The Bye Bye Man (2017)

Directed by Stacy Title [Other horror films: Hood of Horror (2006)]

Ever since I first saw the trailer to this one, I thought it looked pretty atrocious. A friend of mine saw it, and rather despised it. And I pretty much forgot about it until a guy at work recommended I watch it, and while I dilly-dallied in doing so, I finally sat down and got through this.

The best I can say about The Bye Bye Man is that it’s largely inoffensive. There’s really little here of major substance, and I found most of the content far more generic than I did anger-inducingly stupid (such as Stay Alive). To be sure, when that’s the best thing I can say about a movie, you know things aren’t working the way they should.

In all honesty, about half-way through the movie, it hit me that this reminded me of a poorly-made Syfy movie, only with a bigger budget. It had the same jump scares, the same feel, the same mediocrity that you might find in films such as Karma or The Night Before Halloween. It’s not like the movie is necessarily terrible, it’s just exceptionally bland and largely unremarkable.

Of the central performances, only Carrie-Anne Moss marginally intrigued me. Moss (who I know most from The Matrix and a recurring role in Jessica Jones, among other MCU Netflix shows) didn’t really have a lot of screen-time, nor did she ever do anything close to interesting, but she showed more promise than the cookie cutter characters the movie focused on.

Douglas Smith (who also, as random as this is, starred in Santa’s Slay), Lucien Laviscount, and Cressida Bonas made for rather uninteresting central characters. There’s a bit of a jealousy angle thrown in, but I never get the sense that we know these people well enough for any of this to really make an emotional impact.

Most of the other faces that show up are inconsequential, from Michael Trucco (Hush) and Jenna Kanell (Terrifier) to Cleo King and Leigh Whannell (Saw and Insidious). Whannell, for instance, was nice to see, but he also had a shotgun that, when it shot people, didn’t leave any blood, which was interesting. And to be fair, it’s not on any of these performances that the movie didn’t work, as I think most of them were just misused.

There was one face here, though, that caught me by surprise, and as such, I have to go on a side-topic for a moment. I am a man of many hobbies, and one of them is the reality show Survivor (which I’ve brought up before, such as my review on The Lights), and so, when Jonathan Penner showed up in a single scene, I was taken aback. Penner has been on three seasons of Survivor, his first being Cook Islands (the 13th season), and until now, I had no idea he was an actor (and he was also in Amityville 1992: It’s About Time, which I’ve got to see now).

His short scene (which I thought was amusingly typical of his somewhat smug attitude encapsulated well on Cook Islands) didn’t greatly change the movie, but it did give a nice little Easter egg. Also worth mentioning, Penner was married to the director, prior to her death in 2021.

Perhaps far more important than the performances would be the lore of the film, or perhaps, in this case, the lack thereof. What is the Bye Bye Man? From where did it arise? From when? Aside from the opening incident in the movie from the late 1960’s and the focal story of the movie itself, we don’t know anything about what else this thing has done. I would have liked some type of history on this thing.

Sure, sometimes that doesn’t matter – look at It Follows. The difference is that It Follows was a pretty decent movie most of the time, with some very suspenseful scenes now and again, whereas The Bye Bye Man just felt generic and sort of shallow from the get-go, and had they thrown in some type of history (maybe do that as opposed to sending Smith’s character to Whannell’s widow), it might have helped flesh things out a little.

The Bye Bye Man isn’t a movie I abhorred. It wasn’t good, of course, but I don’t think it was terrible. It was, however, very much a generic movie, and honestly, if I can remember this in four weeks, I’m a stronger man than I knew.

5/10

When a Stranger Calls (1979)

Directed by Fred Walton [Other horror films: April Fool’s Day (1986), I Saw What You Did (1988), Trapped (1989), Homewrecker (1992), When a Stranger Calls Back (1993)]

This film is one of those classics that I think, especially in recent times, has been re-evaluated a bit. Not that When a Stranger Calls is a poor film, but that tonal shift it takes twenty minutes in can come across as complete 180, and I’m not sure if the film ever 100% recovers from that.

