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Tall Men

Too long but still has some worthwhile moments
Forced into a state of bankruptcy, a young man living in his old house unexpectedly receives a mysterious credit card in the mail and starts to use it to turn his life around, but when he can't pay the balance suddenly finds a group of mysterious men in business following him which turns his life upside down more than he expected.

This one was quite an intriguing if flawed effort. When this one works, it brings about some great work with the atmosphere of desperation that falls on him the deeper he gets in the ensuing situation. That setup, however contrived and hokey, creates a really impressive backdrop that lets the slowly-creeping appearance of the strange Tall Men appearing around the outskirts of his life have a profound effect on his sanity, where he becomes freaked out by the burgeoning conspiracy against him. As that coincides with their appearance and the repo scene, which is one of the more brutal and enjoyable scenes in the film where the figures arrive and begin to wipe out his friends before they torture him in graphic manners, it's where the film comes into its own. When added together to the wholly impressive and immersive feel that keeps this one interesting provides enough to like to make it watchable. There are some problems with the film. One of the biggest issues is the fact that there's very little about the pacing and general tempo of the film that really serves this one with any form of positive attributes. The fact that the entire production, from the acting style to the atmosphere of the world around everyone and just let the scenes breathe with the extended running time featured for this one all manage to make this one last way too long for its own good. The extended running time is easily explained away by the various overlong sequences here that don't serve this one at all, making for a much longer experience here with the scenes in the employment office, going through the early stages of him getting the friends involved in his situation and the general discovery that he's been duped by the company and forced to participate in their special retrieval process that carries this through into the second half. The other problem with this one is that there's nothing tying the story together as for what's going on. The extended running time fails to include any kind of rationale as to why the whole situation starts up in the first place, seemingly showing a random series of events to get him into the state of needing money. That he never questions where the card came from or how he got through the approval process which is completely unbelievable by itself but also never manages to tell how the corporation work as for what their purpose is in sending this mystical card to people that can't afford it only to send out the equally mysterious beings to harvest the individual they know can't do anything about the situation. This continuous circle of questionable logic doesn't really have an answer and leaves the film too chaotic and aimless, making for a somewhat lowered experience.

Rated Unrated/R: Violence and Language.

Watch If You Dare

Better than expected anthology collection.
An anthology feature revolving around various terrifying encounters.

The Good Stor(ies): The Stylist-Taking a new customer at the salon, a stylist begins to work on a regular as normal when finds her plan has worked as she falls unconscious in her chair during the procedure. When she begins to enact her plan of folicular thievery, unexpected incidents begin to hinder her plans. This one was an extremely effective entry. The fact that this one is all about building up more to the next extreme moment, as the initial banality of cutting her hair gives way to the victim being drugged that slowly comes to be revealed before the brutal scalping sequence takes place. With the victim coming to life only one of the potential hindrances and an epilogue detailing the nuttiness, this one does have a lot to like about even if this is a slightly low-key effort to start one of these efforts off being the lone flaw.

Foodies-Receiving an invitation to an underground restaurant, a restaurant owner and his chef arrive at the secret location and meet other foodies invited to partake in the evening. when he realizes the true intent in their meeting, he tries to find a way of getting away in one piece. This one ending up being quite a fun effort. The quick attempts at world-building here makes for a nice dive into this universe with it's commercials and rumors, while the community of the elitist chefs and foodies compared to the more general attitude of the other two who are just makes for a fine contrast between them. The entire twist is entirely predictable and seen coming a mile away, but the black comedy of the situation not only gives this one a comedic twist on the setup but plenty of gore as well, making for the highlight of the ordeal.

Knob Goblins-Arriving at a random house in the middle of nowhere, a mental patient is tasked with returning to the house to complete his therapy to get over a traumatic childhood incident. Stuck alone in the house with a dangerous creature, his handlers realize too late he was right all along. This ended up being a highly enjoyable and entertaining effort. The design of the creature and the backstory about it's intentions are handled rather nicely, giving us enough to know about it that the interactions inside the house have a cheesy sense of fun alongside a few solid moments of suspense within the house unaware of where it is. The length means it ends abruptly and could've used a little more to flesh out what's going on, but otherwise this was quite fun.

The Bad Stor(ies): Ink-Partaking of snacks from a liquor market, a man ends up shortly afterward having the lot stolen by a stranger who takes everything back to his place. realizing the time is right to attach a procured piece of flesh, he begins the painful process to do so. There was a whole lot to this one. The initial premise here about a man getting his food stolen by a psycho isn't really that scary, which is pretty much the same feeling watching the disfigurement in the apartment as the nearly wordless segment doesn't reveal anything about a purpose or mission to it at all. The bloodletting and eventual surgery scene that follows is exceptionally realistic and brutal, but it's hard to know what's going on or what the entire point was all about without anything saying so.

Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Violence and Graphic Language.

Bride of Scarecrow

Watchable if heavily flawed genre effort
After being fired from her radio show, a woman and her friends learn she has inherited a strange farmhouse out in the countryside, and when they travel to the location find that she's in line to stop a devastating family curse from unleashing a murderous scarecrow from killing her friends.

For the most part, this here was a decent enough if underwhelming effort. When this one works, its mainly due to the rather intriguing setup that gives a great detail for the scarecrow haunting the land. Given a great backstory involving a person mistakenly killed and cursed to roam the land as a scarecrow following the incident and looking to reclaim the lost bride he never got which is the reincarnation of the new girl, this gives off a solid and far more enjoyable setup than expected. Featuring the extra bit about the family being aware of this and taking on the role of protectors manages to provide some really enjoyable setups here that come to pass in the second half where the curse is given life to the scarecrow and results in some fine suspenseful moments throughout the farmhouse. However, these here are all that work for there are several big flaws to be had with this one. The main flaw here is the film's utterly laughable and hilarious slasher setups that just make the film a pain to sit through. There's almost nothing here in this regard that works, as the scarecrow is laughably bad and so silly that it's nearly impossible to be scared of this thing with his burlap sack stitched in a crude, haphazard manner that looks really lousy. On top of that, the other scenes here are incredibly underwhelming and slipshod which makes this one feel really slapdash with scenes featuring the scarecrow suddenly appearing behind someone and then sloppily throwing them around or attacking them when it's been underwhelmed because of some unbelievable circumstance that allows the scarecrow to attack from that spot. With little to no gore at all from any of these, the deaths are some of the most disappointing elements here. The other factor with this one is the agonizing slow-burn pace that drains the energy from this one completely. That the opening flashback to the first victims learning of their family legacy and then getting wiped out takes way too long and could've been trimmed down since it doesn't need fifteen minutes to tell this tale, and the exploits of her job feel like padding to justify her moving to the farm. As well, the start/stop nature of the investigation into what happened to the previous owners causes even more time to get dragged out by stalking all the information needed, which all pushes the rampage so later into the film that the few signs of life that are generated from this come off as too little, too late with the film in need of some trimming due to the excessive and dragging scenes. These here are the film's main issues.

Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Language and Violence.

Deadly Playthings

Solid if flawed low-budget killer doll effort
After moving into a new house, a husband and wife grow concerned about their daughter's strange attachment to a doll found at the house, and when they realize the former owner accidentally placed souls inside for a malevolent demon to feed on must try to stop it from succeeding.

