Dead Season

Dead Season

USA, 2012
AKA: The Running Dead
Director: Adam Deyoe
Writer: Adam Deyoe, Joshua Klausner, Loren Semmens
Cast: Scott Peat, Marissa Merrill, James C. Burns, Corsica Wilson, Marc L. Fusco, Todd Pritchett, Grant Beijon, Kevin O. Matta, Anna Vawser, Greg Weisman, Leishla M. Perez Figeroa, Sean McDonald, Dave Wilhoit, Barbara Kerford, Carmen Gloria, Matt Aidan, Sue Braden, Jeanette Caldera, Randall Carver, Tom Caster, Louis Chalif, Phil Connery, Amy Coughlin, Scott Deckert, Erica Delgado, Adam Deyoe, Douglas J. Eboch, Mia Eden, David Eshelman, Nancye Ferguson, Dawn Ferris, Randy Francis, Mariella Fredo, Daisy Galvis, Daniel Gavin, Jordan Graham, Woodrow Wilson Hancock III, Benny Harris, Jostel Hason, Jeb Heil, Alexis Hernandez, Dan Hicks, Jessica Houghton, Ben Idom. Stefan Ionesco, Derek Jacobsen, Danny J. Lee, Joel Michaely, Christian Mooney, Teresa R. Parker, Ava Peat, Matt Peat, Tonya Peat, Sara Raftery, Jeyson L. Robles, Natalie Smyka, Mr. Snake, Rachel Tamayo, Evelyn Vaccaro, Evelyn Osorio Vaccaro, Amanda Wigley, Collin Wigley, James Zimbardi

Prior to the zombie apocalypse Elvis was working as an EMT in Pittsburgh. Now, a year later, he has buried his family and walked from Pittsburgh to Florida, where he is trying his best to survive anyway he can. At night he talks to Tweeter on the radio. He has never met her but he tells her of his plan to get away from the zombie infested main lands. A guy he used to work with is living at a marina in Miami and is helping people get away by supplying boats and travel plans for them. One night Tweeter and a kid she met two months ago turns up at Elvis’ place. They’re actually there to try to steal food from him, but as they don’t get away with it instead they form sort of an alliance and follows him towards the coast.

When they arrive at the marina, Leach (Dan Hicks of Evil Dead II and Darkman fame) first reacts in a funny way when he see Tweeter and the kid. They trade Elvis’ food supplies for a boat and directions to this supposedly zombie free island. He warns them that the fish isn’t edible due to radiation from earlier nuclear testing on the island. The only way from Leach’s place to the boat is through a warehouse full of zombies. By the look on Leach’s face when they leave, and by his reaction when he saw Tweeter and the kid, I got he impression that he knew what was awaiting them on the island, or didn’t believe they would make it to the boat alive. Either way he didn’t care to much as it was business as usual to him. And behold – Leach turns up again later in found footage on a certain island.

The kid doesn’t make it, but Elvis and Tweeter has to abandon the boat when it runs out of fuel not far from the beaches of the island. They swim ashore and set out to explore it. It doesn’t take long before they run into both zombies and a group of people living in a gated community. Elvis is more than welcome since their previous doctor is dead, but Tweeter isn’t so sure about the group. She stumbles upon some home movies, and among them there are tapes of medical experiments on humans infected by zombie bites but not yet dead. By keeping them alive and shutting of blood flow body parts can be amputated and meat “harvested” before they turn into zombies. Why let good meat go to waste?

My first impression of Dead Season was that it was yet another generic zombie film. It felt like a rip off of The Walking Dead, and they even referred to the zombies as “walkers”, but according to the filmmakers the script for Dead Season predates TWD and filming was mostly done when TWD premiered. Since The Walking Dead is based on comic books, those could still be an inspiration. I first found the film average. Not really bad, but not really bad either. But then it somehow got to me and the story sucked me in. It’s obvious the filmmakers are zombi enthusiasts as there are a number of references to other films and zombie lore. First of all the zombie apocalypse starts in Pittsburgh, which of course, as everybody knows, is the zombie capitol of the world ever since Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and it’s sequels. We have human experiments and zombies on islands in both Romero’s Day of the Dead and in Fulci’s Zombi 2 and Zombi 3. There is also a zombie stowaway on a boat in Zombi 2. At the compound they are speaking width someone on a military base just outside London on the radio, and he tells them England is practically taken over by the dead and that they are now running. This is probably a reference to the 28 Days Later franchise.

