Spiders (2000)

Spiders

Directed by Gary Jones [Other horror films: Mosquito (1994), Crocodile 2: Death Swamp (2002), Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter’s Cove (2005), Ghouls (2008), Boogeyman 3 (2008), Lightning Strikes (2009), Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan (2013)]

Spiders is a moderately low-quality romp, with ridiculous characters and rather dated-looking spider CGI. The story is slightly unique, in that the first hour and ten minutes take place in an underground military base, but for the final twenty minutes, the setting becomes a college campus and finally, the city as a whole. The last two portions seemed sort of jammed in there, just to make the film a bit longer – they certainly don’t feel in place.

That’s not to say this movie isn’t enjoyable – if you like lower-quality monster movies, then this one seems right down your alley. The “aliens” at the beginning of the film are hilarious, and the overacting of Mark Phelan, once you get used to it, is pretty amusing. And like I said, it’s just a ridiculous movie overall. Not bad, not great. Not a waste of time, though, so I guess it’s about slightly below average.

6.5/10

Vargtimmen (1968)

Vargtimmen

Directed by Ingmar Bergman [Other horror films: JungfrukÀllan (1960)]

I’m not a big fan of experimental films. Antichrist was a film I rather disliked. Most of what I’ve seen from Cronenberg and Lynch, not to mention Tsukamoto, I’ve not particularly enjoyed. The same goes for this Ingmar Bergman classic. When I first saw it, I just had a massive headache afterward. This time around, I’ve grown to appreciate a bit more what it was going for, and they did that job well, but I still rather would have watched something a bit more coherent.

The story is simple: A man and his wife go to their small cottage on an island, and the man slowly begins losing it. He begins seeing bizarre people and experiencing intense paranoia. And he snaps.

Like I said, this movie does a very good job at showing us the bizarre spirits haunting our main character. Many of the scenes, while not outright terrifying, have an ominous, creepy atmosphere about them. And I truly do appreciate that.

What I cannot abide, however, are the random scenes cobbled up, not to mention the dialogue, much of which doesn’t make sense. Indeed, such is a well-done portrayal of losing it on an isolated island, but it’s not something I enjoy at all. On a positive note, I did enjoy how this movie was put together – the wife is being interviewed about her husband and her experience on the island, and so the majority of the story takes place as a flashback. It gave a pretty documentary feel to it, and I thought it came across as sort of cool.

That said, this isn’t a film I enjoy, and while there are the occasional cool scenes (a man removing his eyes, for instance), it doesn’t strike me as worth it. Despite being a Swedish classic, Vargtimmen (or Hour of the Wolf), probably isn’t something I’d soon watch again.

5.5/10

Cube 2: Hypercube (2002)

Cube 2 Hypercube

Directed by Andrzej Sekula [Other horror films: N/A]

I liked this movie far more the last few times I saw it than I did upon rewatching it this time around. I enjoy many of the characters (or at least enough of them to make up for the ones I didn’t enjoy), and portions of the story are perfectly fine, but this film lacks the charm of it’s predecessor.

It possesses fewer trapped rooms than does the original, and while the bright white rooms bring a futuristic tone to the film, it doesn’t do much for a suspenseful vibe. As with the first Cube, though, the strong point is not the surroundings or the story (and certainly not the conclusion, or lack thereof), it’s the characters.

I’ll say that I much preferred the antagonist from the first film, but the characters of Jerry (a kind, thoughtful if not overly cheery, man) and Mrs. Paley (an older woman with dementia/Alzheimer’s) are both great. Jerry was the character who lacked the survival skills likely needed, but is an all-around good guy, whereas Paley’s character brought some pretty humorous moments to the film. This is not to say the other characters aren’t good, but some of them (the blind girl especially) became quite annoying as the movie pressed on.

The ending, while many disliked it, was one I felt was mostly acceptable. I do wish they delved more into the workings of the Hypercube, but the prequel gives us a small dose of that later on. Just a small note, I wasn’t a big fan of the alternate reality/dimensions portrayed in this film – different versions of the same character getting killed multiple times, to me, really dampens the emotional response to the death – but it was certainly an interesting route to take. Not a great movie, and nowhere near as good as the first Cube, but this was passable.

