Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Film Review: The Thing (1982)

The Thing (Review)
United States/1982
Format Viewed for Review: Showtime
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!

"...a film that chokes you with its sense of isolation and paranoia."

A group of researches in Antarctica are unwittingly compromised by an alien force that can become any living organism it touches with perfect accuracy...

The Thing is a classic horror film. Its status as a classic can't be disputed. That doesn't mean everyone has to love it. However, that does mean it has already been reviewed thousands of times. So, I'll try to keep my review short and simple. The plot takes place at an American research station in Antarctica. A pair of Norwegians in a helicopter chase an Alaskan Malamute to said base, actively trying to kill it—and they fail. The dog stays at the base while MacReady (Kurt Russell), a helicopter pilot, and Dr. Copper head out to the Norwegian base to find out what's happening. And, at their base, they find nothing but death and destruction. They discover the Norwegian team uncovered something in the ice... and that something has found its way to their base. If you haven't seen The Thing by now—and that's hard to believe but it's completely possible—then it's a better film if you go in blind. So, I won't spoil anything else. Just know: the plot is great, it leads to a strong climax, and it has a compelling ending.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Film Review: The Corpse of Anna Fritz (2015)

The Corpse of Anna Fritz (Review)
Spain/2015
Format Viewed for Review: Shudder
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!

"...it is otherwise a shocking, suspenseful, and atmospheric film."

An orderly at a hospital and his friends decide to secretly view the dead body of famous actress Anna Fritz (Alba Ribas) after she arrives at the morgue...

The Corpse of Anna Fritz is a horror-thriller. The first act is eerie and unnerving, then it becomes more of a standard thriller—which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The plot follows Pau (Albert Carbó), an orderly at a hospital, and his friends, Ivan (Cristian Valencia) and Javi. The sudden death of famous actress Anna Fritz attracts them to the morgue. The friends agree to sneak in and see her dead body. However, one thing leads to another, and Pau and Ivan are eventually raping the corpse. At this point, I'm going to differentiate myself from other reviewers. I won't spoil anything else because I think it's a better movie if you go in blind, but I will say: the film continues down this disturbing lane. It's not a film for everyone, some will be offended, but it's certainly an interesting movie. The plot loses some steam towards the end, which makes the ending less effective, but it's still decent.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Film Review: Raw (2016)

Raw (Review)
France/2016
Format Viewed for Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!

"...a coming-of-age horror story with compelling themes and some grotesque visuals."

After a hazing event at her vet school, lifelong vegetarian Justine (Garance Marillier) experiences a horrifying transformation...

Raw is a coming-of-age horror-drama—interesting combination, right? The plot follows Justine, a young, lifelong vegetarian. She shows up at her vet school where Alexia (Ella Rumpf), her older sister, guides her through the hazing ritual. This ritual happens to include the consumption of raw rabbit kidney. After consuming said kidney, Justine begins to feel sick, then she begins to crave raw flesh—animal and human. Although the film doesn't feature any jaw-dropping twists, it is a film that I believe works better if you know less about it before watching it. So, I won't spoil anything else. It leads to a underwhelming climax and a simple but effective ending.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Film Review: Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Dawn of the Dead (Review)
United States/2004
Format Viewed for Review: VUDU
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!

"...one of the greatest horror remakes of all time."

A group of survivors takes refuge in a shopping mall during a zombie outbreak.

Dawn of the Dead is a remake of the classic George A. Romero film of the same name. The plot follows a group of characters who take refuge in a shopping mall during a zombie outbreak. The characters include nurse Ana Clark (Sarah Polley), police officer Kenneth Hall (Ving Rhames), TV salesman Michael (Jake Weber), married couple Andre and Luda, and plenty of others. Most of the plot is simple: a fight for survival, which includes human infighting and zombie killing. However, although it is a simple plot, it is still engrossing. Watching these characters live in the mall, adapt to their new lives, and make heartbreaking decisions is incredible—just as it was while watching the original. It leads to a strong climax and a decent ending. The ending wasn't bad, but it does feel a bit rushed, like if it didn't really have anywhere else to go.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Film Review: I Saw the Devil (2010)

I Saw the Devil (Review)
South Korea/2010
Format Viewed for Review: Blu-ray
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!

"...one of the greatest revenge thrillers of all time."

After the death of his fiancé, NIS agent Kim Soo-hyun (Lee Byung-hun) embarks on a violent journey to avenge her death.

