From the obscure to the mainstream, if it's cinematic, I'm into it! Movie reviews and dog pictures. Check out @oscarwatchpod and @samenightmovie

Horror # 18: Malevolence (2003): Malevolence was a big deal when it premiered in 2003. I remember hearing quite a bit about it through the heavy marketing of @anchorbayent and a gnarly-looking trailer. While the film plays with concepts from the likes of Friday the 13th, Halloween, and TCM; Malevolence pays tribute to those films while crafting its own thing. If those aforementioned classics are the entry point, this film emerges on the other side an unsung neo-classic of the horror genre. Writer/Director/Editor/Composer #stevanmena had a clear vision that no lack of budget would deter. He set out to make a well-made, dread-filled horror flick that hearkened to the old days—the unforgiving days—of horror. With Malevolence, he succeeds. Before the horror elements fully rear their collective heads, we are treated to a dual narrative involving a bank robbery gone sour and the hapless mother/daughter duo caught up in the wake. When the bank robbers head to their “safehouse,” they quickly find it to be quite the opposite of its nickname. Mena keeps a strong mood throughout and it’s hard not to get swept up in what he—and everyone else—is doing here. The cinematography by #tsuyoshikimoto is stellar here and goes a long way to make this film look like it definitely cost more than a purported $200,000. Performances are solid throughout with strong work from @rbrandonjohnson #samanthadark #heathermagee and #richardglover who give it their all here, for sure. Both #johnrichardingram and #kevinmckelvey add to the chilling atmosphere—especially in the film’s denoument with McKelvey expositing some truly unsettling backstory. The film isn’t a body count flick nor is it the goriest horror out there. Mena chooses to focus on a creeping dread and an effective sense of suspense here—both of which serve the film well. This is one mean motor scooter when it wants to be and shows no qualms in playing with fire and burning the audience. All in all, Malevolence is a modern classic within the horror genre and deserves a bigger audience now that Mena’s trilogy is available in hi-def. Let’s keep this train going with the next installment! #31horrorsof2018 #movie_mattinee #halloween
Horror # 17: House on Haunted Hill (1999): I have a soft spot for House on Haunted Hill. I was 16 when it came out and I was blown away by the Dark Castle logo alone—before the film proper even begins. The film itself is a lot of fun if you’re not too discerning and don’t immediately scoff at remakes. Director #williammalone with writers #robbwhite and #dickbeebe craft a solid sendup to the 1959 original film while keeping things quite modern throughout with more violence, more disturbing imagery, and a harder edge when it comes to film central premise of supernatural or manmade scares. There is just a sense of fun here that permeates the entire film and much of the success here has to do with the phenomenal casting found within. #geoffreyrush (aping #vincentprice while, simultaneously, doing his own thing) and @famke_janssen05 (deliciously vampy here) are worth the price of admission alone. They have a glorious back and forth as a bickering couple that may just be out to kill each other. They are supported by familiar faces like @tayediggsinsta @alilarter #petergallagher @chriskattanofficial (home to some great lines) and the great #jeffreycombs (who, unfortunately, doesn’t have much to do but who still makes a killer impact here)! Malone and company are definitely out to make an edgy horror film with Nine Inch Nails-esque imagery (read: S&M inspired nonsense, random nudity and facial deformities) and a few moments of shocking violence/gore. That’s all well and good but the beating heart of the film is that of a thrill ride (Rush’s character is an amusement park tycoon, after all) and it’s all the better for it. I find the contrast between the intense imagery and the overall sense of fun to be pretty solid. I’m sure some will—and have been—turned off by this as this isn’t a horror-comedy or anything along those lines. In the end, it’s a commercial horror film and there are some moments that don’t pass the sniff test but, for the most part, House on Haunted Hill deserves a revisit and an appraisal in my estimation. Good, clean, harmless horror fun! #31horrorsof2018 #movie_mattinee #halloween @shoutfactory
