Camp Hideaway Massacre (2018)

Directed by Skip Bizr [Other horror films: N/A] & Ted Moehring [Other horror films: Bloodbath in the House of Knives (2010), Invasion of the Reptoids (2011), Camp Blood 666 (2016), Revenge of the Devil Bat (2020)]

For being a low-budget slasher, Camp Hideaway Massacre is almost okay. It’s not a good movie, but it was close to passable. The main problem, though, was that the film was so repetitive, and while occasionally things got shaken up a little, I can’t say I wasn’t somewhat bored (as bored as one can be watching a low-budget film, anyways) at times throughout the movie.

I’m not sure if this was filmed in Pennsylvania (I know the setting definitely is, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was filmed there), but I do enjoy the lush look the local environment has, and while the campgrounds themselves are rather pathetic, it was still what I know people refer to as nature.

As far as the special effects go, low-budget films always get a bit of a pass from me. Jockstrap Slaughterhouse, for instance, had horrible effects, but had a lot of heart. This film has okay effects – one of the decapitations looked a bit weak – and the kills were mostly fine, so I don’t have too much to complain about there.

The issue is the story, though, in which new people get to the campground, and are killed shortly thereafter, rinse and repeat. We go through a lot of characters, and in fact, somewhat interestingly, the main characters could really be the killers (primarily Gutrot Layton and his posse) as opposed to any one victim (the best choice would be Tina Krause, who actually appears for more than a handful of scenes), but that doesn’t really help the overall narrative structure.

Probably as one can imagine, the acting is mostly poor. I noticed that, looking through the cast, it looks like characters who were mother and daughter in the film were played by actual mothers and daughters, which I thought was cool (and certainly shows a strong localized production). Not that, of course, either of these pairs (Jessica and Haley Dittrich along with Danielle and Kanyon Fassler) had much of a chance to shine, but it is nice to see.

Tina Krause is a big name in lower-budget horror, having been in quite a few films (such as Female Mercenaries on Zombie Island and Dead Students Society), and while I’ve not personally seen her in anything until now, she did well. She also had a lengthy shower scene, so no complaints there. I think, aside from her, John Young was probably the best performance, but Gutrot Layton (and I sort of doubt, on a side-note, that’s his real name) had some charm too.

The dialogue was pretty awful at times, and like I said earlier, the largest issue was the repetitive nature of the story. None of that makes Camp Hideaway Massacre awful, and for a lower-budget movie, I definitely think that, in some aspects, they did well (such as most of the kills and skirting on an interesting story), and if it had been cleaned up a little, I think this could have been more a contender than what I thought it ended up being. Right now, though, I don’t think it’s that great.

5.5/10

La chute de la maison Usher (1928)

Directed by Jean Epstein [Other horror films: L’auberge rouge (1923)]

This is one of the few remaining silent horror films that I needed to see, and the reason why I hadn’t seen it up until this point was that this French movie (known as The Fall of the House of Usher, based off an Edgar Allan Poe story) is easy to find in it’s native language, but not so much in English.

After finally seeing it – well, let me get something really important out of the way first.

I am delighted that I got to see a version which I could actually read the inter-titles to, but this print was beyond rough. It wasn’t tinted, which wasn’t a big deal (I didn’t even notice until halfway through the movie), but it was extraordinarily blurry, and the English translations weren’t captioned at the bottom, as usual, but superimposed over the existing French inter-titles, which, while functional, was not aesthetically pleasing whatsoever. In fact, it may be one of the roughest silent prints I’ve seen, and you’re reading a guy who sat through Malombra.

Adding to that, the plot here isn’t always clear-cut, and the dubious nature of the print makes quite a bit of this even more difficult to fully grasp. Luckily, while I’ve not read the story in some time, I have seen the 1960 Corman version of the Poe classic, and thus got a bit more out of this than I would have gotten had I gone in not knowing how the story went.