I Saw the Devil begins with the brutal murder of Jang Joo-yun, the fiancé of NIS agent Kim Soo-hyun. After Joo-yun's death, Soo-hyun vows to avenge her by any means necessary—and he will make her killer feel the same pain she felt. So, he begins investigating her murder by targeting the lead suspects. His investigation, which consists of torture, eventually leads him to Jang Kyung-chul (Choi Min-sik). He quickly finds and beats Kyung-chul, but, instead of killing him, Soo-hyun plants a tracking device in the killer. And so, a violent game of cat-and-mouse begins between the two. There is a lot more to the plot, the movie is nearly 140 minutes long, but I won't spoil anything else. It leads a fantastic climax and a great ending.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Film Review—Noroi: The Curse (2005)

Noroi: The Curse (Review)
Japan/2005
Format Viewed for Review: Shudder
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!

"...one of the best found footage films to date."

Masafumi Kobayashi (Jin Muraki), a documentarian who records paranormal incidents, investigates a series of supernatural events that may be linked to a demon known as 'Kagutaba.'

Noroi: The Curse is a mockumentary, like Shirome and Lake Mungo. The plot follows Masafumi Kobayashi's investigations of the paranormal. He investigates a woman named Junko Ishii, whose neighbor has complained about strange noises coming from her house; actress Marika Matsumoto (who plays herself), who is haunted by a malevolent entity after visiting a shrine; and a girl named Kana Yano, who has psychic powers. Hori, a peculiar psychic who warns everyone about 'ectoplasmic worms,' is also involved in some of these strange cases. Eventually, Kobayashi begins linking the pieces and traces the strange occurrences to a demon known as 'Kagutaba.' He attempts to unravel the mystery while trying to save everyone involved. It leads to a surprisingly disturbing ending.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Film Review: Natural Born Killers (1994)

Natural Born Killers (Review)
United States/1994
Format Viewed for Review: VUDU
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!

"...a violent, disturbing, and entertaining movie with compelling themes."

Mickey Knox (Woody Harrelson) and his wife Mallory (Juliette Lewis) embark on a violent killing spree while the media glorifies their actions...

Natural Born Killers is a satirical crime/horror movie—at least, I've always thought of it as a horror movie. The film follows Mickey and Mallory, a couple of lovers who were traumatized by abuse during their childhoods. They find love and purpose in each other, so they get married and they embark on a killing spree. Meanwhile, Wayne Gale (Robert Downey Jr.), a self-serving journalist, profiles Mickey and Mallory for his show, glorifying their crimes for higher ratings. Detective Jack Scagnetti (Tom Sizemore) also hunts the couple, although his investigation is thin—I wish we saw more of him. It leads to a violent climax and a great ending.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Film Review: Train to Busan (2016)

Train To Busan (Review)
South Korea/2016
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!

"...a fast-paced, action-packed zombie extravaganza."

A zombie virus breaks out in South Korea, leaving the passengers on a train from Seoul to Busan fighting for survival.

In terms of plot, Train to Busan is a simple but effective film. The plot follows fund manager Seok-woo (Gong Yoo) as he takes his daughter, Soo-an (Kim Su-an), to Busan. On the train, news breaks out that there are violent riots in all of the major cities across the country. Unfortunately, they also discover a woman who has been bitten is on the train. The woman violently convulses, then she bites one of the train attendants—which infects the attendant with the same virus. This causes a snowball effect, rapidly spreading the disease and creating more zombies. After the hectic outbreak, the survivors lock themselves in a cart and start fighting for survival. That's the basic plot. There are a few stops here and there, the origin of the virus is briefly touched on, and so on. It all leads to a powerful ending.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Film Review: The Crucifixion (2017)

The Crucifixion (Review)
United Kingdom/Romania/2017
Format Viewed for Review: Vudu
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!

"If you like your horror movies with slick visuals, ominous atmosphere, and some suspense... then this is for you."

After the death of a nun leads to the arrest of a priest, Nicole Rawlins (Sophie Cookson), a reporter, heads out to find the truth...

The Crucifixion is a familiar possession film. The plot follows Nicole Rawlins, a reporter who seeks every opportunity to criticize religion due to her past troubles. After hearing news about the death of a nun and the subsequent arrest of a priest, Nicole convinces her editor to allow her to visit Romania to investigate the crime. She discovers that the nun was possibly possessed and, during an exorcism, she was crucified. (Not the bloody kind.) The deeper she digs, the more grisly details she discovers. She pieces together the victim's life before the exorcism and she soon finds herself questioning herself. The plot reminded me of The Exorcism of Emily Rose, but with fewer details regarding the legality of the situation. It leads to a predictable but decent ending.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Film Review—Amityville: The Awakening (2017)

Amityville: The Awakening (Review)
United States/2017
Format Viewed for Review: Google Movies
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!

