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Prince of Darkness, 1987

Thoughts?

A: I actually really liked this movie. It’s ’80s horror camp to the best degree. It features stupid characters, shitty effects, and a lot of things happening really fast and/or without reason.

A bunch of science grad students (literally a bunch of them, I couldn’t even keep track) go to an abandoned church to inspect this weird goo and figure out what it is. Turns out it’s the devil that possesses people and turns them into zombies as it tries to get out and take over the world.

For grad students, everyone seems really stupid - I guess that’s why they’re grad students HAR HAR HAR! But seriously. The priest who calls for this experiment is absolutely bonkers. It’s weird to me that any science person would believe the psychotic ramblings of an old man. Maybe the students because they’re young, but the professor leading the experiment is super gung-ho right away.

For over half the film nobody suspects anything anyway. I think at least 4 people go missing before the thought that it’s somehow connected to the goo or the church crosses anyone’s mind. This girl even has a bruise with a cross on it that slowly gets worse and everyone is all very “whatever” about it. And then her skin starts to fall off so it shows how much they know.

On the other hand, this is why the movie is so fun. Almost everything that happens is a “WUT” moment because it happens so fast. Like how one of the main male students takes the sexy redhead girl student on a date and at at the very start of it, she goes on about how she’s afraid of getting hurt…and in the very next scene they’re in bed together. WUT?

I don’t want to describe anything else because 1) I can’t even remember the plot that well, and 2) I really want you to be surprised by all the “WUT” moments. Watching it reminded me of all those random crappy horror paperbacks that I used to read over an afternoon in the summer. Terribly written and totally cheesy, but memorable for all the cheep thrills you got while reading it.

S: I usually like shit like this, so I feel bad writing this - but I didn’t like this one. It sounds like something I’d be in to, right? I mean, grad students, religion and possession? GOO?! I was really psyched to watch it and then just felt incredibly “meh” about it by the end.

Yes, it has that excellent 80s feel to it. Yes, it has a lot of “WUT” going on. I even liked how the females were possessed first, I loved the thread of, “Where’s Susan?” “Who?” “Radiologist? Glasses?”. And can we talk about racial diversity? Christ, they had every angle covered! I liked all of that.

I just did not care at all for the rest of it, basically. The plot made zero sense to me. The grad students all looked 35+, I had no feels about the relationship aspect so I didn’t care when the girl unnecessarily died, which reminds me that a girl unnecessarily died. There was a lot of waiting for things to happen followed by a huge amount of time with nothing happening. I felt like a lot of the film was just us watching their meandering trial and error attempts to understand and escape. Locked in a room? Jump out a window! Wait, there are possessed hobos down there. Jump back in the window! Now we’re back where we started and nothing has happened AT ALL.

The only real perk about this whole thing was the very cool, very nasty make up at the end. I could deal with it for awhile, and then it actually began to make me feel ill. Sometimes all you need a bit of peeling skin and some blood, guys.

It’s not that I hated the movie, and if you watch it, I won’t judge you - but there are so many more options for great 80s horror movies that I don’t think this one is worth the time.

1.5 Alice Cooper hobo zombies out of 5

Lords of Salem, 2013

Thoughts?

A: This movie is what happens when a bunch of women get on the same cycle. It’s a perfect example of “bitches be cray”.

Rob Zombie and I have a long-standing, one-sided feud. It all started when I had to watch House of 1000 Corpses. My friends chose it. I would never have picked a movie that bad. It was so bad. So terribly awful. Garbage on screen, really. The worst movie I have seen in my entire life. It astounded me that he was given more money to make THREE MORE shitty films.

I know I’m being overly sarcastic, so let me get serious for a moment: I love horror and will pretty much give anything a chance (except anything with sharks in it because they scare me), but I hate movies where everything is gross and gory for the purpose of just being gross and gory. Don’t waste my time. Anybody can make a gross film. But can anyone make a gross and good film? NO.

So I feel like I’ve really overcome an obstacle in my life by watching another Rob Zombie film. And while I think this movie is kind of shitty, it’s the best I’ve seen from him.

I love Satanic cult and witch movies because at heart, I find them fun. Does anyone take this shit seriously? Anyway, Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie) is a rock station DJ who gets a weird record one day from “The Lords” and proceeds to go bat-shit insane. Turns out she’s the daughter of the devil and the old witches cult in Salem want her to give birth to a lobster that’s supposed to be the devil. I think? Something along those lines, I didn’t really understand what was going on.

