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We're All Going to the World's Fair

We (the teenagers) are all going to (through) the world's fair (21st century mental issues)
"We're all going to the world's fair" popped up in my local cinema as quite the surprise, for such a micro-budget indie horror with many newcomers didn't s seem to fit in the usual repertoire. The concept greatly intrigued me as someone who once upon a time has enjoyed travels down the creepypasta rabbit holes, and still loves the ever-dying found-footage genre and all its little sister genres. Reviews seemed a little suspiciously generous, and so, with certain expectations and prepared for something weird, I went and saw this half-cooked and morally eyebrow-raising experiment that leaves one at least slightly baffled.

Possible future star by the name of Anna Cobb portrays Casey, a character that perhaps only a rather specific audience is welcomed to relate to. As little as the movie tells you, Casey is a lonely, anxious, somber teenager with bad relations with her family and seemingly no friends at all. The story starts with her taking the "World's fair" challenge, which is supposed to affect you psychologically and make you "live in a horror movie". She continues to post videos documenting her life after taking the challenge. The only other significantly large role is that of JLB, a man who watched her videos and grew a questionably huge interest in helping her avoid the vile consequences of world's fair challenge. He is portrayed by Michael J Rogers, who did an excellent job as the villain in Panos Cosmato's equally weird sci-fi nightmare "Beyond the Black Rainbow". Much of the movie's style is established from the very beginning, with long, perhaps too long, scenes of mundane actions, lots of silence, not always building suspense or unease. We follow Casey's state of mind during the couple months after taking the challenge, and it occasionally fires up with something offbeat, but, disappointingly so, as the movie goes on, it moves further away from being about creepypasta-like culture, or any horror games at all for that matter. There are creepy and eerie elements throughout the film via the use of youtube-like playlist, showing off and interpreting what some call the "weird corner" of youtube, where lonely content creators post their bits and pieces from their daily lives and troubled minds.

Major spoiler alert, the ending is what grinds my gears the most, Casey finally answers JLB's obsessive (and never reasoned) wish to help her with stating that everything she's been doing is just an act. Then she calls him a pedophile and leaves. Cut to ending, where we are left with only JLB's perspective, and he tells us a story of how Casey spent a year in assisted medical facility, and they finally met, being very happy and so on. The end. A movie that, to me, promised something other than what it is, then seemed to be about today's teenage mental problems and social/virtual issues, in the end seemed to lose any coherent message or point. A film that made me think and try to figure it out, which I always appreciate, but this one starts to frustrate me the longer I think about it.

Jane Schoenburn has definitely showed some talent by creating a, if not entirely effective, layered or hypnotising, then at the very least an unorthodox and eerie entry in genre with very little general population. David Lowery ("A Ghost Story", "The Green Knight"), by far the biggest name in the credits, saw something here. Some other nice details that I didn't mention, is a minimalistic, but moody original score. It all sums up to a 6/10, and a definite intrigue for what this cast and crew has planned for the future.


Weak War, Weak Rourke, even Weaker Horror
Although "Warhunt" seems like just another piece to pass on, I have a soft spot for war-set horror movies, I like (the now old and grunting) Mickey Rourke, and this is the first American horror film shot in the small country from which I come from - Latvia. The trailer left me feeling split, but I went to fight witches anyways.

It's a little different purposefully watching a low-budget actioneer, you kinda know what to expect. There's always one or two veteran stars attached, often to be there for maybe 10 minutes total. It is, of course, the case here as well. The setup for "Warhunt" was decent, the characters, although cliché, get taken seriously (until they die), and the cinematography is established rather pleasant for such an indie. The lighting department is lacking in budget, however. Even the performances are surprisingly decent, with the highlight belonging to Robert Knepper, as the fearless but mad leader of 12 men squad in search for a crashed flyboys plane that's been carrying 'sensitive' material. As the story progresses, "Warhunt" grows weaker and more tedious. Three screenwriters have fought to bring together a half-finished fantasy story that's as menacing as a sloth with a knife. Witches can be scary, but not in "Warhunt", the best - and that's not saying much - part of the story sticks within the madness of soldiers. "Warhunt" employs a lot of cgi too, and, well, it could be worse, it could be better, it didn't matter much with the lack of atmosphere. Personal disappointment also was the lack of potential nature and locations they could've used, and almost the entire movie takes place in a forest.