Certainly there are some captivating uses of cinematography here, perhaps the one that comes to mind quickest the seemingly first-person view from the ground to indicate – – – something, I suppose. I didn’t exactly follow that part, but that’s the nature of some 80 year old films.

Even had the print been better, a decent amount of this film felt off. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it was experimental, but I do think they didn’t want to go a more traditional route as far as story structure was concerned. As such, no one performance really stuck out to me (Jean Debucourt would be the only one to come close, and he didn’t come that close), and overall, while I would definitely like to give this movie another go with a cleaner print, I had to say that this silent film didn’t really impress me.

Kudos to it being the oldest French horror film I’ve seen, though, so that’s cool. Otherwise, though, even as a fan of silent horror, this didn’t do that much for me at all.

5/10

The Changeling (1980)

Directed by Peter Medak [Other horror films: Cry for the Strangers (1982), Species II (1998)]

Often quite atmospheric and somber by the very nature of the focal character’s background, The Changeling is a fantastically done ghost movie with an engrossing mystery and stellar cast. While not often outright frightening, it can get pretty unsettling, and the aforementioned mystery was on point.

That’s not quite what I thought about it when I first saw the film, but the important addendum there is that I was pretty young then, surely no older than 16. My tastes in horror probably haven’t changed significantly since that age (I loved slashers then, and I love slashers now), but my appreciation for some movies have definitely grown, and The Changeling is a good example of that.

Set in the beautiful city of Seattle (I’ve never been there, but I have had a life-long desire to move to Washington state), it follows a man haunted by the recent deaths of his wife and daughter, and upon moving into a Victorian house, has to deal with the inexplicable things people deal with when they move into houses that might be haunted.

For one thing, this can be an emotional ride following just George C. Scott’s character himself. Due to the recent death of his loved ones, there are some really touching scenes here, such as him finding the ball his daughter used to play with, or him sobbing in bed, probably with little will to go on. He definitely sold it, and though his character was one of maybe questionable motives, Melvyn Douglas really brought a lot of emotion to the final twenty minutes of the film also, especially during his face-off with Scott’s character.

George C. Scott is a familiar name, but I can’t really say I’ve seen much with him in it, which is a shame, as he does a fantastic job here, especially since it’s not too common for horror films to focus on solo older individuals. That might partially be why Trish Van Devere (who starred in The Hearse, which came out the same year but to much less fanfare, as deserved) was here – not that her character wasn’t welcome at times, but she wasn’t near as good as Scott or Douglass. And Melvyn Douglas (The Vampire Bat and, in 1981, Ghost Story, his final film before his death) – what a performance he put in at the end. Very moving and definitely worth it.

What really makes this movie work is the mystery of the ghost, and some of my favorite scenes are those of Scott’s and Devere’s characters trying to dig up as much information as they can, from reading microfilm of old newspapers at the library to going through land charts to figure out what piece of land has a well on it, it’s just a fun bunch of sequences leading to them going to some random house and, after some ghostly apparitions, finding bones in an old well. Just stellar.

Though almost an hour-and-fifty-minutes, I wouldn’t really classify this as a slow-burn, as enough of interest occurs throughout the film. I think some of the best parts are in the second half, to be sure, but there’s plenty of stuff throughout (including some delightful overextension of political purviews) that makes The Changeling a ghost film that is definitely worth seeing.

8/10

This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this classic film.

Return of the Living Dead III (1993)

Directed by Brian Yuzna [Other horror films: Self Portrait in Brains (1978), Society (1989), Bride of Re-Animator (1990), Initiation: Silent Night, Deadly Night 4 (1990), Necronomicon (1993, segments ‘The Library’ & ‘Whispers’), The Dentist (1996), Progeny (1998), The Dentist 2 (1998), Faust: Love of the Damned (2000), Beyond Re-Animator (2003), Rottweiler (2004), Beneath Still Waters (2005), Amphibious 3D (2010)]

To quote from a Stephen King novel, Duma Key, ‘I never imagined it could get so bad, and God punishes us for what we can’t imagine.’ This is the punishment I never expected, and it came as quite a surprise to me.