I do think the finale, let’s say the final 15 minutes, are pretty solid, and while not quite as suspenseful as the opening, still enjoyable in it’s own right (and not to mention, the ending possesses an extraordinarily effective scare, so kudos there). Of course, everyone pretty much knows how fantastic the beginning is, and it really sets the film up nicely with strong suspense and quality atmosphere.

When the film switches gears, though, and falls into an almost procedural crime-drama, following a private investigator’s (Charles Durning) attempts to find the escaped killer of the opening (Tony Beckley, in his final role before his death the following year). These sections aren’t without merit, but it doesn’t give much in the way of horror that you might expect following the stellar opening.

Durning is definitely solid in his role, though, and is an actor I’ve enjoyed in the past, having been in films such as Dark Night of the Scarecrow and Sisters (Sisters isn’t a movie I really care that much for, but I did find his performance in that film certainly a positive aspect). Here, you can really get the sense that his character wants revenge, and has some mildly amusing conversations with Ron O’Neil’s character about the nature of this justice.

Though only focused on in the opening and finale, Carol Kane gave a great performance, and I sort of wonder how she’d do if given more screen-time than she had. The aforementioned Beckley was pretty solid, though I do wish we learned a little bit more about why he is the way he is, but who’s to say the unknown causes aren’t more terrifying?

I think the film drags a bit once it takes a more detective/crime route, which I think is the moderately common consensus. It doesn’t devastatingly harm the film, but it is very noticeable, so while I’d definitely recommend checking out When a Stranger Calls, if you leave thinking the opening and finale far outshine the middle of the film, I wouldn’t be deeply shocked.

6.5/10

This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast. If you’re curious as to what Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I think about When a Stranger Calls, listen below.

Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (2007)

Directed by Joe Lynch [Other horror films: Chillerama (2011, segment ‘Zom-B-Movie’), Mayhem (2017)]

When I first saw this one some years back, I found it underwhelming. I know, though, that there is a decently-sized contingent that find this a generally solid sequel, so I was sort of excited to see it again and perhaps wondering if it would move up in my rankings. And after doing so, while it is a little better than I initially gave it credit for, I still don’t think it’s all that memorable.

Aside from, of course, Henry Rollins, who is the sole reason to watch this film if you’re hesitant to do so, as his kick-ass character, from beginning to end, is just fantastic. I’m not saying that Rollins makes this movie great – honestly, while portions are good, I think the film still hovers around average to below average – but without Rollins, I think this movie would lose a lot of the charm it managed to create, as he brings quite a lot as an over-the-top drill sergeant who sends these mutated hillfolk back to their cabins, and how!

I have to admit that I expected quite a lot more from Aleksa Palladino’s character, but in a way, I can understand why they might want to get rid of the obvious final girl somewhat early on. Even so, I found it a bit of a shame, as I did find her character one of the better ones here. Otherwise, you have Erica Leerhsen, who did take a while to grow on me, but I eventually found myself quite enjoying her standoffish attitude.

Texas Battle (what a name, brah) had a quality moral code, which I appreciated (him turning down Yan-Kay Crystal Lowe’s character was nice to see). Battle didn’t stick out as much as Leerhsen, but he was still good. Yan-Kay Crystal Lowe (Final Destination 3, Black Christmas, and Yeti: Curse of the Snow Demon) was the stereotypical hot bitch, so while attractive, her character was as hideous as any of the deformed hillbillies. Most of the others, be it Steve Braun, Daniella Alonso (who was also amusingly in The Hills Have Eyes II), or Matthew Currie Holmes, were sort of there, and little more.

Of course, the gore here was pretty solid throughout. I never really cared for the whole cutting-someone-in-half with an axe/chainsaw/hatchet, so the opening kill was more meh, but it still looked good. A hatchet-throw stood out, if only because it struck me by surprise, and the finale was beautifully gory (what with a tree debarker debarking more than bark), though it did lead to a final scene that I thought was unnecessary.

