The Babadook

babadookimage01{tentative release date: October 2014}

Holycrap, you guys. HOLYCRAP. I was not prepared for how awesome this Australian horror film would be. I mean, how scary can another spin on The Boogeyman actually be, right? The answer, though, is REALLY F’ING SCARY. The basics: grieving mom, out-of-control son, creepy book, unleashed creature, possession, and some really amazing imagery.

The Babadook is a non-stop ball of tension from beginning to end, the acting is freaking amazing, the creature F/X are great. I can’t even express how surprised I was by this movie, and how utterly terrified I was while watching it. Bonus: The Babadook pop-up book featured in the film is so goddamn cool! I hear the filmmakers are considering a kickstarter to produce it for real, and I am prepared to throw my money at them as soon as they do.

Lovely Molly

{Cross-posted to Three Imaginary Girls

Opening with a “found footage” sequence (expected by Director Eduardo Sanchez, one-half of the writing and directing team that brought us The Blair Witch Project) packed with intense emotion, Lovely Molly then backtracks to start at the beginning.

Scraping together money to start their new life together, young married couple Molly and Tim Reynolds move back into her parent’s home: a spooky out-in-the-middle of nowhere 18th century house that Molly will be spending a LOT of time alone in while her husband works long hour trucking across the country.

It isn’t long before Molly starts being terrorized by sounds of footsteps, slamming doors, and an eerily haunting singsong voice that she believes is her dead father. As Molly slips deeper into depression and despair, the details of her tortured childhood are slowly revealed: horrible physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her father that led her to retreat into heavy drug use and destructive behavior, which she is repeating again with an even faster—and scarier—descent.

And this is where I disagree with most of the reviews I’ve read about this movie that say, “it’s not scary”, because it’s actually fucking terrifying. The thing is, the most frightening thing about Lovely Molly isn’t the horror aspect of the story—it’s the past demons that Molly is facing that make you feel true terror.  (more…)

Case 39: good, bad, meh

I’d been holding out watching Case 39 mostly due to the fact that Bradley Cooper stars in it, and it turns out my instinct to avoid it because of him was right in this case, because omfg he is HORRIBLE in this movie. I mean, look at that photo! That’s him being terrified! Seriously. What.

That said, this movie wasn’t a total wash – because the supporting cast totally killed it, and the premise was pretty interesting. I just wish they hadn’t ruined it all with the stupidest ending ever.

To recap (with spoilers): 

THE GOOD

  • Jodelle Ferland was amazing. AMAZING. She has a talent for playing creepy little girls, and she should stick with it. She was absolutely frightening when she showed a little bit of her bad side and coldly demanded what she wanted.
  • Callum Keith Rennie & Kerry O’Malley also do an excellent job as her poor, crazy parents.
  • Putting your kid in an oven and duct-taping the door shut? ‘nuff said.
  • The idea that a baby could be possessed by a demon at birth, then grow up to systematically slaughter everyone around her just by “suggesting” it to them is pretty awesome.
  • I’m also fond of this convention, in which obviously any adult trying to claim a child is the devil or out to get them is going to branded insane and unreasonable, while the child is going to be rescued and taken care of – the perfect opportunity for them to get away with everything.
  • That bee scene, tho it involved bad acting on Cooper’s part, was an icktastic and terrifyingly gross idea.
  • Actually, every death was pretty gruesomely conceived and executed. I dug them all.

THE BAD

  • Renee Zellweger, I don’t know what you’re doing in this movie but you shouldn’t be here. You were as terrible as…
  • Bradley Cooper. A man who cannot do anything except look smug and smarmy.
  • Ian McShane – whom I LOVE, was totally underused here, and his character didn’t make any sense. It took one 2 minute phone call to change his mind about the girl, which is so so lame.
  • Overall it seemed like Renee herself, and her allies, accepted the truth way too soon and way too easily. Seems like it should have been drug out more.
  • They set up everything so well for a killer ending, but they flaked out and did the lame thing. And not just once, a few times. This has multiple re-writes all over it.

In the end it was just “meh” overall, which is too bad. If they’d gotten a good screenwriter and insisted on carrying through the set-up to the end, it could have been a decent little horror flick.

Not recommended, unless you’re terribly bored – or if you’re curious about Ferland’s brilliance.

