Jurassic Attack (2013)

Jurassic Attack

Directed by Anthony Fankhauser [Other horror films: Tsunami Beach Club (2008), 8213: Gacy House (2010)]

This is a very generic film about military men getting trapped in a lost world – a crater in which dinosaurs exist still.

Truth be told, I’ve not much to say about this. The CGI dinosaurs were some of the worst I’ve seen. The CGI blood was even more cringe worthy. Acting and story was nothing worth writing home about whatsoever. Lastly, most of the characters were thoroughly unlikable – in fact, I’m hard-pressed coming up with one I even sort of liked, and there weren’t that many characters in the movie to begin with.

Jurassic Attack can be fun at times – I mean, seeing terribly made CGI dinosaurs chase after terrible actors, how can you not have fun, especially with alcohol and weed? If I had to describe it in a short phrase, though, I’d simply call it overly generic. And seeing it twice was definitely too much.

4/10

Ghosts Don’t Exist (2010)

Ghosts Don't Exist

Directed by Eric Espejo [Other horror films: N/A]

This surprised me. I’ve not heard of this film before I watched it – it’s one of those post-2005 horror films that slipped through my fingers. Which makes sense, really – supernatural movies, especially ghost films, have never been my favorite. But Ghosts Don’t Exist was a pretty decent, if not a bit generic, movie.

Acting was okay all around – nothing too special. I did rather enjoy Josh Davidson’s character (a rather arrogant skeptic), and the lead, an emotionally-unstable ghost hunter, was also well-played by Phillip Roebuck. The story, like I alluded to earlier, isn’t overly original: it comes across as a ghost story, but some elements certainly make us question if everything is as it seems. About three-fourths into the film, actually, a plot twist rears it’s head, and I have to admit, I rather liked it. It was reminiscent of a 2004 Japanese film I rather enjoy, truth be told.

I liked the movie before the twist came about, but afterwards, it just got better. Problematically, though, the movie runs for an hour and 40 minutes, which, while was mostly okay, still seemed a bit lengthy. Ten to fifteen minutes could have been cut out, and we’d probably still be fine. Regardless, while generic in some ways, the last ten-ish minutes were rather atypical – I certainly didn’t see it coming, especially from a modern horror film. Ghosts Don’t Exist isn’t amazing, but it did surprise me, and I liked it well enough.

7.5/10

Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010)

Birdemic Shock and Terror

Directed by James Nguyen [Other horror films: Birdemic 2: The Resurrection (2013)]

I’ve not seen this film before, but I’ve long heard it was a doozy, and boy, is it ever.

I won’t go into all that’s wrong about this movie. The meandering first half, focusing on a boring individuals’ romantic life for the first 48 minutes. The clearly computer-animated birds, and the fact that they somehow have the ability to dive bomb into buildings and blow up. The stilted acting and atrocious dialogue. The minute-long scene of people clapping. The stock music on repeat. The prolonged ending. About everything that could go wrong in a movie went wrong here.

I’ll say one positive thing about this movie: the actress who played Natalie, Whitney Moore, was pretty attractive. She couldn’t act worth shit, but she did do far better than Alan Bagh, who gave one of the worst performances I’ve seen in a while. And the constant talking about going green, and solar panels, and preventing global warming. Obviously, I’m all for these things, but come on, tone it down. This movie is not helping the case to go green whatsoever.

Aside from the pretty Moore, this movie is an embarrassment. Definitely a movie to watch with a bunch of friends while drunk or high, but that’s about it. Still, as bad as it is, you will definitely be amused, which is why it’s not getting a lower rating.

3/10

Cathy’s Curse (1977)

Cathy's Curse

Directed by Eddy Matalon [Other horror films: N/A]

First thing’s first – this is a very low-quality transfer that I watched. I’ve heard better quality versions of this film exists, though they’re in French without subtitles. *Shrugs*. So this is a pretty bad print, and if you’ve seen the most common version of Cathy’s Curse out there (one released on Mill Creek Entertainment’s Creepy Classics), I’m sure you’d agree.

In a way, though, I think it brings the movie additional charm. I’ve never been to a drive-in, but I can imagine this is the exact type of movie that would be great to watch at one, and while the quality has faltered, it’s a pretty fun romp.

Cathy’s Curse is one-part The Bad Seed, one-part Burnt Offerings, and one-part The Omen – in it, a little girl is possessed by her father’s deceased sister, and one by one, people around her start dying or going mad. All things considered, it’s a pretty simple film.

