Stanley (1972)

Stanley

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

I last saw Stanley back in 2009 for my first October Challenge. In the many years that had passed, I forgot how much I enjoyed it.

Part of this may well be the fact the version I watched back in 2009 was a 90 minute version, whereas what I watched this time around was 105 minutes. Truth be told, I couldn’t tell you what scenes have been added, but the additions did seem to flesh out the main character’s motivations better.

The main drawback this movie possesses is the long set-up time. It takes 45 minutes, thereabouts, for us to really get introduced to the horror elements. Beforehand, we’re meeting various characters, most of whom who are killed in the last hour of the film. While that in itself may seem strenuous, with the 70’s music in the background, and the lack of editing out small things, it just feels grueling. But once it picks up, I think the pace sails along pretty nicely.

The kills are nothing overly special, but I do rather enjoy some of them. The freeze-frame when one of the characters jumps into a pool filled with snakes was overly ridiculous, and I loved it. Truth be told, while it’s slower at the beginning, once the kills come along, Stanley does well for itself. The ending is a bit to be desired, but I don’t fault it all too much. One last note – one of the characters, a pill-popping, cocaine-sniffing ‘psycho’ was consistently one of the funniest around for his short screen time. A sluggish pace, yes, but this movie, I personally feel, was worth it.

7.5/10

The Dark (1993)

The Dark

Directed by Craig Pryce [Other horror films: Revenge of the Radioactive Reporter (1990)]

It’s been something like three years since I saw this last, and so I had forgotten the amount to which I enjoyed it.

First thing that came to mind watching this was the actors, a majority of which do a solid job despite the obviously low budget involved. Stephen McHattie (who played the main character in Pontypool over 15 years after this film) did quite well as this film’s protagonist. Dennis O’Connor, Cynthia Belliveau, Neve Campbell all do very well also (and seeing Campbell three years prior to Scream was interesting).

In fact, my favorite scenes early on was the believable chemistry between gravediggers Jake and Ed (played by Dennis O’Connor and Jaimz Woolvett, respectfully). Their friendship struck me as very realistic, and that surprised me in a movie of this budget. The actors I didn’t care for, including most prominently Brion James, were far outshone by those I did.

And that doesn’t usually happen – in fact, very rarely in most movies to actors stand out one way or the other to me. Here, they did. The actors really were the strong point of the film. That’s not to say the story was bad, but it wasn’t dripping in creativity. More so, the special effects, when need be, were lacking. And in fact, some of the scenes early on just felt wrong. That all said, I got a good feel for the characters, and deemed it enjoyable. In short, it’s low in quality, high in fun.

7.5/10

Piranha 3D (2010)

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Directed by Alexandre Aja [Other horror films: Haute tension (2003), The Hills Have Eyes (2006), Mirrors (2008), Horns (2013), Crawl (2019)]

I don’t think anyone would claim this movie amazing, or I hope no one would, anyway. But it does accomplish it’s goal, and that’s to entertain the hell out of the audience.

Most of the characters are annoying idiots, but as half of them get eaten in the fantastic piranha rampage about halfway through the movie, I can’t rightly hold it against them. Some of the characters are solid, though – Sheriff Forester does all she can to both ensure the safety of her own children and her community. Deputy Fallon goes all out in trying to save people during the rampage. Jake’s valiant attempts to save Kelly, a character herself who sort of got pulled into this whole thing, show him a person of high worth. So we have some solid people, who I feel make up well for the Derricks of the world.

The gore in the movie, at least to me, is the biggest selling point, and I feel they did pretty well. The aforementioned massacre has long been a favorite scene of mine – the blood, the chaos, all done so wonderfully. The nudity’s a bit less captivating, but I can only imagine it’d help pull some more people in to watch the film. Overall, this second Piranha remake (after the 1995 failure few recall) is quite enjoyable for what it is. It’s not amazing, not to me, but it does what it set out to do, and that’s all I can ask.

