October Horrorshow: Hereditary

Some horror flicks are designed to scare, while others are designed to provoke dread. They are two very distinct emotions. Fear has a crisp flavor, and can be as extreme as panic or as mild as butterflies in one’s stomach. Dread is something more profound. It’s an emotion of desperation and inevitability that makes fear look like mother’s milk. Dread is the certainty, not just the possibility, that something very bad is about to happen. Dread is oppression. Dread is doom. Which makes a film that revolves around dread something of a difficult watch. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Hereditary”

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 reading “October 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 reading “October Horrorshow: A Dark Song”

October Horrorshow: Inferno (1980)

Three years after horror auteur Dario Argento gave us the vibrant classic Suspiria, he waded back into brilliant color and dreamlike atmosphere by writing and directing Inferno. Described as a thematic sequel to Suspiria, Inferno is the second film of Argento’s Three Mothers trilogy. Whether this film was truly intended to be related to Suspiria or if such a decision was commercial in nature is debatable. Either way, sequel or thematic cousin or whatever, Inferno is clearly an Argento film. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Inferno (1980)”

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 reading “October Horrorshow: Shock, aka Beyond the Door II”

October Horrorshow: The Lost Boys

To some movie fans, filmmaker Joel Schumacher is still paying penance for Batman and Robin. This page reconsidered that film a few years back, and concluded the problem lay more with viewers’ expectations than Schumacher’s final product. Still, no matter how people feel about that film, Joel Schumacher will be forever associated with putting nipples on the batsuit, when his greatest contribution to film was this operatic gem from the 1980s. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Lost Boys”

October Horrorshow: God Told Me To

Detective Peter Nicholas (Tony Lo Bianco) of the NYPD has himself a bear of a case. Massacres have been happening all over the city, all carried out by different people, and all at random. There’s only one thing each of these awful events has in common: each of the perpetrators has said that God told them to do it. How is he supposed to stop that? Continue reading “October Horrorshow: God Told Me To”

October Horrorshow: The Dead Pit

One would be hard-pressed to find a horror film that takes as much inspiration from the works of Dario Argento as The Dead Pit, the 1989 film from first-time director Brett Leonard.

From a screenplay by Leonard and the film’s producer, Gimel Everett, The Dead Pit stars Cheryl Lawson as Jane Doe, a patient at a mental hospital suffering from amnesia. Only she claims it isn’t amnesia at all. She says that a mysterious doctor removed her memories surgically. Her therapist, Dr. Swan (Jeremy Slate), doesn’t believe her, of course. He thinks some traumatic event in her past has welled up in the present and caused her brain to lock away her memories. Although, he of all people should listen a little more closely to her claims. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Dead Pit”

October Horrorshow: The House of Seven Corpses

By 1974, gothic horror films were falling out of fashion. The year saw the last gasps from the major franchises of Hammer Film Productions, with the releases of Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell and The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires. The genre had come a long way, but by the time this film, The House of the Seven Corpses, was released, seriously bloody slasher horror was making its presence felt. If a filmmaker was going to do gothic horror, it needed to have a twist. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The House of Seven Corpses”

October Horrorshow: The Ritual

A creepy cabin in some lonely woods. A small cast. A mysterious monster that stalks them. Most of us film fans have seen this movie many, many times. Such a broad outline has spawned hundreds of horror films over the years. Some are good, some are awful, and most are just mediocre. In that, these horror films are like every other film that features well-worn tropes. One can’t expect too much originality, which makes it all the better when something new is to be found. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Ritual”