Tag Archives: Supernatural Horror

Vic’s Review – “The Innkeepers”

In this eerie ghost story, a venerable inn closes after a century in business and the two remaining employees are determined to uncover the truth about longtime rumors that the majestic mansion is haunted — but will they survive their explorations?

Victor – 8 out of 10

This film has already begun to polarize horror film fans. Some find director Ti West’s little ghost film to be too slow, chatty, empty, un-scary and lacking gore and shocks. In a strange and twisted sort of way, for these reasons alone is why I liked the film. Very much. It isn’t flashy, full of empty shocks that do nothing and loud bombastic music. It isn’t gratuitous in it’s gore and there is no nudity at all. But aren’t these things what make up a horror movie? Well, no. It isn’t much to the surprise of us horror fans that are desensitized by all of the above in modern horror films.

Less is more and Ti West proves it very well here. The film’s eerie, title opening of shots of Inns throughout history backed by Jeff Grace’s unnerving score is unsettling and involving. The credits play out smooth and slowly. Already we are asked to slow down and let things unfold.  Sara Paxton as the slim and awkward Claire and Pat Healy as the slothy, porn addicted Luke are the two leads who portray slacker employees of The Yankee Pedlar Inn which is on the verge of shutting down due to poor business. They are to hold down the fort by themselves in a reputedly haunting Inn. Their chatter and discourses are smart, witty and natural due to a good, tuned in script by Ti West. We immediately like them though they are hooked on the internet,  (where they watch hauntings on video), drink beer, forget towels and try scaring each other with ghost stories. The have chemistry and they bond. So much the better since when things go bump in the hotel we are frightened for them and care for their safety.

Paranormal events start to increase as the days and nights go by. There are strange visitors as well like an estranged wife and her child, a creepy old man that insists on a certain room and there is Kelly McGillis as an actress that may not be all she claims to be. These are just more layered elements that creeps out the viewer. The tragedy of what happened in the Inn unfolds as well as Claire digs into the history of the Inn and asks McGillis for spiritual help to make contact. Which is not a good idea at all. West pleases with scenes full of mood and music. I liked that he plays out sequences with the score playing full out strong, building suspense. Things unravel at the Inn and the glorious camerawork by Eliot Rockett is simplistic and amazing to behold as he frames hallways, staircases and rooms wonderfully.

The Innkeepers has a simple set up, simple story and is self deprecating at times. It’s a haunted Inn movie that really doesn’t feel like a horror picture. It feels like a living and natural piece of cinematic fun that says, “slow down. you won’t find a balls to the walls horror film here.” It’s true, you won’t but it will serve as a reminder that less is more can be ok once in a while. Enjoy.

Vic’s Review – “Paranormal Activity 3”

A malign and murderous spirit continues to dwell within a San Diego home in this second creepy sequel to 2007’s chilling Paranormal Activity. Hoping to catch photo evidence of Bloody Mary, the residents soon become victims in their own horror film.


Rating – 6/10

Yes, folks, here we go with another inevitable sequel in the “Paranormal Activity” canon of films. More “Found Footage” fodder for audiences to react to feverishly in darkened theaters. And though this entry does not quite reach the inventiveness that the previous films displayed it is not without it’s spooky merits.

The film is a Prequel and depicts other-worldy and paranormal events that involve the two sisters, Katie and Kristi, who have had supernatural events happen to them in the previous films. It is 1988 and the young sisters are living with their Mother and Stepdad. The Stepdad is a Wedding videographer that begins to place cameras around the home (using old VHS tapes) after some mysterious events begin to happen  in the home. Kristi seems to be the catalyst of these strange happenings  as she begins to talk to a spirit named “Toby”. Of course no one believes her about Toby but the occurrences continue in the home. Suffice it to say that the film does depict some very creepy events as the story unfolds.

The set up is brief and we get to the goods right away. This is what is right with the film. We get the various camera shots of the house and the anticipation begins slowly and builds up nicely. We get strange noises, levitating children and ghostly images throughout. But we have been here before and sometimes the scares do not pay off like we want. It’s as if we know what’s coming and we aren’t so creeped out after it happens. There is the proper suspense and that works well. What I felt was a weakness was the climax which involved the girl’s Grandmother who hides a strange secret. Though that subplot is terrifying things get fuzzy as we witness an ending that clears up absolutely nothing. We are left with more questions than answers as to how everything we saw relates to the sisters. We get the shocking ending which is mildly effective and serves to only confuse. But I am nitpicking. The scares are abundant and the suspense is evident throughout. It serves to creep us out and entertain like most of the better “Found Footage” films.


