October Horrorshow: The Pyramid

Sometimes I curse The Blair Witch Project for loosing found footage horror flicks upon the movie-watching public. And I curse Rec, as well, for its creepy night-vision climax that has been used over and over again in just about every one of these ripoffs. There is now a whole pile of these films, and it’s hard to find one that doesn’t default to the techniques and gimmicks of these two films.

The Pyramid, from 2014, saves all of its originality for setting and place, while delivering a film identical in tone to any number of horror flicks where a group of people find themselves lost underground and are being stalked by…something. In fact, this is the fourth such film to be featured in this year’s Horrorshow, after Gonjiam, Derelict, and Creep. It’s a cheap way for filmmakers to use the same darkened hallway or tunnel set in many different shots and scenes, creating the illusion of a vast maze. The only problem with this is, these films very clearly use a small set, so it’s left up to the viewer to pretend that the filmmakers aren’t trying to fool us. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Pyramid”

October Horrorshow: Paranormal Investigation

Just when I thought Amazon had cornered the market on films so obscure they don’t have Wikipedia pages, Netflix steps up their game. Paranormal Investigation, the 2018 found footage ghost flick from director Franck Phelizon, is so obscure that not only is it nowhere to be found on Wikipedia (as of this writing), its IMDb page is very sparse. There’s not a single cast member with an associated headshot, and most have only this film as their sole credit. I wish I could write in some greater detail about the cast, but that’s going to be difficult. The film’s credits are as sparse as its internet presence. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Paranormal Investigation”

October Horrorshow: Haunting on Fraternity Row

What a vile, vile movie. It could have been worse. Oh, so much worse. But, this flick still managed to plumb the depths of taste, artistry, technique, and every other highfalutin term about film one can come up with. It’s the type of film that counts on awakening the hormonal 13-year-old boy in all of us. I’m not even sure 13-year-old boys would like this trash much, though.

Haunting on Fraternity Row comes to us via writer/director Brant Sersen and fellow screenwriter Jeff Cahn. Released last year, Haunting tells the story of a massive end-of-term fraternity house blowout that turns deadly when a ghost spoils the show. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Haunting on Fraternity Row”

October Horrorshow: Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum

Horror junkies have been blessed by video on demand. Online streaming services have become a glut of horror films, as small, independent creators have been able to get their work out there for people to see. It’s been great for foreign horror flicks, as they have also been gaining prominence on streaming services, probably because they’re affordable to license. South Korea has been well-represented the last few years, with Train to Busan being the standout. Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum also hails from the ROK, and fits in well with the frenetic style that has come to typify South Korean horror. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum”

October Horrorshow: Devil’s Pass

Renny Harlin has had a long career directing films. So long, in fact, that he has been nominated for a golden raspberry award for worst director an astounding five times over the course of three decades. I’m honestly impressed. How many other filmmakers would have been afforded the opportunity to spread such cinematic misery over such a long time? And I do mean misery. It is a miserable experience to watch Cutthroat Island or Driven. But, to be fair, it’s not all bad. Harlin made Deep Blue Sea, after all, which is one of the most sublime shitty movies one will ever see. What to make of Devil’s Pass, then, his found footage horror film from 2013? Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Devil’s Pass”

October Horrorshow: They’re Watching

It just doesn’t feel like the October Horrorshow until the first review of a found footage flick has been posted. This year the honor goes to They’re Watching, the 2016 film from writing and directing duo Jay Lender and Micah Wright.

