Soothe Your Tattered Nerves With (Throwback) Scariest Horror Short of The Week – “Playtime” (Grand Prize Winner of “Who’s There” Challenge)

Yep, this has been published before. Let’s face it, the election clock ticking down has pretty much everyone on edge (at best).  We can tell you that, through life experience, sometimes the way to get your mind off something scary in real life is to watch something fictional, like oh, a horror movie, that at least diverts the terror into a manageable area. So, we are (re)presenting a pretty goddamned scary short horror film to distract you! Enjoy, and just hit the category tag for ‘Scariest Short Horror Film of the Week’ (or month) if you want more.  Hey, things could be worse… you could be the main character in this terrifying little gem.

 

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You remember the scariest short horror film of the entire month of May, “Lights Out,” right? Uh, yeah, we remember it pretty vividly, too. We thought it won First Prize, and “Lights Out” did win Best Director. Screen shot 2014-06-04 at 11.58.37 PM

We were surprised to find there was a Grand Prize Winner of the Bloody Cuts “Who’s There?” short film challenge that was a different film. How could anything be scarier than Lights Out? We were scared to watch “Play Time”, honestly, but it WAS still light out. It’s light out right now, which is why we are brave enough to post it. However, nice summer evening out or not, this one is fucking scary. I personally would be screaming as loud as the actress in the movie if I saw it in a movie theater, and probably more than once.  If I was the actual character, I would have soiled myself (and well before the ending).

So if you want a good old-fashioned scare, turn out the lights, turn up the volume, and switch to full-screen. Then check this out:

So… not as much of a slow burn (if you can describe any three-minute short that way) as “Lights Out”, but…yeah. Doesn’t waste much time, and we loved it.

We do recommend the below “making of” short. It’s interesting… and it might help you sleep a little better.

 

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Variety Review: ‘The Invitation’ (2015) Will Freeze Your Blood

“Everything does go to hell in the end, of course, as it must in any genre movie worth its salt, and “The Invitation” delivers the necessary jolts in satisfyingly visceral fashion without descending into Grand Guignol excess. Still, it’s in the slow-and-steady buildup — as opposed to the attenuated action climax or the slightly eye-rolling denouement — where the film excels, as Kusama (working with editor Plummy Tucker) keeps the tension simmering away beneath the sounds of clinking silverware and polite, nervous laughter. D.p. Bobby Shore’s elegantly skulking camera familiarizes us with virtually every inch of the house to which the action is confined, bathing the interiors in a seductively moody, almost amber glow. Phillip Blackford’s sound design adds to the eerie vibe, ensuring that we register every slammed door, shattered glass and cut-off scream with perfect clarity.”

-From the Variety (at SXSW) review by Justin Chang for “The Invitation”

“It Follows”: Ten Things We’ve Read Online That Have Us Counting The Days Till Release!

You may have seen the “Milestone” widget in the footers counting down the days until It Follows (nice creepy title) will be out on VOD and DVD/Blu-Ray. Why, you ask? Read on.

It Follows–written and directed by David Robert Mitchell–garnered up a ton of positive buzz when it made the festival circuit last summer; reviewers went out of their way to praise the film and tell readers how frightening it is.  We would include the creepy trailer here, but more than one review advised going into this movie knowing as little as possible about the details, and to avoid the trailer in particular. Some of the reviews say that the last act of the film is uneven, but none of them advise us to avoid the movie because of it.

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So we will give you the official plot given out in the PR, which lets you know just about the right amount of detail:

For nineteen-year-old Jay, Autumn should be about school, boys and week-ends out at the lake. But after a seemingly innocent sexual encounter, she finds herself plagued by strange visions and the inescapable sense that someone, something, is following her. Faced with this burden, Jay and her friends must find a way to escape the horrors that seem to be only a few steps behind.

Here are ten excerpts from top reviewers that got us to put it on our Must-See List (with links and annotations, in case you want to read the actual pieces in their entirety).

1. The first is from Variety.com. We re-posted their review last summer (yep, that’s how long this has been on our Must-See List) which you can read here. What grabbed us, you ask? Well, here is the set-up from the reviewer:

“As bogeymen go, Mitchell’s monster is both intuitive (like something out of a bad dream) and impossible to comprehend (despite much discussion, no one seems to know how to beat it). The pic’s malevolent shape-shifter can take the form of anyone, from a beloved relative to a complete stranger. Sometimes it’s subtle enough to blend in with crowds. At others, it’s frighteningly conspicuous: a naked old man staring at you from a nearby rooftop, or a cheerleader leaking urine as she lurches across the living-room floor. The only certainty seems to be that it won’t stop until you’re dead. And once you’re dead, it will go after the person who “gave” it to you.“

So, Variety already had our full attention after we read this. Then it got better.  This is from the IGN.com review:

2 .It’s a refreshing change for modern horror, which has become far too reliant on jump scares and deafening sound cues, in place of carefully mounting tension. Mitchell prefers a slow burn. The use of wide shots is particularly successful once Jay starts being pursued. It’s almost like a sick game of ‘Where’s [Waldo?]’ – find the plodding killer in the frame before it’s too late…

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3. The rules of the damned in It Follows are intriguing and frightening. The never-named apparition will follow you forever, for instance, but it has to follow on foot. You can briefly elude the monster by driving away but it always comes back, leading to one shocking moment after another in which Mitchell’s impeccable wide shots gradually reveal a single individual gradually making their way into the foreground, while the oblivious protagonists ignore the audience’s pleas to RUN! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES! (Reviewed by William Bibbiani,* editor of CraveOnline’s Film Channel and the host of The B-Movies Podcast and The Blue MoviePodcast*).

