Arachnophobia (1990)

Directed by Frank Marshall [Other horror films: N/A]

Truthfully, I can’t think of a single thing I dislike about this film.

The cast here is close to flawless. I pretty much like every performance, my favorites being Frances Bay (Happy Gilmore), Henry Jones, Roy Brocksmith, James Handy, Mark L. Taylor (Honey, I Shrunk the Kids), Stuart Pankin, Julian Sands, Harley Jane Kozak, Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom), and of course, John Goodman. Goodman’s character is golden anytime he’s on-screen, and Daniels just does a fantastic job here playing a lead you can definitely feel sympathy for.

With so many great scenes, it’s really impossible to point out where the best portions are, but a scene that always terrified me (and still does today) was the segment in the house when the spiders finally swarm. They crawl on the television, crawl out the vents, crawl out the sink – you name it, the spiders are there. That scene is somewhat hard to watch, but there’s no denying it’s effective.

Also, I want to give a lot of kudos to the twenty minute opening. It’s a fantastically atmospheric opening, what with the rainforests and bugs of all sorts falling from trees. It’s just a great beginning to a film, and sets the tone beautifully in a way that isn’t always common for a lot of movies.

Sometimes when a movie’s good, you can harp on and on about it. I did such with Bedlam, and I’ll likely do so again. But for Arachnophobia, it seems pointless – the cast is great, the story is great, the suspense is great, the music is spectacular, and everything else is great to. Easy top score, and a highlight of the 90’s.

10/10

This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast. If you want to listen to Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this one, listen below.

A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell (1990)

Directed by Brett Piper [Other horror films: They Bite (1996), Drainiac! (2000), Psyclops (2002), Arachnia (2003), Screaming Dead (2003), Bite Me! (2004), Shock-O-Rama (2005), Bacterium (2006), Muckman (2009), The Dark Sleep (2012), Queen Crab (2015), Triclops (2016)]

Well, with a title like this, how can the movie go wrong?

The sad thing is, while the film is so far from good, it’s actually a somewhat hard movie for me to hate. I certainly think it carries with it a charm that many other lower-budget films lack entirely, and while I don’t love the very fantasy-feel of the film, I can’t deny that they did well with what they had.

I think that, by far, the worst part of the movie is the introduction, which has our lead Nymphoid Barbarian explaining how the Earth got decimated and why society (or what’s left of society, which is very little) lives on a post-apocalyptic planet. It’s cringy, and doesn’t even make sense, as later in the film, the character (who was a little girl when the war started) has no idea what books or lighters are, which leads me to think she should have been born generations after the Event.

Personally, that’s the biggest flaw I found with the film. It just didn’t seem necessary, and might lead people to the untrue conclusion that A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell has some comedy influences, when it really doesn’t. Sure, the title itself doesn’t help battle against that stigma, but the movie and plot itself is pretty straight, if dodgy effects don’t cause one to burst out laughing.

This said, I actually thought that most of the makeup and special effects ranged from tolerably competent to rather charming, in the case of the Claymation monsters. There was a wide-range of terrible creatures, from scaled lizard men, to dwarf-type things, to giant worms (somewhat reminiscent of Beetlejuice, actually), along with giant crab-type things. They often didn’t look great, but honestly, I sort of liked it, and I enjoyed it far more like this as opposed what many modern movies would do, and just CGI the shit out of everything. A guy getting his arm eaten off was good fun also.

The dialogue wasn’t much to be proud of, but the story came across fine. Linda Corwin didn’t strike me as much a ‘nymphoid,’ but whatever. As the main antagonist, Alex Pirnie did fine, and ditto for Paul Guzzi as Corwin’s side-kick. Perhaps my favorite character was Mark Deshaies, who played a rather bad-ass disfigured man.

Another thing that deserves a small mention are the settings, my favorite being a decent-looking castle which held a distinctly evil aura. It might be fantasy 101, and the same could be said for the somewhat threadbare plot, but it was done well despite the budget.

Like I said, A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell is a hard movie for me to actually hate. I was by no means fond of it when I first saw it some years back, but it’s grown on me. I still don’t think the movie’s that great, and I definitely don’t think it’s a film that I’d rewatch all that often, but I will admit to finding the film, despite it’s problems, a charming little addition to the fantasy/horror genre.

