Silencio & Suspiria : Dark Foreign Thrills

“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.

Viva Maximum Overdrive! (Vestron Collection)

Well, needless to say, we at Groin.com love the classic horror film Maximum Overdrive. Starring Emilio Estavez, who was a big shot at the time, and directed by none other than Stephen King, this movie was a fairly big budget film which basically flopped in its hey-day but made a comeback as a cult classic on VHS and streaming. ACDC did the film score full of raucous hard rock classics.

The plot is about technology taking over and turning against humans.  Big rig and ice-cream trucks start killing everybody. Some classic scenes include death-by-bulldozer, death-by -soda can machine shooting the soda can out at high velocity at your forehead. There is also death-by-videogame electrocution, a personal favorite. This movie also probably inspired the video game Twisted metal, and the awesome ice cream truck character.

This Vestron addition Blu Ray, which just came out, is great in terms of not just picture quality, but also the behind the scenes footage. We hear stories about Tom Cruise coming to visit Estevez on the set, during shooting. And people saying how excited they were just to be around Stephen King. We learn how the critics really had it out for King, as a director. The critics basically wanted him to stick to writing. Maximum Overdrive got a lot of one star reviews, which often said the film was too gory and too white trash. But they missed the glory of this film. The film is about horror and about absurdity. Our own technology has been used against us. ISIS ran people over with semi trucks, not unlike this film. And more and more often drones are used for terror and many of the machines in this movie appear drone-like. So the irony is that this film was dismissed as an unrealistic hokey gorefest, when in fact this film was, in fact, prophetic in terms of what would go on to occur internationally in terms of terrorism (political violence).

Admittedly there is kind of a lame romance thrown in, mostly in an attempt to make Estevez seem like a Rebel Without a Cause Type. Laura Harrington does kinda OK in the role of Estevez’s love interest, but doesn’t get much character development. Emilio did a great job pulling off the role honestly. Yeardley Smith, who is now the voice of Bart Simpson, plays a terrorized newlywed who always seems to have to pee, and she contributed to the behind the scenes. She talked about having to do a scene in a dirty sewage pipe at night. She was also good in Legend of Billie Jean.  The best thing about this movie is that it is never at any point boring. The pace of the film is quite intense, and the tension is only partly resolved at the end.

Pat Hingle, of East of Eden and On the Waterfront fame, turns in a great supporting role as a right wing gas station owner who collects weapons and who fires a bazooka from his personal collection against the possessed big-rig truck. As the film gets to the mid-point, you realize the film has a bit of a take on Hitchcock’s the Birds, where the characters all take refuge in a diner during an unexpected event. There are also elements of really old horror films such as Day of the Triffids, due to the use of a single color (bright fluorescent green) being highlighted throughout the film, and the nature of the evil event being massively global in scale and occurring suddenly and , more or less, naturally.

To sum it all up, Maximum Overdrive will always be the Lawrence of Arabia of Fangoria type movies. This Blu Ray is very worthy, and it helps restore this exquisite film to its rightful position along the top shelf of horror fans’ collections everywhere.

Oso Polar is a Decent Thriller!

At the Hola a Mexico film festival in Salinas, California, I came across an unexpected gem called “Oso Polar” (Polar bear).  This film was shot on cell phones and is about a man who was picked on by his class during high school who nevertheless offers to chauffer several of his classmates to their high school reunion,  The reunited students think good times are about to ensue, but the often-slighted driver has other ideas.  The film starts out rather mundanely introducing the characters.  However, it soon turns into a low-budget cross between  “Donnie Darko” and “The Gift.”  The director builds up intrigue here and sets up apocalyptic events,  Because of the budget, the payoff is muted.  However, “Oso Polar” remains a very effective, well-acted thriller that could definitely give you nightmares!  This little film is definitely worth seeking out.

Halloween 2018 : Jamie Lee Curtis Magnum Force

There is nothing I love more than a hot GILF with 20 shotguns. If Michael Meyer’s had chased me through numerous films, and already killed me in a forgotten role, I would be ready for the apocalypse too. This much hyped sequel, which has already raked in 90 million dollars since Thursday, was needed to give a shot in the arm to the viewers, who haven’t had quite enough scary films out lately (we can never have enough). David Gordon Green, of Pineapple Express fame, does a decent job of directing. He had kind of a Hitchcock-like flair to it, where you presume to know what will happen next, online to be deceived.

Oh boy, this film had a very high body count. Though I did not get an exact count. It was pretty gory too. I was impressed that the whole feminist angle actually works, and is not shoe horned in. It seems appropriate what happens. Jamie Lee Curtis gives a good performance, mostly physically. She is able to tell us through body language and facial expressions, rather than through written dialogue. The score was a little bit overhyped, in that it was overly similar to the ones from the first two films. Somehow Michael Myers seemed like a deranged left wing example of how the left fears the right, as he slays journalists and people who are generally PC. He is played by the same actor who played him in the first movie. Myers has aged in the film clearly, along with his sister (Curtis). I like the fact that Michael has aged. there are nuances like this that make the film above average.