Horror # 16: Blood Fest (2018): While the premise sounds similar to Horror # 1, Blood Fest is a horror-comedy that basically feels like the last 30-minutes (save the final scenes) of The Cabin in the Woods expanded into a full-length feature—albeit less OTT—while also being a clear love letter to the horror genre. The film follows a group of friends as they attend the titular festival—a massive compound that house scary walkthroughs that resemble some of the genre’s most familiar tropes, settings, and antagonists. It all goes off the rails quickly when an insane showman decides that horror is dead and that he is going to use this event as way of staging something truly horrific. There are very few punches pulled with the gore and the film certainly lives up to its name. It’s also thoughtfully written as concerns the genre and some of the concerns from the less enlightened detractors of it. I was also impressed in how the whole thing comes together. It looks fantastic with tons of creativity and a screenplay that doesn’t feel neutered by any means. Performances are just great here with awesome stuff from @robbiekay71 @lifeisaloha @seyga @bdunkelman #chrisdoubek and @t8dono (all of whom are more than game). Writer/Director/Actor @owen_egerton is the film’s mad ringleader and his work should be lauded for sure. He mixes horror and comedy well, gives us a familiar setup and then completely explodes it to operatic proportions by the film’s end. You have to suit up and join in the fun here. If not, the more cynical of the you may not completely buy into how grand some of this gets. For me, I was hooked from the outset and stayed smiling all the way through the credits. Don’t listen to any negative reviews. If you like fun and gore; invite over some likeminded friends and enjoy the hell out of this one (how it was supposed to be viewed, I’m sure). It’s ambitious, uses its cast and budget very well, and should be a hit amongst genre fans who don’t mind succumbing to its wacky charms. I loved it! #31horrorsof2018 #movie_mattinee #halloween @roosterteeth
Horror # 15: Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (2018): I was a big supporter of 2015’s Goosebumps but my expectations for the sequel, Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween, were tempered due to the classic case of sequelitis. Well, after seeing it, the law of diminishing returns does play into matters here but, even with that in mind, the film still manages to be a fun time at the movies and a solid Halloween-time watch. Director @arisandel does a nice job constructing a sequel that both feels like it connects to the first time but that stands on its own. Some of this is by choice and some of this is because of scheduling issues with cast members from the first film. The show must go on, though, and it sure does. @jackblack does appear in the film but in a much-truncated role (he was busy filming The House with a Clock in Its Walls) which is a bummer but, in his place, we do get a heck of a lot more Slappy! He is wonderfully voiced here by @mickwingert who channels Black quite well while still adding some of his own personality (that cackle!). Our lead roles are split between @jeremyraytaylor (It), @thecaleelharris (Castle Rock), and @madisoniseman (Tales of Halloween) who are all a lot of fun here. Iseman, in particular, gets the best role and—other than Black—puts forth the best live performance here. Black, in limited moments, is a great deal of fun and gets to deliver another zinger to @stephenking that had me in veritable stitches. The concept here is silly but perfect for a movie like this: Slappy makes everything fake become real on Halloween night. We are treated to a coterie of ghouls, goblins, and various other creatures of the night. Design work is strong (lots of CGI but some nice practical SFX as well) but there is less of an emphasis on @rl_stine1 and his literary works. Either way, this is exactly the film it looks like so, if you have perceived interest, I would recommend leaving your cynicism at home and checking this one out. Bring on Goosebumps 3! #31horrorsof2018 #movie_mattinee #halloween @goosebumpsmovie
Horror # 14: Apostle (2018): Writer/Director @ghuwevans takes a step back from the gory martial arts chaos of films like Merantau, The Raid, and The Raid 2 and moves back into V/H/S/2 (where he made the standout segment entitled “Safe Haven”) mode with his new film, Apostle. While I found that too many of my questions were left unanswered on the blood-soaked floors by the end, I would still recommend this film for it’s interesting story, wonderful characterization, amazing visuals, and classical narrative structuring. Evan’s tale focuses on a religious cult secluded on an island, a brother trying to get his sister back from said cult, and a whole lot of strange goings on (both of this world and not). It’s a premise we’ve seen before, but Evans and his team handle it with a darkly serious vibe from the word go and it pays massive dividends in the early goings. The opening scenes set the mood wonderfully and I found myself wholly sucked into this dense world. Performances are strong throughout with great stuff from @thatdanstevens (who appears to be about to go nuclear in every scene) #michaelsheen the slyly rebellious and lovely @lucyboynton1 (excellent here) and #marklewisjones (who is just GoT-levels of hiss-worthy here). There is a ton of classically structured tragedy here for these performers to play with. With a myriad betrayals, secret trysts, familial strife, and violent retribution; the film might be Shakespeare to shame. It is a horror film, though, and there is plenty to enjoy for fans of scares, blood and guts, and—most especially—folk horror! Special mention must also be made to cinematographer @mattflannerydp for his WTF-levels of resplendence here (get this guy more gigs, please!) The film is certainly a slow-burn, but you never have to wait too long before you get something disturbing thrown your way. This isn’t the kind of film that plays every one of its card way too close to its chest—which I appreciate very much. That being said, by the film’s end, I still found myself with too many lingering questions for a move that runs 130-minutes. Still, worth checking out—for sure! #31horrorsof2018 #movie_mattinee #halloween
Horror # 13.5: Mad Monster Party? (1967): I am definitely a fan of the Rankin-Bass films but Mad Monster Party? is one that doesn’t get a ton of love. While it contains much of what makes other Rankin-Bass classics well…classic; it is a bit too scattered to be truly effective as a film. It’s a super-fun and adorable film, to be sure. If you like the classic Universal monsters and horror tropes; you will find something to enjoy here. This is a silly animated film, but I did find myself a bit bored at times and some of the characters have the tendency to grate on you. It probably should have been cut down to about 74-minutes but, instead, we have a 94-minute film that plods on for too long. I’d hazard to guess that this would be an infinitely stronger film with those 20-minutes excised. A few of the characters were annoying with The Monster’s Mate and Felix Flankin being the two most egregious culprits. #phyllisdiller voices the “Mate” and is just grating throughout. The character of Felix is supposed to be a nebbish, bookish type. He certainly is but there is not a real character transformation from the beginning to the end. He simply stays the same. I do have to give a ton of credit to #allenswift who voices pretty much everyone, save for 3 characters! The legendary #boriskarloff is a ton of fun, playing a version of himself (Baron Boris von Frankenstein) while #galegarnett is solid as the seductive Francesca. Believe me, there is a ton of fun to be had here and there were plenty of moments I enjoyed very much (a massive rumble between all of the monsters is a clear highlight as well as the massive finale). There is an obvious amount of TLC here and it’s clear that a ton of backbreaking work went into making this ambitious film. It’s fun to look at but less fun to watch. Either way, it’s worth checking out if you’re looking for something family-friendly and a bit more old-fashioned. #31horrorsof2018 #movie_mattinee #halloween
Tales from the Hood 2 (2018): 1995s Tales from the Hood is an excellent horror anthology with bite that, unfortunately, still resonates in 2018 with its searing takedown of ignorance, intolerance, racism and the misrepresentation of black history and culture. Well, it’s 2018 and co-directors/co-writers @therustycundieff and #darinscott are still angry. They’re back with a belated sequel, Tales from the Hood 2, which—while never quite reaching the heights of the first film—emerges as a furiously funny and savagely saddening film in its own right. The framing structure this time involves a Trump stand-in and the creation of a robotic police force that is clearly being engineered to discriminate against subaltern categories in the U.S. (it’s on the nose but I would argue that we might need a little “on the nose” these days). The 4 tales we get (of course) vary in quality with two that are strong, one that feels a bit like an outlier, and one that almost needed to be a feature length film due to its ambition. The first tale is a ferocious takedown of cultural appropriation and a fantastic example of the goofy and the grand guignol coming together in loving fashion. It’s my favorite of the bunch, for sure. We then move onto a fun story involving gang members, hidden money, and a con-man masquerading as a TV psychic. This one doesn’t have the bite of the first segment but it’s tons of fun and has an absolutely dynamite performance from @bryan_batt (he’s just flat out great here!). The third segment is clearly aimed at the #timesup and #metoo movements. This is fine, and the story plays out in a classic Tales from the Crypt/Creepshow manner, but it feels like a bit of an outlier considering the lion’s share of content here. The final story is the most elaborate and the most affecting but, for me, should have been expanded into a feature film. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the bravura performance from @silverthroat as well! Angry in all the right ways but a little on the sloppy side, presentation wise; I’d still check this one out for a fair price. #31horrorsof2018 #movie_mattinee #halloween
