Category Archives: Horror

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

Horror Marathon Day 16: The Fury

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The Fury.

Might not be considered strictly a horror film, it is a thriller, with some horror moments and I think it loosely follows the structure and outline of a horror film, although some may say it’s a supernatural action film.

Yeah, so action, wow, right off the bat we have some killing, machine-guns, not something you usually see in a horror film, there’s no guy here with a knife chasing people, in this film its the government who are the bad guys and there’s evil, hidden group that is running PSI tests on kids.  Yeah this idea we’ve seen a lot in modern times, but I think back then when this was made it was much more novel.  And did I mention, there’s Kirk Douglas?  Oh yeah, the man is in this and he’s looking for his son, who, yep you guessed it is a physic and has been captured.  He’s somehow telepathically bonded to a cute teen-ager who is also a physic and together they look for the missing son.

There’s actually some cool ideas here, and I like that they are using the boy’s counselor, a beautiful woman to keep him in line, but of course that doesn’t last.

Again, it’s older, and I dig this.  One thing I have to say, you gotta see this for one reason.  The ending is the BEST ENDING OF ALL TIME.  I mean that.  I don’t even want to spoil it, but the very last scene and shot is the way you end a movie.  All movies should end this way.

 

Andres

Andres Salazar is the writer and creator of the horror graphic novel series Pariah Missouri www.pariahmissouri.com

Horror Marathon Day 15: Green Inferno

Horror Marathon Day 14: The Re-Animator 

Horror Marathon Day 11: The Invitation

Horror Marathon Day 10: Cannibal Holocaust 

Horror Marathon Day 9: Monsters

 

Horror Marathon Day 15: Green Inferno

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Why do I do this to myself?

Yeah I am hungry for more cannibal movies… well, I saw Cannibal Holocaust and I actually liked it, so I wanted to see the newest film in this genre of horror, Green Inferno, which takes some of the same plot points, but it is fair to say that this is it’s own film.

What’s bad is the writing.  The dialog.

It looks pretty, they put money into the shots, I’ll never say anything bad about that, but it’s just visual and again no substance.

And then Eli adds these horrible comedic moments that just aren’t funny.  The same jokes that are in a bad 80s movie, and it’s still not funny man.  You are killing me (not in a good way).

Seriously?  A tribe that chews coca leaves regularly to get a high is going to lose consciousness from some weed? I’m not an expert on the chemistry, but it’s cheesy things like this that Roth uses to no effect.  I mean, if he was going for something bad then he succeeded, but I don’t get the feeling he’s trying for that.

Anyways, it’s a bad film, If you like the colors red and green I’d say see the film, they did a great job in post with the filters and color correction, other than that, don’t bother.

Andres

 

 

Horror Marathon Day 10: Cannibal Holocaust 

Horror Marathon Day 9: Monsters

Horror Marathon Day 12: American Werewolf in London

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American Werewolf in London
I thought I saw this film years ago, but after watching it I realized I have NEVER seen this movie!  What the heck!  It’s a classic for a reason, and the special effects were revolutionary for the time.  Brilliant stuff. The dream sequences are all amazing and for me it;s those moments that sell the movie.  The love story is fine, but I’m not that into it.  There’s some great comedic bits as well, which I wasn’t expecting in this film.

I couldn’t help but think of the amazing music video, Thriller while watching it.  Michael Jackson specifically asked for John Landis to direct his video, who also did this movie, and a lot of the special effects looks the same, not a bad thing at all.  John Landis is also the father of Max Landis, a  film-maker who loves wrestling and made Chronicle as well as recently sold some spec scripts for a princely sum, kind of hard to do in today’s market.

But I digress.  This is a good film.  It’s not perfect, it’s not amazing, but I really liked it.  Again the dream sequences are my favorite and you haven’t seen it I’d say give it a watch.

3 skulls.

Andres

Andres Salazar is the writer and creator of the horror graphic novel series Pariah Missouri www.pariahmissouri.com

Previous Posts:

Horror Marathon Day 11: The Invitation

Horror Marathon Day 10: Cannibal Holocaust 

Horror Marathon Day 9: Monsters

Horror Marathon Day 9: Monsters

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When you get to direct a Star Wars movie it’s saying that A LOT of people and money trust you.  It’s a massive statement on your vision, management and ability.  Star Wars Rogue One is coming out and it came from this director.

I remember hearing about this low-budget film set in Mexico and I was very excited to see this new indie horror film.  It is a horror film, but only in the strictest of definition, there are monsters this is true, but they are in the periphery of the story and get little screen time , which for me is fine.  Don’t go into this thinking it’s Godzilla or a gore-y Cloverfield.  It doesn’t have 1/10 the action of Cloverfield, but I think in some ways it’s a much better film.

This is the type of movie that I love, what I’d want to make.  It’s a horror film, but only tangentially, there are few scares in it, but I love the concept.  Monsters, about a world where Mexico has been infected by an alien invasion and the US has built a massive wall to prevent contamination and two Americans as they try to cross the countryside to return home.  We see glimpses of the Cluthluean monsters on TV screens and in the background, but it’s not in your face horror.

I would love to learn more about the world and have a book series or TV show about this story.
Highly recommend it.

Andres Salazar is the writer and creator of the horror graphic novel series Pariah Missouri www.pariahmissouri.com

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Horror Marathon Day 8: 1984

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While this book is not traditionally considered a horror story, I believe is definitely is and we are talking about it today on the Horror Marathon month!