Actually, since I mentioned the finale, I did rather like that paper mill that made for the setting, and when Rollins’ character is running through and blowing people up with his dynamite arrows, it’s a lot of fun, and of course there’s solid tension. I am disappointed by what goes down with Rollins’ character, but I get it.

All of this, though, doesn’t mean the movie’s great. I honestly don’t think it’s necessarily bad, but generally, I thought this hit some of the right spots without fully satisfying me, and some of it is admittedly smaller things, such as that supposed game show. I’m a fan of Survivor, which is partly, I suspect, what that game show is based on, but boy, does it sound unnecessarily complex. I’ll chalk that up to bad design for a reality TV show, though, and not an example of how I wasn’t wowed by this.

Something that does play a part, though, are the deformed antagonists. In the first film, things were kept simple with just three antagonists, but here’s there’s an extended family, and for me, it wasn’t always easy to keep in mind exactly how many family members there were, and related, where those members were at any given moment.

I don’t dispute that Dead End had some solid things going for it, such as the kills and a few of the characters, but despite what it does right, I think this is somewhat clearly below average, though not nearly as badly as many other films.

6.5/10

This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below, if it tickles your fancy, as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss Wrong Turn 2.

The Shortcut (2009)

Directed by Nicholaus Goossen [Other horror films: N/A]

The Shortcut is a movie I’ve seen once before, quite some time ago. Much of the plot was lost of me, and given the quite tepid rating it has on IMDb (at the time of this writing, a 5.1/10), I went into this one again with the idea that it’d end up being a forgettable affair, and I think that on a whole, that’s what this is.

If there’s any saving grace, and I don’t think it saves it a hell of a lot, at least half of the performances in the film are decent, and gives you at least somewhat likable characters, which may not mean a whole lot given how bored you’re apt to be, but it was something I took note of.

Drew Seeley wasn’t the most interesting central character, and his love interest, played by Katrina Bowden (Tucker and Dale vs Evil and Piranha 3DD), wasn’t really that much better, but the others were solid, such as Josh Emerson as a jock who was actually decent, Dave Franco as comedic relief, and Shannon Woodward (The Haunting of Molly Hartley), a somewhat feistily playful and fun character.

Raymond J. Barry does as well as he could with his role. He doesn’t really add that much, but it’s more due to the fact that I think it was pretty obvious where the story was going, which short of hindered his effectiveness. William B. Davis (of The X-Files fame) was sort of nice to see, but ultimately failed to leave any type of lasting impression. The only other performance I wanted to mention was that of Nicholas Elia, who didn’t have much screen-time, but is a solid example of a story going exactly how you expect it to, in this case, the conclusion, which was laughable.

Certainly there are some aspects of this film I enjoy, but it takes a decent while to get going (I’d argue that things really don’t get moving until about an hour and five minutes in), and there’s not enough interesting characters to make that time feel like it’s well-spent (even the few flashbacks we get don’t really add that much, which was disappointing). The setting was okay in a drab forest-type way (this was filmed in Saskatchewan, Canada, which would explain that), but not the most exciting stuff you’ve seen.

Even with the not-so-stellar characters The Shortcut had, I think this could have been better if they had moved the story in a different direction, one that, I don’t know, might have actually had some surprising or more thrilling scenes. Oh, and they should have added a little something in the gore department – I liked seeing a hand get absolutely crushed (sledgehammer action for the win), but aside from that, this felt really tepid, which is a description I think could fit much of the film as a whole.

Maybe this is good for a one-time watch (or two, if you’re like me and forget everything about it the first time around), but I don’t really think there’s a hell of a lot of reason to seek this one out, and overall, while passable, this would be a difficult one to recommend to anyone.

6/10

This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss The Shortcut.

Cherry Falls (2000)

Directed by Geoffrey Wright [Other horror films: N/A]

For a long time, this movie would always come to mind when I thought of my favorite post-Scream slashers, and while others that also made the list have dropped down in my appreciation (such as Urban Legend and Valentine), Cherry Falls is still a movie I have a decent amount of fun with.