Curtis has a billion guns in her basement. Her house is booby trapped. Her family is prepped to kill any intruder. It is basically a prepper version of Halloween. By the end of the movie I was expecting the killer to hold a 911 Truther symposium or something. I am still waiting for him to kill a couple of Hari Krishnas too. And no, unfortunately Tom Atkins was not cast in the film. Still waiting to hear on the Night of the Creeps 2 sequel. There is a really great ending where you are left completely uncertain as to whether Myers is dead or not. Don’t go to this movie expecting something as great as a John Carpenter classic. But if you want something scary, entertaining, and timely, check this out.

Hellfest is Hella OK

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!

The Predator Is a Guilty Pleasure


I went to see Predators the other day. It happens to be directed by one of the actors from the first Predator film (the guy with the glasses in the platoon) and the trailer was awesome, as in totally full of action plus funny. So I went into this film having very high expectations. This film does have a lot of action, and it is also pretty funny. There also happens to be a very high body count involved. However, it is somewhat fleeting and unmemorable, with the exception of the set-up at the end, which I will elaborate on further.

The plot is basically: the Predator is being held at a government facility and they think they have it subdued. Meanwhile, an autistic boy has unwittingly found a Predator suit and accidentally summons a bunch of Predators to Earth. Unfortunately, it wakes up and kills everyone except for a few stragglers led by Olivia Nunn, who escapes by getting naked. Basically, The Predators are poised to conquer humanity. and only the Loonies (led by Nunn, Boyd Holbrook and Thomas Jane) can stop them.

Here is where the film falls short: too much humor. It’s hard to get too worked up about the threat of the Predator when there’s a one=liner every minute. Some of the humor is a little too on-the nose, such as when a character describes the Predators as “alien Whoopi Goldbergs.” Also, the films lacks a setting as interesting as a those of the first three.

In these couple of regards though it is a pretty decent and entertaining action & sci-fi extravaganza: the humor, when it lands, is effective. For example, there is a great gag involving a misunderstanding involving “eating pussy.” Also, it is revealed that the Predators want to use the best of humanity to mate with the Predators, which means that the autistic boy is in danger of having to mate with the Predators. There is a TON of action and unlike the previous films, there is a huge budget ($90 million). The set-up for a sequel at the end is surprising and effective.

Would I recommend this movie? Yes, but don’t expect a seriously memorable or mind-blowing experience. Personally, I like the first film, and then I like Predator 2, as well as Predators (with Adrian Brody). Let’s face it, it takes great actors to make a great movie. One more thing I would like to mention is that Alien v Predator 2 (yes, the one where there are teeny characters and the Alien ends up fighting in the HS swimming pool) is an abomination, and each and every last copy should be tracked down and summarily burned into minces. This one is not as good as the first three “Predator” films but is much better than the “AvP” films as well as the latest “Jurassic World” disappointment. If you’re a fan of the Predator films, don’t miss “The Predator.” It’s the year’s best monster film!

The First Purge = White People Are Bad

Featuring a multi-cultural inner city cast, and perpetuating black gangster stereotypes of 1970s blackploitation films, the First Purge attempts to explain why people need so many rules (plus law enforcement in order to act like responsible individuals. This series represents mankind in a violent Hobbesian state of nature, pitted against each other in a zero sum game. The evil (mostly white) government has set up a social “experiment” which pays people to harm one another and violate them or kill. The film starts off as a shoddily filmed yawn, with the PC crowd protesting the upcoming violence. The acting is so so in the early parts of the film.

Things start to pick up when the government implants colorful video cameras into the eyes of the contestants, doing surveillance on them, and rewarding them (theoretically since they wind up killed and not able to collect) with cash. It turns out the government (evil white people) want to cull the population. It is not an experiment so much as class warfare or possibly genocide. As the contest goes on , not enough people are participating in killing each other. Therefor, the government inserts mercenaries from private ex military personnel to dress as contestants and go waste everyone. These other bad guys are of course white. There are minority bad guys, who always turn out to have a lame excuse like being poor so they have to do crime, or they are crazy. Remember, only white people do evil because they actually are evil. And remember that black guy drug gangs are really the good guys. And they will be the ones who will save you from ‘The Man’, when all the shit goes down. Gangster guys can just do drugs and run on the treadmill all day. And they will automatically turn into a ninja and they will kill everyone and save you.

