slayrrr666

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Reviews

Colmillos, el hombre lobo
(1991)

Entertaining and enjoyable without too many flaws
"Colmillos, el hombre lobo" is a surprisingly fun and enjoyable Mexican monster romp.

**SPOILERS**

Plagued by strange nightmares, Cristobal, (Miguel Angel Rodriquez) allows it to interfere with his horse-track job for Roman, (Jose Elias Moreno) and while making up the time, is attacked by Tara, (Julieta Rosen) a weird woman who gives him a strange statue. Noticing it's full of precious stones, he sells so he can quit his job and gain the love of Susana, (Olivia Collins) a socialite who frequents the racing track where he works but is unable to do so. Still troubled by the nightmares, a series of vicious animal attacks in the community confirms his fears that he has been cursed with the mark of the werewolf even though no one else believes him. As the attacks continue, he finally comes to believe that he has been cursed to become a werewolf and those around him try to stop it before more in the area are slaughtered.

The Good News: This was actually surprisingly good with a lot of good things about it. One of the best features is the fact that it manages to incorporate the past traditions of the werewolf with a welcome infusion of Gothic trappings to be atmospheric while still keeping with tradition. This is nicely realized in the opening nightmare, where the night-time setting, the journey through the underground caves through POV and the unknown panting in the background and the disorienting design of the caves makes for a rather inspired intro before the attack happens, which provides a nice jump. This is continued nicely with the first sequence of him being afflicted with the curse, the night-time stable encounter. From being drawn into the wilderness by the mysterious woman in white, the eerie blue light being emitted in the distance, and the slow stalking around the area into the woods by himself while the animals are seeing visibly protesting the actions all are classic Gothic trappings being reworked here, and along with the dissent into the caves and the confrontation there, with the statue being found and the skeleton right there for a great jump all coming before the attack, and the scene is both hauntingly beautiful and unnervingly chilling, another classic Gothic exercise being put to good use in the modern times. There's even a good old-fashioned forbidden-romance angle thrown in that is put to good use, using it to build up to the finale that plays homage to the past traditions that are quite obviously worked out in advance but still playing true to the traditions of what's come before. The modern influences here come from the rather fun, brutal and enjoyable attack scenes, which are part of the film's best scenes. The first attack of the dog-walker is quite chilling, due to the atmospheric set-up and grisly action that follows within, and the second encounter is just as good with its taking place in a barn, allowing for the film to take some liberties with almost slasher-film like stalking moments within, like the knocked-over hay-bales, the unseen charging and the final attack making it quite enjoyable, as well as the second part where it continues on outside to grab the second victim. The best stuff, though, is the last half as it's filled with some great encounters with the hunters being stalked among the woods, the creature going into the house to continue the assault within, and the group tracking it back into the woods, complete with a lot of action, suspense and gore in the kills. Those have some good parts too, as they're vicious scratches and maulings, showing the victims getting really cut up and bloody. The last plus is the werewolf's look, which is pretty cool and unique in the genre, and the transformation is effective. These are its good parts.

The Bad News: There wasn't a whole lot here that didn't work. The biggest flaw to overcome is the absolutely inane editing during the attacks, which aren't all that great. Rather than giving good, clear shots of what's going on, it tends to either rattle the camera back-and-forth so that the entire set-piece is so blurred it becomes a guess as to what's happening or the scenes are spliced together so rapidly that it's essentially being assaulted by thirty different cuts during a five-second sequence, almost negating the entire experience to the point of being unable to detect what's going on. That these rapid-fire edits only occur during the scenes of the werewolf's attacks are where it becomes even more of a hassle, as there's very little opportunity to see what's happening during the best part of the film and that's really the reason to see this one, making it stand-out even more. Also problematic is the film's rather cheesy-looking effects for the werewolf, which are really quite goofy and not really that realistic. While it looks good and unique, the fact that there's no way to get around the fact that the creature still looks a little silly, and the transformations to get there, can't be avoided. The last flaw to this one is the rather long portion of set-up it has within the racetrack and finally getting him to leave. It spends a little longer amount of time than it really should due to the fact that he's already left there, yet it still has a series of scenes afterward of them wandering around, which just eats up time it could've put to better use. Otherwise, these here are the film's flaws.

The Final Verdict: Without much in the way of flaws and really packed with some good stuff, this here is a much more enjoyable effort than expected and gets a lot of stuff right. Highly recommended to fans of the creative side, the more Gothic-tinged horror or a Mexican horror fan, while those who aren't should heed caution.

Rated UR/R: Graphic Violence, Nudity, a mild sex scene and some Language

Devil's Den
(2006)

Immensely enjoyable and entertaining
"Devil's Den" is a rather fun and extremely enjoyable effort.

**SPOILERS**

Coming back from Mexico, Quinn, (Devon Sawa) and Marcus, (Steven Schub) stop off at the Devil's Den strip club to test a new drug on the strippers before they distribute it. When they realize that the club is actually home to a horde of flesh-eating ghouls that rely on human flesh to survive, they are attacked with Caitlin, (Kelly Hu) Leonard, (Ken Foree) and Candy, (Karen Maxwell) also able to survive the experience with him. Unable to escape, their attempts at trying to destroy the creatures are unsuccessful and only lead to the group continually retreating without making much of a dent against them. Finally able to get a hold on the situation and discovering a method of killing the creatures, they finally set off to destroy them before the creatures can escape into the world.

The Good News: There was a lot to like in this one, and it's a lot of fun as a result. One of the main things it does right is containing a boatload of action that makes for an incredibly entertaining film all the way around. The first instance, where the guy is lead down the dark hallway into the alley, the playful banter before it turns a little more violent, is off-set with the fun gunfight to be had before the reinforcements show up, leading to a race to hold them off while they try to break in, and when that turns into the massacre in the main hall, it gets even better. With the turning creatures, the fighting with the patrons leading to the destruction of the furniture, the mass deaths of everyone, the general chaos of the situation and the different fighting methods used to hold the creatures at bay are just a lot of fun, and with the extreme splatter used as well as some timely jokes, it makes for a winner of a sequence. More fun is had, both in the action and comedic-sense, of the two ideas of a famous movie samurai would handle the situation, with one putting it where it would be a massive slaughter, the other saying it'd be more controlled and precise, only for them to have it ruined by the telling of the realistic scenario that would unfold, which is pretty funny as well as adding in the action for the re-tellings. Beyond all the action, several of them are actually somewhat suspenseful, as the one into the main tunnel where they find their den, with the foggy atmosphere, rocky walls and inability to notice them initially, then trying not to wake them up makes for a rather chilling experience, and once the mayhem starts when they spring an ambush on the group and the retaliation starts, it gets a lot more fun. That it leads to two big action scenes, the brawling martial-arts fight in the forest outside and the attack in the dance-room are what make it especially fun. The outside sequence even has the moment where the true revelations and allegiances are revealed, and it's a lot more inviting than expected which adds nicely to this one. That the main fight in the den is the film's highlight is no surprise, what with the extreme martial-arts on display, the comedy of his commentating on it and the general sense of fun it elicits. Another plus is the deaths in here provide plenty of blood and gore, with decapitations, scratches, ripping and tearing into the body, impaling with swords and much more, along with the feasting on remains seen from time-to-time. Combined with effective ghouls and a lot of nudity, this one's really enjoyable.

The Bad News: There wasn't a whole lot to this one that didn't work. One of the bigger complaints is that there's a lot of comedy that doesn't quite work, mainly the recurring gag with the squirrels. It'd be nice if it was actually played up or even explained, but all it does with it is simply have him voice his uncertainty about the creatures and then never do anything with it, and it grows old without anything done with it. The severed head still coming around and making threats is another issue, mainly due to the fact that it's just not all that good of a gag. It's been done numerous times and really has most of the steam taken out of it, so for it to be constantly replaying in this makes for some stretches that aren't so great. The last bit of lame comedy is the film's fighter telling the stories about the movie actor coming into their situation and how he would handle it. While the film's realizations of those scenes provides some nice action, they're completely flat due to the constant talking-over of the scene and how wrong each of their stories are, feeling theirs is the actual method. It's not that funny, despite the joke giving the film some nice action. The scene where the one reveals the back-story whole laying there injured and supposedly dying is also a problem, since there's not a whole lot it can do with it, the scene serves no purpose and is highly clichéd, appearing so regularly it's totally unrealistic and doesn't really need to be there. The last issue some might have is the rip-off of the storyline appearing quite frequently in other films, but it's not a big issue at all and isn't a big hamper to it like the other scenes in here.

The Final Verdict: A lot of fun with only a few minor, barely worthwhile complaints against it really works well for this one, and it's one of the better entries in the genre. Give it a shot if you're into these kinds of films, a fan of the cast or want a good party-film, though those looking for more serious material should heed caution.

Rated R: Graphic Violence, Graphic Language and Nudity

They Come Back
(2007)

Decent but unspectacular
"They Come Back" is a certainly fine Lifetime-style ghost film.

**SPOILERS**

Following a traumatic experience, Mason Charles, (Jonathan Watton) asks psychologist Faith Hardy, (Mia Kirschner) to come watch over his niece Marley Charles, (Niamh Wilson) who has been the subject of a strange phenomena she is quite familiar with. Meeting with her, she agrees to take her on as a patient, where she's revealed to be blamed for a series of supernatural incidents that plague her. As she spends more time together with her, the more she comes to believe that the special incidents are caused by invisible specters that are causing all the accidents and weird events, making the others around her a little skeptical. When they finally believes that she's seeing ghosts, they race to help her understand what she's telling them in order to stop her from seeing them.

The Good News: There was some good stuff to this one. One of the main points is the fact that there's some pretty decent haunting-action going on, as the different ghost-heads that keep popping up in different places, such as the cemetery gravestones and in the mirrors around the house, but to the more traditional type of haunting actions is where it really shines. The first house walk-through, where the creepy noise in-the-distance leads to a full-on investigating of the house by flashlight into the living room where we get a marvelous visual of the place as it looks like the ceiling is underwater at a viewing exhibit with the wavy lines appearing and finally to the ghost appearing with a verbal warning leaves the entire scene feeling quite enjoyable and original. A second big haunting scene is done with the girl in the classroom, as the taunting of the student next to her leads into the verbal warning from her and then the teacher's warning, followed by more taunting and finally into the surreal shot of the glass cage in the back of the room utterly exploding and breaking into dozens of pieces, with no one around to claim responsibility. It's a pretty impressive scene, as well as the film's biggest scare when the psychologist is in the bathtub, including a tease in the disrobing before she enters and the faucet turning off on its own, but then when it appears as if she has been pulled underwater and the surface acting as a glass barrier to prevent escape is all handled extremely well and the entire scene being surrounded by the off-kilter lighting makes it look all the better. This one also manages to work in a couple nice build-up scenes that are used to effectively make the whole thing a lot more suspenseful, including the ghostly heads but also with the card-guessing game they indulge in as well as the new-puppy's reactions and behavior top her as well. Most telling, though, is the different tactics done with the drawings, the initially ones being quite innocent even if a little ominous-looking before it goes full-on in to the dark and disturbing, making full-use of the escalating events to make it even creepier. The last plus in here is the fact that this one has a couple of impressively-done car accident crashes, being a lot more violent in tone than would be expected in such a film and coming off quite nicely in the intended nature. These here are the film's pluses.

The Bad News: This one here didn't have a whole lot of flaws, but they are ones to be expected. The main issue, like most of these Lifetime films, is that the film is so filled with dramatic moments for its' female lead that it manages to suck away a lot of the tension and suspense the events have been building up which would be exploited in more traditional horror films. From the meetings of the therapist and her assistant where they discuss different psychotherapy techniques and the insane amount of time they spend before the actual treatment sessions managing to become friends and the budding relationship between the two, this one is filled with such techniques that it's really hard to get any sort of fear present during the supposed-supernatural hauntings. Another familiar tactic in here is the film's insistence on using non-threatening events as the basis for its' supernatural goings-on, here played out with a bit on a moving tape-recorder no one touched during the session, despite it only being shown in its final place and not in the process of being moved, the card-game where she guesses everything with no hint or clue beforehand, and a series of scenes where she vocally expresses what's happened but there's no physical evidence, and it feels like a cheat since we see nothing of what' s going on. The hypnotherapy session they engage in also has a few problems, mainly the fact that it's nearly an hour into the film and we're just finding out the root cause of everything, from the hauntings to the interactions with the girl and much more, and it reveals a gaping plot-hole that is pretty hard to ignore, in that the ghost targeted the girl to be able to have her solve her death, yet there was no way they were in contact before, after the hauntings started, so it's pretty confusing what was supposed to happen here. The last flaw is the typically sweet ending, which doesn't really mean much of anything and really just reeks of the style of film. Otherwise, these here are the film's problems.

The Final Verdict: A rather typical Lifetime style film, filled with all sorts of the usual tendencies associated with those films that it's quite an easy film to view. Recommended solely to fans of these films or fans of the cast, while hardcore horror fans who demand more will be sorely disappointed.

Rated UR/PG-13: Mild Violence and Language

Dark Rising: Bring Your Battle Axe
(2007)

Cheesefest of the highest order
"Dark Rising" is a lot of fun if still plagued with a few minor flaws.

**SPOILERS**

Still upset over a break-up, Jason, (Landy Cannon) finds that his friends Renee, (Julia Schneider) Marlene, (Haley Shannon) and Jasmine, (Vanessa James) are coming along with him and Ritchie, (Jay Reso) on their camping trip, and uses that to try to get back together. Getting everything together, they start their outdoor activities only for him to keep throwing obstacles between them getting back together, and everything gets put on hold when they're attacked by a strange monster in the forest. Struggling to understand the situation, the group discovers Summer Vale, (Bridgette Kingsley) who they were initially trying to contact via séance, living in the forest and fighting the monsters that were unleashed from another dimension by their black magic book, forcing them to fend off the creature together to get out of the forest alive.

