Horror Love

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I wanted to get this post out about a week ago, but work was soooo draining that I had to put it to the side for a short moment. However, I wanted to take a small(-ish) break from reviewing and talk a bit about the whole point of this blog. Horror is a passion of mine, that’s clear, and as a fan, I wanted to be able to explain some things about it that some non-fans and newbies may not completely understand. If you are a horror newbie, welcome to the club! If you are someone who is looking to know more before jumping in feet first, I hope that this post can shed some light on why horror is so loved by its fans. Horror can be a complex thing, this is true. There are intricacies, story lines to untangle, characters to hate, characters to love, genres to explore. Personally, I think that one of the reasons that I love horror so much is because it never stops evolving. There is just about something for everyone, comedies, books, cartoons, anime, tv shows, manga, so many different media forms to choose from, it can be easy for a newbie to decide what’s best.

Sub-genres

All horror does not mean gore. I know a lot of horror has a plethora of blood and guts, but, one, that does not always equal good horror and two, that does not mean it has to be something you watch as a fan. It’s quite ok to be a horror fan and not be a splatterpunk/slasher/gore fan. I can appreciate a bloody flick, but also love a deeply suspenseful psychological horror film as well. Some sub-genres you may want to explore are Lovecraftian horror, urban gothic, horror comedy, giallo, body horror or extreme just to name a few. If you are looking for some recommendations, here are a few to get you started:

Lovecraftian: Re-animator (1985), The Dunwich Horror (1970), The Corridor (2010)

Giallo: Don’t Torture a Duckling (1972), Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970), Deep Red (1975)

Urban Gothic: American Psycho (2000), The Crow (1994), The Hunger (1983)

Horror Comedy: Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010), Return of the Killer Tomatoes (1988), Young Frankenstein (1974)

Body Horror: Body Melt (1993), Antiviral (2012), The Stuff (1985)

Different Media

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There are several different formats that horror can be introduced in, especially if you are a newcomer to the genre. Yes, you have your movies, but there are also cartoons, comics, manga, anime, short films and books. If you are a vinyl collector like me, there are horror soundtracks that you can purchase to enjoy the sound of horror if you don’t feel like putting on a film. I love the soundtrack to Starry Eyes (2014) personally after a long day at work. If you’re an avid reader, you can go with the more well-known horror authors like Stephen King (Everything’s Eventual, Mr. Mercedes), John Saul (Black Creek Crossing, Sleepwalk), or Clive Barker (The Hellbound Heart, Coldheart Canyon) or go with a lesser known but still fantastic author such as Poppy Z. Brite (Lost Souls, Plastic Jesus), Kealan Patrick Burke (The Tent, Sour Candy) and for the more extreme, Edward Lee (The House, Witch Water).

Directors

Don’t let the mainstream media fool you. Not all horror is the same and not all horror directors follow the same formula. Quite honestly, I could say that about rom coms, but we won’t go there. There are notable directors in the horror game, some names that you may know and be familiar with such as John Carpenter, Eli Roth and the iconic Wes Craven (may he rest well.) Some other directors that are worth looking into and are heavily discussed amongst fans are Lucio Fulci (The House by the Cemetery, Don’t Torture a Duckling), Mario Bava (Black Sunday, Five Dolls for an August Moon), Stuart Gordon (From Beyond, Dolls), and Jaume Balaguero (Sleep Tight, REC). I spend a lot of my free time exploring Asian horror as it is one of my favorite sub-genres and top directors of mine are Hideo Nakata (Dark Water, The Complex), Sion Sono (Suicide Club, Cold Fish), Takashi Miike (Ichi the Killer, Imprint), Noboru Iguchi (Tomie, Dead Sushi) , and Park Chan-wook (Oldboy, Sympathy for Mr. Venegence).

