“Silencio” is a Mexican-made thriller (partially in English) based on true events. The true events are the setting of the Zone of Silence in Mexico, an area that was accidentally nuked by the U.S. and has numerous conspiracy theories and dark rumors surrounding it. Basically, it is akin to the Bermuda Triangle. In this film, a magical stone is found there that has the ability to alter time and past events. You can go back to any specific event and change one thing that happens. The catch is that you can’t change anything else and that whatever you do change will impact the world in unforeseeable ways. Basically, this fascinating premise is attached to a multigenerational family thriller and a deadly hit-and-run. While some critics are upset that this premise was used for a family thriller, I think anchoring the premise to a tense family drama is an interesting choice that works well. Indeed, I was on the edge of my sea t for much of “Silencio” because I honestly didn’t know how it was going to turn out.
“Suspiria” is a remake of the classic 1977 thriller by Dario Argento. It takes place in Berlin 1977, where the world is a dark and evil place. While catastrophic real-world events are playing out, the smaller but much scarier conflict is going on at the local dance school. The school is in fact run by and populated by witches who use the school to give new meaning to the term “killer dance moves.” After the school’s top dancer (played by Chloe Grace Moretz) has a nervous breakdown and becomes expendable, a replacement dancer (Dakota Johnson) is brought in who is inexperienced but brilliantly talented. Through her, the head-mistresses (both played by Tilda Swinton) hope to spread Wicca and conquer Berlin. The only thing standing in their way is a very strange elderly psychiatrist who is investigating claims of witchcraft. Will he succeed in vanquishing evil or will the demonic, sexually outrageous coven conquer all?
If you’re a fan of Argento’s classic grindhouse film, this remake is a must-see. It’s a little hard to follow and perhaps overly feminist but it has the terrifying lucidity of a real nightmare. It has a cameo by Jessica Harper, star of the original. With excellent cinematography and a score by Thom Yorke of Radiohead, this movie can both withstand comparisons to the original and stand on its own two feet. Guaranteed to freak out all but the most seasoned horror movie fan, this is the rare bloody horror film that is critically respected yet also good for gorehounds. It’s an American film directed by an Italian (“Call Me by Your Name” director Luca Guadagnino) that is partially in German. At 151 minutes, it is one of the longest exploitation films ever made.
“Silencio” and “Suspiria” are both in limited release right now. If you’re looking for foreign thrills, run (don’t walk!) and check them out.
If you are a hardcore fan of the “Phantasm” series but were unable to pick up the 5-film Blu-ray box set when it was briefly available, good news! “Phantasm 3” and “Phantasm 4: Oblivion” have finally been released individually on Blu-ray. You can now thrill to the saga of Mike (A. Michael Baldwin), brother Jody (Bill Thornbury), Reggie (the great Reggie Bannister) and of course the Tall Man (the late Angus Scrimm) all in the privacy of your own home in high definition. How are these two films and their transfers?
Part 3 starts where the underrated “Phantasm II” left off, with the love interest from that one being quickly dispatched with and Mike now being a captive of The Tall Man. This leaves Reggie all by his lonesome hunting the Tall Man, attempting to rid the world of his evil. He is eventually joined by a tough little boy (Kevin Connors) and a tough black lady sidekick/love interest named Rocky (played by Gloria Lynne Henry). Will this unconventional yet badass group succeed? Tune in to find out!
“Phantasm 3” is one of the greatest direct-to-video movies ever made. It is scary, funny, sexy, and totally off-the-wall. Writer-director Don Coscarelli takes a $2 million budget and makes it seem like $30 million. The cast is clearly having a ball, which is appropriate since the Ball is back (again!). This Blu-ray transfer is very well-done, too, with good use of detail and excellent picture and sound. It comes with an audio commentary and behind-the-scenes footage.
Since “Phantasm 3” was supposed to play in theatres but didn’t, “Phantasm IV: Oblivion” was made on a much lower budget of about $400,000. So you’d think it wouldn’t be any good, right? You’d be wrong! Part 4 finds our titular characters Reggie and Mike (minus Connors and Henry) still battling The Tall Man. In the process of dodging his killer spheres and trying not to fall prey to his mind games, Reggie (and a mostly offscreen Mike) discover the Tall Man’s true origin. Using previously unused footage from Part 1, director Coscarelli is able to show us sides of the characters that we’ve never seen before. Despite the low-budget, the film seems epic and impressive. Once again, the Blu-ray transfer is great and another audio commentary and behind the scenes documentary is included.
So if you love the “Phantasm” series but don’t own the Blu-ray box set, you should run out and buy the “Phantasm 3” and “Phantasm 4” Blu-rays, which are available new for about $15 new. Angus Scrimm may be dead but the “Phantasm” series will never die!
Going into “Hell Fest,” I knew three things: 1. The trailers and
posters were awesome. 2. The filmmakers are talented, with the
director having edited “Get Out” and the producer having made “Aliens” and “Tremors.” 3. The reviews are TERRIBLE! Having seen the film, I can now report that the bad reviews are way off-base and this is one of the scariest films of the year. Almost a close uncredited remake of “The Funhouse,” it focuses on a group of teens attending a Halloween haunt and theme park known as the Hell Fest. Unbeknownst to them, a slasher wearing a really scary mask is going on a killing spree using the park as cover. Even once one of the teenagers figures out what is going on, it is nearly impossible for her to get anyone to believe her. A well-made thrill ride with a truly ingenious surprise ending, this movie will haunt your dreams for nights on end. “Hell Fest” delivers a HELL of a good scare!