Certainly the idea alone is worth it – a mysterious killer going around and killing only virgins. I think a decent amount more could have been down with this outline, and I don’t disagree with the idea that, more often than not, Cherry Falls fails to really follow through on the more potentially sleazy moments (though, to be fair, what post-Scream slashers didn’t?), but even so, the basic plot is fun.

What really adds to this is the mystery behind the killer. Past a certain point, it may be somewhat obvious who the killer is, but I definitely find the backstory quite compelling and pretty sympathetic, and brings to mind Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II with a secret being held by some of the adults of the film. Somewhat related, I did feel somewhat sour about the conclusion, as the lie is continued as opposed to revealed, so not all is perfect.

Brittany Murphy (Deadline, Across the Hall, The Prophecy II, Something Wicked) isn’t a name I really know, but I do quite love her as the central character. She has a great look to her, and I find her spunky attitude admirable. Alas, she died young in 2009, which I find a shame. Playing her father is Michael Biehn (Aliens, The Seventh Sign, Bereavement, The Insatiable, Psych:9, She Rises), who may come across a bit generic at times, but he seems suitable enough, and I have no complaints.

Though he didn’t have a lot to do, I did find Keram Malicki-Sánchez’s (Texas Chainsaw 3D) performance pretty fun, and he seemed pretty chill with Brittany Murphy. Perhaps most enjoyable is mild-mannered teacher Jay Mohr (The Orchard), who I don’t know outside of this movie, but ends up being a lot of fun, and he comes across as one of those teachers and mentors that won’t soon be forgotten.

The violence throughout the film does feel a bit muted (in much the same way the nudity does –  mean, seriously, during that giant “orgy,” there’s not one topless woman?), but because the mystery and characters are all pretty solid, that doesn’t bother me as much as it did in films like Urban Legend or Valentine. Plus, Biehn’s awkward conversation with his daughter, Murphy, about whether or not she’s a virgin is so horrendous it makes up for any other faults the movie might have.

Cherry Falls seems to have largely fallen under the radar as far as post-Scream slashers go, and I really think it’s a shame, as I certainly find aspects of it better than more well-known films such as the aforementioned Urban Legend and Valentine. Does Cherry Falls feel a little, for lack of a better word, cheap, at times? Maybe, but at least it’s fun, and save some complaints about the ending and that final befuddling scene of the waterfall, I’ve always enjoyed this, and likely will into the foreseeable future.

7.5/10

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

A Stranger Is Watching (1982)

Directed by Sean S. Cunningham [Other horror films: Case of the Full Moon Murder (1973), Friday the 13th (1980), The New Kids (1985), DeepStar Six (1989), XCU: Extreme Close Up (2001), Trapped Ashes (2006, segment ‘Jibaku’)]

Perhaps most-known (when it’s known at all) for being directed by Sean S. Cunningham (DeepStar Six and more famously Friday the 13th), A Stranger Is Watching isn’t the easiest movie to categorize. It’s primarily crime, but certainly strong slasher elements persist, and while the film doesn’t end up a great movie, there’s enough here to at least recommend a single watch.

It should be said that this film is not your traditional horror movie. I think that some people see it’s directed by Cunningham, and get the idea that it’ll be another 80’s slasher. And let’s not be coy – when I say ‘people,’ I mean myself. It’s based on a novel by Mary Higgins Clark from 1977, though, and as someone who’s read a little bit of her work, once you realize it’s based on a novel, you’ll know it’s probably more influenced by mystery/crime.

Rip Torn (Dolly Dearest and Coma) did pretty great as the rather mentally-unstable killer here. He had that grimy style (which was certainly accentuated by the fantastic setting, which I’ll touch on shortly) that you have to appreciate, and a good sense of violence. This is a somewhat early role for Kate Mulgrew (who I don’t know, but see starred in Star Trek: Voyager, for any Trekkies who happen to be reading), and I thought she did a solid job, and her opposition to the death penalty was acceptable also.

