The Pyramid

The Pyramid is a 2014 December release and is a horror/supernatural film in the found footage vein but a little more cleaner production than your usual run of the mill stuff. Directed by Grégory Levasseur, produced by Alexandre Aja, and written by Daniel Meersand and Nick Simon the film stars Ashley Hinshaw, Denis O’Hare, James Buckley, Christa Nicola, Amir K and Daniel Amerman.

Drs. Miles & Nora Holden, an American father & daughter archeologist duo are leading an excavation dig 50 kms away from Cairo when they discover a 3 sides pyramid unlike any other seen before in Egypt and much older than the ones in Giza. Along with them are technician Michael Zahir along with documentary director Sunni & her cameraman Fitzie. As they open the apex, a rush of toxic fungal stale air rushes out causing one of the workers to get infected and convulsed. Due to the uprising in 2013 Egypt the team are ordered to evacuate the site by morning an Egyptian army soldier is sent to ensure that they do leave the site. The team however does not want to leave without getting a good look inside the pyramid and send a robot (a miniature version of the Mars rover), Shorty, in to investigate. Shorty is damaged by an unseen creature and the signal is lost, causing Zahir to want to go and fetch it as he could be in trouble with NASA, who he borrowed it from.

As they try and make their way through to the robot, the floor in a chamber collapses and after they fall down to the next level, one of Zahir’s legs is caught underneath a large piece of the ceiling and the other four are unable to move it. Sunni tries to climb up a shaft to the level above but a creatures leaps at her and scratches her face, causing her to fall down. They leave Zahir behind to find another way out, only to hear him scream, and return to find only a bloody trail leading up the wall. The remaining four are chased by what is later revealed to be cannibalistic cats who have lived in the pyramid for generations, eating on the older ones to survive. The soldier rescues them out of a tunnel but is himself pulled back into the tunnel by an unseen and powerful force. The shocked team then escape a sand tunnel only for Sunni to accidentally fall into a spike pit and get impales and have the cats eat at her flesh. Although the other 3 try to rescue her Sunni’s wounds are fatal and she dies. The remaining 3 move on and find a burial chamber and as the speculate about a way out, Miles has his heart torn out from behind but a large hand and is dragged away. Nora & Fitzie hide in another section of the chamber though Fitzie shortly returns to watch through the camera as the large creature – part man, part jackal, weighing Miles’ heart.

As Nora learns from a hieroglyphic, the creature is Anubis, and the pyramid was constructed to imprison him as he became relentless in his pursuit to join his father Osiris in the afterlife. Anubis captured humans and tried to find a pure soul by whom he can escape to the afterlife. Nora & Fitzie find a way out and climb a long shaft to get out of the pyramid but both are caught by Anubis. As Nora comes to she finds Anubis killing Fitzie and about to measure her soul and she manages to free herself by cutting the ropes that bind her using a knife she had with her. She lashes out at Anubis and wounds him, causing the cannibal cats to attack him smelling blood. She makes her way out of the shaft and into a tunnel that leads out via a cave but the fungal infection overcomes her and she passes out at the entrance. As she comes to, a small boy finds her and the camera with her and as he turns around Anubis comes at them and grabs them both as the scene fades to black and the film ends.

Not very original or scary at all but it was an ok watch for the night. Production is decent and there’s less annoying stuff than most horror films but it’s not enough to rescue this film from the tons of horror stuff that pile out the dvd/bluray sections. 6 outta 10!

Dracula (1979)

One of the numerous but probably one of the best Dracula movies based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker, Dracula (1979) was directed by John Badham and starred Frank Langella as the famed count. The film also starred Laurence Olivier as Professor Abraham Van Helsing, Donald Pleasence as Dr. Jack Seward, Kate Nelligan as Lucy Seward, Trevor Eve as Jonathan Harker, Tony Haygarth as Milo Renfield, and Jan Francis as Mina Van Helsing.

Similar to the story in the novel, Dracula arrives in Whitby, England via the ship the Demeter one stormy evening. In the form of a wolf he kills the entire ship’s crew just before the ship crashes on the shore. An ill Mina Van Helsing, who is visiting her friend Lucy Seward and Dr. Jack Seward’s house sees the crash and runs to the shore to find Dracula. The Count is taken to his newly purchased but old & run down Carfax Abbey, which was sold to him via young Johnathon Harker, Lucy’s fiance. Dracula is invited to dinner at Dr. Seward’s house, whose clifftop mansion also serves as the local asylum, where he charms everyone especially Lucy. Later that night while Johnathon and Lucy have a secret rendevouz, Dracula visits Mina in her bedroom and drinks her blood. Early in the morning Lucy finds Mina struggling to breathe and calls her father to the room. Powerless, they watch as Mina dies, only to find wounds on her throat. Lucy blames herself for Mina’s death, as she had left her alone.

Dr. Seward calls for Dr. Abraham Van Helsing, Mina’s father, to come to Whitby and fills him in on the mysterious circumstances of his daughter’s death. After a period of grieving, and a chance meeting with Dracula, Van Helsing suspects the workings of a vampire and does research on it after a nurse in the asylum swears that she saw Mina feeding on a baby. He & Seward visit Mina’s grave and discover that it has been broken from the inside and track her to the local mines. It is there that they encounter the ghastly form of an undead Mina, and it is up to a distraught Van Helsing to destroy what remains of his own daughter. Lucy, meanwhile goes alone to Carfax Abbey for dinner, as Johnathon is away on work and she reveals that she is under the count’s spell and professes her love to him. They share a sensuous night of love making after which Lucy drinks some of Dracula’s blood. However, after Johnathon arrives to find her in a similar sickly state as Mina, the two doctors manage to give Lucy a blood transfusion to slow her descent into vampirism, but she remains under Dracula’s spell.

The three men realize that to save Lucy they must destroy the Count but have to restrain Lucy first as she desperately wishes to be with him. The two doctors & Harker go to the Count’s home in daylight but he is prepared and waiting for them and despite it being daylight he manages to escape. At night he bursts into the Asylum and frees Lucy and they make their way to board a ship carrying the vampire cargo bound for Romania. Harker & Van Helsing take a boat to the ship and get on board to confront the Count. They find the Count’s coffin; upon opening it they see Lucy sleeping beside her new “husband”, Dracula. Again they try to destroy him, but the Count awakens and once more fights with them. Van Helsing is fatally injured by Dracula as he is impaled by the stake intended for the vampire but manages to throw a hook (attached to a rope, from the ship’s rigging), into Dracula’s back. Harker hoists the body of Dracula high into up through the cargo hold and into the sunlight above. With animalistic screams of agony the Count dies a slow death, his body burnt into ashes.

The last scene shows a now more herself Lucy reaching out to Harker but he rejects her still feeling betrayed. As Lucy looks up she sees Dracula’s cape flying in the wind and smiles to herself, leading me to believe that we haven’t seen the last of the Count. Good film and excellent casting. A classic gothic-romantic style film with an emphasis on the romance. 8 outta 10, though it drags a bit in the middle!

The Returned (2013)

The Returned is a 2013 Spanish-Canadian thriller film directed by Manuel Carballo, written by Hatem Khraiche, and starring Emily Hampshire, Kris Holden-Ried, Shawn Doyle, and Claudia Bassols. It has a horror theme of zombies but the focus is less on that and more on the survivors of a disease that turns people into zombies and on the relationship of the two main leads and their friends.

In the alternate universe of this film, a plague that turns victims into zombies first showed up in the 1980s and causes the death of over 100 million people. Scientists do heavy research for a cure but are only able to come up with a serum that needs to be injected daily to ward off the effects. If the subject misses a single dose they quickly change into a feral state and attack people. The formula can only extracted from the dead zombies and hence by current times supplies have started running low. The infected humans have to endure discrimination, taunts and even violent threats from bigoted humans.

Kate, who is a physician in Toronto working with the Returned, has just finished counseling a young boy’s parents on the treatment for him. We then see her buying black market does of the cure, from a pharmacist at the same hospital, and stocking them for fear that they will run out soon. Kate’s own husband Alex, a music teacher, got infected 6 years ago when he attempted to assist a man whom he thought was having a seizure. Alex was treated in an army medical facility and then moved to a hospital, where he met Kate and they fell in love. At dinner that weekend Alex confesses to his best friend Jacob & Jacob’s wife Amber that he has been infected for 6 years and they support him. When protestors become violent and the government begins to set up quarantine camps, Jacob and his wife Amber invite Alex and Kate to stay with them outside the city. Kates hospital was attacked by a trio of masked men who killed the returned in their beds. Alex narrowly avoids both an attempted murder but is able to turn the gun towards the attacked and the gun goes off. He & Kate dump the body in the water. Early the next morning Kate goes back into the city to meet her source and buy more doses but finds her dead. On the woman’s body Kate finds one of Amber’s false nails and panics.