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Manga/Anime

Quite honestly, I could go on about anime foreevvvvaaaa, but I won’t. I will put these two in the same category since a lot of anime is based on originals in manga form. For those who really want to ease into the horror genre with a purr instead of a roar, this would be a better route. Junji Ito stays at the top of most anime/manga fans for his body horror artwork, unique stories and willingness to portray society as something easily broken. He is the creator of the Tomie series that Iguchi and other directors have made come to life on the screen. Other notable mangaka (artists) are Hideshi Hino, Kanako Inuki, Kazuo Umezu, and Rei Mikamoto, who wrote Reiko the Zombie Shop, an all-time favorite of mine. For anime, you really can’t go wrong with Another, Hell Girl, Deadman Wonderland, Wicked City and Attack on Titan.

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So much to choose from! Is it any wonder why horror fans are horror fans? With an seemingly endless supply of media and art forms to pick and choose from, you could really never get bored with it. There are too many people who believe that horror is just the “same old thing”, blood and guts. Sure, you have your movies like Saw and Sweatshop, but you also have tantalizing suspenseful films such as They Look Like People and Don’t Cry, Mommy. Horror can make you cry, horror can make you laugh. Horror can make you go, “Oh hell naw!” and can also make you think. Horror does not deserve to be shoved in a box in a corner and its fans written off as a bunch of serial killer loving freaks. Hey! We might enjoy Dexter and Hannibal, but we like unicorns and Hello Kitty too. Enjoy horror, enjoy it for what it is. Enjoy it for the mindless entertainment it can provide, enjoy it for the thoughtfulness it can provoke. Bottom line? Just enjoy it.

Scream on, babies.

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Lord of Tears (The Owlman)

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Welcome back, my beloved ghouls! I know that in my last post, I had dropped a little line regarding a movie I watched around the same time as Curse of Mesopotamia and today I wanted to take some time to get into it a little bit. I will try to not to spoil it for future viewers.

Lord of Tears aka The Owlman is a 2013 Scottish horror film that I happened upon at random with my man. Personally, I have not had the chance to view many Scottish horror, although I know of several including Dog Soliders, but this point, I would say that out of the few films that I have seen, The Wicker Man stays a favorite of mine and I did enjoy Let Us Prey.  I was not quite sure what to expect from LOT and at first glance, I was reminded of Stage Fright:Aquarius (1987), but I was quickly made aware that LOT was nothing like that.

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Lord of Tears follows the story of a quiet, unassuming teacher who learns that he inherits some pieces of property from his mother after her death. Despite his mother’s warnings not to return to one house in particular, our protagonist, James, does anyway in order to help him find some answers on his shoddy memory from when he was younger. Upon returning, much to the chagrin of his friend whose father is close to death’s door, James finds a young woman, Eve, staying at the home, looking after it. He also finds himself being stalked/followed and having visions of a shadowy half-man half-owl creature speaking in riddles. Delving more into his past and occassionally having a bit of fun with Eve (not what you think, dirty minds!), James uncovers the truth of his childhood memories, why he left the home in the first place, who Eve really is, and why you should always listen to your mother.

Lord of Tears is directed by Lawrie Brewster and is his debut feature film. He is fantastic at his occupation and when teamed with Sarah Daly, who wrote the script, all I can say is, “Yassss! You did the damn thing!” I loved Lord of Tears. I loved the environment, I loved the bleakness, I loved the shadows, I loved the fact that CGI was not needed,  I loved Eve’s fashion sense, I loved James’ gentlemanly ways……I just loved it. LOT does not need the blood and gore found in a lot of modern horror, it works well on story and atmosphere. The Owlman is terrifying in every scene. Trust when I say, you don’t want to meet him in an alley, I don’t care how lit it is.

Brewster is currently working on The Unkindness of Ravens and from what I see already, I’m all in, baby. Lord of Tears is five stars in my books and I can’t wait to see what else Brewster has in store.