This one ended up being a solid enough effort. Among the better aspects found here is a wholly intriguing take on the traditional killer doll formula that's presented in the first half. There's a lot to like with the idea of the girl coming off as a conduit and being able to channel spirits into a doll that later serves as the reason for the haunting in present-day and gives this a rather fun opening with that being put into practice and haunting the doll. Once they move in, the slow-burn horror of their lives inside the house being turned upside down by the discovery of the doll and how that leads to greater danger once the daughter bonds with it as this is done without the knowledge of what's really going on with the doll. This brings out the film's really entertaining second half where it becomes much more than a typical haunted house effort where the doll uses its powers to start toying with them. The physical attacks on the parents are rather fun and are used to give plenty of weight to the idea of the doll's true powers. This is greatly enhanced not only by the idea of the doll continually returning but also the really fun backstory that brings a wholly different dimension to what's going on as this takes the film away from being about them fighting with a supposedly haunted doll to having to battle a supernatural demon for their daughters' soul. This is a fun switch and adds some weight to the finale, overall making for enough positives to hold this one up. The film does have a few minor issues here. One of the biggest overarching problems is the fact that there's very little in the film's lack of explanation for everything. The whole concept of the family moving in and suddenly confronting strange interactions and behavior is never explained, what caused those to start and it becomes even more confusing when the finale makes the haunted house storyline irrelevant. This one could've gotten more out of the connection between the girls' connection to the doll that she left behind which makes no sense for the attachment she had with it and how it's been there all along when she could've gone back. The other real issue to be had here is an obvious and rather cheesy tone that carries throughout here. That's mostly from the special effects, from the rather over-the-top computer graphics to showcase the transference of the souls of the other ghosts around her into the main doll which looks incredibly silly and goofy. As well, the tendency to slow-down into really dragged-out slow-motion shots during the scenes with the ghost out along the world looks somewhat laughable as the significance highlighting it on-screen goes the opposite way the more it happens, meaning it could've been toned back a bit. The final form of the demonic entity looks unfinished and maybe needed an extra pass to look better, combining together to lower this one somewhat.

Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Language and Violence.

The Devil Inside

Enjoyable if non-essential faux documentary effort
Agreeing to film a special documentary, a woman takes a film-crew to Rome to investigate the truth about what happened to her mother years ago and finds that a far more dangerous and deadly cause for her condition is now targeting her and the others leading to them all facing dangerous consequences.

This here was quite an enjoyable and intriguing tale. One of the more interesting elements here is the usual fare associated with these types of films in that the central premise is rather enjoyable. This main setup, about a woman who goes around looking for answers to a long-held question about an incident in her past, makes this one go off on a strong start featuring the girl going through the trip to the church where she runs into the priests for the remainder of the film. That manages to introduce all the fun in the second half where it goes nicely into the different effects of how they go about their routine within the church, as the viewpoint of them taking classes to learn more about the differences between the different states of being required for them to initiate an exorcism. This goes into them not only on their first exorcism trip with the crew to watch them conduct it that has a lot to like with their really enjoyable sequence inside the basement of the home where the sequence takes place and how that leads into starting in on her mothers' case at her insistence. That provides some of the best material in the film where their attempted exorcism of the mother is exceptionally chilling and has some solid action with the continuous missteps they take involving her getting the upper hand on the situation by throwing everyone around the room or providing overt supernatural action that's incredibly fun to watch. As the finale works in some rather impressive scenes here showing far more normal possession aspects especially at the hospital finale, there's quite a lot to like with this one. That said, there are still some big problems with this one. The biggest issue here is the film's insistence on filming this as a faux documentary when it didn't need to be. The idea of here following the two guys around and showing how the different treatments they provide work on their patients serves this well enough but the format of doing so as a found-footage/faux-documentary style devalues the impact of these scenes. That these scenes are done through multiple cameras anyway manages to make that factor even more prominent which is what makes for quite a disappointing feature with an underwhelming main aspect of the film. As well, with this being so heavily dependent on the exorcisms the film can feel exceptionally bland for long periods, really lowering this one significantly.

Rated R: Graphic Violence and Graphic Language.

Tôkyô zankoku keisatsu

Frenetic and over-the-top Japanese gorefest
Joining the Japanese Police Force, a female officer finds that the current string of murders around the city are created by a race of mutants called Engineers who don't take lightly to a change in policy to take them out and lead a war against the officers for control of the streets.

There was quite a lot to like within this one. Among the more impressive elements featured here is an excessively detailed and immersive storyline that packs plenty of intriguing elements. Not only is the post-apocalyptic setting rather enjoyable but the rapid-fire means of setting up the different characters with these storylines about the privatized corporate police force and the commentary that raises over the violent antics they engage in to protect the citizens all come together into a rather enjoyable and believable setup. These issues make it easy to accept the universe this film presents and gives this a great starting point for the rest of the film involving the strange breed of mutants that make for a fun time in this one. On top of all that, the film's action is off-the-charts with a near-continuous stream of confrontations between her and the mutants. The opening battle with the chainsaw-sprouting engineer sets this off on a fantastic note as the swirling chainsaw acting as a weapon slicing up those who get too close to the object before being utterly dismantled with sword slashes, and a later encounter with the engineer getting to stalk and attack a victim in the subway system that switches it up and provides a wholly different look from the rest of the film. Still, the majority of the film is the frantic, frenzied series of encounters such as the Engineer destruction of the locals in a where they let loose with their abilities in rather graphic fashion as well as setting the stage for a delirious finale. Delivering confrontations between the two sides that are taking place throughout the city as a massive war takes place here, the ingenuity and commitment to showcasing over-the-top moments here with the battles taking place manage to feature some frantic and grueling encounters between them. However, none of that action means anything without the uber-graphic and gory special effects work that shows the impressive nature of real effects work. With limbs being chopped off and turning the wound into a flesh-covered deformity, slicing people in half, decapitations and chainsaws slicing and cutting up the body, there's so much over-the-top practical effects-work. The designs on the mutants and their deformities are also solid, keeping their look distinctly inhuman while still carrying the feeling that it was originally a person at one point. As everything that tends to strike the body erupt in what looks like geysers that spray from the wound, that blood-flow is enticing and enjoyable to watch, giving this one so much to like that hold this one up overall. There isn't a whole lot that doesn't really work here. The main issue befalling the film is the inclusion of the social commentary here on the privatization of the police force and the corruption that follows. That they become ruthless, bloodthirsty killers with as little remorse in their willingness to dole out punishment on individuals but also become even more incompetent in their inability to stem the tide of the Engineers on their heels. It's a fine storyline but in an over-the-top action-packed gorefest like this, that feels like overkill and detrimental to the point of unleashing as much bloodletting and carnage as possible. Likewise, the film's pacing is somewhat challenging with the useless cutaways to more social commentary with the better-ways-to-kill-yourself promos and a lengthy backstory sequence explaining the origin of her father's shooter that stops the film cold for no reason. However, that's really all that holds this one back.

Rated Unrated/NC-17: Extreme Graphic Violence, Graphic Language, Continuous Nudity and children-in-jeopardy.