She calls Alex who searches the house and finds his supply gone and both Amber & Jacob are missing as well. Alex finds a single dose and a note from Jacob that apologizes for taking the rest, as Amber has become infected. Alex becomes desperate and tries calling Jacob who tearfully tries to justify his actions. Kate returns to the city and reveals her dilemma to the hospital chief, who gives her the hospital’s entire stash. However, the father of the infected boy Kate had treated, overhears her talking to Alex on the phone about the doses and attempts to steal the container, and, in the ensuing fight over it, the entire contents are destroyed. Kate returns to Alex at their apartment and finds him having chained himself in his studio. As he slowly experiences the changes due to not getting the dose he hands Kate the gun and asks her to shoot him. Kate has flashbacks to her childhood when she could not bring herself to kill her mother who had just been bitten & infected by her father but does shoot him offscreen. Later back in the city she goes to the hospital and in told by the chief that the that researchers have created a synthesized treatment! Unable to control her grief she breaks down. In the final scene, some months later, a pregnant Kate prepares to track & kill Jacob and Amber at a book tour.

Good movie with a sober story about the survivors of a plague rather than your typical infected zombie flick. The focus on an infected trying to stay that way and his spouse who wants to help him makes the film unique in it’s genre and hence should be treated more like a thriller than a horror movie. For a small budget ($5 mill) film, I was impressed so a 7.5 outta 10!

At The Devil’s Door

A movie titled like that is sure to get it’s share of people checking it out. I expected a lot more from this film, even after glancing through it’s synopsis but I was somewhat disappointed. At The Devil’s Door is 2014 horror film directed by Nicholas McCarthy and starring Catalina Sandino Moreno, Ashley Rickards & Naya Rivera.

Teenager Hannah is with her new boyfriend who takes her to meet a man in a trailer who offers her $500 to play a game and “sell her soul”. Not making much of it she agrees and wins a round of the shells game. The man tells her she’s been chosen, and to go down to where the roads meet and say her name (so he knows her name when he calls for her). Later that night at her house, she hears a male voice from her closet that says “come to me” and she is attacked by an unseen entity that lifts her in the air and then throws her down with some force. The movie then shifts to Leigh, a real estate agent who has just visited the now empty house that Hannah lived in and she sees a girl in a raincoat who walks away without saying a word. Leigh then goes to her artist sister Vera at the latter’s house and offered to buy one of her works, even though Vera wants to gift it to her. Later Leigh meets the owners of the house are trying to sell the house due to being unable to pay the mortgage since Chuck, the husband got sick. Leigh tells them that she say a girl there earlier and the couple say that it must have been their daughter Charlene who has been missing for several months (they think she ran away with her boyfriend).

Later when Leigh is at the house awaiting some inspection crew she see the girl again and takes her out of the rain and to her own home. As Charlene sits in the kitchen Leigh calls Chuck and says that she has his daughter with her but is stunned to hear Chuck tell her that police picked Charlene up at a local mall hours ago and that she is with him. Leigh then sees the girl’s picture in an newspaper article among the files for the house – it is Hannah White, who committed suicide back in 1987. Leigh notices Hannah is gone and she goes around the house to look for her. She finds her in an empty room staring into a mirror. When Leigh asks who she is, Leigh falls to the floor and her heart stops. A grey creature comes out of Hannah. The next day Vera is contacted by the police to come to identify the body of her sister Leigh, who died the day before. Vera finds the same files in Leigh’s home and goes to the empty house where she too sees Hannah who then takes out. Vera then goes to see Charlene who is in an institute and she tells her that she saw the same girl and what looked like a dark figure of man watching her through a mirror.

Vera then goes to see one of Hannah’s old friends who says that Hannah was pregnant before she committed suicide and that she wasn’t herself the last few days she was alive. Also that Hannah claimed a demon was inside of her, wearing her body like a costume. That night at her own loft Vera is awakened by a voice that says “come to me” and she sees a demonic face in the mirror. The entity then attacks her and throws her out the building window onto the roof of a car. When she comes to at the hospital she is told that she was in a coma for 8 months that she was also pregnant at the time. The baby is safe and progressing along fine but Vera wants it out of her. During her ultrasound, Vera sees a demonic face on the monitor and demands an immediate C-section. Refusing to hold or look at the baby she gives the baby up for adoption and after a week later, Vera goes back to Leigh’s house to gather some of her sisters belongings before leaving town.

6 years later Vera tracks down her baby, a girl and meets the mother. While the mother is in another room Vera asks the girl why she was chosen and that she knows who the girl is. The girl hands a finished puzzle to Vera and then leaves the house and runs into a partially completed house in the woods. Vera chases after her with a knife and in a room sees a dark shadow of a demon which then changes shape to that of the girl and almost stabs the girl with the knife. We then see the girl’s mother running to the house searches desperately for her daughter who she cannot find.
In Vera’s car, the little girl and Vera prepare to leave when the girl touches Vera’s hand and says, “I knew you’d come back for me, mommy.” The end!

For a movie that is about the anti-christ or coming of the devil in human form, it’s not very scary (just a couple of jump scares) and falters to excite you as anything worthy of Satan’s spawn should do. Hannah’s angst at trying to burn the money to get rid of the entity and on failing to do so tries to bury it but it still comes back is good but the film hinting that she probably harmed an infant she was babysitting and not doing so – what? The film didn’t really work for me although it is worth a watch. 6.5 outta 10!

The Strain – Season 1

The Strain is a vampire / supernatural horror drama tv series that debut in the summer and concluded it’s 13 episode first season. The show revolves around an old vampire who comes to New York City from Europe and unleashes his virus like vampirism with the help of a rich & powerful businessman who is ill and is promised eternal life and vigour in return. A small group of heroes led by a couple of scientists from the CDC, an exterminator, a hacker and an elderly pawn shop owner & holocaust survivor who fought the master vampire a couple of times back in Europe, seek to stop the spread of this disease that could wipe out humanity.

The series stars Corey Stoll, David Bradley, Mía Maestro, Kevin Durand, Jonathan Hyde, Richard Sammel, Sean Astin, Ruta Gedmintas, Ben Hyland, Natalie Brown & Miguel Gomez. Leslie Hope, Roger Cross, Stephen McHattie, Adriana Barazza & Inga Cadrenal form part of a large supporting cast. It was created by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, based on their novel trilogy of the same name. Carlton Cuse serves as executive producer and showrunner. Del Toro and Hogan wrote the pilot episode, “Night Zero”, which del Toro directed.

The series starts off with a plane landing in NYC with all the lights off and the doors sealed Epidemiologist Dr. Ephraim Goodweather and his team are sent to investigate. On board they find 206 corpses and four survivors. The survivors are quarantined until answers can be reached but with political pressure they are left to go home as they seem to be fine, despite the concerns of Eph and his team – Dr. Nora Martinez & Jim Kent, a CDC administrator. On the same plan a large box with a coffin inside is tagged to leave the airport with the help of Kent, as former gang banger just out of jail Gus drives it out to delivers it to the waiting hands of Thomas Eichhorst, an undead vampire acolyte of the Master, who is inside the coffin. Both Kent & Gus are unwitting accomplices – Gus is in it for the cash and Kent is promised that his wife, who suffers from cancer, will be moved to the head of the list for a new treatment. The four survivors start deteriorating in health and start to lose their hair and in case of the man, his penis, as they slowly convert to become vampires. The dead also revive and become vampires spreading out into the city, either killing and/or infecting more people during the night time.

Eldritch Palmer, an elderly billionaire invalid, is the financial muscle behind the whole process as his money is used to get the Master’s plan in place with Einchhorst doing most of the administration. An elder pawnshop owner, Professor Abraham Setrakian who battled the former Nazi general and saw the Master in action while in a concentration camp joins Eh, Nora and Jim providing them with knowledge and some weapons to fight the vampires. Setrakaian’s wife and daughter were converted to vampires long ago and he had to kill them so his beef with Einchhorst and the Master is personal. Also joining the fight is Vasiliy Fet, a once-solitary rat exterminator of Ukrainian descent and Dutch Velders, an internet hacker hired by Palmer to control the information from going out via news sites, who is miffed that she was a pawn in an evil scheme. Palmer is finally bitten by the Master and gains his health and strength but hasn’t changed completed. As the vampires keep infecting people, Eph’s ex-wife and mother to their son Zack, is also transformed. Adding to the mix is a group of vampires, led by Mr. Quinlan, the head of a band of undead hunters who are sent to destroy the vampire outbreak, who recruit Gus to join them.