Reclusive Londoner Jamie Morgan (Jim Sturgess), who bears a prominent, heart-shaped birthmark on his face yet can’t seem to find love anywhere, makes a deal with a devil-like figure to get a girl — but there’s a deadly price to pay. After his mother is murdered, the newspapers say thugs wearing devil masks committed the crime. But Jamie soon begins to suspect that they weren’t wearing masks at all.

Rating: 8 out of 10

“Love is only temporary but suffering is eternal.” -Papa B. in the film Heartless

Heartless is a very special film containing the most original visual work I have seen in a film since “Black Swan.” I love films where the camera is as much a character as the principle actors. Director Philip Ridley doesn’t just place actors on a set and have them exchange dialogue until they move onto the next scene. He paints a picture here that perfectly encapsulates the mood of each individual segment. When demons are lurking, committing atrocities, or tempting the main character, we not only feel but see the bleakness, despair, darkness, and anger. Conversely, the romantic and loving elements are obviously quite the opposite but are just as, if not more, effective. He changes the style completely to a washed out and bright world that feels like you’re touching heaven.

The story itself is a Faustian tale with its own surprises and twists along the way. I have always enjoyed when a character that has a good heart is given a chance at getting what he wants the easy way by having to commit evil deeds. Does he take the opportunity despite the steep costs? What deeds must he perform? How does it affect the other characters around him? It’s a formula that can be very good or very bad depending on the skills of the director and actors involved. Luckily, the script here works almost as well as the visual style. These characters really come alive in Ridley’s world and pulled me in. I cared what happened to them. I suppose much of the credit for that has to be given to Jim Sturgess who is brilliant in the main role. He goes through myriad changes from the beginning to the end of the film and our hearts break or are lifted up by him. Are there missteps? There’s a few. The setup is so amazing that I’m sure the final act was hard to pull off no matter what they did. I didn’t feel the same satisfaction as I did during the setup. Without giving away any spoilers, the last 10 minutes wrapped up a bit too quickly. I felt a bit more explanation was necessary considering the amount of questions that had been left open. Is it a perfect film? No, but it’s damn good and for anyone that enjoys a dark moral fable, I highly recommend it.

My Soul To Keep

Some 15 years after the presumed death of a vicious serial killer, children whose birthdays match his supposed “deathday” start to disappear. But whether the killer — or his tortured soul — is responsible remains to be seen. One boy (Max Thieriot) knows for sure, but his own connection to the horrific crimes is far too terrible to imagine. Denzel Whitaker (The Great Debaters) co-stars in this horror tale from writer-director Wes Craven.

2 out of 10

It actually took me a few minutes to remember the name of this film. That’s how much I cared for it. I think even a teenager would find this film not scary and terrible. I recently had a discussion with Victor, a fellow TMB contributor, about my pickiness in the horror genre. A horror film has to be done very well for me to actually enjoy it and want to watch again. Appropriate amounts of gore, a good psychological element and story are what I need to enjoy a good horror flick. Plain gore just doesn’t cut it.

None of these characteristics I just listed are present in this film. To start, the story was terrible, the subplots were unnecessary, and there were plot holes right from the very beginning. A killer from the past comes back after sixteen years to seek revenge in a small town. Revenge on whom you might ask? Eight kids that were all born on the day he died. Why? Why were they all born on the day he died? Who knows? There are many more plot holes that I need not mention. The whole revenge-by-a-supernatural-form has been done by Wes in “A Nightmare on Elm Street” but at least in that film he provided enough back story to keep us informed and not confused with questions.

I hated the characters and the dialogue, the kids were just flat-out corny and brainless, and the detective was just all around hateful. The end lacked a resolution and, again, it was super corny. Do yourself a favor and don’t see this garbage. What the hell were you thinking, Wes?

Black Death

Sean Bean stars in this historically rooted horror-thriller as Ulric, a church-appointed knight in the age of the Bubonic Plague’s first wave who’s tasked with investigating rumors of a woman (Carice van Houten) who can bring the dead back to life. A young monk (Eddie Redmayne) named Osmund is aiding Ulric on his quest to root out the necromancer — and to determine whether or not she has ties to Satan.