If you remember all that , then maybe you can survive the holocaust too! Oh. And don’t forget to listen to ganster rap all day long. And focus on CNN as your main news source. This left wing paranoid fantasy against the right is a bit absurd, though fun at times. One great scene involved two crazy female contestants who had set up a minefield booby trapped with deranged plastic baby dolls. This film was worth the matinee price for that part alone. Overall, there were some great visuals. Besides the latter mentioned, there is an insane black guy mental patient character who kills with syringes taped to his hand (like Freddy 3 classic kill moment) which I also really appreciated. Also noteworthy are the similarities to the video games Manhunt and Silent Hill. A lot of the imagery used in these films is that grainy urban nightmarish style from the late 90s video games that influenced a generation. Manhunt was really controversial , but this film goes over like a Pina Colada. This movie was a little more ‘Hate Whitey’ than the other purge movies, where a white dude saved hella people on one hand. I have to give it a c+. Fuck the man!

New B Movie Mocks Millenials

Sometimes I get tired of epic films and films that intend to be quality films. When I don’t want to see a film like, for example,
“The English Patient,” “Titanic,” or even the new “Avengers” film, then it’s time to watch something like “Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare.”

This movie, which must be the first to have the production company’s name in the title, is silly drive-in fodder about a group of college students (led by Lucy Hale and Tyler Posey) who get suckered by someone they don’t know into playing a game of Truth or Dare at an abandoned church. Little do they know that there is a demon at the church who takes Truth or Dare too seriously and literally, so much so that Truth or Dare becomes a matter of life and death.

This film is funny, and it’s hard to tell if that’s deliberate or not. One character, for example, dies because he opts not to show his “pool cue” on a dare. This character inspires much laughter because they replay the actor’s lines about his “junk” and “pool cue” over and over again. Another character is made to “come out” to his dad, which shows that this demon has a left-wing agenda.

Basically, this film plays like a veiled attack on millenials and how shallow they are. For example, one student dies because he refuses to admit he forges prescriptions as his “truth.” Although the film is rated PG-13, some of the deaths are imaginative, such as when the aspiring medical student stabs his eye out with a pen.

It’s tough to rate a movie like this because it’s not scary and it’s not very well-written but at the same time is entertaining
and amusing. Director/co-writer Jeff Wadlow, whose last film was “Kick-Ass 2” keeps the pacing fast and the body count high so that we keep watching no matter how dumb the film gets. The actors will never win Oscars but deserve credit for keeping a straight face with such ridiculous material. Ultimately, even though the concept of a deadly “truth or dare” game is so ridiculous, the film works. “Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare” is the horror guilty pleasure of the year, so down some tequila and prepare to laugh with and at this entertaining hokum!

I DARE you!

Chappaquiddick : Get Away with Murder

With sex scandals in the news, especially the one where Trump paid
some bitch to shut up, but she won’t, it is time to examine how to get
away with murder. Ted Kennedy did just that.

There’s a new, refreshingly unbiased film out about Ted Kennedy
called “Chappaquiddick.” It is about the infamous 1969 incident where
Kennedy drove his car off a bridge, which led to a lovely campaign
strategist named Mary Jo Kopechne dying either of drowning or
suffocation. It is not clear exactly how Ted escaped drowning, since
Mary Jo was locked in the car. Instead of rescuing Mary Jo or
reporting the incident when it happened, Ted sat on it for 10 hours
(for reasons no one really understands) before finally calling it in.
By the time he did, Mary Jo was dead and the cover-up begins.

The depiction of the accident is heart-wrenching and sad, but
where the new movie gets really interesting is in its depiction of the
cover-up. Half-brother Joe Gargan, played by Ed Helms, tries to help
Kennedy but disapproves of his actions, and father Joe Kennedy played
by Bruce Dern, can barely speak or write but is furious at Ted and
says only one word: alibi. Robert McNamara is also involved, and the
film ultimately involves a choice on Ted’s part: his career or
(perhaps) his soul.

This is a surprisingly good movie. All the actors are great
in their roles, especially Jason Clarke as Ted, a man with good
intentions who never wanted to be President but must carry on the
family’s legacy. Ed Helms is great in a serious role and Bruce Dern
is a force of nature as the elderly Joe. Kate Mara is able to show a
great deal of humanity in her brief role as Mary Jo. Scenes of Ted
manipulating the press by pretending to be the victim and wearing a
phony neck brace stick in the mind, as does the final scene, real
footage of Massachusetts voters from 1969, most of whom still love Ted
despite the fact that he apparently caused this young woman’s death.
It got me to thinking that maybe Trump should have driven Stormy
Daniels off a bridge; he could then claim to be broken up or in shock
about her death, as Ted did. Problem solved! Anyway, “Chappaquiddick”
kicks ass and you should go see it!

Go See Prey at Night

“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!