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Flawed (A Curse of Mesopotamia movie review)

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I had the chance to come across a fairly new horror film at random while my man and I were looking for something to watch over the recent weekend. What we found was Curse of Mesopotamia, a Middle Eastern horror film joining a growing new sub-genre of horror films and is actually the first English language Middle Eastern horror film. We do have Iranian and Turkish horror films such as A Girl Walks Alone at Night (which is fab btw) and Baskin (which I enjoyed), but both are filmed in their native languages. I am intrigued by new horror, of course, and having a Middle Eastern setting to it piqued my curiousity elevenfold. I watched the trailer (without my bf) and I have to admit that the storyline got me interestsed. I wanted to see Curse of Mesopotamia more than I wanted to see another film whose trailer we watched called Lord of Tears aka The Owlman. (I will be posting a review on that as well at a later date. Stay tuned.)

Quick run-down: A group of adults are concurrently having the same nightmare and seeing the same psychiatrist. Once the psychiatrist uses her smarts to put two and two together, she suggests to her patients, all strangers to one another, that as it appears they are all having the same dream of the same place, perhaps it would benefit all if they traveled to said place to confront their fears. Five strangers, including a would-be jihadist, a mute but very talented artist, and a small time actress who is the epitome of pampered, travel to Iraq to attempt to eradicate their nightmares and come to find out that they are being visited by a demon and that their nightmares are actually flashbacks of previous lives.

Weeellllll….color me intrigued, right? Reincarnations? Murderous queens? Demons? Yes! However, as the movie went on, I started noticing a lot of problems. For one, the acting. I know, I know, my horror dears, if there’s one thing in a horror film that should stand out in a good way, it’s the acting. Usually, bad acting can pretty much break a film and horror critics will take you to task. I have to admit that the acting (for the most part) was wooden, stiff in places and some of the facial expressions really didn’t match up to the script. The fight scenes were atrocious. Some of the slowest choreography is witnessed in Curse and none of the fighting really flowed well as you expect from an action scene. Another issue for me was the pacing of character development. It was a bit of stretch for me to see that our mute starts speaking after having just one night of good rest. I mean, I know how good a deep sleep can be, but seriously, give me a least a day or two before she starts talking.

Now, let’s talk about the good things.  Curse was initally filmed in Iraq, but due to a lot of issues including those with ISIS, the crew had to move to Jordan. The location settings don’t take away from the film and altogether give a creepy, shadowy atmosphere that fits the theme of the film. The costuming was gorgeous. I especially fell in love with Queen Lale’s gowns and would love to see such creations on the red carpet. With that being said, Melissa Mars as Queen Lale/Amira (our very pampered “actress”) did a wonderful job of playing a beautiful sadistic queen ready to give in to her king’s bloody desires. There is an execution scene in Curse that will stay with me always. The biggest point for me regarding Curse was the story, the plot. Writer/director Lauand Omar does a great job of putting together an original script giving the viewer a glimpse into the past and witnessing the dynamics between royalty and servitude, the oppressor and the oppressed with a little bit of the supernatural thrown in.

There is a difference between a bad movie and a flawed movie. A bad movie is when you finish a film and ask yourself, “WTF? Why was that made again?” A flawed movie is when you finish a film and say, “I hope [insert producer/director] makes another one and improves on…..” THis is where I stand with Omar. I hope he does make another film. I hope he improves with his casting choices. I hope that he sticks with the horror genre. Personally, I did not feel that Curse was a bad movie, simply flawed with concepts that can be rather easily discarded or changed for the better. I hope that more people get to see Curse. I attempted to read several reviews on IMDb and users skewered this film by calling the story “improbable”. *le sigh* Let’s not forget that this is still a horror film and that, yes, even Muslim fundamentalists dream. Curse isn’t gory, it doesn’t need to be. It has enough blood to leave a horror fan, even a self-admitted gorehound like myself, satisfied. But all the buckets of blood in the world can’t compare with a good story. So thank you. Lauand Omar, for Curse of Mesopotamia. Keep doing what you’re doing, sir. I look forward to your next endeavor.

I’m Back!!!