The Good News: There was a lot here to really like in this one that really works. One of the best parts is that the film manages to include a lot of action in it that's a lot of fun and gives the film a large dose of excitement and enjoyment. The campsite ambush, beginning with the séance held between the girls surrounded by candles in the middle of the forest to the sounds it makes off in the distance and finally the shots of it stalking them, to the creature appearing at the campfire and chasing them around, leaving bodies in its wake amidst the chaos, is a lot of fun and definitely a highlight moment. The battles with the creature in the forest, from the quick ones with the battle axe to the hand-to-hand combat, are highly enjoyable and definitely add more action into the film, as do the multitude of different dreams that are brought into the fray. As there's several of them, each one has something different. The first is the most visually-arresting, with the different operating tools being laid out and the confusion over everything, while the second one is the tension-packed one with the chained-up women, the darkness around them and the siren as well as the victim being dragged into the darkness screaming uncontrollably with the inevitable awaiting them next. The third one is the action part, where it's a full-on, back-and-forth fist-fight and martial arts filled brawl between the two that is just over-the-top and extra enjoyable. Aside from this, the film also manages to include a few moments of suspense amongst the action, including the initial confrontation with the girl in the house, searching through the empty rooms before finally finding her and the struggle to figure out what's going on and the eventual finding of the bug in her back, cutting it out and the confrontation within all makes for a pretty thrilling sequence. The opening, where the demon is resurrected through the incantation of the spell, followed by the green light glaring through the night, causing the walk-through of the house to discover what's going on searching for her father and the eventual discovery that ensues, is another pretty suspenseful scene, and the later technique where they discover what's going on with her is also quite good. Another plus for the film is that it manages to work in the lesbian subplot and get some mileage out of it, delivery some comedy with them in the bookstore while on the phone to the oblivious boyfriend, a bit of sensuality with the whole group frolicking in bikinis at the camp, including several of them going topless, and finally the sleaze in the full-on sex scene between the two, which is really good. The monster design is quite good, with the skull-like head, horns, warrior helmet and huge spiked-hand, along with its outfit design make for a really memorable creature. The last plus here is the film's gore, which is quite nice. From slices across the chest, a splitting in half, amputation and a decapitation, this one certainly satisfies. These here are its' positives.

The Bad News: There wasn't a whole lot wrong here that holds it down. One of the biggest issues here is the fact that the film doesn't really manage to keep it's different story lines cohesive enough, as it tends to shift around between all of its different plot elements and never really makes sure it's important to the scene. It'll simply shift into one of its different stories in the middle of another one, going from the girl's childhood to her past battles with the demons as a warrior/barbarian and then back to the group's struggles in the present and then shifting back to the different dreams where they're fighting the others, are never really put into logical order and the constant shifting around is something that could've been fixed. Also what could've been fixed is the film's lack of explaining anything, since we don't know anything about the creatures other than they come from another dimension, but their purpose, motives or even what the thing is to begin with are all skipped over, as is the explanation of how she became the warrior/barbarian, all crucial items in here to understanding the film. The last flaw here is the rather quirky and utterly stupid music thrown in whenever the guy is failing to impress the girl. It's obvious the guy's a doofus, but to have the non-comedic music that's just plain irritating all the way through doesn't help matters. These here are the film's flaws.

The Final Verdict: A whole lot of fun but still containing some flaws here and there, this one really doesn't have much of anything that will really turn off those looking for some fun. Give it a shot if you're into those types of films, a fan of the cast or just interested, while those that aren't into these should heed caution.

Rated R: Graphic Violence, Graphic Language, Nudity and a sex scene

Fear House
(2008)

Better than it should be, but still flawed at times
"Fear House" is a typical and overall average haunted house effort.

**SPOILERS**

Going on a drive, friends Anthony Ballard, (Matthew Stiller) Fiona Bloom, (Olivia Price) Mortimer Gladstein, (Matthew Montgomery) Eva Tinski, (Meredith Barnett) Rhett, (Ryan Caldwell) and Suzette, (Kiersten Hall) arrive at a secluded house to fins his missing sister Samantha Ballard, (Aleece Jones) who had rented it to write her new book. Seeing something is wrong immediately, they soon learn that an evil spirit who died hundreds of years ago has taken over the house and preventing them from leaving, yet none of them believe the story. After they are each exposed to various situations around that house they all believe to be their individual worst nightmares come to life, they accept the story and try whatever they can to ensure that they stop the spirits' rampage and get out of the house alive.

The Good News: This one had some rather good stuff to it at times. One of the main pluses here is the film manages to do a superb job of placing rational fears into the set-ups that they are just quite freaky at times when they land perfectly, which is the perfect solution to these situations. The first walk-through of the house, with the spider-filled fuse-box during the blackout and the cut on the hemophiliac, which leads to several more great gags including a hallucinatory spurting wound into an empty sink to fill it up with blood as well as a later bit of suspense with a falling can of nails, is quite creepy and starts it off nicely before building to the bigger ones later. Those are the best part of the film, mainly the upstairs segments as there's two really great moments. The first one, in the bathroom, features the ghostly father appearing to torment the victim before falling into a full-bathtub full of blood before a ghostly sister rises out, these alerting others and forcing a tense resuscitation effort. A later continuation, where they are sensually felt-up by a ghost hand before appearing behind them in a creepy face is quite nicely done, and mixes in some eroticism as well. The second big upstairs one, the other victim alone in the bedroom before the big reveal with the ghost in the room tying them to a chair before being rocked by flashing images, is a pretty nifty sequence and makes for a couple big moments. Other big suspenseful scenes occur in the basement, where the darkened-staircase-descending opening, along with the eerie voices in the distance, create a fantastic backdrop for the later action where the creatures found are perfectly chilling, the different chanting and dialogues engaged with the ghost-girl are a great trap for the zombies emerging to engage them from out-of-nowhere, and that's a fine moment. The wheelchair sequence later on is one of the film's most inventive scenes, where the crazed actions that are clearly-inhuman are just thrilling, the chasing around the house is creepy and the final payoff is spectacular. The first encounter throws some action into the proceedings with its dog-attack in the car followed by the electrical-wiring shock, and the back-story flashback does the same with regard to its storytelling actions. The finale is one of the creepiest parts to this, with the blowing wind, the attacks by the house and the others, and the final fates are just great. The last plus to this is the kills, which are quite good, from a decapitation, a body burnt to a crisp, multiple impaling and a lynching. These here are the film's good parts.

The Bad News: This one had some pretty big problems to it that did hinder it somewhat. One of the biggest issues with this one is the fact that there are just not a whole lot of scenes that make much sense in the overall scope of the film. The purpose of the fire-taunting scene in particular is the biggest one, which is just outright confusing and is really questionable since there's so many questions around it. From the purpose of figuring out her fear, it would've been a lot easier to logically figure that out rather than in a way that would burn the entire house down and kill them all inside as the fear could've easily paralyzed them to the point of inactivity, and with the others upstairs at the time, it's a potentially deadly situation that comes across more as confusing than anything. Even the point of the ghost appearing in the bathtub during that flashback is quite strange, since that's the obvious route to go here, so setting it up as such with such a quick-cut scene that fails to generate its scare is a little strange and quite problematic. Other problems come from the film's rather slow pace, since it's all based on the fears materializing to generate the scares so there's a long stretch where the house does nothing and there's no supernatural activity at all during those scenes, leaving a lot of time without a whole lot going on and that's something which can drag the film out during the middle portion. The film's last flaws are its wraparounds, which are just plain weird. The opening ambush is a little strange in that there's no scares that come, despite the activities performed, because the cheesy effects give so much away that it's impossible to take them seriously, and the finale is just hampered by so much questionable actions that you leave the film at the very end more confused than anything, the wrong way to do so. These here are the film's problems.

The Final Verdict: While not a stand-out effort in the genre, this one has enough good parts that make it decent even though there's not a whole lot out there to really wow most. Recommended to haunted-house enthusiasts, low-budget connoisseurs or those interested, while those who aren't should heed caution.

Rated R: Graphic Violence, Nudity and Graphic Language

Dracula's Curse
(2006)

Really needs work, but there's worse out there
"Dracula's Curse" is a pretty problematic vampire effort.

**SPOILERS**

Following a successful mission, Col. Rufus King, (Tom Downey) and his team, Jacob Van Helsing, (Rhett Giles) Gracie Johansson, (Eliza Swenson) Trixie McFly, (Rebekah Kochan) Anastasia Ravenwood, (Marie Westbrook) Sadie Macpherson, (Sarah Hall) Nebraska, (Chriss Anglin) and Maximilian, (Justin Jones) are told of a truce between the vampire elite and their representatives, ending their fighting. After several years of relative peace, Rafe, (Jeff Denton) informs him that a member of the vampire clans has started abducting women who are of pure-blood descent in order to regain the power they once had. When they come across Rick Tollinger, (Tom Nagel) the boyfriend of one of their victims, who offers to help them out, they realize all along that Countess Bathory, (Christina Rosenberg) and her three brides have been responsible for all the recent vampire trouble and they race to get the others back together before they can complete their evil plan.

The Good News: There was some good stuff here. One of the better elements here is the film's rather fun action scenes, which are a lot of fun. The opening encounter is a great example, with the confrontation in the crypt, complete with the utterly-freaky vampires as well as the atmospheric setting in the dank basement and the bloody markings along the wall in the highway before it gets to the main action in the staking in the big coffin-filled room and the later efforts with the kung-fu fight in the adjacent room as well as a very enjoyable gunfight to go along with it. Another big action scene is the shoot-out in the bar, as the creatures are mowed down in automatic gunfire before turning into a rather nice brawl and into the best part when it becomes a full-on martial arts fight between the lesbian brides in a very energetic scene. A later sword-fight between several individuals later on is also rather good, and a later attack scene between them is rather nice. The big action scene, though, is the ambush on the vampire-den, where the hunters deal with the first wave of vampires quite nicely, the confrontations with the queen are quite good and the final revelation, handled through flashback, is impressive for the impact it has on the rather unique storyline it presents and the images created, as the visual impact of the winged demon appearing in the forest is rather impressive, and all around the scene is really good. There's also some nifty and quite-striking visuals in here, as the flashback dream to the Transylvanian woodlands, with the eerie fog and dead trees in the area create a rather creepy and unsettling sequence, and the savagery of the turning and the sensuality of the brides are all meshed together into a great scene. This one's also got some fun with its sleaze, mainly in the brides but also the abduction scene which shows them seducing the girl while she's with her boyfriend. Another one is the vampires bathing nude in a bathtub of blood as they cavort around her. The last plus here is the storyline, which is quite nice as it mixes actual history to rationalize its new-found mythology, but these are all that work.

The Bad News: There was a lot of stuff wrong with this one, one of the biggest problems here is the fact that, in spite of the film's extreme length, this one still feels the need to talk everything out instead of showing it. The length would be ideal to have scenes such as the attack on the vampire counsel or their rampage through the underworld, yet there is a series of huge problems here. First, the former is the only one attempted yet hardly any of it is shown and instead is explained out in detail later on, while the latter never is and both tend to showcase that one point, it never shows anything and talks everything out. That is especially troubling since it is the main plot point to engage the film's later actions, and if it can't be bothered to show the actions everyone is so concerned and freaked-out over, then it really diminishes the power it has over the ability to fear the main villain and really drags this one out. By really showing a lot more of those scenes, it shortens the film and doesn't become a problem to get over. Another problem in the film is that, in order to compensate, some scenes just go on way too long and aren't that exciting or thrilling. The extended training sequence filled with rather useless tactics and clichéd training scene segments that are just plain expected to be in here, only at a much longer clip and expanded. The montage of getting the group back together and the updates on their lives are like that as well, going far longer than it really should in just dragging its action out, and especially since this is the first time several of them are definitively named for us, it's just one more problem to overcome. The fact that the rules and regulations in the vampire society are never quite clear is something else to this, and it's pretty confusing to see all this rule-breaking going on when we don't know it's something that's breaking the rules. The last flaw to this one is the fact that the editing during the vampire den assault is just utterly confusing, makes the results so hard to figure out that it really robs the chaos of the moment. These here are the film's flaws.

The Final Verdict: Definitely a problematic entry, if for no other reason than a couple of story problems rather than anything else fundamental about it, so it's still got some good stuff to it. Recommended for those interested, fans of the studio or the actors or vampire aficionados, while others should heed caution.

Rated R: Graphic Violence, Graphic Language and Nudity

The Haunting of Molly Hartley
(2008)

Quite dull and flawed, but does have some pluses
"The Haunting of Molly Hartley" is a somewhat decent film filled with flaws.

**SPOILERS**

Going to Huntington Prep School, Molly Hartley, (Haley Bennett) is struggling to cope with the various problems in her family's past as well as the drama at a new school. As she tries to separate what happened to her, her friends at school, Joseph Young, (Chase Crawford) Alexis White, (Shauna Collins) Suzie, (AnnaLynne McCord) and Leah, (Shannon Woodward) each come up short of offering her help to get through the situation, and despite the best attempts of her father Robert, (Jake Weber) the problems manifest themselves as psychotic visions and ghostly voices, driving her further over the edge. Using that as an avenue of investigation, she soon learns of the demonic secret made with her family and her, forcing her to race to get free of it before it's too late.