Urban Fears

Solid low-budget indie anthology effort
A series of short interconnecting slasher stories detailing horrors suburban locales.

The Good Stor(ies): Sundown-Warned by his father not to stay out late, a teen desperate for a hookup decides to break into a friends' house looking for his score. When he finds more than he originally wanted, he finds himself stalked by a maniacal killer through the streets. Overall, this was a decent enough entry. While the low-budget guerilla-style filmmaking makes this look quite cheap, there's a nice energy to be had with the series of raids on the various houses before finally confronting the main killer. This is the highlight of the segment as the creepy design and stalking through the suburban streets leading to the final battle are rather enjoyable. However, the guerilla filmmaking is quite hard to overcome.

Inanimate-Staying at a friends' house, a woman is given instructions not to enter a room in the basement but has to do so in order to finish the laundry. After she goes back to her housesitting job, she comes to believe the neighborhood stories about a killer doll running loose in the apartment. This was the clear highlight of the whole effort. Graced with a fantastic setup playing off the urban legend rather nicely and introduced to this in a fine matter, there's a lot to like with the general setup before getting to a fantastic blend of psychological and genuine scares with the genuinely unnerving doll running loose in the apartment as well as the fine stalking by the killer when he shows up. There are too many cutaways to what the doll's doing which lowers some of the tension, but that's not too big of an issue.

The Bad Stor(ies): Chain Mail Massacre-Trying to win his girlfriend, a man waiting for her to leave her housesitting job sees a creepy chain letter on his social media. Deciding not to play into it, he soon finds himself stalked by the very legend that he was ignoring. This here wasn't too bad but is a letdown after the other stories. The central premise of a killer stalking a victim through a more modern form of a chain letter offers a decent enough start here, which is compounded by the chilling video that helps to sell everything. The creepy singing and child-like voices which offers up some genuinely creepy moments as well as the slow realization that something's in the house also work nicely, however the confrontations with the ghost girl are stilted, clumsy and not very threatening. When coupled with an underwhelming finale that drags on a little too long, it leaves this one somewhat flawed overall.

Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Language and Violence.

Beloved Beast

Overlong if still highly worthwhile effort
After surviving a terrible car accident, a young girl forced to stay with a relative in her small-town home, but while she's out taking jobs to raise the girl she befriends an escaped mental patient who reminds her of her deceased family and tries to help each other get by in life.

This was a wholly enjoyable genre epic. Among the film's brightest aspects is a wholly unique and intriguing storyline that manages to include some interesting setups throughout here. The film's core of the daughter forging the relationship with the killer based on the mutual acceptance of each other's conditions, where she's completely overwhelmed about living in the situation and gets tied together with the killer due to their connection to rabbits. Given what we see about their living situation, with the aunt completely unwilling to take on the role of guardian to the quiet niece as she's not willing to disrupt her own life to take care of her, there's an obvious need for her to connect with something which comes in the form of the serial killer who enters her life wearing the fabled mask her father wore. Given that situation and the flashbacks detailing not only her connection to the creature but also her fathers' tactics to bring her up with stories and fantasies involving them, the misconception and relationship that builds here is incredibly well-detailed and fully reasonable within this universe. On top of that, the film also scores exceptionally well with its horror and stalking scenes. The scenes of the killer taking out the hospital staff and seeing the aftermath of the hospital escape showcase some great gore as we see what the killer is capable of. Later scenes, from him stalking the owner of the garage, the ambush on the fisherman in the woods or his triumphant rescue scene in the woods when he kills off the group that was planning on using her as an occult sacrifice, range from the stalking showcasing the more extended setups possible with his appearing to them and bringing out the tension of the maniac chasing them along or just the sudden short shock of the behemoth appearing and killing. Given that these scenes are done in conjunction with fine storytelling reasons as the killer is more interested in protecting the one person kind to him but not realizing he's not supposed to kill everyone he comes across adds a special touch that's quite enjoyable. As well, the film also manages to contain plenty of stellar technical qualities, from a trippy drug-fueled party with psychedelic camerawork and genuinely funny moments which all make this one a lot of fun at times. There are a few flaws in the film. The biggest issue is easily the most obvious as the gargantuan running time could be seen as an overwhelming obstacle to overcome. For sure, the film is generally worth it but the fact that this one could've been split into separate features or trimmed down to keep a slightly more energetic tempo as the film does stay interesting throughout but does get the running time down slightly and be a little more manageable. Some scenes run on far too long than they need to while others could've been trimmed down as well with the end result being cutting down the film since there's little need to be as long as it is. There's also several subplots that could've been cut out completely since all they do is add to the running time or add bodies to be chopped up, including the child-smuggling ring and their operations or the day-to-day exploits of the police duo investigating the escape which tends to run up the film's length without much to warrant their inclusion. The fact that some might have an issue with the lack of attention paid to the girl being alone as often as she is without anyone coming to check on her as that seems rather odd, but otherwise there isn't much really wrong with this one.

Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Violence, Graphic Language and continuous scenes of children-in-jeopardy.

Crocodile 2: Death Swamp

Interesting cheesy crocodile film
After making a daring bank robbery, a group of thieves hijack a plane to Mexico and force it to crash in a Mexican swamp, but when they and the other survivors try treading through the swamp they run into a giant crocodile living there and try to make it out alive while not incurring the robbers' wrath.

This wasn't as bad as it's been made out to be. Among the film's better qualities is that there are some good action sequences as well spread throughout, keeping it an upbeat and pretty fast-moving film. From the action of the shootouts at the bank to the plane crash that has plenty to like about it, the action in this section of the film gets it off nicely. What was also enjoyable was that when the crocodile was exposed as a threat, the rest of the film more or less centered on it. The second half is just about dedicated to the robbers and hostages trying to escape the crocodile, and that is most welcome since it's a viable threat that carried the film just as much as the robbers subplot, and it didn't just deal with the exploits of them with the crocodile only munching on the stragglers or strays until the last few are left. The first several ambushes show a fun, cheesy series of scenes while the entire sequence in the shack is a great sequence, giving the action when it's needed and some nice gore and suspense were thrown in as well. On top of the fantastic gore in the rest of the kills throughout the film which is quite bloody and gory, ranging from broken limbs, swallowed whole and one victim placed in the infamous death roll that provides this with some solid bloodshed, these are what hold this one up overall. There are still a few things wrong with this film. The first is that the crocodile looks fake when it's done mostly with CGI, which is obvious when it is portrayed in that manner. There's no real sense of connecting it with any sort of realistic design or behavior and really sticks out here. That's even worse when it's also done with a really bad looking puppet where there's no sense of believability to it. This one looks mostly like a giant float made up like a crocodile spread out pretty much through much of the film which can make it a bit grating at times. It's really hard to get into the beginning of this one with the constant cursing which is infinitely grating but these are the main things wrong with the film.

Rated R: Extreme Graphic Language, Graphic Violence and an attempted Rape.

Ringu 0: Bâsudei

Fun if somewhat flawed prequel effort
Arriving at a prestigious drama school, a troubled woman hopes to put her past behind her by enrolling in the acting club to help break her out of her shell, but when her moth dangerous qualities threaten to disrupt her plans she finds a deadly spirit unleashed upon her friends and tries to stop it.