There were some creepy moments and the apartment building they set-up for the film was really cool. This was a very restrained film for Zombie and I appreciate him trying out some Polanski-esque techniques. But there were more bad moments than good ones. Like all the witch ceremony scenes, but especially the one where the oldest hag spits on a baby because it’s not the devil. It’s almost funny because WHO DOES THAT? Ridiculous. Or the scene where Heidi sees a devil baby and it’s this weird blob thing and she dances with it’s tentacles. What was that about.

This part ruined the entire film for me though: Heidi mentions that the person who left her the record found out her real name and suggests that they must have dug around on the internet to find it. But then this author who wrote a book on witches tries to find out Heidi’s real name to figure out why she’s being so weird and he finds it on the radio station’s website in her bio. How can she be so surprised then? I don’t understand. How can someone be so sloppy with his own film and let that slip?

Sheri Moon is decent in this role, but despite a former crack addiction, there’s not much depth. Even though I hate her husband’s films, I’ve always thought she was cool. She has that hot-single-mom-in-the-70s look about her.

After thinking about The Lords of Salem, I think that Zombie tried to make a movie about the church’s vendetta against paganism and wicca, and their suppression of women (who were leaders in those religions as well). And that’s a really interesting topic. It’s just too bad that the delivery was so blazé. 

S: I don’t know how A wrote so much, because I have very little to say. I wish I could rewind time and go back to before I bothered watching this, which was also my first Rob Zombie movie, by the way. Like, was he even trying? I just can’t.

Witches aren’t really my jam, unless they’re Bette Midler, but I was interested in watching this because why not? Plus, everything I’ve ever heard about his movies has been contentious, so I figured I’d give it a shot. Nope. Not even worth it. I don’t even know what to say. The devil is a midget with tentacles and there’s a scene where Heidi just kind of wiggles them in a trance, and all I could think was “…wut?”. Is that supposed to scare me? Then she has a lobster baby and we all celebrate because the movie is over.

Just don’t bother. Your time would be better spent staring at a wall.

Ginger Snaps, 2000

Thoughts?

A: The only thing I remembered about this movie was the trailer that I saw when it was released when I was in grade eight. It seemed so very scandalous and I think I pictured it being a lot racier than it actually is. In my mind, this was pretty much a sex movie.

Turns out, it’s really tame.  I’m not really into werewolf movies because they’re generally all the same. The wolf is a representation of suppressed aggression and sexuality, blah, blah, blah. I get it. I just don’t like it. Seems obvious.

So Ginger and her weird younger sister are like, really weird and take pictures of themselves dead in various ways. It’s actually pretty gruesome and made me uncomfortable, but I bet I would have thought it was “so deep” as a teenager.

Also, Ginger and her sister are weird because they’re 16 and haven’t gotten their periods. Seriously, that’s a plot point.

Anyway, one night, Ginger wants to go torment a Mean Girl at school and instead gets bitten by a werewolf and gets her period on the same night. I WONDER WHAT THAT MEANS.

So she starts acting slutty, having sex with all the boys, and becoming meaner. Her younger sister (I legitimately don’t remember her name) and her boyfriend (who is a Canadian actor I remember having a crush on when I was 12) try to find ways to slow down her transformation.

I know I’m being very whatever with this movie, but I actually liked it. It was a lot of fun in the way that watching 90s movies is fun.

But I have some issues. I’m going to be really feminist here - it’s starting to kind of annoy me that women are constantly being portrayed as monsters when they get their periods in film. The Exorcist is another example. Guys really don’t have any idea what’s going on. Yes, it’s about a girl becoming a woman, but that woman is always scary and man-hating and slutty. It’s not that I think that the topic of periods shouldn’t be touched because when you think about it, it’s a strange but amazing body function, and is also perfect for horror and really works with werewolf mythology. I guess I just wish there would be a more female perspective on something that only women go through.

S: We talked a lot during this movie, so there are solid chunks of it that are a bit vague to me now, but I know I generally like it. I used to watch this on TV every Halloween, so I thought we should bring it back for Spooky October. I’ve been pestering A to watch it with me since we started this, but I never made it a priority. I thought it was because we had so much other stuff to watch that this wasn’t my first pick, but now that I’ve seen it again, I realize it’s because this movie is just alright.

