Green Eyed Monster (2007)

Directed by Gabriel Barboza [Other horror films: N/A]

I didn’t know a thing about this movie until it was suggested by my brother I watch it (and by suggested, he just picked the movie completely at random, so it wasn’t as if it was a positive recommendation from him), and I wasn’t wowed at all by this. For a low-budget film, I think it’s probably fine, but overall, there wasn’t enough meat here to really get my blood pumping.

Estella Gomez was cute and all, but boy, did she get on my nerves after a while. Playing her abusive boyfriend (we didn’t once see him strike her, but I’d bet anything that guy did) was Michael Lee Arnold, who was okay, but his despicable character, not to mention idiotic once we reach the end of the film, made him impossible to root for. Andrea VanEpps got some funny zingers in, but she too wasn’t that engrossing a character.

As for the plot, I won’t say that it didn’t have potential, but as plenty of movies in the past have shown, potential isn’t really good for much on it’s own. Certainly Green Eyed Monster seemed to possess a somewhat unique story, but given it’s multiple annoying characters and repetitive nature during the second half, it wasn’t what I wanted whatsoever.

If you go into this one blind, I have a hard time believing you’ll come out satisfied, but at the same time, it’s not like it’s atrocious. I don’t expect to see this one again, which works for me, and truth be told, I’ll probably forget it by next year. For a one-time watch, I’ll concede it’s possible one could be entertained, but I really don’t think this is making anyone’s favorite low-budget list.

5/10

Death Curse of Tartu (1966)

Directed by William Grefé [Other horror films: Sting of Death (1966), Stanley (1972), Impulse (1974), Mako: The Jaws of Death (1976), Whiskey Mountain (1977)]

To be honest, I wanted to like this one. I mean, a low-budget horror film made in Florida by Grefé (see resume above)? Sounds like it could be a lot of fun. Sadly, though, more than anything else, Death Curse of Tartu is pretty dull.

The best thing I can say about the performances is that Maurice Stewart and Mayra Gómez Kemp looked cute during the ridiculously groovy dance scene. Otherwise, Babette Sherrill and Fred Pinero, not to mention most everyone else (save perhaps Bill Marcus) were overly stilted and the dialogue generally just felt awkward.

Setting the story in a Florida swamp had potential, and even filming most everything during the day was a somewhat daring move, but due to the sluggish pace of the film, it doesn’t really help all that much.

See, the thing is, watching a snake chase someone for four minutes isn’t exciting, nor are most chase sequences in the film. The only exception that comes to mind is a scene toward the end with Tartu (Doug Hobart) chasing Sherrill’s character, and it was filmed in a pretty solid way. Everything else, though, just felt uninspired and quite dull.

Death Curse of Tartu could probably be a pretty cool movie had it been done entirely differently. The potential is there, but it just didn’t show at all, which wasn’t really surprising, but I will admit to being disappointed. For the 1960’s, the color here was nice, but it didn’t save the sluggish pace, and I can’t really see myself sitting through this one again sober.

5.5/10

28 Days Later… (2002)

Directed by Danny Boyle [Other horror films: N/A]

This is a movie I’ve not seen in quite some time, and it’s always refreshing when a rewatch is just as good as you’ll hope it’d be. 28 Days Later… is perhaps one of the most important zombie films of the modern era, and it’s certainly a well-made movie from the UK, and perhaps one of the UK’s best in the last twenty years.

Most of the main cast was great. Cillian Murphy (who I pretty much only know from Batman Begins) was good as the main character, as he doesn’t really seem the type. Naomie Harris is fun as an action, kick-ass gal. Brendan Gleeson (Lake Placid, fourth Harry Potter film, The Guard) and Megan Burns give the movie heart, whereas Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who) gives it pragmatic brutality. Solid cast all around.

There’s a lot of feeling in this one. When I say that Gleeson and Burns really made an emotional impact on me, I’m not trying to exaggerate – that father-daughter combination was great, and much like how they brought Harris’ character some joy, they brought the viewer joy too, which makes the movie doubly impactful past a certain point.

Also, that score is damn phat. Really great score which helps the movie along, especially toward the end.

As far as zombie movies go, 28 Days Later is pretty damn important, and really brought back to life (see what I did there? :P) the dying (OMG HE GOES FOR A SECOND SHOT AND NAILS IT) subgenre of zombies. I mean, there were decent zombie movies in the late 1990’s (one that comes to mind is Bio Zombie, from Japan), but it was 28 Days Later that really made the genre profitable again, for better or worse.

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing this again, and I feel sort of bad for having waited as long as I did, as it’s a movie I suspect that one wouldn’t really get too tired of. I’d certainly recommend giving this one a look or a rewatch if you’ve not seen it in some time, as it’s great stuff.

8.5/10

Hide and Go Shriek (1988)

Directed by Skip Schoolnik [Other horror films: N/A]

This one might seem unassuming, what with being a slasher from the late 80’s, but I’ve long thought that Hide and Go Shriek was a bit of a hidden gem. I’m not saying it’s perfect by any means, but it is a thoroughly enjoyable slasher that’s always entertained me.