Naturally, there are plenty of historical goofs, this ain't produced by Steven Spielberg. "Warhunt" goes from mildly intriguing and entertaining to a true lackluster in the second half, and, for better or worse, takes itself very seriously from start to end. Really, watch only if you're too a sucker for fusion of war and horror. My rating: 4/10.

The Hidden

Best Buddy Cop Comedy Sci-fi Horror Ever?
Once again, a movie that's best seen knowing nothing about it - it can fool you and bring in the unexpected. However, I'll talk about the unexpected, so stop soon if interested. If you're looking for a very potent, action-full 80's blockbuster with a healthy pacing and decent amount of humor, this one should contend for the chance.

"The Hidden" is the best fusion of an action horror movie with a buddy cop movie I've ever seen. Containing awesome, cgi-less and great stunt work full action set pieces frequently, plus a top-tier all-out-80's cast, "The Hidden" brings a lot of fun in its highly reasonable runtime of 97 minutes. The twist is, the evil force at hand is a slimy, disgusting alien possessing humans and doing whatever it wants. And this side of the story gels with the much lighter, hearty notes of a buddy cop flick formula, very well. One shooutout after another brings on a rather conventional sci-fi ending, but nonetheless, this is a very fun piece for genre fans, and not only horror - the lovers of "Terminator" and such might get a nice kick out of this, too. "The Hidden" is rather predictable for the most time, but it still surprises with its spirit, and the pile of various elements used, there's action, plenty of science fiction, gore, laughs, quirks, elaborate car chases, and loud bullet ballets. Quite the practical movie.

The seemingly equally inspired and uninspired "The Hidden" is truly an amusing concoction of genres, and holds high entertainment value even 34 years later. Have to remind myself to see more of Kyle MacLachlan too. 7/10.

The Blair Witch Project

Remains an Impressive Feat All Around
This quintessential found-footage horror movie is one of all time favorites of mine - scared me stiff as a kid, and truly impresses as a filmmaking feat today. If you will respect it, it'll still creep you out. This film is also likely the reason I'm a sucker for f-footage/mockumentary horror films, and would very much like to make one myself someday.

In 1998, directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez launched their own mythology online, when the web was still new and contained, a year later a 45 minute documentary aired introducing the story of 3 missing students and the legend of Blair Witch. A week later, this film came out, and fooled everyone. It's still possible, and I'd recommend if you're fan, to watch the two movie-accompanying documentaries, furthering the universe and even containing deleted scenes. I'd also suggest scouring trivia on IMDb for some very interesting behind the scenes events and filmmaking techniques.

Besides terrific direction, the movie is effectively driven by the three main performances - relentless, authentic, and quite tense. In my opinion, this is a movie that serves as the finest example in regards of being scared by the unseen. Primal fears, humane terror, helplessness, distrust, panic, all perpetrated by a force completely out of reach. Except for the sounds... Hands down, one of the most eerie sound design ever. And it's almost ridiculous how they actually pulled all that off. All the ingredients of "Blair Witch" grease each other well, creating rather impenetrable atmosphere. Granted, if you're watching it with earphones.

Not perfect, but effective, and by today it's rightfully a classic. It wasn't the first of its kind, but it gave the sub-genre a glorious kick, and after 20 years, this niche is asking for innovations. 8/10.

Sam gang 2

Premium Tier Horror Anthology
Quite the impressive assembly of a movie, a horror triptych from China, Korea and Japan, by three renowned directors - Fruit Chan ("Dumplings"), Park Chan-Wook ("Oldboy", "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance") and the ultra-productive Japanese horror maestro Takashi Miike ("Audition", "13 Assassins"). As many horror movies from this slice of the world, it's distinctive, quietly creepy, mysterious and sometimes a little nuts.

The first story by Fruit Chan tells the story of the tasty, tasty Chinese dumplings, but special dumplings, made by beautiful aunt Mey. Ladies comes and seek out Mey, paying large sums for her highly reputable dumplings. What's the mystery? You find out. This is the only story that I had seen before, for Fruit Chan also made it into a feature length film. A good, slightly squeamish obsession/immorality tale to start off with.

The next one, called "Cut", came with much expectations, being directed by Park Chan-Wook, responsible for three 10/10's from me. A story about a movie director, a real nice guy, who gets abducted and wakes up tied on the set of the movie he's shooting at the time. He opens his eyes only to see his wife tied to a piano, and reasonably mad villain about to put on a show for them. The story starts out with real intrigue, and entertains effectively, but ultimately and disappointingly loses its footing in the end, going from tense to a little silly.