Rating: 9 out of 10

When I saw the trailer for “Black Death,” I thought there was no way they couldn’t screw it up. It looked promising but seemed to focus a lot on the medieval torture devices that the Christians used on who they believed were heretics. I was flat out wrong. “Black Death” not only makes almost zero missteps, but I’m proud to say it’s the first great film of 2011.

What makes “Black Death” truly stand out is showing the darkness of human nature. There are no heroes here. You have flawed men and women trying to survive during a period where the worst plague in human history is storming the land and the church is blaming it on demonic forces. So, not only are our characters fighting against a faceless enemy in the plague but an inner plague in the downfall of men supposedly serving God. The main characters, on orders from the bishop, are going to a land that has not been touched by the plague, and is flourishing despite the worldwide outbreak. They bring their torture devices and want to find the heretic and rid the demonic forces that have rejected God and used witchcraft to keep their town safe and healthy. Now, if that was actually all true, I would say it sounds boring. There are so many twists, surprises, and plot benders that it keeps the film moving in a very dark direction that is worthy of its title. Now, I wouldn’t dare give any of them away here but let’s say it brings up several question: What makes a person evil? Is God truly present, and if so, why does he make these people suffer? There are many others and they are all profound. Director Christopher Smith holds it all together and gives the film such a uniquely dark and bleak visual style that is a perfect complement to the story. Grays are very gray, blacks are very black, and colors are washed out and flat. The look feels as helpless as the characters. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention Eddie Redmayne, who plays the young monk that volunteers to guide the holy crusaders to their destination. There is a real journey to his character and he is spellbinding in the role. I know it will be long forgotten by next year’s Oscars, but consideration for best supporting actor is not out of the question. So, for those with strong stomachs (it is very violent) and can handle dark stories (boy, is it ever) I highly recommend “Black Death.”

Top 5 John Carpenter Movies


John Carpenter pulls no punches. He is a director of horror, science-fiction, and cult hit movies. He is the master of it. There are no Academy Awards on his shelf, yet he boasts a string of extremely popular films that have made him one of the most successful directors of his generation. From classics like “Escape from New York” to “Starman,” Carpenter has been entertaining and frightening us for decades. Here is my list of Top 5 John Carpenter Movies.

5.  They Live – Carpenter rarely does blatant social commentary but his low budget, alien-among-us opus, They Live oozes with it. Consumerism, apathy, alienation and some political satire. Yes, the film is cheesy at times and the make up is a joke. I think it actually adds to the appeal of the film. Carpenter is in complete control here and it shows. A great, long fight scene by the 2 main leads, Roddy Piper and Keith David, is incredible to watch. Possibly the longest fight scene ever filmed. A great sci-fi outing that never disappoints. Obey. Sleep. Consume.

4. The Fog – I really love this film. Carpenter’s follow up to Halloween cements his place among the upper tier of horror filmmakers. The Fog is first and foremost a dreamy, ghost story that is chock full of mood and menace. A scary campfire tale come to life. Dean Cundey’s photography is top notch as always and Carpenter’s score is intense and ethereal. Carpenter juggles multiple characters and tells a ghastly story about wronged pirates come back to to life to exact revenge. Great film. Just steer clear of the remake.

3. Big Trouble in Little China – Oh that Kurt Russell. He flexes his comedic muscles here as a heroic but bumbling truck driver who unwittingly stumbles upon an age-old Chinese feud. Full of great choreographed fight scenes (way before Crouching Tiger), this tribute to Kung-Fu films is amazing to watch because of Carpenter and Russell’s tongue-in-cheek enthusiasm. It has wizards, ghosts and creatures aplenty. Just plain fun. I have yet to meet someone who did not like this film.

2. Halloween – This film is a masterpiece. Halloween is an example of how to make a horror film right. Much has been said about this influential film that was shot for only $350,000. Cundey’s camera work, Carpenter’s music, and the great lead characters make his film vastly superior to it’s cheap knock-off peers. Yes, it is a slasher film but it is done with the utmost care, precision and love for the then young genre. We care for the characters and Carpenter carefully establishes that Micheal Myers is a force to be reckoned with. Insanely perfect all around, Halloween is a must see.