I’m not really one to really think about meanings and metaphors, so the whole coming-of-age and period thing didn’t really resonate with me. I mean, I get it, it just didn’t add anything. From my perspective, Ginger gets slightly mauled, starts transforming, bangs some kid who looks like he’s 12, and then straight up murders people and starts looking gross. Like, at one point, she semi-successfully seduces the drug dealer who’s trying to help her sister, but I don’t understand how she was even semi-successful when she was deformed and rocking 6 nipples by that point.

So, you know, there’s that. Overall, it’s entertaining and gruesome and there are some scary moments, but it’s still doesn’t really transcend just being an alright movie. Maybe it’s just a werewolf movie thing. Interestingly enough, this one doesn’t rely on any old fallacies like full moons or junk. She just legit transforms in to a wolf and some how the weird high school boys think it’s sexy. But! Props to the makeup artists involved, it was kind of a cool aspect.

Have you ever been to a Halloween party and there’s a movie playing in the background on mute to add to the ambiance? This should be that movie.

Oculus, 2013
Thoughts?
A: S and I watched Absentia at the end of the summer. I found out that Mike Flanagan’s next film was playing at TIFF, so we grabbed tickets. I was hesitant. The premise about a haunted mirror seemed alright, but I had my problems with Absentia, so Oculus could really go either way.
I loved loved LOVED this movie.
I really don’t want to give too much away, but basically this movie’s about an antique mirror that’s haunted and makes people kill themselves and/or their family. Kaylie drags her brother Tim (who spent the last few years in a mental asylum btw) with her to their old family house to try and destroy it and exonerate their deceased father. Kaylie wants to prove that he was possessed and would never have killed her mother otherwise. Obviously though, things start to go very wrong.
The film jumps in time from present day to the past to show Kaylie’s father’s (Rory Cochrane) descent into madness. The film picks up momentum right away and never stops. The line begins to blur between what’s real and what’s fantasy and as an audience member, even I started to wonder if any of it was real and maybe if it was all in Kaylie’s head.
I know I’m always harping on Traditional Ghost Stories, but Oculus is a perfect example. It’s a great script that deftly tightropes across the notion that yes, this mirror could be haunted…or it could be that Kaylie’s father went crazy and abused his family and this is Kaylie’s way of coping with it. WHAT IS REAL? IS IT ALL A LIE?
Mike Flanagan is one of my favourite current horror directors (the other being Ti West) and I’m really excited to see what he does next. The bigger budget really helped here. He created an awesome, genuinely frightening ghost story with an underlying current of familial abuse that grounds the story in reality enough for you to believe that maybe there IS a ghost bitch hiding in a mirror trying to kill people.
Check this out if you can, it’s well worth it.
S: I never participate in anything TIFF-related, unless I’m invited to a screening and I can’t think of an excuse to stay home. It’s just not really my scene, y’know?
A invited me to this, and I was pleasantly surprised by Absentia, so I said I’d attend despite not being able to find a damn thing online about this movie. When A said it was about a mirror, I was like “Uhhhh…alright”. Twenty minutes in to the movie, I think we both knew exactly how it was going to end. Normally that would ruin a movie for me - but not this time. By the time it ended the way I thought it would from the get-go, I could finally breathe normally.
It’s good. Real good. Surprisingly good. Present and past are intricately weaved into an intense story about a deteriorating family that’s sad and horrifying at the same time. The acting is very strong for the most part, with an amazing performance by the girl who plays young Kaylie. It’s a typical story-telling method that Flanagan managed to manipulate in a unique way. The way in which time and storylines blended together, there were moments as an audience member where I lost the thread and even though I knew how certain events would pan out, I would be caught up in hoping things would be different for the characters.
There were also some Absentia cameos, which I thought was cute.
I didn’t think it would bother me after it was over, but I definitely spent a few hours sleepless that night, just staring at the mirror in my room and praying nothing would happen. I won’t say this one is perfect - there are a few “Oh, COME ON” moments - but it was damn good and my favourite of everything we’ve reviewed this year.
I will also never be investing in an antique mirror, because I do not want to risk being haunted by a crazy mirror-eyed bitch with a thing for torture.
Zoom Info
Camera
Nikon D3
ISO
4000
Aperture
f/3.2
Exposure
1/80th
Focal Length
70mm

Oculus, 2013

Thoughts?

