Category Archives: Horror

Horror Marathon Day 9: Godzilla Resurgence

 

 

Godzilla Resurgence (2016)

Man in Suit!!  That’s right!  How can you have a horror marathon and skip out on Japan’s deadliest monster?  You can’t!  I was pleasantly surprised to hear that there was a new Godzilla flick  and that it went back to it’s roots.

If you’ve only seen the more recent western Godzilla films, you should do yourself a favor and see this.  It brings back the great elements of the old black and white movies, and add better effects and modern cinema styles and camera work.  It also doesn’t use un-necessary CGI and…wait for it… THERE’S A MAN IN THE SUIT!  Yes it looks rubbery at times, but this is a Godzilla movie people, we aren’t going for realism here.

This was fun. Full stop.

Godzilla is not a hero, he is a monster, his only motivation is to destroy.  Simple, basic and proper.  He has no heart of gold, no good nature, he’s just a big-honking leviathan messing stuff up.  The way it should be.  And he does it.

We do have some human protagonists that we follow, various high-ranking Japanese leaders that are trying to stop this attack, but we aren’t here for them.  Yeah you’re sad about all this and stressed out Mr. Prime Minister, but watching old men emote is not why we came here.   So we have to follow them and solve the puzzle of finding a way to stop Godzilla, which is pretty good too.

There’s really not much more to say, it’s fun, it’s good, it’s Godzilla!

Andres

Andres Salazar is the author of the horror western comics www.pariahmissouri.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horror Marathon Day 8: Raw

Raw (2016)

Raw is a powerful, provocative film that will leave you with some dark thoughts.  It’s foreign (french) and pushes a little further than what American audiences are apt to like.  I have to be up-front and say I really liked it, it’s strong but it will not be for everyone, in fact I would recommend against the mainstream, but since you are reading this, you are not mainstream, so we are good.

It’s on Netflix, so that’s a big plus, easy to find.  You do have to be okay with reading subtitles, but hey if you can’t do that, we can’t be friends.

As you can guess by the posters it’s about cannibalism.  Last year I saw a couple of cannibal movies, Green Inferno (horrible Eli Roth film) and Cannibal Holocaust (which I liked), so while it’s not one of the most popular sub-genres, they are out there and I’ve experienced them.  This one has an interesting take in that the theme is fused with youth, rebellion and sexuality.  When a young a vegetarian girl goes to college and and tries meat for the first time, all hell breaks loose in her world and she becomes insatiable.

This is a powerful film.  The images are strong.  There are scenes that will leave you disturbed.  It’s not for the faint of heart.  Part of the marketing of this campaign was touting that it caused audiences to vomit and become ill, and I have to agree that’s probably not BS.

I liked it, it’s a great story.  It’s powerful and ‘out there’, like The Professional was back in the day.  It’s not for the mainstream, but that’s not you.

Andres

Andres Salazar is the author of the horror western comics www.pariahmissouri.com

Horror Marathon Day 7: Carnage Park

 

Carnage Park (2016)

I really liked this one.  Indie film, check.  1970’s style, check.  Blood, check.  

This is a love letter to those 70’s horror films, the likes that Tarantino is probably well-versed in.  Sometimes you wonder is this director (Mickey Keating) making homages to Tarantino or to the direct source.  Either way, if it’s a homage of a homage, or a direct homage it’s good and it works.  The yellow-sepia filter on the camera works well with the SoCal desert-y location (I swear some of this was shot in Los Padres wilderness).  We have some fun character actors on screen and my feeling is that this was probably a blast to make.

There’s crazies and killers and people who were at the wrong place at the wrong time and for some reason I really like the premise of this.  The idea is simple, there’s a place up in the boonies that is filled with death traps and puzzles.  The owner of this “park” abducts seemingly random people and tortures/taunts them, using high-powered rifles.  We’ve seen stuff like this before, but I still think there’s enough originality that it’s worth seeing.

If you enjoy 70’s exploitation, grindhouse type of movies this is for you.  I think it was worth watching.

Andres

Andres Salazar is the author of the horror western comics www.pariahmissouri.com

 

Horror Marathon Day 6: Hush

 

Hush (2016)

Home Invasion Horror.  It’s one of the many sub-genres of horror.  Related to it’s cousin the popular Slasher horror, while  it’s not my favorite, but I do find some things interesting about it.  Hush is one of the good ones.   This time the story revolves around a deaf woman.  We’ve seen many blind protagnoists in horror, but deaf is one that I can’t recall.  If you can think of one, drop me a line.