Rather good series and very well done on the budget of a television show. It got good rating despite some slow movement initially but things picked up towards the end. I’d rate it high and I can’t for next season, which will also be 13 episodes – I think this one needs to be 20 plus.

Jessabelle

Jessabelle is a 2014 horror movie directed by Kevin Greutert and written by Ben Garant. he film stars Sarah Snook, Mark Webber, Joelle Carter, David Andrews, Amber Stevens and Ana de la Reguera. The movie is about ghosts and possessions and is produced by Jason Blum who also produced Insidious, Sinister & The Purge.

Jessie, a young woman who is moving to her boyfriend’s place, is in an accident that kills her boyfriend and also her unborn baby. Having injured her legs badly that she needs a wheelchair, the hospital make her call her estranged father, who she hasn’t seen in ages, to come pick her up when she is discharged. Her dad comes and picks her up in his truck and takes her home to his farm house in St. Francis, Louisiana. He sets her up in his wife’s, Jessie’s mom’s, old room which hasn’t been used in a while. Jessie’s mom Kate had died a little after giving birth due to cancer, which she hadn’t allowed to be treated with chemo. After a couple of awkward days spent mostly alone by her self, Jessie finds a few old VHS tapes in a box labeled “Jessabelle” and pops on in in the VCR. She sees a taping of her mother Kate, still pregnant at the time, back in 1988 who is addressing her unborn daughter.

In the video Kate does a card reading for her daughter in which “transition” comes up. The next card says that she has never left St. Francis and that she is never going to leave – which is untrue for Jessie. The third card is Water and Jessie laughs as she doesn’t know how to swim. She reads that Jessie is not alone, that there is a presence in the house with her, a female who wants her out of the house. At this point her dad walks in and breaks the tape and tells Jessie not to watch that garbage. He is so angry that he dumps the wheelchair into the bayou. That night Jessie sees a girl in a wheelchair in her room that latter disappears. In the morning she sees an old wheelchair, which her dad says he left there. He apologizes for his behaviour and says that it was Kate’s, which he found in the shed. After he leaves Jessie pops in another video in which her mother says that she spoke to Moses about the reading that he said the presence is a demon, and she should stop blaming herself for an accident that happened. Her mother then gives her another reading. Death comes up again, meaning transition, but further reading shows a very horrible death.

The next day a physiotherapists comes to the house and places Jessie in the bath and leaves the room for a bit. Jessie falls asleep and is attacked by a ghost girl as the bathtub fills with dark blood. Hearing her screams her father comes in and she opens her eyes, the attack seemingly a hallucination. The dad gets upset and makes the physio leave and on finding the rest of the tapes, attempts to burn it in the trash. However as he goes in to the shed for matches, it closes and locks by itself and the shed is accidentally set on fire, killing him and Jessie is unable to get to him. At the funeral she meets her childhood friend Preston but a hallucination of a partial burned African-American man makes her faint. After recovering she goes to have lunch with Preston and tells him about the tapes and that she’s been having nightmares. Later on her own at night she watches more tapes and in one of them is of her parents at Christmas and another is of her mother telling Jessabelle that she is already dead. The ghost then begins attacking Jessie, again leading to her discovery of another tape in the wall.

She calls Preston and after he comes they investigate lights across the bayou and find voodoo objects and a small grave labeled Jessabelle. Preston opens it up and finds the skeleton of a baby, which they think was still born, and they call the police who take the remains for analysis. The next day Preston takes Jessie to see a lady who used to cook for her parents and who’s son was a friend of Preston. On seeing Jessie the old woman starts chanting a voodoo song to allow spirits to possess people and she gets a bit violent. They leave and try to find Moses but only find his shrine with voodoo objects. While there, a group of men find them, attack Preston and tell them to leave. Preston takes Jessie home to get her things so she can stay at his mother’s, but he is attacked by the ghost and is taken to the hospital. Jessie later learns from the sheriff that the baby was African-American who was murdered after she was born, which leads Jessie to believe that the spirit, that of the baby, needs saving. When she is alone, she tries to talk to the ghost. She finds the last tape on the coffee table and plays it. She sees a white baby and her mother. At first it looks as if the mother will kill the baby but instead she curses her with a voodoo spell and then shoots herself.

It is then that Kate’s spirit appears and the truth comes out. The baby was half black because Kate had an affair with her friend Moses and he is father of the baby. When Jessie’s dad sees the baby, Kate’s infidelity comes out in the open and enraged he kills the baby and then Moses and adopted Jessie to hide this. Moses’s spirit also appears and together they tie Jessie’s hands and push her into the bayou. Preston & the sheriff see her from afar and rush to the edge of the water. As Jessie sinks to the bottom, Jessabelle comes up to her and takes her bracelet and swims to the surface, having assumed the form of Jessie. Preston lift her out of the water and takes her inside the house and when the Sheriff asks “Jessie” if she is alright – calling her Miss Laurent – she replies with a sly look, “It’s Jessabelle.” Spooky!

I would say that I like this film, though the “twist” ending is foreseeable by a mile. I still enjoyed them film and the lead actress Sarah Snook is very effective in her sweetness and vulnerability. No one else stands out but I will give it a 6.5 outta 10!

Ouija

From the age of 9 or 10 I have been fascinated by the Ouija board. I remember seeing it in a semi-horror tv film (it was prominent in the film but the killer wasn’t supernatural) and boom – instant like! At the age of 19 me and some friend tried to make our own ouija board. That died in an hour or so! Anyways, Ouija is a 2014 supernatural horror film directed by Stiles White and co-written by White and Juliet Snowden. The film stars Olivia Cooke, Ana Coto, Daren Kagasoff, Douglas Smith and Bianca A. Santos with Lin Shaye.

The movie is predictable; two friends Laine & Debbie, played with this Oija board that Debbie happen to find in the attic of her house. Years later as high school students Debbie, is using the board on her own and clearly disturbed by something, she burns the board and planchette in the fireplace. Acting all withdrawn she then cancels going out with Laine to join other friends and stays home alone. At night Debbie investigates noise upstairs and goes into her room and finds – the board intact and lying on her bed. She looks through the planchett and her eyes turn white and then she hangs herself. The next morning Laine is with her boyfriend at a diner where their friend Isabelle works when she gets the call from her parents that Debbie is dead.

After the funeral Debbie’s grief-stricken parents leave town and keep the keys with Laine who promises to look after the place. Also Laine’s dad, a single parent leaves for a trip so Debbie & her younger sister Sarah are alone at home (though Nona stays close by). While at the house with Trevor Laine finds the board and calls Isabelle, Sarah & Debbie’s boyfriend Pete to hold a seance at their friend’s house at night. Yeah, we got rid of the grown ups so now the kids can play! So using the Ouija board they make contact with a spirit called D who they think is Debbie but have to leave when the power goes out. The 5 of them later experience weird sightings and strange sensation of being watched & followed and find “Hi Friend” notes. So they go back again to the house and contact the spirit – D is not Debbie but D Z, aka Doris Zander. Laine looks through the planchette and finds a young girl with her mouth stitched who is running away from her mother’s spirit. Doris warns the group about her mother and the 5 teens run away, only for Isabelle to be killed while she is in her bathroom. Doing research on the house Laine finds out that years before Debbie’s family lived there, the house was the home of a young girl named Doris Zander who’s mother claimed was missing. Doris had a sister named Pauline, who is still alive, but who is in a mental institution for killing her mother.

Laine visits Pauline who says that their mother was experimenting with contacting spirits and believed that evil ones were trying to speak through Doris and hence had her mouth stitched shut and killed her and left the body in an underground chamber of the house. Pauline feared for her life and hence killed her mother in return. The four friends head to the basement of the house and find Doris’ decaying body and free her by cutting the stitches. Doris vanquishes her mother and her spirit is freed. Thinking it to be over the group go back home but Doris is the actual evil spirit and she kills Pete. Laine confronts Pauline who was in league with her evil sister and is happy that she is now free. Laine’s grandmother advices the kids to burn Doris’s body and the board but Trevor is killed before that can happen. Doris’s spirit attacks Laine and has Sarah restrained but with help from Debbie’s spirit, Laine is able to burn Doris’s body and the board in the furnace which destroys Doris’ spirit. The two sisters return home, only for Laine to find the planchette waiting for her in her room.

Predictable & stale with just a couple of jump scares, double twists that everyone and their grandmother can see coming from a mile away. I don’t hate it but there’s nothing really good or memorable about this film 6 outta 10!