"Box", the third one, low-key my favorite, comes from gore master Takashi Miike, but this time the man is quite restrained and poetic, playing a creepy circus fairy tale with a nice twist at the end. Someone compared this piece to the spirit of Edgar Allan Poe, and I couldn't agree more.

Altogether, I'd give 7/10 to each of the scares, and as a sum, it works well, and has a slightly different, heavier horror flavor.

Dark Night of the Scarecrow

Compelling Spooky Adventure for All Ages
This unexpectedly mature, oldie family Disney feature evaded my memory for many years - all I could remember was a dark, scary guy with a top hat. I must've been about 5 years old when I saw it on the telly, and many years later, after describing it to a couple reddit communities, I finally got a name.

Welcome to the forgotten Dark Disney, where celebrated author Ray Bradbury adapts his own novel, and brings together a moody, valuable story for kids and adults alike, and it's perfect for the Halloween season. "Something Wicked this Way Comes" starts out with the homely and communal atmosphere of a small, calm American town, beautifully narrating the way into a hearty story of an aging, remorseful father and his young son, and a mysterious carnival that arrives in town led by Jonathan Pryce's Mr. Dark. Dark's Pandemonium Carnival seems to fulfill one's deepest desires, but also the strongest fears, and our young hero Will Holloway stumbles in the middle of this mystery.

It's a film that carefully walks the fine line of children's horror, being quite dark and serious, but never too much. The dark side of human nature, like greed and temptation, is explored, but also friendship, love and courage is embraced, keeping it continuously balanced and engaging. No humor is displaced, no horror is questionable. From my today's perspective, it's very predictable, the Dr. Dark I remember was much more weird and obscure, and I'm not a fan of old-school animated effects. However, it's an entertainingly eerie tale with heart in the right place, that might bring all kinds of nostalgia even to those that haven't seen it before. 6/10.

The Houses October Built 2

Unnecessary, but... Fun
The first film was original and enjoyable enough in the found-footage/mockumentary genre, and the sequel continues the fun, but the writing/plot is quite bare feet, and as a sequel, this is definitely a letdown. However, the journey through these houses has its charms.

The same team that got abducted and released in the first movie, returns to business as October comes around, without much thought or reason. One of the few storylines going on is the team of filmmakers trying to get back the now traumatized Brandy back into the game, as the video of her abducted (in the first film) has went viral. Character behavior sometimes doesn't encourage a lot of sense. For most of the runtime, the plot doesn't move at all, as we are travelling through a variety of actual Halloween attractions and haunted houses in different American states. Huge chunks of this flick almost feel like a YouTube video, but quite fascinating and entertaining, even if the larger picture of the movie gets pushed aside. Eventually, of course, the vlogging team lands in the hands of some psychos, with a new twist at the end.

With all its issues and low budget, "The Houses October Built 2" still manages up to entertain with all-horror-halloween-related scenery, the acting's alright, pacing keeps up even without plot development. It all depends whether you have Halloween fever, in which case you might get extra kicks out of this. 6/10.

A Field in England

An Experimental Pleasure
A beautiful hybrid of a horror movie, an early piece from the rather underappreciated Ben Wheatley ("Kill List", "High Rise", "Free Fire", "In the Earth" etc.). Who said trippy movies even have to have colors?

Wheatley drops us straight into the heat of civil war raging in 17th century's England, setting up a journey with a strong and amusing set of characters - deserters deciding to call it quits and head for a beer together. Little did they know, the endless meadows lead to thought provoking ideas, psychedelic turns, period-accurate and still relevant social commentary, and creative cinematic techniques. They are also soon captured by a menacing alchemist, and are forced to help him look for treasure supposedly buried somewhere in the field. Ben Wheatley has truly put together an impressive and appealing production on low budget, from acting to cinematography, to special effects, costume design & sound design - everything rather makes you admire this little movie. The salt lies within the story, which many may found meaningless, but, personally, this belongs to the type of movies I love, the perhaps overtly philosophical kind. "A Field in England" has a good number of great scenes, and as an art-house film, it holds terrific entertainment value. It may be unconventional and strange, but I couldn't see the boredom some are talking about. By the way, the movie bears a couple parallels to Wheatley's last to date, "In the Earth".

I believe Ben Wheatley is one of the most innovative filmmakers working in the horror genre today, and I hope his next, too, will be a horror movie, and I wouldn't mind more of the earthy kind that he seems fond of. 7/10.