"The skeleton of a good movie is here, but most of the great parts appear to have been removed to create a dumbed-down, PG-13 jump-scare extravaganza."

A single mother moves her three children, including her bedridden son, to the infamous Amityville house.

Amityville: The Awakening is not really a sequel to any of the films in the series. In fact, the previous movies are mentioned in this one. So, you don't have to worry about watching those to watch The Awakening. The plot follows a small family: mother Joan Walker (Jennifer Jason Leigh), daughters Belle (Bella Thorne) and Juliet, and Belle's bedridden, brain-dead twin James (Cameron Monaghan). Forty years after the infamous Amityville murders, this family moves into the Amityville house—and only Joan knows its history. Belle eventually finds out and things start going bump in the night. Then, James begins responding. His brain activity returns and he miraculously makes progress. At the same time, the supernatural occurrences at the house begin to increase in frequency and severity. So, Belle races to save her family and tries to stop history from repeating itself. There really isn't much to say about the plot. It has some interesting ideas, but it doesn't really build on any of them. It led to a predictable ending that felt rushed and lazy, too.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Film Review: The Piper (2015)

The Piper (Review)
South Korea/2015
Format Viewed for Review: DramaFever
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!

"Although the first hour might have some filler and pacing issues, the film ultimately leaves a strong impression."

After the Korean war, a father and his son travel through the country in hopes of reaching Seoul, but they stumble upon an isolated village where everything is not what it seems...

The Piper isn't a traditional horror/mystery film. It's definitely not the type of film that tries to keep you at the edge of your seat from beginning to end. No, the plot takes its (sweet) time to develop the characters and the situation. The story follows Woo-ryong (Ryu Seung-ryong), a musician, and his son, Young-nam. While traveling to Seoul to meet a doctor to cure Young-nam's tuberculosis, the father-son pair stumbles upon an isolated village—a village that doesn't seem to realize the Korean war has ended. The village chief (Lee Sung-min) especially doesn't want Woo-ryong telling his people that it's safe outside. Woo-ryong agrees to keep his secret and solve a rat infestation problem in exchange for their hospitality and a large sum of cash. However, the villagers are not exactly who they pretend to be... It all leads to a strong climax and a good ending.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Film Review: Cult of Chucky (2017)

Cult of Chucky (Review)
United States/2017
Format Viewed for Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Review Special!

"It unfortunately does not build on the good aspects of the previous film and instead goes in a different direction. I still liked it..."

Four years after the events of the previous film, Nica (Fiona Dourif) finds herself in a mental institution after being framed by Chucky (Brad Dourif). She starts to believe she's healing until a Good Guy doll shows up at the facility...

Cult of Chucky is a sequel to Curse of Chucky, which was a welcome return to the franchise's roots. The film begins with Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) returning home after a bad date. He proceeds to torture the original head of Chucky, which is still conscious. Meanwhile, after successful treatment, Nica is transferred to a medium-security mental institution. All is well until her doctor brings a Good Guy doll to therapy. Things get worse when more dolls show up and people start dying. There are some new, interesting ideas in here, but they're not really fleshed out. The big idea, which I won't spoil, feels lazy and tacked on, explained through a weak joke. The ending was interesting but disappointing. It doesn't leave a strong impression.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Film Review: The Stendhal Syndrome (1996)

The Stendhal Syndrome (Review)
Italy/1996
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Instant: No
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!

"It's not Argento's best work, but it certainly does not taint his filmography."

A young policewoman begins questioning her sanity while tracking an elusive serial rapist-killer through Italy...

The Stendhal Syndrome is an interesting film. The plot follows detective Anna Manni (Asia Argento), who travels to Florence in search of an elusive serial rapist-killer. She picks up his trail at a museum. However, while viewing the art, she begins to hallucinate, then she faints. She briefly loses her memory and returns to her hotel, disoriented. Then, she's raped by the man she was sent to track. Unlike some of his other victims, she's spared, which leads her to believe her nightmare is not over. Slowly but surely, Anna begins to lose her mind and she becomes obsessed with her attacker. The plot shifts during the second half, where it becomes a bit slower, but it's otherwise an interesting story. It leads to a good ending, too.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Film Review: Opera (1987)

Opera (Review)
Italy/1987
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!