Horror # 12: The Night Strangler: After the massive success of The Night Stalker, it only made sense to put Carl Kolchak back on the case ASAP and, as luck would have it, he would return a year later with The Night Strangler. This go around, Kolchak is pitted against a ghoulish creature who is killing women for their blood in Seattle. While many of the same beats exist here (unsurprisingly), the film does feature plenty to make it a worthy sequel and a damn fine standalone film. The setup feels almost exactly the same as does much of the rest of the film—if you merely look at the broad strokes. New director #dancurtis makes sure to add just enough for fans of the original. I wouldn’t say the character of Kolchak evolves. He is still the same wryly funny journalist for Stalker and #darrenmcgavin again plays him perfectly. This go around, Kolchak has more solidly entertaining chemistry with a returning character and a new one. #simonoakland returns as his boss and he and McGavin seem to be having the time of their lives hurling barbs at each other and generally trying to out-yell each other throughout. The lovely and talented #joannpflug is a perfect foil for McGavin here and Curtis wisely chooses not to accentuate any kind of romance between the two. They have great chemistry but there aren’t any unnecessary subplots. Much like Las Vegas in the first film, here Seattle makes for a strong backdrop to the proceedings. I would say the lion’s share of the scenes are shot on studio backdrops but the location shooting also works quite well. To those backdrops, the filmmakers truly outdo themselves with the film’s climax. I won’t spoil anything, but we get an amazing twist on the gothic castle cliché during the film’s final act—and they know how great it all looks! All in all, this is a strong sequel with an uptick in humor (for the better) and all of the same thrills and chills you might be expecting. Thanks to @kinolorber for releasing these two films in such splendiferous form! #31horrorsof2018 #movie_mattinee #halloween
@mst3k at the @bochcenter Shubert Theatre with @jellis28 for early birthday celebrations!!! #movie_mattinee
Horror # 11: The Night Stalker (1972): The character of Carl Kolchak is an imminently likeable one. He distrusts authority, is tenacious as hell, and is a far cry from the sort of macho nonsense we often get with cliched hardboiled detective characters (he’s a journalist). Looking at the two films featuring his character in 2018 is fascinating as we consistently watch him push back against the powers that be for suppressing his (fake) news—this was, obviously, not a new concept (much to certain people’s chagrin). Either way, The Night Stalker is a fun, fast paced romp through the seedy underbelly of old Las Vegas at Kolchak encounters a series of murders that he eventually finds to be linked to an actual vampire! There is great fun to be had in watching him peel back the layers of the case and come to conclusions in fairly rapid succession. It is his uphill battle with both the police and his own newspaper where he meets the heaviest resistance (director #johnllewellynmoxey uses a framing device throughout that shows us where Kolchak will end up by the film’s climax) and there is a ton of entertainment value in watching him circumvent their systems and policies. #darrenmcgavin is just fantastic as Kolchak. He’s abrasive but fair; stubborn but willing to accept help; and he certainly knows his limitations as a hero of sorts. He is ably supported by #carollynley #claudeakins #kentsmith #elishacookjr and #simonoakland (who is a perfect foil for him). Even though the film is a TV film, the filmmakers treat the proceedings like a theatrical release. Production values are high, there is plenty of action, and the Vegas setting is just primo. The only thing gives it away is the “window-boxed” (1.33 : 1) formatting and the obvious pauses for what would have been commercial breaks. None of this hinders the film in any way, for the record. At a brisk 74-minutes, you simply cannot go wrong with this one. If you like detective stories: check it out! If you like horror stories: check it out! It’s fun and, at times, silly but doesn’t devolve into camp. Great flick! #31horrorsof2018 #movie_mattinee #halloween @kinolorber