I like this film.  It’s really well made, good acting, good camera and atmosphere and it’s tense, everything you want in a horror film really.

The writers an director are married couple Mike Flanagan and Katie Segal, (who also starred in the film) and they do a great job here.  Mike has directed a number of other horror films, Oculus and Ouija, and you can tell that he knows horror and how to direct a film.

It’s tense and there are great moments in it.

I thought this was very good, a fun take on the Home invasion horror.  Go see it!

 

Horror Marathon Day 5: Paranormal Activity: Ghost Dimension

Paranormal Activity: Ghost Dimension (2016)

I love found footage films.  There I said it.  Last year I reviewed Blair Witch (the original) and I still think it’s a very good horror film.  I liked Chronicle, and the VHS series.  When Paranormal Activity came out, I thought it was good.  As the sequels came out, I think the quality of the storytelling waned, but I still watched them.

On Amazon Prime, the Ghost Dimension is out, it’s the 5th in the series.  I actually like the conceit, they find an old handy-cam VHS recorder that can record into the spirit world.

It’s well done, I think on par with the others.  Nothing really sings in this film though, and after seeing it I have to say that it’s jst the same scares.  After 7 hours of the Paranormal films, this just feels rote and I’m feeling the fatigue of the franchise.  Once again the Hollywood machine see a cash-cow and run it into the ground.

It’s okay to good, but unless you are a big fan I’d say pass.  I’m glad “It All Ends Here.”

Horror Marathon Day 3: Death Note

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Today I’m going to talk about Death Note.  The Manga, the Anime and the horrible, must-avoid-at-all-costs Netflix movie.

Some people read “Manga” or “anime” and stop right there.  They conjure up images of big-eyed crazy characters with impossible costumes and  incomprehensible plots.  I’m going to say right now that Death Note is so well done and so thought out and accessible that  any of you gaijins (foreigners) can enjoy this easily.

This is the gateway-drug anime for non-anime watchers.  I read both the manga and have seen the show and while I always prefer the book, this is one that it’s quite close, I’d say go with the anime.  It’s on Netflix, so it’s easy to find.

The premise is amazing.  There are these Death Notes, books that once a name is written that person will die.  The author can have a circumstance to the death and a time to the death.  If you could kill all the worst people in the world, to make it a better place, would you do it?  And from there it’s off the the races. There are many other rules of the Death Note which gets very interesting and the conflicts become extremely well-thought out.  I can’t say enough good things about this show, which leads me to why this whole Netflix live-action version movie is just a complete waste.

Netflix had a property with such potential and so different and to turn it into this just bad, bad movie is a travesty.  What is so baffling is that the writer and producers must be fans  to be able to make it.  You just don’t go into a meeting and want to make a movie not knowing it or being a fan, so they know the story but their execution is so off that you must wonder what the heck happened.

Okay, that’s all I’m going to say about it.  If you like Horror and GOOD STORIES.  Go watch Death Note anime on Netflix.  I promise there are no “big eyes”.

Andres

Andres Salazar is the author of the horror western comics www.pariahmissouri.com

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Horror Marathon Day 2: Dead Zone

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I am a fan of Stephen King and after watching The Dead Zone I realized the book is probably very good and better than the film.  I am also a big fan of Christopher Walken and David Cronenberg so it’s really weird that I have not seen this movie until now.  Let me say a few more things before I start, people might argue that this is more of a thriller and not a horror film, but it’s on Amazon Prime under horror and who am I to argue with Jeff Bezos?  Also, just stop reading and GO SEE THIS MOVIE!  You should probably read the book as well.

I keep mentioning the book that I have not read because this feels like this could be a really dense and interesting story and knowing Mr. King he adds a deluge of depth to his characters and setting.  This has these great moments, but I always wanted more and I felt there were things that I am missing.  This film is complete, but if there was a 30 minute additional director’s cut out there, I bet your bottom dollar is it well worth your time.

Walken does a great job emoting and I love that pea-coat he’s wearing with the high collar, really wonderful design.  It’s eerie premise is that, our protagonist after a near-fatal accident is revived  with powers of precognition, focused on the untimely deaths of others or their misdeeds.  His fame spreads and becomes known in town as somewhat of a fortune teller, and he uses his powers for good to help the police, and others.