6.5/10

Hostel (2005)

Hostel

Directed by Eli Roth [Other horror films: Cabin Fever (2002), Hostel: Part II (2007), The Green Inferno (2013), Knock Knock (2015)]

Each time I see this film, I continue to be impressed. The story is not necessarily overly creative, but it is well crafted (especially the switch half-way through the movie, in which we end up with an unexpected protagonist). The gore is a pretty decent touch also. Not only that, but the movie has a pretty satisfying ending, which is rather unexpected from a movie that is as grimy as this one.

Paxton’s not a character that I overly enjoy for most of the film, but his depth does grow as the story goes on, and by the end, you’d be hard-pressed to not be rooting for him. Insofar as the torture aspect, it’s pretty solid. Not overdone, either. While it’s definitely shocking the first time around, this movie doesn’t drown itself in unnecessary gore, which I applaud it for. There are downsides present, but truth be told, I don’t believe there are all that many. Only thing that comes to mind right now is that I wish some of the characters had a slower death than they did. Alas, we can’t always get what we want. The ending makes up for that, though.

7.5/10

Hate Crime (2012)

Hate Crime

Directed by James Cullen Bressack [Other horror films: My Pure Joy (2011), Theatre of the Deranged (2012, segments ‘Andy’s Theatre of Deranged’ & ‘Speak Easy’), 13/13/13 (2013), To Jennifer (2013), Theatre of the Deranged II (2013, segment ‘Unmimely Demise’), Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys (2014), Pernicious (2014), Grindsploitation (2016, segment ‘Dr. Suess’s There’s a Wocket in My Pocket’), Bethany (2017), Welcome to Hell (2018, segment ‘Family Time’), Virus of the Dead (2018, segment ‘Routine Stop’), Blood Craft (2019)]

The plot of this found footage film is simple. A Jewish family (mother, father, and three children) are new to the neighborhood, and are attacked by three brutal Neo-Nazis.

We have some pretty shocking scenery in this film, the two most shocking being the surprising death of a character early on and one of the male children being forced to rape his mother. There’s an eye-gouging in there too, along with a swastika being burned into a boy’s cheek, but the two scenes I mentioned before strike me as far more brutal. Really, there’s not much going on here – the break-in happens literally two minutes into the movie, and from there on out, it’s a bloodbath.

The three perpetrators are despicable people (and on cocaine half the time), and their actors do the job well. The family is sympathetic not because we know much about them, but because of the heinous acts being done toward them (during the credits, though, we’re given a little glimpse into the family via video of them moving to their new house).

My one gripe is the ending – after all of this is done, we’re presented with the “This video was found by someone. Those who committed these crimes were arrested, and are facing multiple life sentences.” Instead of playing it off as the movie it is, they make it out to be a real-life event, which just annoys the hell of out me. If found footage movies stopped using this tactic as much as they seem to, I’d be a much happier guy.

Hate Crime is a shocking film, no doubt. I got very little joy out of watching it. It does what it means to (at the end, it lists some statistics on hate crimes), but it’s not a movie that you’d watch multiple times, I feel. Just once is enough.

6.5/10

Halloween (2007)

Halloween

Directed by Rob Zombie [Other horror films: House of 1000 Corpses (2003), The Devil’s Rejects (2005), Halloween II (2009), The Haunted World of El Superbeasto (2009), The Lords of Salem (2012), 31 (2016), 3 from Hell (2019)]

I cannot express how much I despise the first 50 minutes of this film – I always have. Because I completely understand why Michael would kill his stepfather, his sister and her boyfriend. I can’t imagine a more annoying family than that. And therein lies the problem – I don’t want to understand why Michael is the way he is. It’s not necessary.

From the fourth Halloween film, Donald Pleasence’s character said it best: he’s evil on two legs. And while I appreciate what Zombie was trying to do, and I know he was told to make it his own, I cannot pretend that I enjoy the first half of this film. From the song “Love Hurts” to the quote “It hides my ugliness,” I just can’t help but cringe.

It does get better, though. Marginally. But Laurie’s character here is not the innocent girl from the original Halloween (her first scene, where she mimics being molested, shows us that) – her two friends are worse. In fact, there are few sympathetic characters here – funnily enough, I think the most sympathetic are Laurie’s parents, and we see what happened to them (same can be said for Danny Trejo’s character). We have some worthwhile sequences in this film, such as Laurie trying to escape from Michael nearing the end, but too much here just bothered me. Truth be told, the best character had such little time, and that, of course, would be Joe Grizzly. This might have some decent gore, but it’s just a disappointing movie, and a disappointing remake.