Now let’s be clear – the second film of this series was far from stellar, and I personally thought it was a ways away from good. It was tepidly average at best. Here, they change things up a little, and take another route that I just couldn’t have cared about in the least, removing the comedic influences altogether and inserting a romance that’s doomed to fail because the young woman has become a zombie.

Removing the comedic influences was a bold choice, as The Return of the Living Dead, at least back in the early 1990’s, was probably one of the most popular zombie-comedies in existence, but it didn’t have to be a bad choice, and, if the film had gone in an entirely different direction, might even have been a heralded one. It’s also worth pointing out now that this film amazingly has the same rating as the second one on IMDb (or did at the time of this writing – it now looks like this film is rated 5.9/10 whereas the second is rated 5.7/10), and most of my friends in the horror community find the film moderately enjoyable.

All of that said, I found this movie absolutely and utterly horrible, and would never, under any circumstance, want to sit through this again.

The main problem is the romantic relationship between Melinda Clarke and J. Trevor Edmond. I was okay with them during the first scene, and when Edmond was breaking away from his father (played by Kent McCord), I was somewhat applauding them, but pretty much every moment after that, I just couldn’t stand them. As soon as, in pain and misery, Edmond brings Clarke back from the dead, and she starts eating people and becoming, you know, a zombie, and he sticks with her through it all (and I do mean all – far past the point where any reasonable person would have done so), I just wanted it to be over.

But the movie runs for an insane hour and 40 minutes instead of making it a more reasonable 70 minute film, which, while I wouldn’t have enjoyed it much more, at least would have felt more digestible.

The best character was played by Basil Wallace, who gets killed by Edmond’s idiocy, and later comes back as a zombie and helps out Edmond’s character despite the fact that the only reason he died was due to Edmond. None of that really mattered, as the final 15 minutes of this film was needlessly tacked on anyway, but there you go.

Oh, and Mike Moroff’s character was rather terrible also, but at least it fits in with the movie.

The special effects are decent, I’ll give it that. Though again, I don’t think that really matters as soon as Clarke’s character starts threading metal through her body and becoming a HARDCORE ZOMBIE CHICK. I cringed as soon as I saw that. It just looked awful, and it looked stupid, and I hated every second of it even more than the hate I had for it during the previous scenes.

Plenty of horror fans, as I’ve said, seem to enjoy this film, or at least enjoy it as much as they enjoyed the second film. Like I also said, the second film wasn’t great, but I just don’t get the love this one has. I don’t see it, and I don’t understand it, and I never want to cross paths with this movie again.

3/10

Goblin (2010)

Directed by Jeffery Scott Lando [Other horror films: Savage Island (2004), Insecticidal (2005), Alien Incursion (2006), Decoys 2: Alien Seduction (2007), House of Bones (2010), Thirst (2010), Boogeyman (2012), Haunted High (2012), Roboshark (2015), Suspension (2015)]

For a Syfy movie, Goblin isn’t that bad. It’s not among the greater outputs from the channel (such as House of Bones or Neverknock), but it’s not as terrible as many of their other films tend to be.

The story isn’t overly original, but it was serviceable here. Some of the elements (such as the strained relationship between the father and daughter characters here, for instance) added some decent emotional impact to some scenes, though I can’t say it ultimately made that big of a difference. Also, it’s worth noting that the finale seems a bit rushed in some ways – it’s not something I want to harp on, because I was at least happy that things were finishing up – but at times it did feel like it was moving a bit quickly.

Tracy Spiridakos did quite well as the lead (and on an unrelated note, she reminded me of a younger A.J. Cook) , and I thought she got along well with both Gil Bellows as her father (Bellows, randomly, played Tommy in The Shawshank Redemption) and Erin Boyes. I appreciated Bellows’ character as a father who is actually as entangled in the supernatural story as are the teen characters, and he did good.

