Tag Archives: RIP

Horror Films A–Z, Oct. 2020: M, N, O & P

Mr. Books

Year: 2007
Runtime: 2h
Rated: R

Director: Bruce A. Evans

Writers: Bruce A. Evans, Raynold Gideon

Stars: Kevin Costner, Demi Moore, William Hurt

Finding someone you think would be fun to kill is a bit like, well, it’s a bit like falling in love.

Initial: Haven’t seen this movie in ages. Really liked it the first time I saw it. My husband says it isn’t as good the second time around.

Production Notes: Mr. Books was potentially the first of a trilogy. Since the movie didn’t do well enough financially, nothing came of it.

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead)
I had really forgotten a lot about this movie. I remembered Dane Cook, but I’d forgotten about William Hurt as Mr. Brooks’ “dark passenger” and whole subplots concerning Brooks’ daughter and Demi Moore’s police detective. The plot feels a little over complicated; maybe better suited to a season of a TV series. The best part of this movie really is Kevin Costner as a serial killer and William Hurt as his invisible alter ego. The two play each other so well, sometimes as adversaries and sometimes utterly mirroring each other.


The Nightingale

Year: 2018
Runtime: 2h 16m
Rated: R

Director: Jennifer Kent

Writer: Jennifer Kent

Stars: Aisling Franciosi, Michael Sheasby, Maya Christie

“You white ones go fast, fast, fast. Get no where. I go slow. Get everything done.”

Initial: Another revenge movie that I’ve heard a lot about. Like The Lighthouse, I’m not sure The Nightingale is exactly classified as horror.

Production Notes: This is Jennifer Kent’s followup to The Babadook.

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead)
Yes, this isn’t horror movie and I’m a little torn about including it in this frivolousness. On the other hand, The Nightingale is about the horror of how humans can treat each other. Unlike the near over the top violence in I Saw the Devil, the violent acts here (including several rapes) are brutal and have immediate consequences. This isn’t an easy film to watch, but it is very deliberate. There is a mirroring of themes and sequences throughout which makes it a cut above many films I’ve seen.


The Other Lamb

Year: 2019
Runtime: 1h 36m
Rated: N/R

Director: Malgorzata Szumowska

Writer: C.S. McMullen

Stars: Raffey Cassidy, Michiel Huisman, Mallory Adams

“Why do you stay?”

“Because I’m afraid.”

Initial: I don’t have too many notions about this film going in. Picked because it was “O” and on Hulu.

Production Notes: Filmed in Ireland.

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead)
Well, that was a movie…

While The Other Lamb is more clearly marked as “horror,” I found it not horrific or scary at all. Mostly, I just don’t know what I’m supposed to take away from this movie. I don’t see how this group of women ended up following this super low-key messiah. If it wasn’t written and directed by women, I’d really wonder…


Pooka!

Year: 2018
Runtime: 1h 23m
Rated: TV-MA

Director: Nacho Vigalondo

Writer: Gerald Olson

Stars: Nyasha Hatendi, Latarsha Rose, Jon Daly

“Look at all the pretty lights.”

Initial: I really love the character of Phouka in War for the Oaks. I expect that this Pooka has little to do with that one.

Production Notes: Another entry in Hulu’s Into the Dark series, produced by Blumhouse.

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead)
For an hour and thirteen-ish minutes, I was on the fence with this movie. It has some creepy moments, some uncomfortable moments, and a lot of “what the heck is going on?” moments. Nyasha Hatendi’s earnest performance was pretty much keeping this movie in the positive column for me…until the end. Pooka! won me over at the very end by being a more-traditional-than-I-realized Christmas ghost story. I need to give it a rewatch. Is this the best way of telling a story? Maybe not.

Perilous Update, 10/19/2020

Notes of Peril

First of all, I formatted a little seasonal treat: “The Chess-Player” by author unknown. I found it while working on my automaton anthology, but it was too long for that. Click through and download it if you’d like a nice Gothic tale for October.

Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell

I had thought to read The Ghost Pirates by William Hope Hodgson last week, but an author’s note advised that it was the end of a three book series. So, I read the first, The Boats of the “Glen Carrig”, instead. I enjoyed it. I’ll have more to say on it later in the week and will get around to the second, The House on the Borderland, after…

Sherlockathon! Sherlockathon starts today. My first book is Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell by Paul Kane, a Holmes/Hellraiser mashup. In the last few years, Holmes and Clive Barker have both been 4th quarter favorites.

I’m a little behind on my movie challenge currently, partially due to binge-watching A Wilderness of Errors, a true crime documentary on Hulu. It is an interesting look at how witness testimony in criminal investigations is often given greater weight than physical evidence…even though humans both lie and have unreliable memories.

Horror Films A–Z, Oct. 2020: J, K & L

Ju-on: The Grudge

Year: 2002
Runtime: 1h 32m
Rated: R

Director: Takashi Shimizu

Writer: Takashi Shimizu

Stars: Megumi Okina, Misaki Itô, Misa Uehara

Ju-on: The curse of one who dies in the grip of a powerful rage.

Initial: This was supposed to be a rewatch day, but instead of watching a not-very-horror “J” film that I’ve seen before, I’m going to watch a new film and stave off this future problem. I’m apprehensive about how much this film is going to creep me out. I have not seen the American version. Uh, either of them.

Production Notes: This is actually the third installment of the Ju-on franchise, but the first to get a theatrical release.

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead)
Not as creepy as The Ring, but what is? I did honest-to-goodness yelp once during this movie and it wasn’t at a particularly “scary” part. A criticism of Ju-on is that it’s a bit derivative. I can see that, but I haven’t watched enough J-horror for that to bother me at all.


Kong: Skull Island

Year: 2017
Runtime: 1h 58m
Rated: PG-13

Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Writers: Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, Derek Connolly, John Gatins, Merian C. Cooper, Edgar Wallace

Stars: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson

“Mark my words: there’ll never be a more screwed up time in Washington.”

Initial: Sometimes, you just want a good monster movie. Hope this one holds up to a rewatch.

Production Notes: Apocalypse Now (1979) and Princess Mononoke (1997) are both cited as inspiration for this film.

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead)
One of my favorite films as a kid was Mysterious Island (1961). Despite the impossibility of uncharted lands filled with dinosaurs and giant animals, I just really enjoy the concept. So, Skull Island works for me. It’s got a great cast, some very picturesque cinematography, characters with clever dialog, and ginormous animals battling it out. Somehow it’s a movie that can contain both John C. Rielly being a screwball and Samuel L. Jackson being Ahab. And I realized that it’s really smart to have most of the giant monster fights in the water; it gives them weight and scale.


Lord of Illusions

Year: 1995
Runtime: 1h 49m
Rated: R

Director: Clive Barker

Writer: Clive Barker

Stars: Scott Bakula, Kevin J. O’Connor, J. Trevor Edmond

“You can’t have too many saviors.”

Initial: I’ve read the short story more recently than I’ve watched the movie.

Production Notes: The Magic Castle is a real place in Los Angeles. Not sure if they shot inside, but it’s a nice nod.

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead)
Actually, I’m not sure I had seen this movie before. I thought I had, but I think I’m confusing it with Angel Heart (1987). Anyway… I feel like every movie Clive Barker has written/directed ends up getting cut in ways unflattering to the plot. (I’m including Hellraiser in this…) The bones of the story are there and there are muscles and tendons and ligaments, but the films feel unfinished. It’s not that I want to be spoon-fed plot, but I want to know the characters and the world better before, inevitably, all hell breaks loose. Still, I like Barker’s movies for what is there and, if I hadn’t seen this movie in the past, I’ll be rewatching it in the future.