"It's suspenseful, violent, and stylish."

A young and rising opera singer is targeted by a maniac who aims to kill anyone who gets close to her...

Opera follows Betty (Cristina Marsillach), a young opera singer. When the lead for Macbeth is injured in a car accident, Betty, the understudy, is given the role of Lady Macbeth. Although initially nervous, her stellar performance launches her career. However, soon after her debut, she's attacked by a masked maniac. Said maniac forces her to watch as he attacks her boyfriend. As a matter of fact, he forces her to watch all of his attacks. Fearing for her life, Betty, her director, and the police race to find the identity of the killer. It leads to an interesting revelation—nothing jaw-dropping, but more than effective—and a great ending. The last ten minutes or so of the film are very effective.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Film Review: Inferno (1980)

Inferno (Review)
Italy/1980
Format Viewed For Review: Shudder
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!

"...one of those rare horror films with immersive atmosphere, an attractive style, genuine horror, and an engaging story."

An American college student in Rome returns to New York after receiving an ominous letter from his sister...

Inferno is a sequel to Suspiria—but you actually don't have to watch Suspiria to understand this film. The plot follows siblings Mark Elliot (Leigh McCloskey), who is studying Musicology in Rome, and Rose Elliot (Irene Miracle), a poet living in New York. Rose discovers a book about the Three Mothers—three evil sisters who live in different buildings around the world, controlling everything through sorrow, tears, and darkness. Rose is convinced she lives in one of those buildings. Terrified, she asks her brother to visit her home. So, Mark drops everything and goes to New York. But, now his sister is missing. So, he decides to continue Rose's investigation. It leads to an interesting ending. It worked, but the costume design kind of throws it off.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Film Review: Suspiria (1977)

Suspiria (Review)
Italy/1977
Format Viewed for Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Review Special

"...a twisted horror-mystery film with spectacular visuals."

An American ballet student arrives at a prestigious academy in Germany only to be haunted by mysterious occurrences in the building...

Suspiria follows American ballet student Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper). On a stormy night, Suzy arrives in Germany and travels to the Tanz Dance Academy. However, as she arrives, she witnesses a distraught student, Pat, running out of the building and Suzy is not allowed to enter. By the next morning, Suzy discovers that Pat was brutally murdered during the night prior. She tries to fit in at the academy, but she quickly realizes something is afoot. So, she starts delving deeper into the mystery. What's happening at the Tanz Dance Academy? Who is the mysterious directress? You'll find out most of the answers during its great conclusion. (For better or worse, it does leave some unanswered questions.)

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Film Review: The Cat O' Nine Tails (1971)

The Cat O' Nine Tails (Review)
Italy/1971
Format Viewed for Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!

"If you like your mystery films with a pinch of horror, you'll enjoy this one."

A newspaper reporter and a retired, blind journalist team up to track a violent killer who appears to be linked to a pharmaceutical company...

The Cat O' Nine Tails is a blend of horror, mystery, and thriller. The plot follows retired, blind journalist Franco Arnò (Karl Malden) and newspaper reporter Carlo Giordani (James Franciscus), who meet by luck after a robbery at a pharmaceutical company. The robbery is considered 'industry espionage,' but it is quickly swept under the rug for the sake of the company. However, after people linked to the company start dying mysterious deaths, Arnò and Giordani begin investigating the crimes, which leaves them with nine suspects. It can often be a little too much to follow, there are a lot of characters/suspects who appear to be unnecessary, but it ultimately works. I liked the ending, but it felt unnecessarily abrupt and a bit underwhelming.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Film Review: See No Evil (2006)

See No Evil (Review)
United States/2006
Format Viewed for Review: HBO Now
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!

"See No Evil isn't a great film, but it's a decent time killer, especially if you're a fan of slashers."

A group of prisoners are taken to clean the abandoned Blackwell Hotel in exchange for time off their sentences, unaware of the killer lurking in the building.

See No Evil is a simple film. The plot begins with Officer Frank Williams (Steven Vilder) and his partner investigating a call at an abandoned house. They find a woman without eyes and they're attacked by a hulking man. Williams survives the attack, but he's left without an arm. Fast forward four years and Williams, now working as a correctional officer, takes a group of prisoners to the abandoned Blackwell Hotel for some volunteer work. All is well until a killer (Kane) starts picking them off one-by-one. So, the survivors race to save their friends and escape from the building. The plot isn't very original or engaging, but the flashbacks to the killer's past are interesting. It leads to a decent ending, too.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Film Review: My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009)

My Bloody Valentine 3D (Review)
United States/2009
Format Viewed for Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!

