October Horrorshow: Girl on the Third Floor

Haunted house flicks are often very formulaic. A family, or a couple, or just an individual, moves into a home they’ve purchased, and not long afterwards, strange things begin to occur. These ghostly tricks and shenanigans are harmless at first — basic funhouse trickery. As the movie goes on, the disturbances become stronger and have more effect, leading to denouement in the final act. It’s a formula that has worked for decades, from The Haunting to The Conjuring. But, the formula can get stale, especially when there are piles of bad movies that utilize it. Girl on the Third Floor, the 2019 film from screenwriter Trent Haaga and director Travis Stevens, starts out as if it will adhere to the formula, then veers into something that, while totally unique, displayed a substantial amount of originality. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Girl on the Third Floor”

October Horrorshow: Ghosts of War

What a disappointing mess. There are a bunch of solid ideas in Ghosts of War, the new horror flick from writer/director Eric Bress. It’s the execution that is lacking.

The film takes place during World War Two, after the Allies have invaded France. A squad of paratroopers, led by Chris (Brenton Thwaites), is assigned to guard a French chateau that had been used by the Nazis. On the short journey to the chateau, we meet the other members of the squad. They are boilerplate WW2 movie characters. There’s the tough guy, Butchie (Alan Ritchson); the smart guy, Eugene (Skylar Astin), the tough from the city, Kirk (Theo Rossi), and the soft-spoken but lethal southerner, Tappert (Kyle Gallner). Accents and attitudes are used to establish their war flick bona fides, and then viewers see them committing a few war crimes before they arrive at the chateau. War is hell, right? Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Ghosts of War”

October Horrorshow: Deadtectives

Horror films don’t have to be all doom and gloom. In fact, a contender for the goriest film ever made, Braindead, also happens to be hilarious. There is plenty of room for black comedy in the genre. Yes, laughing at the blood and guts and death in a comedy horror is morbid, but no less so than watching a serious take on horror. All horror fans are a little bit diseased in that way. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Deadtectives”

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: Eli

Back in 2012, Ciarán Foy made a disturbing indie horror flick called Citadel. With that film, he showed that he could make horror with a polished sense of dread and an uneasy aesthetic. It wasn’t a great horror film, but it’s getting him some regular work in the genre.

His latest is Eli, which was released this month on Netflix. From a screenplay by David Chirchirillo, Ian Goldberg, and Richard Naing, Eli tells the story of the unfortunate title character, played by Charlie Shotwell. Eli is unfortunate because he’s basically allergic to everything. He lives in a sterile environment, but should he leave his bubble in anything less than a hermetically sealed hazmat suit, he goes into anaphylactic shock. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Eli”

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: Entity

Entity, the 2012 horror film from writer/director/producer Steve Stone, threatens to be a found footage flick early on. Thankfully, it’s not. Back when it was made, found footage horror films seemed to come out once or twice a week. But, even though Stone only flirts with the technique, he chose to use its tropes heavily.

The film opens with security footage shot in the green tint of night vision, so familiar from its overuse in found footage horror. The shot is of a spartan room in what looks like an insane asylum. There is an iron bed with thin mattress, a sink, a bucket, and a huddled figure who won’t look at the camera. Over the course of this sequence experienced horror fans will witness trick after trick that was used to better effect in earlier films. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Entity”

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: Shock, aka Beyond the Door II

Mario Bava was a giant of horror. His Black Sunday is an atmospheric horror classic that should be on any horror fan’s list of films to see. Shock, released in the United States as Beyond the Door II (it bears no relation to Beyond the Door — the title was strictly promotional), was Bava’s last film before his death. It’s not a bad way to go out, but it’s also a workaday horror film, missing the weirdness that made Bava’s other works, and Italian horror films in general, so special. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Shock, aka Beyond the Door II”

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”