Films I Saw is a self explanatory monthly column dedicated to cataloging each and every film I saw within that month. Each film will be given a grade and a mini review.
Oct. 1—Host (2020)
Among the first films made since Covid essentially made shooting anything an impossibility, Host (like Unfriended and Searching before it) was made entirely over Zoom. Not only does the film itself take place over one long Zoom call but it was also directed and edited that way as well. It’s not just a gimmick either, social distancing and our lockdown is woven into the plot. They’re performing a séance remotely not because they want to summon a demon or a ghost or whatever but because they’re all terribly bored during quarantine and there’s literally nothing else to do. It’s the first film of its ilk who’s gimmick actually feels justified.
It makes sense why they’re doing this unlike some of the other films that utilize storytelling via contemporary technology like this one does. It’s also less than an hour, which means it never drags (again, unlike some of the other films like this one) and that the scares start happening almost immediately. From the fifteen minute mark till the closing credits, the film is throwing scary shit at you almost non-stop. Admittedly, a lot of that is jump scares and slow camera moves but you can’t fault a hour film for trying to use every trick in the book, especially when they only have 60 minutes to get you.
Oct. 2—Cry Wolf (2005)
Often forgotten about by horror fans due to it coming out at the tail end of the slasher resurgence and because of it’s unconventional plot, Cry Wolf nevertheless deserves its obscurity and then some. Calling this film “too little, too late” is an understatement. Besides the plot that admittedly isn’t terrible, there’s not a single original bone in this film’s body. Littered with clichés, nonsensical plot developments, unclear character motivations and bad acting, the film’s only real accomplishment is acting as a checklist on what not to do. You don’t make a slasher without a kill count. You don’t make a slasher without any nudity. You don’t make a slasher unless you have a decent costume. You don’t make a horror movie that isn’t scary. You don’t watch this movie unless you like wasting your time.
Oct. 3—Little Monsters (2019)
All this film had to do was lean into its own premise a bit harder and give Lupita Nyong’o more shit to do and it easily could’ve been an all time great horror comedy. The concept is rock solid: a preschool teacher must pretend that a zombie outbreak is all a part of an elaborate game so that they don’t all freak the fuck out due to panic and fear. It’s a solid gold premise but the problem is, the preschool teacher isn’t the main character.
The main character is an annoying as hell thirtysomething loser (Alexander England) who’s nephew is in her class, which is why he signs up for the field trip in the first place. Not to spend time with his nephew or because he needs a job, but because he wants to bang Nyong’o. He sucks so much, that the film suffers for it immensely. Admittedly, he does get better as the film progresses but the trailer and the poster both sell a movie where Nyong’o kills zombies while singing Taylor Swift songs to children, so why didn’t the film want to be that instead?
Oct. 4—It’s Alive (1974)
Any horror fan worth their salt applies a tier system when mentally cataloging films. Since there’s a large chasm between something being “good” and something being “bad”, it’s helpful to delineate between the multiple types of good and bad. There’s the good films you can watch sober and the bad films you need to watch while under the influence. There’s the “so bad, it’s good” guilty pleasures and the crowd pleasers you can’t watch by yourself. But every once in awhile, a film comes around that’s a bit trickier to properly categorize.
Larry Cohen has built an entire career out of those types of films. Filled with social and sometimes political commentary as well as having a satirical sense of humor about them, his films are undeniably clever and often times witty but there’s just something about most of them that just doesn’t click with me. I love the actors in this as well as the premise and the execution, but again, there’s just something missing that’s preventing me from loving it. I have no idea what it is but it pops up in the two sequels as well, so I guess I’ll just never know. File Cohen under “Master of Horror, singular”.