There was quite a lot to like with this adaptation. Among the more impressive elements is the clear and pronounced build-up that occurs here of the revelation involving the supernatural origins. These are quite subtle but still quite prominent throughout the running time, as the series of incidents surrounding the theater trope raise the suspicions that something's going on, from the performers' constant claims of something going on around her to their panic over the strange dreams each one share and the mounting death toll that runs through the group. Since this is done in tandem with the known disdain for her based on the preferential treatment she receives and how quickly she moves up their ranks despite the overt shyness and lacking acting talent. These scenes where she unleashes the power within her on her classmates with admittedly supernatural occurrences that suggest something was happening around them which helps to give this some life. This build-up at first manages to provide the film with several impressive and chilling moments once it's all been brought out into the open. The outbursts at seeing ghosts hanging around the set while doing rehearsals are rather fun and creepy, while the later scenes of her reflecting back on her time with her mother that form the basis for the cursed videotape that's commonly found in the franchise. With the disastrous troupe performance that lets them in on what's going on as the action that takes place is brutal and frantic as well as touching in terms of getting to the doctor's house that starts to bring out more of the images in the mythical tape. With these scenes also giving the chilling encounters in the woods with the malicious spirit and her demented disjointed walk chasing after the girls left alive, there's plenty to like here as this sets the franchise in motion. There are some flaws within this one. The main issue here is a rather bland and unnecessary subplot involving a reporter looking around for the mother's bizarre behavior that doesn't amount to much here, consisting of what are seemingly endless meetings with medical professionals that were once associated with the case. Seeing as the point is to lead her directly to the acting trope and into contact with her for her story, these feel much more laid-back and lethargic that the rest of the film and didn't need to be included as often as they are. The other issue within this one is the fact that the relationship between the two here is completely unconvincing, never coming across as anything other than storyline contrivance and not because of anything that happens between them while in class together.

Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Violence and Graphic Language.


Barely worthwhile sci-fi horror effort
Tasked with looking into a friends' death, a medical examiner finds that his death is connected to other victims through their shared connection of a strange virus, and upon setting out with a victim's girlfriend to investigate the cause of the virus finds himself ensnared in a curse's deadly grip.

There isn't a whole lot to like in this one. Among the main flaws here is the fact that there's just so little energy in what's going on as if there's no enthusiasm behind anything. That the characters are so laid back and reserved over what's going on, which is strange since this is essentially about a virus coming to claim them with a timer on when that's going to happen with no way out for them, and this lack of urgency is incredibly alarming. That behavior goes hand-in-hand with the lack of ghost interactions featured here, with barely any mentions of the figure at all for such long segments of the film that it rarely feels as though there's no reason to even include it since the rest of the attention in the film is centered around uncovering who's responsible for the murders yet they never amount to anything exciting here, leaving the pace draining and lethargic The other major factor downplaying this one is the complete tonal shift away from horror to more of a sci-fi basis as they try to realistically explain the origin and inner workings of the titular virus. Taking the route of explaining the condition as a manifestation of the events that occurred to her before her death, the film spends a great deal of time making a simple storyline of a ghost girl killing from beyond the grave into a jumbled, illogical mess of a film that spends more time on pseudo-intellectual jargon than it does offering scares or thrills. None of the speeches investigating the condition of the bodies relating to the connection to the events surrounding her death have any weight behind them beyond the merest hint of a coincidence and never providing this with any kind of truly chilling outcome. These here are what ultimately drag this one down the most. There really isn't much right with the film. Most of its positive points are from minor inconsequential areas as the idea of attempting to ground the supernatural in the modern world is a novel touch. The idea of a virus spread through the supernatural ether with the videotape as a conductor for these activities to embark upon is a pretty unique offering, and the continued research into developing a more coherent understanding of how those affected by it are dying off through this curse manages to offer a slightly more grounded and realistic approach to a deadly curse regardless of how well it comes across. When this decides to get back into familiar territory at the very end with the connection to the ghost in the well and bringing the familiar elements into the film it picks up a lot more but it's too little too late to save this one.

Rated Unrated/R: Violence, Langage and a sex scene.

El carnaval de las bestias

Dull at times but effective overall
Hired for a diamond-smuggling raid, a mercenary double-crosses everyone and steal the diamonds forcing his employers to go on a massive worldwide search to get revenge, but when she finds him recuperating at a remote Spanish mansion finds something far darker with the houses' inhabitants.

This was a decent enough departure from the norm. Among the film's bright spots is the fact that it manages to bring together plenty of seemingly disparate elements into an enjoyable and unique effort. That the first half here plays as a straightforward action film, from the stolen jewels and his eventual double-cross and then being chased down by the remaining agents which are all loaded with explosive gunfights and fun chasing. The chase through the woods is also quite thrilling, and as it leads into the arrival at the house in the company of the family living alone which is where the recuperation comes into play. Giving the film some fine exploitation sleaze with the seduction of each daughter the very moment he comes to them in need of repair, it's a solid backbone to base the start of this one on. From there, the film's mixture of crime and action gives way to more traditional horror features. Although they come into the film quite late, there's plenty of striking and somewhat haunting images present here, from the deranged dream of the two being chased through a vineyard only for the hands of the dead to break free and grab him around the ankles. As well, the fleeting images of the ghostly interloper who keeps appearing around the house also give this one a really shocking streak, and when intercut with the stylish slasher scenes of a figure cutting up various interlopers around the house for some fine gore scenes, there's a lot to really like here. The film does have several big problems with this one. The first issue is that there's plenty of padding that doesn't go anywhere or do anything but run out the film's length. The sappy romantic sequences of their romance carried out in flashbacks are undeniably cheesy, especially with their being shot in a different filter that adds a hazy, dream-like tone and feel which are rather distracting. Since they're frequently placed throughout the film, that they come up when least expected, requiring the film to stop in its tracks and go back on a relationship in the past we don't care about really halts the pacing here. That also has the unfortunate effect of halting the pacing to the point that there's very little actual horror until so late in the running time that it's not really interesting in the slightest until then. By favoring the recuperation aspects so prominently, the film overlooked the need to inject some more horror along the way resulting in some absolutely banal and lifeless moments along the way. Although there's a lot of kinky happenings to try to keep the attention during these moments, it's all for naught as the dragged out and lethargic tempo is rarely appealing until the finale. Otherwise, there isn't much else really wrong here.

Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Violence, Graphic Language, Full Nudity, a sex scene and violence-against-animals.

La rebelión de las muertas

One of the more enjoyable European horror films of the time
Speaking in London about their Middle Eastern philosophy, a cult leader and his companion manages to infect the thoughts of a local and his girlfriend who stumbles upon a murder mystery while trying to study cults and tries to put a stop to it before an evil voodoo sorcerer unleashes his nefarious plans.