7.5/10

Criminally Insane (1975)

Criminally Insane

Directed by Nick Millard [Other horror films: Satan’s Black Wedding (1976), Doctor Bloodbath (1987), Death Nurse (1987), Criminally Insane 2 (1987), Cemetery Sisters (1987), Death Nurse 2 (1988), Dracula in Vegas (1999), The Turn of the Screw (2003)]

I’ve long heard of this one, but I never knew how much of a hoot it’d be. Which is sort of ironic, as, at least in my opinion, there was very little in the film itself that was meant to be light-hearted. But the idea of a morbidly obese woman going on a rampage to ensure she can continue eating food at her own pace is definitely liable to raise some eyebrows and cause a chuckle or two.

The quality was what you’d expect of a grindhouse horror film, but I liked it all the more for that. The death scenes weren’t amazing – the blood is among some of the fakest blood I’ve seen in some time – but at the same time, they had heart. And this movie, with the short running time of an hour and one minute, certainly had the deaths to keep in interesting.

The story’s not particularly deep, and the acting isn’t always amazing (though our murderess, Priscilla Alden, does a very solid job in her role), but it is a very amusing flick. There was a sequel released in the late 80’s, starring Alden also, but I hear it lacks much of what this provided. If you’re a fan of 70’s grindhouse horror, and don’t mind iffy quality, I’d recommend giving this a go. Worst case scenario, you’d out an hour of your life. I found it worth it.

7.5/10

Pontypool (2008)

Pontypool

Directed by Bruce McDonald [Other horror films: Hellions (2015)]

I think, if I recall, this would be the third or fourth time I’ve seen Pontypool. And I’m still not sure how I really feel.

On one hand, I wish they had delved into the logic behind the infection/disease a hell of a lot more. On the other hand, the characters present didn’t know, nor had any idea how to really find out, and were more concerned about their own survival as opposed to the hows and the whys of this disease. The doctor, who’s personality was deeply amusing, was of little help, and seemed moderately unhinged himself, but still did what he could to help out the main characters.

The chaos in this film is very heavy, and coupled with the fact that we really don’t have an answer as to how this infection came about by the end of the movie, really makes it a hard one to judge. The idea of hearing second hand the horrors going on outside was pretty cool, which reminded me of another film, being Dead Air (2009, starring Bill Moseley).

Stephen McHattie was a decent actor in his own right, but there are the occasional awkward scenes/lines. And the post-credit scene, well, I still have exactly zero idea what to make of that, despite the various theories I’ve read online. Pontypool is a mostly-claustrophobic film, some high-level suspense, and contains a somewhat confusing premise. Even after three or four viewings, I’m still not sure what to make of it. It definitely makes you think, though.

6.5/10

Pumpkinhead (1988)

Pumpkinhead

Directed by Stan Winston [Other horror films: Ghosts (1997)]

Personally, I never thought that Pumpkinhead got the love it deserved. For whatever the sequels were, the first Pumpkinhead, overall, is a damn solid film, and Lance Henriksen, an actor I generally don’t care for, put up a very good performance here. The set-up, showing a impoverished but loving father and son really allows us, as viewers, to understand why he wanted revenge after what happened to his son. And speaking of that, that scene in which he’s digging up the bones of Pumpkinhead has long been a favorite of mine, as the setting, a mist-covered, decrepit graveyard is truly a place you’d think twice before entering.

The on-going drama between the kids was less interesting, but as most of them die by the end of the film, such is life. Also, the fact that unlike many, if not most, 80’s horror films, Pumpkinhead is deadly serious has always struck me an interesting choice. There’s no humor to be found in this movie, not really even with the scenes featuring the kids. In many ways, it feels more like a 70’s movie than an 80’s one. One last note – the setting as a whole deeply intrigues me. Those people really look as though they’re living in 1920’s West Virginia poor communities. And yet, communities like that still exist, and certainly did back in 1988. Exaggerated a bit? Sure, but on the whole, that setting, for some reason, appealed greatly to me. Pumpkinhead’s a good film. Not perfect by any means, but a very solid title all the same.