Hello, ghouls! Your girl is back! Sorry for the hiatus, things have been crazy busy and I will admit to being lazy at times, but it’s time to get back to doing what I love: talking horror! I have watched so many new and old horror films and have gotten into a few horror tv shows, so trust me when I say that I have plenty to drone on about. I’m making my lists and checking them twice so these upcoming reviews read scary, but nice. (Ha!) I may interject a few rants here and there, but come on, some of the things going on in the world need to be ranted about. So gear up, horror geeks, and get your gore on!

The Atticus Institute

I picked up this film on a whim. I am a sucker for great horror movie covers and The Atticus Institute has a rather lovely one, a short-haired woman staring out at you with a completely black eye, looking as though she had been through a few things plus some. I wasn’t too sure what the film was about, I hadn’t really come across everything on my IG feed or on the horror sites I frequent.  Sure, I read the synopsis and the story sounded fine, but so did Muck. (We are not going to talk about Muck.) But as a horror fan, there is little that I will pass up and try at least once. So I bought Attitcus and prepared myself for a ride.

To be fair, I didn’t get to watch Atticus right away. I took it to my best friend’s house (who happens to love horror almost as much as I do) and he asked to watch it over the weekend. He’s usually good for a honest review, so I agreed. When I went back to visit, he told me that we would have to watch it together because…..it scared him too badly. Say what now? Now I have to see it if it freaked him out. In all honesty, I can truly say that this movie is brilliant. I was pleasantly freaked out and even jumped a few times. Bravo, best friend, you weren’t kidding when you said it scared you. I was not aware that Atticus was a found footage film and personally, I’m glad that I was not as I am growing a bit tired of the genre as many bad horror films in the sub-genre have been inundating the horror scene of late (V/H/S Viral and Demonic come to mind right off hand). Atticus has given me hope that the found footage film does not always have to be so lazy (Viral)or written so fast that the delusion is still maintained that it is a good film (Demonic). You won’t find any big names in Atticus, but it doesn’t need any. Chris Sparling, the director, has had some success before with Buried (2010) and not so much with ATM (2012), but I believe that he has made a huge accomplishment with Atticus. It was clever, it was intriguing, it gave you story without leaving you with so many questions at the end you just wondered why there was a movie in the first place. I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed the performance by Rya Kihlstedt who played the role of Judith Winstead, a young, mousy-looking woman who is brought to the Institute by her sister due to the extraordinary things that happen around Judith. I don’t want to give everything away in this post, but suffice it to say, that the Institute, who was looking for evidence of the paranormal, got much more that they bargained for when Judith came to stay. Sure, the military gets involved, but what’s a good paranormal activity story without a few military stick-in-the-muds here and there?

All in all, The Atticus Institute is a perfect paranormal story that delivers. It doesn’t hold back on the scares and doesn’t give you any cheap ones. It reels you from the beginning and refuses to let go. Is it a true story? Highly doubtful, but for those lovers of the supernatural, demonic or otherwise, this is one film to get into.

Forgotten Gems of Horror

 

So October is now gone and with it, the barrage of horror marathons and spooky tv that tv and horror networks usually reserve for the month. Granted before Halloween week is even started, the holiday decorations for Thanksgiving and Christmas are already out which drives us horror fans crazy. But as a horror fan, do you get tired of the “good stuff” on tv meant to scare us and send us under the covers? What exactly is the “good stuff”? I tend to find a lot of people, individual and networks alike, gravitate towards the same films year after year, every once in a while throwing in one that really isn’t on repeat every other day. Considering how wide the horror genre actually is, one not that familiar with the horror community would think that we like watching the same movies all the time. Yes, we have our favorites, but let’s be clear: I can still get bored watching Friday the 13th when you put it on a loop. So where do you turn when SyFy is playing Jeepers Creepers 2 once again? Remember, we as horror fans just don’t confine our horror watching to one month a year (blasphemy!) We may go crazy in October (it’s allowed), but we need our horror throughout the year and yes, that includes the holidays. Well, my horror freaks, allow me to introduce you to a few(ha!) films that aren’t played regularly (if at all) on our once glorious cable networks. Granted, I am partial to foreign horror, so any horror films you find on this list will be the original Asian movie. I very rarely find the remakes to be on this side of good. Here is my take on the forgotten gems of the horror scene. (Keep in mind that “forgotten” does not necessarily mean older/classic.) Let the viewing commence!