Martin Sheen is in this picture as a politician and he does a great job as always, I love his acting.  There are times that it’s over the top and feels like a theatrical performance, but I like it.  This could be a fun stage-play.

There’s not a lot of horror, it’s more of a Six Sense type of movie, but I will say it’s definitely worth seeing it.  Amazon Prime.

Andres

Andres Salazar is the author of the horror western comics www.pariahmissouri.com

Horror Marathon Day 1: Train to Busan

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Train to Busan.

It’s that time of the year again, where I submit myself to 31 horror movies, show or books for the next 31 days.  This will be my fourth year and each year it becomes harder and harder to find good quality flicks, but that’s part of the fun.

So let’s start this off with Train to Busan.

This movie is a couple of years old, and I’ve been meaning to see it for some time now.  I was/am a fan of the Zombie genre and now finally we have a Korean director and production giving the westerners their take on the genre.  This is not your Romero zombie though, this is more of a 28 Days Later, fast-hyper zombie.  It’s not my favorite interpretation of zombies, but it still works.

The idea is simple, you are on a bullet train going from one city to another and you are trapped with one infected person.  Doesn’t take long for that to spread and now you have a zombie flick.

It’s wonderfully shot and visually very nice.  This is not a cheesy foreign film, it’s serious and it works.  Starts off pretty quick, we get a little character setting up, a father and his daughter and then they get on the train to visit mommy in the city of Busan and it’s off to the races.

The make-up is good, quality that you’d expect in a modern film.  There is some CGI, but it works, and not distracting.  It’s 2-hour run time is longer than most western zombie films which I was intrigued by.  It doesn’t over-stay it’s welcome, I  think it works at this length.

It’s not a shadowy, dark film, everything is day-time and lit, so the horror is not the spooky, jump in the darkness but a more Day of the Dead style where the apocalypse is happening in broad daylight.

You can watch it on Netflix now, and I think it’s worth your time.  It’s not the best horror or zombie film, but better than many of the current horror films out there.

Andres

Andres Salazar is the author of the horror western comics www.pariahmissouri.com

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Horror Marathon 2016 wrap-up

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Ok, this year I went above and beyond the call of duty, I watched 36 horror films in the month of October,  more than I have ever before.  Out of those, only seven of those I had seen before, and you will note that many of those are at the top of my list, for good reason.

Each year this gets harder to do, yeah there’s still plenty of horror movies out there, but they are either really  awful movies, like some of them that endured or I can’t get a hold of the films.  I watched all of these films through Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and Shudder.  I miss the video stores.  I miss going in to a place where I can look around at VHS covers and pick a strange horror film.  So accessibility is a major problem now and a total bummer.  There are a bunch of films (all genres) that I would love to see, but you either can’t find, or I have to purchase them for a considerable amount.

That all said, here is my list, as it stands today of the films I saw in RANKING.  Yeah, it’s crazy, I will totally change it at some point, and I’m sure people will argue why this one or that should be higher.

  1.  The Thing
  2. Alien
  3. Exorcist
  4. Poltergeist
  5. Blair Witch Project
  6. The Entity
  7. Day of the Dead
  8. The Witch
  9. Monsters
  10. 1984
  11. Cannibal Holocaust
  12. Invitation
  13. Night Train to Terror
  14. The Taking of Deborah Logan
  15. Faces of Death
  16. Santa Sangre
  17. We are Still Here
  18. The Blob
  19. Re-animator
  20. Theater of Blood
  21. American Werewolf in London
  22. House on Haunted Hill
  23. Conjuring 2
  24. Pontypool
  25. House
  26. Hell Night
  27. Phantasm 2
  28. The Circle
  29. The Fury
  30. Brain Damaged
  31. Poor Pretty Eddie
  32. Willow Creek
  33. The Missionary
  34. Green Inferno
  35. Sharknado
  36. Knock, Knock

Now time for my analysis.  The first ones were easy, the last films were easy and everything in the middle is a mess, really hard to say.   Is Night Train to Terror really that much better than Theater of Blood?  Well, it’s hard to say, but I liked it more, felt it had more moments and would recommend it.  It’s subjective.