8/10

Son of Ingagi (1940)

Son of Ingagi

Directed by Richard C. Kahn [Other horror films: N/A]

This is an oddity, one of the first all African-American casted horror movies. As such, it’s as Poverty Row as one could imagine. Also, the version widely available seems to be missing a minute or two halfway through the film (which is already short – clocks in at just over an hour). Sound quality, or video quality, for that matter, wasn’t up to par for even my standards of the time period, but it was just about as good as I remembered it.

Really, it’s just a generic movie, with some okay light-hearted comedic portions provided by one of the characters (who was actually played by a writer of the script) and an almost-threatening atmosphere. It falls short, though, of it’s aims, and overall, seems an overly forgettable movie, especially as so many other horror films, some great, came out around the same time. The points I give it are mainly for the setting itself (a house, which, while generic, was used to good effect in the film) and some of the more humorous lines.

5.5/10

(Note: This was one of the reviews I wrote early on, so it’s shorter and far less in-depth than my more recent ones. Should I rewatch the film, I’ll update my review.)

Hellraiser (1987)

Hellraiser

Directed by Clive Barker [Other horror films: Nightbreed (1990), Lord of Illusions (1995), Clive Barker’s Salomé & The Forbidden (1998)]

This is a good film, and it’s still a good film upon seeing it again, but some parts just rub me the wrong way, one of them being Kirsty’s first on-screen appearance. She seems agitated, and is acting, in my opinion, oddly, yet no reason for this is given (unless it’s just the stress of moving to London, which is possible). That’s another issue I had, though – while this movie is supposed to take place in London, most of the characters seem to have American accents. I realize that this was a decision by someone who believed that it’d help with American viewership, but still, it sort of took me out of the immersive experience I’d have preferred.

Lastly, the homeless man/demon is following Kirsty before there’s any real reason for him to do so. Again, never expanded on. Still, the movie is solid. Cenobites are fantastic, Kirsty is a decent (and easy on the eyes) character, and Frank/Julie are quite the threatening pair. And of course the special effects are extremely solid for the most part. Overall, it’s a good film with a flaw or two. Certainly worth the watch if you’ve not seen it before. Great 80’s horror.

8/10

Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I covered this film in a ten-minute conversation on Fight Evil’s fifth podcast. Listen below if interested.

Horror Films Reviewed

Below are all of the horror films I’ve reviewed, organized by year of release.

I always try to use the original title of the film (as dictated by IMDb), meaning if it a film originally has a foreign title, I’ll be using that title (as opposed to a possibly more well-known English one).

I find this consistently more straight-forward than having to worry if people know Il paese del sesso selvaggio (1972) as Man from Deep River, Deep River Savages, or Sacrifice!

As I post more reviews, this will be updated with hyperlinks to each of the posted reviews.

Films reviewed: 547

1913: Der Student von Prag

1914: The Avenging Conscience: or, ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill’

1916: Pikovaya dama

1918: Die Augen der Mumie Ma

1919: Unheimliche Geschichten

1920: Das Cabinet des Dr. CaligariDer Golem, wie er in die Welt kamDr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

1921: Schloß Vogelöd

1922: Häxan

1923: Schatten – Eine nächtliche Halluzination

1924: Das Wachsfigurenkabinett

1925: Maciste all’inferno

1926: Midnight FacesThe Bells

1927: The Cat and the Canary, The Unknown

1928: The Last WarningThe Man Who Laughs

1930: The Bat Whispers

1931: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, King of the WildMurder by the Clock

1932: Freaks, Island of Lost SoulsThe Monster Walks, The Most Dangerous Game, VampyrWhite Zombie

1933: Secret of the Blue RoomThe Vampire Bat

1934: The 9th Guest

1935: Mad Love, Mark of the Vampire, Ye ban ge sheng

1936: The Devil-Doll, The Rogues’ Tavern

1938: The Terror

1939: The Face at the Window, The Hunchback of Notre Dame

1940: Son of Ingagi, The Devil Bat, You’ll Find Out

1941: King of the Zombies

1942: Cat People, The Mad Monster, The Undying Monster

1943: Dead Men Walk, Revenge of the Zombies, The Leopard Man, The Mysterious Doctor

1944: Bluebeard, Cry of the Werewolf, One Body Too ManyThe Monster Maker

1945: The Body Snatcher

1946: Bedlam

1951: The Thing from Another World

1954: The Snow Creature, Them!