And it’s on that topic I wanted to take a few moments. Part of this film deals with a potentially innocent man being sent to death based on a single witness, and I think that points out just how atrocious the death penalty is. Aside from being barbaric for a state to sentence someone to death, the very idea that an innocent person could be killed because they’re poor (because let’s be honest – how many wealthy men and women have been put to death in the USA?) shows what a terrible policy it is. Unfortunately, it’s a terrible policy that has always had over 50% approval in recent decades, which is just ridiculous.

I don’t know what Cunningham was aiming for specifically when he threw in this plot point about the death penalty (and it’s possible it’s a point straight from the novel), and it may be that he shared some of the same reservations as I do, but regardless, it did bring in a more realistic and socially-relevant subject into the film, which I appreciated.

What I also appreciated was the fact this movie wasn’t quite typical, as I mentioned earlier. As stated, while certainly horror, quite a bit of this felt like a crime film, a beautifully gritty one, at that. Once two of the characters are abducted, there’s a few sequences of them trying to escape, and while occasionally horror elements find their way into these scenes, it mostly feels more suspenseful with, of course, a dash of crime.

A Stranger Is Watching wasn’t a bad watch. I didn’t really know what to expect, but it wasn’t bad. At the same time, I can understand why I don’t really hear too much about this one, and if it had been more of a straight horror film as opposed to a crime film with strong horror elements, that may not have been the case. Still, it’s not bad if you want something a little different, or want to see what Cunningham was up to following the massively popular Friday the 13th.

7.5/10

This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss A Stranger Is Watching.

Blood Harvest (1987)

Directed by Bill Rebane [Other horror films: Monster a Go-Go (1965), Invasion from Inner Earth (1974), The Giant Spider Invasion (1975), The Alpha Incident (1978), The Capture of Bigfoot (1979), Rana: The Legend of Shadow Lake (1980), The Demons of Ludlow (1983), The Game (1984)]

It’s been some years since I’ve last seen this one, and though I enjoyed the film the first time around, I’d be lying if I said that I remembered a lot about it, because I didn’t. Aside from Tiny Tim’s presence and a few scenes revolving around him, I went into this without too many memories, which probably helped a bit with the enjoyment factor.

Obviously Blood Harvest is far from perfect, and it may ultimately wind up around average, if not below, but Tiny Tim (who is a singer most known for his falsetto voice and such hits as “Livin’ in the Sunlight, Lovin’ in the Moonlight” and “Tiptoe Through the Tulips”) gives a fantastically emotional performance as he plays a mentally-handicapped man who recently lost his parents and is deeply struggling with it. Some of his antics might seem a bit much, but from the scene of him singing and sobbing in the church, I was hooked. An odd, but great, performance.

Aside from Tiny Tim, though, much of the movie comes across as a bit pedestrian. They throw in some occasionally interesting elements, such as the local farmers being unhappy with someone due to the bank’s recent foreclosures, so much so they vandalize the house of the bank’s spokesperson, and certainly there were creepy moments when someone drugged the main character, played by Itonia Salchek, and then stripped her naked to take pictures of her, because that’s the type of stand-up guys we need in the world.

As far as Salchek goes, this was her sole movie, and amusingly, her IMDb profile states that, to this day, “people are still trying to find or find out what happened to her.” I don’t know if it’s as serious as all that (the profile also says that after filming this movie, she either “disappeared or died” which seems dramatic to me). Regardless of what happened with her, Salchek gives a decent performance, and is no stranger to providing some quality nudity, so kudos for that.

I’ve already mentioned that Tiny Tim is the best performance here, but I’ll reiterate that I really felt an emotional punch at times throughout the movie due to him. He may look silly with clown make-up on, and his “Gary and Jill went up the hill” song that pops up here and there, but what a performance. The sheriff, played by Frank Benson, was occasionally amusing, and while Lori Minnetti (who was also in the odd 1984 film The Game, or The Cold) didn’t add a lot, I did like her appearances on-screen. Dean West didn’t really leave an impression either way.