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – 1, 2 & 3

Despite being a fan of horror films and watched a whole lot of them over the years, I hadn’t watched anything from the hugely popular franchise of slasher films that started in 1974 called The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Although I had heard of it, seen review of some of the movies and seen a couple of clips around the time they did the remake. Among the horror fanatics on Youtube, this series of movies is a huge deal and you can see many Youtubers proudly displaying their collection from this franchise. I kept wondering just what the heck is so good about this movie franchise and finally decided to check them out and lose my TCM virginity, so to speak.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) directed and produced by Tobe Hooper – Well it’s good but I am not that impressed. It’s nothing to scream and shout about. Perhaps I am being spoiled by years of watching scary & gory films and this being a film from 1974 and watching it 40 years later it doesn’t have that same affect on me. Had I watched it back in 1974 (well I wasn’t born yet but you get the idea) for the first time I would have been more impressed. And that goes for most horror flicks of that time. Movies that scared me when I was a child aren’t scary at all now. The plot is about a group of friends – Sally Hardesty, her wheelchair bound brother Franklin and their 3 friends Pam, Jerry & Kirk are traveling in rural Texas to an old family homestead after visiting the grave of their grandfather. On their way the pick up a hitchhiker – the most annoying and irritating person ever to have hitchhiked in the world since the beginning of time – who acts like a total imbecile and slashes Franklin’s arm with a straight razor for not paying for a Polaroid he took of the group without asking first. They push him out but the group is doomed. After they reach the homestead, Kirk & Pam head up to a neighbour’s house to ask for gas and are killed by Leatherface – a large man with a chainsaw. By sunset Jerry goes to look for them and is also killed by Leatherface. Finally as it is dark and they are worried, Sally & Franklin (who has a stupidly acted scene earlier, stinking up the film) go to the house to look for their friend and Frankie boy is killed but Sally manages to escape – mainly because Leatherface is too busy posturing with his chainsaw instead of killing her!

Sally makes it to the gas station a few miles down the road and asks the proprietor for help but he turns out to be the father of Leatherface and he abducts her and brings her to the house where the hitchhiker (Leatherface’s brother) is also waiting. The men torment the bound and gagged Sally while Leatherface, now dressed as a woman, serves dinner. Leatherface and the hitchhiker bring an old man, Grandpa (John Dugan), from upstairs to share the meal. Sally is tortured a bit and screams (bloody murder loudly indeed) and is able to escape as the men decide to try and make grandpa kill her but he is too weak. Leatherface and the hitchhiker give chase, but the latter is run down and killed by a passing semi-trailer truck. Leatherface kills the truck driver but Sally manages to jump into the back of a passing pickup truck, still screaming and covered in blood, while a frustrated Leatherface wave his chainsaw in anger.

The sequel The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 took 12 years to come out, why I dunno. This time the film stars Dennis Hopper as “Lefty”, Caroline Williams as “Stretch”, Bill Johnson as “Leatherface”, Bill Moseley as “Chop Top” and Jim Siedow, who reprises the role of “The Cook”. Two rowdy young men are on the phone with the DJ of a small radio station in Texas, as they are driving in a car, when they are attacked by Leatherface using his chainsaw from a van that’s parallel to their car. Both the kids are killed (truth is they were real obnoxious assholes and deserved to be offed) and their bloody screams are recorded on tape. The DJ, Stretch, ends up contacting Lieutenant Boude “Lefty” Enright, the Hardesty’s uncle, who is still running his own investigation to find Leatherface & his family. he convinces her to play the screams on her show so the law enforcers and the people will have to listen to him. But things go wrong when Chop Top (brother of Leatherface & twin of the Hitchhiker) comes to the station at night and badly beats up Stretch’s co-worker LG while Leatherface goes after Stretch with his chainsaw. Before he can kill her, she manages to charm him and Leatherface, being a sexually repressed man, leaves her alone and smashes a lot of the walls of the station. BTW, Bill Moseley acts like a total asshole in this movie – I mean he is so shit and over the top annoying!

The brothers leave in their pickup with LG, presumed dead at this point, and drive off to their new hideout in an abandoned carnival ground decorated with human bones, multi-colored lights, and carnival remnants. Stretch calls Lefty and follows the brothers and gets trapped inside their home and is found by Leatherface but he tries to disguise her with the ripped off skin off LG’s face. She tries to escape but is caught by the Cook & Chop Top and is brought to their dinner table where they proceed to torture her for a bit. Left, with 3 chainsaws of his own, finds then and frees Stretch. After a battle, Lefty impales Leatherface in the stomach and he, Leatherface, the corpse of “Grandpa” and the Cook are apparently killed when a grenade goes off prematurely. Chop Top & Stretch, who was chasing her, escape and have a face off in carved out rock tower next to the ground. Top Chop cuts Stretch multiple times with a blade but using a chainsaw held by the mummified remains of the family’s grandmother in a ritual shrine, she cuts him and he falls to his death. Stretch is seen waving the chainsaw madly in the air, much like Leatherface, as the movie ends.

Leatherface : The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3 came out in 1990 & stars Kate Hodge, Ken Foree, William Butler, and a then-unknown Viggo Mortensen. Somehow Leatherface is still alive and has a new family! No idea how that happens. Michelle & Ryan, a couple who seem to be on the verge of a breakup are driving Michelle’s dad’s car from California to Florida. On a stop at a gas station in some rural area they meet Tex who shows Ryan a different route which should shorten their trip and asks for a ride. Ryan refuses but Tex gets angry at the perverted gas station owner Alfredo who is spying on Michelle as she is using the facilities. Alfredo gets a shotgun as seemingly shoots Tex as the couple race away in the car. As night falls, Ryan and Michelle, having taken the route Tex recommended, become lost and are attacked by a driver in a truck, who throws a dead coyote on their windshield. They stop to change a flat tire when Leatherface attacks and they just about manage to escape as he rips their car. They almost crash into another truck, driven by Benny and he drives off the road to avoid hitting them. Benny offers helps but is attacked by Tinker, who has a hook hand. Benny manages to get his gun but runs into Leatherface and is attacked again. Leatherface is lured away by Sara, a young woman who’s sister was killed by Leatherface but is killed later.

Leatherface then chases Ryan & Michelle and catches Ryan whose foot is caught in a trap. Ryan yells for Michelle to run as Leatherface attacks him and she runs into a house. She is caught by Tex who is in the house with a little girl and his mother – all of them are a family, including Leatherface & the Hookhand man. Michelle is tied up to a chair and nailed on the hand as the men bring in an unconscious Ryan who they later kill. Outside the family home, Benny finds and attempts to interrogate Alfredo as he disposes of human bodies in a bag, but he is unsuccessful, eventually knocking Alfredo into the bog and leaving him to drown. Benny finds the house and sees the family torturing a screaming Michelle and he fires shots into the house. The men fight as Michelle manages to escape; Tex is killed when Benny soaking him in fuel and burning him with a lighter. Benny rushes to Michelle’s aid, stopping Leatherface from murdering her, and knocking the killer into the bog. The pair begin fighting, and Benny appears to die when Leatherface forces his head into the blade of the chainsaw. He then turns his attention to Michelle, who grabbing a nearby rock, beats him over the head with it, leaving him unconscious under the water. As daylight breaks, a recovered Benny finds a truck and catches up to Michelle but is attacked by Alfredo. Michelle shoots Alfredo in the chest with a shotgun before the pair drive away, unaware that Leatherface is revving his chainsaw some distance away.

Whew! That’s a lot of killing. I have no idea from where the new family with a bunch of characters comes from and the little girl – who the heck is she – and I’m sure that there’s bound to be more such strange family members to be revealed as I go throw the rest of the series. My ratings are 5.5, 7.5 & 6 for the first 3 movies.

Martyrs

Heavily recommended by the horror group that I am a member off, I kept putting this off for several months since the first I had heard about it. Martyrs is a 2008 French horror film written and directed by Pascal Laugier. The film debuted in Cannes and focuses on torture.

The film starts with a young girl named Lucie, who has subjected to tremendous physical abuse, escaping from a building in what looks like an abandoned factory area. Bloodied and her hair shorn she is found and taken to an orphanage once her physical wounds have healed somewhat. She doesn’t trust anyone and flinches at the slightest movements and it is only Anna, her roommate who is able to get close to her. Lucie is haunted by a ghoulish figure that is emaciated and covered in scars which attacks her at night unseen by anyoneelse, except that Anna seems to know about these attacks. 15 years later a grown up Lucie enters what seems like a rich family’s home and proceeds to kill the father and the mother of the house with her shotgun. She then asks the teenage boy if he knows what his parents did to her and when he replies no she kills him too. She then hunts for the young girl in the house and kills her as well. Lucie then calls Anna, who has remained best friends with her, and tells her that she found the people who tortured her all those years ago and has killed them.