I think that Donnelly Rhodes did surprisingly well (think Crazy Ralph only with some emotional depth), but many of the others who pop up, including Reilly Dolman, Chilton Crane, and Andrew Wheeler, were just on the average side. Julia Maxwell didn’t appear too much, but I thought she had a lot of character, and stood out for that.

There is a bit of gore throughout. You get some disembowelment, slit throats, intestines free of their flesh prison, stuff along those lines. It’s nothing special, and some of it looks a bit on the fake side, but at least they tried. What they didn’t do well, though, would be the CGI of the titular Goblin. It’s almost okay at some points, but most of the time, it’s as pathetic as you might expect from a Syfy movie.

Overall, though, I have to admit that I’ve seen Goblin three times now. It’s not a favorite of mine, but I do think it’s certainly watchable, and though I doubt I’ll see it again anytime soon, as far as Syfy movies go, there’s not much here to really take offense to.

7/10

Horror Island (1941)

Directed by George Waggner [Other horror films: Man Made Monster (1941), The Wolf Man (1941), The Climax (1944), Jack the Ripper (1958), Destination Nightmare (1958), The Veil (1958)]

This is a film that I’ve wanted to see for some time now, and despite it being nothing special or really unique in any way, I am quite happy that I finally got to this one, as it’s a fun ride throughout.

What with a hidden treasure, half of a treasure map, multiple parties looking for the gold, and a mysterious Phantom, Horror Island has pretty much all of the elements that make those old dark house mysteries of the bygone era so damn fun, and it’s made moderately more unique by setting itself on an island (and the opening on the atmospheric docks was also welcomed).

It does carry a more noticeable light-hearted element (think Sh! The Octopus), much of it coming from Fuzzy Knight’s character Stuff, but that doesn’t hamper the quality feel that the film possesses, especially once the group gets to the titular island and deal more and more with the mysterious phantom, not to mention some other dangerous characters.

Dick Foran made for a solid, if potentially unremarkable, lead. Having also starred in both The Mummy’s Hand and The Mummy’s Tomb, Foran had that typical lead look that radiates ‘good guy.’ Fuzzy Knight was a lot more meh if only because he was the central source of comedy, and his side-kick character just struck me as more silly than anything else. Peggy Moran (who was also in The Mummy’s Hand) was solid as the romantic interest, her wittiness often amusing.

Leo Carrillo (who played a heavily-accented sea captain), much like Knight, was another source of humor, though I could sort of dig his style. The others that make a difference, such as John Eldredge and Lewis Howard, were just fine, if not, as Foran was, unremarkable.

Luckily, despite having a few sources of humor here, Horror Island never gets to the point where it’s too silly, and in it’s favor, the fact it takes place on an old castle on a small island, what with multiple mysterious parties running around, is nice to be witness to.

Overall, Horror Island is a movie that I’d wanted to see for quite some time, and it lived up to my expectations. It’s not an amazing movie, but it’s quick and easily digestible, not to mention fun, so if that’s what you look forward to from classic horror, give this a shot.

7/10

Carrie (2013)

Directed by Kimberly Peirce [Other horror films: N/A]

Every horror commenter has one or two opinions (at least) that go against mainstream thought of horror fandom, and the fact that I’m not a fan of the 1976 adaptation of Carrie is one of them. Now to be fair, it has to do more with the story than the movie itself, but there you go. Here, while I can appreciate the modern-day take, I can’t say I’m much happier with this version.

Carrie is based off Stephen King’s first novel, and as it is his first novel, while I’ve consistently found it interesting in the way it was written, it’s never been a book I’ve really gone back to for enjoyment (unlike a handful of his other novels, such as It or Duma Key). I just don’t find the story all that interesting, and though I do like the spotlight being shone on the dangers of religious mania, I don’t think that’s the focus that most people in-universe would have to a situation like this.