Oct. 5—It Lives Again (1978)
I’m seriously tempted to just copy and paste my write up of It’s Alive and just call it a day because everything I said about that film, doubly applies here. I honestly don’t know how to rank these films or what to say about them. I’m glad they exist. I’m glad I watched them. I think they’re all interesting and I think they all have something to say. I think they’re all well made and well acted (this has both John P. Ryan and Frederic Forrest) and while I think they all got worse with each sequel, each film does do something well enough or interesting enough to make up for their weaknesses. I also know that I will never watch these films again and I will never think about them again unless someone specifically mentions them or anything to do with killer monster babies. I don’t know if I would recommend them to anyone but I also wouldn’t talk anyone out of watching them either. They’re movies that exist and I saw them and that is that.
Oct. 6—It’s Alive III: Island of the Alive (1987)
It’s a testament to Cohen’s talents as a writer that I’m thinking more about the themes of this trilogy more than the content therein. All three of these films are about killer mutant babies (and in this one, they’re like tiny little Hulks!) and yet, that’s like the fourth thing that pops into my mind when I think about them. The first film took aim on evil corporations (namely pharmaceuticals) and was a thinly veiled riff on Frankenstein that asked “who’s the real monster, the doctor(s) or the monster they created?” The second deals with a post-Watergate secretive government plot to capture the babies and this one is all about pro life and asks “do these monsters have a right to live?” He’s asking some serious questions and tackling some heavy themes and for the most part, I think he’s successful. So successful, that I don’t even see these as horror films (or in the case of this one, a horror comedy), I see them as social commentary. Good social commentary but not exactly entertaining social commentary. And therein lies the rub.
Oct. 7—The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
For years, I assumed that this was as violent and hard to watch as Last House on the Left due to its reputation but having now seen it after its remake, I can safely say that its reputation is wholly unearned. This isn’t a case of a film’s violence being diluted over time because the aforementioned Last House on the Left is still extremely hard to watch. It’s an unpleasant viewing experience that still shocks and repulses. So no, it has nothing to do with the time in which it was made. It’s a case of over hyping a slightly controversial movie to such a degree, that it unjustly earned a reputation as being one of the great hard to watch movies.
A film you had to see if you wanted to be considered a real horror fan. It was a badge of honor but those badges were nothing but fucking lies! This movie is hard to watch but not because of the content but because it’s so fucking boring. The characters are paper thin, the dialogue is unmemorable, the action takes forever to kick in, the villains aren’t particularly scary (outside of Pluto played by Michael Berryman) and it’s not scary or horrific in any way. If you had to force yourself to watch this to earn a badge, you watched this way too young.
Oct. 8—Mikey (1992)
Killer kid movies are a dime a dozen but few have as high a body count as Mikey. Within the first ten minutes, the titular Mikey (Brian Bonsall) kills his entire foster family and the kills just keep coming from there. It’s one of the only films I’ve seen within this sub-genre that didn’t feel heavily inspired by The Bad Seed. This isn’t a slow build up to crazy. He doesn’t gaslight anyone or play mind games like your typical cat and mouse thriller. If he has a problem with you, you won’t know it till he says an adorably bad pun relating to death and by that point, it’s too late. It’s not a great movie and honestly it is a bit slow in places but it nails the landing, which is rare for these types of movies.
Oct. 9—As Above, So Below (2014)
I’m still baffled as to why John Erik Dowdle didn’t become a bigger name in horror. While I don’t think he’s ever had that smash hit to catapult him into the conversation, I do believe he has a solid enough filmography to net him some more gigs within the industry. Of the four horror films he’s made, this is easily his best, and while the other three are still enjoyable (The Poughkeepsie Tapes, Devil and Quarantine being the others), this is the one I think should’ve put him on the map. A found footage film that takes place within the catacombs of Paris, As Above, So Below is a claustrophobic descent into literal Hell. Since the plot revolves around treasure seekers going underground to find an ancient artifact and getting in way over their heads, it’s almost like an R rated version of The Goonies. Except there’s no One Eye Willy, there’s only Satan and his demonic cronies. The setting is unique, it’s tense as hell and the characters aren’t terrible. What more do you want from a found footage film?