Three things about it stand out, though: Firstly, the music has a charming quality to it. Sometimes eerie, sometimes not, the music stood out and enhanced some of the scenes. The acting too was noticeable. It wasn’t always great – Beverly Murray sometimes went a bit overboard portraying the panic-stricken mother. But both Alan Scarfe and Roy Witham did pretty decent jobs (despite Witham only having been in three other films). And lastly, you had some occasionally creepy scenes (along with, of course, some rather ridiculous scenes, but that’s half the fun).

Some of the quotes are pretty classy too – at the beginning, a father tells her daughter “Your mother’s a bitch – she’ll pay for what she did to you.” About halfway through the film, a drunk Roy Witham (playing the groundskeeper as a kindly older man) and gleeful Cathy scare a medium away from the house, shouting, “Get out you old bitch,” and calling her a “fat dried-up whore.” The delivery of these lines were excellent, in my ever-humble opinion.

Cathy’s Curse can at times be a bit of a mess, that much I can say. But I did enjoy it more this time around as opposed to the first time I saw the film, and really, it’s not all that terrible. It doesn’t really drag on, it’s amusing, and is undeniably a product of the 70’s – what more could you want?

7/10

Earth vs the Spider (1958)

Earth vs the Spider

Directed by Bert I. Gordon [Other horror films: Beginning of the End (1957), The Cyclops (1957), Attack of the Puppet People (1958), War of the Colossal Beast (1958), Tormented (1960), Picture Mommy Dead (1966), Necromancy (1972), The Food of the Gods (1976), Empire of the Ants (1977), Burned at the Stake (1982), Satan’s Princess (1989), Secrets of a Psychopath (2015)]

This is one of those movies that isn’t overly great, but I can’t help but enjoy. Starts off somewhat similarly to The Blob (also from 1958), in which two teens try to convince the authorities of a giant spider residing in a cave on the outskirts of town. And once they see it, they believe.

In a scene somewhat like the cave scene from Night of the Lepus (1972), authorities witness the spider and gas the caves. Of course, the fun doesn’t end there. We have a groovy scene where, as a band is playing some early rock ‘n roll, the unconscious (everyone thought it was dead) spider wakes up, and strikes horror into both the students playing music and the town proper.

The movie, as a whole, is moderately unremarkable, really, especially considering the budget and effects of Tarantula (1955) were higher. Personally, I think this one has more spirit, though. Only problem I have, aside from some rather fake-looking webs, is one of the characters, Mike, comes across as an asshole half the time. Other than that, this is some solid fun, and even stands up upon a rewatch. One of the better creature features of the time, despite others’ claims to the contrary.

7.5/10

Idle Hands (1999)

Idle Hands

Directed by Rodman Flender [Other horror films: The Unborn (1991), Leprechaun 2 (1994), Nature of the Beast (2007)]

Truth be told, Idle Hands isn’t a bad movie. In many ways, it’s enjoyable. But it’s a bit silly for me, and while I can enjoy a comedic horror film, I prefer the silliness notched down. Idle Hands didn’t get the memo.

As I said, though, it’s not a bad film. The cast is damn good, actually – Devon Sawa did a great job as the main character, Seth Green and Elden Henson (who I retroactively recognized immediately from the NetFlix Daredevil series – he plays Foggy Nelson) were both pretty good, and Jessica Alba looked particularly attractive as the film’s vixen. The acting, while oft over-exaggerated, works fine. We even get some okay gore in a few scenes.

I’ve not seen this movie in a long time (and by a long time, I mean since elementary school – at the time I wrote this, I was 22), and I remembered some of the scenes that spooked me the most, mainly the scene in which Anton cuts his hand off, and the scene in the vents. Both are quite effective. Not as effective though, in my opinion, is much of the beginning – before Anton cuts his hand off, I wasn’t terribly interested. It’s after the maiming in which things really pick up, which I’m grateful for (though I do think the guardian angels portion at the end is rather stupid). Idle Hands is a perfectly fine movie, really. It’s just not really my type of thing. Solid actors, though.

6/10

Fear Island (2009)

Fear Island

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

Fear Island isn’t a great movie, and that mainly stems from the fact that from the beginning, as an audience, we can sort of see where it’s going.

Unreliable narrators are sometimes fantastic (The Usual Suspects comes to mind), and sometimes not so much, because there comes a point in which something is overdone, and it loses what it otherwise could have had. I feel that happened here

The story isn’t that bad: A girl is found on an island with six bodies, and she recounts her tale to the police, who are at first suspicious, but grow to accept what she says. And we have twists throughout. Or maybe there aren’t, as unreliable narrators can leave things out, lie, etc.