This version follows the book (and original adaptation) pretty nicely, though with a few necessary alterations (such as Ms. Desjardin not slapping Portia Doubleday’s Chris during their punishment runs, or mentioning that the state stopped Margaret White from home-schooling Carrie). That said, it does feel, to me, like a closer version to the book than the 1976 movie, only with an updated feel (such as a far more prevalent use of technology, which made the scene in which Chris and her father were talking to the principal, played by Barry Shabaka Henley, all the better).

The adaptational attractiveness of Carrie does bother me a bit. She might look a little plain here, and she has the necessary awkwardness, but Chloë Grace Moretz is far from ugly, and I find it disappointing that no adaptations want to touch on the fact that Carrie, from the novel, was overweight and, to many people, unattractive. This doesn’t take away from Moretz’s performance, which I thought was pretty good, but just something that bugs me. Moretz does great, especially with her scenes when with Tommy (Ansel Elgort), and you really got the sense that this unhappy girl was happy, finally, for the first time.

I did like Judy Greer as Ms. Desjardin. Greer’s an actress I know from really random things, such as 13 Going on 30 and Jurassic World to Ant-Man and a single episode of The Big Bang Theory, and she does pretty good here in her role. She doesn’t really add anything to the character, but she was a solid presence. The same could be said for Julianne Moore (The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Hannibal). Now, I really did like her performance (and a lot of her dialogue was taken directly from the book, which I loved), but like Greer, I don’t think she really stood out in any spectacular way.

Neither Gabriella Wilde nor Ansel Elgort were great, but I did like the humanity I felt from Elgort. Wilde was decently compelling in her regret, but a face-heel turn like this a week before graduation doesn’t really make up for the times that she and friends made life hell for Carrie in the past. Portia Doubleday was a pretty good Chris, so no complaints there.

One way in which I think the 1976 version was undoubtedly better was during the prom sequence at the end. Maybe it’s because the 1976 movie is such a classic (even if it’s a classic I don’t love), but the prom sequence here just felt sort of shallow and almost tepid. I did like some of the scenes after, such as Carrie stopping that car with her telepathic powers in slow-motion, but overall the finale lacks the feel the 1976 version had, and that dream at the end just felt like a failed imitation of what’s been done better.

If you enjoyed the 1976 version of Carrie, you might enjoy this. You might hate it, also, and find it unnecessary, but since I don’t enjoy the 1976 version that much, it doesn’t really bother me that they made a new version of this. I found this movie passable, and certainly watchable, but still not a type of movie I’d watch for pure enjoyment. I think this movie does some things right, and the 1970’s movie did some things right, but both end up around the same for me.

And I wish I remembered more about the 2002 Carrie TV movie, because, ironically, I actually remember liking that one more than the 1976 version, and thus, more than this version. Until I see it again, though, I’ll refrain from pissing people off.

Carrie is a movie that looks pretty good, and has fantastic production quality and names attached to it, but it’s not a story I ever cared for (be it novel or most adaptations), and as such, I found this below average. Kudos to the guy in the library who shows Carrie how to make videos full-screen, though – he’s perhaps the most stand-up character in the movie.

6.5/10

You’re Not Getting Out Alive (2011)

Directed by Kristine Hipps [Other horror films: The Monument (2005)]

Coming to us from Colorado, You’re Not Getting Out Alive is a rather low-budget horror comedy. Like many lower-budget films, some of the special effects can be questionable, but what’s not in question is that this movie has a lot of heart. I enjoyed most of the performances, the story, and overall, no matter what the budget was, this was a lot of fun.