1956: Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Bad Seed, The Black Sleep

1957: The Black Scorpion

1958: Attack of the Puppet People, Curse of the Faceless ManEarth vs the SpiderNight of the Blood Beast, The Fly, The Strange World of Planet X

1959: House on Haunted Hill, The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake, The Manster, The Wasp Woman

1960: The City of the Dead, The Little Shop of Horrors

1962: Beauty and the Beast, The Couch, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

1963: Blood Feast, House of the Damned, The Haunting

1964: The Horror of It All, The StranglerWitchcraft

1965: Devils of Darkness

1966: Death Curse of Tartu, La lama nel corpo, Queen of Blood

1967: The Gruesome Twosome, The Shuttered Room

1968: Konchû daisensô, Vargtimmen

1969: Night of Bloody Horror

1970: Entertaining Mr SloaneI Drink Your Blood, Il trono di fuoco

1971: Death by Invitation, La bestia uccide a sangue freddo, La corta notte delle bambole di vetroMais ne nous délivrez pas du mal, Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Werewolves on Wheels

1972: Encounter with the UnknownNight of the Lepus, Private Parts, SistersStanleyTales from the Crypt, Terror House

1973: Forced Entry, I corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale, SssssssThe Severed Arm, Warlock Moon

1974: L’ossessa, Nightmare HoneymoonThe Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Young Frankenstein

1975: Criminally Insane, God’s Bloody Acre, JawsProfondo rosso

1976: Carrie, Grizzly, Squirm, The Clown Murders, The Town That Dreaded Sundown

1977: Another Son of Sam, Cathy’s CurseDark Echo, HausuSuspiria

1978: Day of the Woman, Halloween, Jaws 2, Mardi Gras Massacre, The Swarm

1979: Alien, Dominique, Phantasm, Prophecy, The Brood, Tourist Trap

1980: Cardiac Arrest, Death ShipFriday the 13th, InfernoProm Night, The AtticThe Fog, Without Warning

1981: Dead & Buried, Deadly Blessing, Delusion, Eyes of a Stranger, Final Exam, Friday the 13th Part 2, Halloween II, Hell Night, Le notti del terrore, Leák, Murder Obsession, My Bloody Valentine, Night School, Quella villa accanto al cimitero, The Howling, The Prowler, The Territory

1982: Alone in the Dark, Cat People, Creepshow, Dark Sanity, One Dark Night, The Slumber Party MassacreThe Toxic Slime Creature, Turkey ShootYin ji

1983: Christine, Cujo, Jaws 3-DMortuary, Skullduggery, Sleepaway Camp, Sweet Sixteen2019 – Dopo la caduta di New York

1984: A Nightmare on Elm Street, Children of the Corn, Day of the ReaperInterfaceMr. Wrong, Rats – Notte di terrore, Wild beasts – Belve feroci

1985: A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge, Bloodstream, Fright Night, Howling II: Stirba – Werewolf Bitch, Lifeforce, Silver Bullet, The Nail Gun Massacre, The Stuff

1986: Blood Hook, Camping del terrore, Neon Maniacs, Ozone: The Attack of the Redneck Mutants, Sorority House Massacre, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2Veneno para las hadas

1987: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Backwoods, Blood DinerBloody New Year, Deliria, Dolls, Faceless, Frenchman’s Farm, Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night IIHellraiser, Killing Spree, Near Dark, Slaughterhouse, Stripped to Kill, The Stepfather