Mortal Remains

Commendable Effort
Very little known, near underground-kind, independently produced and marketed micro budget mockumentary horror, that all sums up to some intrigue for a found-footage horror enjoyer. A flawed, but admirable effort in faux documentary genre, by two directors who are also writers, acting leads, operators, cinematographers, editors, and so on.

Filmmakers Mark and Christian are in process of making a documentary about "The Blair Witch Project", when the movie's actual director Eduardo Sanchez raises up a question about infamous Maryland's (same area/town as in "Blair Witch") filmmaker Karl Atticus, a shady guy who made b horror flicks at the turn of the 70's, with rumors about using real corpses for better effects. A cult may be involved as well. Thus, the duo takes up a new project. A movie like "Mortal Remains" only works with good world-building, and there was effort put into that, although there are discussable plot holes here and there, and characters don't always act reasonably, the overall atmosphere creates palpable tension throughout. Majority of the interviewees were up to the acting task, and if there was more script than improv, most lines passed as natural enough. Pretty split feelings on how the journey ends - taking the route of a more genre-conventional, shocking resolution, whereas I would've preferred a little more plot at the expense of scares.

After a little post-film research I was surprised to find out they're currently shooting a sequel, although that might've been dragging on for years now. They truly need more lore. The genre spirit is there, so this goes as a sure recommendation to the suckers for handheld pseudo cinema. 6/10.

The Return of the Living Dead

One of the Best in the Genre
It's very rare for a good, or original, zombie movie to come out nowadays, so I turned to the unseen classics, and this one is an absolute hoot. Shame I didn't see this way back. Correction though - zombie comedy movie, and "The Return of the Living Dead" ranks well second or third to "Shaun of the Dead".

A couple of unwitting warehouse workers accidentally release an unknown chemical gas, which leaks into the ground, and soon makes the dead rise up and crave for brains real hard. A group of punkrockers partying at a cemetery get attacked, and soon all hell breaks loose. Director Dan O'Bannon (writer of "Alien") aims for two things - lotta laughs & lotta gore. He reigns in both. In the film's 91 minute runtime, nothing feels wasted, and the pacing is on point. With a few middle-aged leads having an absolute blast amidst zombies and panicked youth, "The Return of the Living Dead" feels like a train-wreck gone right, offering plenty of gooey entertainment, one-liners, two-liners, terrific practical effects, and an 80's-blast soundtrack.

A zombie flick that feels rebellious, like a parody, but a smart one, with tongue firmly in the cheek. A strong recommendation for all zombie & horror comedy lovers, this 1985 awesomeness holds up. 8/10.


Cronenbergian Sci-Fi Noir
Back in the day David Cronenberg made quite a few horror movies, and is one of the notable purveyors of body horror. Two absolute must-sees for horror lovers are definitely "Videodrome" and "The Fly", and there's more where that came from. Before those, he also made "Scanners", a conspiracy thriller in a clinical world of Cronenberg brand science fiction.

The confused Cameron Vale (Stephen Lack) meets a doctor and learns of his telepathic powers, or "scanning", and how there are others like him. They set on a path to stop a dangerous scanner wishing to destroy those who cannot scan. This extraordinarily powerful telepath is played by the overlooked Michael Ironside, who greatly committed to the film's more iconic moments.

By today's standards, the story rolled out quite predictable and familiar, making it harder for "Scanners" to distinguish itself, but, thankfully, it is all wrapped up in the Cronenbergian atmosphere, feeling cool, sharp, and sometimes near deadpan in its execution. Where needed, amazing special effects are employed, and the climax brings a silent "woah".

Altogether, "Scanners" is an entertaining sci-fi thriller that invests its time engaging the viewer in the larger conspiracy, and horrifying him with squirming telekinetic deaths. It may not be Cronenberg's best, but neither the worst. 7/10.

The Hole in the Ground

Familiar, but Very Well Executed
Lee Cronin has been on my radar once in the past, he has a terrific horror short you should check out, called "Ghost Train", included in the 2016's horror anthology "Minutes past Midnight". Given that he's now taking care of much anticipated Evil Dead franchise addition, I finally steered myself onto "The Hole in the Ground", plus it comes from A24. And, well, Evil Dead is in good hands!