A: S and I watched Absentia at the end of the summer. I found out that Mike Flanagan’s next film was playing at TIFF, so we grabbed tickets. I was hesitant. The premise about a haunted mirror seemed alright, but I had my problems with Absentia, so Oculus could really go either way.

I loved loved LOVED this movie.

I really don’t want to give too much away, but basically this movie’s about an antique mirror that’s haunted and makes people kill themselves and/or their family. Kaylie drags her brother Tim (who spent the last few years in a mental asylum btw) with her to their old family house to try and destroy it and exonerate their deceased father. Kaylie wants to prove that he was possessed and would never have killed her mother otherwise. Obviously though, things start to go very wrong.

The film jumps in time from present day to the past to show Kaylie’s father’s (Rory Cochrane) descent into madness. The film picks up momentum right away and never stops. The line begins to blur between what’s real and what’s fantasy and as an audience member, even I started to wonder if any of it was real and maybe if it was all in Kaylie’s head.

I know I’m always harping on Traditional Ghost Stories, but Oculus is a perfect example. It’s a great script that deftly tightropes across the notion that yes, this mirror could be haunted…or it could be that Kaylie’s father went crazy and abused his family and this is Kaylie’s way of coping with it. WHAT IS REAL? IS IT ALL A LIE?

Mike Flanagan is one of my favourite current horror directors (the other being Ti West) and I’m really excited to see what he does next. The bigger budget really helped here. He created an awesome, genuinely frightening ghost story with an underlying current of familial abuse that grounds the story in reality enough for you to believe that maybe there IS a ghost bitch hiding in a mirror trying to kill people.

Check this out if you can, it’s well worth it.

S: I never participate in anything TIFF-related, unless I’m invited to a screening and I can’t think of an excuse to stay home. It’s just not really my scene, y’know?

A invited me to this, and I was pleasantly surprised by Absentia, so I said I’d attend despite not being able to find a damn thing online about this movie. When A said it was about a mirror, I was like “Uhhhh…alright”. Twenty minutes in to the movie, I think we both knew exactly how it was going to end. Normally that would ruin a movie for me - but not this time. By the time it ended the way I thought it would from the get-go, I could finally breathe normally.

It’s good. Real good. Surprisingly good. Present and past are intricately weaved into an intense story about a deteriorating family that’s sad and horrifying at the same time. The acting is very strong for the most part, with an amazing performance by the girl who plays young Kaylie. It’s a typical story-telling method that Flanagan managed to manipulate in a unique way. The way in which time and storylines blended together, there were moments as an audience member where I lost the thread and even though I knew how certain events would pan out, I would be caught up in hoping things would be different for the characters.

There were also some Absentia cameos, which I thought was cute.

I didn’t think it would bother me after it was over, but I definitely spent a few hours sleepless that night, just staring at the mirror in my room and praying nothing would happen. I won’t say this one is perfect - there are a few “Oh, COME ON” moments - but it was damn good and my favourite of everything we’ve reviewed this year.

I will also never be investing in an antique mirror, because I do not want to risk being haunted by a crazy mirror-eyed bitch with a thing for torture.

You’re Next, 2011

Thoughts?

A: S and I are never on the same page when it comes to these movies because I really didn’t like this one.

I’m not surprised. I saw Adam Wingard’s previous film A Horrible Way to Die (2010) and TIFF and I fucking hated it. Like ranted about it for days after seeing it level hate. I can’t even write about it right now without thinking about how bad of an experience watching that film was.

My bf saw this one at TIFF a year or so later and went on about how it was good. I didn’t believe him. And then the trailer came out and I thought “Hmmm. That’s not too bad.” I despised A Horrible Way to Die because the female lead was so unbelievably useless. It turns out that a lot of other people felt that way and Wingard took it to heart and made sure his next film had a strong female lead. And you know, I can respect that. Props to WIngard. So, curiosity got the better of me and I actually paid money to see this in theatres.

The thing is, this could have been really good. But the writing is so shit. There’s only so much violence I can take before I start to get bored. It just gets repetitive and goes on and on and omfg just kill them all already, please.

You know what, making a female lead good with an axe doesn’t automatically make her interesting. That’s the only thing I know about her really - she’s a survivalist, she’s from Australia, and she’s an English major (because of course she fucking is, that’s all us bitches major in [extra side note: I’m an English major]). I don’t need an essay on every character in a film to get some insight into their personalities. But good writing finds a way to express that to an audience.

