October Horrorshow: The Autopsy of Jane Doe

Is there anything creepier than a room made for the dead? Everything in a morgue or embalming room is cold, antiseptic, and hard. There isn’t a cushion in site on which to rest a corpse. Why would there be? It’s not as if the dead will complain. They’re just motionless slabs of meat and bone, gristle and organs. The difference between the living and dead is rendered stark in rooms like this, where no living person could tolerate lying on stainless steel tables, their heads resting on blocks. Everything about these rooms would cause intolerable pain in the living. But, again, the dead won’t complain. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Autopsy of Jane Doe”

October Horrorshow: Blood Vessel

I dig horror flicks set aboard abandoned and adrift ships. The real stories of the Mary Celeste and other vessels, found at sea with no one aboard, make for fascinating mysteries. Add in the supernatural, and abandoned ships become excellent locations for horror. Ships are creepy and claustrophobic. There are countless nooks and crannies where characters can get lost, or in which baddies can hide. They make more noise than a shack in a winter wind. They’re basically oceangoing haunted houses. Blood Vessel, the 2019 horror film from writers Justin Dix and Jordan Prosser, and directed by Dix, doesn’t involve ghosts. Rather, the menace in this film is a family of vampires. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Blood Vessel”

October Horrorshow: Host (2020)

What a cool, frightening, compact horror flick. Host, filmed in, and released during, this ongoing Covid pandemic is also a film that is of its time — a document of how we have been living, while it has been happening. This little film might, someday, have historical significance. That’s pretty good for what’s basically a haunted house story.

By way of England, Host comes from director Rob Savage and screenwriters Savage, Gemma Hurley, and Jed Shepherd. Inspired by a short film from Savage, Host is a quarantine Zoom call among five friends — Haley (Haley Bishop), Jemma (Jemma Moore), Emma (Emma Louise Webb), Radina (Radina Drandova), and Caroline (Caroline Ward). There’s a sixth, Teddy (Edward Linard), who leaves the call before the plot gets rolling. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Host (2020)”

October Horrorshow: Crawl, or Go Gators!

Before today, I never once considered what it would be like to be trapped in a basement crawlspace with ravenous alligators during a category 5 hurricane. Now, I know. It’s pretty scary.

That’s the setting for Crawl, the creature feature from earlier this year from screenwriters Michael and Shawn Rasmussen, and director Alexandre Aja.

The film follows Kaya Scoladerio as Haley, a swimmer at the University of Florida. A hurricane is bearing down on the area, but neither she, nor her sister up in Boston, have been able to get ahold of their father, Dave (Barry Pepper). There’s some family drama and token sappiness involving Haley and her father, but regardless, Haley decides to head down to the family homestead to check on the old man and make sure he’s still alive. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Crawl, or Go Gators!”

October Horrorshow: Ghost Stories

Adapting their own successful stage play, writers and directors Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson have crafted a ghost flick that is, at times, among the most frightening that has been made this decade, and at other times is a cataclysmic rush to an uneven finale.

From 2017, Ghost Stories is somewhat of an anthology film, but the three separate tales that make up the film are bound together by a wrapper story in such a way that it can be considered a single narrative, as well. Nyman plays Professor Phillip Goodman, the presenter of a British reality show that debunks psychics. In an early scene, viewers see Goodman expose a spirit medium as a fraud. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Ghost Stories”

October Horrorshow: A Dark Song

Horror films work quite well when they embrace spectacle. Over-the-top gore and special effects are a hallmark of the genre. But splattering blood all over isn’t the only way to make a horror flick. Sometimes a filmmaker goes for the soul underneath the flesh, and makes something disturbing.

A Dark Song is the feature film debut from writer/director Liam Gavin. From 2016, the film tells the story of two people carrying out occult rites in an isolated house in Wales in order to contact a guardian angel. This is no lightweight ritual, either. As occult expert Joseph Solomon (Steve Oram) explains to the woman who hired him to carry out the ritual, Sophia (Catherine Walker), it will be months before they know if it’s working. During that time, the two will not be able to leave the house, nor will they have any contact with the outside world. Nor could they, as there isn’t any power in the house. Or heat. Did I mention this house is in Wales? Because one would not want to live in an unheated house in Wales. All of this makes the stakes quite a bit higher than something one would see in an old Hammer flick. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: A Dark Song”

October Horrorshow: A Quiet Place

It’s the near future — just a couple of years past the present day. The human race has been devastated by an invasion of ferocious creatures. Where the creatures come from is never made clear, although space is as good a culprit as any. The creatures are sightless, but have extraordinary hearing. Among the cacophony of sounds that a planet and all its inhabitants make, the creatures are able to pick out even the slightest of sounds made by a human, and hunt them down quickly. All remaining people are forced to live a life of silence that would try even the most devoted of monks. Such is the setup to A Quiet Place, the film from director/star John Krasinski, and writers Krasinski, Bryan Woods, and Scott Beck. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: A Quiet Place”

October Horrorshow: Maniac (1980)

ManiacThis is not a horror movie for those looking for traditional scares. This is a horror movie for those who have become accustomed to the sight of a specter in a mirror or a zombie just around the corner. This is a horror movie with a killer of no less eccentricity than a vampire or a werewolf, only the killer in this film blends in. He’s a next-door neighbor or a familiar face at the neighborhood grocer’s. He’s one of us. And when he’s explored he’s not shown as some unholy or supernatural freak. He is, just like the title, a maniac.

Maniac, from 1980, was directed by William Lustig, from a screenplay by Joe Spinell and C. A. Rosenberg. Spinell also stars as the titular maniac, a loner named Frank Zito.

Potential viewers might recognize Spinell. A familiar face among New York City based tough guy actors, he had small roles in the Godfather films and a prominent role as loan shark Tony Gazzo in Rocky. There are stories all over the internet about how beloved a personality he was (Spinell died in 1989), and how his friendship with Sylvester Stallone inspired him to guide his own film project. The result is not a film about a lovable underdog, but a film about a serial killer who scalps his victims. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Maniac (1980)”