There’s not a single character in Mitchell’s film that fails to elicit our sympathy, and so their demises always resonate like a tuning fork from Hell.

 

4. Once the scares start to come, they rarely let up. Mitchell, in only his second full-length, does an incredible job of creating horror not only in small houses in the middle of the night but in beachfronts with the sun shining down, in schoolyards on an overcast day, and in the middle of an empty street with nothing in sight… The highest compliment I can pay the movie is that its moments of horror play out like something from an old children’s ghost story. It’s not hard to imagine finding the tale within the pages of a collection of folklore akin to Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (now with sex!).**

By this point we felt like grabbing all the cash we had on hand and tossing it frantically at the screen of the laptop we were reading on; sadly, we knew that wouldn’t get us the movie magically appear online to watch and we still had to wait. Here’s more of the praise heaped on It Follows by critics we trust.

5. It Follows is suspenseful, atmospheric and spine-tingling horror cinema which nods at the masters and completely astounds as it manages the tough feat of being striking, sensitive and utterly disturbing. (Film.list.co.uk, read more here)

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6. Director David Robert Mitchell gives this an almost art-house vibe, mixed with a retro-eighties look and an amazing synth-soundtrack that sounds like a cross between Vangellis and John Carpenter. Mitchell does a brilliant job ratcheting up the terror throughout the film, and by the time the end credits rolled I was almost feeling queasy from how on edge I had been during the last act of the film. …IT FOLLOWS will likely become a big-time horror sleeper once Radius (who acquired the rights out of Cannes) puts it out, and if you can see this on the big screen that would be all the better. It’s a tremendous horror flick and the scariest film I’ve seen in years. It’s deeply, deeply unsettling. (JoBlo, click here to read the full TIFF review.)

7. Chris Bumbray at Reelfilm.com gave the movie 8/10 stars, even though he had problems with the last act of the film. Though it fizzles out to a slight degree in its final stretch, It Follows nevertheless establishes itself as one of the most inventive, exciting, and truly frightening horror flicks to come around in ages.

 

“More or less a contemporary horror fan’s dream come true.”

 

 

8. The movie’s a brilliantly fresh spin on a classic model – the pass-on-the-curse conceit which horror fans will know from MR James’s shivery short story “Casting the Runes”, and its numerous cinematic offspring, from Jacques Tourneur’s Night of the Demon (1957) to the Japanese cult hit Ringu (2000) and its American remake, The Ring (2002). It Follows – which deserves even more marks for that marvellously suggestive title – does this entire lineage proud, not just by switching tacks from runic subterfuge or videotape circulation to the rather Cronenberg-y gambit of inflicting a demon on your unfortunate sex partner. It’s altogether smart, subtextually fascinating, and more or less a contemporary horror fan’s dream come true. (Tim Robey, Telegraph UK)

 

“It’s a tremendous horror flick and the scariest film I’ve seen in years. It’s deeply, deeply unsettling”.

 

8. Fangoria LOVED this movie (8/10 skulls), and Chris Alexander (Fangoria Editor and the writer of this review) said this:. It Follows is an incredibly evolved, joyously alive piece of “dead teenager” cinema that likely requires a few viewings to properly assimilate its rhythms. And it could easily become part of any High School health class curriculum, because If I saw it as a kid, when I was at my hormonal, girl-hungry peak, I’d likely pack my bags and move to a monastery.

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9. There’s a primal fear at work here – everyone gets nervous about being followed – and even though the monster is fiction, I suspect the anxiety may pursue the viewer home. (Luke Y. Thompson, Toplessrobot.com)

Well, that won’t be a problem, since we will be watching it at home, so the anxiety won’t have to follow us anywhere! Nope, it’ll be right there with us.

10. Finally, we can’t count the number of pieces in which the writer stated that John Carpenter was clearly a huge influence. Early John Carpenter.

It Follows will be in theaters and VOD on March 13th. The tagline is, “IT DOESN’T THINK. IT DOESN’T FEEL. IT NEVER GIVES UP.”

 

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This just in: It Follows won the critic’s prize– AKA top honors– at the Glasgow International Film Festival. This isn’t a genre festival, either, which makes the win even more impressive. It even topped A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, which, as you probably are aware, is no small feat. Read about it here.

 

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*Follow him on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani

** Read the full review here at ConsequencesOfSound.net.

Variety Says ‘Preservation’ Best Appreciated As a Member of a Cheering Theater Audience-Read Their Review & See Trailer Here!

