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Film Review: ‘The Gallows’

Mrs. Horror Boom (HorrorBoom.com):

Getting locked inside an empty school at night is a solidly bone-chilling premise for teens, and a certain subset of that audience won’t mind that nearly every one of Lofing and Cluff’s ostensibly scary setpieces can be seen coming a mile away (mostly because we’ve already seen them in other movies). Loud noises, narrow corridors, locker doors opening and closing on their own, a television set that turns on by itself to provide expositional news footage — “The Gallows” isn’t without a certain amount of atmosphere, it simply feels borrowed wholesale.

-from the Variety.com review by Geoff Berkshire

I should note that this is one of the kinder reviews I’ve read so far of this movie. This movie was already asking for it with the ad campaign, which had the nerve to compare the killer to Leatherface and Jason Vorhees. Read on…

Originally posted on Variety:

One advantage of selling horror movies to teenagers is that they’re less likely to already know all the genre tropes. That’s about the only thing working for [pmc_film_review_snippet]“The Gallows,” a routine found-footage chiller of interest mostly to those who weren’t yet old enough to catch “Paranormal Activity” in its theatrical release a mere six years ago.[/pmc_film_review_snippet] Fortunately, the microbudget feature helming debut of Chris Lofing and Travis Cluff has a relatively low bar to clear at the B.O., even if grosses fall short of the summer’s other spookfests, “Poltergeist” and “Insidious: Chapter 3.”

The filmmakers quickly establish their mythology in an effective enough urban-legend-caught-on-videotape opening sequence set in 1993, in which Nebraska high-school thespian Charlie Grimille literally dies onstage in a freak accident during a school play. Twenty years later, the school has rather inexplicably scheduled a tribute performance of the same play, titled “The Gallows,” despite concerns from some…

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The Month in Horror Releases: July

Mrs. Horror Boom (HorrorBoom.com):

Man, July is PACKED with new releases! Thanks, Ryan!

Originally posted on Rhino's Horror:

The summer season isn’t exactly known for producing quality horror, but with the recent boom in VOD releases, we’re starting to see some of the best films the genre has to offer as they quietly sneak around the blockbusters. And while July doesn’t have the strongest line-up we’ve seen this year, it does offer a diverse group of films, some of which could turn out to be the surprise hits of the year. Before we get started, here’s a quick recap of what I watched in June:

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‘Hannibal’: Producers Stoke Fan Support with ‘#SaveHannibal’ Twitter Campaign

Mrs. Horror Boom (HorrorBoom.com):

Welp, as you may have read today, we Hannibal fans got some rotten news: the current season three will be the show’s last, as goddamned NBC has decided to cancel it. On the plus side, however, devoted fans are taking to social media (and more) to try to talk some sense into NBC. This will probably not work, but hopefully it will garner enough attention from providers like, say, Netflix, to pick the show up for another season or two. Check out this Variety piece, especially if you want a link to the change.org petition, which is really picking up speed. You can also call or email Netflix to urge them to pick Hannibal up. Meanwhile, keep your fingers crossed…

Originally posted on Variety:

“Hannibal” is not going quietly.

As word spread of NBC’s decision to cancel the show after the conclusion of its third season in August, producers took to the Twitterverse with a #SaveHannibal campaign to demonstrate the depth of the show’s fan engagement to prospective new outlets.

Producers Gaumont Intl. Television and Martha De Laurentiis of the De Laurentiis Co. are actively shopping the show to new buyers, ranging from digital outlets to cable channels. The prequel to “Silence of the Lambs” reportedly had plans to introduce the Clarice Starling character, played by Jodie Foster in the Oscar-winning 1991 movie, in its fourth season.

In the meantime, the show’s hardcore fans, known as “Fannibals,” are keeping the show trending in the U.S. and other markets on social-media platforms. Exec producer Bryan Fuller, who just last week earned a series greenlight for a fantasy drama at Starz, “American Gods,” also has a dedicated…

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Film Review: ‘Insidious: Chapter 3’ – Variety Says This Is Weakest Chapter in Series

Mrs. Horror Boom (HorrorBoom.com):

“It’s all the more puzzling, then, that “Insidious: Chapter 3” keeps Shaye in the shadows for so much of its running time, and keeps Specs and Tucker (introduced as bumbling practitioners of a YouTube ghostbusting channel) on ice for even longer. During most of that time, Whannell tries his hand at the kind of atmospheric, slow-burn scares that made Wan’s films textbook examples of what Roger Ebert termed “bruised forearm movies” (so named the intensity with which they cause your date to squeeze your antebrachium). But whereas Wan (who retains a producer credit here, and makes a cameo appearance) is the sort of director who can effortlessly turn a billowing curtain or creaking floorboard into an unbearable portent of dread, Whannell rarely makes the neck hairs quiver, let alone stand at attention. The only risk of arm injury here comes from the frequent checking of one’s watch.