The Good News: There wasn't a whole lot that worked here. The constant use of whispering voices and demonic faces appearing all over, including at school, in the bathroom or in her rather freaky dream after awakening from surgery, display an attempt to show something supernatural is going on, and it's off to a great start there. The film's opening does have some good stuff to utilize, from the eerie string-following in the forest and attacks by birds to the whispering voices in the forest as well as inside the cabin, provide a nice framework here, and the ensuing freak-out in the car afterward is pretty nice, having to swerve to avoid oncoming traffic and the pleas to stop going faster before the destructive crash and aftermath makes this a rather fine beginning that could've done something interesting with. The school freak-out was also somewhat interesting, especially with the whispering voices and demonic face appearing before being locked inside and the frantic attempt to get out, but otherwise this one pales in comparison with the film's best sequence, her main confrontation in the house. Aside from spelling out the back-story finally, it also includes several intense mini-chases and brawls, both sides getting the upper-hand before the final resolution offering something interesting it could've played off but instead merely segues into the finale from there, the confrontation at the friends' house. With the true meaning of the back-story twist, the suspenseful searching of the grounds and the action-twist, it's got a couple good parts to it that are somewhat interesting. The last interesting thing about the film is the attempted baptism, which is handled well, contains enough good stuff to it that it feels unique and manages to be quite creepy as well. Otherwise, there wasn't enough here to bring it up.

The Bad News: There was a lot of problems to this one that hold it down. The main problem in here is that way too much time is spent on the testing and mental disorders segments of the plot, which aren't that interesting nor provide much of anything to the film. Going through all the different doctor's offices and tests doesn't do anything, as there's no answers given as to what they showed nor what they were supposed to, and with absolutely nothing at all to do with the film, they simply showcase themselves out as flaws. There's also more problems when she has to go in to get the operation, which simply eats up time and neither helps nor harms the situation. The further dilemma about the mental insanity does prove a point, but instead here is just presented as every other one has done, she fears she'll be like the insane one despite every single source possible saying otherwise, and these eventually just get tiresome after the twentieth different incarnation of the same scenario. Basically, this one needed to get its priorities straightened out before doing anything, and the failure really shows up here. The party scene here is also somewhat of a problem, really not doing anything but play into the teens out there that will target the film but instead just comes off as utterly boring with nothing happening at all. The finale is also really problematic, since it's gone the entire film without even so much as offering one single ounce of explanation for the situation and when the twist comes around, there's no impact to it since nothing was set-up for it. The last flaw, though, is the biggest, and is the film's rating. It really hampers this since it's got no real kills to speak of, the few that do pop up aren't that bloody or gory really leaving the gore-hounds out of this one, but really censoring the film's nudity attempts or really allowing it to explore the more sinister aspects of its plot as it can't offend the teen-target-audience it wants with its cast, and as a result this one just really comes up short. These here are the film's many flaws.

The Final Verdict: A severely flawed and problematic film, with a few decent moments but not nearly enough to overcome the flaws present and dramatically lowering this one. Really only recommended to those seeking a mild horror film for youngsters or fans of the cast, while hardcore horror fans should steer clear.

Rated PG-13: Violence and Language

Grizzly Park
(2008)

Slightly uneven but still somewhat enjoyable
"Grizzly Park" is a fun but somewhat flawed killer bear film.

**SPOILERS**

Out on a special mission, youths Bebe, (Emily Foxler) Ryan Forbes, (Kavan Reece) Ty Brown, (Shedrack Anderson III) Lola Sanchez, (Zulay Henao) Candy Reece, (Julie Skon) Kiki Saito, (Jelynn Rodriguez) Scab, (Randy Wayne) and Trickster, (Trevor Peterson) are lead by Ranger Bob, (Glenn Morshower) out into the wilderness to do their community service by cleaning up the state park. All trying to get along together, they begin to hike into the forest to the cabin where they will undergo their treatment, and after experiencing a few side-adventures, they make it to the cabin. After settling in, they realize that several of them have gone missing along the way, and it soon dawns on them that a killer bear has been stalking them the entire time and attacking the stragglers, forcing them to try to get out of the park alive and away from the bear.

The Good News: There was some good stuff when it really got going. The fact that when the bear does attack it usually results in positive attack scenes is a great move, allowing for some good stuff here and there. The first one, on the human killer incredibly early on in the film, is really good with the darkness, the stalking camera and growling sounds from the bear as well as the creature stumbling out after him to brawl around the campground before a brutal blow is quite enjoyable, and a later attack on stranded campers is just glorious. From the ensnaring foot-trap and the encroaching darkness, as well as them being lost in the wilderness and the wolves appearing at the foot of the trap before they attack, it creates a fantastic set-up that is admirably played off with the arrival of the creature and the resulting mayhem it unleashes. The main campground attack is just spectacular, pretty much containing nothing of fault and is overall the film's best feature. From the initial ambush of the stoner, which is the cruel punch-line to a joke set-up slightly earlier that is just played off nicely, with the colors of the air and the pawing at the head before the attack and eventual realization make for a classic scene, and once it gets to the others around the fire, it's just as much fun. With the atmosphere coming on strong with the fog rolling in, the antics of the individual in the bear suit, from the humorous to the serious and finally the bear attack, leaving several wounded before it starts off stalking the escapees in the log-cabin hideout is just a lot of fun. The suspense of waiting for an attack to happen that is bound to happen and checking for the appearance, as well as the ultra-brutal attack and the aftermath to the twist in the finale, where the appearances from the beginning are duped quite nicely and the final attack is another punch-line to an earlier-set-up, this whole part of the film is just too good and features nothing really wrong with it. The film does contain a few other good parts, namely the suspenseful trail-of-corpses-in-the-forest that is found, with the severed fingers being devoured by the local animals, the pile of uneaten meat on the ground and the severed leg and face found, the result is an insanely creepy moment that is nicely utilized here. The last part is the gore from the bear attacks, which are pretty brutal. From being chomped in the face to having their chest scratched open in one slice, arms scratched and torn off, bitten in half at the waist and a decapitation, it provides the gory goods. These here are the positives.

The Bad News: There was some pretty big problems to this one that held it down. One of the biggest, and most obvious one as well, is that the film is just way to slow in the first half to really get going at all, taking way too much time to finally get to the main bear attacks. The fact that there's four different times in which the people in here decide to go hiking around, as we go from the ranger station where they start off at to the resting spot, then they go marching through the woods to a waterfall in order to cope with events that transpired there, then off to the main cabin where they then realize the missing couple, who themselves have a hiking through the forest segment that's prominently featured. All of these are pretty pointless, just them going in a straight-line occasionally picking up a piece of trash but mostly talking amongst themselves about the torture of their assignment, and none of that translates into fun viewing and the repetition of these scenes is pretty off. There's also bits that don't really belong there, such as the inclusion of the skunk and that subplot, which is the reason for two more marching-through-the-woods scenes and the removal of that eliminates a bit more time that is freed up later, along with the killer's inclusion, the scenes of the group playing pranks on the ranger and him playing sympathetic with the one camper, so that the main flaw is then fixed. That is that the bear is barely in the film until the ending, which really can't happen all that much and keep the villain effective. That is what happens here, and it causes the film to suffer through the continued use of keeping the main point off-screen as long as it does. These here are the film's flaws.

The Final Verdict: While not overly problematic, there's enough good stuff here to overcome the flaws and become a relatively enjoyable killer bear film. Recommended to giant animal creature feature enthusiasts, those interested or lovers of cheesy horror films, while those looking for more serious fare should heed caution.

Rated R: Graphic Violence, Graphic Language and Brief Nudity

Summer House
(2008)

Predictable ghost story with some good stuff to it
"Secrets of the Summer House" is a rather enjoyable Lifetime haunted house effort.

**SPOILERS**

Hosting a new exhibit, artist Nikki Wickersham, (Lindsay Price) and her husband George Wickersham, (David Jones) are called out to Maine to sort through his father's belongings after he dies. Arriving there to find they've inherited an island with a large mansion on it, they quickly learn of an old story surrounding the house about it being haunted through the years, yet friends Margie Mancuso, (Sadie LeBlanc) and Peter Hughes, (Niall Matter) convince them to stay there anyway. While working on a special project, a series of strange events around the house has them convinced that the house has indeed a spirit roused by a secret from the past, and they work to rid it from their house before it strikes them as well.

The Good News: There was some decent stuff in here that made it quite enjoyable at times. One of the better elements was that it managed to include a rather sizable amount of hauntings that were far more involved than expected, rather than just flashing a ghost for a second or so. The first night on the island, during the raging thunderstorm where the lights go out, the shutters get blown open and the trouble outside in starting a generator is interrupted by a falling shingle from the window above, dropped almost supernaturally. It's quite an impressive sequence, almost as good as a later scene where one is standing on a ladder to fix the shingle, only for a ghostly presence to appear in that window and cause it to fall, seriously injuring them in the process before disappearing in a flash before they can be spotted. Another strong suspense scene is the longest and most enjoyable of the film, where during a raging thunderstorm outside and the lights going out, a brief reprise in the kitchen makes for a perfect target for supernaturally-hurled furniture and dishes at her, along with the rattling glasses and flying boards, leading to a strong chase around the house trying to find shelter before finding all the doors locked and the only escape coming from a brilliantly-executed escape, all leading into a great scene. The best parts of the film, though, are the several different scenes within the small closet within the house, which are insanely creepy and downright enjoyable, coming across as the best stuff here by a wide margin. The simple set-up the first time around, the rapidly closing door and the shuffling voices wailing all around her and becoming more disorienting as time goes on inside, creates an incredibly intense experience and makes for a great scene. The later one, where the body is found buried beneath the floorboards and the eventual placating of the myth, is punctuated by a strong opening with the doorways opening supernaturally into the desired areas, the rattling of the house and the destruction of the different pieces of furniture around the area, coupled by the strong presence of the skeletal remains and the remnants of the back-story coming into play wonderfully make for a superb scene that is quite enjoyable. The last part that works here is the film's rather strong back-story, which is really unique and quite enjoyable. From the family legend that is the perfect set-up for a ghostly mystery to be unraveled from, the revelations coming from the look-ins on the family members and finally the contents of the sealed lock-box, which contain the most frightening pieces of the puzzle, this is a lot stronger than would be expected in such a simple film and give an effectively spooky backdrop for the events to unfold. These here are the film's good parts.

The Bad News: This one didn't have a whole lot of bad points, and it easily could be said to have only one flaw. The simple fact of the matter is that the film doesn't have any real sense of suspense or fear coming from anything since it has such a long amount of time in between all the different haunting scenes so that it's virtually impossible most of the time to believe it's a horror film. From their constant dealings with the renovation aspect of the house to the bad blood between the loner there and their feelings toward the area, it's got a lot of time that is specifically away from being a horror film, and that's something which can be problematic for some out there. By keeping the attention away from the horror and making full use of a lot of different elements isn't necessarily part of what makes for an enjoyable film. The fact that these are part of the middle section of the film, when it's supposed to be building up after the discovery of the freak accidents there, drops them to focus on drama portions of the plot doesn't allow for very smooth pacing, as it gets into a miniature rhythmic start, only to stop for significant amounts of time to focus on other parts, and it's a real drain for that to occur. That also takes the power away from the ghostly encounters, which are quite a let-down after such a strong start. These here are the film's problems.

The Final Verdict: A lot better than expected, and certainly one of the better Lifetime horror films around, this one turned up with a lot of good parts and a few minor flaws. Definitely recommended to fans of the others Lifetime horror efforts, as well haunted-house fans or of the cast, while those who aren't should heed caution.

Rated PG-13: Violence, Language and a clothed, minor sex scene

The Watch
(2008)

Not all that spectacular and pretty unremarkable
"The Watch" is an incredibly flawed but somewhat enjoyable ghost story.

**SPOILERS**

Working on her college thesis, Cassie Malloy, (Clea Duvall) agrees to go to a forest look-out station to fulfill class requirements and have time to finish her thesis. Arriving at her assigned cabin with Rhett, (James A. Woods) she finds the isolation a little easy-going at first, but after a while she starts to question the true nature of the isolation when she starts to experience a series of strange events that she feels can only be responsible by someone else being there. As the days tick by, she learns that the only companion she was talking to was killed in an accident years ago and reportedly haunts the area, and when she finds that the stories and legends are true and have placed her in great danger, she tries to get away before more harm is done.

The Good News: There wasn't a whole lot here that actually worked. One of the main pluses is that, when it focused on the supernatural elements, it had some good results. The minor attack in the food-shed, with the name written on the wall before the wind gusts shut the door, knocking over the food onto the floor and trapping her within, as the struggle to get free is pretty well done and has some pretty good suspense. The discovery of the charred cabin in the woods, along with the implications from the revealed back-story, are placed into good use during the phone-calls during the chess game later on, where the revealing of the information leads to threats that are played out with the vibrating phone, the sealed-off interior and awakening to find the chess game stacked after being wrecked earlier on is another fine scene, as well as the several different escape attempts that go awry due to being totally unfamiliar with the wooded area and becoming lost several different times. The return the second time around, with the desecrated outside and the message on the walls as well as the ghostly confrontation and eventual escape are all fine suspense scenes that are perfectly done in here. The finale, with the revelation within the station coming complete with the haunting and possession later on leading to the real-life supernatural displays of power, are done rather well and make for a superb finish. A few other rather quick flashes of ghostly action, from the ghost walking behind her in the broken mirror to the self-working water pump and the figure watching in the woods as well as the discovery of the rocking-chair in a different area and the majority of the ghostly figure shown on the video cameras are just great, and also work well in here. The opening is quite impressive, with the creepy house walk-through as a child and the discovery of marital strife and eventually being locked away make for a fine opening. The last plus is the cabin where it takes place, effectively using creaking-wood sounds and howling wind to fine effect. These here are the film's pluses.