Of course, I’ve always held a healthy respect for independent horror. Even if the movie isn’t great (such as Camp Hideaway Massacre or Curse of Halloween), you have to respect everyone involved for doing their best and trying to pull a movie together without the bottomless well of money that Hollywood can dole out. As such, some of the better lower-budget horror, such as Silver Cell (2011), The Horrible 4 (2010), Clownz R Us, and Vampire Ticks from Outer Space, deserve as much accolades as possible, and this movie is no different.

So many of the performances were great, but before I can even touch on that, I wanted to speak briefly about how amusing the story here was. To be sure, it’s not abnormal as far as slashers go – a group of people are killed by a mysterious killer in a rural location – but what allows this to be more is the fact these people are actors in a low-budget play. The play itself is hilarious – written by a stoner director, the title is “Southern Greens: The Story of the Civil War Stoner.” This stuff is comedy gold.

Aside from the director and assistant director of the play, the seven central characters are actors in the play, and are introduced to us via their auditions to be cast in the play. Some of these auditions are decent, and what you might expect, but some are damn funny, such as Toby’s ridiculous hand-puppet skit, Misty’s piece from Memoirs of a Confederate Jezebel (“Papa? Is that you, papa? I cannot see you for the tears in my eyes and the blindness”), or Ellis performing a piece from Julian Caesar: The Musical. These performances are great, and this is a comedy horror I can get behind.

There are a few performances that don’t stand out that well, but that’s only because some of them here are just so wildly fun. Though James O’Hagan Murphy, Patrick Mann, and Krista Rayne Reckner have a harder time being remembered, I really don’t think that takes away from what they brought into the movie, especially since Reckner’s character of Misty was legit funny at times.

Taking it from the top, though, we have Michael Kennedy, playing the stoner director. This guy, though maybe too stereotypical in his caricature, cracked me up. His play about marijuana saving the Union was great, and possessed some quality lines, such as “I propose a toast to Southern victory and the marijuana plant,” and a bit about “sucking on” someone’s “bubbling pipe” (being a bong, but it’s entirely possible his character didn’t get the sexual innuendo). I loved his character, and Kennedy did a great job with it.

Playing his assistant director was Dawn Bower, who was high-strung and the exact opposite of the laid-back, stoner director. Her character could be curt at times, but I thought she was a lot of fun. And speaking of fun, there’s David William Murray Fisher, who played Ellis, a rather flamboyant gay guy, who was great, and he worked well with Duane Brown, who played Toby. Brown brought a decent amount of humor too, so kudos.

Linda Swanson Brown was pretty perfect as the straight final girl. Not too quirky, but not without personality, she did really well in her role, and playing an entirely different role, Jillann Tafel was amazing. Playing an older actress past her prime, and always drinking, she had a lot of funny lines (“I once took it in the caboose from Benny Hill. That’s how I got my union card,” and “Isn’t she Miss Sunny Tits?”).

You’re Not Getting Out Alive is a funny movie. It’s not over-the-top, like The Stripper Ripper – once bodies start piling up, most of the jokes and banter stop – but for the first forty minutes, there is a lot of fun to be had with this movie.

Of course, the kills aren’t great here. There is a decapitated head that pops up (obviously a dummy head), and there are a few stabbings and bit of bloodshed, but this slasher is more focused on the characters and story (and on a related note, while the story isn’t great, I do think it handles some foreshadowing pretty well) than it is on kills, which works to it’s benefit given the budgetary constraints.

I really like this movie. For whatever budget they had to work with, they did a great job (and provided some amusing outtakes during the credits), and for low-budget horror comedy, I think this movie definitely does what it sets out to do, and fans of independent horror should endeavor to give this one a look.

8/10

Uninvited (1987)

Directed by Greydon Clark [Other horror films: Satan’s Cheerleaders (1977), Without Warning (1980), Wacko (1982), Dance Macabre (1992)]

So I’ll give the poster credit for being decent, but boy, this movie definitely has some issues. That doesn’t make Uninvited any less entertaining, but I suspect that this film, while somewhat fun once around, might suffer deeply with revisits.

