American Psycho (2000)

Directed by Mary Harron [Other horror films: The Moth Diaries (2011)]

This is an interesting one. Based on a novel by Bret Easton Ellis, which I’ve yet to read, American Psycho follows a disturbed yuppie (played fantastically by Christian Bale) as he kills people and attempts to maintain his cool exterior under increasing pressure.

Of course, the question here is whether or not he did kill anyone, or if what we saw were simply fantasies he came up with in his mind?

There’s a lot about this one to talk about, because it’s not at all your typical film. From the whole issue of mistaken identity to the mental issues that Bateman’s character is battling, American Psycho keeps you entertained in one of the more disturbed ways possible.

Perhaps my favorite thing in the movie is the fact that these people, investment bankers all, incessantly mistake the identities of their peers. Some people, for instance, speak to Bateman thinking he’s someone else, and that’s a common occurrence among these people. What’s even more interesting is the fact that, based off the somewhat well-known business card scene, they pretty much all hold the same position (Vice President) in the same firm.

It’s from these little things that show a damning critique of the yuppie lifestyle, and when one of the character’s complains about a restaurant’s bathroom not being ideal to snort coke in, you know that these caricatures are on point. The fact that no one here can tell each other apart, or form any real connections with people (a trait that’s not just true for sociopathic Bateman) really nails what this yuppie, hedonistic class is like.

If you’re not here for the social commentary, well, you’re watching the wrong movie, but there’s still plenty of baser pleasures here, especially when Bateman starts killing people. The scene in which he exhorts the values of ‘Hip to Be Square‘ to a drunk Paul Allen (Jared Leto from Urban Legend) is a classic, and of course when he’s chasing a woman with a chainsaw while nude, well, there’s another scene that’s not easy to forget.

There’s a lot I like about American Psycho, and it’s just not the descent into madness that Patrick Bateman is feeling. The whole ending, from his confession to his secretary paging through his office journal, is just fantastic, and speaking of her, I did like Cholë Sevigny in this role, especially during her date (if that’s what you want to call it) with Bateman.

To an extent, I do think Willem Dafoe’s not the best choice for a private detective, but he was still an interesting face to see here. Really, with Bale, Leto, Sevigny, and Dafoe, it’s a pretty strong central cast.

Of course, it’s Bale who really puts in a fantastic performance here. Who doesn’t love the way he talks throughout the film, be it what the country needs to prioritize or his many talking points on the music of Genesis and Phil Collins, Whitney Houston, and Huey Lewis and the News?

American Psycho is far from a typical movie, which very much works in it’s favor, and it’s a definite favorite of mine, despite some of the content here not being the most pleasant to watch.

9/10

What Lies Beneath (2000)

Directed by Robert Zemeckis [Other horror films: Two-Fisted Tales (1992, segment ‘Yellow’), Death Becomes Her (1992)]

“A horror movie starring Harrison Ford,” I can hear people crying out in confusion. Truth be told, while this movie has a lot of nostalgic feelings for me, I feel that, by-and-large, it’s generally forgotten. I can certainly see why, given how milquetoast it tends to be, but even so, there are some solidly suspenseful scenes here.

What Lies Beneath has a strong sense of mystery, which is where I think the movie does best. There are some legitimately creepy and suspenseful scenes, but it’s the mystery which really pulled me in. There are a few mishaps with the story (such as the possession scene), and perhaps there were a few too many red herrings, but I generally enjoyed a lot of it.

Michelle Pfeiffer does really good with her role, and though I don’t care a lot for her character mid-film, I do think she shines really well at the end. Harrison Ford is an actor I’ve pretty much loved in everything, from Witness to the Indiana Jones’ films. Here, he does a great job too, and really brings with him some big name recognition to this movie. That might turn some horror fans off, but I enjoy Ford, and seeing him play a solid role is fun. Essentially, Ford and Pfeiffer are the only two really important characters, and mostly no one else does a whole lot for me, but both Diana Scarwid and Ray Baker do well in low-key ways.

The mystery is great, but one of my favorite scenes is pure suspense, being the bathtub sequence at the end. I obviously won’t spoil any of the details, but that scene, while it runs perhaps a little longer than might be necessary, is suspense through-and-through. Really gets your heart pumping, leading to a somewhat mixed (but overall decent) conclusion.