The title for the British DVD release is The Running Dead. I’ve never been a fan of running zombies and I figure this is why it took me so long to get around to watch Dead Season. Ironically there are no running zombies in it until the last part of the film, and then we get an explanation to why these running zombies don’t behave like they used to do. I’ve read several reviews where people apparently missed this explanation and are confused to why some zombies are fast while the rest is not, but to me it was like “WOW, so that’s why!”. To me this explanation makes Dead Season build a bridge between two separate zombie lines and actually changing the rulebook. An speaking of rulebooks, the book Leach is reading when Elvis knocks on his door is The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks, author of World War Z.

All those references made me reconsider and Dead Season went from average to above average. It was even better when re-watched.

My verdict: 6 out of 10.

External Resources:
28 Days Later Analysis | 2,500 Movies Challange | AllMovie | Cine Material | Dan’s Movie Report | DVD Sleuth | DVD Talk | Facebook | Film Monthly | HK and Cult Film Reviews | Horror News Network | i Check Movies | Internet Movie Database | The Lair of Filth | McBastard’s Mausoleum | Media Mikes | MoreBrains.com | Moria – Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review | The Movie Database | MUBI: The global community for film lovers | Oh, The Horror | Rapid Moviez | Rotten Tomatoes | Shock Ya! | Through the Shattered Lens | Wight Blood

Horror Hospital

Horror Hospital

Noteworthy Films, UK, 1973
AKA: Computer Killers/Death Ward #13/Eastworld/Doctor Bloodbath
Director: Antony Balch
Writer: Antony Balch, Alan Watson
Cast: Michael Gough, Robin Askwith, Vanessa Shaw, Ellen Pollock, Dennis Price, Skip Martin, Kurt Christian, Barbara Wendy, Kenneth Benda, Martin Grace, Colin Skeaping, George Herbert, James Boris IV, Allan ‘The River’ Hudson, Simon Lust, Antony Balch, Ray Corbett, Richard Gordon, Alan Watson

Jason Jones was vocalist with a rock band. After being sacked he goes and see them perform and end up in a fight with their new transvestite singer. Fed up with everything he decides to have a holliday. He finds an ad for “Hairy Holidays, Fun and Sun for the under 30’s” and decides to go. The creepy travel agent comes on to him and want to take him to the Bahamas, but when he realizes it’s the “Hairy Holiday” Jason wants he gives him a special prize of 5 pounds for the whole week. He doesn’t even want to be paid in advance.

On the train Jason meet Judy. She is going to visit an aunt she has never met. Her aunt and her mother had an arguement before Judy was born and never spoke since. Aunt Harris used to run a brothel in Hamburg before the second world war. She hooked up with a strange finnish doctor and when the war broke out he took her with him to Helsinki. After the war she brought him with her back to England. Now, Judy’s mother has died and aunt Harris is her only relative. It turns out Jason and Judy is going to the same place, since Doctor Storm is the one running the “Hairy Holiday” health hotel.

There were supposed to be a car waiting by the station, but after waiting for some time they ask the stationmaster for directions and take off on foot. They are caught in the rain and take cover in an old ruin, Eventually they get picked up by two men on motorcycles working for Dr. Storm, and are delivered to a big mansion. They are let in by a dwarf and signed in by a woman who turns out to be Judy’s aunt. She is upset to see Judy. She had sent her a letter telling her specifically not to come visit, but Judy never got the letter. There is a shortage of rooms so Jason and Judy have to share one despite Judys objections. She doesn’t object when he join her in the shower later on though.

When shown to their room by the dwarf, Frederick, a man with a big scar on his forhead comes out of a room and in the room the bedsheets are drenched in blood. The dwarf says someone had a small accident and hopes they’ll be more lucky.

At dinner Jason and Judy sits down with the other guests, and tries to make conversation. All the others are dressed in white, quite pale and with big scars on their forheads. None of them answers or even looks at the newcomers. When aunt Harris sits down with them they ask her what is going on, but before they get any answers a girl named Millie, the only other person at the table without the scar, trows a tantrum and is hauled off by two motorcyclists in black leathers and white helmets. None of the others reacts to this, but Jason and Judy are shocked and goes back to their room. Dr. Storm, who is in a wheelchair, comes and see them. Judy sais she want to leave, but the house is locked down for the night and there is nowhere to go. Dr. Storm tells her to stay for the night and wait till morning. He claims she and Jason will be quite safe as long as they stay in their room an keep the door locked.

Aunt Harris and Fredrick are digging graves in the garden while Jason and Judy make love. Later on Jason sneaks out to see if he can find out what’s really going on in this weird manor. Judy gets tired of waiting and follows him. She finds a room with eight beds. It looks like the people in them are dead but they remove the covering over their heads and look at her. They all have scars. When Jason get back to the room Judy is gone. He sees some kind of disfiguered monster before he is knocked out from behind.