Oct. 10—Warlock (1989)
A Terminator knockoff from the writer of Pitch Black and the director of House that’s about a 17th century warlock (Julian Sands) being transported to the present day along with a witch hunter (Richard E. Grant) who’s determined to find him and kill him. It has lines like “I search hither, you search dither” and has scenes where someone stabs a footprint in order to harm the bad guys feet. If you couldn’t tell, the tone of this film is more silly than scary. It inhabits that bottom middle tier of horror movies that are all about magical assholes trying to take over the world or bring about the apocalypse or whatever. Films like Brainscan, Wishmaster and Leprechaun. None of them are great but in the right environment and under the right circumstances (namely a watch party and with plenty of booze), they can be enjoyable enough. That’s Warlock in a nutshell: it’s fun enough.
Oct. 11—Warlock: The Armageddon (1993)
The ol’ Warlock is back (if this fucker has a name, I don’t care enough to look it up) and up to his old tricks in this inferior sequel that screams direct-to-video. The plot is trite (get the six evil McGuffins to open up a portal to Hell), the early ’90s CGI is painful, the characters are one dimensional and boring and the pace is glacial. But there are some fun-ish kills and it does have a good number of “that guy” actors in it, so it’s not a complete wash. Best to watch this one as drunk or high as humanly possible.
Oct. 12—Warlock III: The End of Innocence (1999)
It would not surprise me in the slightest to learn that this was a completely unrelated film originally and that some studio head decided to slap the name Warlock on here just to earn a couple more schmeckles. Nothing about this is, in any way, related to the previous two films. The one thing you’d think would be the connective tissue — the warlock — doesn’t even bridge the films because it’s not even the same actor or the same warlock. It feels exactly like one of those latter entry sequels in the Hellraiser franchise. A bunch of no name actors walk around a house for what seems like an eternity and occasionally the evil warlock either outright kills someone or tricks them into killing themselves. Repeat that for 90 minutes and that’s the film. It’s a movie so bad, that not even an all female sex orgy located somewhere in the middle could save it but God knows I prayed for one.
Oct. 13—Ringu (1998)
The OG spook daddy that created the J-horror craze (horror films made in Japan that usually involved creepy kids, ghosts or creepy kid ghosts) that’s still going strong today, The Ring (or Ringu if your nasty) was such a huge hit, it spawned a massive franchise (there’s way more of these damn things than you think there is and there’s even a video game!) and an equally successful Americanized remake. But unlike the horror remakes produced by Michael Bay that have no idea what audiences liked about the original, The American Ring got it right. Trading the unexplained nuance of the first film for a more aggressive, disturbing experience, The Ring is designed to elicit a sense of unrelenting unease in the viewer by integrating subliminal images along with a consistent tone of dread.
It’s the perfect amalgamation of western and eastern philosophies and techniques coming together to scare the living fuck out of you. It other words, it does everything this film doesn’t. While this film does have the infamous “girl crawling out of a TV” scene and while it did popularize the look of Japanese ghosts from that point forward, it really doesn’t have that much else going on. The central mystery is unraveled at a snail’s pace, the scares are doled out sparingly and there’s really no dread or tension to keep me engaged in the interim. This is another example of a horror remake far surpassing the original.
Oct. 14— Ringu 2 (1999)
The biggest hurdle I have with this and the other two Ringu films I’ve seen is, I just don’t care about the origin and mythology surrounding the creepy ghost girl who comes out of the TV. For these films to work, you have to be invested in uncovering the truth about Sadako and I’m not. Not even a little bit. I don’t care how she became a ghost, I don’t care why she made a cursed tape, I don’t care what the images on the cursed tape mean and I really don’t care how you defeat her. I don’t see any of these films as horror films, I see them as slow and boring procedurals that occasionally have a creepy image or decent jump scare. They’re not scary, they’re not particularly interesting and honestly, they’re not particularly memorable either. I had to look up on Wikipedia what this film was even about and by the time I started writing this review, I already forgot again. It’s still better than the sequel to the remake though.