How did I end up seeing “Assassination Nation,” a low-budget indie film with a distinct lack of advertising? It was the most
interesting sounding movie that Movie Pass would allow my brother and I to go see. It’s about four popular high school girls in Salem (one of them a trannie) who are leading hyper-sexualized, promiscuous lives when suddenly a hacker rocks Salem by gradually making every member of town’s internet information available to everyone in town, one by one.
First the mayor is exposed publicly as a trannie, for instance, which causes him to publicly commit suicide. Then, the likable black principal of Salem High has possibly questionable pictures of his very young daughter made public, which causes the town to (unfairly) turn against him. What starts as a raucous dark comedy akin to “Heathers” becomes the “Super-Purge” as the entire town becomes violent and turns on each other and (more importantly) our four protagonists. In order to survive, the four girls have to turn hyper-aware and hyper-violent as no man in the town can be trusted (and no women either really).
This movie has a liberal, hyper-feminist and subversive message that I really can’t get behind; men and women in general are not as evil and judgmental as in this film. However, it is true that hysteria over the internet and people turning on each other is destroying our society, and so people need to calm down and look at the whole person. I am recommending this film because it is funny, violent, self-aware, subversive, rather unpredictable, and genuinely interesting. I do not agree with most of what writer-director Sam Levinson is saying with this film, but I do applaud the manner in which he says it. “Assassination Nation” is a surprisingly interesting film that deserves much better than it got at the box office. I would definitely recommend seeing it if you get the chance.
OK, there’s no getting around the fact that “The Nun” is not a great movie, or even (God knows!) a very memorable one. But it also must be acknowledged that the movie works. The story of a ghostly nun wreaking havoc in a remote nunnery, the film is ridiculous but this “true story” works more often than not. Part of this is due to Tessa Farmiga, sister of Vera Farmiga (who starred in “The Conjuring”), who has a good screen presence and part of it is due to producer James Wan (who directed “The Conjuring.”) There are a lot of good pop-outs and the concept (silly as it may be) has never been done before in a mainstream film. The cinematography is also excellent, with the film resembling a Hammer film (whether we’re talking Christopher Lee or “The Woman in Black”) in terms of how it looks. In terms of how it fits into “The Conjuring” universe, the film is enjoyable because it doesn’t take itself too seriously (unlike “The Conjuring” films and the atrocious “Annabelle” films.) There is a jump-scare about every 15 seconds and although I didn’t believe the story was “true” the scares were effective as I did jump a lot. If ghostly, havoc-wreaking nuns in far-flung environments with scary cinematography and jumps appeal to you, I will say this: “The Nun” was fun.
If you like movies like “The Blob” or “Critters,” you won’t want to miss “Slugs: The Movie”! An obscure 1987 horror film from New World Pictures (the great studio that gave us “Hellraiser” and “House”), the film concerns a small town which becomes infested with, you guessed it, slugs that kill! ‘Mutant garden snails with a taste for blood’ was the tag-line. The victims include a little boy, an old couple, and a nude teen couple that have just had sex. No one, of course, will believe the police detective’s theory that slugs are responsible. We, the viewers, know better and are wickedly entertained by this B MINUS film.
There are exactly NO name actors in this film. But it does have plenty of bare breasted women in leotards, so don’t worry!
Why is this movie so entertaining? Maybe because it knows it’s ridiculous, or maybe because it’s from the director of the cult classic “Pieces.” In any case, I was on the edge of my seat despite myself. The actors, who I’d never heard of, are decent, the special effects are gross, and the music score is appropriate, At the end of the day I enjoyed myself and crossed watching “Slugs: The Movie” off my bucket list. If you’re looking for a good time with an intentionally ridiculous film, check out “Slugs,” available on DVD and Blu-ray! It’s better than “Sharknado”! You may have missed this flick, in the 80’s, but don’t miss your chance to see it now, before the mysterious upcoming, final event.
This movie had 15 kills, 20 bare-breasts, 9 dancing women in leotards, one barbeque gone completely haywire, 3 dancing slug-infested clowns, one bathroom that looks like a nuclear hurricane hit it, 4.5 eradicator gnomes (from the 5th dimension) + even MORE. A total MUST SEE!
A little thriller called “Bad Samaritan” slipped into cinemas eight days ago, and it looks like it’s going to close just as quietly. That’s a shame because this is a well-crafted thriller that really does thrill.
It’s about an Irish valet with a hot girlfriend and a nice family who, along with his friend and fellow valet, runs a scam job on the mean and rich by robbing petty things from their homes while their clients are out having a good time. It seems like a great scheme because no one gets hurt, the targets “deserve” it, and only petty things are stolen that these rich jerks don’t need. All goes well until one night, invading mean snob’s house, our hero finds a woman bound and gagged and, if that wasn’t bad enough, a look at other rooms in the house indicate that this man (played by David Tennant of “Doctor Who” and “Jessica Jones” fame) is almost certainly a serial killer. What should our “bad Samaritan” do?