Next day Jason finally learns what is going on. Dr. Storm is luring young people to his place and operating on them in his lab. He has developed a technique of brain surgery which turn his victims into zombies. They feel nothing and have no will of their own but are controlled with a computer. Judy is being held in a cell with Millie. Preparations for Millies operation has begun and after her it’s Judy’s turn. Then Jasons’. Jason manages to escape but is being hunted by the motorcyclists. Will he get away from them and will he be able to save Judy before she is turned into a mindless zombie?

Horror Hospital might have been the definition of gore in 1973, but by todays standards it’s pretty innocent and tame. It’s still good for a few laughs, though. The story is over the top with a Rolls Royce used for decapitating escapees, a gym full of zombies, an army of bikers in black leather, brain surgery and nightly burials in the garden. It reminds me of The Rocky Horror Picture Show but without the music. If they did a remake today I’m sure it would be a blockbuster. Somebody call Hollywood!

My verdict: 8 out of 10.

Burn, Witch, Burn

Burn Witch Burn

Independent Artists, UK, 1962
AKA: Night of the Eagle
Director: Sidney Hayers
Writer: Fritz Leiber Jr., Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson, George Baxt
Cast: Peter Wyngarde, Janet Blair, Margaret Johnston, Anthony Nicholls, Colin Gordon, Kathleen Byron, Reginald Beckwith, Jessica Dunning, Norman Bird, Judith Stott, Bill Mitchell, Paul Frees, George Roubicek, Frank Singuineau, Gary Woolf

Burn, Witch, Burn is based on Conjure Wife, the first novel by Fritz Leiber Jr. The same novel has also been filmed as Weird Woman, directed by Reginald Le Borg in 1944, and as Witches’ Brew, directed by Richard Shorr and Herbert L. Strock in 1980.

Prof. Norman Taylor is teaching psychology at the Hempnell Medical Collage. He is well respected by his students, he has a beautiful house, a small cottage at the sea, a loving wife, Tansy, and is considered for a place at the board. He is very successful. So successful that on bridge night at his and Tansy’s one of his fellow teachers asks if he had sold his soul to the devil.

Norman is a firm disbeliever in anything occult, so when he finds out his wife has been practicing Witchcraft he is shocked. She claims witchcraft is the source of a lot of his success, and that there are people who tries to hurt him out of envy, and she is afraid of what would happen if her protective spells wasn’t there. Norman won’t hear anything about it and makes her burn all artefacts having to do with witchcraft.

Next week Normans luck seems to have turned. He almost gets run over by a van, and when he gets to work he is confronted by one of his students who is upset and jealous because his girlfriend, also a student of Normans, has whispered Normans name when he told her he loved her. He now believe his girlfriend and their teacher is having an affair. Then Norman is called to a meeting and learns that the same girl claims he has forced himself on her. When he gets back to his office the boyfriend is back and pulls a gun on him.

When Norman gets home he gets a tape in the mail. It’s a recording of a lecture he’s given on superstition. When he plays the tape he is getting affected by something. Tansy turns the tape recorder off, but the phone rings and the effect continues through the phone line. Someone or something is at the door making hideous sounds and trying to get in but everything is back to normal when Tansy manages to hang up. She is convinced someone is trying to kill Norman by ways of black magic.

Next day Tansy is gone. She has left a message for Norman explaining that she intends to sacrifice her self so he can be safe. Norman sets out to find her before she does something horrible, but will he find her in time. and who can he trust?

It’s pretty obvious early on in the film who is behind everything, but is it really witchcraft or is it just manipulating Normans mind? Either way it’s a suspenseful story.

My verdict: 5 out of 10.

Halloween

Halloween

Compass International Pictures/Falcon International Pictures/Falcon International Productions, USA, 1978
AKA: John Carpenter’s Halloween/The Babysitter Murders
Director: John Carpenter
Writer: John Carpenter, Debra Hill
Cast: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, Nancy Kyes, P.J. Soles, Charles Cyphers, Kyle Richards, Brian Andrews, John Michael Graham, Nancy Stephens, Arthur Malet, Mickey Yablans, Brent Le Page, Adam Hollander, Robert Phalen, Tony Moran, Will Sandin, Sandy Johnson, David Kyle, Peter Griffith, Nick Castle, Barry Bernardi, Joseph Cornelius, George O’Hanlon Jr., Darla Rae, Jennifer Rhodes, Gwen Van Dam, Tommy Lee Wallace

It’s Halloween night 1963 in Haddonfield, Illinois. 17 years old Judith Myers is supposed to look after her brother Michael, 6, but she has her boyfriend over and instead they go upstairs to have sex. When the boyfriend leaves Michael grabs a big knife from a kitchen drawer, puts on a clown mask, goes up to his naked sister and stabs her to death.