Ok, I am extremely late on the train on this one.  Most read this in high school, and for some reason, my class had to read The Stranger, which had no impact on me, and I couldn’t even tell you what it was about, while this book is damn near atomic in its physiological power it’s had over me this week.  Before you keep reading this, if you haven’t read this book, please go out and get it.  You can find it free at libraries, online PDFs, whatever, just go read it, it’s not long and it’s brilliant.

I’m going to talk about the book and the 1985 movie with William Hurt.  Anytime a writer creates a language for a book, you gotta give him props.  I love that there is this NEWSSPEAK and whole new system of speaking and thought.  It’s amazing.  This is where the book shines and while the movie hits the beats and gives great visual atmosphere and tone, you don’t get the beauty and craftsmanship of the language unless you read the book.  I will say one thing negative on the book is there here are good-sized portions of the book, where Winston is reading from THE BOOK, which can be a challenge, unless you enjoy Geo-political topics and sociology of the 19th century, as it reads very much like a text book (which it is supposed to.)

The thing is about this is that this author, George Orwell is that the man knew what he was talking about, he understood political systems, societies and class systems.  He also had an amazing understanding of psychology.

The main reason why the world at large still loves this book is that even though written in 1949, it feels VERY applicable to today’s challenges.

I think the movie does a good job of visually communicating the themes and feelings of the book.  If you want to see how the world probably will never be, but still terrifying, watch the film or read the book!

4 skulls.

Andres

Horror Marathon Day 5: Sharknado

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Why do I do this to myself?  I don’t even know where to start with this one.  It’s definitely a 80s B with a capital B movie.

It starts off like a bad surf movie with bad acting, direction and photography.  The real magic here is the editing, he deserves a medal for combining 5 different films into this monstrosity.  There are shots that appear from a different film, it’s sunny (shot at Leo Carrillo) then other cloudy random shots of surfers, then crowd scenes that are at a different beach and time of day, and random inserts of real sharks from some documentary.  Movies do this all the time, but man it looks crazy because it’s so obvious.  I think this is a film you watch drunk with friends and laugh at it.

You know how this would be better?  If they used all physical special effects and animatronics.  You get 50 Bruce’s (Bruce is the nickname for the Jaws animatronic) and that I would see.  The digital effects are so bad, it’s really distracting, but then again, the point of a B movie is to make it cheap, so you get what you pay for.

Here’s the deal.  It is a film.  Many people worked hard on it and it took many hours to make.  People got paid.  I can’t hate on any of that, but I’d like to think of this more as a student film, and thinking of if from that perspective it’s fine for what it is.

Also, what’ with the color timing on this thing?  It has a constant blue filter that is annoying.

Ian Zering and Tara Reid do their best, but this is all about Sharks in a freaking tornado, so that’s what we come to see and we get that much at least.  My main gripe is that I wish the effects were better, then I could at least enjoy that.

There is a ending, crazy action thing that happens with a chainsaw that was too much for me, at least they single-handedly saved the fake blood industry for 2013.  I just looked at the rotten tomatoes score…. 82%.  I am officially depressed.

Ok that’s it, I’m finding some good horror movies to watch for the rest of this month!

 

Horror Marathon Day 4: Theater of Blood

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Today we will be talking about 1973’s Theater of Blood.  Vincent Price, one of horror’s greatest actors is the main character in this film, and it is completely all Vincent Price.  It’s very 70s, with the music and staging, I feel that today’s audience would definitely consider this a campy-horror film, which I’m not sure that it was considered campy at the time.  It plays a little comedic, not as dark as the Hammer films that Vincent would star in and that’s not a negative, just a different flavor of horror.

I think there are some good moments in it, it’s not the gasping, dark, evil horror that we are used to, it’s really a look into how the authorities catch Mr. Price, who we know right in the beginning is the Shakespearean-aficionado killer.

I like the idea of a killer who disguises himself as a theatrical actor, and Vincent definitely hams it up and delivers.  It’s hard to say that it’s too hammy of a performance, because the part he’s playing is of a hammy-actor, so maybe it’s just perfect.  I love that he has this crew of killer-thespians too, I’d love to see them in a “dress rehearsal” planning out the murder and what costumes, blocking and lines to give the next intended victim.

As a guy who fenced in high school and college a little, it was great to see a fencing scene!  Can’t beat that.

I also love the concept of a guy hell-bent on making the critics who give him bad reviews pay with their lives!  This is screaming for a re-make but with a completely different tone, go full-dark and straight with this and it would be a hit.

If you want to see what V. Price was all about, watch this one.

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

October Horror Marathon – Day 1 The Witch

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Ok, boys and girls, it’s that time of year again. and we are starting this off, with a good horror film.   I’ve been doing this for 4 years now, everyday in the month of October I watch and review a horror movie.  Most of these are older films or things that you can find online.

Day one…. The WITCH

I knew nothing of the movie, and super glad that was the case.  I went in, watched it on AMAZON PRIME and start to finish this is a good horror movie.  I love period stuff and things that have actors caked in layers of fake dirt, so in the first couple of minutes I was in.  Then the language came in, I love Old English and antiquities languages, if I learn take a class in Latin I would, so I really enjoyed that part of it too.  No hollywood-ization here, it’s raw, it’s accurate and feels authentic.

As for the plot itself, I was intrigued, we knew that there really was a witch, but we were kept guessing if someone in the family was working with her.  Loved that.  Also some great imagery and horror elements that we haven’t seen much of and THAT is hard to do.  I always like it when we are surprised by something.  (That crow part with the mom was great.)

Acting was top notch, and that blonde girl, the lead was perfect.  I dug it.  Totally recommend and say, go see this!  One of the best in the last couple of years.  No joke.
Andres Salazar writes a horror graphic novel called Pariah Missouri, you can learn more at www.pariahmissouri.com

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