Denham shrewdly tightens the screws with some cheeky but dead-serious visual allusions to other thrillers — a bit of “Blair Witch Project” here, a smidgen of “Friday the 13th” there — before upending expectations with a startling reveal at the two-thirds mark. And that leads a few scenes later to a turnabout that likely would be best appreciated as a member of a cheering theater audience.

-from the Variety.com review by Joe Leydon

Aaaaand we are sold! You’ll probably recognize ole “Pornstash” from Orange is the New Black and Ken Cosgrove from Mad Men in the trailer if you’re a fan of either of these shows. Cosgrove hasn’t done too well on hunting trips, but it’s gonna get even uglier this time around…
Click “View original” in the lower left of this post to read the rest of this enthusiastic review, and watch the trailer below!

The release date given is January 9th (2015), but we can’t find Preservation on any of the regular VOD outlets. Sadly, that means we can’t watch it with a cheering theater audience (unless you hold a party revolving around watching it with some festive horror fans at your home) Hopefully it’ll show up soon!

 

Scariest Short Horror Film Of The Week: “There’s No Such Thing…” (Drew Daywalt)

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Last time we ran this feature, we had a pretty creepy “check under the bed for monsters”-themed short film, The Little Witch (watch it here). We actually have a total of three of these short films based on monsters under the bed, so it would do you good to watch all three (the third is coming next, hang in there) as they are all clever, have very different outcomes, and will scare the hell out of you.

Check out Drew Daywalt’s scary 2010 short “There’s No Such Thing…” below…

This is why, as a child, I never asked my mom or dad to check under the bed for monsters  when they tucked me in. And I sure as hell wasn’t going to check myself…

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Don’t Miss “The Little Witch” – Horror Boom’s Scariest Short Horror Film of The Week!

We were holding this back, but for some reason, multiple versions of this same tale/concept have been popping up. Two of them appear to be by the same team (same guy playing the dad), only the gender of the kid is different. We found this one to be the most effective, by far. No gore, no violence at all (the artistic team lets your imagination do all the freaky work), but still the stuff of nightmares, and clocking in at two minutes.  That is not an easy task. Watch it below… lights off, of course!

The reason that more than one film-maker has used this theme, we discovered a couple of days ago, is that it was based on a very creepy and raved-about Reddit post. If you’re in even a little bit of an unstable mood, and are having trouble sleeping, we recommend that you save the creepy sub-reddits for the daytime. The disturbing, creepy threads are clearly indicated by the name of the category (such as “letsnotmeet), so there’s no danger of you suddenly getting the shit scared out of you if you’re paying attention to the topics. When it comes to reading some of them alone at night, you have been warned…

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“The Little Witch” was produced, directed, and filmed by Alasdair McBroom – ‪check out his official site right here. The story was adapted from a version by Reddit user who goes by the name of “justanothermuffledvo”.

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Don’t forget: if you know of a really good short horror film we haven’t featured yet, please share it with us so we can give it a gander and (if it’s creepy enough) post it! You can put a link, or the title, in the comments section.

Film Review: Variety Says ‘Extraterrestrial’ Is Entertaining, If Not Memorable

“Until the 80-minute mark, “Extraterrestrial” is a slick, pacey but not particularly scary or surprising not-quite-slasher movie, the only real difference being that instead of getting bloodily offed, the characters mostly get snatched by their abductors (depicted as the standard humanoid “gray aliens” of UFO lore) to a fate unknown. Unknown until that mark, that is: The pic then makes a welcome leap, allowing for some nicely designed and executed larger-scale f/x work. Unfortunately, this too-brief, visually impressive (if not all that inventive, narrative-wise) interlude is followed by a coda that’s strenuously sentimental in ways the script hasn’t remotely earned the right to exploit. That attempt at depth is further undercut by a gimmicky final shot scored to a jokey retro song choice.”

-From the Variety Review by Dennis Harvey.

Sounds like we’ll wait on it to see on streaming, even though it’s from The Vicious Brothers (Grave Encounters and Grave Encounters 2). Click “View original” in the lower left to read the entire review on Variety.com.

Scariest Short (VERY Short) Horror Film of The Week- “One Last Dive,” From Jason Eisener

This may be the shortest Horror Short of the Week ever at a little over one minute. But boy, does it pack a wallop.

When The Conjuring was released in the summer of 2013, three indie film-makers were asked to do short horror films that would just have one common theme: They all needed to take place at 3:07. If you saw The Conjuring, you know why 3:07 is a very creepy time of the night. I even dared people to come home after seeing Conjuring and watch these three short shorts either at 3:07, or to time it so the last one ended right before 3:07. Not too surprisingly, there were no takers (possibly because I made the stipulation that all the lights had to be off in the house at the time).

They were all partially presented by VICE. The first short was an incoherent jumble–all I could tell was that a séance was involved (I think) and then the people recording it freaked out at 3:07– the second (by Ti West) was creepy and had a great filming style, but had no narrative. So I recall by about that point I was pretty sure they were all going to be pretty mediocre. I was very wrong about that. Watch Jason Eisener’s (Hobo With a Shotgun, V/H/S 2) “One Last Dive” below. Crank up the volume!