Horror # 10: The Spiral Staircase (1946): More along the lines of “Gothic Noir,” The Spiral Staircase is on this list because of the “killer-on-the-loose/dark-and-stormy-night” setup and for the way it seems to pave the way for the Gialli of Italy as well as the proto-slashers of the 1970s. Directed superbly by the great #robertsiodmak and short by the equally great #nicholasmusuraca the film chornicles the plight of a mute woman who is stalked by an unknown assailant—who is targeting women with various physical afflictions—on one long night in a creepy New England mansion. Plotwise, it shouldn’t be too difficult to put a finger on the culprit (especially if you listen for a telling phrase) but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a boatload of fun to be had with this one. Predictability aside, the film features rapturous atmosphere throughout and a great sense of setting with the—primarily—single setting. Although made in 1946, the film is set thirty-year prior which adds to the Gothic feel, tone, and style they are going for. The cast is pretty great with a strong central performance from #dorothymcguire who is able to emote just fine without the use of her voice. We get great support from #georgebrent #ethelbarrymore #kentsmith #rhondafleming #gordonoliver and #elsalanchester who all seem to be having fun here. Barrymore was nominated for an Oscar for this one and, while I don’t think she should have won, there is something wonderfully mysterious/ambiguous about her depiction of an ailing matriarch—widow of an Ernest Hemingway-type—who seems to know way more than she lets on at first. I feel like there’s an entire movie to be made just about her character and Barrymore does a great deal with very little here. Siodmak is in entertainment-mode here with a twisty narrative, noir-like shadows, and some well-staged murder scenes. It isn’t an overt horror film, but genre fans should find plenty to admire here. I would have liked for the story to be a bit less predictable and/or for the murderer setup to take up more screen time but, overall, this was a fun—albeit slight—flick that modestly entertains. #31horrorsof2018 #movie_mattinee #halloween
Horror # 9: Vampyr (1932): A weird, atmospheric take on vampire lore, Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Vampyr is still an effective piece of horror and still remains a fresh take on a now cliched mythology. Dreyer utilizes sound recording for the first time and it’s clear that the technology is in its infancy. There is a smattering of dialogue here and there but most of the information still comes through using intertitles. This is fine, though, as Vampyr is still effectively a silent film—and that’s fine. Dreyer is able to tell his story with fantastic imagery and a mood that is just consistently off-putting. The film follows a student of the supernatural as he happens upon an eerie village in France and, in sequence, a vampire/vampyr. There are some amazing shots where Dreyer uses terrifying shadows to create a mood that is best described as nightmarish with reality and the supernatural blending in extraordinary ways (seriously, some of this stuff just blows me away!). The storytelling uses the aforementioned intertitles which seems ham-fisted and breaks up the narrative way too much. I know we need information, but it just seems like the filmmakers were trying to meet audiences halfway between an old technology and a new one. There are several inspired sequences, however, from the creepy introductory moments where the main character enters a hotel to a centrally important dream/hallucination sequence towards the end of the film, there is almost always something to look at. I have to applaud Dreyer’s consistently idiosyncratic style. I don’t think I’ve seen any filmmaker (except for maybe Kubrick) who completely owns how weird his style is while, simultaneously, always feeling like a maverick. Performances are certainly secondary to the storytelling with only #mauriceschutz and #sybilleschmitz standing out here (Schmitz is just astounding in a key scene where I’m sure the direction was: “Open your eyes as wide as you can!”) While it’s a bit too meandering for its own good, Vampyr is still something every horror fan should check out as it certainly feels unique and interesting throughout! #31horrorsof2018 #movie_mattinee #halloween
Horror # 8.5: Strait-Jacket (1964): From writer #robertbloch and director/producer extraordinaire #williamcastle comes 1964’s Strait-Jacket, an entertaining, solidly plotted thriller with an amazing central performance from the great #joancrawford and plenty of shocks and grisly violence to satiate the masses. Starting with brutal double-murder in 1943 where a jilted wife/mother dispatches her cheating husband and his mistress with a few well-placed blows with the family ax. It’s a shocking way to start the film (Castle shoots it in silhouette, but the impact isn’t diminished) and it certainly grabbed my attention from the word go. We then fast-forward 20-years when the mother is released from an asylum into the protective arms of her daughter (who witnessed the murders) and her brother. The lion’s share of the film is watching her try to settle back into normalcy with those around her making earnest attempts at helping her. To