Around the one-hour mark, once Whannell finally has the whole ghost-hunting band back together again, “Insidious: Chapter 3” gives off a few fleeting sparks of pleasure and conjures up a couple of memorably creepy images (including that of a half-formed woman with no face, hands, or feet). But what, finally, can one say about a movie in which the family being haunted seems more embalmed than the ghosts doing the haunting?”

-From the Variety.com review by Scott Foundas

Sadly, we have heard the similar things from several other reviews. About the only upside here is saving the high cost of a ticket price, but we were hopeful this would be worth going out to see and scream at the top of our lungs a few times. If you’ve seen it, and think this review is too hard on Insidious: Chapter 3, please do tell!

You can read the entire review by clicking “View original” on the lower left.

Originally posted on Variety:

Chief among things that go bump in the night in “Insidious: Chapter 3” is the movie itself — a thuddingly dull prequel to James Wan’s very enjoyable (and highly profitable) demonic-possession horror franchise. Like last year’s subpar “The Conjuring” spinoff “Annabelle,”[pmc_film_review_snippet] this direly routine ghost story marks a huge comedown in production values and performance quality from the series’ previous entries[/pmc_film_review_snippet] (which earned a combined $258 million worldwide), despite the presence of longtime Wan collaborator Leigh Whannell behind the camera and always game-faced elder scream queen Lin Shaye in front of it. But the movie’s cardinal sin is that it’s a stifling bore — a “chapter” even devotees may deem less than essential summer reading.

After devoting two films to the bedevilment of the Lambert family — specifically, a spooky old hag that had attached itself to patriarch Josh (Patrick Wilson) from childhood — the “Insidious” series seemed poised to continue…

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Variety Review: ‘Poltergeist’ Remake “Entertaining Yet Fundamentally Unnecessary”

Mrs. Horror Boom (HorrorBoom.com):

“The cast largely acquit themselves well, even when deprived of much opportunity to really develop their characters… Rockwell plays the slightly boozy, goofy father figure with great charm and likability, and Catlett makes for a believably wise, harried tyke of the Haley Joel Osment mold. DeWitt is unfortunately rather ill served by the film’s most significant divergence from the original, which robs the character of her great moment of maternal heroism. Harris, taking over for Zelda Rubinstein, has fun channeling another vintage Spielberg production, “Jaws,” as a rough, scarred, Quint-essential spook-hunter. Visually speaking, Javier Aguirresarobe’s photography is solid — and while generally unnecessary, the 3D work sometimes adds an extra layer of claustrophobia to the creeping interior shots — yet the film’s attempts to illustrate the spirit world bring to mind Nine Inch Nails videos more readily than any otherworldly chthonian purgatory. Composer Marc Streitenfeld turns in a largely effective score, though it can’t help but pale in comparison to Jerry Goldsmith’s Oscar-nominated original. ..Even when one is inclined to admire the cleverness with which the remake revisits and reincorporates “Poltergeist’s” themes, it’s hard to pinpoint a single moment where it improves on them, and the aura of inessentiality hangs thick over the proceedings. Some franchises die, but they don’t know they’re gone. And then some franchises just get lost on their way to the reboot.”

-From the Variety review by Andrew Barker

This isn’t a huge shock, but we are kind of disappointed… we really needed a good scream or two in the movie theater (It Follows literally only played here in town one weekend, at a venue that is now a huge pain in the ass to get anywhere near thanks to traffic revisions), but this doesn’t look like it will fit the bill. Despite the fact this review compares the movie to a guided tour through a county-fair-style haunted house and states it has some quality jump scares, nothing in this review–and the others we’ve read–makes us feel like seeing it in the theater rather than waiting for VOD/Blu-ray. OK, if someone sent a car and driver to pick us up, and the movie was free, we’d go. However, reviews for Poltergeist 2015 tend to start waxing sentimental about the original, and saying though the movie tries to recapture the magic and mood Tobe Hooper was able to craft perfectly in 1982, the bottom line is that this reboot was unnecessary horror remake for a beloved, fan-favorite movie that did just fine (well, much better than fine) the first time around.

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This is what happens when you move the headstones but you don’t move the bodies!