I almost hit the goddamned ceiling! And I didn’t even watch it on a large window OR have the music at a high volume. While we’re on the subject, I should mention that I am aware you don’t get a ‘Scariest Short Horror Film of The Week’, once a week anymore. The truth is, I have a few tucked up my sleeve but am also running out of good ones that are scary as hell. Thanks for being patient, and if you have any suggestions, please post them in the comments section! We already put up the one with the creepy Smiling Man when it was suggested to us in a poll. To find new ones, I usually have to sit through nine crummy ones to get to the 10% that are actively frightening.

“One Last Dive” still scares me after ten or so viewings.

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31 Horror Movies in 31 Days – Part Two of Three (Worst Horror On The List)

First, if you missed Part One, containing the entire list, please check it out here.

I had originally intended to list the ten worst, but we try to keep positivity going on this site (unless a movie is so terrible we feel it is our duty to warn fellow horror fans not to waste their time/money). So, I carved it down to the worst five. Not to mention, the bad ones were so bad that just revisiting the memories of watching them (so I can give you reasons they were shitty) made my head feel like someone was squeezing it. You’ll notice there’s a high number of found-footage horror on the list, but surprisingly, only two of them made it to “worst” (though if I had done ten instead of five, more might show up).

1. Carver, 2008 (NR)

Oh man, this was terrible. Here’s my full disclosure: I wouldn’t have watched it if it wasn’t supposed to be chock-full of gory practical effects. Having it be an low-budget indie also factored in there. I also wouldn’t have watched it if it wasn’t free. Man oh man, am I glad I did not pay money to see this crap. Uh, the plot, and it just may sound the tiniest bit familiar: Three young men and two women decide to go on a road/camping trip way out in the middle of nowhere. They end up in a tiny town full of redneck white trash, all of whom would be unfuckable  pretty hard to look at even if they did have proper hygiene (they do not). Guess what? There’s a brutal killer laying in wait! Yep, he’s big and fat and wears a weird mask.

"You will scream your head off." Or until your testicles rupture.

“You will scream your head off.” Or until your testicles rupture.

 

No matter how tempting it is to see just for the gore, DO NOT DO THIS. You know what you can do instead, that’ll only take up a few minutes of your time? One of our favorite sites ever, Movie Censorship.com (we’ve raved about it before) documents differences between R and Unrated/Uncut/”Director’s Cut” versions of movies, though they will also sometimes compare versions from other countries (those are usually heavily censored). This site is useful for so many things, and has saved me from wasted time and money*. For instance, before I discovered the site, I would see an R-Rated version of a mediocre horror movie, then usually give in to temptation and later rent the Unrated/Director’s Cut version to see the stuff too gory (sometimes also advertised as “the version too frightening for theaters”) that had to be cut. If it’s a movie I already loved released unrated, say the remake of Dawn of the Dead or The Grudge (2004 US version), I just buy it. Most of the time I will end up feeling vaguely ashamed of myself. At least 75% of the time the stuff probably could have been in the R-version, and it turns out to be maybe 10 seconds tops that was cut. But, with this awesome site, they put up screencaps of the gore. Very thorough, high-quality ones. The only way the site could be improved on is if they showed the actual cut footage as comparison, and I’d even pay some modest membership fee if they did it. However, everything is documented and described. So I am going to do something you will thank me for later: here is the link that compares the cut and uncut versions of Carver. Sample screen shots of what you cannot see unless you were to watch the Unrated version (not that either version is worth wasting time on), which I made as small as possible in case you prefer not to suddenly see a screen shot of something disgusting, or you are eating while you browse Horror Boom (click to enlarge-do NOT click if you don’t want to see something horrible happening).

 

There’s plenty more where that came from on the link I gave you. There, now you have no reason to watch this movie. I sat through the unrated version, for the excuses I gave above. What’s wrong with it? It’s torture porn. Here’s a tip on how you know if a movie is truly torture porn (which I define as a very flimsy narrative, characters, and acting built around scenes of torture just to prop the sick scenes up): if someone tells you not to bother with anything but the unrated version, because otherwise it will be boring without all the sadistic scenes. The Neighbor and Human Centipede 2 are good examples of this. Everything in Carver is just put there to as a flimsy frame to surround the torture porn. This movie is not scary in any way. At no point did I even feel the slightest hint of tension or suspense. The first half-hour is just filler to push it to a feature-length film. The characters are one-dimensional idiots. The entire movie just slogs clumsily forward, the characters (at least the men–they women are mainly there to run around in their underwear, look hot, and be subjected to horrible bloody ordeals, like involuntarily starring in a snuff movie) do such stupid things you feel no sympathy for them. Yeah, I know this is a staple of slasher/torture porn movies; at least one person, usually more, makes such a cretinous decision that you can’t wait for them to get decapitated. SOMEONE should not act like a total idiot, however, and you should care a tiny bit about at least one character, so that you are on the side of the victims and have at least a sliver of investment in whether they will manage to live through the movie.