"It's a fun slasher movie. That's pretty much it."

Ten years after a massacre at an abandoned mine shaft, a small town is rattled by a new string of familiar murders...

My Bloody Valentine 3D is a remake of the classic slasher of the same name—sans the 3D. The concepts are the same, but the stories are actually a bit different. The film begins by explaining the collapse of a mining shaft that leaves several dead. Harry Warden is the only survivor, but he's left in a coma. One year later, Harry Warden awakens and goes on a rampage where he murders several people at a hospital and at an abandoned mining shaft. Tom Hanniger (Jensen Ackles) and his friends survive the attack. Ten years later, Tom returns to the town after vanishing only to find the murders have started again. The rest of the film is a fairly standard whodunit/slasher plot. It is predictable, though.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Film Review: Happy Birthday to Me (1981)

Happy Birthday to Me (Review)
Canada/1981
Format Viewed for Review: Shudder
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!

"If you're a fan of the genre, this is one slasher you shouldn't miss."

At the Crawford Academy, a group of students are stalked and killed by a mysterious person...

Happy Birthday to Me follow Virginia, a senior at the prestigious Crawford Academy. She is a part of the "Top Ten" clique, which is filled with the most popular and richest students at the school. As her eighteenth birthday nears, Virginia's friends start vanishing one-by-one—killed by a person they all recognize. Virginia, who suffered from a traumatic experience during her childhood, believes the murders are linked to her. The plot leads to a great climax and a solid ending. Parts of it are predictable while other parts are unique and interesting.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Film Review: Flowers in the Attic (1987)

Flowers in the Attic (Review)
United States/1987
Format Viewed for Review: Shudder
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!

"...a well-made blend of horror and drama."

After the sudden death of their father, a group of children are forced to travel with their mother to live with her wealthy parents...

Flowers in the Attic follows a group of four children: teenagers Chris (Jeb Stuart Adams) and Cathy (Kristy Swanson) and five-year-old twins Cory and Carrie. After the death of their father, their family falls into financial hardships. So, the kids travel with their mother, Corrine, to the home of her wealthy parents. On their way there, Corrine explains that she was essentially disowned by her father, but she plans on reconciling in order to make it into his will. At the palatial house, the children are confined to a single room and the attic, forced to live under their grandmother's (Louise Fletcher) strict rules while Corrine attempts to fix everything. However, they soon realize everything is not what it seems. The plot leads to an abrupt and unsatisfying ending. It doesn't leave an impression.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Film Review: Cannibal Ferox (1981)

Cannibal Ferox (Review)
Italy/1981
Format Viewed For Review: Shudder
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!

"It's not suspenseful, it's not tense, but it is graphic."

Three friends enter the Amazonian jungles hoping to disprove cannibalism, but they soon find themselves targeted by a vengeful tribe of cannibals...

Cannibal Ferox follows three Americans: siblings Rudy and Gloria, and Pat. This group heads into the Amazonian jungles in order to prove Gloria's theory that cannibalism does not exist. While searching for their location, they bump into pair of Americans: Mike and Joe. Mike claims to have been attacked by a group of cannibals, but that's not completely true. When the truth does eventually come out, it's too late. The group is captured and tortured by a vengeful tribe. There's a little more to the plot, including a subplot following an investigation in the United States, but it's not really significant. It leads to an interesting but underwhelming ending.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Film Review—Alien Covenant (2017)

Alien: Covenant (Review)
United States/United Kingdom/2017
Format Viewed for Review: Vudu
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Review Special!

"It's a worthy addition to the Alien series, although it's not nearly as horrifying or tense as the original."

A colony ship lands on an uncharted but inhabitable planet and discovers a terrifying threat.

Alien: Covenant is a sequel to Prometheus. The plot follows the colony ship Covenant as it travels to a remote planet called Origae-6. During their trip, however, the ship is damaged by a stellar neutrino. The crew awakens to tragedy, but they quickly get back on their feet. And, as they get back on their feet, they discover a rogue transmission coming from a nearby planet that resembles Earth in terms of habitat. So, the crew heads down to find the source of the transmission and to examine the planet to see if it's a suitable place for their colony. Of course, everything goes wrong. I won't spoil anything else, although the trailers probably spoiled more than I did so far. It leads to a strong climax and a painfully predictable ending.