I walked out wondering what the fucking point was and I’m still not really sure. I get that there’s movies that are just about killing and action and violence and ha-ha isn’t that fun. But the good ones have things like plot and well-rounded characters. Like Shaun of the Dead (2004).

Another thing that bothered me in this film is how the villains won’t shut the fuck up about their brilliant plan. They do this in A Horrible Way to Die, like some James Bond evil character. PLEASE EVERYONE STOP DOING THIS. If there’s a good motive, I don’t need 10 minutes of exposition about some plan to kill your entire family because they’re all assholes. Or something.

That’s the ending, by the way. The lead’s boyfriend and his younger brother set it all up. Boom. I figured it out 15 minutes in when they showed a family portrait and focused on the creepy brother. Because I’m just so like, smart.

S: I liked it! I knew what was going to happen, because it’s the same as everything that happens. Lonely, isolated mansion in the woods? Oh, haha, HOME INVASION. The first half is like The Strangers on steroids, I was sweaty-palming it the whole time. Also, I’m a sucker for any time there’s a badass heroine just wreaking total havoc and ruining murdering plans. Oh, let’s hide in the basement? How about no, because that’s a stupid fucking idea. Uh oh! The murderer is behind me! OK, I’ll just dive out this window as soon as I see him and then come back and kick some ass because IDGAF.

In terms of actual criticism, the plot needs a bit of work. Some stories were picked up and then dropped (see anything to do with the mother), and the predictability of it kind of hurt near the end (Ohhhhhhh this is all about money? But really? That’s…that’s it, guys?). Can I just not-so-secretly tell you I loved the cast though? Because I totally watched Sharni Vinson in Step Up 3D (shut up) and Nicholas Tucci looks like Skeet Skeet Skeet Ulrich.

I don’t know if I’d actively search for this to see it again, but I would tell other people to put it in their horror queues.

Absentia, 2011

Thoughts?

A: Despite how low-budget this movie looks, I promise you that it’s really good. Like surprisingly good for the film-school quality of it. (You know what I mean.)

The film plays with the idea that this parallel supernatural universe with creatures kidnapping people may actually just be a delusion and that those who are missing may have just run away.  The drug addict sister who believes in the creatures doesn’t really help support their existence, just sayin’. The back and forth between fantasy and reality and the suggestion that it’s all psychological reminds me of classic ghost stories in that all the spooky stuff is a metaphor for a mental breakdown. It’s really creative writing that doesn’t rely on violence - something that I haven’t seen in horror in a while.

It’s unfortunate that the budget was so low for this movie because the story really deserves more. Still worth the watch, but the low-budget is distracting (because I’ma  snob, obviously).

S: Guys. I know I tend to go off about low budget, and having gone to school with a lot of “make your own destiny!” type film makers (some of whom have actual talent), I get a little bit dismissive and annoyed by art school-esque projects. I’ll apologize for that right now (and maybe only now). I really enjoyed this. Projects like this make me really happy that Kickstarter is around.

A will summarize, but in a nutshell, Tricia’s husband goes missing and 7 years later, while going through the process of declaring him dead in absentia, she starts seeing him everywhere. I really do mean everywhere. Asshole interrupts her meditation sessions, ruins her sleep, hangs out in the back of her closet. I seriously think I jumped every single time he appeared, and he wasn’t even doing anything particularly terrifying aside from just being there. Tip of the hat to some nice placements for exceeding creepiness.

There were some awkward, “Oh, your new to this” moments, and times when you could feel the lack of expertise or budget, but honestly, overall enjoyable. I will be staying away from tunnels for a long time (forever).

Shock / Beyond the Door II, 1977

Thoughts?

A: S and I have a running joke that anything my boyfriend recommends we’re probably going to hate. For me, this started all the way back in the summer of 2011 when he told me I should see Inside (2007) because it was sooooo good. It was awful and I hated it. Maybe we’ll review it some day so you can truly understand how much I fucking hate it. But I digress.

This movie wasn’t so bad. It was kinda funny in a way that only old, low-budget Italian horror movies can be - the dialogue doesn’t quite match the actor’s mouths and there’s a bunch of random sexy stuff.

It’s like a cross between The Exorcist and The Shining. Only not as good. It doesn’t help that I’ve seen so many movies like this that I know she’s totally fucking bonkers and probably killed her dead husband who may or may not be possessing their weird child.