Crawford’s credit, we sympathize with her and want her to get better—even with the prerequisite knowledge of what she’s done. Crawford is just resplendent, as usual, here, but she is ably supported by solid turns from #dianebaker #leiferickson and #georgekennedy (with Baker being particularly good). This is Joan’s movie, though, and she is always large in the frame—as she should be. Castle does a nice job staging things with suspense and then unleashing brutal violence on his audience. It’s not a gorefest, but there were a few moments that I genuinely found shocking for 1964. Bloch’s screenplay, as expected, is heavy on the psychology of his characters and does a nice job getting into the main character’s psyche while also indulging the predilections he clearly enjoys indulging in (think Psycho, The Night Walker, The Skull, Psychopath, and The House That Dripped Blood). The film’s finale is pretty damn gripping as well with a genuinely disturbing reveal (in the literal sense, the plot twists are fairly transparent if you’re in the right headspace). It caps off a strong flick in a dramatically satisfying way…and the Bloch pulls a Psycho and explains everything in detail in the final minutes! Overall, this is a winner! #31horrorsof2018
Horror # 8: The Sect (1991): The Sect definitely has plenty to recommend, but the entire package leaves quite a bit desired. #michelesoavi seems to lose control of his project while clearly showing a lot of love for what he is making. My main problem is that the film borrows too much from other films—prominently Rosemary’s Baby but plenty of other Satanic Panic-type films too—so things feel far too derivative overall. But derivative is okay if you can add something fresh to it or keep things fast-paced and interesting. The Sect succeeds in adding some fresh elements here with tons of bizarre imagery, a weird subplot with a rabbit, and an insane cult. These elements—while feeling distinctly like something out of Italian genre cinema—are, at the very least, stimulating enough to keep attention during the films extended runtime. Herein lies the main problem: The Sect is around 2-hours long! This way too long for the type of film we have presented here. Rosemary’s Baby is a lengthy flick, but it justifies it by peeling back layers of the mystery and building the characters throughout. The Sect does peel layers back with Soavi, to be sure, but the story isn’t cohesive enough to justify this narrative choice—but, at least, this feels like a standard cinematic choice. The characters are not all that interesting and the ones that are get limited screen time. #kellycurtis is fine in the lead, but she doesn’t have all that much to do. I would have liked to see more of the energy she brings in the final act. #herbertlom is appropriately creepy here but, unfortunately, keeps his performance one-note (eerie, prophetic, old guy). #tomasarana returns from The Church and here gives another strong performance. He is just uncomfortable as a Manson-esque cult leader, but the film forgoes him for most of the runtime. He shows up in the beginning and does not appear again until the climax of the film! The Sect isn’t miserable by any means. It’s overlong and undercooked, but still wields just enough of the offbeat charm to make it a rental for interested viewers. #31horrorsof2018 #movie_mattinee #halloween
Horror # 7: The Church (1989): Originally designed to be Demons 3, The Church feels like something out of the first two films (demonic presences and a confined space to be sieged upon) but comes out as possibly my favorite of the bunch. Credit this to the fantastic location shooting in Budapest, Hungary, the amazing Gothic atmosphere found throughout the entire film, and the incredible SFX work here! We begin the film in the distant past with the Teutonic knights slaughtering a group of suspected devil worshippers and then making plans to build a church on top of their mass grave (never a good thing to bury them all in one place). Of course, we fast forward to the present and the unleashing of this long-lost evil. Director #michelesoavi does great work in building suspense and the screenplay (by too many people to mention here) does well to build the mythology behind the church and its history. Even though much of this feels rote (and, it is), Soavi and company find a way to make it interesting, scary, and fun. Even the characters (bane of Italian genre filmmakers) are fairly well-drawn with their respective roles making sense within the storyline. It isn’t until about halfway through that things start to feel somewhat stale as a multitude of characters (from various walks of life) converge on the church for the massacre that is about to ensue. These elements feel the most directly lifted from the Demons series, but it all still works well. The SFX work here is just extraordinary! There are a ton of great, creative concepts on display and I found myself truly bowled over witnessing some of the imagery. The church, itself, is just amazing to look at the interiors (although limited) match well with everything else (I particularly enjoyed the tomb of the architect and the statues that surround it). The Church is a great horror flick from Italy that feels like a nice companion piece to Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness. It can, and should, stand on its own as a solid example of what Italy was producing in the late-1980s! #31horrorsof2018 #movie_mattinee #halloween