Oct. 15—Ringu 0 (2000)
I can’t imagine who the audience for this film was. The idea of exploring the origin of Sadako isn’t a bad one per say, but this film seems to know exactly one thing about her past (which is the fact that she was killed by her father and tossed into a well) and decides to get there in the weirdest way possible. Instead of exploring her tragic life or the curse that was put on her (or that she was born with. I honestly don’t know anymore), the film instead focuses on her time in amateur theater.
This is a prequel to a film about a ghost girl who crawls out of TVs and it’s about said ghost girl acting in a shitty play before she became a ghost girl. The mind boggles as to why anyone thought this would be a good idea. It’s as ridiculous an idea as a movie about Pinhead as a child in the Boy Scouts decades before he becomes a BDSM leather daddy demon or a Friday the 13th prequel about Mrs Voorhees practicing tuba for her recital. What makes it even more bizarre, is that the lead of the movie isn’t even the real Sadako. It’s her twin sister! This film is such a pointless waste of time, that if you told me it was a prank, I’d believe you.
Oct. 16—The Mortuary Collection (2020)
I’m a sucker for a good horror anthology. Even though the sub-genre is made up almost entirely of trash, I still watch them in the hopes that I find that gem. The Mortuary Collection is not that gem. Consisting of four segments and a wrap around, the film’s crowning achievement is its ability to tie all the stories together without it feeling like a series of disconnected shorts. Borrowing the structure of Tales From the Hood (a creepy mortician tells some supernatural tales of the macabre) but not outright stealing it, the film nails its wrap around story but falters everywhere else.
Every time Clancy Brown is on screen, the film works and every time he’s not, it’s hit or miss. The first segment is a quick tale about a woman and a monster living in a medicine cabinet, the second is about the importance of safe sex, the third involves a man trying to get rid of his invalid wife and the fourth and last story is about a babysitter having to fight a babysitter killer. None of them are particularly good but I wouldn’t go so far as to say they’re bad either. All of them are middle of the road in terms of scares and entertainment value. It’s an entertaining enough anthology that works as a calling card for the director but not much else.
Oct. 17—Happy Death Day (2018)
Getting by on the strength of its premise and the likability of its lead, Happy Death Day is an amusing comedy stuck in the body of a moderately entertaining slasher. Groundhog Day by way of Wes Craven, the film has fun with its time loop mechanic but after a while, it does start to get tedious. Watching Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) evolve over time, is far more enjoyable than watching her play detective or get stabbed over and over again. She starts off as a raging bitch but eventually, she turns into a happy-go-lucky badass who’s tired of dying and wants to do something about it. Her character arc is unique and Rothe really sells both the bitch and the badass. I don’t know if this is a star making turn or if it’s a case of the real actress getting the right role but she’s far and away the best part of the movie. If the kills were more inventive or the middle not so monotonous, this could’ve been a horror comedy gem but as it stands, it’s just a good enough horror and an above average comedy.
Oct. 18—Deadly Manor (1990)
The horror genre is a veritable rainbow of trashy delights, with some films being important primary colors, while others are just lucky to be part of the spectrum at all. Deadly Manor is not the type of film that would make a color wheel. It’s far too obscure and derivative to even be part of the conversation. To stay with the analogy, if the film was a color, it would be like teal number 27 or some shit. It’s a shade so far removed from the original color, the differences between it and the colors on either side are impossible to differentiate.
You can tell the differences between a Halloween and a Friday the 13th but the 26th clone of Friday the 13th and its 24th rip-off? That’s harder to tell. So that’s where the tier system comes in. Now that I’ve seen this and hundreds of slashers just like it, I can safely slot it somewhere around the bottom. It’s below something like Edge of the Axe and Body Count but above something like Rocktober Blood and Mother’s Day. If you’re a horror fan, that instantly makes sense and is useful in determining whether or not you’re going to watch this and if you’re not, why are you even reading this? You’re not going to watch this anyways. Get outta here!