I liked how this movie was set up. But it was made past the time in which these types of movies weren’t uncommon. Hell, it’s moderately similar to The Hole, and that came out way back in 2001. So no, Fear Island’s not great. Some potential inconsistencies, almost no gore, somewhat annoying characters, idiotic characters, and unnecessary twists. You could do worse, though, for a television movie, and despite the problems, it’s certainly a movie that tried. Less than average, pretty generic even, but not disastrously so.

6/10

Kalifornia (1993)

Kalifornia

Directed by Dominic Sena [Other horror films: N/A]

This is a film that many, perhaps rightly so, wouldn’t consider horror – it should come as no surprise to anyone (especially those who follow me on Twitter) that my definition of horror, much like my politics, is decidedly more liberal than others. That said, while I do consider it a horror film, I understand that most probably wouldn’t.

Whether it’s horror or not, though, doesn’t take away from the actors – all four of the central actors did a fantastic job. Brad Pitt’s portrayal of a redneck serial killer is pretty eye-opening to watch. His empty-headed girlfriend, played by Juliette Lewis, was a sight to see, and how Lewis was able to keep the air-headed act up was amazing. Of course, David Duchovny was of good value – his character’s not too much different from Mulder in The X-Files, a serious, single-focused individual, not averse to having fun, but always keeping on track. Lastly, Michelle Forbes did a fine job as Carrie, Brian’s (played by Duchovny) girlfriend.

The cast is spectacular, to make matters short. Decent gore can be found a few places also, though it is rather limited. As for the story, I think it’s moderately decent, but not overly amazing. Really, the actors were the highlight of the movie. A bit of a hard one to rate, honestly, partially because it treads the line of horror/non-horror, but it was a decent movie with solid actors. Not overly crucial, and more so, not even that amazing compared to other films, but it might be worth checking out.

7.5/10

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Directed by Wes Craven [Other horror films: The Last House on the Left (1972), The Hills Have Eyes (1977), Stranger in Our House (1978), Deadly Blessing (1981), Swamp Thing (1982), Invitation to Hell (1984), The Hills Have Eyes Part II (1984), Chiller (1985), Deadly Friend (1986), The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988), Shocker (1989), The People Under the Stairs (1991), New Nightmare (1994), Vampire in Brooklyn (1995), Scream (1996), Scream 2 (1997), Scream 3 (2000), Cursed (2005), My Soul to Take (2010), Scream 4 (2011)]

While not the best horror movie ever made, this classic comes pretty damn close. A Nightmare on Elm Street is one of my favorite 80’s horror flicks. You get good gore (both Tina’s and Glen’s deaths), you get memorable characters (Nancy, her mother and father, along with Freddy), unforgettable quotes (“Up yours with a twirling lawnmower”), creepy scenes (the whole dream sequence before Tina’s death) and a fantastic villain, in Freddy Krueger.

Performance-wise, you can’t go wrong with such individuals as John Saxon, Heather Langenkamp, Ronee Blakley, Amanda Wyss, an early Johnny Depp (though admittedly he is somewhat weak here), and of course, Robert Englund. Even from a non-nostalgic viewpoint, it’s a very strong cast that helps bring this movie together.

Truth be told, I won’t speak much more about this film – it’s one of the finest horror movies out there, and while not the best, it’s a likely top ten contender. There are a few flaws (some of the special effects, especially to the modern eye, look a bit hokey, and the acting isn’t always that stellar), but nothing that can’t be brushed away without too much difficulty. Truth be told, while this review is short, not much needs to be said – it’s a great movie, and one of the best horror films made.

9.5/10

This classic was covered on episode #27 of Fight Evil’s podcast, so listen to Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this one.

The Monster Maker (1944)

The Monster Maker

Directed by Sam Newfield [Other horror films: The Mad Monster (1942), Dead Men Walk (1943), The Flying Serpent (1946)]

This is around the fourth time I’ve seen this film, and for the most part, I always have considered it around average. Not my cup of tea, but certainly not bad, in short.

The story is a moderately simple one: A crazed doctor infects a pianist with a deliberating disease, disfiguring him, and will cure him only if he can marry the pianist’s daughter, hence, becoming the ‘Monster Maker.’

J. Carrol Naish does a fine job as our Dr. Markoff, and the rest of the cast is decent too, though some hysterics from some of the actresses does tend to get on my nerves. There is a slightly boring portion halfway through the film, an eight-minute sequence of the doctor unleashing a gorilla on his assistant (he believes her to be a liability to his plan), but there is still some decent suspense present.

Of course, being a 40’s horror film, the ending is a bit sudden, but I was rather happy with the conclusion. Oh, another positive note – even if this movie isn’t your type of film, it clocks in at only and hour and two minutes. Quick to finish and easy to digest. I don’t love The Monster Maker, but for Poverty Row entertainment, it’s a fine movie.

7/10