Even seeing it once doesn’t lead to the best time, but the dialogue and acting is so awful, it’s almost good. The cat itself is fine, but the ill-defined creature that exists within the cat that does most of the killings doesn’t look particularly impressive whatsoever.

I do personally appreciate that this film takes place mostly on a yacht (and a few years before Jason Takes a Long Boat Ride), because more enclosed spaces theoretically should increase the tension. Of course, it never really did, but being lost out at sea without a working engine did hold with it a certain despair.

Alex Cord was appropriately campy here, and his character, of course, quite a dick. He did have a slimy charm at times, but by the end, he got somewhat hard to appreciate. Clu Gulager (The Return of the Living Dead and Freddy’s Revenge) was sort of nice to see, but he didn’t have a heck of a lot of screen-time. Better was George Kennedy (Just Before Dawn and Death Ship), who was Cord’s serious-minded right-hand man.

Shari Shattuck and Clare Carey never really caught on with me (they were cute, sure, but they weren’t winning any IQ tests). Likewise, neither Beau Dremann nor Rob Estes (Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge) blew me away, but I did really like both Eric Larson (Demon Wind) and Toni Hudson. Hudson was maybe a bit more generic, but Larson’s character was pretty interesting, and one of the only ones on board to really root for.

Toward the end, once the surviving characters get into a lifeboat, the cat-creature-thing attacks them twice, with this ridiculous music playing. The sequence was a good example of what to expect from this movie. It’s not overtly silly (though like I said, some of the performances are more than a little camp), but it almost reaches into the realm of comedy with as bad as some of these scenes are.

When it’s all said and done, Uninvited isn’t anywhere near a great movie, but it can be entertaining, and if that’s your main concern, I think you could certainly do a lot worse than this, as bad as this can get.

5.5/10

This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast. If you want to hear Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this one, then look no further.

Wolfen (1981)

Directed by Michael Wadleigh [Other horror films: N/A]

This is a movie that I’ve been aware about for pretty much as long as I can remember. I recall, the few times this film has been brought up, being warned against calling this a werewolf film (which, given the title, is certainly a reasonable assumption), but aside from that, I went into this knowing very little.

Despite the almost two hour run-time, I feel like I’m leaving much the same way.

I’m not saying that Wolfen is a bad movie, but I will admit that I left quite underwhelmed, especially given, again, that the film was almost two hours. Now, I’ve not read the novel this film was based on (written by Whitley Strieber), but the story here, while starting out interesting, pretty quickly becomes more of a grind than anything else.

It was nice to see a younger Edward James Olmos, who I know mostly from his roles in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The West Wing, but I didn’t really get his character, and despite the explanation given, I also didn’t really get the Wolfen. Diane Venora played an okay character, but I have a hard time believing she’d be attracted to Albert Finney’s character (Finney, on a side-note, is an actor I know only from Big Fish, so it’s interesting to see him in a role like this). Finney himself gave a fine performance, but I just couldn’t get into the story, and that’s the main issue.

The setting for some of these scenes were top-notch, though. When Finney and Venora first go to that really horrible, decimated portion of New York City, it brings to mind vibes of Cabrini Green from Candyman (only this was more desolate and looked a hell of a lot worse). I lived in Gary, Indiana a bit as a child, but I’ve never seen anything as sad as that. Also, that bridge scene with Finney and Olmos was fantastic, and though there were no Wolfen in sight, I thought it was one of the tensest moments of the movie.

Alas, it all comes back to the story, which I just didn’t care for, and despite some quality scenes (such as the undiscussed yet still enjoyable sequence in which Finney and Gregory Hines are looking for the Wolfen in the ruins of derelict buildings), I just don’t think this movie was really worth the time. Perhaps if I read the novel and then came back to try the film out again, I’d get more from it, but as it stands, I can’t say Wolfen did much for me.

5.5/10