entities. Night time comes too soon. Time for some more horror, time for some more fear, time for some more darkness.

31 Days of 31 Horror Movies for Halloween: Day 12 - Entity

Day 12: Entity
Via: Netflix
Release Date - 2012

Synopsis: A TV crew and a psychic travel into a remote Siberian forest to investigate an old case. As they near the spot where 34 bodies were found in a shallow grave, their communication with the outside world stops, and they are not heard from again.

SPOILER ALERT - If you have not seen the movie do not read.

A guy at a DVD store recommended this to me. Yes, apparently DVD stores still exist.

Yet another found footage film. This, to me, was a combination of Blair Witch and the newest House on Haunted Hill. A "ghost hunters" type of reality show crew embarks on a journey lead by a psychic. They seek a location with a dark past full of death and tragedy. Right away I was able to figure out who was the first victim of the group. The plot was simple and predictable. A group trying to find paranormal activity in a haunted location, they find it and fall victim to its evil. 

There were some good scares but overall I think the film was inconsistent.
Everything goes up and down in quality throughout the film.
Sound: The sound effects are really solid at times. They set the dark and chaotic tone during some of the haunting and death scenes. However, at times they are overdone, cheesy and resemble a Casio keyboard.
Cinematography: Long slow shots and quick editing create a creepy atmosphere when needed. However, some fades and overdone edits make it confusing and make the timeline seem off. I remember in one scene there were about 4 different fades to 4 different scenes that were supposed to resemble movement in location but it just fell short of conveying that.
Acting: Overall, the actors played their part well. However, when the scare scenes came, it seemed like too much drama and typical horror film tactics.
Effects: There really weren't any used. It was a bit of a copout to use fast motions of camera to create the feeling that an evil presence was around. When they did use effects, it was poor CGI and haunted-house-like blood and makeup.

No characters had real substance and the storyline didn't hold up well on its own.
I was bored for most of the time and just wished everyone died quicker.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

31 Days of 31 Horror Movies for Halloween: Day 11 - Creep

Day 11: Creep
Via: Netflix
Release Date - 2014

Synopsis: Aaron answers an online ad and drives to a stranger's house to film him for the day. The man wants to make a movie for his unborn child, but his requests become more bizarre as the day goes along.

SPOILER ALERT - If you have not seen the movie do not read.

There is actually not much to write about this film. It was super simple, no effects, found footage style and only two main actors. With that said, it was different but enjoyable. The whole film is mainly about a man, Josef, who hires a cameraman, Aaron, to document his life and make a video for his unborn son. Josef tells Aaron that he has cancer and doesn't have long to live. So, he wants to create something memorable for his son to see once he is older. The film takes its time to develop Josef as the weird character he unfolds to be. He is a pathological liar who enjoys to scare and manipulate others. He has stalker-like qualities but seems warm and "normal" at times. Aaron is basically just along for the ride. As the film goes on, Aaron begins to see the odd behavior and the creepy way Josef is acting.

Eventually the two part ways until Josef begins to send Aaron little gifts to his place, including a knife, a locket and DVDs of weird activity done by Josef. There are some good jump-scare parts within the movie, but I don't know if I would classify this as a horror movie. It's more of a thriller and drama. The story itself is pretty predictable but the way it was told kept me watching until the obvious end. I'm not giving it away by telling you Aaron dies at the end, since for most of the movie, it's pretty clear that was bound to happen. All of the threats Josef made seemed legitimate and his behavior told you that Aaron's demise was to occur. The actual killing scene was very well done. Serene, quiet, no effects, just good, patient, camera work and slow movements.

I didn't dislike this film but I am not sure if I would watch it again. It was just odd. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

31 Days of 31 Horror Movies for Halloween: Day 10 - Starry Eyes

Day 10: Starry Eyes
Via: Netflix
Release Date - 2014

Synopsis: A woman's pursuit of Hollywood stardom puts her on a collision course with a satanic cult.

SPOILER ALERT - If you have not seen the movie do not read.

I'll start out by saying that this film was partly made due to its success on Kickstarter.
This film was awkward. Very well written at times but with a cheesy nature. We are introduced to our main character, Sarah, who is your typical starving actress/waitress. She longs to become a big star and succeed in the world of Hollywood. She works in a "Hooters" type of restaurant and is constantly trying out for new roles on her free time. Her friends seem to all be hippies of some sort with little ambition to do anything but party. We see glimpses of Sarah's odd behavior when she stresses over a part she may not have gotten. She'll get into some sort of deep, self-harming mindset and begin to pull out her hair until she feels satisfied with her punishment. The narrative of the film is really based on her life. Her relationships with them, her obsession with acting, her loneliness and those around her affecting her life.

It turns out that after a bad audition, Sarah goes into the bathroom to throw one of her fits, but someone is listening. It's one of the people representing the studio she just auditioned for. She looks at Sarah and asks her about her fit. She convinces Sarah to go back to the casting room and do it in front of the main representative for the studio. She does and the director loves it and tells her to comeback at a later date for more details about "the part" she will portray. We begin to see hints of Satanism and the connection to the studio. At this point in the film, it gets predictable and I really don't have to describe much more of the narrative. It's a basic overdone story from here-on. The studio wants her for something not related to film and she is willing to do anything to get the part she thinks is a movie.

Sarah obliges the studio with their every demand, including getting nude and performing fellatio on who we believe to be the director, but who is in fact, the leader of the Satanic cult. It gets pretty cheesy at this point until the end. The main things that saved this movie from being a complete disaster was the acting, the cinematography, the dialogue, the amazing effects, and the editing. Were it not for that, this film would be a typical B horror flick with an even worse script. It left me highly satisfied with the aforementioned qualities, but the script was just weak from beginning to end. So I was confused on how to feel at the end of the film. Either way, I would watch it again for its entertaining aspects.