Is it possible for a viewer to really enjoy a movie (especially a scary one) when you can predict… oh… EVERYTHING that is going to happen? I’m not even going to bother with a spoiler alert here, because none of these things are a shock and trust me, the movie is already spoiled rotten. My inner monologue while watching went like this: Oh, I bet that guy is in on the whole thing. (guy turns out to be in on the whole thing). I bet these old movie reels contain snuff movies (movie reels contain snuff movies). That guy’s genitals are going to be disgustingly mutilated (guy’s genitals get mutilated). Even with an ice pick buried in his eye socket, the killer is going to act like it’s just a flea bite or something and not be slowed down at all (killer is not slowed down at all). You idiot, the guy who has to be in on it is in the other room, and he’s going to come up behind you and cut your throat while you sit there like a dumbass. (guy gets throat cut). She’s going to think the guy suddenly running out in front of her wearing the mask is the killer, but it will turn out he’s one of her friends in the group that was tortured but not killed, so she kills the wrong guy (Guess what happens).

Oh, and there’s a claim that the movie was based on actual events, which is a pack of lies. How would anyone know the true event occurred when every person who could tell someone their true story is dead, and the killers are never caught? Horror movies say this a lot now, but this time it’s just insulting our intelligence. Avoid this movie; it gives low-budget horror, practical effects, and the old fiddle-tune “Turkey in the Straw” a bad name.

2.  Dark Mountain (2014).

The reason I picked this to watch and sit through this (other than being able to watch it on Netflix for free) is that I could have sworn Dread Central gave it a good review and said it had some really good, intense moments and well-written characters. We went back to DC and could find  no such review, other than one honest one telling us we’d already seen the same found-footage movie ten times already, and done better than this one (still thought they went too easy on it ) What is weird is I even remember the DVD cover and making a mental note to look for it later. That review must have been on another site, or possibly someone inserted the wrong title and cover art (we recall, the review described the plot being driven by a horrible disease of some kind that the characters are trying to fight in an isolated space, which doesn’t resemble anything in Dark Mountain’s narrative) because boy did we get it wrong.

Never a dull moment on Dark Mountain (2014)!

Never a dull moment on Dark Mountain (2014)!

They don’t just rip off Blair Witch, they also rip off Atrocious and Yellow Brick Road, among others. I wasn’t especially impressed with those latter two, but I’d sure as hell gladly watch them again if I could have skipped Dark Mountain. Everything that makes people strongly dislike found-footage is there: people running around for what seems like half the running time with a flashlight and the camera’s night vision on so that all we can see is a blur, tearful confessions/good-byes to loved ones given by the one female character to the camera, characters making such idiotic, unrealistic decisions that you want to see them die a violent death rather than root for them, and one of the things that will make a terrible found footage movie even worse: adding a soundtrack. Inserting a ‘stinger’ for what is supposed to be a jump scare, serving only to remind you of better found-footage flicks that didn’t need any damned stingers to make you hit the ceiling. Also, if we see one more fucking found-footage movie (other than [REC]) that ends with the last surviving character terrified and crawl-dragging themselves slowly towards the dropped camera, then being yanked out of frame suddenly just as they are inches away from it…

3. Bad Kids Go To Hell (2012).

Oh yeah, let's spend 90 minutes getting to know THESE characters.

Oh yeah, let’s spend 90 minutes getting to know THESE characters.

Seriously, we tried to like this movie. We really did. Hey, it had a fun title. We even read the graphic novel over a year before we saw the movie, and that didn’t really live up to the hype, not to mention the movie got a below-average rating on Netflix AND IMDB. Strangely, Variety loved it and said it was made for midnight screenings; I no longer trust the reviewer. BKGTH was another one that was free, plus we were between new releases at the time (if you have seen any of the films listed, you’ll understand why I start all these reviews more or less apologetically justifying why I sat through it).  You know they used some tag close to “It’s Breakfast Club meets Scream!” in the pitch. “We even got Judd Nelson in the cast, how meta is that?” They are actually making a sequel titled Bad Kids Go 2 Hell. See what they did there? Poor Gina Gershon, who deserves better, is in it. Anyway, it’s not that I’m mad at BKGTH, I’m disappointed in it. During the final act, they lay on twist after twist, after twist, but none of them are fun and instead they just seem forced. Really, don’t bother unless it is your favorite horror comic in the world (though you could do much, much better). It should have been fun, but it just didn’t work.