This here isn't all that bad and certainly has some good points. One of the main factors which gets some points for it is the mix-mash of genres present in this one which is a strong point. The fact that it manages to do so offers up some creativity that might not be apparent to some, going from a stellar combination of Middle Eastern mysticism to black masses, slasher set-pieces done by voodoo-raised zombies and sacrificial cults that combine into a wholly unexpected series of twists and turns. There's a distinctly enjoyable quality to this one as the connection between these seemingly disparate elements are slowly brought together as it travels along, not only helping to give the film a distinct atmosphere with all the crazy connections but adds a fun cheese aspect when they start to work into the storyline. The supernatural elements brought on from the black mass rituals are really creepy and genuinely unnerving, helped by their attention to detail and authentic feel. The first one is a standout scene, and the later mass ritual is something to behold in its impressiveness at featuring the bizarre occult rituals and setup required. A sequence in the morgue that features a wax voodoo doll filled with blood and set on fire where the dead sit up under the sheets behind them offers a great visual alongside the absolutely chilling scene of the figure emerging and heading to stalk the unsuspecting attendant. The slasher aspects here get the majority of the blood and gore in their kills, which add a nice touch. The zombie plot allows for some nice make-up effects, as the zombies look suitably dead without the just-killed look, draped in gowns and come with demonic grins add another flavor to the film, and altogether makes this one really interesting and watchable. This one here does have a couple of mild flaws. The biggest issue here is the film's main storyline as the fact that it mixes everything together and uses so many different ideas and themes is something that can cause confusion and annoyance. The slasher story set inside the Devil-Worshiping cult story is one that stands out, mainly for being as confusing as it is hard to explain the need for it as it really feels like it belongs in another film. The zombie plot is the most puzzling since they follow up on the more traditional voodoo-raised version and their appearance as that kind will no doubt be something that will be hard-pressed to get over for some. The last part here is some curious technical aspects that don't belong here. The fight sequence is incredibly bad, looking too staged for its own good and comes across as foolish. A couple of incidental scenes with no purpose being there, as the bicycle meet and the London walk-through, disrupt the fine pacing and serve no real purpose. Otherwise, this one here is pretty good.

Rated UN/R: Graphic Violence, Language, Nudity and mild animal violence.

Los ojos azules de la muñeca rota

Incredibly enjoyable Spanish giallo
Arriving in a secluded village looking for work, a stranger accepts a job at a house with several women as their handyman, but as he spends time working on the house a savage serial killer strikes women in the village which he gets blamed for causing the police to look at him as the main suspect.

This one turned out to be a solid enough Spanish Giallo entry. The fact that this one plays quite well with the unsettling nature of the women and their relationship with each other for as much as it does is a rather enjoyable aspect here. Given that we're dropped into their relationships immediately with the various situations and all the various neuroses they share while all live together in the reclusive house, there's a fine setup at work here to allow the various tension set-pieces to develop. Both the suspense and the sexual variety emerge from this which is what makes the film fit neatly into the genre. Though both aspects work well, it's unquestionably the sexual tension that comes off much better. Playing off the nympho sister is undoubtedly the easiest, but when it turns to the seduction of the other sisters there the film does pick up some fine and genuinely erotic moments in that relationship. Given all this provides the film with plenty of sensual nudity and sexual activity, it works nicely not just for the sleaze but also helping to set-up the sense of distrust amongst each other that plays out with the series of savage murders that occur in the other genre aspect. These stalkings are incredibly fun, from the victim being stalked through the cemetery to the farm girl attacked on her property to the various victims knocked off in the underground cellar that is shocking enough and gives the film a great measure of sleaze and gore. For the most part, these are the film's good parts. There isn't much to dislike with this one overall. The main disappointing aspect is the wholly clumsy and jangled screenplay that tries so incredibly hard to paint him as a suspect in the crimes that it never pays off. The idea of having him conflicted with the memory of strangling women which happens to coincide with the spate of murders around the village barely constitutes any kind of admission of guilt. Likewise, the killer's revelation and admission of committing the spree is a generally underwhelming effort that won't be in the slightest bit reasonable or rational in how it plays out. These end up lowering this one slightly.

Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Violence, Full Nudity, Language, a sex scene and violence-against-animals.

Ringu 2

Enjoyable enough sequel with enough to make it worthwhile
Following the discovery of several bodies, a woman and her friend try to look into the connection with a missing person's case that's being investigated, and when she discovers the connection to a cursed video tape of local lore involving a ghost girl tries to help her stop the spirit.

Overall, this is an enjoyable and entertaining sequel. Most of the film's enjoyable qualities stem from the immersive quality that arises from the continuation of the storylines from the original. With the mysterious incidents only just being found out by the police and trying to piece together what happened to the missing reporter, the events in question are quite impressive to see play out. Even the similarities to the first film that emerge during their investigation into the discovery of the real source of the spirits' power with the connection into the psyche and their mental prowess that's revealed here. That gives this one the chance to bring out some chilling supernatural action within that framework. The supposed sightings of the ghost hands watching over her is a simple enough tactic at keeping the ghost centered on the story, while the scenes at the mental hospital with the possessed patient offer some of the most chilling works in the film. From the patient forcing the TV monitor to start playing the video to trigger the rest of the patients to the psychological test being performed that signals the start of this one launching into far creepier terrain. As the searches take her to the island which brings about some fantastic shocks and leading into the fantastic finale, there's some great scenes here that are quite chilling. That said, there are a few areas that hold this one back. The main problem is the fact that the film has a pretty troubling issue with the tempo and pacing that drags the opening of the film down. With a major focus on the investigation into the past and trying to uncover the series of connections to everything in the two films, this ends creating a wholly bland feeling for the most part as the deeper investigations prove to offer more grounding in the scenario but keeps the horror focus to a minimum which isn't the point. The other real problem with the film is the unnecessary psychobabble that emerges in trying to explain the origins of the ghost and where she came from. The idea of exploring the connection within a person's mind and their concentration of suppressed emotions is a great topic to explore but here it becomes somewhat laughable to think that can cause a ghost curse to play out in the manner depicted in the series since that has nothing to do with the concept of a ghost killing people through a cursed videotape making the entire experience pointless as a whole. These here are what hold the film back.

Rated Unrated/R: Violence and Language.

El espanto surge de la tumba

Outstanding if slightly flawed Eurohorror piece
Deciding to test a family legend, a group of friends heads out to a mountain lodge to look for the evidence that something happened to an ancestor accused of witchcraft, but when they manage to do so unleash a ravenous curse from the resurrected creatures looking for revenge and try to stop it.

