Ten Horror Movie Recomendations
In this Soviet adaptation of Nikolai Gogol's story of the same name, a young priest is tasked with watching over the body of a dead woman for three nights. On each night she rises from the grave to torment him, bringing along demons from the other side. I had been dying to watch VIY since watching the 2014 big-budget remake a few years back. Thanks to Severin Films' new Blu-ray release, I finally had the chance and it did not disappoint. The film is a magic act told through cinema - wondrous stuff.
A single mother is surprised when her prodigal sister returns from a lengthy absence. Unfortunately, she's gone a bit crazy over the years and plots to SINGLE WHITE FEMALE her niece. Lucky McKee’s latest is an emotionally honest and truly touching Lifetime Movie. And I mean that as an absolute compliment. A trashy blast in the best way possible, the film features amazing performances from its three leads, especially Caitlin Stasey.
Don’t be turned off by the title, this Brazilian horror-comedy is super funny and super gross. A team of paranormal investigators usually fake their cases for the benefit of their struggling online show. When they're called to exorcise Bloody Mary from a high school where she's been summoned, they find themselves way over their heads. Imagine the cast of IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY as wannabe ghostbusters. Gore gleefully inspired by Peter Jackson and Sam Raimi. There’s a ghost turd.
BAXTER is a 1989 French film adapted from Ken Greenhall's 1977 novel HELLHOUND.
The movie follows a bull terrier as he passes from owner to owner, offering wry commentary about the weakness of humanity, the limitations of being a dog, and his pursuit of a master that will understand his true nature. All the while, Baxter tries (and sometimes succeeds) in killing people in search of happiness. He eventually winds up in the custody of a young boy who spends his days role-playing as Hitler in a bunker he's created in the town's dump. As Baxter encounters in the child a sociopath whose lack of humanity exceeds his own, the question of who the audience is supposed to root for is given a good ol' shake.
BAXTER is a pretty dark film (not nearly as dark as Greenhall's novel, which is dark enough to have given me a stomachache when I read it). While it does not go as far as the book does, it's surprising that the movie exists at all. The film is essentially a cross between DEXTER and A DOG'S PURPOSE.
It breaks my heart that there is not a Blu-ray release of BAXTER out there in the world and that the only US DVD release seems to be out-of-print. More people should see this film - it's an incredible horror-drama from the perspective of a dog. What more could you ask for in cinema?
Alice Lowe should be a superstar. The star of British programs like GARTH MARENGHI'S DARKPLACE and the co-writer and star of Ben Wheatley's amazing SIGHTSEERS, Lowe has a knack for perfectly balancing the horrifying and the sidesplittingly funny and PREVENGE, a movie she wrote, directed and starred in while pregnant with her daughter, might just be her masterpiece. At least so far.
PREVENGE stars Lowe as a recent widow who finds herself alone, pregnant, and very, very angry. When she begins to hear the voice of her unborn baby commanding her to kill the people responsible for her husband's death, she sets out, knife in hand, to find justice.
The movie deals with some dark subject matter - loneliness, grief, whether or not loud sounds make women's nipples spontaneously start lactating - and mixes in a great heaping of humor. An amazing ensemble cast of some of Britain's funniest character actors are the unlucky victims of Lowe's pregnant psychopath.
Do yourself a favor and make time during the isolation to catch PREVENGE. It's a fantastic film and deserves a wider audience.
I love movies like MOPE, films that shift from one tone to another without much consideration for if audiences are still along for the ride. Many will find this film too mean, too gross, too unsettling - I think it's one of the best films of the year.
The based-on-a-true-story and bleak-as-hell film follows two delusional wannabe porn stars as their dreams fall apart and mental illness begets murder. Steve Driver and Tom Dong are mopes, the lowest rung in the porn industry. They do the jobs that nobody else wants to do - but they dream of stardom, despite not being particularly well-endowed or really possessing a bit of knowledge on what audiences find sexy. Their perseverance to their dreams and to each other is their downfall, with the two enabling each other and, in particular, Steve's mental illness.
The unpleasant b-side to BOOGIE NIGHTS, MOPE is set in the world of shot-on-digital '90s adult entertainment, It's a world that's misogynistic, filthy and just, generally, a place most wouldn't want to enter. But, because Steve and Tom are so dead-set at being a part of it - their very manhoods testament to their porno manifest destiny, they become the personification of the toxic industry and its need to commercialize.
MOPE is funny and it's super sad and it's frequently both of those things in very quick succession.
I celebrate every time there's a new werewolf film released. THE WOLF OF SNOW HOLLOW from Jim Cummings (not to be confused with Winnie the Pooh's voice) is an extension of the themes he explored in THUNDER ROAD, with the added benefit of a cool looking werewolf and gnarly gore.
I'm glad Robert Forster was able to knock out another great genre performance before he passed away. ALLIGATOR of course is a stone-cold classic but if you've never seen STUNTS or WALKING THE EDGE, seek those out.
The highlight of THE WOLF OF SNOW HOLLOW, besides a great performance from Cummings, is the fact that the film features a Bernie Wrightson-influenced werewolf design. Wrightson werewolves are the best werewolves.
An adaptation of the 1976 novel by Bernard Taylor, who really seems to have a thing about scary pregnancies.
Malcolm Stoddard and Cyd Hayman play the worst parents in the world when they take in a newborn baby whose mother pulls a disappearing act after giving birth in their home. As the baby grows it systematically kills the couple's other children like a human cuckoo bird.
If the film had been set a hundred years earlier it could have been a nice little gothic tale of terror. As it is now, it's A) very English B) has a very effective pair of child actors playing the killer Bonnie C) just fine. Nothing too innovative, nothing too offensive - it's a pleasant British horror diversion, produced by Cannon Films and directed by Gabrielle Beaumont, the first woman to direct a STAR TREK episode.
What's the male equivalent of a Karen? Whatever you call him, Bill Paxton plays one in the 1992 "Should be a Cult-Favorite" film THE VAGRANT. Directed by special-effects wizard Chris Walas (THE FLY, GREMLINS) and produced by Mel Brooks, the film stars Paxton as an uptight yuppie terrorized by a bum.
The movie is gloriously over-the-top. Michael Ironside plays an asshole cop and Marshall Bell plays the titular Vagrant, a hideously disgusting boogieman whose slow torture of Paxton drives the neurotic to quit his office job and grow a mullet.
A soft-core slasher produced by porn nabob Bob Chinn (frequent collaborator John C. Holmes is an assistant director). Walt Davis writes and directs this film about a religious fanatic who travels to Los Angeles and takes on a disciple in her quest to kill the wicked ... after luring them to bed, of course.
The stuff that's supposed to be titillating - sex and murder - is tedious but stars Cleo O'Hara and Sandra Henderson have big Mary Katherine Gallagher energy and I could watch two hours of Sister Sarah Jane Butler arguing with a hot dog vendor about whether or not she should have to pay for her wiener because of her status as a holy woman.
The movie doesn't end so much as run out of the will to exist. As the credits begin to roll, a hippie strumming a guitar enters the frame and sings a song that summarizes the plot of the movie.
Recommended, but I may be suffering from a head injury.