4. Evil Things  (2009)

Oh, did I say Dark Mountain was bad? Well, next to Evil Things it looks like Grave Encounters. For one thing,  the acting in Dark Mountain could have been worse. I cannot think of any way to justify my reason for watching this movie, other than starting to run low on fresh ones. I did read some reviews, but if I’d really done my homework I would never have touched this boring thing. This whole movie was stupid from start to finish. The audience will figure out what is really going on much faster than the characters pick up on it. Some kids, none of whom are likeable, go to drive out into the middle of the woods to have a  21st birthday party for one of them up at a rich relative’s cabin. Actually money did not look like an issue for any of them, but it is a problem when you already don’t like the characters, then find out they never have to worry about money. The running time is clearly padded. It was one of those found-footage movies with a short running time, which can work well (especially if there’s a limited narrative and a low budget). For what seems like the first half-hour, the kids drive up there in what I think was bad weather (I am NOT watching this one again to get a couple little details right). A van ominously follows them most of the way. Rather than, I don’t know, pull over and let it pass, pull into a roadside diner or gas station and get the license plate or do anything you would if it was really concerning you, they just keep going, with someone occasionally remarking on the van, but no big deal to them. They get to the luxurious cabin and PAR-TAY! Of course this includes the need to DOCU-MENT! EVERYTHING! Whoooo! About 50 minutes into the running time, they start getting nervous. Part of this is caused by the (landline) telephone ringing; when one of them answers it, whoever is on the other end terrorizes them with complete silence. I know I almost have a heart attack from sheer fright every time this happens –no wait, I don’t stay on the line for more than two seconds at the most if I say hello more than once and get dead air.

Wow, I sure hope nothing bad happens to these characters.

Wow, I sure hope nothing bad happens to these characters.

Much, much later, they get creeped out when they pick up their camera or iPhone or whatever they were recording on, and see that someone filmed them on their own camera. By now, I think we’ve all seen the “creepy person purposely leaves footage on camera that belongs to the person documenting it in night vision while they sleep, then leaves it where they can see it to freak them out” gag. It is not scary anymore. In another of the movies on the “31 movies in 31 days” list, The Houses That October Built, it almost brings the movie to a halt– we’re that sick of it by now.  Just in case anyone had any investment whatsoever in the plotline during the last half-hour, they insert a soundtrack, which is when the movie went from bad to terrible. The filmmakers could probably sense there was no tension or scares whatsoever, got desperate, and broke one of the rules of a found-footage movie (this is also a big part of why I didn’t enjoy The Last Exorcism). So the kids freak out, some start to panic, none of them can get a cell phone signal (surprise surprise), and they get killed. The final scene- which is where, in a found footage movie things should go completely crazy, you get the feeling anything could happen, and scare the hell out of you–emphasis on should—  shows the actress who passes for the ‘final girl’ nervously groping around in a pitch-black room while the killer films her on night-vision. She eventually screams after the camera has slowly panned in on her for a while, end of movie… seen below on all the poster art.

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Check out the brilliant tagline, sure to put asses in seats pronto.

 

 

Just kidding!  After some abbreviated credits, we then get to what pissed me off enough to bump this garbage from “mediocre” to ” ‘Worst Of’ List”. For literally ten minutes, possibly more, we get to watch exciting footage from the van’s dash-cam. Nothing happens, other than seeing he was following the kids earlier and taping them, which we already knew, so it adds nothing except tedium. It’s not even remotely spooky. He just tools around, following cars at a safe distance, sometimes watching people get out of the car and go into a building of some sort, then driving around again. Can the team responsible for making this crap have any pride in their finished product AT ALL? If so, how? These are questions that will never be answered (along with any motive the killer had, or explanations for his actions, other than being bored or stalking and killing random kids is just kind of his thing, or any sort of clue who, he might be). I don’t care how big of a found-footage horror fan you are, avoid this one like the plague.

5. And speaking of plague, in fifth place, we have…

Antisocial (2013).

Most of the reviews I scanned for Antisocial were “mixed” rather than negative; I should have looked into it more. This one was also free and I was running out of movies, so  there’s my excuse for sitting through it.  Maybe not a top-shelf excuse, but that’s why I sat through it. I had the (mistaken)  impression it was mediocre with maybe one or two good moments, rather than just plain shitty. The plot: a group of unlikable millennials (are you seeing a pattern here?) with names like “Chad” and “Kaitlin”** plan to have a New Year’s Eve bash at one of the character’s places, because their parents are out of town! I’m not sure if they’re high and drunk or just drunk (it wasn’t worth going back and re-watching the first 15 minutes of so over). The “party” consists of, I think, five idiots dancing around to techno/dance music (that is, by the way, some of the worst dogshit I’ve ever heard) while one, maybe two of their friends is on their way.; then they break out the brewski!  At least one of them dances around like an idiot, waving two sparklers, and they speed the film up the cliché way that films do sometimes to indicate someone is on X (either that, or they were just being merciful to us by not showing it at normal, slower speed maybe). Anyway, via their iPhones or laptops (none of which the characters can be peeled away from for more than five minutes in a row), one of them discovers that a virus has very suddenly busted out, and is spreading more quickly than any virus in history. Worldwide. They’re not zombies, though. This virus causes you to bleed from your ears and nose, then hallucinate, then start getting hysterical and enraged enough to try to murder everyone around you. Oh, and if there’s no people handy for whatever reason, you’ll just pick some house to break into and attack whoever is inside. Oh and guess what? Black guy (the only one of the characters that seemed to have some common sense) gets infected/killed first, by the way. Thanks, movie, needed that cliché again. I should point out that the script is bad enough that we are given no reason to care about any of the characters, he was just NOT one of the ones that I actively hoped would meet a violent, on-screen death due to being a selfish idiot.