The Bad News: There wasn't a whole lot of flaws here, but they were pretty important ones. One of the biggest issues to this one is the fact that there's just hardly anything going on in here that really feels enjoyable or entertaining when the haunting segments aren't in focus. This is most evident in the procrastination techniques she employs while trying to accomplish her work. From reading the novels, which is lamely thrown out the window by the twist that all the endings have been removed, is such a strange inclusion that even including it to be thrown away in just a few minutes later makes no sense at all and really doesn't have any point to being here. While the inclusion of the chess games does indeed derive a scare later on, the scenes going on in the film of them playing aren't that good and doesn't really do anything to justify their inclusion here, which just goes to pad out the film even longer without really making a positive impact. There's also the matter of the harmonica practice, which is just irritating and doesn't really have any point in being in here, going on way too long and joins these other procrastination tactics in that they don't have anything worth adding to the film. The film also suffers from a series of utterly lame ghostly scare scenes that are just confusing as to their inclusion and don't really do much for the film. The lights going off behind her in the hallways at school, which is neither followed-up not explained, is a prime example, but others include the series of static-y radio transmissions while in the ranger station after being told that there's nothing wrong with much of the equipment that are completely ignored or the false alarm in the cabin during the fire-watch, which seems to be merely included because they said it could and doesn't really do much. The last, and most significant flaw, is the finale revelation, which is just insanely stupid and doesn't do much in making the film any creepier or scarier and instead just serves as an excuse to throw the viewers' expectations off, for it doesn't follow anything explained beforehand, seems to come from left field without any sort of explanation and totally undermines the entire film by choosing to remove the supernatural that had worked for the human element, a typical sort of move in these films and becomes really irritating. These here are the film's flaws.

The Final Verdict: While not the most entertaining ghost story around, this one did have some good parts to enjoy even though there's still more flaws present. Really only recommended for the fans of the Lifetime-style ghost films or fans of the cast, while those looking for more hardcore ghost-film efforts should heed extreme caution.

Rated PG-13: Violence and some Language

Credo
(2008)

Quite dull and flawed, but does have some pluses
"The Devil's Curse" was a rather uninvolving and quite boring horror film.

**SPOILERS**

Kicked out of their apartment, friends Alice, (MyAnna Buring) Jock, (Clayton Watson) Scott, (Mark Joseph) Timmy, (Nathalie Pownall) and Jazz, (Rhea Bailey) manage to find a new home for the weekend in a mansion vacated for a while, and decide to move in until they can find other housing. As they continue to room together within the building, they start to believe that something is wrong and something is inside with them as there's a story about the building being used by a group of Catholic students to conjure a demon within but bailed and left it trapped inside. When they become aware of something inside and it begins to hunt them down one-by-one planting each of the deaths as suicides, they try whatever they can to get out of the building before they meet a grisly end.

The Good News: There wasn't a whole lot here that really worked. One of the biggest pluses is that the film does a great job at invoking a superb atmosphere upon which it generates its few scare-attempts. With the multi-tiered flooring, dark, narrow corridors and cramped rooms, it makes for an effective backdrop in here to hang the scares off of. This is mostly evident in the early scenes, where they go around investigating the rooms and the later scenes of the set-up, which are done really well with the whispering voices, the power-outage and the scuttling noises coming from upstairs despite knowing they're alone in the house. Later scenes, most specifically the frantic running through the house trying to get out after being locked in and the darkness they're in while doing so, makes for a creepy time, and the constant use of demonic growls and hissing static over their radios is an extra bit to spice it up. The most impactful suspense scene is easily their crawl through the tunnel within the basement, as the main darkness, fluorescent illumination and tight, cramped space makes for a spectacular scare that is nicely bolstered by its implications from previous actions and extended, drawn-out scale that really allows for a frightening experience, to make for a great time. The finale, where the survivors are wandering through the house and exploring the remains slowly through the darkened house, the radio calls that go unheard, as well as all the creepy goings-on that are showcased by the video-cameras that are able to capture everything possible and turning it into a fantastic scare, are just plain chilling and perfectly encompass that feeling of dread and suspense that the film attempts to maintain throughout. The video-camera scenes are the best bit, with the deceptions played by their doubles, the violent actions undertaken by both, and the rather grand twist it employs due to this, is rather great and really much more enjoyable than possible. It even has a little bit of action present in the main flashback scene with the demon-aftermath attacks and the great freak-out bit in the bathroom that is quite good. The last plus in here is the rather sleazy shower scene, with the lesbian implications, nudity and much more. These here are all that work.

The Bad News: There was a lot of things with this one that lower it drastically. The biggest flaw to this one is the fact that it fits into all the usual British ghost films that were made around the time, where the on-screen action is so devoid of energy that it's increasingly frustrating to get into the film as it goes on. Whether it's by not actually showing anything designed to generate chills or just employing a laid-back style that keeps things from really going forward with anything on-screen, the film just feels so drawn-out and longer than it really is that there's just no other feeling to be found during the majority of its running-time than boredom. This is a common occurrence in such films, and this one falls into that trap as well, making for a really troubling spot to get over incredibly early on. This is certainly confounded even more by the film's focus on such trivial and inane plot-points that no scares really have the chance to get developed, mainly the aspect among the men to be able to score with the women and turning it into a game, which is so irritating and aggravating that the continued use of it is just that much more troubling than it really is, not worthy of being a central plot-point but more of a background element yet here is brought forward so that it's really boring during the course of the film as it's placed instead of generating scares. The fact that it does try to generate scares, but the fact that all we get is just voices without anything else gets old after the twentieth-time or so of such a tactic, and this really needed more time, taken up unfortunately by the other factors, to really try that. The film also suffers from a severe lack of explanations for many different parts, mainly the need for the demon to make its kills as suicide-victims. It rather easily could've done something unique here to generate more suspense, but instead such an important part of the film is glossed over and leaves a huge missed opportunity. The last flaw here is the finale, which just doesn't make any sense. Hardly anything that happens is explained, and all the different elements coming together are just utterly confusing. These here are the film's problems.

The Final Verdict: A great example of the common British ghost movies, this one doesn't have enough good stuff to overcome the usual trappings that are present in such films. Really only recommended to those who find these types of cerebral films appealing, while those looking for a little more energy should look elsewhere.

Rated R: Graphic Language, Nudity and Graphic Violence

Spiker
(2007)

Immensely enjoyable and entertaining slasher
"Spiker" is a highly enjoyable and satisfying slasher with a lot going for it.

**SPOILERS**

Arriving at Westhaven Institute, Sheriff Paxton, (Lou Martini Jr.) and Deputy McLean, (Michael Fedele) survive the escape of serial killer Adam Brandis, (Frank Zagarino) a notorious madman who cut up victims with railroad spikes. Hoping to find the body, he enlists a search party to find him, giving friends Lisa Shaw, (Giselle Rodriquez) Michael Wardell, (Matthew Jared) Nikki McLean, (Ginger Kroll) Charlie Quartermain, (Josh Folan) Erin Cole, (Linda Tovar) and Gary Loman, (Adam Shonkwiler) the idea to get together at his house for a séance in order to contact him. Once arriving at the house, they begin to party despite being warned away by caretaker Clive Grendel, (David Fralick) but when the supposedly-dead killer turns up and starts killing them, the group resorts to extreme measures in an attempt to get away alive.

The Good News: This one had a lot of good stuff going for it that helped it. Despite what's mentioned later, the way the plot to this one unfolds is quite good and really enjoyable, which is what's really important in these kinds of films. From the dialog conversations that are an implication of what's to come, along with the different letters that are found which give a more detailed explanation, as well as the final revelation late in the film, this one does a good job of spelling out a rather lame explanation so as to make it feel somewhat-more enjoyable. As to be expected, there's a lot of rather good confrontations in here that are quite nice. From the first one out in-the-woods, bolstered by the sex-scene and the ensuing hide-and-seek played before the true encounter, as the clanging metal-spikes in the distance, the gradually-closer-footfalls and the sudden shock appearance, as well as the chase through the woods down to the train-tracks is great, and it gets one of the most suspenseful scenes for a follow-up, as the now-bleeding victim crawls up behind unsuspecting characters, and the moment of anticipation as to whether they'll be discovered or die beforehand is first-rate. Once trapped in the house, the rest of the scenes are just golden, from the barricade in the bedroom and the entrance attempt, the confrontations with the police stumbling upon the scene and the later walk-through with all the bloodied bodies strewn about in odd locations waiting around for the scene to play-out is great. The girl as she goes by herself through the house and doing the re-discoveries are just as good, and most of the time there's a difference to them that doesn't make it seem like a retread of the earlier scenes, and that's always appreciated. The finale in the woods, from the brawl to the car-chase and stalking in the woods as well as the final encounter along the train-tracks is really great, and ends on a great note. More action is also provided by the killer's initial escape, which is really great. The reviving sequence is really good, the shootouts are great fun, and the final sequence just makes for a great capture as the whole scene is done well and shows some creativity. Also of note is the atmosphere in here, which is much more than expected in such a film, but is still nicely appreciated anyways. The first time through the house, from the dusty and disused appearance to the sense that something creepy is going to come along at any time is what makes it so good. The séance is really nice, with the out-of-body experience coinciding nicely with the visions of the ghost walking around, a common trend that is brought up later in another rather creepy sequence. A mini-scene out at the family burial plot makes for a rather fun time, since it also introduces the main plot as well. It's also nice to have a fearful killer in here, and with the choice of weaponry, clanging-together habit and overall appearance, that's accomplished here. The last plus is the film's blood and gore, which is really good. From the spikes impaled or rammed into necks, heads, shoulders, stomachs and faces, sometimes singularly and sometimes in double-penetration, it gets very bloody. These here work for the film.

The Bad News: There wasn't a whole lot here that didn't work. Perhaps the biggest issue here is the fact that this has one of the most ludicrous and inane reasons ever in order to have the killer go on the rampage, since this is an everyday affair that occurs to a lot of people, yet here it's believed that it causes an ordinary person to go on a psychopathic killing spree. That just doesn't register at all and has very little cause to make the killer someone to fear. It gets points for the creativity, but the actual execution falls way short. The film also needed to make up its mind as to whether or not it was a supernatural-based film or a regular film, since this one plays in both areas. The beginning of this, especially all the dealings with the ghost, feel goofy when the very human killer appears due to the contrast of mood and tone that occur. The last flaw to this one is the film's séance scene, which is completely clichéd and begins with the usual mocking and disparaging remarks that occur in just about every single one of these films when it gets to that scene, and it's really a shame that it had to go that route here as well. These here are the film's problems.

The Final Verdict: A highly enjoyable and entertaining slasher, with a lot of features that are required for the genre present, makes this one of the better entries. Recommended for hardcore slasher enthusiasts, those who are interested or fans of the cast, while those who aren't should heed caution.

Rated R: Graphic Violence, Graphic Language, Nudity and a Sex Scene

Silent Venom
(2009)

Better than it should be, but still flawed at times
"Sea Snakes" is a pretty decent killer-snake film with a few minor flaws.

**SPOILERS**

Arriving at a naval base, Commander James O'Neill, (Luke Perry) is informed a scandalous incident in his past will be dropped if he brings along a decommissioned submarine to Taiwan. Accompanied by crew Houston Davies, (John L. Curtis) Eddie Boudreau, (Anthony Tyler Quinn) Lozano, (Travis Dixon) Cab, (Oliver Rayon) Rhodes, (Haran Jackson) Kovacek, (Sam Scarber) and Kelso, (David Andriole) they set sail but are soon ordered to escort Andrea Chapman, (Krista Allen) and Jake Goldin, (Louis Mandylor) off an island to save them from an enemy attack. Getting them off in time, the crew suddenly starts dying off due to an unknown virus and they reveal they've been studying venomous snakes and brought them on-board only to have them get loose within the ship. As their presence draws enemy attention, they must find a way of dealing with the deadly snakes without giving up their position to be attacked.

The Good News: This one had a lot of good parts that really helped it nicely. There's some nice snake-action in here, including the opening wrangling in the jungle, where it bites the local from inside the cage and slithers away before the jungle confrontation, set off quite nicely with the suspenseful rattling in distance continually getting closer before it appears from the watering hole in a nice shock. Their escape scene is handled quite nicely as well, with the dropped equipment and subsequent damaging, followed with a quick bite-attack and then shown slithering away, starts this with some nice suspenseful bits. That's carried out even further with shots of the snakes in the sub, mainly with continuous shots of them crawling on the floor or over submarine equipment, under doorways or the feet of unsuspecting crew-members. By choosing these types of scenes continuously, it makes it quite chilling as to when their attack will be launched. The number of quick attacks, from the strike while the crew-member is fixing the intercom to the engine room, is all good stuff, mixing the suspense with the action nicely. The follow-up attack in the kitchen is really good, with them surrounding food and slithering around before attacking. How they're dealt with works nicely, and the aftermath sets up future events as well. The search for the snakes throughout the ship contributes more suspense, due to the claustrophobic setting of the sub as well as finding the snake-skin, which leads to a nice attack. Since the tactic used, drawing them to a heated place, is both original and quite entertaining, this segment is really good. The action returns to the film in several big scenes, including an attack in the torpedo room, where the surrounded-victim begins clanging on the pipes with a wrench, drawing attention before encountering the giant snake and the ensuing attack, which is really good. The scenes of them retrieving the stolen anti-venom is just golden, where they fight off the giant snake only to find an army of snakes on the floor between them, and the attempt to acquire it results in being swarmed. As they're blocked by snakes in the escape hallway, the rescue later on finds them willingly becoming a Buddha statue of snakes, and the removal and eventual gunfire escape is great. The battle with the snakes in the com room is full-on chaos, and the later encounter with the giant one is purely-awesome all around. Aside from that, the encounters which make it feel like a true submarine-movie are really good, with believable battle tactics, several different attacks from others, and their continuous presence makes for a realistic scenario, and it mixes some nice action as well. The torpedo launch is especially good, and the different battles employed are a lot of fun. The last good part is the use of real snakes for the swarming scenes, which is quite nice and appreciated, since those snakes have a mass to them during these moments missing elsewhere. These are the film's good parts.