I’m also not saying that Blair Witch Project is the #5 greatest horror movie of all time, but out of THIS list, I think it has the most horror moments and theme that the others, although that could be debated, surely.  Positions #5-10 is tricky, all of those are pretty good, but not amazing.  The bottom 10 is not a surprise, but I would say ALL these films should be seen as a horror fan, except for Knock, Knock, Green Inferno and Sharkado, just skip those.

The Thing barely beats out Alien, mainly because I consider it much more of a horror film, while Alien has more sci-fi elements but has the best production and art direction of any film.  If the Shining was on my list it would be #1.  Jaws would be #2 probably.  Exorcist and Poltergeist are brilliant and one is barely better than the other.  Blair Witch is in a strange spot, but I couldn’t find a place for it, and as I looked on the list, it kept going higher and higher.

I was really surprised by how much I liked The Entity.  That is a film you should definitely see.  Some might not like that it is higher than Day of the Dead, but I don’t think Day of the Dead is the best of Romero’s films.  The Witch is high I know, but I really liked it.  Cannibal Holocaust is high too, and most probably haven’t seen it, but it struct a cord in me for some reason and I like the ideas that they were trying to go for, plus they filmed in the Amazon, extra points for that.  Night Train to Terror is another must see recommendation from me.  It’s crazy.  Even though Brain Damaged and Pretty Poor Eddie are low on the list, I kinda want to recommend them for you to watch.  There’s also a good handful of forgettable ones, House on Haunted Hill, Theater of Blood, House, Hell Night, Phantasm 2, these are good and have their fans but I wouldn’t say you gotta see them, unless you are a big fan.

That’s it for me.  I’m taking a break from the blood and guts for a while.

Andres

Andres Salazar is the author of the horror western comics www.pariahmissouri.com

 

Horror Marathon Day 22: Night Train to Terror

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Night Train to Terror (1985)

This.  This is the type of 80s horror that I love.  It’s crazy.  You can watch it now on Shudder.  It starts with God and Satan on a train trying to decide the souls of mortals.  They have a black train conductor that serves them, it’s pretty awesome.

Night Train is an anthology film, like Creepshow and I really miss these.  The recent VHS movie has resurrected the concept and I hope that we get more of these, it’s a great way to get a bunch of little stories and hear/see from new directors.  As you probably can guess I also like anthologies in comics and other mediums, old Heavy Metal magazines were the best… which actually this kinda reminds me of them.  You get random killing, blood, sex and T&A, the staples of the 80s and while it doesn’t always make perfect sense, it kinda fun to watch.

One of the stories, The Death Club… great concept.  I don’t want to ruin it.

Did I mention this also is a musical?  We are talking straight up 80s-style break-dancing, leotards and sweat-bands.  It’s epic.

Did I mention it has Nazis?  Oh yeah, there is no Terror Train without the SS.  Just go see this.

I’m serious.

Andres

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Horror Marathon Day 24: Faces of Death

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Faces of Death (1978)

This is a documentary that I’ve always wanted to see, but I could never find it or was too scared to get it.  I finally took the plunge and I would NOT recommend this for the mainstream horror fan.  This is a collection of footage and stories of real crap going down, and you see people get killed.  Why would you watch this?  Is this entertainment?  Well, no it’s not.  It’s as entertaining as watching open heart surgery, but if you are interested in that and from an educational standpoint it’s pretty good.  The narration is not bad, and I’m glad it’s there, it does add to the film.

UPDATE:  After the film, I went and learned more about it.  Turns out only 40% of the films deaths and footage is real.  I had no idea, but this was made as a fake documentary.  While that completely changes the film for me, it does now make more sense some of these scenes with what I felt had to be fake.  Some of those bloody scenes, the blood is too thick and bright red.  Still an interesting film, and for the true horror fans, who want to see gruesome scenes, with no story, stuff you would see on CNN, check it out.

Andres

Horror Marathon Day 23: The Circle

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The Circle. (On Netflix)

I like board games.  I like social games, like Werewolf, so movies based on a real-like horror game that people are trapped in I like.  The appeal is that I want to learn the rules and figure out the strategy to it and how the characters will somehow ‘win’ if possible.

The idea is that these people are in a room, they have to kill each other, kinda like Werewolf.  They are voting.