6/10

End of Days (1999)

End of Days

Directed by Peter Hyams [Other horror films: The Relic (1997)]

Arnold Schwarzenegger never did much for me as an actor, and End of Days, though I’ve seen it three times now, never did much for me as a movie. Now, that being said, this is a mostly enjoyable film. But things fall apart at the end. Satan chasing after Arnold’s character and the girl who is supposed to deliver his spawn doesn’t do it for me.

It’s just run-of-the-mill, especially when other Satanic movies around the same time are so much better (The Ninth Gate, I’m looking at you). Honestly, I don’t have much more to say. This movie isn’t necessarily bad, but I wouldn’t go in expecting much.

5.5/10

Salem’s Lot (2004)

Salems Lot

Directed by Mikael Salomon [Other horror films: N/A]

Here’s a little secret for you all: so far in my horror movie viewing, I’ve not yet seen the original Salem’s Lot. I’ve been meaning to, but it’s never happened. What I have seen twice is this 2004 adaptation, starring Rob Lowe (of The West Wing fame). And overall, I am pretty pleased with it.

Many of the characters are enjoyable, and the acting is solid; toward the end, the little vampire-killing group was enjoyable to observe, though I wish they were seen together a few more times than they were. Being a mini-series, it’s pretty lengthy, much like the original (both over two hours, I believe), but I was quite happy with what I saw.

Oh, there’s the occasional subplot or scene that didn’t do much for me, but those were far outweighed by stuff I enjoyed. Andre Braugher’s character, Matt Burke, for example, was a fine character, but not necessarily overly likable. The ending was somewhat reminiscent of Fright Night, where they go to the main house and hope to finish the vampires off, which was sort of fun. I’ve no major complaints, really, and I feel this is worth a watch, despite the changes they made from King’s original novel.

8/10

The Mangler (1995)

The Mangler

Directed by Tobe Hooper [Other horror films: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), Eaten Alive (1976), The Dark (1979), Salem’s Lot (1979), The Funhouse (1981), Poltergeist (1982), Lifeforce (1985), Invaders from Mars (1986), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986), Spontaneous Combustion (1990), I’m Dangerous Tonight (1990), Night Terrors (1993), Body Bags (1993, segment ‘Eye’), The Apartment Complex (1999), Crocodile (2000), Shadow Realm (2002), Toolbox Murders (2004), Mortuary (2005), Djinn (2013)]

This is a poor movie, and the fact it runs for an hour and 45 minutes does little to help it out.

Based on a short story by Stephen King that’s no longer than ten pages, The Mangler brings to us the story of an evil laundry folding machine. If the movie took itself a bit less seriously, it may have turned out okay too. But no. Director Tobe Hooper kept this movie serious, and while goofy acting by Robert Englund may make one question that conclusion, throughout the film, little humor is present.

The main characters are fine enough, but not overly enthralling. And some of the gore is good also, which is only a plus. But things don’t work together – the plot twist at the end seemed to be thrown in there, and just doesn’t strike me as overly realistic. The movie’s quite simply not good, and while I’ve not seen it in years before this rewatch, I recall not caring for it much then either. For good reason.

5/10

HauntedWeen (1991)

HauntedWeen

Directed by Doug Robertson [Other horror films: N/A]

This is why I watch obscure horror. While not necessarily a gem, this early 90’s slasher really made up for the not-so-great movies I’ve seen recently. While the budget is clearly low, and many of the kills uninspired, I certainly got the feeling that this Kentucky-based slasher had heart. That being said, as I’m a fan of virtually 3/4’s of the slashers from 1975 to 1995, that likely doesn’t surprise anyone.

I’ve wanted to see this for a few years now, and I’m just happy I’m not disappointed. The nudity was ample enough to warrant a plus in that department. The kills, while at first, not great, got better, and toward the end, I was quite happy with what I witnessed. The story, while lacking, wasn’t as big a factor, as few people really watch slashers for the story.

If you’re a slasher fan in particular, this may well be worth watching. I did see that after the credits, “Coming Soon… Hauntedween II” rolled across the screen. Sadly, this looks like it never happened, as it’d have been a hoot to see. The acting here was pretty bad, on one last note – one of the characters has a terrible accent that really grates on you. After a while, though, you start to love the guy. As for other characters, they’re nothing special. Still, this was a pleasure to see, and if this ever comes out on DVD (which, after twenty some years, looks like it has), I’m definitely picking it up.

7.5/10