This is certainly one of the finest Eurohorror entries out there. Among the film's stellar qualities is the fact that it plays with so many familiar aspects in the genre to great effect throughout here. The opening scene with the couple being sentenced for witchcraft and killed with the utterance of the curse that gets everything going is a fantastic opening that provides this with the fantastic Gothic opening that provides plenty of reasoning for the eventual revenge as well as the opening half searching for his remains. The journey to discover the head, driven by a seance, hallucinations, a fantastic premonition of the events to come when it leads the group to the location of the severed head and the reasoning for all the macabre events that occur. With this providing the backbone necessary to believe in the witches' curse, the resurrection of corpses and mental control of everyone it wants to, there's a lot to like here with all the exposition laid out at the forefront. That said, the film picks up considerably once the head has been found and it can start to let its premise play out. The scene of the possessed farmer entering the house and stalking the girls in the kitchen allows for a series of shocks when they occur. Likewise, the transfer of his control throughout the group as the cursed head gathers more of them into his ranks has some chilling aspects to it with the paranoia of not knowing who to trust anymore with the ones still unaffected wondering what's going on. With the occult ceremony intended to raise both the vile warlock and his servant in the Gothic crypt and set out again into the world providing this one with the kind of imposing setpiece central to these films, there's far more class and general atmosphere present here than expected. Their resultant rampage through the area claiming victims which become the zombified followers that attack the house is quite exciting as they demonstrate the kind of power exhibited over the followers. With this loaded with great gore and plenty of fantastic nudity, this is one of the finest examples of the genre as a whole. There are a few flaws with this one. The main issue is the wholly unnecessary sequence that plays out in the opening minutes as they travel to the lodge where they meet up with escaped hoodlums, and the whole scene is not important in the slightest resulting in it being removed from the story without any worry. The later scenes discussing the strange disappearances of the group around the castle are infuriating, showing them standing around doing nothing while the possessed individuals plot their next move in the revenge scheme rather than going out to form a search for the missing group or alert anyone else to their plight. This seems rather superfluous and gives the group a rather uninterested feel to their friends not reacting to the situation and comes off rather curiously. Likewise, the final confrontation with the two witches feels incredibly underwhelming and over way too quickly for something that had been built up until then as being far more powerful than they were capable of matching which isn't that impressive. Otherwise, there's quite a lot to like here.

Rated Unrated/R: Full Nudity, Graphic Violence, Language and a sex scene.

The Plague of the Zombies

Strong and enjoyable Hammer outing
After a series of strange disappearances in the area, a professor heads to a remote village where he finds the brutish village headmaster using voodoo rites to reanimate the dead and use them as his personal slaves, forcing them to race to stop the madman before he can accomplish any more misdeeds.

This was an enjoyable effort all around, with a lot to like about it. One of the film's better qualities here is the overall atmosphere which has plenty of stellar work about it. A lot of that comes from a spectacular Gothic village complete with the perpetual fog bank around them while detailing the numerous superstitions held by the locals which only fuels this one nicely. That's introduced early on with their visit to the village countryside interrupted by the funeral that signals the introduction of their backward customs and beliefs which bring about that sense of Gothic flavor to be had in the rest of the film. From the slow-burn revelations about the mysterious body disappearing ploy to the discovery of witchcraft as the culprit, there's a lot of wonderful atmosphere at work here. What makes this even creepier, though, is a lot of voodoo-related rituals and such happening in these creepy locations that are perfect for this sort of film. It starts immediately with the tribal ceremony taking place with all the tribal drumming and elaborate ritualistic paraphernalia that signals the witchcraft origins rather well, carrying on through the rest of the film. The sly bits here, from the fusing over the drinking glasses which produce some fun with the realization of its purpose to the controlling factor of keeping the investigator confounded with dead-ends and red-tape while he carries out his plans in focus. The main part of the finale furthers that as well, taking in sacrificial ceremonies and plenty of combat with the henchmen to make for a rousing time, including the old Hammer standard of the burning-the-house-down finale that always works well in these films. The other factor to be found here is in the treatment of the zombies here and how they're portrayed. Beyond having a group of fine-looking creatures on-screen that look imposing and threatening with their sunken, grey faces and bulging eyes, their motivation of being taken as slaves to be controlled by a master to do his bidding. That they're kept off-screen and only used sporadically as there are only two scenes featuring them before the finale which manages to make this a fairly intriguing take on the creatures. There's not all that many flaws to be found here, although the main issue that springs up is the bizarre mindset by the locals to ignore everything as if they've been paid off to ignore the Count's activities. That they've been aware of the deaths but not inclined to suspect the stranger secluded outside their walls and is far more dapper and refined compared to their superstitious manners strikes as odd, especially once the pattern of death keeps emerging and he refuses any details on the matter. Likewise, some of the stuntwork here with the fire is clumsy and obvious, giving away the faked nature quite clearly and momentarily become jarring. Otherwise, this was a solid and engaging effort.

Today's Rating/PG-13: Violence.

The Brides of Dracula

Underrated Hammer effort with some great moments
Called to a small town in the country, Van Helsing finds that the cause for a series of strange murders in town is done by a vengeful vampire who has sights set on his new girlfriend, and he must race to stop the vampire's plans before more townspeople fall victim to the madman.

This here was quite a thrilling and exciting entry. A lot of the film's finer qualities here are the continuation of what worked before, as this offers a more grandiose Gothic atmosphere that gives this a stylish overall feel. This is most evident with their immense castle containing all the usual trappings here for the time as the multiple layers to the house housing all sorts of various rooms and secret passages that makes this a standout avenue to be involved in, while the ornate decorations and lavish structure give this a real feeling of sophistication. That gets carried on later on in the school where he secretly begins preying on the students behind her back which plays into their relationship as he remains as his human persona keeps them off his suspicions which is where this one works nicely. That all these are featured alongside enjoyable action scenes throughout here, from their duels inside the castle to keep the son locked up to the stellar vampire birthing sequence in the graveyard which looks rather surreal as the woman comes forth beneath the ground and it all comes together spectacularly in the end with the battle in the barn and outside in the courtyard which has not only the stellar action of their battles together but also adds an incredibly original tactic to combat the mark of the vampire when he gets attacked. As these here feature the Gothic trappings with the fantastic sets as well as showing the girls all decked out in the elaborate costumes typical of the time that showers this in the old-school. Alongside another stellar Cushing performance all coming together, it really doesn't have much wrong to say about it. It's biggest issue is the lead vampire is a little weak when it's just him, but that's due to him not having a motive at all. Carrying on no.real charade to all him access to more bodies, no real effort is made to tell why he got that way and the whole affair gives this the overall weak feeling in the main vampire which is what's needed in this type of film. As well, the relationship is excruciating to watch for once, not doing much to set up the romantic qualities found between them with the static, lifeless scenes taking up so much time that doesn't go anywhere close to generating the life needed to sell this. Still, these here are all that hold it back.

Today's Rating/PG-13: Violence.


Disappointing slasher with some positive elements
Getting together for a Halloween party, a group of friends decides to visit an abandoned store at the urging of a friend, but when they start mysteriously disappearing realize they've been led into a trap with a savage masked killer and must uncover a deadly secret to get away.