1. The Thing – Carpenter’s Citizen Kane. The Thing sports an all male cast finely tuned and lead by Carpenter’s frontman, the always capable Kurt Russell. This is a sci- fi whodunnit with paranoid flair. Everything here is masterfully done. The ensemble is flawless. Cundey’s camerawork is miraculous to watch. Carpenter’s direction is tight and precise. But it’s the suspense that Carpenter establishes and the make up FX by Rob Bottin that really shine here. The film plays out like some morbid, alien take of an Agatha Christie novel where we are witness to the characters beginning to fear and distrust each other. The blu-ray includes a fantastic commentary by Russell and Carpenter that is a fan favorite to this day. The Thing is a must own. It is my favorite Carpenter film. Enjoy.


Geeky student Arnie Cunningham (Keith Gordon) falls for Christine, a rusty 1958 Plymouth Fury, and becomes obsessed with restoring the classic automobile to her former glory. As the car changes, so does Arnie, whose newfound confidence turns to arrogance behind the wheel of his exotic beauty. Arnie’s girlfriend Leigh and best friend Dennis reach out to him, only to be met by a Fury like no other. Based on Stephen King’s chilling novel.

Rating: 8 out of 10

How can you make a film about a killer car scary? Well, you adapt a novel by Stephen King, change it around a bit and give the project to John Carpenter. Carpenter to this day proclaims that this film was just a routine paycheck. He sells himself short which is a classic pattern of true cinematic genius. Keith Gordon stars as Arnie Cunningham, a picked on, nerdy high school kid who befriends a popular jock named Dennis, played very believably by future film director John Stockwell. Rounding out the cast are Harry Dean Stanton in a very slick performance as a police detective and Alexandra Paul as Arnie’s soon to be love interest. But how does Arnie get cool enough to date the hottest girl in the school? Well, after a day of getting his ass handed to him he drives home with Dennis and sees her. Who? A piece of crap, rusted out ’58 Plymouth Fury. He immediately falls in love with the real star of the film — Christine. At first she’s ugly, worn out and dilapidated, much like Arnie, and he sees her as a project. So he decides to fix her up at Robert Prosky’s garage. Prosky steals every scene as Darnell, who has the best line in the film-“You can’t polish a turd.” But Arnie does polish this turd.

Christine plays well with with the angle of the loner becoming a force to be reckoned with. And this is what Carpenter excels at. His take is pronounced, accurate and even emotional. Arnie is obsessed with the car which magically fixes itself. And has an odometer that goes backwards. Cracks in the windshield reduce in size. Stockwell and Paul’s characters see the change in Arnie and they attribute it to Christine. How can one be jealous of a car? Well, Carpenter is all over this film. The cinematography by Donald Morgan is exceptional, especially when Christine is barreling after teenagers. All the stars give very real performances and the car itself is basically what makes the film work, and Carpenter shows her off like the very best kind of car porn.

Arnie does become an asshole a bit too fast for my liking, though, and we want to really relate to this kid but by the end you kinda want Christine to run him over. Arnie is lucky to have friends that care about him but he is too obsessed to notice. It ends in a very cool Christine versus tractor showdown. Please observe the nuances of Christine. Many Carpenter fans are polarized by this film. It isn’t scary enough. The ending sucked. Blah blah blah. Take my word — Christine is smooth, fast and terrible. Hell hath no fury like a Plymouth scorned.

Jaws of Satan

Disguised as a deadly king cobra, Satan slithers into a small town and begins terrorizing Father Tom Farrow (Fritz Weaver), a priest whose family was cursed long ago. With snake-related deaths rising and city officials unresponsive, Farrow must fight Satan himself. In addition to a variety of suspenseful attack scenes, this low-budget horror movie also features a very young Christina Applegate in her big-screen debut.

Rating: 1 out of 10

I really don’t know why I do this to myself. I’m sitting at night with my wife and we’re flipping through the Netflix movies that are available through instant watching. I’m not in the mood for a drama, or a comedy, or sci-fi. Hmmm, horror sounds good. Then I notice legendary Director of Photography Dean Cundey (Halloween, The Thing, Who Framed Roger Rabbit), who worked on a film called “Jaws of Satan.”

I love the movie Jaws and you add Satan and it sounds even more evil and perilous. Well, I could not have been more wrong!! Imagine if you will, you have a film camera and you have no idea what to make a movie about. So, you go to Toys ‘R’ Us and you find a rubber snake and say, “Hey, I could make a horror film where a snake kills people.” You now have exactly the same amount of talent as the people who made “Jaws of Satan.” Where do I start with the shitiness?