This movie is fun and has it’s moments and I feel like people should watch it to pay their respects. But at the same time, you’re not missing much if you don’t.

S: Meh. I’m discovering more and more that I dislike these kind of shoddy, low budget 70s movies. Were there parts that made me jump? Yeah, sure. I mean, there’s a weird kid who jumps out of places and leaves razorblades in between piano keys. That didn’t make this movie any better though, and I felt very disinterested through out. Except for the mom’s wardrobe - that was interesting and faaaaabulous. That’s about it for my thoughts though. Crazy bitch, creepy child, two dudes with porn staches. Done and done.

The Conjuring, 2013

NEW RELEASE ALERT!!

Thoughts?


A: Whether or not I like a horror movie really depends on one question: did it scare the shit out of me?  If the answer is yes, then YES I LOVE IT. The Conjuring was spooky enough for me to reconsider my atheism and think about wearing a cross again because this movie was that messed up. So guess how much I loved it?

Carolyn and Roger Perron (Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston) move their 5 daughters into a farm house that they bought at auction (of course) for a “fresh start”. Almost immediately after they move in, fucked up shit starts happening: creepy boarded up basements, doors opening and closing on their own, mysterious bruises, etc. When things reach a breaking point, they call on Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) to get rid of the demons in their house. Pretty standard stuff.

Normally, I’d write off a haunted house film because they’re all so boring these days. But James Wan abides by the tried and true horror movie rule: the less you show the scarier it is. The actual ghost/demon/witch/whatever is barely shown. Most of the scares rely on doors swinging and floors creaking, but Wan holds off until the very last second before a crash so that your terror is at a fever pitch - and at the end of it all, you don’t even SEE anything!

Wan’s talent has really improved. Like S, I was so not into Insidious (read our scathing review here), but everything I disliked about that movie has been corrected. The Conjuring is a beautiful movie and he gets respect from me for making a horror movie so nice to look at. It’s set in the 70s, so the colours are a little faded and tinged with yellows, oranges, and browns that give it that vintage feel. The camera swoops around the house as the Perrons move in and then peaks around corners as they realize something else is living with them. As beautiful as the film is, it’s also spooky as fuck. I’ve watched a few possession movies and none of them really compare to The Exorcist (because obviously). But The Conjuring has an exorcism scene so scary that the audience fell absolutely silent. It’s horrific. Not to give you high expectations or anything.

Ultimately though, the film wouldn’t work so well if lesser actors had been cast and the characters hadn’t been so well drawn.  In these kind of movies, the characters tend to be shallow and their reactions are so over the top that it’s hard to buy into them. But the Perrons are a totally average, loving family and portrayed so naturally that it’s really hard not to feel for them. Seriously ghosts, get the fuck out of here and give them a break. Wilson is very good as Ed and his performance is subtle, considering that he’s a guy who speaks seriously about hauntings at universities.  He and Farmiga have great chemistry and bounce nicely off of each other.

Obviously though, V.Farm is the stand-out. Dressed (probably purposely) is blue and cool tones, she’s a calming, serene, almost heavenly presence. But she’s also the HBIC* and doesn’t take any shit. There’s a part in the movie when Lorraine is all by herself in the creepy basement and she can hear ghosts being all creepy in the shadows, so she takes out a mirror and LOOKS INTO IT SO SHE CAN SEE THEM BETTER. Okay, really? Mad props. Because I could barely make it through the movie without covering my eyes. During parts that didn’t show any ghosts on screen.

This is the most I’ve ever written about a horror movie and it’s the least funny I’ve ever been, but I have to sell this movie because it’s my most favourite horror movie in years. You probably have, but if you haven’t, go see it. There can be art in horror, and a well-told ghost story is always one of the finest forms of storytelling, IMHO. No, I’m not even being humble because I’m right. Go see this movie. It’ll scare your pants off.

* Head Bitch in Charge

S: I disliked Insidious, so I was worried that The Conjuring would go the same way for me, but even before I saw it I just wanted to like it. I love the cast, I loved the whole vibe of the movie. Hell, even the type they used had me invested in loving this.

I think there are moments that are a fine line between love/hate for me, mostly a few unnecessary “Boo”, “AHH!” scares, but I still kind of “get” them and why they are there. For the most part, I noticed drastic improvements with the pacing and the deliberate humor, so I’ve ultimately decided to give this movie a thumbs up.