This is a good thriller because screenwriter Brandon Boyce (“Apt Pupil”) and director Dean Devlin (“Geostorm”) are far less interested in gore and jump scares than they are in surprising the audience with unexpected twists and suspense. The film refuses to use a predicable “Don’t Breathe” scenario and instead gives us a surprising cat-and-mouse battle of wits. By the end of the film, we feel like we’ve been through a journey at least worthy of a James Patterson novel and film.
The acting is pretty good down the line in the film, with Tennant being the standout as a psycho who enjoys messing with people’s heads as much as killing them. In that sense, “Bad Samaritan” is a welcome revival of the 1990’s serial killer thriller . It’s not going to be in theaters long, so if you like fun thrillers with smart characters, don’t miss “Bad Samaritan.”
“The Strangers: Prey At Night” is a well-crafted sequel in the
John Carpenter tradition, but what’s really interesting about it is
the way it reflects contemporary concerns and anxieties. The
“Strangers” films play on fear of The Other. What is the Other?
Anything that will come, motivated or not, and destroy a couple (in
“The Strangers”) or a family (the new film). You can see these
anxieties also in “The Purge” films (the fourth of which is coming
this summer) and the new “Death Wish” remake. The basic thrust of all
these films is that not only will the government not protect you, but
also that they will force you to take matters into your own hands.
Even though crime has supposedly been falling the last few years,
paranoia is up and people don’t feel safe. The message of these
movies is simple: kill or be killed. You can certainly argue with
this message, but you can’t argue that these films bluntly and
effectively present it. Horror films like these show us what we fear
and also how little we can do to avoid crime. “The Strangers: Prey at
Night” is a terrifying mirror of where we are right now, and as such
is more illuminating than exploitative. It’s unfortunate that horror
films are reflecting current problems, but don’t blame the messenger
for the message. The second installment of “The Strangers” is
recommended and don’t go alone!
This past weekend something extraordinary happened. A cheap
monster horror film which is really an experimental art film brought
in $50 million at the American box office. How did this happen?
Somebody, possibly producer Michael Bay, sensed that audiences were
tired of generic blockbusters like “Pacific Rim: Uprising.” Somebody
saw potential in an odd, bleak script with very little dialogue and
somehow sensed that actor/co-writer John Krasinski (from “The Office”)
could pull everything together and direct a good film out of it, one
that people would want to see. Paramount Pictures released the film
on a weekend with no new big budget films coming out and made sure all
the critics saw it. A new smash hit was born!
“A Quiet Place” is about a family trying to survive in a grim
future where gigantic monsters are decimating mankind. The only way
to survive this situation is not to make any loud noises. This is
easier said than done, but the family (led by John Krasinski and Emily
Blunt) has a leg up because the daughter is deaf so they all know sign
language. Fatefully, the mother becomes pregnant. The film plays
largely without dialogue as the family struggles to survive.
The filmmakers behind “A Quiet Place” realize that the
audience not only wants an exciting, edge-of-your-seat experience but
also something that is unlike anything they’ve seen before. The result
will please fans of M. Night Shamalayan (sic) as well as monster movie
film buffs. The film is exciting, well-acted, original, and often
terrifying, yet subtle enough to get a PG-13. By the end of the film,
I felt that I had seen something worth going out of my way to see; the
audience was enraptured with the film and many applauded at the end.
If you see one horror film this year, make it “A Quiet Place.”
A new “Chainsaw” called “Leatherface” has quietly snuck onto Blu-ray, DVD, and Direct TV. It claims to tell the real story of how Leatherface came to be. We begin at the Sawyer house, where Lili Taylor holds sway over the degenerate Sawyer family and young Jeb is being encouraged to kill. He refuses, so the family kills for him. The family makes the mistake of killing the sheriff’s (played by Stephen Dorff) daughter, and as punishment he sends Jed, the only innocent man in the family, to an institution filled with violent inmates. Ten years later, Jed (whose name has changed so the audience doesn’t know his identity) breaks out with the other inmates and a killing spree ensues.
Basically, this is the goriest movie of the year. It has stabbings, a head explosion, necrophilia, and, of course, chainsaw deaths. It is the last film of executive producer and GROIN Hall of Famer Tobe Hooper, one of the greatest horror directors who ever lived. It is refreshing to see such a politically incorrect film in this day and age, and the cast throws themselves into their roles with heedless abandon. Is this a great movie? No. Is it a lot of fun? Hell yeah! The “Texas Chainsaw” series rules, and this is the best one in a long time.Be sure to catch it before the commies take it off the shelves!
I love this series. In this new PC touchy feely age, sometimes society needs a bit of savage realism to knock some sense into it. At a time where half the country is upset about having their hiney touched thirty years ago, I choose to spend my time watching films about those people getting chopped in half because they made a wrong turn in the country-side and ran out of gas. Too bad they couldn’t have cast Judge Roy Moore in a cameo as the cannibal dad.