Well, how about the phoniest looking snakes ever put on film? Check. How about claiming one of them is Satan? Check. How about tying a priest’s roots back to a druid culture that somehow battled previous snakes? Check. I could go on and on about the horrid special effects where you can see the glass between the guy and the snake. Or, I could explain the scene where a woman goes to bed and a rattlesnake slowly moves toward her. She picks up the phone and dials 911? Nooooope. She calls another character to come help her. We then watch as he runs from his hotel room to her house to save her. Now, I have no clue how close that hotel was to her house. But, if it was 3 blocks let’s say, it would take a hell of a lot longer for him to show up than it would FOR THE SNAKE TO CRAWL TO THE OTHER END OF A BED!!!!! Then, when the guy shows up, he coils the snake up with a rope and shoots it in the head. HAHAHAHA!!!! How the hell does a movie like this get made without someone who has serious brain damage green lighting the financing? I looked up the director, Bob Claver, and found that he had a terrific resume that consisted of Charles in Charge episodes as well as Mork & Mindy. I can’t believe a talent like this has been hidden from me for all these years when I could have been treasuring his genius.

Here’s a corny scene from Jaws of Satan…


Four boyhood pals perform a heroic act and are changed by the powers they gain in return. Years later, on a hunting trip in the Maine woods, they’re overtaken by a vicious blizzard that harbors an ominous presence. Challenged to stop an alien force, the friends must first prevent the slaughter of innocent civilians by a military vigilante … and then overcome a threat to the bond that unites the four of them.

Rating: 2 out of 10

In a word: crap.

This is a film based on the very popular Stephen King novel by the same name, but unfortunately this film has gone the way  most of the author’s books have when adapted to the big screen. It’s totally confusing, hard to piece to together, vague, and poorly acted — even by Morgan Freeman who could do nothing to save incredibly hokey dialogue.

In short, four friends rescue a retarded kid from some bullies. The retarded kid then gives them psychic powers. Flash forward 20 years, a plague breaks out from an alien who has been hunted for decades by a secret military group. You with me? OK. The alien is inside of one of the guys heads and he’s slowly killing off all the friends. The leader of the military is a psycho who is also after the friends, mainly the one whose been possessed by a super evil alien who wants to poison our drinking water with these crazy alien snakes that have been killing everyone. The alien snakes hatch eggs in bodies and then pop out their butts covered in blood. Yes… I’m serious.

In the end, the retarded kid shows up as an adult, turns into a bad-ass alien, and kills the super evil alien. A bunch of people die in between in horrible ways and you’re left completely confused, not only by the story, but how they made such a terrible film. Completely forgettable.

The Last Exorcism

Ready to expose his miraculous deeds as mere trickery, Rev. Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian) invites a documentary crew to film his final exorcism. But when the devil actually possesses a girl’s body, Marcus must regain his faith and engage in the fight of his life. Produced by Eli Roth and directed by Daniel Stamm, this frighteningly realistic horror movie also stars Ashley Bell, Iris Bahr and Louis Herthum.

Rating: 3 out of 10

Have you ever seen a film that was pretty good and then the ending completely ruined it? The first film that came to mind for me was Steven Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds.” The ending to that film was anticlimactic and overly sentimental. I liked it until the last 15 minutes. I felt the same way about “The Last Exorcism.”

Because I pride myself on writing spoiler-free reviews, I will not mention what actually happens at the end, but I will discuss some of the things they did wrong. First off, what kind of film does it want to be? It starts off as a mockumentary of a faith challenged preacher who is going to show all the tricks of the trade of a fake exorcism. He goes to the house of a girl who is suspected to be possessed by a demon because of her bizarre and violent outbursts. He then conducts a fake exorcism with little gadgets he has hidden around the room of the supposedly possessed girl. Her and her family fall for it and the preacher gets the film crew to document his bullshit so other preachers can’t do the same to others. Then, it starts to get stupid and becomes a standard horror film. The girl’s erratic behavior continues, her father threatens the preacher with a gun to heal his girl, shadows in the night, lots of creepy nighttime staring by the possessed girl, and blah blah blah. Then, the ending…that is so stupid, so dumb, and so utterly detached from the rest of the flick that it feels like they grabbed it from another movie. At this point, I bursted into laughter and I’m pretty sure that is not what the filmmakers wanted.