Seana Kerslake gives a spotlight lead performance in a story about a single mother living in the Irish countryside with her young son. She begins to suspect her boy might not be her boy at all, as she starts to link together his increasingly disturbing behavior and a mysterious sinkhole in the heart of the forest nearby. The entire story itself is laid out fast, especially if you know the myth/legend/folk tale that inspired this movie, personally I first encountered it in a 2015's horror anthology "A Christmas Horror Story". Look up "changeling" for more. If you don't know, however, or regardless, by picking up "The Hole in the Ground", you're in for a very well executed genre example, effectively stitching together familiar, and some welcome horror tropes, all under steadily creepy atmosphere. A more-or-less conventional horror, but a solid one. Looks and sounds scarily pleasant, and is throughout also carried by sincere acting work. A24 horror movies always have great original scores too, don't they.

In the niche of creepy children horror, "The Hole in the Ground" offers nothing new, but engages for 90 minutes nonetheless, and shows the ability of an up-and-coming director. 7/10.

Fried Barry

An Awesome Meal if Your Taste Buds Accept
One look at the trailer, and I knew this will be my kind of joyride. Flawed though it may be, "Fried Barry" is a fun, greasy, sleazy, expressionist nightmare from South Africa, set in the seediest parts of Cape Town. Director Ryan Kruger is selling it as a future cult classic, and, hell, it just might be.

Ryan Kruger and Barry, portrayed by the peculiar Gary Green, go all in here, devoting to the insanity of improvisational nature. There's barely any plot, no real metaphors or commentary, no weaved-through drama or tension for scares, but it is all kept together by a sort of psychotronic sense, a series of drug-induced, kaleidoscopic happenings involving a variety of odd characters and places. There's comedy, there's disgust, and there's even some warm and unexpected heart in the end. Barry is a heroin addict and a problematic husband/father, but that, and much more, changes when he is abducted and possessed by an alien. At the wheel of Barry, this alien is going on a wild exploration journey through the underground of South Africa's capital. He makes his (its?) way through human ways of sex, violence, language, life and death. For 99 minutes there isn't quite enough content, but nonetheless it kept me positively impressed with awesome bits and pieces. It's the kind of all-out-fun experimental flick that gets my juices flowing. Visually, this flick is a hoot, always coated in contrastive colors, crafty cinematography and absolutely amazing sound design/original score.

Some would say it's quite void and a Lynch/Noe/80's throwback wannabe, but I concur. Even though I liked the trailer, I had reasonably low expectations for something irredeemably dirty, but instead I got some funk. You like 18+ funk? Check this stuff out.

Body Bags

A Charming, Playful Anthology
A sort of forgotten horror anthology, and although quite comical, it's a hidden delight for a horror fan, being directed by genre legends John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing) and Tobe Hooper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Poltergeist), plus having cameos by them, and also Wes Craven, Sam Raimi and Roger Corman.

The first story follows Anne (Alex Datcher), who starts her first night shift at a remote gas station - every visitor gives off funky vibes, and there's something sinister lurking around... Most straight-forward, and, personally, the least favorite segment, and the one that seems the most unfitting, given that the other two (and the wraparound segment) are dealing with medical horror.

The second segment covers black comedy genre, and has the ever-charming Stacy Keach having a real midlife crisis propelled by his thinning hair. Extreme measures must be taken to keep a man's confidence! Amusing set-up leads into a bit of body horror and a twist.

Third story is arguably the best one. Directed by Tobe Hooper, it sees Mark Hamill, a highly successful baseball player, losing his right eye in an accident. If not for the pioneer doctor offering a transplant, his career would be in ruins... But where does the eye come from? If the first story was a slasher, the second - black comedy, we now got a little psychological thriller.

The wraparound segment has John Carpenter as the coroner, introducing the stories and having a bit of fun. All in all, this body bag is a mixed bag, but a cheerful one. 6/10.

Black Christmas

Merry Misfiring Mess
I had trouble overcoming the fears of watching this movie, because they already let me down once... Can it get worse? Can it!? "Black Christmas" of 1974 is my all-time favorite slasher, and one of my favorite horror movies, it's minimalistic, obscure, atmospheric, well-acted, suspenseful, beautiful looking... The remake back in 2006 was very underwhelming and way too numbingly straight-forward, but even that doesn't seem as bad after seeing this one - one messy, messy "re-imagining" of a classic.