Anna comes to the house and agrees to help Lucie bury the bodies but is shocked to find that the mother is still alive. In between the creature attacks Lucie a couple of times and she has to hide in a bedroom. That night while Lucie sleeps, Anna tries to help the mother escape but is caught by Lucie who then proceeds to beat the mother to death. Lucie is again attacked by the scarred creature, but all Anna sees is Lucie banging her head against the wall and cutting herself with a hobby knife; the ‘creature’ is nothing more than a psychological manifestation of Lucie’s guilt for leaving behind another girl who was also imprisoned and tortured with her as a child. Lucie then tells the apparition that she has killed the torturers and she can now rest but is “attacked” by the creature again. Convinced that the apparition will never leave her alone, Lucie slits her own throat and dies out in the rain as a horrified Anna weeps for her friend. Anna waits till morning to clean up the house before she leaves and discovers a secret passageway leaving to an underground section of the house where she finds a terribly tortured & scarred woman tied up in chains with metal contraptions on her head and body. Anna brings the woman out to the main part of the house when some strangers arrive and shoots the chained woman dead. Anna is captured by them and is chained to a wall in the underground chamber.

The leader of the group of strangers, identified as only ‘Mademoiselle’ arrives and tells Anna that her secret philosophical society is behind the torture of Lucie and several other young women. The elderly woman says the purpose behind the kidnappings and torture of these young women is that the society believes that their suffering will offer transcendental insight into the world beyond this one – the afterlife, and they believe that the ‘martyrs’ will be able to offer the secrets of it! Mademoiselle leaves and Anna is tied to a chair and left to be tortured by a heavyset man who brutalizes & beats while a blonde woman comes in between to feed her, forcefully with a green slop, and on occasion cleans her up with wet sponge. Her hair is shaved off and she cries during each degrading beating. After an unspecified passage of time Anna is told that she has surpassed the previous length of duration of torture and will be entering the final stage. She is taken to a lab in the same underground chambers and flayed alive. She survived the procedure and enters a stage that seems euphoric to the tormentors who immediately call Mademoiselle and others. The members of the society arrive at the house along with Mademoiselle eager to learn of what Anna has seen in her state of transcendence.

Mademoiselle goes to Anna and asks her what she saw and the poor girl whispers to the older woman. The MC for the day addresses the gathering and tells them that Anna is only the 4th torture victim to attain “martyrdom” but is the 1st who was able to communicate what she has seen. While the others wait the MC then goes to the room where Mademoiselle prepares herself and asks her if what Anna said she saw was clear and precise. From behind closed doors she says that there is no room for interpretation and asks if the MC could guess what comes after death. The MC says no and Mademoiselle says that he should keep guessing and shoots herself dead with a gun. Before the screen fades, we see a close up of Anna’s face with some voices in the background.

What the hell!!! This movie is shocking in it’s brutality and fierce torture. Oh how realistic and painful it looks. With ever slap and hit, I shuddered along with Anna. And that skin flaying scene – oh! I flinched at the brutal scenes quite often; scary stuff I can take, horryfing creatures, scary monsters – bring them on! But this brutal hitting of women, and especially this dainty little woman! Whoa! I was moved by the situation of Anna and Lucie but the scenes depicting Anna’s tortures were hard to watch. I had to watch videos of puppies and kittens frolicking on Youtube just to get myself back into a familiar frame of mind! As a well acted and affective film – 8 outta 10! But I wouldn’t recommend anyone but horror fans to watch this.

The Possession Of Michael King

Recommended highly by horror movie fans in this Facebook group that I am a member of The Possession of Michael King is a 2014 American found footage horror movie which is also the directorial debut of David Jung who also wrote the script. The movie stars Shane Johnson as Michael King along with Ella Anderson, Cara Pifko, Tomas Arana & Julie McNiven.

Michael King is an atheist film maker who decides to make his next project a documentary on the supernatural and to disprove the existence of god & the devil. Already a non believer he is spured on by the accident that cost his wife Samantha’s life, leaving him to raise their young daughter on his own with help from his sister Beth. His first interview is with a psychic who he confronts as giving false readings and hope to her customers. He reveals to the psychic that she had done a reading for his wife and told her that she would get a big break in her acting career. This prompted Samantha to postpone their trip to Europe. The break never happened and while the family was at a picnic at the park, she went to get something from the car and as she dropped her keys she runs into a car that couldn’t stop in time to avoid hitting her. The pychic asks him to leave.

He then speaks to a Priest about exorcisms, ofcourse which are always denied when in front of camera and to a man who claims he prayed to God with no response, and got better results praying to the Devil. Eventually, he ends up in a basement, on LSD, tied up in part of a Satanic ritual by a satanic couple. He visits a cemetery and has himself dosed with a toxic drug that induces a near death stage by a mortuary man who is also a chemist. This is one freaky incident and that’s when things start to wrong for Michael. He is visited by all sorts of demons who want to posses his body and soon the changes start happening. He become possessed and starts doing weird things. He kills the family dog, although he doesn’t know that he did it. He goes to his sister’s room at night as she sleeps and puts his hand in her crotch and the camera (which he is holding while possessed) shows a demonic looking Michael enjoying it). He loses sleep and is unable to concentrate. His work suffers as does his relationship with his family and his sister takes little Ella to her friend’s house for a few days. Michael tries to reach out for help but gets none from the priest or the satanic couple and the mortician has him thrown out for disrupting his work.

Finally Michael faced with the reality of being possessed is sitting disheveled in his house when his sister visits and brings Ellie along. As Ellie goes upstairs a possessed Michael strangles his sister to death and then stalks his young daughter. She hides in the closet but is caught by him but his wife’s spirit reaches out and gets Michael to snap out of the possession for a few moments, just enough for him to take control and jump out the window – killing himself and also ending the demon’s possession. At the end of the movie is when we see how Samantha dies.

Good little film with some awesome acting by Shane Johnson who gives a rather compelling performance. And that is vital as the entire movie hinges on him as he is the main focus; Beth is always shown at a distance and her face is never focused upon. Still the scares are cliches and you can pretty much tell what’s going to happen. I’ll  give it a 7 outta 10 more for the performance of Johnson.

Honeymoon (2014)

Honeymoon is a 2014 horror film directed by Leigh Janiak and her feature film directorial debut. The movie stars Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway with Ben Huber & Hannah Brown.

Newly married couple Bea & Paul are crazy in love and we start of the film with them on their wedding day, shooting a film. Bea & Paul profess their love, share with us as to how they met and Paul insults Indian food! Seriously dude, if you are going to go on a date with a chick to a lowdown restaurant with a crummy bathroom, anyone would be sick too! Anyway, as a “revenge” they have Indian food for their wedding reception (vegetable korma, lamb curry & samosas are on the menu) and Paul declares a “fuck you” to India as “we” won! What the hell dude, you totally deserve what you are going to get in this movie!

All kidding aside, the newly weds decide to head from Brooklyn to a remote cabin in the woods across the border in Canada. Seriously, you guys have to select a really remote place with bad wiring near a large lake do you? The cabin was one that Bea’s family regularly used when she was  younger thought it has been a while since she’s been there. They settle in and spend the days making love, cooking together and fishing in the lake. Except at night as they sleep, a strange light shines on their bed. One afternoon they visit a small restaurant which they find to be empty of people and a rude man who impolitely asks them to leave. As they are about to the man, Will, recognizes Bea as his childhood friend and he apologizes. As the two reminize about the summers they played as kids, Will’s wife Annie comes in all troubled and tells them that they have to leave. Will restrains her but the damage is done and the couple leave soon after.

That night a noise awakes Paul and he goes to investigate. While he is out the light shines on Bea and she walks off in a trance into the woods and is later found sleepwalking naked and dirty by Paul. He brings her back home and she cleans up herself seemingly not too worried that this is her first sleepwalking incident. Soon it is apparent that things are not the same, Bea forgets how to cook French toast and forgets to put coffee in the pot and Paul finds only hot water. Her strange behaviour is apparent all throughout and he is also worried about two bite marks on her thigh which she claims to be caused by mosquitoes. Paul also finds her missing nightgown torn and with a sticky substance on it in the woods. Although he tells her that he will take her to a hospital in town, she refuses. Dude, that’s your cue – take her to the fucking hospital if you see all these worrying signs! She starts forgetting phrases and Paul catches her writing down her own information – like name, hometown etc – in a book. Also Bea had been all about lust and love but now seems to deny it to her husband. Paul heads back to the restaurant, hoping to confront Will (he suspect that perhaps the two were having an affair) but finds the place deserted. He finds Will’s computer and watches videos of Annie walking out into the woods on several nights and a bright light that seems to shine on her as she does. He also sees pages of Annie’s writing similar to Bea’s. A shadowy figure is see outside unknown to Paul.