I did not like the conclusion, but I won’t talk about it because I actually don’t have any suggestions for a better direction - I just know I felt dissatisfied. There’s also what I thought was an unnecessary side story about a possessed doll, but maybe I’m just biased because I’ve never gotten the “scary doll” shtick. Everything else? GOOD TIMES.

I will mention, Joey King is a rockstar and should probably get an Oscar nod* for her role in this. Just sayin’. At one point, she wakes up in the night because the asshole demon/ghost keeps grabbing her ankles, and she sees something standing behind her bedroom door. She wakes up her sister, who can’t see who or what it is. Christine (King) is absolutely petrified, as her sister Nancy explores the dark room. Is there anything there? Not that the audience can see. Is it terrifying? JESUS FUCKING CHRIST, HELL TO THE YES. Honest truth, I was so so scared that they’d make me see what Christine was seeing, that my legs went numb in the theatre and I almost choked on my own fear.

So, props to you, kid. Props. To. You.

*Full disclosure: I have no idea how the Oscars work

The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh (2012)

IT’S NOT OCTOBER YET, but we totally went and saw a scary movie.

A: The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh is a Canadian horror film that recently had a very limited release at Cineplex Yonge and Dundas in Toronto. It’s written and directed by one of the publishers of Rue Morgue. I was pretty excited for this film. Canadian production starring Vanessa Redgrave (mad respect), seemed to be getting really good reviews, creepy story about cults and ghosts - LOVIN’ IT. But ultimately, it winds up being a whole lotta meh with shades of boring.

Leon Leigh (Aaron Poole) goes to his mother’s house after she dies to deal with the estate or something. The house filled with religious relics, medieval art, and busted antiques – creepy.  Leon stays the night, half-heartedly going through stuff and slowly getting spooked. He’s either being haunted by his mother, an angel statue, a monster thing, or the angel cult his mother was part of really wants him to be their new member and they are really fucking pushy about it.

It’s an interesting albeit overused concept, but the script has sad and sympathetic undertones that make it more elegant than a general ghost movie.  It’s the closest filmic representation of a gothic ghost story that I’ve ever seen. The script is very good. Rodrigo Gudiño is fairly talented and there are decent scares and some really nice framing and shots.  The house they found to shoot in is incredible and automatically gives the film its atmosphere.

But the things is, it gets a little annoying to be teased for an hour and a half with jump scares that don’t really amount to anything.  That’s a good technique for building suspense, but when used the whole time it makes the film booooooring – show me! Conversely though, there’s too much CGI used for the monster thing; it was better when we didn’t see it.  I’m contradictory, I know.

Also, the film is tricky - it doesn’t actually star Vanessa Redgrave, she just provides voiceover work.

Anyway, the film wouldn’t even be that bad and I might have been more inclined to like it if it hadn’t been for the god-awful question and answer session that I experienced after the screening. First of all, the producer seemed to think it was his time to shine and took over, fielding questions and answering almost all of them while trying to make jokes about the production and inserting himself into a lot of it. It was bizarre. Meanwhile, the lead actor was mostly silent and the director didn’t really say anything. And when describing his idea for the film, the director said it was written while he was working on something bigger but Telefilm Canada asked him to.

Ok. But could you at least act like you’re interested?  Could you be a little enthusiastic about your work? Could you say something fucking interesting about it instead of just standing around? No? Fair enough. Maybe you’re just not into it. Perhaps you’re shy. And who am I to judge, I haven’t made a film.  But I watched this film.  And I’m giving it a big ol’ MEH.

S: I had never heard of this flick before, but going to limited events makes me feel like a baller, so I was down as soon as I got the invite. Plus, apparently Clive Barker liked it, and I like him, so same same.

 The movie itself is just okay. Leon goes home after his mama dies, she was uber religious so her house is creepy (read: fantastic), and then there’s some weird stuff with a wild animal/possibly a cult. He stays longer than I would have, as tends to happen in horror movies. I learned that I am a huge wimp when it comes to statues with human eyes. I almost noped on out of the theatre during a dream sequence. I thought the score was well done, as it kept me tense, and I quite liked the lead, which was surprising as I was sure I wouldn’t.

 What stopped this movie from actually being good was the totally not-terrifying CGI creature. As soon as you get up close and personal with this creepy monster, you’re like “Oh, it’s just the Grinch, never mind”. The story was also a little lackluster, just a bunch of elements thrown together that could have been something really interesting, but never fully played out. Prime example - apparently Leon was an antiques collector of sorts? I didn’t catch that at all in the film. I spent 90% of the movie thinking he was a random found items artist, and 10% thinking he was just a crazy hobo. If you’re going to add in some cool, fun fact like that, let’s dwell on it for a bit and maybe talk about why it is even remotely relevant.