On october 30, the night before Halloween, there is a storm. Michael Myers escape from the mental institution in Smith’s Grove, where he has been locked up for fifteen years, by attacking a nurse and stealing her car. Dr. Samuel Loomis, who is Michaels psychiatrist, describes him as pure evil. Michael hasen’t said a word for fifteen years, only stared at the wall with empty eyes. Dr. Loomis is convinced Michael is going home to Haddonfield.

Next day, real estate agent Morgan Strode asks his daughter Laurie to drop off the keys to the Myers house under the doormat on her way to school. On her way Laurie runs into Tommy Doyle, whom she is babysitting that evening. He tells her not to go up to the Myers house. Something bad happened there a long time ago and the kids in town think it’s haunted. As she is leaving the keys we see the shape of someone inside the dark house watching her. In class Laurie sees a person in a white mask standing by a car. It appears he is watching her, but when she looks back he is gone.

As Tommy is leaving school he is being taunted by some bullies. They try to scare him by saying the Boogeyman is gonna get him. Tommy haven’t heard of the boogieman so he gets scared and confused. When the bullies take off one of them runs straight into Michael. Michael gets in the car and follows Tommy. Laurie walks home together with her friends Lynda and Annie. Annie is going to babysit Leslie just across the street from where Laurie will be babysitting Tommy. Lynda is seing her boyfriend but sais they might pop by sometime during the evening. Michael keeps stalking them, but Laurie is the only one who see him and the other girls make jokes about it.

Sheriff Brackett, who is also Annes father, is checking out a store break-in. He thinks it was probably some kids, since they only stole knives, ropes and some halloween masks. Dr. Loomis aproach him and tells him about Myers, how dangerous he is, and that he probably is in Haddonfield. Bracket is hesitant at first but agrees to go to the Myers house with Loomis. Somebody has obviously been in the house and they find a partially eaten dog. When they hear that somebody has stolen the tombstone of Judith Myers Dr. Loomis is sure it is Michael.

While babysitting Leslie, Annie gets a phone call from her boyfriend. He wants her to come and pick him up, so she leaves Leslie with Laurie and Tommy. Laurie and the kids are watching The Thing on TV (John Carpenter would direct a remake of this a couple of years later), and Tommy asks about the Boogeyman. Laurie is a little concerned when Annie never returns for Leslie but thinks she’s probably having sex with her boyfriend, and will show up later. Lynda and her boyfriend show up at the house where Annie is supposed to be, and when they find the house empty they decide to borrow the master bedroom. Dr. Loomis is staking out the Myers house and Michael is staking out Laurie and her friends.

Halloween wasn’t the first slasher film, but it became a genre model for later slasher films. I first saw it on the big screen and then it felt very new and original. Today 40 years later it doesn’t stand out in the same way, partly since horror has evolved but partly also since so many later films has reused so much of the ideas that set Halloween apart, that it has become mainstream. It’s still one of my all time favourites though. Bodycount is surprisingly low for a slasher: only 5 (+ one dog).

My verdict: 10 out of 10.

Tilt

Tilt

Ball & Chain Productions, ReKon Productions, USA, 2017
AKA:
Director: Kasra Farahani
Writer: Kasra Farahani, Jason O’Leary
Cast: Christian Calloway, Elijah Collins, Joseph Cross, Jessy Hodges, Billy Khoury, Kyle Koromaldi, C.S. Lee, Brian Leng, Ron Marasco, Rya Meyers, Shelley Mitchell, Alexia Rasmussen, Jade Sealey, Kelvin Yu, Junes Zahdi, Michael Zakhar, Keir Gilchrist, Logan Miller

Jack Torrance is a writer with writersblock. He pretends to be working but starts to slip into madnes. Sorry wrong film, but not really. Joseph Burns did a documentary about flipper games called Tilt which had some success and ever since, he has been working on his new film. It’s not really going anywhere and in reality he is unemployed and on his way into a depression. His wife Joanna is pregnant but her work as a nurse is what keeps them floating.

Joanna tries to use her connections to get Joseph a job, but he’s not really interested. He doesn’t seem very interested in the expected baby either. When he doesn’t get anywhere with his film, he takes to roam the streets at night showing more and more psychotic signs. Obviously he is heading for disaster.