Perilous Update, 10/12/2020

Perilous Mini Review

Afterlife with Archie, Vol. 1: Escape from Riverdale

Afterlife with Archie, Vol. 1: Escape from Riverdale
by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Writer), Francesco Francavilla (Illustrations), Jack Morelli (Illustrator)

I still think it’s weird that Sabrina the Teenage Witch is part of the Archie comics and the whole Archie comic-verse. Archie was the kind of comics my grandpa would suggest for me while I was reading Star Wars. Regardless, the franchise has undergone something of a renovation in recent years. But before there was Riverdale, the prime-time teen soap, there was Afterlife with Archie. The premise? A zombie apocalypse is sparked off when Sabrine helps Jughead by bringing Hot Dog back to life. The color palette is minimalist, which leads to striking visuals.

Notes of Peril

Finished Riley Sager’s Home Before Dark. I wasn’t super impressed, I’ll admit. I plan on posting about it on Thursday-ish. I’m up in the air on what I’m reading next. Maybe William Hope Hodgson’s House on the Borderland trio.

Last week, I revisited Glen Hirshberg’s excellent short story “Strewwelpeter.” If I haven’t said it before, his anthology The Two Sams is one of my favorites for this time of year.

Focus on the Frightful: William Castle – SciFi & Scary ran a nice piece on my favorite schlock director, William Castle, and his promotional shenanigans.

Notes of Non-Peril

Amazingly, it’s still a possibility that we’ll break the 100+F record. The record set in 1989 is 143 day at or above 100F degrees. We hit 142 days on Friday. The last couple of days have been in the high 90s; the rest of week promises at least one more 100 degree day. But knowing 2020 we’re probably just going to tie record…

Horror Films A–Z, Oct. 2020: G, H & I

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Year: 2014
Runtime: 1h 41m
Rated: N/A

Director: Ana Lily Amirpour

Writer: Ana Lily Amirpour

Stars: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Marshall Manesh

“I should die and leave you in peace.”

“Here, drink some water first.”

Initial: Billed as the first Iranian vampire Western ever made.

Production Notes: Filmed in…California.

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead)
I really dug the look of this movie. It reminded me more of 1940s Hays Code-era noir/horror movies than the spaghetti Westerns that are said to have inspired it. It’s such a contrast to the sort of showy black and white of The Lighthouse. Sheila Vand, as the Girl, is honestly very intimidating when she’s not looking like an ordinary girl. Arash Marandi is such a good boy that I felt a little disappointed in him when he engaged in any of his crimes. A Girl… is a bit slow. There’s a line between holding a shot and holding it too long, and I think Amirour is occasionally on the wrong side of that line.


He Never Died

Year: 2015
Runtime: 1h 39m
Rated: R

Director: Jason Krawczyk

Writer: Jason Krawczyk

Stars: Henry Rollins, Booboo Stewart, Kate Greenhouse

“Why are you calling me, Gillian? I remember hating you.”

Initial: I have a weird affection for Henry Rollins probably because he’s an angry punk, but also smart and funny. I like subverted expectations. I’ve had this movie on by TBW pile for quite a while.

Production Notes: There’s a sequel She Never Died. There was also a series talk, which I’d totally be in for.

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead)
The first thing I did at The End was message my sister with this movie rec. It’s so funny; just inky black humor for days. Henry Rollins plays the perfect world-weary, put-upon immortal. This movie could have been 10x gorier, but it doesn’t need to be. I also really liked the use of sound to convey the weight of Jack’s memories.


Hey, this is a Red Band trailer, so viewer discretion advised.

I Saw the Devil

Year: 2010
Runtime: 2h 24m
Rated: N/R

Director: Jee-woon Kim

Writers: Jee-woon Kim, Hoon-jung Park

Stars: Byung-hun Lee, Min-sik Choi, Joon-hyuk Lee

“I was wondering about you. You don’t look like a monster.”

Initial: I had heard that this was one of the most brutal, affecting revenge movies ever…

Production Notes: This was Kim Jee-woon’s follow up to The Good, the Bad, and the Weird (2008).

