This one’s for the gore hounds. This flick is for those who like melting faces, popped eyeballs, severed tongues, crucifixion, putrefaction, red blood, yellow ooze, brown goo, and don’t mind one bit that the plot has all the narrative consistency of getting blackout drunk. But, that’s okay. If an Italian horror flick had a plot one could follow, would it still be an Italian horror flick?
There’s nothing quite like a creepy old house for atmosphere. Even better when it’s a stately pile — a relic of the gilded age whose halls were once filled with scurrying servants and aloof aristocracy. They were the engines of their own destruction, but what pleasant ruins they have left behind.
The scene of The Cellar, from writer/director Brendan Muldowney, isn’t on the scale of a Victorian-era English country home from Henry James, or the mansion from The Changeling, but it is a house with ceilings high enough for a game of pickup basketball, and wood molding everywhere. At some time in the last century, a house like this — one built with care and craftsmanship — became a place that has a sense of unease about it. Perhaps we’ve gotten too used to the plain boxes that accompanied the post-WW2 population explosion. Or, perhaps, we see a once-grand residence on its downward slope and the weight of years and events that happened there is too much to consider. So much life passed through there, and so long ago, that an old house is a reminder of death. No matter. I’d live in a place like this film’s Fetherston House in a heartbeat (interiors and exteriors were shot at a house in Roscommon, Ireland). Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Cellar (2022)”
It’s tough watching a movie lose it in the final act. Whereas a film that shows little promise at the start, but then builds and builds to something special at the end, is always a pleasant surprise, a film that stumbles to the finish after a strong start can’t help but be a disappointment. Much hard work, good acting, and fine storytelling is, if not wasted by a poor ending, at least squandered somewhat. I can’t say that Jennifer Reeder and company should have just packed it all in if this was the best ending they could come up with, but I would like to see what they could have done given another chance, and maybe a couple extra bucks in the effects budget. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Night’s End”
Night of the Demons, the 1988 film from writer/producer Joe Augustyn and director Kevin Tenney, is exactly the kind of sleazy, low-budget horror flick that I expect from the 1980s. It’s not a perfect shitty horror flick, but there are numerous reasons this not-very-good movie is regarded fondly by fans of horror.
The story follows a group of teens who attend a small Halloween costume party at an abandoned funeral home, rather than hit up the lame high school dance. The host of the party is Angela (Amelia Kinkade), a student at the school who is low on the totem pole, but promises a wild night. Her idea is to have a bunch of supernatural party games to titillate and frighten the invitees. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Night of the Demons (1988)”
That is the line from Bornless Ones, the magnum opus from writer/director Alexander Babaev, that I think about whenever I’m about to give this flick too much praise. It’s not as if mangled idioms aren’t commonplace in film, but it’s a useful reminder that this flick ain’t The Exorcist.
From 2016, Bornless Ones is a neat take on the cabin in the woods subgenre of horror. It’s not great, though. At times it’s not even that good. It’s one of those films that improves on a well-worn idea, but finds itself weighed down by some bad dialogue and weak reads. The second half is awash in blood and gore, so it has that going for it. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Bornless Ones”
Have you, dear reader, ever thought about why it is a good thing that human beings are not immortal? Or, at least, that we don’t just plod along until some grievous injury does us in? From a personal perspective, the shortness of our lifespans in relation to the age of the universe is tragic, but from a cultural perspective the situation is ideal. Because all that is old becomes new again in much less time than it takes to turn over the entire human population. So, even though haunted house films have been made countless times, and have reused countless tropes and clichés, horror fans can still get a kick out of a new entry. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Funeral Home, aka La Funeria”
We’ve seen a lot of franchise horror flicks here at Missile Test. We’ve seen horror franchises go from good to bad, as they are wont to do. We’ve seen creativity turn to shameless cash-grabbery, but we’ve never seen a horror franchise treated as poorly by its stewards as the Amityville franchise. Perhaps that’s because it has been through so many different hands. From George Lutz, to Samuel Z. Arkoff, to Dino De Laurentiis, to NBC, Image Organization and Vidmark, Amityville has always been in the hands of people who were just looking to make a quick buck. No thought has ever been given to continuity, and ongoing disputes with Lutz meant the word ‘Horror’ has only been in the original film’s title, and its 2005 remake. With this fifth movie the producers decided to go direct-to-video, acknowledging that there isn’t much else to offer viewers other than crap. Continue reading “Attack of the Franchise Sequels: The Amityville Curse”
Oh, woe is this horror franchise. First in the hands of Samuel Z. Arkoff and American International Pictures, then picked up, with a trademark dispute, by Dino De Laurentiis and his company, and now, for this fourth film, into the grasp of American network television. Has any other iconic horror franchise been treated so poorly? I can’t think of one.
Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes, from 1989, is, believe it or not, not the worst horror film I’ve ever seen. But, it’s from the time before the internet age, when network television movies were a special kind of anti-art, purposefully devoid of most sharp edges. Yes, this was the era of television movies that brought us Roots, but there was a definite ceiling to the quality of a TV movie. Film critic Leonard Maltin, in his gigantic movie guide books, would not award stars to television movies, instead rating them as ‘below average,’ ‘average,’ or ‘above average.’ That makes sense. The difference in quality between television and film in the heyday of Maltin’s books was a vast gulf compared to today. This particular television movie I would rate as average. Had it been intended for cinema, I would rate it a ‘bomb.’ Continue reading “Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes”
3-D! About every generation or so 3-D makes a rousing return to cinema, but never seems to rise above gimmickry. Then, after a few years it recedes back into the mists, waiting to appear again, after the moviegoing public forgets how annoying it is to wear those damn glasses. The second wave of 3-D movies came to audiences in the early 1980s, when this film is from, and, like the first wave in the 1950s, the ’80s saw the technique’s most prominent use in horror films.
It’s no surprise that horror is the genre that would give something like 3-D a spin. After all, horror films are the descendants of carnival fun houses, where showmen would use every trick in the book to put a scare into the rubes. It’s also a perfect fit for a genre that features deadly weapons, severed limbs, and spurts of blood all flying about the screen. Anything that brings the action closer to the viewer is a good thing, right? Right?! Continue reading “Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Amityville 3-D”
The Amityville Horror was a surprisingly competent horror flick from American International Pictures and Samuel Z. Arkoff, names not often covered in glory, except in the land of shitty movies. It made a pile of money, recouping about twenty times its budget at the box office. With a hot property like that, it’s no surprise there was a sequel. This time, however, it wasn’t Arkoff and company that were set to reap some of that sweet Amityville cash. Like a hyena scavenging a kill after the lions have had their fill, it was Dino De Laurentiis and his people who crept up to make Amityville II: The Possession. Things didn’t work out quite as well for Dino, as the production began with a rights dispute. That’s why this film is called Amityville II and not The Amityville Horror II. It also wasn’t the cash cow that De Laurentiis wanted. It’s still an Amityville flick, though. It was even filmed at the same house in New Jersey as the first film. Continue reading “Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Amityville II: The Possession”