Tilt basicly is Shining except for the suroundings. Instead of an isolated Hotel we’re in the middle of the city. Joseph Cross even looks a bit like a young Jack Nicholson, but unfortunately Farahani is no Kubrik. Acting is fine and execution of the film is OK. The story is boring and predictable though.

My verdict: 3 out of 10.

The Ninth Configuration

The Ninth Configuration

Ninth Configuration, USA, 1980
AKA: Twinkle, Twinkle, Killer Kane
Director: William Peter Blatty
Writer: William Peter Blatty
Cast: Stacy Keach, Scott Wilson, Jason Miller, Ed Flanders, Neville Brand, George DiCenzo, Moses Gunn, Robert Loggia, Joe Spinell, Alejandro Rey, Tom Atkins, Steve Sandor, Richard Lynch, Gordon Mark, William Lucking, Stephen Powers, David Healy, William Paul, Tom Shaw, Gordon K. Kee, Bruce Boa, Linda Blatty, Hobby Gilman, Marilyn Raymon, Bobby Bass, Billy Blatty, William Peter Blatty, Tim Rossovich

“Towards the end of the war in Vietnam an unusually high percentage of american servicemen suddenly manifested symptoms of psychosis. Most of them was in combat and had no prior history of mental disturbance. These facts plus the epidemic scope of the problem and the controversial nature of the vietnam war led american authorities to wonder wether many if not most of the men, were faking. To probe the mystery, the government established a network of secret study centres and clinics. The last of these No. 18 was highly experimental in nature set up in an old abandoned castle in Pacific NorthWest in United States.”

Psychiatrist Colonel Kane of the United States Marine Corps arrive at the castle to take command. The place is chaotic with one inmate weirder than another. One of them is trying to stage classic plays by Shakespear but with dogs as actors. Problem is he only has one dog. Another one thinks he’s superman and wears his superman outfit most of the time. Upon arrival Kane is greeted by a doctor who turn out to be an inmate who has stolen the real doctors clothes.

Among the inmates is Billy Cutshaw. He was an astronaut but ruined a spacemission when he suddenly went mad and refused to enter the spaceship. When asked why later in the movie he admits he was scared and panicked. He never say why he got scared, but prior to the mission he was a guest at a party at actress Chris McNeil’s house when Chris’ 12 years old daughter Regan suddenly tells him “You’re gonna die up there” before urinating on the carpet. This of course happened in The Exorcist which preceded this film, but Regans statement was what scared Cutshaw to abort the spacemission.

At one point Cutshaw sais he suspect Kane of being crazy, since psychiatrists often go crazy and have the highest suicide rate of any profession. Kane has recuring nightmares about the war, and himself holding the decapitated head of a young boy in his hands. When asked about the nightmares he claims they belonged to his brother “Killer Kane” who was a violent murderer personally responsible for killing hundreds of people in the war. He is dead now but by telling his brother about the dreams he passed them on to him.

After a discussion about wether Hamlet is mad or in fact saves himself from going mad by pretending to be, Kane tries a new aproach by letting the inmates indulge in their madness instead of trying to repress it. This seem to have a slightly positive effect.

Cutshaw and Kane have several discussions about faith, religion and wether there is a meaning to life or not. At one point he makes Kane promise to if posible give him a sign should he die first. One day Cutshaw escapes and goes to a bar. He gets recognised by a biker gang who harass and assault him. Kane goes after him but he to ends up being assaulted by the bikers. He tries to reason with them but to no good and eventually he snaps.

On the surface The Ninth Configuration might look like crazy people doing crazy stuff while other crazy people tries to cure them, but when You get into the story it’s really a thriller. A lot of the conversations between Kane and the inmates are deep and cover universal questions. Even if it has very little to do with The Exorcist it is obvious it’s sort of a sequel. You can se similar thoughts being the foundation once You scrape of all the icing. Apart from flashbacks to the war and Cutshaw and Kanes run in with the biker gang there isn’t very much violence, but The Ninth Configuration is more of a psychological thriller than a horror movie.

My verdict: 9 out of 10.

The Night Visitor

The Night Visitor

Hemisphere Pictures, Glazier, USA, Sweden, Panama, 1971
AKA: Lunatic, Salem Come to Supper
Director: Laslo Benedek
Writer: Guy Elmes, Samuel Roeca
Cast: Max von Sydow, Trevor Howard, Liv Ullmann, Per Oscarsson, Rupert Davies, Andrew Keir, Jim Kennedy, Arthur Hewlett, Hanne Bork, Gretchen Franklin, Bjørn Watt-Boolsen, Lotte Freddie, Erik Kühnau

Salem is in an asylum for the criminally insane, convicted of the axemurder of a farmhand. He claims he is innocent, that he was framed by his sister and her husband, and that he was misrepresented by his lawyer. At the trial his lawer changed the plea from not guilty to guilty by reason of insanity at the last minute, and thus getting Salem off jail but still locked away.