This one was a decent enough if flawed effort. Among the best aspects here is the rather chilling location used for the setting as the abandoned building gets worked over for great effect. The darkness, complete sense of disuse and disorienting outlay that allows them to get lost inside adds to the suspense alongside the various off-screen noises in the distance that alerts them to their being someone else with them. That leads into the shorter if no less thrilling stalking scenes taking out the group around the building which offers up the kind of shocking outbursts in the quick kills, featuring some great gore effects along the way. Along with the somewhat imposing outfit for the killer that's unique and original, there are some enjoyable aspects at play here. There are some big flaws here. The main problem here is the utter and outright stupidity present that causes the entire film to occur as it does. That has several problems as there's little reason to have this group be friends at all since there's little connection made between them as the decisions to keep staying there at the building are inherently lame. The continuous insults and put-downs aren't appealing or funny, the behavior of the horndog friend is aggravating to the point of being unrealistic that he would be around their prissy nature and the general stupidity of the group not to realize that the noises they hear around then would be someone else with them so the ignorance of staying there shows through. All told, these elements showcase the utterly lame and frustrating nature of the characters. The other issue here is the low-budget production that shines through here. The fact that the continuous close-ups on the characters' faces keep happening to hide where they are grows increasingly aggravating as it happens during the stalking scenes at several points in the film gives away the idea of the budget quite well, much like the shaking camera that keeps popping up. That makes for a disorienting time as the inability to see what's going on during these scenes is incredibly distracting and takes you out of the film easily. The brevity is also important to that factor, running out of steam easily and just ending without much fanfare. Lastly, the tacked-on finale helps this by running forever just to get a twist that doesn't work and is there only to spread the length out in the film. On the whole, these are what hold the film back the most.

Rated Unrated/R: Extreme Graphic Language, Graphic Violence and Brief Nudity.

Bikini Bloodbath Car Wash

Hilarious comedy with some horror
Trying to get through college, a group of friends at a bikini carwash decide to unwind at their bosses' house for a party with several friends, but when they start disappearing due to a resurrected serial killer they've battled before try to outwit him again to get away once again.

This one turned out to be a highly enjoyable effort. This one works best as a comedy since this one has numerous genuinely laugh-out-loud moments. Filled to the brim with puns, soundtrack cues of silly, cartoonish noise, slapstick gags and even movie parodies from mainstream films, there's no shortage of funny moments. That there's so much to laugh at in how braindead and utterly moronic they are in every situation imaginable also causes plenty of laughs here based on the complete misunderstanding they have of what's happening, or the nonsequiturs which make no sense, and along with the just-as-stupid group of dancers that get involved with the girls there's a lot of hilarity to be had here as this one prioritizes the laughs over anything else here. However, even with the laughs getting the main portion of attention the horror still has enough presence to serve this one nicely. The fact that there's a really fun and over-the-top method for the killer's resurrection, taking place during the silly ouija board ceremony which shows the great emergence from the graveyard while they cheekily explain their previous encounter. The cheesy confrontations are truly hysterical while also endearingly fun indie-flavored slasher setups, as the killer going around the group in the community offer up some solid scenes. Once it gets to the party and the manner of taking out the partygoers around the house are fun providing this with some great humorous setups and gore. These here are what make the film quite fun. There are some big problems here. The main issue to be had here is the overwhelming comedic aspect that might make this one funny if you're into the genre yet excruciating if you're not. There's more of a focus on the comedy here that some genre fans might not be into, and that could be a problem for some as the over-the-top nature and obvious bent won't be universally appealing, much like the low-budget indie styled gore and bloodshed that make this look cheaper than it is. As well, there's also the rather confusing nature of the film being so short yet filled with several musical dance parties that are redundant and do nothing but eat up time which could've been used to give more time to the finale as this ends abruptly. Otherwise, there's not a whole lot wrong with this one.

Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Violence, Graphic Language and Nudity.

Bloodlust Zombies

Fun low-budget zombie effort
Testing a new chemical serum, a pharmaceutical company celebrating the success of its newest creation are accidentally locked inside during a spill which turns the workers into ravenous, infected zombies and forces the remaining workers to band together to survive the situation.

This one was a rather enjoyable zombie effort. Among the better features here is the far more impressive setup that has a lot going for it. The main notion here is the corporation planning the chemical to be for the greater good of the country as it's intended to allow the enemy soldiers to kill themselves and keep the US out of the area to do so, which gives this a more worthwhile and noble cause than the vast majority of such corporations. That the eventual inevitable outbreaks occur through the actions of the film's namesake star brought in for that very reason and ties in very well with the security protocols they go through which is where this one has a lot to like due to the realistic nature they utilize that factor to build to that outbreak. That outbreak is where this one hits its stride by providing plenty of fun. The ravenous action of the zombie-like creatures means there's so much to like with the various battles that take place in various locations around the building as the creatures overwhelm the uninfected. That they manage to introduce logical ambushes based on the twisting corridors for the nice shock attack is a great touch as that brings about the strong low-budget indie gore and far more effective comedy than expected since the situations shouldn't be allowing for wisecracks and jokes. There's a great sense of fun to have the mix here, and the frenzied running time keeps this all together to put a fine charge into a routine effort. There's also a rather interesting idea here to try to provide some character development throughout here. The sexpot secretary is given the ability to know technical issues and problem-solving which goes against her stereotypical appearance, and there's a great moment where her desire to remain a subservient trophy for sugar daddies is rightfully questioned. Instead of fury, though, the idea resonates with her to the point that she strives to empower herself against the zombies and fuels the final half where that change in behavior is what signals her change in perspective. As well, the attempts to change the horndog accountant is a big change that is a nice idea to attempt since it changes the format of pairing everyone off through the circumstances, so all in all the only real issue is the low-budget nature that pops up from time-to-time.

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

Bottom Feeder

Moderately entertaining but nothing spectacular killer rodent film
Working on a clean-up crew, several workers are assigned to a new job at an abandoned medical testing lab and after going through the facility are ambushed by a large creature living in the tunnels from a chemical drug that turned it huge and feral and set out to get away from the creature.

There was some good stuff to this one when it got around to it. One of the better aspects is the film's incredibly creepy location, as the fact that they're in a sewer-system is a big plus. The building they use to access them is already quite creepy, but it looks really great here due to this one effectively looking like an abandoned building should've been, with the appropriate amount of decay present with the other little things that would be found in a sewer to begin with but simply rotted away due to time, which is a very nice touch. That it's also dark most of the time seems to work well for this one, meaning that it's just an incredibly suspenseful location and mixed with the corridor of tunnels down there and the overall look to it, this one comes out rather nicely. There's also a nice bonus here in that, although it deals with a giant rat, it's not created in the traditional sense and instead is brought about through the chemical tests turning the individual into a monstrous creature and is much better than having a gigantic swarm of rats doing the killing. The confrontations with it are even better, as the encounters down in the creepy sewers provide a lot of fun times and generally seem highly enjoyable. The car-park one is one of the best ones, and the shootouts in the corridors work amazingly well at getting a lot of good action into this one. Even the surprise jumps from the creature attacking out of the shadows generate some fun, and the conclusion scores rather nicely before veering off. The last plus here is the film's incredibly high gore content, which gets bloody when it wants to. These here the film's good points. There were a couple of problems with this one. One of the biggest ones is that the film doesn't have a whole lot going for it during the beginning part. It's just far too long and not all that entirely interesting when it presents its opening, going from the run-down with the chemical to the meeting between the two parties and the aftermath of that to getting into talking about the mission from the crew, it takes about thirty minutes before even going down into the sewers. Since the rat isn't the first thing done down there either, there's not a whole lot of interesting things going on through these parts of the film, and it just makes these parts of the film drag on for some time before it gets really good. Another problem is that there's not a whole lot of clarity when it comes to dealing with the creature's attacks. Most of them are either over so quick it's hard to tell what happened until the aftermath, too dark to render anything visible, edited so haphazardly it's impossible to see anything or a combination of them, and a few suffer from all those factors which are unfortunate as they were set-up to be among the better scenes until the flaws kicked in. The last flaw here is the film's incredibly stupid ending, which has almost nothing right going for it and is just all-around bad, no matter how it's looked at. These here are the film's bad points.