Demons, Italian Style

Continuing with my Italian horror theme – Demoni And Demoni 2 are two more films I was obsessed with in my teen years. Shortly after discovering Argento, I did some research (which in those pre-internet days meant visiting a lot of video stores and talking to people FACE TO FACE. Shocking, I know) that he produced both of these Lamberto Bava-directed films. They still suffer from bad dubbing and seriously dated settings, but the Demon makeup is awesome enough that you honestly won’t care.

Demoni (Demons) was filmed in 1985 and takes place almost entirely in a theater. After one of the theater goers accidentally scratches her face on a creepy mask in the lobby, she becomes a demon that bites her friend, who also turns into a demon, and so and so on and so on. The Demons in this movie – and the sequel – operate much like Zombies. Puss-filled, falling apart, pointy-teethed zombies.

What I think is pretty cool about this one is that even though it’s one location, there are enough surprises and gory attacks that you’re distracted enough not to get bored. I still think the transformation where the chick busts right through the movie screen looks really awesome. Plus, the soundtrack is full of songs by Billy Idol, Motley Cure, Rick Springfield, and Go West. RADICAL. 

Demoni 2 (Demons 2) was filmed in 1986 and takes place in a fancy high-rise building called “The Tower”. This one doesn’t make one damn bit of sense, but you gotta roll with it for the pay-offs (of which there are many). There’s a film-within-a-film thing happening here, wherein a bunch of teens are exploring the ruins of the theater from the first film and wake up one of the demon corpses they stumble over. Sally, who’s having her 16th birthday party, has an emotional breakdown after learning that her punk ex-boyfriend is on the way over, and retreats to her room to pout and watch the teens on her TV.

Wait. What? It turns out several people in the high rise (including Asia Argento in one of her first film roles) are watching this group on film, even though there doesn’t seem to be a guy with a camera filming them, but uh, whatever. Sally happens to be watching at the unfortunate resurrection moment, so she becomes possessed by the demon, and then starts slaughtering party-goers left and right – who turn into more Demons and start terrorizing and infecting everyone in the complex, including a pregnant woman, a band of bodybuilders and aerobicizers (!!?), and a high class hooker.

If this sounds over-the-top crazy, it is. They even turn a child into a demon, which morphs into the stupidest looking puppet ever. But even with its flaws, this one is totally (laughably) great. AND the soundtrack is more new wave: featuring The Smiths, The Cult, Dead Can Dance, and Art of Noise. Oh….right. That’s why I loved this movie so much in the 80s!

These are both filled with so many ridiculous moments that I’d definitely recommended settling in with a group of friends and some booze for a marathon with lots of commentary…but hold off on any food. The demony goodness includes enough puss and blackish vomit to kill pretty much anyone’s appetite.

Psychoville, Qu’est-ce que c’est?

What. the. hell. I stumbled across this completely incomprehensible, but still weird enough that I’m intrigued show (?) thing (?) creation (?) performance art (?) called Psychoville on BBC today.

I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be horror or comedy or drama or fantasy or WHAT. I watched two full episodes and the only thing I came away with was feeling incredibly disturbed and icky, but still wondering what’s going to happen next.

The plot (???) involves a telekinetic dwarf/former porn star, a disgruntled children’s entertainer with a missing hand (Mr. Jelly, shown above), a Kathy Bates-esque nurse who thinks her babydoll is alive, a creeptastic mother and son duo who’s obsessed with serial killers, an eyeless dude who competes against Ebay “witches” to earn millions selling beanie baby-like stuffed animals, and the mysterious stranger who is trying to call them out for murdering someone.

Lost yet? Yeah, me too. The link between them is apparently that they were all in the same mental institution together. The crazy sets and comic-booky costumes and makeup, and the fact that one guy plays several parts really add to the fucked-up atmosphere. I don’t know where it’s going…but I’m along for the ride.

Also, one of the best tie-ins to this show is the “Best Murders” character site. I can’t explain why, but it makes me happy.

Drag Me to Hell

31 Horror Movies I Own #13: Drag Me to Hell

If there’s one man who knows how to do horror-comedy right, it’s Sam Raimi. So when the master of the The Evil Dead returned to his roots in 2009, I couldn’t have been happier—and Drag Me to Hell more than lived up to my expectations.

When I first saw the trailer, I was worried that it might be a re-hash of Thinner (a Stephen King film that fell a little flat). I mean, angry gypsy woman, a curse, that seems a little too familiar, right? But Raimi injected his story with tons of gross-out gore, spurting blood, and even a talking goat. (more…)