 

Oh, and from what I’ve heard, there isn’t even really a tip of the hat to the scene in the original where a member of the first group of paranormalists studying the ghostly activity hallucinated clawing his own face off (which they could never, ever get away with putting in a PG-rated movie these days; in fact, it was borderline R-rated). I am not saying they had to duplicate it, but give us something other than the clown doll, the tree, and “They’re here/This house is clean,” for Chrissake! Check out this piece we wrote when the first trailers of the movie went online for more, including the actual gory scene (we recalled adults in the audience yelling “HOAH!” in horrified surprise even louder than the kids our age).

If you’ve seen the original and the remake, and you feel like this review was too hard on the movie, please tell us about it. We would love to be proved wrong about the face-ripping scene, too!

Read on by clicking “View original” in the lower left…

Originally posted on Variety:

The closing credits for Gil Kenan’s remake of the 1982 horror classic “Poltergeist” feature the band Spoon covering the Cramps’ 1980 punk classic “TV Set.” Spoon is a tasteful, studious yet largely anodyne indie rock outfit that has become an NPR staple; the Cramps were a scuzzy, unhinged psychobilly band whose most famous gig took place in an actual mental hospital. It’s hard to think of a more fitting postscript for this professionally executed yet bloodless film, itself an act of homage that hews reverently to its source material while missing the essential spirit and vitality that once powered it. [pmc_film_review_snippet]Generally entertaining yet fundamentally unnecessary[/pmc_film_review_snippet], this tribute-band take on one of the genre’s greatest hits should score decent opening weekend numbers before finding its way into the light.

In addition to being one of the most unsettling PG-rated films ever made, the original “Poltergeist” — directed by Tobe Hooper, with not-insignificant input…

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Film Review: ‘The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence)’

Mrs. Horror Boom (HorrorBoom.com):

It would be stretching things to the breaking point to suggest “Final Sequence” actually has something to say about the U.S. prison industry. The concept alone suggests as much, yet only near the end does the script transcend a simpleminded need to offend long enough to make even a crudely satirical statement about profit-driven institutional policies or inmate abuse. The ad line brags “100% Politically Incorrect,” but the writer-helmer’s achievement on that level is perhaps most comparable to junior high bathroom-wall graffiti: Six just wants to shock, though his imagination is so primitive that the effort is strained and a bit pathetic. Initially abrasive, the whole enterprise grows simply tedious well before the now-epically-scaled titular phenom is unveiled in the prison yard.

-From the Variety Review by Dennis Harvey

OK, so Variety.com does not have good things to say about the third Human Centipede movie. This is not exactly a huge surprise. Are you going to watch it out of morbid curiosity?

Originally posted on Variety:

Rarely has the word “final” been so welcome in a title as it is in “The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence).” [pmc_film_review_snippet]Tom Six’s latest, largest-scaled and most lamentable entry yet in the gross-out horror series manages to be completely obnoxious even before the gross stuff kicks in.[/pmc_film_review_snippet] Of course, that will only heighten its curiosity value among the usual seekers of lowest-level genre excess. Pic opens May 22 in New York and Los Angeles, though as with its predecessors, primary fan access will be through simultaneous release to VOD.

The prior chapters’ leads return in new roles here as warden and accountant of the George H.W. Bush State Prison, a (presumably Texan) hellhole experiencing constant staff turnover and inmate violence. Only exacerbating those woes is cartoonishly maniacal Bill Boss (the original “Centipede’s” mad doctor, Dieter Laser), a chrome-domed German of a type that would seem over-the-top even in 1970s Italian Nazisploitation…

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TV Review: ‘Penny Dreadful,’ Season 2

Mrs. Horror Boom (HorrorBoom.com):

“Sumptuously shot in Ireland, the series thus represents a fine and frankly shrewdly calculated addition to Showtime’s roster, in the same way any savvy manager wants to assemble a diversified portfolio. If that sounds somewhat dismissive, remember that producing a credible gothic drama isn’t as easy as it sounds (just ask Netflix’s “Hemlock Grove”). Besides, given the appetite for the genre, a program that’s simply unapologetic fun, as this is, can be plenty good, “Penny”-wise.”
We agree… and we practically levitate whenever the Grand Guignol theater shows up (and it looks like it will be seeing plenty of action this season)!  If you haven’t seen it yet, may we suggest bingeing on Season One, then catching up? This show just keeps getting better and better… and more fun. Also, Eva Green continues to kill it with her fearless performance.