I was always a huge fan of @officiallooney but never more than when they played to my spooky sensibilities! #movie_mattinee #halloween #looneytunes
Horror # 6: Jug Face (2013): Combining Wicker Man-esque elements with a character-driven classically tragic narrative, writer/director #chadcrawfordkinkle makes a strong first impression with Jug Face. While the film eschews typical horror trappings in favor of a more dramatic structuring, we are still firmly in a grimly violent world where sentient pits require sacrifice—so, don’t worry. The film’s credit sequence does a nice job of giving us the appropriate backstory to how the bizarre commune at the center of the film came about (and it’s not pretty), but I would have preferred a deeper delve into how the whole mythology of this film works—a deliberate choice to withhold information, I’m sure. That being said, there is still clarity here and we are never held too far away from what is going on. The film requires your attention with subtle character beats and sudden violence. Performances are strong with great stuff from the phenomenal @laurenashleycarter #seanbridgers @glasseyepix and #seanyoung as our central figures. Carter, in particular, is just great here. Her performance goes a long way in selling all of this material. Kinkle’s film is an indie, no doubt, but there is a strong sense of professionalism found throughout the production that belies its independent roots. Aside from some weird CGI effects, used for one particular figure, the film looks and sounds fantastic. If you go into this expecting more of a chamber play than a classically structured film, you will be better off. The entirety of the narrative takes place in a small area and involves a small group of people. There is not a need for obvious act changes as the film flows from one moment to the next. This may be off putting for some as it gives the film a deliberate pace, but I found the narrative to be pretty damn compelling. Again, I would have liked more world building here as I was interested in, but not convinced of, the mythology. With that, I think Jug Face is a solid horror-drama and a can’t miss for fans of folk horror. Check out Kinkle’s Organ Grinder short as well! #31horrorsof2018 #movie_mattinee #halloween
Horror # 5: The Horror of Party Beach (1963): Mixing a musical with a monster movie is just a fun-sounding idea making—readily apparent low-budget notwithstanding—The Horror of Party Beach a supremely fun throwback to days passed that had me grinning throughout. Filmed on a shoestring in Stamford, Connecticut (my home state), Party Beach begins as a good times beach-party flick—complete with great songs from The Del-Aires and lots of post-teen drama—and morphs into a campy, silly creature feature. This one screams to be shown in a drive-in theater or in some kind of backyard movie screening. It’s just tons of fun and, while Mystery Science Theater 3000 did wonders in riffing on this, is not as OTT as one might expect. It’s hard to fault a movie that was clearly designed to be pure entertainment—full stop. Do the monsters look realistic and/or convincing? No. Is there a rash of stilted dialogue and bad ADR? You bet. Do they barely string together a feature length film with musical interludes and other pointless—yet entertaining—fluff? Oh yeah. Does any of that matter in terms of how entertaining this all is? Not even a bit! @severinfilms does fantastic work here gracing us with the best version of this film. I have to admit that I almost like the beach party stuff better than the monster stuff as it typically contains the silliest nonsense this film has to offer (lots of speedos, a backflip—jump kick combination, etc.) but the monster elements are still fun as hell with a group of monsters (we begin with one but more simply appear) terrorizing the small community of Stamford in—for the time—fairly gruesome fashion (a slumber party turned slaughter party is one such strong example). The characters here are not interesting but, for the kind of film we are discussing, work perfectly fine within the context. The Horror of Party Beach is a blast of a movie and fun trip back to the swinging 1960s. Sit back, enjoy the tunes, and remember to smile—it’s supposed to be fun! #31horrorsof2018 #movie_mattinee #halloween
next page →