Oct. 19—Kolobos (1999)
Made to capitalize on the success of the reality Big Brother, Kolobos (like the similarly themed My Little Eye) is a single location horror film with the exact same premise as that TV show. Six strangers are hired to live in a multi camera house that films their every action. The only difference being that this is for a movie and not a television show. Oh and that by the end, everyone ends up dead. Which makes this more entertaining than the show by default but not by much. There’s some kinda sorta fun splatter effects and the kills are entertaining enough but there’s really not much more to recommend with this one. The characters are all annoying, the plot takes an odd detour in the third act and the killer is forgettable. For slasher completionists only.
Oct. 20—At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul (1964)
Coffin Joe, while not a household name in America or most parts of the world, is a cult icon on par with Freddy Kruger or Dracula in Brazil. With his talon like finger nails, fancy top hat and icy cold stare, Zé do Caixão (real name Josefel Zanatas) is a bewitching character who has terrorized audiences for over four decades. Not only was he the star of Brazil’s first horror film but was so popular within that country, he starred in ten films and three television series and has had songs, music videos, and comic books written about him. He’s the nation’s Boogeyman and a cultural phenomenon, which is insane to think about considering he’s a murderous undertaker obsessed with raping women in order to create the perfect male heir but considering Freddy had a 1-800 number and a goddamn rapping album and he was one step away from a pedophile, we can’t really talk.
In his first movie, Coffin Joe violently harasses every woman (and damn near every man) he sees, until he takes his abuse too far (he rapes one of them) and it leads to their suicide. From there, the film turns into a supernatural tale of revenge and it’s within these last ten minutes that the film really soars. Up to that point, the film was interesting albeit woefully cheap but once the third act kicks in, it sorta feels like a low budget Bava film. The visuals become more surreal and the atmosphere gets far more creepier. It’s not enough to turn it into a classic but it is enough to recommend it as an interesting curio from horror’s past.
Oct. 21—Vampires vs The Bronx (2020)
What hath Stranger Things wrought? A heavily sanitized horror film aimed at preteens that’s so afraid of offending or scaring anyone that it comes off as more of a backdoor pilot for a YouTube show than an actual movie. That episode of Family Matters involving the Urkel puppet has more spooks and that’s a show aimed at children. I truly don’t understand why this was made. I mean, I get that it’s dealing gentrification but that message is buried under about two tons of meta “comedy”, Dracula references, pointless subplots, annoying characters and poorly executed “horror”. So, if the message wasn’t going to be obvious to the film’s target audience and if it wasn’t going to even do the bare minimum to qualify as either a horror, comedy or both, why does this thing exist? I don’t understand who this is for or why anyone would like it.
Oct. 22—Repulsion (1965)
The human mind is without a doubt, the scariest thing to be locked inside of. There’s no prison on Earth that can hold a candle to what we do to ourselves when we’re all alone with our thoughts. That’s why solitary confinement has been deemed as torturous as regular torture. We can literally drive ourselves insane if we spend too much time deep inside our own mind. And that’s if you’re already sane. Add in any of the literal hundreds of mental disabilities like schizophrenia or extreme paranoia and you have the recipe for instant insanity. You also have the perfect setting for a horror film. You would think we’d have more film’s dealing with the horrors of paranoia but I guess everyone saw Repulsion and collectively realized it was impossible to top. And they’re right.
This is the gold standard when it comes to mental illness portrayed as horror but it’s more than just a slow descent into madness. Carol (Catherine Deneuve) is being tormented by a very specific fear and that’s the fear of sexual assault. As a victim of rape, her worldview has been distorted and shaped around her experience. Every man she encounters could be (and sometimes is) a potential threat and every situation could lead to it happening again. Her emotional and mental scars start to tear open and the festering wound is threatening to consume her whole. This is harrowing piece of cinema not to be missed
Oct. 23—The Uninvited Guest (2004)
Alone in a giant mansion, Félix (Andoni Garcia) unexpectedly gets a knock on the door from a stranger asking to use the phone. He lets him in and then goes back to what he was doing. After a bit, he goes to check on the stranger to find him gone. Did he leave without telling Félix? Did he leave and Félix just forget? Was there ever a stranger or was it just a dream or worse yet, is he still in the house, hiding? While not exactly a horror (there’s no jump scares and there’s no maniac running around in a mask), the film is still tense as hell and has a twist around the half way mark you definitely won’t see coming. The Uninvited Guest is an unpredictable thriller in the vein of Polanski that’ll leave you on the edge of your seat.