6/10

Cabin Fever: Patient Zero (2014)

Directed by Kaare Andrews [Other horror films: Altitude (2010), The ABCs of Death (2012, segment ‘V is for Vagitus’)]

For the first thirty to forty minutes, I was rather enjoying this flick, as they left much of the idiotic comedy that plagues the first two films and ventured more for a serious look at the flesh-eating disease. And it works out for about half the film, but then multiple factors come together to lead Patient Zero into a repetitive, rather uninspiring, direction.

It’s really a shame, as the film shows plenty of potential. The problem becomes that they jam so many things into the final twenty minutes or so that the movie quickly loses much of the fun feeling the movie had. Also, it didn’t help that it threw in a cat-fight between two woman who are both virtually skinless, because that’s something that the audience definitely needed.

Technically, the special effects and make-up are fine, but toward the end of the film, they go way overboard. Some of the victims of this skin-eating disease appear far more like what you’d expect from zombies as opposed to actual people, so some restraint would have been preferred. Early on, things look fine, but it just strikes me as unrealistic where things apparently end up.

Not many of the performances really helped out. I sort of liked Mitch Ryan, Currie Graham (who I know from two series, House and Agent Carter), and Jillian Murray. Graham’s character rather annoyed me, but it was nice to see a familiar face. Murray provided an attractive character, but really, she doesn’t matter past the first thirty minutes or so. I wasn’t necessarily expecting more from Solly Duran, Sean Astin, or Lydia Hearst, but I was rather let-down by their performances.

Honestly, though, it’s the story that’s the biggest problem here. The plot twist they threw in at the end didn’t come close to wowing me, and past the fifty minute mark, I won’t pretend that I wasn’t rather shut of the whole thing, which again is a shame, as if any Cabin Fever movie had potential, it was this one. As such, it’s probably better than Spring Fever, but if it is, it’s not by a perceivable amount.

5/10

Sharknado (2013)

Directed by Anthony C. Ferrante [Other horror films: Boo (2005), Headless Horseman (2007), Hansel & Gretel (2013), Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014), Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! (2015), Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens (2016), Forgotten Evil (2017), Sharknado 5: Global Swarming (2017), The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time (2018), Zombie Tidal Wave (2019)]

Well, The Asylum comes out swinging with the beginning of one of the most ridiculous franchises imaginable, Sharknado. Honestly, the film is sort of fun, but in that rather awful way you come to expect from Syfy atrocities. I’ve seen this once before, and God forgive me, I’ll probably see it again, but the movie isn’t at all good, as many would expect.

There are a few strong cast members, though. I’m not a giant fan of the main character, played by Ian Ziering, but I did like both Cassandra Scerbo and Jason Simmons. I don’t know Simmons from anything else, but Scerbo starred in another rather awful Syfy flick titled Bering Sea Beast. She’s a fun addition here, and along with Simmons, makes Sharknado worth watching. I will admit, though, I do like Ziering’s character, if not the actor, especially during his more heroic portions.

Of course, the special effects here are just really awful. So is the plot. And so is mostly everything. Sharknado’s strength lies in the fact that, beneath what a mess the film is, you can certainly have fun with the film if you’re so inclined, and I’ve apparently been inclined both times I’ve seen this.

I can’t speak for any of the many sequels (to date, there are five following this one), but I can say that I enjoyed this one to an extent, and though I’ve rated it somewhat lowly, I don’t have any really big issue watching this again in the future. It’s far from a good movie, but as I have fun watching it, how much does that really matter?

5.5/10

This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast – if interested, listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss Sharknado.

Cat People (1942)

Directed by Jacques Tourneur [Other horror films: I Walked with a Zombie (1943), The Leopard Man (1943), Night of the Demon (1957), The Comedy of Terrors (1963), War-Gods of the Deep (1965)]

This RKO production doesn’t have the same impact that a Universal horror film would have, but it’s still a mostly fine film, though elements of the plot don’t entirely work for me.