The film follows the crew of a home improvement reality show. They are going back to Moldova six months after the subject of an episode, Becky Westlake (Brigid Brannagh), bought and began to rehab a dilapidated house in the woods. The place looked like a total lost cause. It had been empty for decades. All the glass had been broken. Walls and floors had been exposed to wind, rain, freezing, thawing, vandalism, and everything else that causes an abandoned building to slowly fall apart. The best thing would have been to knock it down and start over. But, when the crew arrives on site, after a somewhat harrowing journey to the house, they find that Becky appears to have done a top-notch job. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: They’re Watching”

October Horrorshow: Bad Ben

Bad BenWhat a glorious age in which we live. Sure, there are problems. American democracy is eating itself alive, with Russia giving us an unwanted assist. Capitalism no longer promises the kind of wage gains necessary to sustain a middle class over the long haul. Technology companies are being hacked, and our personal information is being stolen on a seemingly daily basis. That’s actually less disturbing than it could be, because those same technology companies have shown they don’t have our best interests at heart, anyway. No one can be trusted, whether it’s in our political lives or our technological lives. But at least in this new age, one man can write, film, star in, edit, and release his very own movie. It may not be a good movie, but all the gatekeepers that had been in place to prevent free expression in the art of film are now gone.

Nigel Bach is a self-described guy who ‘sits in [his] basement with [his] dog creating stuff.’ Before 2016’s Bad Ben, there are no credits on his IMDb page. In Bad Ben, he is credited as producer, director, editor, star, and would have writing credit, as well, only it seemed he didn’t think to include that in the credits. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Bad Ben”

October Horrorshow: Hell House LLC

Yet another found footage horror flick. I suppose they’ll stop making them when we stop watching them. But, while most found footage horror flicks have little to offer beyond a gimmick, sometimes the filmmakers get it right.

Hell House LLC comes from way back in 2015. It was written and directed by Stephen Cognetti, and judging from the names listed as producers, was financed with a lot of loans from family members. This is Cognetti’s first feature, and it will be recognizable to horror fans as a first time filmmaker’s magnum opus. Horror is the genre, after all, most open to new filmmakers. No one wants to see a romcom that cost a buck and a half to film. But we viewers have a much higher tolerance for low budget flicks if they do a decent job of frightening us. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Hell House LLC”

October Horrorshow: The Taking of Deborah Logan

The Taking of Deborah LoganThe Taking of Deborah Logan, the horror film directed by Adam Robitel and written by Robitel and Gavin Heffernan, starts out very strong. It’s found footage, which, my Loyal Seven readers will know, I think is an overused technique in the horror genre. But, I was able to get past that.

The film tells the story of the eponymous title character as she is ravaged by the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. A film crew is shooting a documentary on the disease with Deborah Logan (Jill Larson) as its subject. She is being cared for almost exclusively by her daughter, Sarah (Anne Ramsay), and we also get to see the toll the disease is taking on her. Early on, the film is a disturbing look into a disease of which far too many people have knowledge and experience. It’s not easy watching Deborah lose her lucidity, nor is it easy to see her shame when she comes out of the depths and learns what she did. It’s disturbing, but also a sanitized version crafted for filmgoers. The reality is far worse. But, it is a fantastic jumping off point for the story. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Taking of Deborah Logan”

October Horrorshow: As Above, So Below

It has begun! October is here. And with it comes the October Horrorshow here at Missile Test. All month long the site will be dedicated to horror film reviews. The good, the bad, the putrid — it doesn’t matter. As long as there’s blood, I’ll watch it. First up is some found footage.

Oh, no. Found footage? Again?! If I were emperor of the world, I would not ban found footage horror flicks outright, but I would require a special permit to make them. The only way to get such a permit would be through a personal interview with me. The only way to get a personal interview with me to discuss a found footage project would be to approach my palace as a supplicant...on hands and knees. From the moment prospective filmmakers land at the airport or arrive at the train station, or however they get into the city, they cannot be upright. They have to crawl all the way to my throne room. Then, as they grovel at my feet while addressing me using all my different names and titles, they must stretch out their left hand, so that my palace guard might lop off their pinky and present it to me as tribute. Then, and only then, will I even consider listening to a pitch for a found footage horror flick. But most important and most decisive, I think, for the filmmakers is this: if you make a found footage horror flick, I get gross points. I’m not Clooney. I’m not expecting 20 against 20, but there will be pain. Physical pain, emotional pain, fiduciary pain. These are the tolls I would exact from anyone looking to make a found footage horror flick. If they truly believe found footage is still the way to go after all that, then the filmmakers get my official imprimatur. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: As Above, So Below”