The Bad News: There wasn't a whole lot here that didn't work. One of the main issues here is the fact that there's the ever-present cliché of the greedy associate on the project. The individual chosen to portray that character is just painfully obvious from the get-go, the motive is the same thing done every time this is presented, and from the initial stand-point, the amount of cluelessness that must be present to ignore the danger is just astronomical to think that anything like this couldn't happen, which just makes the film that much harder to get into when dealing with so many of the different clichés in the genre. Another big flaw here is the fact that the snakes are a complete after-thought in the finale, handled just once and then forgotten about quickly, dealing with the other areas instead and just making them seem like a joke to have been handled so easily and then dismissed despite being the centerpiece for the majority of the time. It's quite disheartening to see that done, and it really takes a lot of fear out of the creatures. The lack of kills in here is something else to get over, since the original plot line dictates few chances for any blood or gore here, as their method of attack doesn't leave a lot of opportunities for that, and the body count is surprisingly-low for a film of this type. The last flaw is the ever-present CGI for the snakes, which is painful and again quite common, so it is a necessary evil here. These are the film's problems.

The Final Verdict: While not completely flawless, this killer-snake film has enough going for it that it manages to become somewhat better-than-expected and wholly enjoyable. Recommended mainly to fans of these kinds of films, Sci-Fi Channel creature-feature enthusiasts or fans of the cast, while others should heed caution.

Rated R: Violence and Language

The Thirst
(2006)

Highly enjoyable if slightly flawed
"The Thirst" is a fairly solid and enjoyable vampire effort.

**SPOILERS**

After continuously passing out, Lisa Raynerd, (Clare Kramer) finally agrees to tell boyfriend Maxx, (Matt Keesler) that she has cancer instead of a drug problem, and when she succumbs to it, friends Jason, (Erik Palladino) and Macy, (Charlotte Ayana) decide to cheer him up. When he spots her at a nightclub, they don't want to hear it but he eventually finds that she is indeed alive and turned into a vampire by Darius, (Jeremy Sisto) leader of Mariel, (Selena Scott Thomas) Lenny, (Adam Baldwin) and Duke, (Ben Jackson) a small vampire clan. As they try to get him acclimated to their lifestyle, he adjusts nicely but she reveals that has disapproved of the trappings of the family and the disease, forcing them on the run to stop them from starting a blood-splattered campaign of violence to feed their addition and end the curse once and for all.

The Good News: This had a lot of good stuff going for it that really made it quite enjoyable. One of the main pluses is the film's large amount of action scenes, which are quite fun. The first massacre of the club, where they appear from the shadows and lay waste to the revelers within, including those tied-up in S&M games, just laying around or ripping up the inhabitants piece-by-piece is a lot of fun, the fighting is really nice and the chaos is perfect, making it a great introduction to the style to-be-employed. The later bar massacre is a lot of fun, with them taking control of the room in grand-style, dancing with the patrons before they start swarming them all, resulting in a messy, extended series of fights that are all really enjoyable. The last part is where the majority of it comes into play, from the vampires fighting in the living room that soon turns into a fire-starting set-piece is really good and makes for a good time. The hospital ambush, complete with the suspenseful captures within the building to the ambulance ride and the unique method-of-escape, which is followed up with a fantastically-eerie encounter within the woods, is perhaps the best part, and the woods part is the main reason due to the effect atmosphere created, the enjoyable stalking within the woods and the full-on fun fighting during it. The cabin confrontation is a perfect finale, with some more fun involving a nail-gun, which is used quite effectively to both serve as the instrument for the final downfall as well as adding some brutality to the proceedings, and the final burn-out is also effective. The other big action scene is the failed-turning, which is quite ingenious. From the explanations of what's going to happen, complete with a detailed account of the activities, initiated later through the sexual acts performed that turns into a raging bloodbath amidst all the chaos and screaming, it becomes quite enjoyable during the process. The first turning is also quite good, from the sensuality of the scene to the blood-loss and the rules of the turning are all quite nice and makes for another effective and entertaining scene. This one also makes its mark on its bloodletting, and it's incredibly messy. From several set-on-fire, a broken lamp shoved into a mouth, entrails spilled out, sword-stabbings, numerous bites to the neck, arms and waist, a finger shoved into the forehead and a nail-gun shot into the forearms, the kills in here are really bloody and graphic. That's not to say that the aftermath is just as good, as most of the wounds unleash a fountain of blood that streams over just about everything, and it's all quite effective at maintaining the gore all the way through. The last plus here is the frequent nudity, which is always nice. These are the film's positives.

The Bad News: There wasn't a whole lot of flaws with this one. One of the main issues is the fact that there isn't anything at all special about these creatures. The name vampire is never used, but the actions clearly signal they are, and when they openly mock conventional rules about the genre, burst into flame at contact with the Sun and other such means, it's impossible to say they aren't, but we get no real special display to know they're something to be feared. Beyond a few massacres and the blood-drinking from the neck, it's hard to imagine these as vampires at all, especially once they start doing the comparison about it being an addition. That whole plot line, with the reluctant vampire and the hesitation, severely undermines the threat they acquired through their actions and is just a totally unnecessary addition to the film. Also problematic are certain sequences within the film, the main one being the first time in the Goth club. Unless you're a follower of the lifestyle, that scene is just endless and not all that interesting, merely resulting in an endless parade of being in dress-up, costumes and such that isn't cared-for at all, and these scenes aren't all that great once they get inside. The other ones are the two major freak-outs they show, in the hospital during the revelation discussion and later on after the turning. Both are just rife with irritating marks against them, in several areas and are really problematic all around. The last flaw to the film is the entirely ridiculous-looking blood, which is so fake it's impossible to call it realistic, is way too red and liquid-like, making the liberal use of it all-the-more distracting. These are the film's flaws.

The Final Verdict: With some really good stuff to it mixed in with some flaws, this one manages to become a lot more entertaining than expected and is pretty enjoyable. Recommended to fans of low-budget vampire fare or find these types enjoyable, while those that aren't should heed caution.

Rated R: Extreme Graphic Violence, Graphic Language, Nudity, drug use and several sex scenes

Malevolence
(2004)

Disappointing but still watchable
"Malevolence" is a thoroughly disappointing and average slasher effort.

**SPOILERS**

Attempting to get by in life, Marilyn, (Heather Magee) and Julian, (Brandon Johnson) decide to accompany bank-robbers Max, (Keith Chambers) and Kurt, (Richard Glover) on a special mission, only for them to get injured and split up during the process. While one group tends to the wounded, the other kidnaps Samantha Harrison, (Samantha Dark) and her daughter Courtney, (Courtney Bertolone) and takes them to the safe-house in the countryside. When the others get there, they find only the hostages with no explanation of what's going on. As they struggle to understand what's going on, a series of strange events has them convinced something's wrong, and they soon find out that a serial killer is next door to their hideout and is slowly stalking and killing them one-by-one, forcing them to evade him before they all fall victim.

The Good News: There was a few good points to this. One of the main pluses is the exceedingly high-quality of the stalking going on here, as there's a lot to like within them. The first, where the robber walks-through the abandoned house, with its look-of-disuse, dust and general-disrepair effectively selling its abandoned state, the amount of food left-out and the scum-filled bathroom, coupled with the silence combining into a rather entertaining stalking-sequence, and once the killer appears, the scene concludes with a bang. Another big one is the solo-walk-through of the hideout, where the breaking-glass initiates a walk around a darkened house, up a staircase into the blackness, followed by a lot of fun on the second-level. With encounters in several rooms, use of squeaking, closing doors behind them and the conclusion where the killer slowly materializes out-of-the-darkness behind the oblivious victim and the ensuing encounter all makes for big success. The main stalking scene, though, is the later walk-through of the house where the descent into the basement comes complete with a flickering light-bulb that turns off-and-on intermittently, making for some great shadow-play along the walls during the course of the scene, and again it comes complete with a great killer's appearance that works very well overall. That it's not over there, where the discovery of the dead body in the closet for a scare and then comes the shock appearance and their capture is a lot of fun and works well. The basement sequence is really nice, where the escape from the killer is handled well, the tactics used are nice and the setting itself is rather creepy, and the second one, where the discovery of the skeletal remains and eventual bone-altar are superb scenes. The finale is perhaps the best part of the film, with a fantastic confrontation in the car, including seeing the killer sneak-up in the windows behind them, and the race to get the keys in the house results in a getaway and a big confrontation in the house, which is really well-done and features a lot of great stuff to work it over nicely. The last plus to this one is the initial premise, which is an original scenario that could've worked nicely here, with a few minor twists. These are all that work here.

The Bad News: There was some pretty big flaws to this one that keeps it down. One of the main issues is the fact that there's just no way around the fact that the film is just so off-kilter in its pacing that it's hard to get invested in what's going on. Owed mainly to the length of time spent before it actually manages to get to the farmhouse, other issues are still present and really make this stand out. The biggest part of this is that getting-to-the-farm, since the parts before are just so lengthy that it spreads the film out. Taking the family hostage at the gas station is a prime example, going on way longer than necessary, from the fumbling around in the equipment bag to the mother in the store and finally coming back out to the car and realizing what's happened all amounts to a lengthy sequence that is far longer than necessary for the type. Also important is the couple and all of their arguments, from inside the car over the responsibility for the failed robbery and how to take care of the wounded to who got them lost and how to handle the situation, as well as their later bickering once they get there over just about anything. These are irritating to watch and just plains time-consuming so as to really remove just about any time it could have later on. Since the body count is so low to begin with, the fact that only a small amount of time can be spent on the killing that it is an eternity between kills, spreading the time out even more. The kills are even more problematic in that they're just so edited into confusion that it's impossible to determine what's going on during them. Either there's no blood at all other than aftermath shots that aren't graphic at all or the attempts at being graphic are hampered by the decision to make it impossible to see what's going on that they lose their impact. The killer himself is a total joke, with merely a series of bandage-gauze constituting his mask and the lack of information makes it impossible to be fearful of him. The last flaw here is the lack of the bank-robbery on-screen, as the sound-effects and visual-cheats to determine it are a total cheat and just hard to get around. These here are what's wrong with this one.

The Final Verdict: Marred by some big flaws, this one is somewhat lowered by those and really can't bring itself up from the positives it has. Really only recommended for the most discerning slasher completists or those interested, while the majority out there won't find the positives worthwhile enough over the flaws.

Rated R: Graphic Language and Violence

Kingdom of the Spiders
(1977)

Solid Creature Feature effort
"Kingdom of the Spiders" is a better-than-expected killer spider film.

**SPOILERS**

Investigating a sick cow, veterinarian Rack Hanson, (William Shatner) discovers something strange with the creature that eventually results in Diane Ashley, (Tiffany Bolling) a professional entomologist, to visit saying that it was a spider bite. Extremely skeptical of the whole affair, he is soon convinced of their presence through a series of spider related animal deaths in town, but their efforts to control them merely infuriate the creatures and send them on a series of attacks on the town. Forced to defend themselves, the remaining survivors, Emma Washburn, (Lieux Dressler) Terri, (Marcy Lafferty) and Linda Hanson, (Natasha Ryan) Vern, (Joe Ross) and Betty Johnson, (Adele Malis) and Sheriff Gene Smith, (David McLean) struggle to find a way of getting away from the creatures alive.

The Good News: This one had some really good stuff to it that makes it quite enjoyable. One of the biggest pluses here is the film's 70s-style feel that makes it really easy to find this one believable. From the open-area shots that really give it the out-doors feel to the use of actual spiders seen crawling over everything and even to the dangerous look of the attacks in here, there's no mistaking this one as coming from anywhere but that time-frame, and it really works to the film's advantage. More good stuff includes the massive amount of attacks that take place in here, which is really nice to see. With a sequence in a flying airplane flying over town, filled with them crawling over the pilot as he loses control and eventually crashing to them invading several homes, one unsuccessfully warding them off with gunshots while the other managing to avoid them appearing beneath their child's feet while on a swing-set in a masterfully creepy sequence, this one has plenty of good attack sequences that range the gamut from action-packed to suspenseful. Another action-scene is a surprise appearance in a car causing a massive crash and a gruesome discovery later, while more big suspense encounters are the spider discovery while cleaning up after a shower and a fantastic stalking scene at a picnic that even threatens animals as well as the unsuspecting human target. Each style, though, gets a major set-piece to really set itself apart, and both are real highlight pieces. The suspense one is the bigger, since it's longer, and is the extended hold-out in the lodge. From the set-up of the swarm out in front to the mummified corpse, it starts off wonderfully and transforms into the kitchen ambush, where it gets even more suspenseful with them dropping down unsuspectingly and requiring innovative tactics to stop them. With other big ambushes in the bedroom and then through windows and the fireplace forcing them to race into defense modes in really creepy scenes that are really good just top off the entire segment. The last part in the basement is just as good, with the darkened room and them completely crawling over everything makes it that much better, and the quick shots of them dropping onto him and his reactions are just perfect for the scene and make the entire part all that much better. The action part is the mass attack on the town, and it doesn't disappoint, with the mummified and dying bodies crawling with spiders in an impressive visual, and the mass panic and chaos as the population is shown crawling with them as well as the ground completely covered for the most part is just thrilling and really enjoyable. The action also includes the destruction of a major piece of the town and it looks really good as well, which is always important. The finale is also really good, much more impressive than what would be done today and makes for a fantastic finish that is really chilling. The last plus is the impressive build-up in here, which is handled the right way. From the animal-stalking and talk of spider venom to the subplot of the enormous spider-hills and eventual attacks, it's all good. These are the good parts.