Cast-wise, most of them did decently. I don’t think there are that many memorable characters, though, aside from those given to us by Brittain Frye and perhaps Bunky Jones. Frye’s character, Randy, was just out there, and had a wildly fun personality, where Bunky Jones provided me with my favorite nude scene in the film (three of the four ladies here show off a little something, so if that’s what you’re into, you’ll enjoy this). Still, Ria Pavia, Sean Kanan, Annette Sinclair, and Donna Baltron all did reasonably well.

The setting here goes a long way to make the film enjoyable also. An after-hours excursion into a furniture store doesn’t sound too thrilling, but it’s a pretty big (and multi-layered) store, with a lot of mannequins and hiding places. It even comes with a freight elevator, which comes into play throughout the film (and provides a very solid death sequence). Also, a favorite scene of mine has always been when the group is trying to get the attention of a homeless man and some police officers across the street, but due to the shatterproof glass, they’re doomed to keep fighting for their survival.

As far as twists go, I wouldn’t say Hide and Go Shriek is amazing, but I was still pretty happy with it. It pretty much comes out of nowhere, but there is a bit of emotion during the finale, so I can easily excuse the seeming randomness.

I say this pretty much every time I review a slasher film, but as a fan of slashers, I’m not really that difficult to please. Hide and Go Shriek had solid tension, decently fun characters (that ridiculous ‘Walk this Way’ scene at the beginning a case in point), and good gore when it ventured in that direction. I’m sort of surprised there was never a sequel to this, but that makes this all the better, in my view.

Having seen this one somewhere from four to five times now, I can say I greatly enjoy this, and recommend it to fans of slashers.

8.5/10

This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast. To listen to Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this one, check out the video below.

Werewolves on Wheels (1971)

Directed by Michel Levesque [Other horror films: N/A]

Werewolves on Wheels? Sounds like a fun time. Instead, this is an ultimately dull and really forgettable experience with very little going for it.

And I do mean little. Most of the movie is tedious bike-riding or just the bikers chilling, not doing much of anything aside from arguing about the validity of tarot cards. The werewolf attacks are fine, but there’s only two in the first hour and ten minutes, and the ending, which certainly increases the death toll, is virtually incomprehensible.

What hurts Werewolves on Wheels most is that none of the characters, and I mean none of them, are memorable in any way. I didn’t feel anything for any one of them, aside from Donna Anders, who had a nude scene with the Satanic monks (not as exciting as it sounds, I’m afraid to report).

I’m not saying that Werewolves on Wheels didn’t have potential, because, I mean, it’s called Werewolves on Wheels. But for most of the film the story dragged something awful, and there’s very little here that’s worth remembering or seeing the movie again for.

4/10

Dark Skies (2013)

Directed by Scott Stewart [Other horror films: Legion (2010), Priest (2011), Holidays (2016, segment ‘Christmas’)]

I knew next to nothing about Dark Skies before starting it, and that probably worked in it’s benefit. For much of the film, it’s a slow-burn, and though I saw the ending coming a mile away, I do like the way this movie approached the finale.

The main family cast were all decent. Josh Hamiliton (who I swear I must recognize from a miniseries he was in called The ‘60’s) was my favorite, but Keri Russell (who played his wife) was great too. The two kids, Dakata Goyo and Kadan Rockett, were as okay as young actors are, and though neither were great, I had no issues with them.

It’s the story more than the performances that’s of interest here, what with a lot of mysterious things going on around the house and no one in the family has any idea what’s going on, giving the movie a very Poltergeist-like feel (including a similar kitchen scene, now that I mention it). It’s a slow-burn, yes, but it’s interesting in the moment and worth the wait, so everything worked out well.

Dark Skies is a movie that I think works best without preconceptions. I knew one thing about this movie going in, and that shaped a lot of the thoughts I had about how the film would progress, but I was entirely wrong (which was amusingly somewhat lampshaded by J.K. Simmons’ character in the movie). Once I knew where this was going, I was both surprised and impressed, which pretty much covers my feelings on this one. Certainly a movie worth checking out if you’ve passed over it in the past.

8.5/10

The Unknown (1927)

Directed by Tod Browning [Other horror films: London After Midnight (1927), Dracula (1931), Freaks (1932), Mark of the Vampire (1935), The Devil-Doll (1936)]

The Unknown is one of those silent classics that often gets labeled horror when in reality, I feel that’s a harder case to make. I see enough horror here to keep referring to this as such, but it’s definitely much lighter on outright horror than many other silent horror films at the time were.

Plot-wise, it’s a somewhat interesting love story, and of course Lon Chaney has a fantastically expressive face, but aside from the somewhat thrilling conclusion, I don’t think The Unknown necessarily has a whole lot going for it. I mean, of course, there’s a pretty nice psychological feeling here, and there’s a few scenes that are pretty good, but at only 50 minutes, I don’t know it this has ever made an amazing impression on me.