As he leaves he finds Annie at the dock and she tells him that Will is away and she leaves on a boat. Paul finds Will’s cap in the water, bloodied and dirty and heads back home. He finds Bea repeatedly stabbing herself between the legs and blood all over the bathroom floor. Frightened he ties her to the bed and she pleads for him to take it outta her. So he puts his hands inside her vagina and pulls out a lengthy worm like creature. Ewww! Not for the easily squeamish! A frantic Bea says that she was attracted to the light and walked out in the woods and saw some silhouettes that apparently impregnated her and that they are slowly taking away what’s left of her (which could explain her forgetting things). She also says that she must protect Paul from them and knocks him out. When Paul comes to, he is tied and in the boat on the lake. Saying that she will hide him in the water, Bea ties Paul to the anchor and sinks him in the middle of the lake. Later she is shown to be deteriorating and her skin becomes all flaky with marks on her. At night Annie, who looks the same way, comes to take her to the woods where the silhouetted figures are waiting for them and a light shines on them.

I suppose these beings, whatever they are, needs these women to procreate and doing so changes them. A well acted film, Leslie in particular goes ballistic when she is tied to the bed. Simple and yet compelling. Not bad for a directorial debut and low budget flick. 7 outta 10!

Warm Bodies

I saw a bit of this movie on one of those rare evenings that I, alone at home and bored, wandered to the living room and switched on the tv. It was just about 6-7 minutes towards the end and I thought I should check out the full movie. Mainly because of the lead actress who I think is a hottie.

So Warm Bodies is a romantic zombie comedy (yes that rare genre) directed and written by Jonathan Levine, the film stars Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Analeigh Tipton and John Malkovich. It came out in 2013, no doubt inspired partly by the Twilight franchise and by The Walking Dead. The film is based on the 2010 novel of the same name by Issac Marion, which in turn has some elements of Romeo & Juliet.

  • 8 years after a global zombie apocalypse humanity is reduced to living in heavily guarded walled cities. ‘R’ is a male zombie, who shuffles through his day at the airport, where for some reason a lot of zombies hang out throughout the day and look for food i.e humans. At night, although zombies do not sleep, R heads out to his personal space – an airplane where he hoardes stuff including a lot of vinlys and listens to music.
  • Zombies like R crave human flesh and R in particular likes to eat the brains as he can experience the victim’s memories and what they felt as he consumes them. That is the only way that R feels alive. Although the movie is partly narrated by him, he can only speak a few words with a lot of effort and otherwise grunts, like the other zombies do.
  • There is another group of zombies called the Bonies.- skeletal zombies who, having lost all traces of their humanity, have shed their flesh and prey on anything with a heartbeat. The more human looking zombies & Boneys do not mix.
  • Julie Grilio and her friends are on a scavenger mission one day when they run into a group of zombies and among them is R & hs friend M. R sees Julie and is drawn to her and when he is shot by Perry, her boyfriend, he kills him and eats his brains and thus gains some of Perry’s experiences & feelings which makes him attracted to her even more. Almost all of the humans are killed by the zombies, except for Nora, who hides under a desk and Julie. R smears blood on Julie’s face, masking her scent from the zombies and takes her to the safety of his plane.
  • Julie & R bond after they hide out in the airplane listening to R’s records – including Guns n’Roses – and he gets canned food for her from the airport. After a few days, Julie gets restless, and tries to return home, yet attracts swarms of zombies, requiring R to rescue her. After fending off a group of zombies, including M, who is confused by R’s actions, R decides it is time to return her to the human enclave. They stop at a house on the way and R, who is regaining his humanity, confesses that it was he who killed & ate Perry. As they sleep, R dreams for the first time since he became a zombie. Julie leaves the house early and makes her way back to her fortified city home.
  • R returns to the airport a sad zombie but sees that M and the others are all showing signs of changing. Notified that the Boneys are looking for him & Julie, he heads to the walled city and sneaks in through a gap in the wall (using Perry’s memories) and meets Julie. Nora is initially horrified but the two girls apply make up on him and go to see Julie’s father the Colonel to explain that the zombies are regaining their humanity. He doesn’t see it the same way so Julie & R run off with Nora’s help. escape to a baseball stadium where the rest of R’s group is waiting, but soon find themselves under attack by a horde of Boneys.
  • M and the other zombies fight off the Boneys, surprising the human soldiers who join forces and kill of many of the Boneys. Seeing themselves trapped, R jumps with Julie from a high building, using his body as a shield to protect her as they hit the water. When he comes to, the two kiss but he is shot by the Colonel. Julie manages to convince her dad that R is human again as he is bleeding and the Colonel changes his orders. The humans and zombies combine forces and kill most of the Boneys while the rest die off, and the zombies slowly assimilate into human society. The film ends with a now fully alive R and Julie watching a wall surrounding the city being demolished, signifying the end of the apocalypse. M us now using the name Marcus and meets a human woman who he befriends.

Funny in places and not at all corny or cheesy and certainly not Twilightish or like the sudden spate of young adult scifi or supernatural movies that have been release lately. This one is actually enjoyable. 7 outta 10!

Death Do Us Part

Death Do Us Part is a low budget Canadian indi-horror flick of the slasher genre. Directed by Nicholas Humphries the movie was co-written & co-produced by Ryan Copple, Peter Benson &  Julia Benson. The movie stars married couple Julia & Peter Benson, Emillie Ullerup, Kyle Cassie, Benjamin Ayers, Christine Chatelain, Dave Colette & Aaron Douglas. The movie was shot in a remote location on the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia, Canada.

Kennedy Jamieson is a wealthy socialite who has waited her whole life to have the perfect wedding. Engaged to the charming Ryan Harris, the young couple is just a week away from the big day but hasn’t had a chance to celebrate their respective bachelor/bachelorette parties. Ryan’s best man Chet books has booked them a remote cabin in the woods to throw them a ‘Jack and Jill’ stag that they’ll never forget. Joining them on the trip other than Chet is Kennedy’s sister Hannah & her best friend Emily as well as Ryan’s shady cousin Derek. On their way to the cabin it is obvious that they may not like each other; Chet used to go out with Hannah but she thinks he is very immature and all the girls find Derek a bit creepy while he & Chet seem to be inches away from a fight. Derek has been dealing drugs and Ryan doesn’t want him to ruin what could be a great weekend.

The caretaker of the cabin turns out to be a super creepy weirdo named Bo, who tells them that they can’t party at the cabin – what the fuck would 6 adults do in a remote place you idiot? – and shows them the place, which has dead birds in the front porch. After Bo cleans up a bit the party of 6 settles in – Ryan and the girls will take the cabin while Derek & Chet will share a trailer next to it. Hannah goes for a run into the woods where she meets up with Ryan and they have sex against a tree! Seems this has been going on for a while. Only problem is Emily, who was creeped out when she caught Derek leering at her from a window while she was changing, was on a walk by her own and saw the whole thing and she is shocked. While this is happening Bo, sneaks into the couple’s bathroom and leers at Kennedy taking a shower. As evening sets the parting & drinking starts as they dance and play games. Bo comes in outta nowhere and demands that they stop partying but the group promises to clean everything up before they leave. Emily gives a necklace to Kennedy who informs her that she & Ryan will be moving to NYC after the wedding, which upsets Emily. A little later Derek, who has been hounded by calls from drug dealers, asks Ryan to get $20,000 to bail him out as Kennedy’s family is loaded but Ryan refuses, saying he can’t and they have a little fight, which is also seen by Emily.

While Hannah & Chet and Kennedy & Ryan pair off to play a scavenger hunt, Derek walks out in the woods and is killed by an unseen assailant with an axe. The others panic and regroup in the house and find the phones all destroyed and the lights out. They try to leave but get separated and one by one they are picked out for death by the unseen assailant. Chet is killed in his trailer and dragged out to the woods, while Emily is also found next to him. The assailant has also messed with their vehicle so no one is escaping in the night. Hannah is offed next by the assailant wearing a mask. Suspicion falls on Ryan, as Emily had confessed to Kennedy that she had seen Ryan having sex with Hannah and that she has seen him punch Derek, and Kennedy runs away from him and she is finally able to get a knife and stab him while he attacks her. A distraught Kennedy walks into the cabin and puts on her wedding dress as she contemplates her life ruined and as she steps out she finds Emily staggering towards her. Emily says she was only dazed and pretending to be dead to hide from the killer and the two friends are about to leave when Emily blurts out and blurts out details of the ways the others died – which she couldn’t have seen as she was supposed to lying unconscious.

Kennedy realizes that it was Emily who was the killer all along and accuses her of killing the other 4. Emily cries and says that she killed them for Kennedy as Derek was dangerous and Hannah & Ryan were cheating on her. She admits that she got carried away and killed Bo & Chet but now the two best friends could be together. An angered Kennedy attacks Emily and stabs her. Leaving her for dead she walks away but Emily comes to and attacks her from behind and smashes her dead with a large rock. She walks away and is picked up by a cop car and taken to the sheriffs office where a deputy listens to her story. Emily tells the events that happens, pretending to  be Kennedy and at the end, clearly out of her mind, picks up a pen and stabs the deputy and leaves the station.