At times, the film is appropriately moody, and the heavy use of shadows during the more suspenseful sequences (perhaps the pool scene being the best example of this) really lent the film a darker feel, but the bigger problem here is the route the plot took, which truthfully came as a surprise to me.

The antagonist of the film wasn’t at all the individual who I at first thought it would be, and like I said, when it becomes obvious where the movie’s going (about half-way through, probably), I was taken aback. Personally, I would have changed a few things, maybe instead move the film toward an ending more like The Leopard Man from 1943, which I enjoyed quite a bit more.

Still, Cat People isn’t a bad movie, by any means. The main cast are all great (though Jane Randolph’s character really grated on me), and when the film drifts away from the drama to a more suspenseful film, the scenes stand out well. When Randolph’s character is walking home, and then suspects someone following behind, it’s a jolly good time.

All this said, though, I just can’t get over the somewhat disappointing route the film took. In some ways, I felt as though elements were almost xenophobic, though I know that wasn’t the intent. I guess I was looking for perhaps a more conventional fair, and this one veers a different direction. It doesn’t pack the punch a Universal film generally did, so while I’d tepidly recommend it, I do think you could do much better for 1940’s horror.

6.5/10

Cat Sick Blues (2015)

Directed by Dave Jackson [Other horror films: Cannibal Suburbia (2008)]

Australia has brought the horror genre some rather, shall we say interesting, entries. Cat Sick Blues isn’t a very pleasant watch, as it often contains unsettling and uncomfortable content, but it is very well-made, and certainly possesses enough gore and unique ideas to keep the film memorable.

If there’s one big problem I have with the film, it’s the somewhat lengthy dream sequence toward the end. I felt it wholly unnecessary, and while the film flirted with more fantastic ideas prior to that, I thought it was way over-the-top ridiculous. I just didn’t care for that little segment whatsoever, and if that had just been cut, I personally would have given the film a higher rating.

Everything else, though, is decently on point. Playing the main character, Shain Denovan does a great job pretty much throughout, from the emotional detachment following the rape sequence to the scene where she realized she knew the killer (in a Biblical sense). She doesn’t seem to be a big actress, which is a bit of a shame, as she did well here. Playing the unsettling killer, Matthew C. Vaughan also did pretty well, certainly gave off that very disturbed vibe. He looked silly in that mask and clothes far too small for him, but you’ll likely not laugh for long.

There’s a lot of great stuff in the film insofar as special effects and gore goes. With a couple of decapitations, multiple throat-slittings, a head getting utterly demolished and smashed in, and even someone being force-drunk blood, the movie has a lot going for it. If I had to choose a favorite scene of carnage, it’d be the slow-motion murder of the four girls in the hostel, all-the-while a smooth, electronic song by Mistabishi plays. The cinematography during this scene is just fantastic. The opening kills are great also, and really help set the tone of the tone.

And what a tone it is. The rape scene isn’t necessarily graphic, but that wasn’t an easy scene to watch. What was ever more difficult was the reaction videos to the leaked rape, which were utterly disgusting, and I can very easily see that type of thing happening in today’s technologically-dedicated society. Also, just the callous killing of the cat, followed by throwing it out the window, was just harsh.

Speaking of harsh, I wanted to mention the music. While at times it was akin to many other films, playing somewhat accessible music (even if the content itself on screen wasn’t accessible), it wasn’t uncommon for discordant tones to pop up, some very harsh noises that certainly kept me on my toes. Even the song during the opening credits was intensely cacophonous, so kudos to whoever made the soundtrack.

Were it not for that dream sequence toward the end that just really turned me off, I think I’d have enjoyed this more. Worth noting that Cat Sick Blues is a movie I’ve seen once before, but I entirely forgot that disagreeable scene at the end, so when it popped up here, I was somewhat taken aback. I did enjoy the film more this time around, but it definitely has to be said that the content can sometimes be a bit much. If you’re a fan of strange foreign slashers, I’d give this one a go.

7.5/10

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.

Sorority House Massacre (1986)

Directed by Carol Frank [Other horror films: N/A]

For a somewhat lower-budget, mid-80’s slasher, I think that Sorority House Massacre has quite a bit going for it. While the killer certainly leaves something to be desired, the film often carries with it a rather more artistic feel (especially during the dream sequences), and helps the film stand out positively.