Two years after the trial things start to get weird at the farm where his two sisters, Emmie and Ester, and his brother in law, Dr. Anton Jenks, still live. There is some tension between the sisters as Anton and Ester wants to sell the family farm, while Emmie refuses. Ester and Anton owns one third and also controls Salems part, but Emmie still owns one third so they can’t really do anything unless they can make her change her mind, or if she would die and leave her part to Ester.

Dr. Jenks get called away to a house nearby where the daughter has been found dead in her bed. He can see she has ben strangled and when he opens his bag there are hypodermic needles and sedatives missing but for some reason they have been exchanged for several of his own ties. He suspect his wife for this and confront her when he gets back home. Their parrot drives him mad by repeating “Hit him Anton” over and over but when he throws the cage to the floor the parrot gets loose.

Anton claims he saw Salem standing in a closet when chasing the parrot. He believes Salem somehow has found a way to sneak out from the asylum at night and then sneak back in again. Maybe to get revenge and hurt the people responsible for putting him there in the first place. Ester doesn’t know what to believe and starts to doubt she can trust her husbands sanity.

Salem is a skilled chess player, and at the asylum he plays with one of the wardens. In The Seventh Seal Max von Sydow portraits a knight who plays chess with Death. The Seventh Seal was of course directed by Ingmar Bergman who is the father of Liv Ullmans daughter Linn. In Troell’s The Emigrants and The New Land von Sydow and Ullman plays husband and wife. To americans von Sydow is probably most known as Father Merrin from The Exorcist. He never played chess with the Devil though.

The Night Visitor is a straight forward told story, even if there is some sort of twist a la Edgar Allan Poe at the end. There is also a lot of Max von Sydow running in the snow in his underwear.

My verdict: 6 out of 10.

The Heretics

The Heretics

Black Fawn Films, Breakthrough Entertainment, Canada, 2017
AKA:
Director: Chad Archibald
Writer: Chad Archibald, Jayme Laforest
Cast: Nina Kiri, Ry Barrett, Jorja Cadence, Will King, Nina Richmond, Austin Duffy, Sid McMillan, Colin Price, Alex Loubert, Julie C. Sheppard, Caleigh Le Grand, Anna Jane Edmonds, Meagan Pringle, Emma Waterfield, Colleen Kelly, Lori Fleming, Julie Docherty, Bailey Mackay, C.F. Benner, Karen Scobie, Jason T. Green, Connor N. Green, Justin Reu, Christopher Giroux, Melanie Turner, Jeffrey Wolf, Sephera Giron, Carol Harrington, Heather Manderiuer, James Roque, Michael Wurtz, Vincent Masson, Bria Rudma, Mickey McMurran, Ty Phoenix, Jay Maxxon, Justin Alexis, Ryan Smart, Jay Stephens, Jamie Kiff, Vincent Moskowec, Sam Hunter, Shardath Maharaj, Blair Scriven, Brendan O’Halloron, Luke Meneok, John Migliore, Deborah Jayne Reilly Smith, Penny Rothwell, Codey Huber, Tim Sheridan, Sharon Tanti, Gina Simone, Shanina Ensing, Jordan Morrison, Lynne McIntee. Louise Nevin, Mike Galinas, Kelly Michael Stewart, Jen Gorman, Rachel Sellan, Jessie Giroux, Joel Edmiston

Five years ago, Gloria, was tied to an altar by a weird cult dressed in robes and wooden masks. They were chanting in a foreign language, before they all produced sacrificial knives. Instead of stabbing Gloria they all slit their own throats and she awoke the next morning drencht in their blood on a pile of dead bodies.

She now lives with her mother and has recuring nightmares about what happened that night. She goes to a support group, where she has met Joan, who is her girlfriend since a year back. Both Gloria and Joan helps out in a soupkitchen run by their lokal church.

One night after spending the evening in Joans bed, Gloria is kidnapped outside her mothers house. A stranger chain her to the floor of a vehicle and takes her to a desolate cabin in the woods where he chain her to the wall. He claims to have been present five years ago but survived the cults mass suicide. There are other survivors and he is trying to save Gloria from them. According to him the cult did something to her five years ago and she has been monitored ever since. Tonight is the night they have to finish what they started, but if he can keep her alive until sunrise, she will be useless to them and they will leave her alone.