The Bad News: There were only a few flaws to this one that hurt it. One of the film's biggest problems is the pacing in here where there's not one single attack on the towns-members until around the hour-mark, which is something that really needed to be fixed. It's still enjoyable in the sense that you don't notice it at all, but the fact remains that there isn't too many attacks until that point, and due to them constantly being featured, it doesn't feel that long but it still could've used another one or two since characters are suddenly found dead in the last-half with no on-screen attack, which could've been shoehorned into the beginning. The main reason why it's so long is due to the large amount of time developing its romance angle, which isn't surprising and doesn't result in anything remotely interesting or even new to the genre. From their dinner meetings and scenes gallivanting around town, there's plenty of time wasted of them getting friendly with each other, and it sort of takes away from the spider angle. The last problem is the few early attacks shown here aren't that long, as most of them are done in a matter of a few minutes. While several of them are supposed to be that way, it's just the length of some could've been extended to make them a bit more exciting and chilling, but these are the film's flaws.

The Final Verdict: Not really burdened down by too many flaws, this one actually has a lot going for it so it manages to really feel quite enjoyable and entertaining. Recommended for those who enjoy these kinds of creature features, arachnophobiacs, fans of the cast or 70s horror in general, while those who aren't won't be too objected to it.

Rated PG: Violence and Language

I've Been Waiting for You
(1998)

Highly enjoyable if slightly flawed
"I've Been Waiting for You" is a more-than-serviceable witchcraft film.

**SPOILERS**

Moving to small-town Massachusetts, Sarah Zoltane, (Sarah Chalke) and her mom Rosemary, (Markie Post) arrive in a new house which is supposedly haunted by a witch burned at the stake hundreds of years ago. As she doesn't fit in with the regular crowd, Kyra Thompson, (Soleil Moon Frye) Eddie Garrett, (Christian Campbell) Debbie Murdock, (Maggie Lawson) Kevin Lane, (Chad Cox) and Misty, (Julie Patzwald) she is an easy target for their torments and insults because of her fascination with the occult. When she continually ignores their advances to include her, they reveal that they are descendants of the group which initially killed the witch and that she has a lot in common with that witch. After a series of accidents against them by a maniacal killer has the group thinking that she's a witch as well, she must race to get her name cleared before they take the whole exorcise way too far.

The Good News: This one had some really good parts to it that make this one pretty enjoyable. One of the biggest pluses is the fact that this one contains much more action than expected, especially for a made-for-TV movie. The opening burning of the witch is pretty interesting and exciting, and the culmination of it is a lot more intense than would be expected. The main one for this, though, is the finale staking-attempt, which has a great set-up and begins rather nicely once they start to tie her up and begin to tease the burning, and once it gets to the killer's appearance, the brawling that erupts is a lot of fun and quite enjoyable. Other standouts include a fantastic set-piece when a building is set-on-fire from a supernatural source with a victim inside, and the chaos as well as what's needed to get out makes it pretty fun, as well as the film's biggest pluses, the variety of action scenes mixed with suspense in here. Several of them are just plain fun, as the car stalking on the deserted, foggy road where the killer appears and launches an assault on the driver, to a superb stalking scene in the house as well as the stalking scenes of two of the main participants that yield nothing but fun. One in the bathroom, where the long drill-pieces used as fingers are squeaked over a mirror before an exceptionally chilling round of peek-a-boo is played in the area, which leads to a very good wrap-up, and the other is the stalking in the woods. With a great, extended chase through down a dirt road to a great series of hiding amongst the trees as well as the final confrontation which is really good. There's a lot of good stuff to be had in other suspenseful happenings, such as the repeated use of the whispery voice during the phone-calls as well as plain normal circumstances, and they're quite good. The dream she has, where she approaches a dilapidated gravestone, only for a gnarled hand to emerge and drag her underground is played out nicely, and the events that transpire at school are really nice, from the set-up of the palm-reading to the flaming trash-bin and to the slamming locker doors when she passes by, all conspire to make their story all the more believable since it's plausible enough with all the evidence. It's also quite nice to be able to have a great back-story for that sort of thing, and this one manages to cough out a pretty nice one in here. The two plot-explanation sequences, one coming during a group-gathering while the other comes from the gathered research, allows for the creepy feelings they have to be plausible enough for them to be believable following such evidence, and that goes a long way towards making this one a little creepier. The last plus to this is the killer, even though there's nothing here to give him a body count. The mask is insanely creepy, and the drill-bits for the hand are an inspired choice. These here are the film's good parts.

The Bad News: There was a couple problems with this one that are noticeable. One of the biggest ones is the film's insistence on having her try to join the society despite not having one real solid reason why it would be beneficial. It's a minor storyline problem in that there's never once a mention of why her being there is a good thing, as the nature of which she is introduced, doing palm-readings and showing a general interest in the occult, are traits that they are showed to have no real interest in, yet they keep hounding her to come join them. Even she says that she's rather not join them, and so the early parts of the film, filled with their failed attempts at doing that, are just flat-out confusing. Another minor storyline faux-pas is the inclusion of the scene where they sneak into the house looking for dirt on her, only to leave without getting anything done. It's over too soon anyways as they don't find anything, their playing of the Quija board makes no sense, and then they scatter, accomplishing nothing, setting up nothing down-the-road and generally not doing anything. The last flaw here is the rating, which is somewhat more harmful than the others. Despite their being a masked killer who uses a very impressive and potentially-brutal weapon, the cutaways during the attacks demand nothing too graphic, really damaging their impact. These here are the film's flaws.

The Final Verdict: With a few problems in here that are pretty easily blamed on certain forces, the film's large amount of positives makes this one a pretty easy watch. Give it a shot if you're into the cast, an interest in witchcraft films or find it interesting, while those that don't approve of the flaws should heed caution.

Rated PG-13: Violence and some Language

The Darkroom
(2006)

Not all that spectacular and pretty unremarkable
"The Darkroom" is an utterly uninteresting drama-thriller with little to like about it.

**SPOILERS**

Stuck in a mental institution, Richard Dawson, (Reed Diamond) manages to escape and heads off into the world, meeting young Stan, (Shawn Pyfrom) along the way and becoming friends. Still struggling with his memories and a series of visions involving a strange demon that he has been seeing for awhile, their friendship develops as he escapes from his troubled home-life involving Cheryl, (Lucy Lawless) and Bob, (Greg Grunberg) taking their marital problems out on him. Becoming convinced something is going on after getting clues to they're strange behavior, inside his secretive dark-room they find his deadly secret that puts them all in trouble and forces them to deal with the deadly consequences before more of his friends are harmed.

The Good News: There was a few parts here that worked. Mainly, if the segment featured a demon-attack of some kind, it worked well, which includes him freaking-out from the drugs and hallucinating the demon emerging from the muddy-pit with its clawed hand and the ensuing fight with the security guards that enables his escape. Others include the attack at the homeless park, where the tied-up victim is stalked by the demon, is attacked and then turns to him, before having a great reveal later on with the discovery sequence. The cabin sequences are really enjoyable as well, with the tied-up friend being discovered followed by an incredibly chilling sequence where the killer toys with them for an excruciatingly-long time, and it's immensely effective because of that. With several ensuing brawls, a couple of fine stalking scenes within the area as well as a couple gory murders and the genesis for a series of his earlier dream sequences, it's the film's unquestioned highlight. Those dreams are usually nice, accomplished by a series of flash-edits featuring something clearly horror-based with a short-but-still-clearly-defined vision of what's going on. Witnessing several appear to be tied up with invisible chains as they bleed profusely from slit throats, to quick shots of the demon emerging from a muddy pit and blood-covered gardening tools and chains, these are all quite enjoyable and definitely manage to set-up the film's premise quite nicely and giving a few effective shock jolts from time-to-time. There's even an effective solo sequence where he becomes the victim he usually observes, chained up in the same manner by chains moving through the air by an invisible force, stalked by the demon and then attacked, getting a bit more blood in here but also offering up a pretty decent scene. The last plus in here is the film's nudity, nicely provided by a superb shower scene from an unlikely source that is really worthwhile due to how provides it, and a little sleazier one from captive women in photographs. These here are the film's good points.

The Bad News: There was a lot of problems with this one. One of the biggest faults here is the fact that the family home-life depicted wasn't interesting at all. Another one in a long-line of films to think depicting having a married couple quarreling is thrilling entertainment, these scenes just keep popping up for no reason other than to give an excuse as to why he's not around them all the time, and by the time they're on their third fight in as many days, it's old news and not worth exploring anymore. This goes hand-in-hand with the other big problem, that hardly any of this could be horror if it wasn't dealing with the demon. These guys becoming friends and their misadventures around town are just agonizing and endless, provide very little horror and interest, and in a horror film, to be left wanting about it when it isn't doesn't really endear itself too highly. That is the biggest issue, as it deals with a murderous demon and frightening visions, but it hardly ever feels like true-horror because it's too busy focusing on other useless areas that don't offer up anything all that interesting. Even more troublesome is that the central plot line manages to force up several rather immense plot holes due to how it's carried out, and is perhaps the biggest problem with this one. The fact that the film shows us the events in question weren't that far from home, to think no one would find him in the amount of time elapsed is laughable, and how it goes on just doesn't make any sense at all. Even more is the interactions while they're together, as it's painfully evident that he's a figment-of-the-imagination, yet despite some acting as though he is, other times he's not and appears to be there, despite the logical conclusion that it's all cyclical as to him visiting himself when he's younger and interacting with him. That whole part is a mess and is never really sorted out at all. The thing with the demons-constantly-appearing is also never explained, as there's nothing given as to why they show up, what they are or what they mean. They just disappear at the end, which is where the film shows its last flaw. The ending here is just way too laughable and clichéd to really do much and it results in eye-rolling, not a feeling that should be expected when it gets to that part. These here are the film's problems.

The Final Verdict: Despite having enough good stuff to really make it worthwhile, the fact that it overall just isn't all enough to overcome them is the real problem here. Really only recommended for those who are fans of the cast or enjoy these kinds of mind-trip films, while those that don't should heed caution.

Rated R: Graphic Language, Graphic Violence and Nudity

Werewolf: The Devil's Hound
(2007)

Cheesefest of the highest order
"Werewolf: The Devil's Hound" is a pretty enjoyable and entertaining B-Movie.

**SPOILERS**

Receiving a fireworks shipment, FX artist Phil Madden, (Phil Gauvin) and his team, Kevin Madden, (Michael Dionne) Char Madden, (Tamara Malawitz) Elizabeth, (Jennifer Marsella) Michael, (Adam Loewenbaum) and Krystal, (Kristen Babich) manage to go about their business and get their display set-up for a preview. While they sort out the affair, they quickly notice the behavior of one of their members is drastically different, and despite insistence to-the-contrary, they know something's wrong. As their situation coincides with a series of violent animal attacks, it soon dawns on them that a bloodthirsty werewolf, Christine Hofferman, (Christy Cianci) who escaped from a team of German scientists intent on studying her condition, has attacked the member and appears intent on starting a clan, forcing them to try to work together to get the situation handled.

The Good News: This one had some really good parts that manage to really make it fun at times. One of the main parts to that is the films' wonderful sense of humor and the comedy it showcases. From the bumbling nature of the scientist-heroes and their constantly trying to keep things under-control to the constant jokes and one-liners that are bandied about, and the whole battling nature of what goes on during the finale, this one manages to make itself a B-movie that can still be somewhat suspenseful as well as keeping it's tongue-in-cheek nature that provides some fun. That ending, which is one of the biggest pluses here, has a lot going for it. From the discovery of the werewolf and the battle that ensues as they try to engage in the reversal-ritual needed to end the curse is one of the best parts to this. Mixing action and comedy in good does, it stays that way until the film brings in the battle-armor, which is where the film really goes into high-cheese mode. The brawl is a lot of fun, gets in some laughs, and provides the necessary ending to the film, and is the main highlight. Other main highlights to this one include the big attack on the warehouse, which manages to incorporate suspense from its wonderful stalking through the twisting corridors and the beginning noises heard that features the creature rampaging into the building are a lot of fun, the blockades placed are pretty entertaining and then the true camp-nature of the film begins with there being a remote-controlled robot battling a werewolf inside a completely-blackened special-effects-filled room. This is just way too much good stuff, and is by-far the film's highlight. The opening assault is pretty good as well, with the night-vision lens allowing for some really creepy moments to come about, the stalking is nice and the results are bloody enough to satisfy, and since the werewolf isn't the focal-point, the brief glimpses make for a nice effort here. When it is shown, the look is really good, with the vicious dog-face, huge claws and fangs and long hair so it can appear as a true werewolf, which is really nice. The other big suspense moment in here is an early stalking scene where a loud-banging-and-crashing noise off-screen gives way to a loner wandering around investigating, and it manages to score better-than-expected during the course of the scene. There's also a lot of good stuff to be had with the slow-build in here, from the everyday activities to the sudden-accomplishments of extraordinary feats, and by stretching it out, it works really well. The last plus in here is the bloody kills, which are nice. From limbs ripped off, a head removed, intestines spilled, tons of scratch marks and oozing non-fatal wounds, this one is pretty bloody, and are the film's good stuff.

