The American Guinea Pig series was one I had yet to encounter, though it’s telling to see Unearthed Films taking the concept of the original Japanese Guinea Pig series and transferring it to an American market, with The Song of Solomon a more traditional, albeit very gory narrative driven slice of genre cinema. If you’re not familiar with the Guinea Pig films then, well, here’s a quick film history lesson, kids! The Guinea Pig films where a series of direct to video features, short in length and made in Japan around the mid to late 80s. The first two were considerably grizzly in their reputation…
Let me preface this review by saying that I’m a huge fan of anthology films. Films like Twilight Zone: The Movie, Creepshow, and Tales from the Darkside were among some of my favorites as a kid. Sure, there are some stinkers out there, but they always have at least one gem, one shining moment hidden among the schlock, somewhere.
Vault of Terror II: The Undead was a pretty fun ride from start to finish. We get five short films, given to us as a part of a wrap-around horror story.
“Witness six tales… Each one more horrifying than the last!”
I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. However, I decided I’d take the opportunity to look back at some movies that didn’t particularly float my boat and see if I can find some good points in them. With the best intentions in mind, I picked the 2010 remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street as the first movie to give a second watch. I was aghast when I heard this movie was being made. But, I like to have an opinion about things so, I gave it a watch. On that first go I was just as disappointed as I expected to be. Let’s face it, the original film is a genre defining classic…
“Welcome to your new nightmare.”
Does comparing Pat Tremblay’s Atmo HorroX to John Boorman’s classic Zardoz elevate one, diminish the other, or condemn both? Both films are psychedelic, trippy, and include protagonists that wander around in outlandish costumes that show rather more skin than most of us would like to see. Both are infused with timely messages, expressed through grotesquerie. Despite the dubious value of the venture, reams could be written deconstructing both films. If nothing else, we know that movies like Atmo HorroX are extremely rare…
“Engineering the strings of your mind puzzle.”
By now, everyone should be familiar with the Slenderman phenomenon. The internet is full of stories and videos claiming that it is a real creature or being. Slenderman’s background and motivations have never been satisfactorily explained and there are lots of stories that contradict one another. It is in this vein that Flay was created. Seeking to explain the origins of Slenderman and tying it into the genocide of the Native American people by European settlers, Flay gives us an origin for Slenderman that is brutal, sad and rather unsatisfying.
“Come out and flay with me.”
Growing up isn’t easy and if I’m honest, I’m still having trouble coming to terms with it. But sometimes the decision to live as an eternal kidult is taken away from us, with youngsters shouldering the responsibility of primary caregiver. Such is the case for twelve year old Jonas, who finds the transition to enforced adulthood a struggle in Mara Eibl-Eibesfeldt’s bittersweet gothic fable The Spiderwebhouse. Gentle and ponderous The Spiderwebhouse is a charming portrayal, exploring the complexities of depression, and the harshness of a world as seen through a child’s eyes.
“Oh spider, oh spider, oh bring me to the place where I’m not.”
We are here to discuss a horror movie that uses the formula of found-footage. No matter how many times you review a film that uses this technique you can’t help bring up The Blair Witch Project. Unfortunately there will always be comparisons. Films have tried to replicate this style, but rarely succeeded in finding that magic ingredient The Blair Witch Project possesses. Fortunately Hell House LLC breaks the mold. Going into this movie I’ll be perfectly honest I didn’t expect much. In my defense I have had to suffer numerous found-footage movies over the years that are absolute trollope.
“New York’s scariest haunted house tour.”
When Netflix dropped Spanish director Paco Plaza’s new film Veronica earlier this year, I doubt even they predicted it would get the attention it’s had? Some people have dubbed it “the scariest film ever!” and it’s supposedly based on a real events, so naturally I had to check it out to see what all the fuss was about. I’m a fan of Plaza’s [•REC] movie so I knew he would cook up some decent scares.
The story is set in Madrid in 1991 and focuses on teenager Veronica.
“Someone answered your call.”
Masks, dressing up and spooky Halloween tunes. When you think of Halloween your mind turns to, what will I wear? I need to look good for trick or treat. This was before you watched Halloween III: Season of the Witch. Tommy Lee Wallace creates a nail biting movie which plays on all the main things that make Halloween and trick and treating fun. He turns it on its head, pardon the pun and terrifies the life out of anyone choosing to wear a mask and watch TV during the Halloween season. This classic horror uses three different types of mask; a pumpkin, a ghost and a witch.
“The night no one comes home.”
Defarious is gorgeously shot, with a tinged-blue colour pallet reminiscent of 80’s retro horror, with hints of slasher genre thrown in. Pallante is able to build the atmosphere well with an easy on the eye leading lady – Janet Miranda (as Amy) – and a wonderfully large environment to broaden its scope. As Amy roams the house her visions manifest into a crazed killer or demon, which raises the questions of what’s reality and what’s only in her head. Overall Defarious hits a few marks. Not as unsettling as it thinks it is, but is a nice nod to the inspired classics of the 1980s.
“Fear is all in the mind.”
Marko Mäkilaakso, director and co-writer of the sci-fi comedy/horror film It Came from the Desert, was kind enough to let us ask him some questions about his movie, his background, and his thoughts about horror and filmmaking.
“It Came from the Desert is inspired by the films I grew up with and love. It’s actually the most perfect film to show who I am as director. That’s why this is my most personal film.”
Marko Mäkilaakso’s movie It Came from the Desert evokes the creature features of the 1950s by way of the late 80s, making it a cheesy, nostalgia-packed thrill ride from start to finish. Inspired by the 1989 video game by Cinemaware, it never once takes itself too seriously, and keeps you watching with clever effects, over-the-top action sequences, and a number of hysterically funny lines that are sure to offend. What more could you ask from a monster movie?