None of the kills here are stellar, but I do sort of enjoy that oppressive mystery that surrounds Itonia Salchek’s Jill – she gets back home, but her parents are missing, and with no way to contact them, she’s just sort of lost. What’s even creepier is that some of the action is taking place at a barn pretty close to home, and yet she’s not aware of it. The violence here was certainly okay, but I think the mystery is probably the moderately more interesting aspect (aside from the fact that most of the red herrings fail pretty miserably).

Sometimes it can feel like not that much is happening, though, and in that aspect, I think Blood Harvest fails to fully engage the audience (which is a bit of a shame, because the director Bill Rebane also directed The Demons of Ludlow, from 1983, which, despite it’s current 3.4/10 rating on IMDb, is a pretty fun movie), and though the movie is by no means long, I do think it drags at parts.

None of this is to say the movie is bad. For a late 80’s slasher, it can provide an okay time, and though there are plenty of others I’d prefer to watch, such as Iced, Moonstalker, or Intruder, I could see myself watching this one again, even though I find it a little lacking.

6.5/10

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

Dolly Dearest (1991)

Directed by Maria Lease [Other horror films: N/A]

This is a film that I’ve known about for a long time, and has been on television plenty of times in the past, but I’ve actively avoided, if only because I likely thought it was some type of Child’s Play rip-off. After seeing it, it’s obviously not, but that doesn’t make Dolly Dearest any better of a film.

As far as the story here goes, I think it’s fine. I sort of like the idea of a family uprooting themselves from Los Angeles to Mexico on a business decision, but I don’t know if there was quite enough done with this to really make it a big part of the film. The supernatural aspects weren’t special – a little girl (Candace Hutson) slowly becoming possessed, multiple dolls also becoming possessed – but they were serviceable enough despite occasionally looking quite cheap.

Sam Bottoms (Up from the Depths and Hunter’s Blood) made for a decent, if perhaps uninspired, lead. I was more impressed with Rip Torn (A Stranger Is Watching) and his amusing relationship with Chris Demetral, who plays Bottoms’ intelligent and rather witty son. Lupe Ontiveros (who also had small roles in films such as Candyman: Day of the Dead and Dark Mirror) was good for some cultural flavor, and her religious beliefs clashing with the rationality of Denise Crosby (Pet Sematary). The cast is generally around average, with Torn and Demetral being my personal strong points.

For a cheaper-looking film, I thought a few of the deaths were decent, and the first major one was even decently atmospheric, if not a wee tad clumsy in execution. And while gore isn’t a strong point, there is a painful injury with a sewing machine to look forward to during another decent death sequence.

I do think that the final 15 minutes or so are a bit lacking. The final possessed form of the girl wasn’t particularly great, and while the dolls were never great, they look pretty bad during the conclusion. And speaking of the conclusion, something about it feels awfully rushed in a straight-to-video feel (which, believe it or not, Dolly Dearest isn’t).

Dolly Dearest isn’t a terrible movie, as there’s some solid performances and a little charm here and there, maybe even perhaps a fun plot point or two. It’s definitely unremarkable, though, and I think it’s below average, but I could see how this might have some fans out there. It just wasn’t for me.

6/10

This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss Dolly Dearest.

The Burning (1981)

Directed by Tony Maylam [Other horror films: The Sins of Dorian Gray (1983), Split Second (1992)]

For a long time, this has often been one of the first slashers I recommend when asked by someone who doesn’t have a background in 80’s classics, as I’ve always found The Burning a very solid film. I still do, and though it may not be spectacular, it’s very much worth a look.

It has that classic slasher feel that fans of 80’s horror would love – a pretty solid opening origin, memorable special effects (that raft scene is the most referenced sequence in this film for a reason), and a pretty good antagonist in Cropsy (and Cropsy’s choice of weapon – garden shears – was inspired).