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Not only is the movie boring and has terrible acting (and a terrible script), but there is a reason it made this list rather that the “meh” list. The film-makers and very adamant that social media is evil and turns people into monsters. They act like their film is the first piece of fiction in history to use this metaphor, but it’s 2014, so they’re a little late to the party. We are slammed over the head with this message repeatedly.  At one point, a laptop is even used to beat someone to death. Full disclosure: I am not thrilled with social media (especially when it actually cuts down on the amount of real, in-person social interaction that could be taking place instead; man, I’m glad I grew up in the 80s), but I also have a Facebook profile and I check my ‘feed’ once a day, so I can’t get all self-righteous. (Shameless self-promotion: if you haven’t “liked” Horror Boom on FB yet, we have a link to our page for you here!) But boy, do the writers of this movie! SPOILERS FOR THE MOVIE FOLLOW: during the last half hour of the movie, we find out that the virus was caused by something on a social media site that really doesn’t resemble, but is more or less supposed to be, FB.  But this is no ordinary computer virus (see: tagline of the film)!  The name of the site is The Social Redroom. The virus is called the RED ROOM virus. Get it? Kind of like that urban legend which is actually Japanese in origin,  and is also mentioned frequently on creepypasta.com?*** I was just going to link to their page, but here is the You Tube video that explains it; the one I picked is twelve minutes long, but also the most thorough. I am inserting it because it will entertain you more in the short running time than all five of the movies we talk about in this piece put together. It’s also a little bit creepy, especially if you watch it after dark. If you only have a minute or two, or a very short attention span, you can get the gist by just watching the first few minutes (the long running time is due to what is supposed to be the actual footage/flash animation contained in the curse).

There are many, many problems with this movie, to the point where it would be faster to list the things they did right, but the only positive I can think of is some practical effects.  OK, I have now run out of good points, so let’s move on to the other elements that helped ruin the movie. At least pick a social network site name that is original (though I think they thought they were being clever linking it with that urban legend) and sounds like one that could be a household name and one of the most popular in the entire world. Yeah, especially in 2014, all social networking sites put “Social” in the NAME OF THEIR SITE. What’s worse is that the filmmakers thought we might be too stupid to make the connection that “Redroom” was a social media site, because having the title of the movie be ANTI-SOCIAL wasn’t a big enough hint for our stupid asses.

(EVEN MORE SPOILERS FOR THE MOVIE ANTISOCIAL, WHICH YOU SHOULDN’T REALLY BOTHER WITH IN THE FIRST PLACE, BEGINNING NOW).

Speaking of stupid, here is the explanation for the virus by someone who worked at “Social Redroom”: the people who owned the ‘Social Redroom” site got really, really greedy and decided to insert subliminal messages on it that would make users “check in” more frequently for status updates, etc. and give the site more hits, so they could make more money from advertisers. Only something went horribly wrong with the latest update, causing an actual worm-like tumor to very quickly form in the heads of those who looked at the site. Never mind the fact that this is physically impossible (by this time your head will be hurting too, just for different reasons). The tumor grows in the frontal lobe ridiculously quickly, causing vivid CGI hallucinations, bleeding from the ears and nose, and homicidal behavior. Even if you manage to survive this, your head (partially) explodes, killing you. If this sounds interesting, then I have explained it a more entertaining, succinct way than the actual script does.  Another video goes up later (good thing both of these clips go viral!) explaining a possible cure, one that is pretty crude. Since the virus is an actual organism at least the size of a very large earthworm, someone can drill a hole in your skull and then grab it with tweezers (or a small box cutter, as one very desperate character does), then pull it out.   Any intrigue this could generate for the viewer is dampened by the fact that no-one even thinks about disinfecting the drill or any of the tools that are going to touch their brains before jumping in and using them. OK, if they don’t have anything handy containing alcohol (which they do), they could at least wipe it off with a relatively clean piece of cloth first, but no.

One of the few two positive things the movie had going for it was that the infected people did not actually turn into zombies when infected with the virus. They don’t bite and spread the infection that way, then the people don’t get up and trying to eat the living. It would have been the lazier way to go. However, a “twist” in the final minutes of the film shows news outlets reporting that those whose heads have exploded are now getting up and walking around again, rising from the dead. So, one of the two things the movie contained that would go on the “pro” list instead of the length “con” column is dispatched swiftly by the fact that in the end, it is turned into a zombie apocalypse after all. Please skip this one. They only want to express their hatred of social media–which could even have been interesting and worked with the right script– but just end up insulting the viewer’s intelligence.

Okay, now that the negative stuff is out of the way, you can look forward to the final part, where we name the ten best movies in the list of 31 horror movies in 30 days. We can even recommend some of the movies to you, which will be a nice switch after strongly warning you off five of them.