I’ve seen The Unknown quite a few times, and it’s probably one of the silent horror movies I’ve seen the most (the short runtime being one possible reason), but it’s never been one that blew me away. It’s above average, without a doubt (if only because of the strong performances of both Chaney and Joan Crawford), but when it comes to silent horror, I want a bit more than what The Unknown has to offer, and this is far from my go-to, and farther from my recommendations to those delving into silent horror cinema.

7.5/10

Pet Sematary (1989)

Directed by Mary Lambert [Other horror films: Pet Sematary II (1992), Strange Frequency (2001), Urban Legends: Bloody Mary (2005), The Attic (2007), Mega Python vs. Gatoroid (2011)]

I first saw this film before reading the book, so I couldn’t really judge it much against the source material. It didn’t really matter, because I didn’t care much for it, but when I read the book and discovered I didn’t care much for that either, I was interested in seeing this again. And guess what? While I admit it follows the novel pretty close, I still don’t feel much an affinity toward it.

Why is that? Well, I found the book well-written (as is mostly anything of King’s, even the stuff I didn’t like), but the story itself wasn’t really doing it for me at all. Jud was an interesting character, as he is here, but that’s not enough, and some cool imagery (such as the graveyard and the burial ground) don’t make up for that.

The main performances (Dale Midkiff, Fred Gwynne, and Denise Crosby) were all fine, but if the story’s not interesting to me, then I’m not biting. Perhaps the coolest aspects of the book (being the history of the burial ground which Jud delves into, along with the story of Baterman) are really neutered, and the tall shape Louis sees while walking to the burial ground in the book, along with the accompanying insanity, is nowhere to be seen.

At least the ending was moderately unchanged, but I still think the novel did it better, ending on a more open-ended note than did the movie. Another small thing that bothered me was Pascow’s character. At first, it’s fine, but he keeps popping up with the wife near the end, and it bordered on comedic, which really didn’t fit the dark themes of the movie.

I’m not a fan of this movie, I don’t think it’s horrible, but both before and after reading the novel, it does little for me (and to be fair, the same can be said for the novel), and that’s problematic. I know that many out there enjoy this, but Pet Sematary doesn’t work for me.

5/10

The Black Scorpion (1957)

Directed by Edward Ludwig [Other horror films: N/A]

The last time I saw The Black Scorpion, I thought it was a bit below average, so seeing it again with fresh eyes, I have to admit that I had no idea what I was thinking. It’s not that this film is utterly amazing, and I don’t care that much for the final 15 minutes or so, but for much of the movie, I thought it was a very effective and occasionally suspenseful creature feature.

Richard Denning, Carlos Rivas, and Mara Corday all did well, but I don’t really think any of them were spectacular, especially trapped within the generic 50’s character roles. I did like Rivas’ character quite a bit, but of course the female protagonist fell for the white guy instead.

Special effects in The Black Scorpion were mostly well done. The scorpions looked mostly fantastic (until there was a close-up on it’s face, in which case they looked goofy), and the cave sequence was very solid (which included the best scene in the film, being a tense rope sequence), so there weren’t many issues there.

I think that The Black Scorpion is mostly solid with some decent sequences, such as the aforementioned rope scene, along with the the train derailment. I won’t say that it’s amazing, but I had a lot more fun with this and the initial mystery of the deaths than I did when I first saw it.

7.5/10

They Found Hell (2015)

Directed by Nick Lyon [Other horror films: Species: The Awakening (2007), Zombie Apocalypse (2011), Rise of the Zombies (2012), Foreclosed (2013), Bermuda Tentacles (2014), Isle of the Dead (2016)]

Sometimes Syfy gets it right. It happened on such occasions as Neverknock, House of Bones, and a few other occasions. I can’t say this is quite as good, but it was a very solidly made film, though ultimately, I think it’s around average.

The story here is somewhat interesting. A teleportation experiment goes awry, and a bunch of college kids gets trapped in a Hellish dimension, and do their best to survive. The dimension in question is solidly creepy, with a bunch of decently spooky imagery (from a multitude of dead and disfigured bodies to hanging suicide victims to forest and jungle areas, etc.), and I found myself interested in learning more about this place.

The cast isn’t great, but a few solid performances stood out, such as Katy Reece, Kabby Borders, Chris Schellenger, Mirela Burke (who was quite cute here), and James Sobol Kelly. I expected Kelly’s character to matter more, but I’m happy with the restrained route they took. Also, two attractive young women, Katy Reese and Mirela Burke, made out, and that bumped the score a whole point. Hubba hubba.

They Found Hell isn’t amazing, and I don’t want to mislead anyone into thinking it is. While the environments in the Hellish dimension are mostly solid, I didn’t like what they did with Hunter Canedy’s character, and the CGI for the creatures (such as the Hellhounds and the Flying Demons, or whatever they are) is about as bad as Syfy often does. Also, and this might just be me, but that opening seemed really odd, and almost disconnected from the rest of the story in a laughable way.

Still, I found this one a lot more palatable than I do many Syfy movies, and I can easily imagine giving this another watch.

7.5/10