Oct. 24—Love and Monsters (2020)
To call this Zombieland but with monsters is a bit reductive because while they are extremely similar, this does do enough things differently that it would be unfair to call it a straight up knock off. The main character does feel very Eisenberg-esque and Michael Rooker’s character does have shades of Woody Harrelson but that’s about it. This doesn’t include any obnoxious comedy, there’s no celebrity cameo and the third act is radically different. It’s a simple road trip movie that just happens to have a ton of monsters, a ton of heart and one of celluloid’s greatest pooches.
Oct. 25—Sputnik (2020)
At the height of the Cold War, a Soviet spacecraft crash lands after a mission gone awry, leaving the commander as its only survivor. After a renowned Russian psychologist is brought in to evaluate the commander’s mental state, it becomes clear that something dangerous may have come back to Earth with him. A twist laden thriller that doles out the suspense and monster mayhem in equal measure, Sputnik is a slow burn character piece that’s never scary but is riveting beyond belief. It puts you on the edge of your seat and keeps you there till the final frame. Less like Alien and more akin to something like Spring, this is a mature horror film aimed at adults who care more about character than scares.
Oct. 26—Amulet (2020)
I’ve dunked on Ti West and his agonizingly slow films many times in the past. For about ten years now, he’s been my go to example for how not to make a slow burn horror. But as much as I love shitting on him, even I can’t deny the fact that his films all have a distinct voice and style. I may not like his style but he at least has one. He also managed to get some undeniably great performances in The Innkeepers and The Sacrament, so while I do love shitting on him (I can’t stress this enough, I really love shitting on Ti West), I can’t in good conscience call him a bad director.
A boring one yes, but he’s not bad. Amulet is what it would be like if Hereditary was directed by an even worse version of Ti West. If you somehow squeezed West to the point where all that remained was the pulp, you’d be left with about three shot glasses worth of talent, which is about five more than this film has. It’s slow, it’s meandering, it’s never scary and when it does finally become interesting, it’s far too little, too late. The only way this story could work, is if it was a twenty minute short and even that might be too long. It’s a total nothing of a film and I can’t wait to forget about it in a couple of days.
Oct. 27—Relic (2020)
If I wanted to be cynical, I could easily tear this film apart. It doesn’t do anything particularly new or interesting and everything it does do, you’ve already seen before. You’ve seen horror movies about creepy old ladies before. You’ve seen seen horror movies about creepy old houses before. You’ve seen horror movies tackle mental illness before. If this film was a magician, it would pull a rabbit out of a hat, saw a lady in half and produce birds seemingly out of thin air. You know these tricks because you’ve seen them a million times before but like the best magicians, there’s always a new way to package an old trick. If you think about it, that’s all a horror director does, they repackage old scares for new audiences.
There’s only so many ways you can have someone leap in front of the camera and say “boo!” Relic doesn’t add any new tricks to the magicians arsenal but what it does do, is tap into the emotional core behind the spooks and it does so marvelously. A daughter, mother and grandmother are haunted by a manifestation of dementia that consumes their family’s home. The film isn’t subtle in its portrayal of Alzheimer’s. That’s the text. The horror stems from it and it’s all consuming. But it’s also uplifting and emotional. This is more than just a fight against a demon, it’s an acceptance of the demon and learning how to live with it. It’s a powerful film that will stab you in the heart after it makes you scream for your life.
Oct. 28—Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula (2020)
Leapfrogging past Dawn and Day and landing at Land, Peninsula is such a drop in quality from its predecessor, it’s as if Romero followed up Night of the Living Dead with its markedly inferior third sequel. Everything that made the first film beloved, is stripped away in favor of obnoxiously loud action. The characters are bland and forgettable, the plot feels cobbled together from rejected Resident Evil and World War Z sequel scripts and worst of all, the emotional core is completely removed. Well, actually that’s not entirely true.