Just to be clear, the movie isn't bad because it deviates a lot from the original. It's bad because the script, atmosphere and character writing is, frankly, either a complete mess or just plain flat. I think compelling and entertaining is what they wanted, but what they got is rather nonsensical and very lackluster even in the most crude terms of horror. I get it, it'd probably been received a little better if it wasn't using the weight of a franchise/classic name, but altogether, as a stand alone, 2019's "Black Christmas" is a failure at using its domain as a vehicle for badly done social and political messaging. The merry many of characters are very one-dimensional, the villain side is whack, the twists induce an "ummmm", and the overall suspense is executed with a very, very light hand.

This is a movie that doesn't inspire a lot to talk about, because of how wrong it goes in almost everything... For those that have never seen a "Black Christmas" movie, and/or those who are into modern teen horror, try it, but beware, there are many better, similar adventures out there. 3/10.

Maniac Cop 2

As far as Sequels Go, It's Solid
The first mayhem run of maniac cop wasn't exactly great, but I still remember it, years down the line. I had very low expectations going into this one, and it turned out quite surprisingly fun! It's a self-serious slasher flick with some cool set pieces, awesome stunt work, good performances and general pacing. For those familiar with William Lustig - this movie might as well been called "Maniac vs. Maniac Cop".

We all know that at the end of a slasher movie, the unfound, assumed dead, killer is just hiding, taking his time to recuperate , you know, for the sequel. More or less, such is the story, Maniac Cop was wronged in his previous life, and he's back to continue doing his brutal bidding. Don't get me wrong, it actually picks up where the first installment left it, not like most slasher sequel examples. The film offers new protagonists, the no-nonsense low-voiced Detective Sean McKinney, and craving-for-truth police psychotherapist Susan Riley, hunting down the menacing Matt Cordell, or Maniac Cop, who has teamed up with Times Square Serial Killer, or a near carbon copy of Joe Spinell's insanely murderous main character in Lustig's 1980's "Maniac". What follows is reasonably predictable, but decently paced plot, kept consistently engaging with action set pieces, and throwback crime flick atmosphere, as if popped in the vhs player.

If it survives development hell, I hope Nicolas Winding Refn's remake brings to the table an upgraded version, also plot-wise, because there's potential in the concept, and it wouldn't be enough with just loads of violence. 6/10.

Beyond the Black Rainbow

Thick & Tough
8 years before the awesome cult hit "Mandy", director Panos Cosmatos debuted with his concoction of bizarrely cold 80's vibes, throwback sci-fi, brooding synth music, intense colors, and deep symbolism. "Beyond the Black Rainbow" is a quite trip for the unorthodox viewer. It's not an easy trip, however. It wants to consume your senses and pull you in the hypnotic trance, but also is liable to dull them senses.

The first act does to trick to pull you in its ice cold, smokey, isolated dystopia, in which the Arboria institute exists. It is a secluded commune that preaches betterment, led by a nasty villain by the name of Barry Nyle, who gives quite the performance and frequently reminds of Christian Bale. Although centered around Elena, a mysterious Arboria's patient, and her efforts to escape, Barry Nyle feels like the actual main character. The plot, on a classical scale, is real short and reall dragged out. Philosophies and metaphors behind the frequent heavy symbolism - that's another matter. Good film to banter on about the meanings. The second act is a tough one, it deliberately slows down even more, teasing us audio-visually with little to no development, taking a pacing that "Space Odyssey" would have to compete with. On this note, Kubrick, and also Lynch, are quite clearly points of inspiration here. The third act freshens things up, and a question after another pops up, as the movie continues and ends with a lot more symbolism and visual poetry. Ego will destroy you, if you let it.

It's demanding, nearly meditative experience, but also dripping in rich, thick feels of retro horror, that kind of experimental filmmaking feel that compels in unnamable ways. 6/10.

From Beyond

Gordon's Love for Lovecraft Reigns On
From a team of accomplished horror filmmakers, and notable bringers of H. P. Lovecraft into cinema, comes an interpretation of "From Beyond", just a year after their adaptation of another Lovecraft story, "Re-Animator" (8/10). The horrors from beyond perhaps can't top the quirky "Re-Animator", but they're quite grand and fun.

Unfortunately, "From Beyond", although only 7 pages long, isn't one of the stories I've read, but Gordon's adaptation goes similar ways as "Re-Animator", creating a horror movie that balances between impressive gruesomeness and amusing laughs - with a functional story in the middle. On one hand, 80's-90's Lovecraft film incantations were more fun than they should be.