1988: A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Child’s Play, Demon Warrior, Hard Rock NightmareHellbound: Hellraiser IIHide and Go Shriek, Maniac Cop, Nightmare SistersPhantasm IIPumpkinhead, The Blob, The Brain

1989: B.O.R.N., Clownhouse, DeepStar Six, Family Reunion, IcedOfferings, Pet Sematary, Redneck Zombies, The Dead Pit, Things

1990: A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell, Arachnophobia, Buried Alive, Child’s Play 2, Due occhi diabolici, Graveyard Shift, Hardware, ItLeatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre IIIMan hua qi xia, Maniac Cop 2, Meridian, Pledge Night, Spontaneous Combustion

1991: Child’s Play 3HauntedWeen, Sometimes They Come Back, Subspecies, The Silence of the Lambs

1992: CandymanGhostwatch, Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth, Maniac Cop 3: Badge of SilenceMikey

1993: Kalifornia, Needful Things, Pumpkinhead II: Blood WingsThe DarkThe Dark Half, The Tommyknockers

1994: Death Machine, Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead

1995: Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh, Embrace of the Vampire, Frostbiter: Wrath of the Wendigo, Lord of Illusions, Mute Witness, Se7en, Tales from the Hood, The Mangler

1996: Hellraiser: Bloodline, Scream, Shadow Zone: The Undead Express, Thinner

1997: Cube, Event Horizon, Jack FrostNightwatch, Plaga zombie, Scream 2Wishmaster

1998: Bride of Chucky, Nightworld: Lost Souls, Psycho, Urban Legend

1999: Candyman: Day of the Dead, End of Days, Idle Hands, Los sin nombre, Shan gou 1999, Silent Predators, The Rage: Carrie 2Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies

2000: Ginger Snaps, Hellraiser: Inferno, Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman, Killjoy, Satan’s School for GirlsSpiders, What Lies Beneath

2001: Hannibal, Thir13en Ghosts, Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell

2002: Cabin FeverCube 2: Hypercube, Ghost ShipMy Little Eye, Red Dragon, 28 Days Later…

2003: Darkness Falls, Goo chak sam fong fong, House of 1000 Corpses, Identity, Monster Man, The Devil’s TattooThe Texas Chainsaw Massacre

2004: Bell Witch Haunting, Cube Zero, Hellbent, Malevolence, Salem’s Lot, Satan’s Little HelperSeed of Chucky, Shaun of the Dead

2005: Hostel, Swamp Zombies!!!, The Amityville Horror

2006: Crazy Eights, Curse of Halloween, Dorm of the DeadHatchetIn a Dark PlaceKuntilanak, Pray for Morning, See No Evil, Stay AliveThe Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The BeginningThe Tripper, The Wicker Man

2007: Dark Mirror, Devil’s Diary, El orfanato, End of the Line, Fist of the Vampire, Green Eyed Monster, Halloween, Hannibal RisingHostel: Part II, Naked Fear, RogueSomething Beneath, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, The Attic, The Mist, The Poughkeepsie Tapes, Urchin, 7eventy 5ive

2008: Baby Blues, Broken Notes, Cloverfield, Copperhead, Day of the Dead, Ghost VoyagePontypool, Repo! The Genetic Opera, Slices, The Children, The Midnight Meat TrainThe Strangers, Triloquist

2009: Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever, Deadfall Trail, Død snøFear Island, GoatSuckerHit and Run, Hurt, Laid to RestLast of the LivingThe Lights

2010: Birdemic: Shock and Terror, Don’t Go in the WoodsGhosts Don’t Exist, InsidiousPiranha 3D, Triassic Attack, Tucker and Dale vs EvilWhistle and I’ll Come to You

2011: Cannibal Feast, Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2Filth to Ashes, Flesh to Dust, Swamp Shark, The Day

2012: American Horror House, Arachnoquake, Black RockHate Crime, Haunted High, Silent NightSiodmakThe Facility, True Bloodthirst, 2-Headed Shark Attack