To an extent, I do think many performances are of the more forgettable variety. True, Dave (Jason Alexander, known mostly for a long-running role on Seinfeld) was pretty solid, defending both Alfred (Brian Backer) and Woodstock (Fisher Stevens) on multiple occasions. Glazer (Larry Joshua) definitely feels like a dickish bully (I love how he tries to drown Alfred, and flaunts it to the girls on the raft), and Alfred (who amusingly reminds me of a younger David Krumholtz) is okay in his own awkward way, but everyone else is either undercooked or merely average.

Admittedly, I did like Todd (Brian Matthews), but I don’t know if he stands out that well, and it’s the same with a lot of the women, such as Michelle (Leah Ayres), Karen (Carolyn Houlihan, who graces us with one of the few nude scenes in the film). I wish I could have liked Eddy (Ned Eisenberg) a bit more, and I wish we had more scenes with Tiger (Shelley Bruce) and Sally (Carrick Glenn, who gave us a quick nude shower scene), so there was some room for improvement.

The raft scene in the film is great, with quality tensions and fantastic special effects, with fingers being cut off and the like. It’s easy to see why it stands out – while the other kills are decent, Cropsy’s massacre of five, what with the cinematography, was glorious (and of course, a lot of credit also goes to Tom Savini). This said, the ax to the face at the end is quite good also.

It might also go without saying, but the music – a sort of funky electronic style that wouldn’t feel out of place in an Italian film – is on point, especially during the opening credits.

As far as camp-based slashers, The Burning doesn’t reinvent the wheel by any means. I always enjoyed it more than Madman, but it doesn’t have the same pull as many of the Friday the 13th films. Still, it’s a solidly-made slasher that hits many of the right spots, and is definitely worth a watch if you’re a fan of classic slasher films.

7.5/10

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

White Noise (2005)

Directed by Geoffrey Sax [Other horror films: N/A]

This is a somewhat more-popular film, partially because it stars Michael Keaton, and as such, much like movies such as Hide and Seek (starring Robert De Niro), What Lies Beneath (Harrison Ford) and D-Tox/Eye See You (with Sylvester Stallone), it’s generally forgotten by the horror community nowadays, and for, I think, pretty good reason.

Not that the movie is an extraordinarily poor one – it’s not memorable enough for that. It’s a pretty high-budget film, as you’d imagine (or at least, as you’d imagine as soon as you see that Keaton’s in it), and there’s no doubt that it’s competently-made, but there’s just not enough here to really make it anywhere near a standout film.

Some of this is because the horror is a bit on the lighter side. It’s there, don’t worry about that, but it’s there in the What Lies Beneath-way, and just feels so incredibly safe and tame. On a related note, this film is PG-13, which isn’t by any means damning, but it does show that this wasn’t going to really turn any heads at any point, and it really doesn’t.

I’ll give it credit for Ian McNeice (who in fact reminded me of another actor that I can’t yet place), who give a pretty enjoyable performance in his limited time, and Deborah Kara Unger. I don’t think Unger did a fantastic job here, but I do know her from The Game (1997), so that’s something. Keaton I really only know from the 1989 Batman, and I’m much more a Christian Bale-type of guy, so I couldn’t really care much about Keaton here. His performance is okay, but it’s far from great, which is fine, because the movie doesn’t warrant A+ acting anyway.

Not that the movie is without strong points. While I really don’t care for 90% of the final thirty minutes, I did like the three silhouettes of the evil ghosts (or whatever they were – that’s one of the things I wish they touched on more), and that final setting (a dilapidated factory, with giant holes and rain falling freely into the structure) was on point. Maybe a few other scenes were cool, but as I try to focus in on one, I just hear white noise and can’t complete my thought.

Also, those final three seconds were terrible. Just entirely unnecessary, which is probably intentional, as I feel that a lot of what they did with Unger’s character throughout the film was unnecessary. And speaking of unnecessary, I didn’t much care for that final message from Keaton’s character to his family. It felt like something out of a touching family drama, and a bit out of place.

White Noise isn’t a terrible movie, and I don’t want to give anyone the impression that I think it is. It’s far from a good movie, but it probably accomplishes a lot of what it set out to accomplish. It just wasn’t the type of movie I enjoy, and much of it fell flat for it.

5.5/10

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