Gordon's returning cast of Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton, joined by Ken Foree ("Dawn of the Dead", "The Devil's Rejects") round out a good core cast, as they are trying to figure out a mad scientist's invention - the resonator, which, when activated, allows one to see beyond the perceptible reality. Little did they know, hideous monsters and mind-blowing concepts lurk in the hot pink glazed other reality of ours. How much perception can one human brain take?

For a considerably low budget film, the practical effects are just lovely, set-pieces, and mayhem sequences quite wild - definitely one of the strong suits of "From Beyond".

I felt like the film ultimately fell short just slightly, but when it comes to Lovecraft, I always have hopes for bleakness rather than amusement. Nevertheless, it respectfully joins other four, all commendable, Gordon's Lovecraft spells. 7/10.


A folk horror laced in a drug or two
Folk horror subgenre is close to my heart, and so I finally had to check this German/Austrian nightmare. It's certainly a divisive one. The ever-raging battle of relationship between style and substance among film fans continues here, too, and I seem to land in the middle. I believe director Lukas Feigelfeld, to whom this is film school graduation project, intended a trip. Very gloomy, meditative, earthly trip.

The film contains only a few lines of dialogue. The plot is barely even there, as the movie, in every minute of it, thrives on atmosphere and feelings. The main character doesn't reason much, or scheme, or rationalize, the "plot", or rather mood is driven by mere feelings of hers. Heavy feelings, building an atmosphere that almost tires you. The pacing is much slower than your typical described slow-burner, and the movie demands some sinking into for it to execute its intentions. It's almost like a film equivalent of a gothic painting, a mural that you have to consume with long attention to all detail. The cinematography is beautiful, locations isolated, mossy, almost ancient-like.

A patient man's film, and indeed one for those who appreciate strong on emphasis style, and unspoken moods. On a side note, I had noticed plenty of people put "Hagazussa" against "The VVitch" with the latter coming in second, and with that I, in good conscience, have to disagree. 6/10.

The Addams Family

Gothic Funk for the whole Family
My familiarity with the Addams's is very surface level, this one is the only version I have seen, as a kid, and am now re-watching, so I might not be the best judge of the material, but it is undoubtedly an amusing, morbidly wacky and accessible dramedy. Yeah, I'd say comedy is neither the main course, nor the strongest suit here.

Addams family is the happiest when things go bad, mischief reigns and abnormal happenings take place, they are like hardcore horror fans, like eternally stuck in goth's phase. Chaos is order, pain is pleasure. In other words, twisted, awesome, funky bunch of protagonists. They live in their fittingly spooky manor, and sit on some treasure, too, which attracts the scheming mind of a man in need, their bank accountant's. He finds someone, who looks like family's lost, missing uncle Fester, to pull the scam off. Thus the party is joined by Christopher Lloyd's superbly played Gordon, or Fester, joining an array of performances that are really adding some potency to the film. Besides Fester, my two other favorites are Christina Ricci's young deadpan Wednesday Addams, and late Raul Julia's head of the family Gomez Addams. The production design, too, is quite beautiful and almost gives off Tim Burton vibes.

It's a fun flick for the whole family, and highly appropriate for a windy October evening. 7/10.

The Mist

Holds Up and Holds its Place
This is one of only three re-watches on this year's Spooktober list, and it's a great one. Not sure, but could be my fifth or sixth watch throughout the years. From the mind of Stephen King, and his perhaps the most successful collaborator Frank Darabont ("Shawshank Redemption", "Green Mile"), comes a juicy creature feature, where most evil of creatures might just be the human mind.

A storm rages through a small American town, and next morning an impenetrable and mysterious mist comes rolling down from the mountains, covering the city and hiding unknown horrors inside of it. Meanwhile, a diverse and colorful group of citizens flock the local store, and eventually circumstances press them to barricade in. As far as creature horror movies go, "The Mist" is awesome, consistently providing effective atmosphere, and monsters from another dimension will tear you apart if needed, with special effects that still hold up very well. On the background of this, the movie becomes so much better when the focus is shifted on the group of people, their reactions, decisions, and impending destruction. It is a study, an allegory of societal collapse in isolated environment, and a potent one at that. Furthermore, "The Mist" never just fizzles out, but ends truly depressingly, the impact of which on the first time's viewing I'll never forget. Movie's overall production quality is top-notch for 2007, and there are many great, lesser known actors providing excellent and contained performances. TWD fans will find multiple familiar faces.