The Bad News: There were some problems with this one, but not that many are detrimental. One of the biggest ones perhaps the film's most repeated offender, the utterly-atrocious editing that goes on. More than once, the film shows its sequences so haphazardly and disorienting that it's impossible-to-determine what happened during the scene. Through the odd angles to the rapid-fire editing that cuts several different views together into the same sequence and the shaking camera as well, the attack in the alley-way, which should've showcased some nice gore and been somewhat suspenseful, is instead a massive disappointment due to the technical areas focused on in here. The first roof-top attack is done in much the same manner, as is a potentially-chilling attack a bit later that would've been a real blast to witness had it not decided on making it impossible to see the action. Another technical area to overcome is the cheapness of everything, which is on-display quite frequently. From the shagging-looking werewolf constructed of carpet-threads to the simplistic gore and ultra-cramped and confined sets, there's not a lot of hiding the cheapness factor and some might not be forgiving with it due to its easily-been-found. There's a lot wrong with a sequence in a nightclub that it's a wonder why it was included. Besides the disorienting nature of nightclubs to begin with, due to the atrocious music on the dance-floor and the desire to continue on with the editing mishaps already-mentioned, but also because the dark lighting while they're in the bathroom which compounds problems and just makes the entire segment a total waste. The last flaw is the cheesy and inherently goofy ending with the aliens. It just ends the film on a note that shouldn't have been played and just makes the viewer engage in eye-rolling instead of a shock. These here are the film's flaws.

The Final Verdict: It's definitely cheesy enough for those to have problems with it, but this one is undoubtedly pure camp for those that enjoy those kinds of films. Highly recommended for those that are pure cheese fanatics, camp appreciators or die-hard werewolf completists, while those that aren't should heed extreme caution.

Rated R: Graphic Violence, Nudity and Graphic Language

Eskalofrío
(2008)

Nearly perfect Spanish horror
"Shiver" is an incredibly entertaining and enjoyable entry.

**SPOILERS**

Living with a skin-disease, Santi, (Junio Valverde) and his mother Julia, (Mar Sodupe) decide to move away from the city out to the countryside, in order to help cope with the condition. As their landlord Dimas, (Fransesc Orella) tries to help make it easier for them, his claims that something is wrong with the house is rebuffed, and even his friends at school, Angela, (Blanca Suarez) Tito, (Pau Poch) and Leo, (Jimmy Barnatan) are a little unsure of his stories until a neighboring child dies. As more villagers mysteriously die under violent circumstances while he's around, they begin to suspect him as the source of the mysterious events around town and begin to harass him for it. When they finally learn the true identity of the perpetrator of the vicious deaths around the town, they try to convince the others of their story while making sure they stop the attacks from happening.

The Good News: This one here had a lot of good parts to make it extremely enjoyable and entertaining. One of the biggest parts is the fact that it manages to work in a lot of creepy and suspenseful scenes into it that are just really well-done. The first walk-through of the forest, where the bullies encounter the creature, is fantastic due to the claustrophobic and encroaching feel of the forest, aided by the fact that they're lost in the area at the time and punctuated by a series of inhuman growls and a great deal of bush-rustling that is a primal scare tactic and works wonders. Then comes the screams of pain in the distance, and the stumbling upon the mutilated body just cap off a fantastic sequence. Another big moment comes when, walking home through the forest again, another encounter is done which is just miles better. Again the rustling bushes and growling are utilized, and again they work wonderfully, but the inclusion of the game with the bouncing ball being returned every time is a great concept and is just played off beautifully. Since there's also the sound of footsteps approaching, it just so happens to feel really good that there's a good suspense tactic being employed while another one is being done, and the whole sequence is just spectacular. Along with the night-time setting making it even more dangerous and the flashlight going out, it has a lot of good workings for it and that's even before we get the brutal attack seen through the waning flashlight-light, and the discovery of that mangled body just works nicely. It's also suspenseful out-of-the-forest, as the nightmarish sequence where the shadowy figure is seen coming towards him in a darkened room during a blaring thunderstorm, and as we notice something isn't right in the room, it emerges as a shadow and uses this to great effect. Another effect one is when they board up the house after the night-time visit, and despite that, the creature still appears within and launches a chase through the house which is really enjoyable. The finale is another big plus, as the confined spaces and vicious action make it a fantastic way to finish off the film with a bang. Along with the suspense, this one has a lot of action in it, including those mentioned earlier but as well as the last sequence set in the forest, the town's manhunt for the creature. As the search party becomes lost, it echoes up the suspense earlier but the attack is just wonderful. On the other end, from the discovery of the graves to watching it through the night-vision in-the-trees to the true appearance of the creature in all its glory and the brutal kills and bloodshed during this scene, this one is a great, extended sequence. Mixed well with a fantastic opening using a great vampire-like trick to understand the condition, these are the positives.

The Bad News: There wasn't a whole lot in here that didn't work. One of the flaws is the fact that there's a rather long section of the film which nothing happens at all. In the middle section, where they undergo a long time investigating what happened earlier, isn't really packed with a lot of interesting parts. From the frequent visits to the landlord that merely serve to introduce the lifestyle they should be getting accustomed to and the antics of the kids at school as well as the continued exploits of the friendship-building between everyone, these scenes just aren't that exciting and really lead that section into a dull-bit, despite the strange fact that the film is still watchable at the time. There's also the fact that the film manages to fail completely in explaining just what the villain really is. A back-story is given, but all that does is ask more questions rather than answer what was already there, and a big one it overlooks is the motive for the rampage. Mention is made of a possible one, but it just glosses over it and nothing comes of it, and is promptly forgotten quickly, not a good way to make the main villain an imposing threat. The last flaw to this one is the fact that, during the forest-stalking late in the film, the decision to film nearly the entire sequence through the night-vision camera is a disastrous idea in every way. The green that covers everything makes it look amateurish and virtually impossible to make details out, and the hand-held nature of everything makes it doubly-hard as well. A great concept, but lacking in execution, and otherwise, this one isn't bad at all.

The Final Verdict: While there's a few mild flaws to be found within, this one has enough good stuff to overcome it and manages to be somewhat entertaining and enjoyable. Really recommended to those interested or fans of the style, while those who aren't should heed caution.

Rated R: Graphic Violence and Graphic Language

Halloween
(2007)

Disappointing but still watchable
"Halloween" is a massively disappointing effort.

**SPOILERS**

Tired of his life, Michael Myers, (Daeg Faerch) grows frustrated with his increasingly dysfunctional home-life and decides to unleash the homicidal feelings. Committed to an asylum, he goes under the care of Dr. Samuel Loomis, (Malcolm McDowell) who spends years trying to get through to him to no avail, and when he's due to be transferred, Michael, (Tyler Mane) escapes into the night. Fearing he'll return to his hometown, he finds that he has targeted his sister Laurie Strode, (Scout-Taylor Compton) and her friends Annie Brackett, (Danielle Harris) and Lynda, (Kristina Klebe) and is cutting a path of destruction to get to them, forcing the survivors to find a way of ending his brutal onslaught.

The Good News: There wasn't a lot to like here, but it did have some good parts. The big action scene, his escape from the hospital and ensuing rampage of personnel, is extremely effective as the hulking monstrosity mowing down everyone looks good and the scene itself manages a bit of suspense amongst the whole act. The grimy look of it all and the kill methods aren't bad either, and overall, this is a pretty good scene. The best, though, are the final chases through the house and the encounters within, which are just absolutely a blast. From the darkness used to portray the events to the completely unnerving design and layout of the surroundings and the fear of being caught, these are a lot of fun. That there's several of them, each of which are filled with wanton destruction to the surroundings and result in harrier escapes each time, making them more fun and are a blast. Those are included with the different encounters each of the friends experience, as several of them are just plain creepy and suspenseful, which is a nice touch as well as the fact that many of them are call-backs to the original, and coupled with the fact that each of them feature a ton of nudity is a plus. Each of them look good, and mixed with the suspenseful encounters, it's certainly good fun. The last plus here is the film's extremely brutal and bloody kills, which is always nice. With graphic slit-throats, a series of brutal beat-downs, stabbings, a snapped neck and more, this one is filled with brutality, and it's all effective. These here are the film's pluses.

The Bad News: This one had a lot of big problems going for it. One of the biggest is that the film really plays way too much like the original, really destroying the potential impact this one could've had. Utilizing the exact same scenarios and scenes from the original into this one is a really lazy move, showing no real attempt to mix it up despite the overwhelming effort to do so earlier in the film. While the fact remains most of them were effective at what they did and managed to elicit some real suspense from them, in an attempt to make a whole new story, this one just ends up doing the same thing over again and it really makes a big difference to the film. The beginning tried something new, and it feels fresh, while the rest tends to just feel like a repeat of the same thing, which wouldn't be bad if this hadn't managed to copy scenes, camera angles and results wholesale, the point of this gripe. Another really big damaging factor in here is the fact that there's just way too many times during the main action scenes it's impossible to see what's actually going on since the camera is shifting and swinging all over the place. These scenes have the feel of a music video and really feel disjointed and hard-to-follow since they're nearly impossible to actually see clearly. From the chase through the house at the end and the battle in the basement to him stalking around town, the shaking camera during these big action moments are just irritating and not creative, and it's such a disturbing habit that it really needs to stop soon. This is yet another example of a style not-that-good to begin with actively damaging a film because it renders its contents impossible to make out, which is the point, and instead just makes them aggravating. These, though, pale in comparison to the film's single biggest flaw, the beginning of the film. While it is fresh and new, the fact that there's just no end to the problems of these scenes is what makes these the biggest flaw in the film. The fact that this one just spends an eternity hammering home that one detail, minutes-upon-minutes-upon-minutes on-end does the film no favors, pointing out that which we already know because it's been laid out for us already. Having to constantly be inundated with the idea that he went crazy and homicidal from abuse-at-home during his childhood doesn't do any favors, as one it's a lame idea that just feels like an after-thought as the concept doesn't imbue the character with fear, then the over-the-top manner in which it's spelled out just grows old, and the scenes with the bullies or the hospital staff just fall flat. The last part to them is that they just utterly destroy whatever mystique he had to begin with, as a homicidal maniac targeting a victim for no reason is a great concept, but now to simply throw all this into it just doesn't work and the whole film never really recovers. These here are the film's flaws.

The Final Verdict: One more in a long line of massively-disappointing films in both Zombie's career as well as the remake trend, there isn't a lot to like here. Fans of his previous films will be interested as well as the sleaze and gore-hounds, while most others should heed extreme caution.

Rated R: Extreme Graphic Violence, Full Nudity, Graphic Language, animal violence and several sex scenes of varying degrees

Zaat
(1971)

Utterly terrible and not all that good
"Zaat" is pretty bad and barely worthwhile entry.

**SPOILERS**

Undergoing a strange experiment, Dr. Kurt Leopold, (Marshall Grauer) manages to mix together the DNA of several different species of fish, then injects them into himself and turns into a mutated fish monster. Still reeling from years of rejection from the scientific community, he sets out to avenge his humiliation, attracting the attention of Sheriff Lou Krantz, (Paul Galloway) and worker Rex, (Gerald Cruse) a Wildlife Agent in the area testing for pollution in a local watering hole, and the deaths force him to call in Martha Walsh, (Sanna Ringhaver) and Walker Stevens, (Dave Dickerson) who confirm the notion that some monstrous fish is behind the deaths and set out to stop it before it's too late.

The Good News: There was hardly anything in this one worthwhile. One of the few good points is that the creature attacks a larger number of victims than expected. From a great one attacking a couple camping in the wilderness where it drags off the woman and a somewhat suspenseful scene where it goes after a doctor's family at his home and another family fishing on the water, there's some rather decent attacks in here that manage to make it somewhat interesting at times. Another big attack is the creature rampaging through the town, where it chases the towns-members through several different stores and through the open areas, which are pretty fun and definitely get something going in here. Managing to trap the creature through the swamp is another pretty decent scene, since that one requires some suspenseful moments to come into play when they don't know what to do with it and where it's at, so there's something here that works nicely. It was also a nice idea to be able to get the transformation scene on-camera and done rather quickly, as it looks really good and happens to be well-done and since it occurs really early-on, the fact that there's going to be a lot of time spent with it is a good thing. The last good part to this one is the torture methods with the female camper, as there's some pretty nice things involved there that make it a chilling scene, and coupled with the antics of the creature, it's pretty nice to be able to see them occur in here. These, though, are all that's right with this one.

The Bad News: There's a large amount of things wrong with this one. Amongst the flaws, one of the biggest ones is the fact that this one is just utterly dull and rarely features anything that will cause the viewer to be invested in what goes on. From endlessly watching the characters discuss their daily routine or spending a lot of time around those that are meant only to enhance the body count, among others, make this one a chore to get through in the middle stages of the film, where it should be getting going with its story and not slowing down to focus on these matters. These are further compounded in other areas where it's hard to really get anything out of the film, including the opening which is just excruciating. Watching fish swim around in tanks or the open water while a narrator speaks over everything about the fascinating virtues of a fish isn't a way to begin a film of this value, as it will elicit feelings of boredom almost immediately, and especially since this sequence manages to last around fifteen minutes. That's how long it takes to get a person on camera, and it's even longer until we know what's going on since these are silent shots once the narrator goes away, leaving it nearly impossible to care about anything that's going on with these scenes. The continuing ability to focus on fish swimming around also carries over into the later parts of the film, so this one can feel like a nature documentary at times, and that's not a good way to feel during this one. This one also didn't need to have the sequence with the hippie love-in, or whatever-they-were-doing, as slowing the film down right when the creature is on the loose to be subjected to a terrible folk-rock song from people who don't have any impact on the remainder of events is a terrible decision and is yet another factor in this one's downfall. Aside from the dullness, the film also has several parts which make no sense, such as the creature's rampage within the pharmacy. All it does is allow for an excuse to follow it later since it gets a white powder all-over-it, and to watch it stand around doing nothing just doesn't make any sense at all. Even more curious is that the creature continues on with the scientist's abilities while as a fish-monster, when it should instead simply be a mindless creature out wrecking havoc, not interested in experimentations or the like. The last flaw here is the incredibly low-budget, which is fairly obvious. From the look of the creature's make-up to the setting and location, it's obvious this one was cheap, and some of the stuff is reflected in here. These here are the film's flaws.