This is one of those super cheap films, that realizes solely on the dialog and social commentary, unfortunately, it’s not the best.  It’s okay, but I’m critical of films like this that are trying to say something about our way of life and this doesn’t bring anything new to the conversation.

It’s also missing some reveals or new elements that should have came into play in the second half, and again it’s just the same thing going on, every 2 minutes someone dies.

I’m probably a bad person because I would probably vote for the little girl or pregnant woman early on, and that was deemed ‘bad’ in the film.

I really like the very ending, and wish it went on for another 10 minutes.

I liked this film, wouldn’t say it was great, but it was ok-good.

3 skulls.

Andres

Andres Salazar writes a horror graphic novel called Pariah Missouri, you can learn more at www.pariahmissouri.com

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Horror Marathon Day 21: Willow Creek

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Willow Creek (2013)

Come on, a horror movie about BigFoot and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait?

You can find this indie film on Shudder.

I wish this was not a found footage film, and I LOVE found footage films, I just don’t see that it helps this story, other than it makes it easier to write the script.

This movie costs probably $300 to make; a tank of gas, craft services for the two actors and some memory on the camera.  Generally I like micro-budget films, this is not a negative, but this one needs at least a little money to make it feel like a true film.  While watching I’m just thinking about how cheap it is.  Even Blair Witch feels more like a true movie.

It looks like it was filmed in Yosemite or Kings Canyon national parks, which I know decently well, and that it for me always fun to see.  Years ago I wrote a small screenplay about a boy scout troop up in the woods and man I would still love to make that film, this reminds me why that location is so magical.

The beginning is a little slow, yeah, they are jerks, they mock BigFoot and the town and it’s denizens, shit will go down soon.

Little bit of Blair Witch in this too.

See, I have to be honest here.  I love camping, but in the night, when it’s quiet I do sometimes get freaked out, and crap like this freaks me out.

The ending is what you would expect, but that last 30 minutes when it’s all just in the tent, I couldn’t get into it.  There needs to be something more.  I also felt the acting was at it’s weakest here.  If I heard crazy-assed sounds coming outside my tent, I would at the bare minimum get my clothes and shoes on ready to make a run for it, or SOMETHING.  Do something!  I felt it wasn’t genuine, and that’s too bad because the premise had potential, a couple go into the woods to the original Bigfoot sighting… but here’s the thing, they didn’t add anything to the mythology.  They could have added anything, created something new to it.  I feel like Goldthwait wanted to stick to the accurate stories and accounts of Bigfoot, but hell, this is a work of fiction, so to me go all out.  Create a civilization, or group of them, rules, structure, supernatural, history, something to make it interesting.  It just wasn’t interesting.

I say pass on it, unless you are a die-heard found footage fan or Bigfoot fan.

Andres

 

Horror Marathon Day 20: The Thing

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Two years after Alien, The Thing came out.  Same time as ET.  This wonderful horror film bombed at the box-office, but lives on in many horror-fan’s hearts, mine included.

This is possibly my favorite horror film, right there with The Shining and Alien.  This was a time with horror films always threw some comedy in it, and it drives me crazy.  The Thing does not do that, they play it serious and straight the whole time.

There’s a game I love called Werewolf, this is kinda like that, they are stuck in a place, no escape and one or many could be the ‘bad guy’.  Love this kind of thing.,, who do you trust?  Can you trust?

The effects are great and practical, and yeah some of them are freaking way out there, but I love it still.  You don’t have to make it look perfectly real, but you have to set this up to be believable, and this film does that.

Kurt Russell can do no wrong and man he is awesome in this film.

I really wish this was a 3 hour film and we could stay with the characters more.  There are about 12, which is a lot, and in the beginning it is hard to keep track of them all, but that is an extremely small negative to the film.

Go see this film.  Love it.

5 skulls.

Andres

Horror Marathon Day 18: The Missionary

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A twist on the slasher horror, what if Jason was a Mormon?

Actually that would be a great film, and this is not that, but it could have been.  It’s much more of a thriller than horror, but you don’t really know that until you see it.

The film-makers did some research, the characters sound Mormon, but that really wasn’t enough for me.

Other than that novelty, is it worth seeing?  Honestly, maybe not, there are better films out there, but I saw it and it wasn’t bad, just not good or great.

Too pedestrian, not enough horror and I’ll have to say, give it a pass, unless you want to see a Mormon thriller.

Andres