Altogether, it's a fantastic sci-fi/creature/lovecraftian horror movie with plenty of substance and emotion. If you're a horror fan, and haven't seen this, the time is now. 8/10.


Self-respecting B-horror Fun
The funky name itself has been a point of intrigue, so I decided to check out this cult flick, very much expecting a campy B trash/splatter adventure. John Heard and Daniel Stern are also an attraction, latter of whom I've only ever seen in "Home Alone". I managed to found the uncut version of this, too.

Something dwells under the city of New York, praying on the homeless population and lonely women walking their dogs, in the middle of it is "The Reverend" (Daniel Stern), the sole proprietor of a soup kitchen, who meets Cooper (John Heard), a city photographer. Together, they uncover the dangers, and try to expose a scandal. Unexpectedly, the plot, though simple and predictable, is more compelling than anticipated and includes some social commentary concerning the flourishing homeless population, and also toxic waste dumping. The plot could benefit from more complexity, the special effects - from more severity, but altogether it moves evenly, and doesn't become tedious. Low budget, big effort.

It is perhaps the coolest acronym in horror, but the cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers with their fluorescent eyes can only do so much... 80's creature horror fans, this one's for you. 5/10.

Seuseung-ui eunhye

Internally Overwhelmed Slasher Flick
The appealing combination of words "korean" and "slasher" pulled me into this one, and indeed it's quite the saucy slasher, but not in the best of senses. Via an unapologetically fast intro we learn that a teacher gives birth to a deformed child, who they don't love and keep in basement, until her husband commits suicide in front of the kid. Sounds like a slasher alright. Cut to present day, a class of that time is visiting the now old and wheelchair-bound teacher, and this dinner party will bring out old grudges. The script of "Bloody Reunion" tries hard to twist a bunch of borrowed tropes, and explore a high count of characters too deep too quickly, establishing plot-points frequently with little behind them. The movie is sort of 50/50 plot/slasher violence driven, and the plot involves serious matters, like psychological trauma through abuse, but as opposed to more acclaimed, focused movies on similar themes, "Bloody Reunion" doesn't allow time or space for substantial development and construction, and rather takes leaps. Visually, the movie is very well serviceable, but unimpressive, and the constant zooming in some dialogue scenes didn't work very well. When it comes to special effects, however, they're gruesome alright. It's a slasher that definitely speaks some effort, and is a decent attraction to the fans of the genre. 6/10.

Day of the Dead

Unexpected and Very Welcome
The seemingly lesser known and less loved installment in Romero's original zombie trilogy, but it's definitely not a lesser movie. Romero has gone real serious on this one, focusing more on human's inhumanity to each other, leaving the herds of action in the background, yet when Savini and Nicotero's special effects are brought in, the horror is explosive. The set of characters are at times borderline comical, but consistently entertaining and in the end does not mess with the reasonably compelling nature of the narrative. The two goons were a bit too much though. Spotlight and heart belongs to Bub, everyone's - I dare assume - favorite Romero Zombie, as doctor Logan attempts to make him recall his more human nature. The plot takes place almost entirely in an underground army base, which creates a reasonably claustrophobic atmosphere. A handful of survivors in hiding are attempting to find a solution to the chaos through scientific research. Using zombies, of course. Back and forth we follow the characters as tensions rise and impending doom can be felt, through themes of human behavior under this apocalyptic duress. Furthermore, all of the performances are entertaining, energetic, most of the characters have some notable moments. I'd say "Dawn of the Dead" remains Romero's best, but this comes in second, and feels very different, improved in unexpected areas. 7/10.

The Hills Run Red

With Effort Put in the Genre
Make room for Babyface, another slasher, a horrific killer from a fictional, obscure, lost video nastie, which the obsessive horror buff Tyler sets out to find and watch. Together with his pal, his cheating girlfriend and a stripper junkie they head out to make a documentary on the matter, and find the infamous director of "The Hills Run Red", the lost one.

Made mainly by a team of B movie warriors, it's derivative and plenty nasty, but quite entertaining by all the general slasher standards. Gore, nudity and bit of goofiness included. Lack of self-awareness is, thankfully, not a big flaw here. The plot being about a horror movie, there are some meta-like jokes, but eventually nothing ascends above being just a gimmick, and the twists, too, are predictable.

If you like horror with a good side portion of violence, especially the 80's kind, check this one out - clocking in at 80 minutes, it's short and sweet enough.

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