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead)
Historically, I have trouble managing my expectations and they got the best of me here. Working again with cinematographer Mo-gae Lee, I Saw the Devil is a well-shot, well-made movie. Yes, it’s violence is brutal, to the point that I question how any of these characters stay alive from one scene to the next. The structure felt a little messy to me; that the story might have been better served by being trimmed down. It’s all a lot, but instead of feeling worn down by the continued brutality, I got a little bored. I also like more ambiguity in character morality. I was frustrated by Soo-hyeon’s actions rather than appalled by them.

Horror Films A–Z, Oct. 2020: D, E & F

Dead Ringers

Year: 1988
Runtime: 1h 56m
Rated:

Director: David Cronenberg

Writer: David Cronenberg, Norman Snider, Bari Wood, Jack Geasland

Stars: Jeremy Irons, Geneviève Bujold, Heidi von Palleske

“You going to spank me, Doc?”

“It hadn’t occurred to me.”

Initial: Rewatch. After seeing a promo for this movie on (probably) Cinemax, I stayed up to watch this movie on cable while my parents were asleep.

Production Notes: Second movie during this project with cinematographer Peter Suschitzky. He was also the DOP of The Vanishing (1993). He’s a frequent Cronenberg collaborator.

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead)
I feel like Jeremy Irons’ 1991 Oscar for Reversal of Fortune was a make-up Oscar for Dead Ringers… Also, how did Peter Suschitzky not even get a nomination for this? Or at least someone responsible for the effects? The best effects are the effects that aren’t noticeable at all.

I first watched this movie at an impressionable age, but I think the aura of…discomfort…remains pretty much intact. This isn’t a movie that’s going to get you with gore or jump scares. It’s going to niggle its way under your skin and make you wonder what goes on in the lives of professional, successful, “together” people. People who may even be your doctor. This was Cronenberg’s follow-up to The Fly (1986).


Event Horizon

Year: 1997
Runtime: 1h 36m
Rated: R

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

Writer: Philip Eisner

Stars: Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Kathleen Quinlan

“Smitty have you seen… anything unusual at all?”

“No, I haven’t seen anything and I don’t need to see anything, sir, but I can tell you: this ship is fucked.”

Initial: Rewatch. One of the few “horror” films my husband likes.

Production Notes:

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead)
The year is 2047 and apparently we’ve solved cancer from smoking…

I know I used “much maligned” not long ago, but it really applies to Event Horizon, especially when it first came out. The majority of the criticisms seem to be: “It starts off with a good premise and then becomes a horror movie.” No, this is incorrect. It starts off as a horror movie and stays a horror movie as it excellently executes its tropes. It is, as it was pitched by its writer, a haunted house story in space.* If you think of it like that, you will have a fine old time.


For We Are Many

Year: 2019
Runtime: 1h 20m
Rated: N/R

Director: Lawrie Brewster, et al.

Writers: Claire Norton, et al.

Stars: Laurence R. Harvey, Eileen Dietz, Nicholas Vince

My name is legion, for we are many.
Matthew (8.28-34)

Initial: Thirteen stories in less than an hour and a half? I mean, I guess that’s possible…

Production Notes:

  1. “Wendigo” – dir./writ. Gavin Robertson, star. Iain Mitchell Leslie
  2. “Bad Company” – dir./writ. Carlos Omar De Leon, writ. Vorasine Vince Phrommany, star. Desire Jansen
  3. “Father” – dir./writ. Mark Logan, star. Laurence R. Harvey
  4. “Demon in the Woods” – dir. Alex Harron, writ. Chris Keaton
  5. “Night Train” – dir./writ. Brad Watson, star. Faith Knight
  6. “Eli’s House” – dir./writ. Mitch Wilson, star. Julin, Jason Duffy Klemm
  7. “Three Times Around” – dir./writ. Andrew Ionides, star Joseph T. Callaghan
  8. “The Slaughtering Ground” – dir./writ. Dane Keil
  9. “Breath” – dir./writ. Tom Staunton
  10. “The Summoned”
  11. “Intervention” – dir./writ. Paddy Murphy, star. Nicholas Vince, Brian O’Regan
  12. “The Damned Statue” – dir./writ. Matthan Harris, star. Eileen Dietz
  13. “The Murder of Crows” – star. Gareth Morrison
  14. “Creek” – dir./writ. Keith Robson