The low budget aspect really stands out; the killing scenes are bad and lack any real gore. The plot though good with it’s twists, is hampered by some corny & cliched dialogues though the acting is ok. I do wonder why mid 30 year old would act like 20 somethings though, especially Chet & Derek. It’s like a group of friends went to party in the woods and shot a film. Production is not bad for such a low effort and it clearly isn’t aiming to be anything more than what it is – an indie flick with a cast of tv actors. 5 outta 10!

The Midnight Meat Train

Based on a short story by Clive Barker, The Midnight Meat Train is a 2008 horror movie directed by Japanese director Ryuhei Kitamura and stars Bradley Cooper, Leslie Bibb, Brooke Shields, Roger Bart, Ted Raimi, and Vinnie Jones. The movie looks like a cross between Sin City style production and Creep which is also about an subway/underground based killer / horror creature.

The story is pretty simple – a well dressed and strong looking man is assaulting and killing passengers who board the midnight subway trains in New York City. Without saying a word or letting on as to a motive he brutally kills them with a meat hammer and a hook. And unnatural strength. He is shown to be wearing a large ring with an 8 pointed star. The bodies are never found. Leon, a professional photographer is taking photos of NYC at night on advice of Jurgis, his friend & contractor, as he has been criticized by his peers for leaving a dangerous scene too early before taking the maximum shots. One night he saves a Japanese model from being abused by a trio of gangmembers and takes their photos but points to the security camera that could be used to identify them if they try and kill him. The gang leaves and the model thanks Leon before entering the subway train – the door of which was held open for her by the mysterious killer.

When Leon sees that the girl is shown to be missing in the papers the next day he decides to conduct his own investigations. His research leads him to believe that a butcher named Mahogany – who he had photographed at night and who has confronted him and chased him away – is the culprit and that he has been killing people in subways for the last 3 years. Leon takes his photos of the model and the gangmembers he shot, as well as a shot of the model boarding the train which clearly shows a hand holding the door open for her, to the cops but the lead detective Lynn Hadley is more suspicious of his motives. Leon’s girlfriend Maya also does not believe him and starts to worry as the investigation turns into a dark obsession that seems to be haunting him. Leon follows Mahogany to the subway train and witnesses a bloodbath as the butcher kills several passengers before hanging them on meat hooks. Leon is seen by the butcher and passing out on the subway floor, he awakes the next morning in a slaughterhouse with strange markings carved into his chest. The same detective investigates but finds no evidence of there having being killings on the train.

A concerned Maya takes the help of Jurgis and go through the photos and follow Mahogany to his apartment. When he is out they break in to find clues and discover small body parts in glass jars but Jurgis is caught and brutalized as Maya escapes. She goes to the cops but the detective threatens to arrest her for breaking and entering when they investigate and do not find anything out of the ordinary. Later however a cop calls Maya to tip her that Mahogany is about to board a subway train and she goes to see if she can find Jurgis. Leon meanwhile steels himself and goes after Mahogany armed with his own weapons only to find he butcher cornering Maya. The two men fight a bloodied battle until just before the train stops Leon is able to push his adversary off the train. As the train stops, the couple see that they have reached an underground cavern filled with bones of dead people. The conductor (who was shown helping and bossing Mahogany in an earlier scene) comes to the compartment and tells them to step away from the meat. And then a few terrifying reptilian creatures board the train and start feasting on the dead bodies hanging on hooks.

A still alive Mahogany arrives and knocks Maya aside, and fights Leon once more before the photographer finishes the job at last by impaling the psychotic butcher’s skull on a blade. Mahogany grins in his dying throes, speaking the single word “Welcome!” The conductor then comes and overpowers Leon and beats him up and rips out his tongue. A bloodied Leon is helpless and can only watch as the conductor kills Maya with one of the butcher’s knives. He explains to Leon that the creatures have always existed below the city, and that the butcher’s job was to keep them satisfied by feeding them every night. These creatures have existed longer than mankind and there are a chosen few who serve them lest they wreck havoc on the entire population. Leon was marked a possible replacement as it was felt that Mahogany needed to be replaced and now having killed the butcher, Leon will take his place. As the movie ends, in a later scene the detective (also one of the chosen few) hands the train schedule to the new butcher, who wears a ring with the eight pointed star on it, a symbol for the group that feeds the creatures. It is Leon who now wears a similar suit and goes to the subway and boards a train.

Made on a budget of $15 million the movie only made back around 8 million back, flopping at the box office. It’s a weird little movie that has it moments but does little to spark the imagination. Lots of blood flying about and some body parts being mangled and cut out but it ends up being a little cartoonish. I give it a 6 outta 10!

Stigmata

Stigmata is a 1999 movie that I tend to forget about when listing horror flicks that I have seen over the years although I do recall being a bit scared or getting a couple of jumps in the theatre. This time around not so much and it’s more of a religious corruption movie rather than horror on the second viewing. Anyways, the movie is directed by by Rupert Wainwright and stars Patricia Arquette, Gabriel Byrne, Johnathan Pryce, Enrico Collantoni, Nia Long & Portia de Rossie. Patrick Muldoon has a couple of minor scenes in it as well.

The film starts with father Andrew, who is a scientist as well as a Jesuit priest, investigating the reports of blood tears coming from a statue of Mary Magdalene in a Brazilian church at the funeral of father Paulo Almeida. A boy steals a rosary from the priest’s body and sells it to an American tourist who sends it along with other trinkets to her daughter Frankie Page, an atheist hairdresser living in Philadelphia. Soon after she touches the rosary Frankie is attacked by an unseen force while she is bathing and receives two deep wounds on her wrists. The doctors can’t find the cause of the puncture wounds which goes all the way through. While riding the subway back home with her friend she approaches a priest who is sitting opposite two nuns and asks if he is father Andrew. The priest replies that he is father Derning and the lights starts to flicker, the subway shakes and Frankie is whipped by the unseen force on her back as she stands in a Christ like pose.

Derning sends the security footage the Vatican and they send Andrew to investigate. When Frankie tells him that she is an atheist Andrew ells her that stigmatics are universally spiritual people and that stigmata is the deeply devoted being struck with the five wounds that Jesus Christ received during the crucifixion, so Frankie has been impaled through the wrists and whipped. A little upset Frankie tries to investigate a medical answer on her own but is haunted by a vision of herself dropping a baby on the road. At night while at a club her beings to bleed as the 3rd stigmata of crown of thorns affects her. She ends up in alley followed by Andrew where she scratched weird symbols on a car and speaks to Andrew in Aramaic and in a male voice. Andrew takes her to Derning’s church and plays a recording of what Frankie spoke to Vatican linguist Brother Delmonico who tells him that it is Aramaic. Frankie goes home and, the next morning, Andrew returns to her apartment to find her writing in marker on the wall, now covered in Aramaic. When questioned, Frankie responds in a male voice speaking Italian but then collapses on the bed. Frankie goes out and walks the streets with Andrew, when she collapses as wounds appear in her feet, the fourth wound of stigmata.

Father Dario intercepts the emails that Aramaic sent to Delmonico of the writings and he shows it to Cardinal Houseman, who had sent Andrew on the assignment. The Cardinal along with Dario and a few others come to Philadelphia while Delmonico tells Marion Petricelli about the writings. Later a seemingly possessed Frankie tries to seduce Andrew and when he rejects her she yells and attacks him before levitating off the bed crying tears of blood. Houseman and Dario arrive at the apartment with Derning and take Frankie to another church, sending Andrew to Derning’s. Here Andrew is met by Marion who tells him thee words Frankie has been writing are part of a document found outside Jerusalem that they believed to be a gospel in the exact words of Jesus. Petrocelli, Delmonico and Alameida were assigned to translate it, but Houseman ordered them to stop. Alameida refused and stole the document to continue translating it alone, having been excommunicated by Houseman. The document was Jesus telling his disciples that the Kingdom of God is in all of us and all around us and not confined to churches, a revelation that could ruin the Catholic Church. Petrocelli also tells Andrew that Alameida suffered from stigmata.

Andrew rushes to the church in time to stop Houseman from strangling Frankie after failing to exorcise her. the fireplaces in the room erupt and set the room on fire. Now believing Frankie is possessed by Alameida’s spirit, Andrew offers to be Alameida’s messenger instead. He walks unharmed through the fire to retrieve Frankie, bidding Alameida’s spirit to depart in peace. Some time later, Andrew returns to Belo Quinto and finds the original documents for the lost gospel under the floorboards of Alameida’s church. The film ends with a screen of text describing the discovery of the Gospel of Thomas, believed, according to the film, to be the closest thing to the actual words of Jesus while alive: the film states the Catholic Church refuses to recognize the document as a gospel and considers it heresy.