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*It’s not just horror, either. If you want to see what you missed in the unrated version of, say, Get Him to the Greek, or what is in an “Extended Director’s Cut” of anything, even if it wasn’t cut for rating reasons but for time, it can help you our with that, too. Many foreign movies make it almost impossible for you to locate and see the extended version if you’re in the US, so it can save you money. They’ll even tell you lines that are missing. I cannot recommend Movie-Censorship.com enough… though I should warn you they do advertise some pretty sleazy exploitation movies that you can buy in Amazon, including some disturbing stuff from Japan. Fine with me, they have to make money somehow, but if you are offended by that kind of box art, just don’t look too carefully at the ads on the sidebars, etc. They’re never in-your-face, but I thought I would bring it up just in case. The site is frequently NSFW.

**I know some people who are named Kaitlin that are fine people, so nothing personal.

***”Red Room” is also the name of a boring, nasty Japanese straight-to-video torture porn flick with really, really terrible production values (don’t even think about renting it–or the sequel– trust me).

 

31 Horror Movies In 31 Days – Check Out What We Saw, Including Best and Worst! (Part One of Three)

This is going to have to be split up into three posts, since we already needed to take a month to watch the movies and don’t want to take another month writing this.

Even with the number of horror movies ole Mrs. Horror Boom sees being more in a month that the average movie-goer sees in a year, you’d think finding 31 I hadn’t seen yet would be a cinch, right? Wrong! Fortunately, there was a huge number of new releases for the month of October 2014. I actually saw more than 31, but some were so shitty I don’t even want to add them to the list. A couple of them literally put me to sleep, and there were a couple of others that were so bad I blew a mental fuse just sitting through and trying to tolerate the goddamned things, and either picked up my iPad for some task/game that required most of my attention, or just said the hell with it and turned it off, then re-watched something I knew was a sure thing and would not disappoint me (thus, the few re-watches on the list).

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However, let’s just start with the list. I could put them in the order I saw them, but then I would have to look at a detail of our Amazon Instant Video and the VOD cable bill, which I am too nervous to look at and see how fast the charges added up (I’ve seen enough scary movies, I don’t need scary real-life).  Let’s try alphabetical order. An asterisk means that the movie was a fairly new release, say available on VOD less than six weeks.

Oh, and if there is an R-Rated and an Unrated version available for a flick, assume I watched the Unrated (such as the very torture porn-y Carver.  Also if they ever tried to make an R-Rated version of The ABCs of Death 2,* it would probably cut the running time by a good 10 minutes, depending how much of a prude the ratings board members were for that project. For PG-13, there would be about 200 words that you cannot say in a PG-13 movie cut out, and some of the shorts (they usually average 3-4 minutes) would last maybe 30 seconds and you would not definitely know what the fuck was going on with most of them. So thank you, Magnet Releasing!

I also added links to the IMDB pages (or pieces Horror Boom did on the fright flick in question previously), and stuck in a few of the better trailers to keep things interesting. Turns out roughly a third of the horror movies on the list are found footage, and while at least a couple will end up on the “worst” list, there were some nice surprises (including the “mockumentary” The Gerber Syndrome).

The list, and links:

*The ABCs of Death 2 (2014)

(Here’s the gory Red Band trailer, NSFW–enjoy!)

Alyce Kills (2011)

American Mary (re-watch, 2012)

Any Minute Now (2013)

Antisocial (2013)

Bad Kids Go to Hell (2012)

 Black Death (re-watch, 2010)

Here’s the Black Death HD trailer (and yeah, it’s as grim and bleak as it looks)

*Cabin Fever – Patient Zero (2014)

*The Canal (2014)

Carver (2008)

Chasing The Devil (2014)

*Chemical Peel (2014)

Dark Mountain (2013)

*Dead Snow 2 – Red VS Dead (2014)

*Deliver Us From Evil (2014)

Evil Things (2009)

*Found (completed in 2012, but not released on VOD till Fall 2014). Trailer is below, and it earned every blurb and award)

The Gerber Syndrome (2011)

*Horns (2013, but only released recently)

*Housebound (2014)

*The Houses October Built (2014)

Here’s a clip for you from the above movie (yep, more found footage).

*Inner Demons (2014)

The Monkey’s Paw (2013) (quit laughing! I was scraping the bottom of the barrel by this point, I believe Day 29.)

Open Grave (2013)

The Possession of Michael King (2014)

Here’s the trailer for the latter:

*See No Evil 2 (2014)

Sleepy Hollow (1999, re-watch…on Halloween, Day 31)

*The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014 – sale rental on Amazon, free on Netflix streaming)

*V/H/S Viral (2014)

Witching and Bitching (2013)

*Wrong Turn Six- The Last Resort (2014)

Up next? The ten worst films on the list; after that we’ll get to the ten best.

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* We will have a review of ABCs of Death 2 coming up where we name the top ten entries. This will actually take some work, because the shorts were so much better it’d be faster just to name the few stupid or lazy ones. In the first ABCs of Death, I couldn’t even get a list of the top ten together; after “X is for XXL”, “L is for Libido”, “T is For Toilet”, “Young Buck”, and “Dog Fight”,  picking five more would be a stretch.  A list of the ten worst for the same movie, however, would pretty much write itself. I was happy to discover after the sequel roared to a finish that I could barely list the five worst. But I digress…