Gloria doesn’t know whether to believe the man or not. Is he going to kill her or is he trying to save her, and what if he has to kill her to save her? Meanwhile her mother has called the police, and Joan who thinks the police isn’t looking hard enough has organised her own search party enlisting friends from the church.

In the cabin, Gloria is becoming seriously ill. She begs her captor to take her to a doctor, but he refuses since it’s not safe. They both starts to halucinate. Can he be trusted, will Joan or the cultists find them first, and will Gloria survive the night?

I liked The Heretics. To be honest there isn’t very much happening actionwise, but the story unfolds mostly by characters talking to each other. Half the time Gloria is chained to a cabin wall, but even so it never bored me. There are some twists to the story, and unfortunately some of them were pretty obvious from the start, but over all The Heretics was one of the better horror films I’ve seen lately.

My verdict: 8 out of 10.

Lake Placid 2

Lake Placid 2

Asgaard Branding, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, Unified Film Organization (UFO), USA, 2007
AKA:
Director: David Flores
Writer: Todd Hurvitz, Howie Miller
Cast: John Schneider, Sarah Lafleur, Sam McMurray, Chad Michael Collins, Alicia Ziegler, Joe Holt, Ian Reed Kesler, Justin Urich, Cloris Leachman, VJ Kewl, Robert Blush, Jonas Talkington, Terence H. Winkless, Michael McCoy, Andrea Enright, Zhasmina Toskova, Vlado Mihailov, Yana Marinova

I did like the original Lake Placid but didn’t have too high hopes for this sequel. None of the original cast returns (unless You count a black and white photo of Betty White) and it’s made straight for TV. This usually means “not very good, or at least worse than the original”.

Anyway, eight years has passed since they shiped off the giant crocodile and everyone seems to have forgotten all about it. Maybe the authoritys covered it up somehow or maybe people just don’t watch the news anymore. There’s a new sheriff in town. He has a weird haircut and doesn’t belive in any crocodiles in his lake, so when a researcher tells him his partner was killed by something in the lake while they were getting watersamples, his first guess is he had to much to smoke and forgot he was alone on the lake. When shown the arm and the leg that remains of the researcher, his second guess is a mountainlion or a bear. I’m no wild life expert, but I’d guess it’s not very common for either mountainlions or bears to attack people in boats on deep water.

Fish and Wildlife sends Emma to help with the investigation. She and Sheriff Riley has a history of dating which didn’t lead to anything but there is chemistry… Sheriff Riley’s son, Scott, who lives in Boston but is here for the summer finds chemistry to with Kerri. She has a boyfriend but Scott is invited to go to the lake with them and their friends.

Riley, Emma and the researcher, Frank, goes out in a boat, finds Franks friends head, and goes talking to “Crazy Sadie”. Sadie Bickerman is the sister of Delores Bickerman who fed the original crocodile live cattle and as those of us who’s seen the first film, cuddeled little baby crocs. She went missing one day and was never found, and her sister moved into her cottage.

Three bulgarians arrives at a beach. The two girls gets in the water topless splashing water at each other and playing around. The boy turns around changeing into swim trunks and when he turn back their gone. He goes into the water shouting for them and then they’re crocfood all three of them. As far as I know none of them has any connection to anyone else in the story so probably they’re just filling material. Someone probably wanted som T&A in the film and somebody else wanted more victims so they put the bulgarians in there as shreddies to cater for those needs.

Mirroring Hector Cyr’s arrival by helicopter in the first film, Struthers and his handyman/personal slave Ahmad arrive in an airplaine. Struthers is an arrogant egomaniac of a big game hunter hungry for some crocodile hunting. After Ahmad manages to kill the croc everyone relaxes but then their camp is attacked by enother one. Riley finds out his son is camping by the lake and sets out to find him. The y have allready been attacked but he takes the survivors to Crazy Sadie’s place. Crazy Sadie admits that her sister raised three children of the first crocodile and that she has been taking care of them since her sisters disappearance. She promises to take care of the kids while Riley hunts down the rest of the crocodiles, but can she be trusted?

There are lots of terribly bad CGI in Lake Placid 2. The crocs could have been better, but weirdest is Struthers airplane that lands on the water and when the camera zooms out it’s gone again. People to are acting strange. In the beginning Emma allmost faints when she sees the bit off leg of the first victim, and she states “Always had a weak stomach for blood” yet she gladly dives in the water from the boat to retrieve the same victims head. Sheriff Riley shows signs of psychopathy joking and cracking oneliners as people around him get killed by the crocs. Struthers is an asshole but he’s supposed to be one. Riley is supposed to be the hero. How is Struthers while up in his plane able to talk to Riley and Ahmad on the boat, when they neither wear headsets or have handheld radios? Despite all it’s flaws I liked it better than I expected to. It’s bad but it’s not that bad, if You know what I mean.