Helldriver (2011)

Subspecies (1991)

Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl (2009)

Midnight Movie (2008)

Frankenhooker (1990)

Gothic Lolita Psycho (2010)

4closed (2013)

The Machine Girl (2008)

2ldk (2002)

X Game (2010)

Village of the Damned (1995)

Art of the Devil 2 (2005)

Hobo with a Shotgun (2011)

Ring of Curse (2011)

The Pit and the Pendulum (1991)

Sick Nurses (2007)

The Stuff (1985)

Whispering Corridors (1998)

Possession (1981)

Cronos (1993)

 

 

 

80s Horror Movie Project

 

As stated in an earlier post, I am personally taking on a movie challenge in horror by watching movies from the 80s that I have not seen before. Started on the first of September, I have been going nonstop with finding movies I haven’t seen and haven’t heard of. I have been fortunate enough to be able to find several enjoyable horror movies without resorting to having to buy. I am not against buying and building my horror collection, however, I enjoy watching movies first and then being able to make a well-informed decision on whether or not to purchase. (I only have so much room in my house, people.)

I kick-offed my project with George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead which is ironic in some ways as it was the last of his Dead Trilogy. I was quite impressed with the film.  I am not a zombie fan to say the least, but this is one zombie film that I enjoyed. The acting wasn’t terrible, the effects were good and gross and Joseph Pilato as Rhodes was fantastic as an overbearing asshole. I have seen too few Romero films and that is something that has to change. Next was Maniac Cop. I have already seen 2 and 3 and have been searching for the first one for some time. I count myself fortunate in being able to find it on Youtube. Bruce Campbell did his thing, no surprise there and I quite liked the creepiness of the plot. I had a bit of sympathy for both Cordell and his story, but not a whole lot.

As the month is nearly over, I will keep the post to shortening reviews and listing the movies that I have been able to work through as I have seen some good, some bad, and some horrible horror flicks. (Really horrible, too.)

Beyond Evil (skip it)

Redneck Zombies (was actually fun to watch)

Critters 2 (yes, I have yet to see the first one, but was still able to keep up with the story which I appreciated)

Xtro (bored me #sorrynotsorry)

Cheerleader Camp

He Knows You’re Alone

The Howling

Satan’s Blade (horrible)

Blood Theatre (just no)

New Year’s Evil (meh)

Creature (could have been better)

A Blade in the Dark (I wanted to like this one, but it was a disappointment)

Julie Darling (unexpectedly impressive)

Demons

Killer Workout aka Aerobi-Cide (mixed feelings on this one, but love the leotards)

Blood Diner (a little campy, but interesting)

The Boogey Man (Oh, Lommel, I will never love you)

Rawhead Rex (more enjoyable than I thought)

Intruder (a bit predictable by the middle, but still fun)

Invaders From Mars (silly, fun, gotta love Karen Black)

Return of the Killer Tomatoes (NEED for my collection)

The Howling IV

Touch of Death (not my favorite of Fulci’s work, but I did like it)

Mortuary

Blood Beach (bored me to tears)

Beverly Hills Vamp (a lot of fun to watch)

Pulse

Hell Night

The Toxic Avenger part 3

The Appointment (I do believe that the storyline/plot lost itself after the first 20 minutes or so)

Dark Night of the Scarecrow (was glad that I was able to track down this film, had me talking to the screen)

Dead of Winter (more suspenseful, but still had good shocks and a good story)

With only a few more days to go, I do expect both good and bad movies to be found and watched and in all honesty, this horror fan is looking forward to it. Stay tuned, horror fans.