I mean, there’s an attempt at some emotion but every time the film tries to make you feel something, it just comes off as hollow and manipulative. There’s at least five instances where the film shamelessly goes after your heart strings and each instance feels desperate and almost comical. It’s trying so hard to recreate the tear-jerker ending of the first film and it’s just sad. The only good thing about this film is that it made me appreciate how hard it is to make a good zombie movie because if the director of one of the best can’t even do it twice, you know that shit must be difficult.
Oct. 29—Inside (2007)
Home invasion movies are, in my opinion, the scariest type of horror film because they tap into two fears: the violation of your sanctuary and random acts of violence perpetuated by complete strangers. Not only is your home (and potentially your family) being attacked but it’s being attacked for seemingly no reason. In fact, it’s this motivelessness that’s the selling point for a lot of them. The most famous line in The Strangers involves one of the invaders answering the question of why they’re doing this with a sardonic and matter of fact “because you were home” and the scariest thing about the film Them, is that the murderous troublemakers are all barely teenagers.
Extreme boredom and an easily accessible house shouldn’t lead to your murder but that’s why those films are so effective — it can happen at any time to any of us. That’s one of the reasons why Inside works as well as it does. It keeps the terror of the “wrong place at the wrong time” but adds in buckets and buckets of blood and a villain that isn’t just doing this for shits and giggles. The lead is very much pregnant and the killer wants that baby and she’ll get it by any means necessary. It’s a terrifying set up that never lets up. Both she and the killer (and everyone else that happens to enter that house) gets fucked up beyond recognition throughout the course of the film. It’s a full frontal assault of a movie that pummels the viewer into submission and soaks them in gallons of karo syrup and red food coloring. Only recommended to the bravest of souls.
Oct. 30—Martyrs (2008)
Two young women who were both victims of abuse as children embark on a bloody quest for revenge only to find themselves plunged into a living hell of depravity. Once the French found their niche in the horror world, they hit the ground running. What’s their niche, I hear you ask? Extreme violence. Extreme violence is the answer. They took a page from the Japanese handbook—which is written in blood and bound in skin—and decided that gore and visceral carnage was the way to go to stand out from the crowd. At the head of the New French Extremity movement is unquestionably Martyrs. A film so violent, it almost gives Japanese cinema a run for its money. Almost. A new rating classification was made for this film and this film alone, if that doesn’t put your ass in a seat, nothing will.
Oct. 31—Salem’s Lot (1979)
I knew going into this miniseries that I was going to have to meet it on its terms in order to get anything out of it because it has everything going against it. First, it’s a made for television horror film from the ’70s, which means that it can’t be too scary or graphic lest it incur the wrath of the FCC. Secondly, it’s from Tobe Hooper who’s filmography is hit or miss (and that’s being generous) and lastly, it’s a miniseries that was made to be shown in two parts over two weeks, which means that it was designed to be long enough to fill both time slots. So to summarize, it’s a long as hell film filled with padding that wasn’t intended to be watched in one setting made for TV in a time when TV was heavily censored by a director who’s made a lot of garbage. So I had to look past all of that in order to be as unbiased as humanly possible and I just wasn’t able to do it.
I respect the fact that this played a huge role in getting people into horror and I completely understand why it would leave a lasting impression on those who saw it when it originally aired but it just doesn’t hold up. Outside of the handful of creepy moments, there’s really nothing to recommend about this film. If you’ve seen the scene with the floating vampire kid tapping on the window, you’ve already seen the best thing about this film. There’s so many subplots that go nowhere, so many characters that add nothing to the plot and so much unnecessary filler that after awhile, it’s impossible to not check out. It takes a full hour before a vampire attacks anyone and another 45 minutes before the actual meat of the story kicks into gear. And even when it does start to get good, it never gets that good. It just goes from boring to less boring. Skip it and watch the edited European cut instead. It’s over an hour shorter and has slightly more blood added in.
What did you watch this month?