Rated R: Graphic Violence and Graphic Language.


Deep and mystical if slow-burn folk horror effort
Living alone out in the woods, a man welcomes his brother and his family out to visit, but when a strange series of encounters with strange beings out in the woods occur he comes to believe the old stories from his grandmother about an evil being living out in the woods and tries to stop it.

There was quite a lot to like in this one. One of the better elements to be had is the film's folk-horror leanings to build an enjoyable atmosphere present. With the vast majority of the film taking place in the woods, the idea of his routine as he goes about setting up in the woods gathering food, monitoring his residence or going out with his dog to keep his skill sharp before his brother comes to visit, the sense of isolation found here makes for an engrossing start since this normalcy is always tainted by ideas that something sinister is lurking just off-screen deep in the woods. As that woodland lifestyle grows more comforting, those ideas of something twisted living out there with him. The slow-burn approach here means that the creepy happenings, starting innocently with the dogs' disappearance and his grandmother's continued insistence that a being named Sator is in contact with her that can be written off as delusional rantings of a senile old-woman, they slowly start to tell a larger, darker story. Fueled by the demonic, barely audible whispers and strange feelings that something's in the woods, watching him, this makes for a rather enjoyable effort here as it feels as though the buildup is going somewhere. That also leads to the eventual outcome where the build-up finally pays off. Ignited by the nightmarish confrontation in the woods, there's a sudden and noticeable change of tone here where the film picks up speed and intensity in the series of encounters out in the woods. The sense of foreboding atmosphere in the woods is impressive and the snowfall creatures a picturesque look to everything, while the two attacks here are both chilling and creepy which are quite fun to see play out. Combined with the few brutal moments we get here that leave quite an impression and the twisted look of the demons, these are what work well for this one. That said, there are a few problems here. The main element that holds this one back is a dull and dreary pace that rarely allows anything to happen. Despite the slowly encroaching dread, this one never provides any energy to anything and is so laid-back and restrained in its delivery that it's possible to check out quite easily. As these scenes, from the brotherly relationship to the family dynamics that we get an idea about in their home-video flashbacks and simply wandering through their lives, just float on by with very little enthusiasm which put off a lot of viewers which is the main detrimental factor here.

Rated Unrated/R: Violence and Language.

Santo y Blue Demon contra el doctor Frankenstein

Solid if somewhat underwhelming luchadore team-up
After a series of disappearances, Santo and Blue Demon are called in to investigate and find that a deranged scientist has been kidnapping victims and using them in his anti-aging experiments, and after seeing their skills decides to upgrade the brains of his henchmen with those of the fighters.

Overall, this one was quite fun with a lot to like about it. The main aspect to like here is how this one manages to work the story together to feature a connection between everything. The idea between the scientist looking for the perfect female specimens and the need for bringing the luchadores into the storyline is a rather enjoyable one with the strange murders being committed by the girls and tying that back into the scientists'studies. His looking for the right ingredients to complete the super-soldiers for his world domination plans which leads him to the girlfriend might be seen as a lame coincidence due to her also being a scientist like him but that this causes the introduction of the two into a more personal stake in the storyline. With this storyline setup, the film's inclusion of luchador action and more traditional horror aspects comes off rather nicely. The opening attacks by the failed brain transplant victims is a great shocking scene, while the switchover into the first of two stellar tag-team wrestling matches immediately after is a fine switch into the more traditional elements of the genre. The hard-hitting brawls with the henchmen spread throughout the film or the police encounter with the indestructible henchman give this some more action scenes, setting up the outright fun to be had in the finale. With the attempted brain transplant and their escape requiring a mad dash through the stylish underground lair leading into the fixed wrestling match that ends this one, there's quite a lot to like with this entry. There are some big problems with this one. The main issue here is the rather bland storyline that keeps this one feeling dull more than anything. Most of this is due to the preference of focusing on the exploits of the mad doctor in his laboratory who's bellowing orders to his henchmen and explaining what his plans are. This is all handled very slowly and holds the tempo of this one back at the beginning with the lack of interest at what's going on, and that stands out even more with the laughable main plan that is expected to be carried out here. The prospect of asking the audience to buy the idea of what's happening with the anti-aging blood-serum and brain transplants is underwhelming and holds this one back significantly. The lower budget is apparent here at times as well, making for the film's few flaws.

Rated Unrated/PG-13: Violence.

Legion of the Dead

A cheesy good time
Following the discovery of an Egyptian burial chamber in the California desert, a team of scientists learns of the resurrection of a female mummy who begins a rampage of terror across the area for the blood required to raise her legions of disciples buried with her and seek the immortality she originally perished for.

As far as mummy films go, this wasn't all that bad and was surprisingly decent. One of the strongest points is that it goes against so many of the preconceived notions of what a mummy film is really about which is a nice departure. Instead of being traditionally set in Egypt, this one refreshing takes place in an unlikely setting and removes some of the more traditional trappings associated with the genre. The fact that the lead mummy isn't on-screen as the shambling pile of bandages but as a flesh-and-blood figure which is a nice change from the norm of this genre. The change of sexes doesn't mean that much, as it's a more male-centered type of story than those usually given to female-centered mummy films. Rather than having the daughter of the finder becoming possessed by the spirit of the mummy and then mayhem ensues, this one carries out as if the male is the gender, and then mayhem ensues. These little features give it a little more originality to it than most mummy films and are a more than welcome addition. That leads into the best part of the film as the mayhem carried out is nice and bloody with plenty of action here. There are some nice encounters spread around throughout as the unaware fall victim to the mummy since they're unaware of who she really is which results in the shock outcome of the situation, either in their seduction at her beauty or the sheer unexpected nature of her suddenly stealing their life-essence, all giving this plenty to like with the strong blood and gore present. There's also much to like with the rest of the action where the best is when the resurrected mummies go on a rather over-the-top killing spree at the local motel and generally cause havoc running through the guests and leading into the great sacrifice ceremony at the temple which has lots of action and chasing in the temple and with the last few survivors on the outside. These here are the film's positive points. There are still a few problems with it. Its main issue is the fact that a lot of the film's energy dissipates in the middle section where this one spends too much time trying to keep the mummy's secret hidden and trying to pass her off as something else. As the story is something you've seen before, you can figure out exactly where it's headed, especially as there's a whole lot of new twists and turns and is pretty much played out to the point where it's highlighted pretty easily. Since none of this is handled well, this waited too long to bring the mummies into the film because the underwhelming hidden agenda storyline takes up way too much of this one. The other flaw here is that the low-budget eventually catches up with it as the jumbled climactic showdown can't help but give off a feel as it ran out of money so just wrap this up as quickly as possible such is the rapid nature of wrapping it all up. It's over way to quickly to feel completed and needed to be drawn out a little more, making for what holds this one back the most.

Rated R: Nudity, Graphic Violence, Graphic Language and brief drug use.

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