What really sets this one apart from more lackluster slashers around the same time (some that come to mind include Blood Hook, Killer Workout, and Open House) were the more artistic portions of the film, most often the dream sequences. It’s not uncommon that I feel dream sequences in films turn me off, but the ones in this movie are done pretty well, and occasionally provide some creepy imagery (the picture that starts bleeding, for instance).

On the other hand, no one in the cast really bowled me over. I did like the main actress, Angela O’Neill, well enough, but the other girls and miscellaneous guys were pretty much just the generic bunch you’d expect. Luckily, that doesn’t really harm the film much, as the body count insured that most of them are dead by the end of the film anyway. One performance that did bother me was the killer, played by John C. Russell. He just didn’t seem that frightening (though I did like how they portrayed his insanity, what with hallucinating the college-aged girls as his little sisters). I think they could have done a better job with him, though.

The story was pretty standard with no real surprises, but it was pleasant enough, and the special effects were competent to nonexistent, but really, for a 70 minute slasher, I wasn’t complaining. I did like the tepee kill, and there were a few solid painful looking stabbings, but nothing over-the-top. One scene I did like the was montage of three of the girls changing clothes. Some hot, nude bodies changing clothes to 80’s synth music is just what the doctor ordered…

Obviously, I’m a rather large fan of slashers, especially 80’s slashers, so it might not come as a shock that I thought Sorority House Massacre worked out for the best. Honestly, though I’d seen this one before, I forgot just to what extent I enjoyed it, so while it doesn’t have the same name recognition of The Slumber Party Massacre or The House on Sorority Row, I’d give this one a go. It may not be amazing, but I do think it was very competently made, and even had a few surprisingly creepy scenes.

7.5/10

This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast. If you’re interesting in hearing Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this one, check out the video below.

Laid to Rest (2009)

Directed by Robert Hall [Other horror films: Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2 (2011), Fear Clinic (2014)]

Laid to Rest is a film I’ve seen once, perhaps twice, before, and I always appreciated the heavy gore while constantly mocked some of the dialogue (“He wants to make me dead,” and “I woke up in a dead box” being two examples I use to this day). This rewatch pretty much cements that, while the gore is pretty top-notch, the story isn’t particularly deep, and the gore can only do so much.

The main cast of characters is mostly fine. There was only one performance I actually really liked, being Kevin Gage’s nice-guy Tucker, but the others did adequately. Bobbi Sue Luther’s character was drugged during most of the film, so she often went into incoherent hysterics, and I generally couldn’t stand her, but the performance itself is fine. Sean Whalen (Roach from The People Under the Stairs, interestingly enough) consistently reminded me of Steve Buscemi, and his character was okay. Lastly, Lena Headey (famous for playing Cersei on Game of Thrones) was fun to see, if only because she was almost likable in this role.

It’s a good thing that the cast is competent, because without the cast, we’d be stuck with just the gore. Now, make no mistake, the gore is great, but the cast allows the movie as a whole to come across as more full.

As for my favorite spot of gore, it’s hard to say. The tire sealant portion was perhaps the most grisly, but the scene in which a character rips his face off, or another one with a solid disembowelment, stand out positively also. Even some of the bodies in the film, of previous victims, are solidly gruesome, with plenty of dismembered and decapitated corpses just lying in deadboxes – sorry, coffins – for your eyes to behold.

Laid to Rest is decently quick-paced, so while the film runs about 86 minutes or so, it doesn’t feel like a chore to get through. There aren’t really any terribly slower moments, and action can be found throughout. The twisty twist at the end didn’t really do much for me, and didn’t really change anything, but at least we finally got some backstory on the girl (as for the killer, we never find out a single thing about him, aside from the fact he’s prolific and sadistic).

For a somewhat repetitive film, Laid to Rest is decent. If you’re a slasher and a gorehound, I suspect that you’ve probably already seen this one, but if not, I’d recommend giving it a go. I personally wish the movie had a bit more to it, but after having seen it multiple times, I still somewhat enjoy it, though it’s pretty much average overall.