 What pushed the film in to being totally terrible for me was the awful Q&A session following. I don’t do well with Q&A’s in general, because I hate people and their stupid questions, but I have managed to sit through and be surprised by a few. This was not one of them. It was painful. A already outlined the issues with the panel, but let me add:

Do not ask an actor if they felt as scared acting in the film as you felt watching the film. The answer is going to be NO, because they are an actor and they are acting. And if for some reason the answer is YES, it is still not a good question, because people like me in the audience will hate on you and blog about it.

Should you see this? Meh. Maybe. If you can find it somewhere and you’re bored. Just don’t make it the headliner of your evening.

Black Christmas (1974)

Uh oh, looks like Spooky October missed most of October. Hey, what can we say? We were too ambitious and real life things got in the way. But we’ve got a few more spooky reviews for you to cap this year - here’s one from what was scheduled to be our Psycho Killa week.

A: This is one of the first horror movies I watched at my mother’s suggestion.  I was 12 or 13 at the time and I’m actually surprised that she allowed me to watch this movie because of all the filthy things that the caller says to the hot young girls on the phone.


I’ve always liked this movie.  It’s subtle, creepy, and an exercise in good horror movie writing.  It’s a slow and gradual burn.  The sorority girls are celebrating Christmas together before they all go home for the holidays.  During the party, they get a fucking weird phone call from a nut who says filthy things before saying that he wants to kill them.  They hang up, nervous, but still calm because hey, it’s just some weirdo making an obscene phone call somewhere else. Little do they know that the killer is already in the attic. Ahh!  He kills Clare who’s heading home for Christmas the next day without any of her housemates knowing.  When her Dad comes and she can’t be found, they start to get worried and go to the police regarding these fucked up phone calls they keep getting. Meanwhile Jess (Olivia Hussey who is beautiful and a great actress and I love her) finds out that her boyfriend knocked her up and she wants to get an abortion. But he’s a little unbalanced and this doesn’t really go over well.


I know it sounds complicated, but trust me it works. The subplots merge seamlessly and lead to the crazy conclusion.  It lets the scares build so that the audience can get to know the characters.  These girls aren’t faceless bimbos. For example, Margot Kidder plays a drunk bitch and she’s amazing.


I also love how this movie, filmed in 1974, presents abortion as a reasonable and rational decision. Jess says that she has her whole life ahead of her and she doesn’t want a baby right now.  When her boyfriend offers to marry her so she can still reach her goals, she declines because she doesn’t want to marry him.  You would NEVER see that in a movie today and it helps make Black Christmas more modern and realistic, despite the dated wardrobe and production design.


This is a great film and one that helped establish the slasher movie genre (it came out 4 years before Halloween).  It’s awesome to see women in a horror/slasher film as real people instead of sexualized victims.  This is definitely one of my favourite horror films and I highly recommend it.

S: I had heard a lot about this movie, so imagine my surprise when it turned out everything everyone had told me was about the remake and didn’t really have anything to do with the original. I liked this movie, it’s got an old school/first time slasher vibe, and it’s SO Toronto. Not the murder stuff, but pretty much everything else - I’m positive I’ve walked by most of the buildings they used numerous times.

  Aside from the old time kitsch factor (hullo, giant fur coat, I love you), there’s not much to tell you. It’s a straight up slasher flick with minimum rhyme or reason. The murderer prank calls a sorority house where he says some super filthy stuff (I was actually surprised), and then starts killing off house members. Olivia Hussey, who is fucking gorg, has an inkling it might be her crazy bananas boyfriend/baby daddy Peter. Well, I guess that’s the gist of it. It’s not confusing, it’s just not held together very well aside from “psycho in house”.

 That said, it’s fun. It’s about Christmas (not my favourite holiday) and people being Halloween (my favourite holiday) style murdered. There’s a creepy attic, a drunk house mother, an awkward dad, a laughing detective. Oh, and a terrifying eyeball in door crack scene that gave me a bit of pause. But the highlights for me were definitely the dirty, dirty phone calls, Olivia Hussey’s face and Margot Kidder being a drunk bitch.

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