Religious horror hmmm. I remember it as being a lot scarier back when I watched it at the theatres back in 1999 when the movie came out. This time around it isn’t effective at all. The movie was mostly panned but I’ll give it a grudging 7 outta 10!

Devil’s Pass

I got this suggestion from a horror group on Facebook (always a good place to get good options for suggestions on movies to watch) and on watching it liked it a lot. Devil’s Pass is a 2013 Russian film directed by Renny Harlin & written by Vikram Weet and starring Holly Goss, Matt Stokoe, Luke Albright, Ryan Hawley, and Gemma Atkinson as Americans who investigate the Dyatlov Pass incident. It is shot in the style of found footage.

Holly & her friend Jenson get a grant to go to Russia and shoot a documentary about a story that has fascinated Holly for a long time – the mysterious death of 9 Russian climbers who were crossing the Dyatlov Pass (now named that after the leader of the expedition) in the Ural mountains. The answers about their death having been unanswered for over 50 years – their tents had been frantically torn open from the inside, their bodies had suffered massive internal trauma, and their clothing contained high levels of radiation. Conspiracy theoriests have toss various stuff like military coverup and alien visitation as possible explanations. Holly manages to get two expert climbers from their university, JP & Andy and rope in Denise as the sound engineer. The 5 of them go to Russia and try to speak to one of the skiers who was supposed to be part of the original expedition back in 1959 but are denied access and find the now old man showing up a sign that tells them to turn back. At a bar they meet Sergei who introduces them to his aunt Ilya who was part of the rescue team back in 59 and she tells them that they found a small machine and 11 dead bodies, not 9 as was widely reported and that 2 of the bodies had something wrong with them. This mystery intrigues the group even more and they go on the expedition.

Once they reach the area they hear howling and find large bare footprints in the snow when they wake up the next morning which suddenly stop in the snow and they cannot explain what it is. The next day this happens again and when they find a weather tower and investigate, they find a severed human tongue. Denise wants to leave but the others convince her to stay and continue on. At night by the fire, Holly & Jenson fail to see two white figures who appear and disappear in the hills. The next day they reach Dyatlov’s Pass earlier than it says on the map. Andy & JP are further spooked when their equipments start malfunction and GPS is not working. While alone in the evening Holly & Jenson use a Geiger counter that leads them to a bunker in a cave that locks from the outside – meaning to keep whatever is inside from getting out. Early in the morning they hear rumblings and explosions that cause a massive avalanche and Denise is killed while Andy suffers a bad fracture. As soon as daylight arrives they shoot a flare and are approached by two Russian soldiers and suspicious of their sudden arrival, Andy makes the other 3 run away. Andy is killed by them and JP is shot but Holly & Jenson manage to drag him into the bunker and close the door.

Leaving JP in a corner the other two explore the bunker and find a dead soldier with his tongue missing. They also find a pile of dead bodies including two dead mutants on a medical table and also something they can’t explain – they find a handheld camera, the same model as the one they have with them now and it shows the exact same footage they have shot! Stunned they look for answers but the battery of that camera dies out. Notes in Russian show the profiles of the 9 Russians skiers who were killed in 1959 along with photos of the Philadelphia experiment which leads Jenson to deduce that the incidents here are tied to that teleportation conspiracy. Soon they are attacked by teleporting mutants who kill JP and chase Holly & Jenson into a sealed room behind which is a natural cave that leads into a wormhole. Unwilling to starve to death or face the mutants, Jensen and Holly choose to step into the wormhole, which sends them back in time. Since there are no controls, Jensen suggests that they visualize a nearby destination. Holly suggests the bunker entrance, and they enter the wormhole. In the next scene, the Russian military in 1959 discover two bodies, recover a camcorder, turn away Sergei’s aunt Alya, and hang the bodies on meat hooks inside the bunker, which is fully operational and manned. In the final shot, the bodies are revealed to be Holly and Jensen, transformed into mutants (and the dead mutant bodies they found on metal tables).

Good ending, the movie is slow to pick up pace but never gets boring at all and the story is decent with an able cast. Really interesting and way better than most found footage movies. The movie explains that the Russian military classified the data but it was hacked and shared around the world via the internet. 7.5 outta 10!

The Beyond

Although I am a fan of horror flicks, I must admit that I haven’t seen anything by Lucio Fulci and to avoid ignoring the work of this cult favourite director/producer/screenwriter I thought I’d pick of his films to watch last night. I picked The Beyond because when I googled it I saw this pic of a real beauty and thought, why not? The Beyond is a 1981 Italian horror film shot in Louisiana and second film in Fulci’s unofficial Gates of Hell trilogy (along with City of the Living Dead and The House by the Cemetery)

Ok so in 1927 Louisiana an artist named Schweick is attacked by a lynch mob in a hotel who believe that he is a warlock. They torture him and nail him to the wall of a basement and lay bricks over him. This opens up one of the seven doors to hell which allows the dead to come into the world of the living. A young woman named Emily reads from a book titled Eibon and she turns blind (with some weird looking marble eyes) once she is done. Several decades later, in 1981, Liza comes to Louisiana from New York as her uncle who died had left the hotel in her name. She decides to work on renovating it and reopening but the work reopens the door to hell and accidents happen. A painter falls and injures himself badly and Joe a plumber is attacked while he is checking a bad flood in the basement and killed horrifically by a demonic hand that comes out from a hole in the wall. The maid Martha finds his deformed face and body. Liza meets Emily on the road and gives her a lift to her house which is near the hotel and is given a warning by the latter – stay away from the hotel. Later Joe’s wife is killed as she visits his body in the hospital morgue – her young daughter hears a scream and finds her body on the floor with her face being dissolved by a spilled bottle of acid that fell on a table.

Poor Liza has now befriended the doctor who came to help the painter, Dr. John McCabe and tells him about how she came to move to Louisiana. John is alerted about Joe’s widow dying in the hospital and at the double funeral Liza runs into Joe’s daughter Jill, and doesn’t notice that the girl has become blind like Emily. Once again Emily warns Liza about the hotel and leaves as quickly as she appears, apparently scared by something. The next day Liza sees the book Eibon in room 36 (where the artist Schweick was staying) and also finds the artists decaying corpse animated but as she runs to fetch John, the corpse and the book disappears. John feels that Liza is hallucinating and tells her that Emily’s house is abandoned and no one has seen her at all – she isn’t real. On a walk with her friend Martin, Liza encounters a book shop with Eibon in the window. When they go inside, the shop owner denies the book’s existence, and it is no longer in the window when they look for it. At the hotel, a worker named Arthur, attempts to repair the same leak as Joe, only to be killed offscreen by ghouls. Later Martin is stuck by lightning while at the library looking up the hotel’s blueprints and after he falls he is attacked by huge tarantulas (that make sounds like creaky hinges that need oil) and they butcher his face and kill him.

Back at the hotel Joe’s animated corpse appears from a bathtub and attacks Martha and she dies when he pushes her head against a nail. Emily meanwhile is sitting alone at night when zombie versions of Schweick, Joe, Mary-Anne, and Arthur attack her. She sets her dog on them but they turn it into a zombie and it kills Emily by biting at her throat and face. Just after this Liza is attacked by the zombies at the hotel but John rescues her and they run to the hospital. Everyone has disappeared from the streets and except for Jill & Harris, a fellow doctor, there are only reanimated zombie corpses who shuffle about slowly and attack the living. In trying to escape Harris is killed and Jill becomes possessed and is shot by John. The doctor finds that he can kill off a zombie by shooting at the heads but idiot keeps wasting bullets shooting everywhere else! Finally out of bullets Liza & John run into the basement but find themselves in another dimension, a wasteland of dead bodies and desolate wasteland which Schweick had painted in one of his work before he was killed. They walk off and disappear, stuck in a kind of purgatory for all eternity.

The movie has tons of bad acting (I think a lot of it is dubbed to English, isn’t it) and laughable horror special effects that wouldn’t scare small kids. And the “zombies” are hilarious; they shuffle around with their heads looking down, like shy innocent Indian brides on their arranged marriage wedding night heading to their new husbands and about to be deflowered. I guess back then this would have been very scary but I don’t find it to be so at all. The death scenes were mildly interesting. The ending scene is good though when they head out to a desolate wasteland. Although I do have to say this – both Katherine MacColl & Cinzia Monreale are beautiful women. Really lovely! I was hoping for some skin. 5 outta 10! Oh and I found out that Swedish band Europe’s 1983 song Seven Doors Hotel (seven doors to hell) from their self-titled debut album is inspired by this film.