7/10

This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil, so if you’re interested, you can listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this one.

Bering Sea Beast (2013)

Directed by Don E. FauntLeRoy [Other horror films: Anaconda: Offspring (2008), Anacondas 4: Trail of Blood (2009), SnakeHead Swamp (2014), Gates of Darkness (2019)]

Another true modern-day classic from Syfy. Also known as Beast of the Bering Sea, Bering Sea Beast is about what you’d expect from Syfy – underwhelming story, utterly atrocious special effects and CGI, and a hollow feel.

As such, there’s still enjoyment to be had here, coming from a combination of the less-than-stellar performances and just terrible CGI ‘sea vampires.’ Words probably exist to describe how bad these creatures look, but I don’t have them. Do yourself a solid and just look them up, and you’ll see (and because I believe in making life easier, the picture above should help out). These elements, which alone further cement Bering Sea Beast as terrible, come together majestically to create the final product.

I actually sort of liked one of the main characters, played by Cassandra Scerbo (who is likely most well-known for her role in the Sharknado films). Scerbo’s acting here is very questionable at times (her line delivery, to be exact, really faltered a time or two, causing one scene in particular to be worthy of a few rewinds), but her character had spunk, and was perhaps the most fun here. Brandon Beemer did fine for a generic, somewhat dull lead, while Jaqueline Fleming did rather better as a helpful marine biologist (though boy, did her character make a few idiotic mistakes).

Honestly, if you can get past terrible CGI (and if you’re watching a Syfy movie, you probably can), Bering Sea Beast can be a perfectly enjoyable time for all the wrong reasons. Wrong reasons or not, having seen this one twice now (once in 2017, and now again in 2019, at the time of this writing), I find the movie somewhat amusing, and while it’s certainly a below average film, I could see myself turning to it a third time in the future.

6/10

Cherokee Creek (2018)

Directed by Todd Jenkins [Other horror films: N/A]

Sometimes my reviews can go a bit longer than they really need to. For some films, I think it’s worth examining much of the film, from performances to the special effects, and at times, maybe it’s a bit much. I’ll try not to make the same error with Cherokee Creek, though, and the only point I really need to make clear is just how utterly unenjoyable I found this piece of trash.

I honestly thought the film was a joke at first – to me, the film felt so bad, they had to know it was bad, and there was going to be some early reveal about how it was a movie-in-a-movie type situation or something. Alas, that’s not what happens, and the movie kept going and going with these jokes that don’t even approach amusing.

Cherokee Creek is an hour and 56 minutes. We don’t get about any Bigfoot action until about an hour and ten minutes in, and unfortunately, it’s far, far, far, far, far too late to make any positive difference. It’s true that for a lower-budget film, the special effects are good, but damn it, by the time they show up, I wish I were dead already multiple times over. The nudity might have helped out if I was quite a bit younger, but it didn’t do anything for me here. None of the characters were remotely likable, and few of the performances were decent.

If the film had been shorter, the movie still would have been bad, but I will say that, had it been only an hour, the film definitely would have been more digestible and wouldn’t have gotten nearly as low a score. There was an ultra low budget film I saw some time ago called What Happens in the Mountains – Should Stay in the Mountains, a movie that was 40 minutes long and doesn’t even have an IMDb page. That film knew what it was, kept things short, and despite the lower-budget, rather amused me at times.

Cherokee Creek did nothing of the sort. I think I laughed once toward the beginning (with the foul-mouthed old woman), but that was about it.

The movie opens with two of the actors pointing guns at the camera commending the audience for watching the film (providing they paid for it), and went on to comment that if the audience didn’t pay for the film (or pirating it, which is the only way I’d recommend watching this), they’d need to buy it after finishing the film because of how good we’d undeniably find it.

I didn’t pay for this. Luckily, it was uploaded on one of the many streaming sites I use, which is a good thing, as this movie was complete and utter trash. Maybe in the future, I can find the words to explain why, but for now, after having just finished it, I don’t much feel like spending more time on this.

0.5/10

This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast. If you’re interested in checking out Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discussing this one, check it out below.