The Final Verdict: Almost nothing of any value to be found here and a whole series of flaws manages to make this one just plain, utterly terrible. Recommended only to those aficionados of extremely bad cinema, while those who like a hint of talent to come through in films should avoid this one indefinitely.

Rated PG: Violence

April Fool's Day
(2008)

Really bad without a lot going for it
"April Fool's Day" is an utterly terrible and nearly pointless slasher entry.

**SPOILERS**

At a special party, Torrence Caldwell, (Scout-Taylor Compton) finds that Desiree Cartier, (Taylor Cole) welcomes her into the society that friends Blaine Cartier, (Josh Henderson) Barbie, (Jennifer Siebel Newsom), Peter Welling, (Samuel Child) Milan Hastings, (Sabrina Aldride) Charles Lansford, (Joseph McKelheer) and Ryan, (Joe Egender) aren't that happy with, figuring it's merely a set-up for a cruel prank. As the party goes on, they catch her in the middle of a prank only for one of the guests to be accidentally killed during the event. When the pressure from the public has died down from the high-profile incident, they start to wonder about the validity of a series of incidents that have them convinced someone's pulling a prank on them, but when the group suddenly starts to die off, they race to find the killer before it's too late.

The Good News: There was a few parts to this that can be managed to say were decent about it. There's a couple of actually really good stalking scenes in here, namely the first one done through the web-cam as the killer goes about his job. As it's filmed through the killer's viewpoint, it has a real hint of suspense to it as they wind their way through the surroundings up to the unsuspecting victim, the interactions set-up our feelings toward it quite easily as it's a proved suspense tactic, and then finally the way they're dispatched is quite shocking and ends the scene nicely. Another rather well-done stalking is the one in the parking garage, for it's a hectic scene within the cramped space, the fact that there's no idea who's behind it all, and with the way the action unfolds within, including being chased down on a straightaway section and chasing behind in their car, make this one quite thrilling and injects some excitement into this one. The last good stalking scene is that big one at the end, which is a prolonged and extremely extracted sequence within the mansion. Due to the large rooms, the number they visit and the thrill of trying not to be caught because of the killer appearing there, it manages to become quite chilling and highly creepy, which is what it should be. Once captured and tied up, it becomes a little better due to the hint of not knowing what's going to happen next, and it really plays this section up right. The last good part to this one is that the opening party scene prank is actually well-done, set-up nicely and feels like an appropriate sequence done at real-life parties of this type, and it feels really good. That's all that's right with this one, though.

The Bad News: This one here has a ton of problems with it that really drag it down. The biggest issue with this one is the fact that the film has utterly no suspense at all from the kills, since the stalkings are done with absolutely nothing done to make them involving or thrilling for the viewer. A victim feels something is wrong, is given evidence to the contrary and believes it's safe, then comes the kill-shot every time. It doesn't work when it's repeatedly done, as despite the few good ones mentioned above, the majority are played off as lame, boring and just drag on so long, they eventually can't become anything more than tired and cliché-riddled. The fact that the victims in here are terrified of the killer through the lame stalking shown in here is a joke and wipes out a ton of feelings from the film. That also makes the fact that the kills are just down-right bloodless and utterly uninteresting another monumental flaw to get over. Since there's absolutely nothing about these kills to get worked up, excited or even grossed-out over, mentioning them accomplishes nothing but merely derision for the fact that they were allowed to remain in a film and not at all be changed to make a slasher fan interested in what happened in here. It's tame, lame and just makes it that much easier to despise this film. One more big hurdle to get over is the fact that this one has a rather tame feeling across the board, in spite of the gore, since it features an MTV-like feeling with it's pretty, popular faces lining the cast, bland stalking in sure-fire suspenseful sequences, and it's rather big issue, not a lot of scares but placed instead with them pouting or looking sullenly at each other no matter the situation. Coupled with the hyper-excessive editing when it doesn't need it, this one's glossy look and feel will wear thin with many of the more traditional fans of the genre out there. The last flaw to this one is the fact that there's just no way around explaining the stupidity amongst the final twist at the end. It manages to re-write the entire film so that it can appear to be shocking when it's finally revealed, and is just lame, and all for merely being able to say it fooled the audience. There's no purpose to it, and it even ends the film on a sour note. Some might find a problem with the fact that this is a remake, but it's a personal preference bit and has nothing to do with the film itself.

The Final Verdict: Filled with a lot of problems and not a lot of positive good ones to raise it up, this one here is a pretty bad film without a lot going for it. Really only give this a chance if you're a fan of an actor or the style appeals to you, while the fans of the original or hardcore horror traditionalists should avoid this one.

Rated R: Graphic Language and Graphic Violence

The Legend of Bloody Jack
(2007)

Better than it should be, but still flawed at times
"The Legend of Bloody Jack" is an incredibly entertaining if mildly flawed slasher.

**SPOILERS**

Going on a camping trip, friends Ray, (Travis Quentin Young) George, (Jon Kowalski) Dawn, (Erica Hoag) Tom, (Josh Evans) Shelly, (Alicia Klein) Nick, (Craig Bonacorsi) and Lisa, (Jessica Szabo) head out into the woods in order to celebrate all of their anniversaries as well as carry on about where they're going. As they stay together longer and begin to see that there's a whole series of problems between the couples that is about to ruin their friendships. While they are going on, they start to realize that something is off about the trip, and noticing that several of them have gone missing, it becomes apparent that a strange serial killer is out in the woods hunting and killing them one-by-one, forcing them to have to work together to get out of the woods alive before they're completely killed off.

The Good News: There was a lot of good stuff in this one. One of the biggest pluses is the fact that this one employs a large amount of stalking scenes that the killer has, making for a very well-paced film in the middle segments and towards the end, as it continuously moves forward and has a lot going on in it. The opening in the woods, where the killer is resurrected, is one of the best examples, due to the ritual employed, as well as the manner of the killer who smartly has one of the creepiest character traits ever since he uses a rock to sharpen his blade while off-screen with the screeching strike being the only sound of his advancement, and it's a fantastic tool. It's done often to build suspense, and is a great idea on its own, so it works twice as effectively. Other big forest-set stalking scenes include a great one where he stalks after a witness to a murder, coming close on several occasions and allowing for some nice chasing to occur through the surroundings, the stalking of a forest ranger after the discovery of a previous victim's remains strewn about, and the superb scene where, upon venturing into the line of fire to retrieve a gun, have to navigate the area carefully due to the killer's presence there. These are all absolutely great stalking scenes that are really much better than expected and make it all that much more enjoyable. When it gets into the action mix, it's just as good. From a great confrontation with a victim bound-and-tied up to a tree as well as one of the victims being caught in a bear-trap, complete with close-ups of the wound, manage to get really exciting with the mixture of action and suspense into the proceedings, and along with a great brawl near the end on and around a car, there's some big scenes in here to perk things up. Even better, though, is the main highlight sequence where he attacks them in the cabin, from a series of brawling and chasing through the bathroom into the bedroom, a tense searching through the room with a victim hiding under the bed, and then the big chase back outside that result in several deaths at once. The film's high body count means a lot of kills, and since most are quite gory, it's another big plus. From decapitations to a series of limbs hacked off, axes impaled in the back, stomach, chest and shoulders, plus several sharp impalings and the rather bloody bear-trap mentioned above, it has its fair share for the gorehounds. The last plus, which could also be said to be its biggest flaw, is the ending twist. Some might call it creative and genius, while others can say it's lazy and stupid, and depending on where you fall, both are right. It's a personal choice, not one based on the film's virtues, so the others are its good points.

The Bad News: There weren't a whole lot of problems here. One of the biggest ones is that the film gives absolutely nothing about the killer at all. Early on, there's mention of an individual that supposedly is raised through the incantations, but not is a name given, how he came about being cursed, or what his purpose is at all. Even the name is merely an assumption based on the film's title, and that's the most information we have on him beyond his behavior tactics and weapon-of-choice mentioned above. We basically know nothing, and beyond that, having a turtleneck come up to cover his mouth is the zenith of his identification-hiding, making him a completely clueless and entirely non-threatening villain, a major flaw in a slasher film. The film manages to get a little tedious in the beginning with all of the relationship woes that the couples are going through, which aren't all that interesting and manage to make it a chore to get into, another problem that such films shouldn't have. Another one is a sequence where a motorist stops and sarcastically implies that they're such is a joke, commenting on it in a jokey manner that completely neutralizes the entire situation from the get-go and doesn't generate anything at all. The last issue could be the big one, the finale. Some might like it, some might hate it, but regardless, it's still something to get over in this one, but since it's not a universal issue and rather a personal one, the other flaws here are the biggest ones.

The Final Verdict: While some may be up-in-arms over certain parts of this, it's still one of the better entries in the genre and is very watchable. Give this one a shot if you're into low-budget slashers or have an affinity for those that dare to be different, while those who are more traditional should heed caution.

Rated R: Graphic Violence, Graphic Language, Nudity and a mild Sex Scene

The Horror Show
(1989)

Cheesy good late-80s fun
"The Horror Show" is a reasonably entertaining and enjoyable cheesy 80s slasher.

**SPOILERS**

Still somewhat haunted by nightmares, Det. Lucas McCarthy, (Lance Henriksen) feels a sense of relief that notorious serial killer Marc Jenke, (Brion James) who he had a hand in capturing, is executed and allows him to go back on the force. As he learns he's going back to work, which makes his family, wife Donna, (Rita Taggart) and kids Bonnie, (Dedee Pfeiffer) and Scott, (Aron Eisenberg) a little happier over the move, it still fails to end the nightmares, especially due to his threat to return and seek revenge. As they get more caught up in his growing insanity over whether he has gotten over the incidents or whether he's right about him coming back to torment him, he appears to have been right all along as the maniac returns and targets his family, forcing him to protect them as well as stop the psychopath's rampage.

The Good News: There was some good stuff in this one that managed to make it pretty entertaining. One of the best pluses in the film is that there's a large amount of cheese in here for a film with such a dark tone. The scenes of him being able to control the surroundings of the family's house, such as the sequence where he murders a friend in the basement to another one later on which is just a scare scene, come off rather well-done despite the inherent cheese associated with the scenes. Others, like the turkey taking on the killer's face and voice during a Thanksgiving dinner or the daughter appearing to be pregnant with the killer and giving birth to him despite not being pregnant in real-life, are absolutely spectacular scenes that are filled with expertly-crafted effects in both cases, as the turkey is incredibly life-like and there's a fantastic visual as the skin stretches in the second one and the face appears in the skin-marks, and there's a lot to like about these, and others, despite it feeling cheesy upon uttering what the scenes were about. Another big plus here is that there's a couple sequences where it actually feels somewhat creepy, especially the opening where they walk-through his decrepit killing space inside a kitchen. From the steam covering just about every area possible rendering it nearly impossible to see anything at a distance to the blood-smeared surface areas and the hiding places filled with dismembered body parts, this is one of the best-designed killer's hideouts possible since it looks used as well as appropriate for the film, a rare feat that makes the chase after the little girl held hostage all the more tense and thrilling. A second, similar sequence later on where they follow a ghostly-white child in a white dress through the same location is just as brilliantly done, being incredibly tense and undeniably well-done in content and execution that it feels like a winner. There's even a series of well-done brawls and battling thrown in, which is just excellent as well. From the flashback of them inside the hideout to the one inside the power station at the end which allows for the resolution to come full-circle, they're very well-done and manage to hold up remarkably well for being in a horror film, since the damage inflicted is reminiscent of action-film brawling. There's even a rather decent body count resulting in some great kills, from a scalping to a nice decapitation, a limb chopped off, some deep slash marks from a meat-cleaver and a few messy gunshot-wounds. The last good part to this is the execution-through-electrocution, not only for the action it spices up the film with, but also for the fun visual of the killer-on-fire still advancing into the crowd of onlookers, which is always a lot of fun. These here make this one entertaining.

The Bad News: There wasn't a whole lot here that didn't work, but it still had a couple of flaws. One of the main ones is that the film tends to fall into the clichés for its plot rather early and often, hitting many notes that are done in previous genre films in the same exact rote and manner. This is a limitation of the plot and aren't able to overcome them, so it's not exactly one the film has any control over, but still, to witness such scenes as the police holding him in custody doesn't have any real impact over it because the plot simply has that particular sequence come up next. The other big problem with this one regards it's overabundance of 80s-style cheese, which not everyone will appreciate especially since the tone of this one is a little bit darker than usual. From the furnace being possessed, a concept which was just hokey and utterly stupid, to the killer appearing in a video about a stand-up comic and providing punch-lines that are just groan-inducing as well as the ones issued during the segment, and the over-the-top finale to it just really pushes it over-the-edge as well. Other scenes, such as him falling asleep at the wheel of a car narrowly avoiding a crash or the constant family drama that accompany his journey through catching him don't really register anymore, and really just fall flat. Overall, these are the film's problems.

The Final Verdict: As cheesy as it can be while still retaining a sense of fear from its action, this one manages to be an effective and enjoyable genre outing. Give it a shot if you're into these kinds of films, have an affinity for the main actors or are interested, while those that are unable to appreciate camp should heed caution.

Rated R: Graphic Violence, Graphic Language and Brief Nudity

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