My verdict: 4 out of 10.

The Barn

The Barn

Nevermore Production Films/Nevermore Production Studios, USA, 2016
AKA:
Director: Justin M. Seaman
Writer: Justin M. Seaman
Cast: Mitchell Musolino, Will Stout, Lexi Dripps, Cortland Woodard, Nikki Howell, Nickolaus Joshua, Linnea Quigley, Ari Lehman, Ryan Nogy, David Hampton, James Weldon, Justin M. Seaman, Rik Billock, Elyse Alberts, Hunter Amos, Jon Bailey, James Baker, Matt Starr Bores, Ted Boyko, Cheyenne Burnsworth, Colton Burnsworth, Paula Burnsworth, Rodney Burnsworth, Dakota Corwin, Tyler Denman, Stephen Dixon, Linda Emeterio, Anna Fajerski, Dave Fresch, John Garrett, Linda Garrett, Brian Gault, Jedediah Giacchino, Sable Griedel, Susie Johnson, Linda Loughman, Jordan Main, Jeramey Pelzer, Michael Prutzman, Johnny Relich, Mark J. Reyes, Cheryl Seaman, Tanya R. Seaman, Douglas Sikora, Clay Sismour, Nicholas Sprowls, Jeremiah Startare, Jacob Stone, Ryan Sullivan, Clarissa Teagarden, Jeremy Teagarden, Megan Teagarden, Ethan Turner, Keith Uram, Christopher Vertosick, Jonathan Vertosick, Darby Zerbini, Rachel Kyslow

Wheary Falls, 1959. It’s halloween and there is an evening meeting in the church. The preacher reminds everyone that Wheary Farms is off limits. Since Rik Billock, who plays the preacher, has past experiences width zombies I would probably have listened, but of course little Shirley has to drag her friend George there anyway and go knocking three times on the barn door saying “Trick or treat, smell my feet”, and awakening the three demons who are buried there.

30 years later (that would make it 1989) everyone is wearing jeans jackets and 19 years old Sam and Josh scare the younger kids by telling them the legend of the barn and the three demons, The Miner Boogeyman, Hallowed Jack the pumpkin man and The Candycorn Scarecrow, and the rules of trick or treating. From TV-show host Dr. Rock (played by the original Jason Vorhees, Ari Lehman) Sam and Josh learn that their favourite band Demon Inferno is doing a surprise concert on Halloween not far from their town. Together with Michelle (Sam’s secret crush), Chris & Nikkie, and Russel they set out towards the Demon Inferno concert, but takes a shortcut through the woods. They plan on stoping in the first town they come to for som Trick or Treating, and the first town they comes to is.. Deathville. Well the real name of the town is Wheary Falls but the road they are on has been blocked by a fence.

They ignore the “No trespassing” signs and climb over the fence into a pumpkin patch. They talk for a while and Sam tells them of the rules of trick or treating so they dare him to knock on the door of the old barn not far from where they parked their van. Unfortunately it is not just a barn, but the barn, and they wake the demons. Sam, Josh and Michelle takes of to town to trick or treat, Chris and Nikki puts up a tent for some sex and Russel stays in the barn to see if he can find out what the weird stench in there comes from.

There is a lot of talk about the rules of Halloween and of the importance of following them, and The Barn follows the rules of 80’s slashers. The black kid alwas gets killed first (if You don’t count little Shirley in, but that was 30 years ago) and anyone having sex dies. Michelle is a good girl and most probably still a virgin so she is the “last girl”. Nikki on the other hand looses her top far to easy to be alowed to live.

The Barn is a low budget film. You can tell sometimes, but despite some bad acting and some cheaplooking effects and costumes I still like it. Compared to some of the rest of the low budget filmes I’ve seen recently The Barn comes out on top. The story isn’t very original but more like a standard slasher from the 80’s, and that’s OK. The people behind The Barn doesn’t try to pretend it’s anything else. In fact they market the film as a 80’s slasher made today. They managed to get Lehman, Billock and Linnea Quigley to participate and the film was crowdfounded. I suppose the people behind The Barn are true horrorfans themselves and their effort should be applauded. Also, music is great.

There is a sequel in the making and I for one have high expectations and am gonna keep my eyes open for it.

I have one question, though. Who is Rachel Kyslow? She stands out in her performance, playing the not so small part of Nikki’s Boobs. I can’t find her on either IMDb or Google, so who is she, and will she be back for the sequel?

My verdict: 6 out of 10.