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead)
Thirteen filmmakers from around the world were asked to produce shorts inspired by demons. There are actually, not including the wrap-around, fourteen shorts. (To make up for two wendigos?) And shorts they are, most without much plot other than “Oh, god, a demon!” There was enough variation in details though that the stories stayed relatively fresh.

Obviously, with an anthology film of this magnitude, some segments are going to be better than others. Stand-outs for me:

“Night Train” – Stylish, with a bit more plot than the rest and a science fiction twist near the end.

“Three Times Around” – An urban legend filmed in a found footage/streaming style. Very effective, the best of the social media-aspected tales.

“The Summoned” – Cursed mirrors are always fun. This one also had a rather good soundtrack.

Horror Films A–Z, Oct. 2020: A, B & C

All That We Destroy

Year: 2019
Runtime: 1h 21m
Rated: TV-MA

Director: Chelsea Stardust

Writers: Sean Keller, Jim Agnew

Stars: Israel Broussard, Aurora Perrineau, Dora Madison

“I like you. You’re weird.”

Initial: The trailer looks good, but the Google results hint that this is not very good.

Production Notes: Part of Hulu’s Into the Dark series.

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead)
This movie is a sort of mash-up of Westworld (the ethics of how humans may treat clones) and We Need to Talk About Kevin (a mother’s relationship with her unbalanced son). Alone, both of these things are good. Together, eh, not great. We pretty much have a story in which a socially maladjusted young man kills women and is protected. It’s not a great look. The three young leads are talented though. I didn’t (because I’m face blind) remember Israel Broussard from Happy Death Day.


Before I Go to Sleep

Year: 2014
Runtime: 1h 32m
Rated: R

Director: Rowan Joffe

Writers: Rowan Joffe, S.J. Watson

Stars: Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, Mark Strong

“My is Christine Lucas. I’m 40 years-old and I’m an amnesiac.”

Initial: I confused Basket Case (which I have already seen) with The Brood. But then I found that I didn’t have access to The Brood. So, here we are at a movie with a trio of good actors. Seems like Memento but with the additional peril of men lying to a woman.

Production Notes: Based on a novel by S. J. Watson.

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead)
This ends up being my second “woman without memory” movie in a row. Also the second murderous chemistry teacher in as many weeks…

Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth both give great performances. They are the strength of this movie. The plot? Well, there’s a lot of room to spring left-field twists when the main character doesn’t remember anything…


The Cell

Year: 2000
Runtime: 1h 47m
Rated: R

Director: Tarsem Singh

Writers: Mark Protosevich

Stars: Jennifer Lopez, Vince Vaughn, Vincent D’Onofrio

“And what world do you live in?”

Initial: I’m glad the The Cell is getting some love as it’s celebrating its 20th anniversary and making me feel old.

Production Notes: Before the movie came out New Line (or someone else connected with the movie) ran a fiction contest. I entered and did not win.

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead)
The Cell is an underrated gem. From mundane to extraordinary: Let’s not talk about the science/technology… Otherwise, the story is solid enough and should get points for bring something different to the realm of serial killer movies. Jennifer Lopez gives a warm performance and, honestly, it was years before I realized that Vince Vaugh was primarily known as a comic actor. (The other movie I knew him from was the remake of Psycho.) The visuals in this movie are *stunning*. That is Tarsem Singh’s bread and butter. The character’s mind interiors are a dreamlike mung of vivid artistic influences. In a horror movie, that means that things are often disturbing and beautiful. (If you’re less interested in the disturbing aspect, Singh’s The Fall is absolutely worth a look.)