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Originally posted on Variety:

Awash in gothic atmosphere and tasty performances, “Penny Dreadful” puts a face on evil in its second season, and feels considerably richer for it. That countenance would belong to Helen McCrory, who plays the head of a Lucifer-worshipping coven, eager to hand over the psychic Vanessa (Eva Green) to the Prince of Darkness. John Logan’s creation still feels haphazard at times in the way it throws together macabre figures — a bit like the Universal monster mashes of the ’40s — but viewers who spend less time dwelling on details and go with “Penny’s” crimson-streaked flow will more than get their money’s worth.

Just to recap season one, Sir Malcolm (Timothy Dalton) assembled a team to help him attempt to recover his demon-stolen daughter, including the aforementioned Vanessa, gunslinging American cowboy Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett) and a very young Dr. Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway), whose chickens — OK, in this case…

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YES! Angela Bassett Joins ‘American Horror Story: Hotel’

Mrs. Horror Boom (HorrorBoom.com):

Great news! Oh, and if you missed it, Evan Peters, Wes Bentley, and Chloë Sevigny will also return. For those who were not thrilled by the announcement about Lady Gaga appearing in American Horror Story Season 5, AKA American Horror Story Hotel, don’t panic. This is an ensemble cast, and she will not be replacing Jessica Lange as the lead. I doubt they’d give her a meatier role than, say, Kathy Bates. We’re not huge fans, but we’re also willing to give Gaga a fair chance. Meanwhile, keep on hoping that Lily Rabe, who we really missed last season (though getting to see her play Sister Mary Eunice again in the episode “Orphans” was almost worth her only being in one episode) will sign on to return! Also, we kind of miss Zach Quinto…

Originally posted on Variety:

Another “American Horror Story” alum has checked into the hotel: Angela Bassett.

Bassett, who starred as Desiree Dupree in “Freak Show” and Marie Laveau in “Coven,” the fourth and third installments, respectively, has joined the fifth round of Ryan Murphy’s anthology series.

Other previously announced “AHS” veterans in the “Hotel” cast are Sarah Paulson, Kathy Bates, Evan Peters, Wes Bentley, Chloë Sevigny and Matt Bomer. Cheyenne Jackson and superstar Lady Gaga will also co-star.

Bassett was nominated for an Emmy for her work in “Coven.”

Production on “Hotel” begins in L.A. late this summer. The 13-episode season, produced by Twentieth Century Fox Television, premieres on FX this October.

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Tribeca Film Review: ‘Maggie’

Mrs. Horror Boom (HorrorBoom.com):

Despite the casting of the male lead, this actually sounds like one to put on the Watch List. Read on!

Originally posted on Variety:

They may be dead-eyed, gray-skinned and determinedly brain-hungry, but zombies have feelings too in “Maggie,” an improbably bred but surprisingly humane hybrid of flesh-eater horror and young-adult weepie. [pmc_film_review_snippet]Though Henry Hobson’s hugely promising debut feature is generating buzz from the casting of a fine, low-key Arnold Schwarzenegger as the anguished father of a semi-zombified teen[/pmc_film_review_snippet], it’s Abigail Breslin’s gutsy, nuanced turn as the reluctantly undead title character — at once a heroine to be protected and a mutant threat to be destroyed — that makes the film unique within its grisly canon, lending this Roadside Attractions release potential crossover appeal beyond the genre crowd. “Let’s enjoy the time we have with her” is perhaps the most ironic line in a nervy, relentlessly solemn exercise; formula-resistant auds, however, should gladly spend 90-odd minutes in “Maggie’s” company.

Having been amply covered by A-list studio productions and bargain-basement exploitation fare alike, there may…

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TV Review: ‘Game of Thrones,’ Season 5

Mrs. Horror Boom (HorrorBoom.com):

This should be interesting! Especially since we can’t shake the sinking feeling that there won’t be any more books (we hope GRRM proves us wrong).

Originally posted on Variety:

With apologies to a sci-fi classic, the fifth season of “Game of Thrones” could easily be subtitled “When Worlds Collide.” Having spent four magnificent campaigns establishing various constituencies with claims to the Iron Throne, four previewed episodes connect several of them in fascinating ways, while continuing to add new faces to an already sprawling cast. Operating on a scale like nothing else on TV, and creatively liberated to play a long game stretching into the future, perhaps no project better distinguishes HBO’s status as the leading premium player than David Benioff and D.B. Weiss’ meticulous adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy world.

Always a bit slow starting (relatively speaking, anyway), the new season of “Thrones” has a lot of cleaning up to do. After all, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) escaped a death sentence and took flight with the eunuch Varys (Conleth Hill), producing no end of wonderful exchanges between the two of…

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