2013: Bering Sea Beast, Curse of Chucky, Dark Skies, Grave HalloweenJurassic Attack, Sharknado, The Green Inferno, Vampire Ticks from Outer Space, Zombie Night

2014: Cabin Fever: Patient Zero, Cooties, Die Präsenz, Finders Keepers, It Follows, Kristy, Stage FrightThe Hornet’s Sting and the Hell It’s Caused

2015: Almost Mercy, Cabin Fear, Cat Sick Blues, Exeter, Green Room, Hell House LLCHouse of Whores, KantemirKrampus, Lavalantula, Night of the Wild, Ominous, Some Kind of HateStung, The Blackburn Asylum, The Devil’s CandyThe HexecutionersThe LessonThe UnspokenThe VisitThe VVitch: A New-England Folktale, They Found Hell, 3-Headed Shark Attack

2016: Beyond the GatesCabin Fever, Don’t BreatheFear, Inc.Fender Bender, Friend Request, Gehenna: Where Death Lives, House of PurgatoryHushIsle of the Dead, Jockstrap SlaughterhouseMiles Before Sleep, Pet, Shadows of the Dead, SplitTerrifierThe Amityville LegacyThe Autopsy of Jane Doe, The Belko ExperimentThe Boy, The Crooked Man, The Greasy Strangler, The VoidWolves at the Door, 10 Cloverfield Lane, 2 Lava 2 Lantula!

2017: Are We the Waiting, Cult of Chucky, Deadlines, Dry Blood, House of the WitchIt, Little EvilNight Howl, Stickman, The SandmanThe Stripper Ripper, Toxic Shark, 5 Headed Shark Attack

2018: Apostle, Cherokee Creek, Cucuy: The Boogeyman, Dead in the Water, Delirium, Halloween, Hell House LLC II: The Abaddon Hotel, Hereditary, Karma, No Escape Room, Slender Man, Summer of 84, The Strangers: Prey at Night, Truth or Double Dare (TODD), What Happens in the Mountains – Should Stay in the Mountains, What Keeps You Alive, You Might Be the Killer, 6-Headed Shark Attack

2019: Child’s Play, Haunt, Hell House LLC III: Lake of Fire, Investigation 13, It Chapter Two, Loon Lake, Ma, Recovery, The Banana Splits Movie, The Harvesting

2020: Camp Twilight, Clownz R Us, I Think We’re Alone Now, Run, Sleepaway Slasher, Star Light, The Cattle Farmer, The Devil in the Room, The Dinner Party, The Hunt, The Invisible Man, The New Mutants, Tokyo Home Stay Massacre, We Are the Missing, Wolfwood, 8 Graves

2021: Fear Street: 1994, Fear Street: 1978, Fear Street: 1666, Malignant

This is Jiggy, Reporting for Duty

Hello all,

My name’s Michael, better known by some horror communities as Jigsaw or Jiggy. In the last few years, I’ve been working on re-watching all the horror films I’ve seen up to a certain point, and decided to write some reviews on each one.

This started out as purely personal (the reviews I wrote weren’t meant to be published, but kept so I wouldn’t forget about any of the horror films I’ve seen), but as I wrote more, I decided to do just that, and using forums like HorrorMovieFans, or sites like MovieChat and Fight-Evil, I’ve been posting my reviews.

I’ve never utilized a personal blog before, though, which I thought might be fun, if not a bit daunting, to use. I can’t say that I’m overly technologically-advantaged, so trying to get into using new sites can be a bit of a challenge.

I’m putting my best foot forward, though.

Here I’ll be posting all of the mini-reviews I’ve written. Most of these reviews were first posted on Fight-Evil.com, a website I’ve been an on-and-off member of since 2006. While I will likely always post my reviews first on that site, this blog will act as sort of a repository of my writings.

I’m always open to suggestions of new horror films to give a shot – just let me know.

Jigsaw, out.

(Picture from Burnt Offerings, a 1976 classic of the genre)