Downsides, though, include a few portions of the story, the unnecessary length, and the rather tepid feel of the film. I didn’t care for the more overtly supernatural portions of What Lies Beneath – I thought it’d have been better to leave things more open-ended, giving the film a sort of more mysterious feel. Also, at two hours and ten minutes, I don’t really think there’s story’s good enough to demand that kind of time. I loved the finale, but there were some things in the middle of the film they probably could have done without.

Lastly, being a mainstream horror film directed by Robert Zemeckis (of Back to the Future fame) and starring Harrison Ford alongside Michelle Pfeiffer, What Lies Beneath feels incredibly safe and rather tepid at points. It has some really strong suspense, but generally, this is just a safe horror film, PG-13 rating, and that likely wouldn’t do it for some horror fans.

What Lies Beneath isn’t some gorefest that devoted fans of the underground releases would gravitate towards, but if you’re cool with a somewhat safe, potentially supernatural, movie, then I think you could do worse. This might even attract more Ford fans than horror fans, but speaking primarily as a horror fan, while this is far from perfect, I do think it has enough to keep the movie fresh, and I think it’s generally an above-average film, though not by much.

7.5/10

Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman (2000)

Directed by Michael Cooney [Other horror films: Jack Frost (1997)]

The first Jack Frost was actually decent, in a sort of corny, occasionally ridiculous way. Unfortunately, Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman takes things in a far more humorous direction, much to my displeasure.

I won’t say that I didn’t like many of the performances here. Christopher Allport had an interesting PTSD thing going on, and was somewhat useless come the second part of the film. David Allan Brooks takes over from Stephen Mandel in the role of Agent Manners – Brooks wasn’t terrible, but I don’t think his character was really done justice, and I don’t see why, if they couldn’t get Mandel back, they didn’t scrap the role.

Sean Patrick Murphy was actually okay as the annoying Captain Fun. I just wish more was done with his character. Ray Cooney got a few funny lines in there, as did Tai Bennett, but neither really mattered much, and Chip Heller and Marsha Clark didn’t make an impression on me whatsoever.

What did make an impression, albeit a negative one, was the toned up comedic feel of the movie. The beginning was funny, I’ll give it that, but for as low-budget as the first movie was, this one felt a lot lower. I mean, look at that CGI. And when Jack took the backstage to his little snowball babies, I just couldn’t help but constantly cringe at the stupidity unfolding.

There were a few okay scenes of gore, among them a young woman getting her eyes stabbed with a pair of tongs, or another character getting some fingers ripped off. But some of them were just bad, such as Jack taking the form of an anvil and dropping on someone, or a snowball thrown so hard that it tore a man’s arm off, and overall, despite some scenes of promise, it just wasn’t worth it.

Unlike the first movie, Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman was just too silly, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s a cardinal sin. Fans of the first film may still find enough in this to like it – Scott MacDonald’s voice acting is pretty much as good as the first movie. I just couldn’t find it in me to enjoy this whatsoever when I first saw it, and though I might like it a little more now, the film’s far below what I’d prefer it to be.

4.5/10

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

Ginger Snaps (2000)

Directed by John Fawcett [Other horror films: The Dark (2005)]

When all is said and done, this modern-age werewolf tale is tragic. Two sisters must confront something entirely outside of their control, and though once close beyond measure, they become ripped apart by unwanted transformations (both puberty and lycanthropism).

I truly believe this is one of the saddest horror films out there, because I completely buy Emily Perkins and Katharine Isabelle’s relationship here, and it just hurts to see them pulled apart by something that was no fault of their own. It’s simple, but it’s effective, and though I generally find the werewolf sub-genre one of the hardest to appreciate in horror, this is a fantastic film.

Of course, a lot of it goes to the performances of Emily Perkins and Katharine Isabelle. Perkins, naturally, played Beverly in the 1990 adaptation of Stephen King’s It, and grew into a decently attractive young woman. She does great here as a put down upon teen, with her snarky sister, Katharine Isabelle. Isabelle does amazing too, and definitely brings another recognizable face into the mix, as she’s popped up in plenty of horror films, from Freddy vs. Jason and American Mary to Hard Ride to Hell and 13 Eerie.

Few others in the cast are near as spectacular, but that’s not something to fault them for. In different ways, many of the others here shined, including Kris Lemche, Jesse Moss (though I didn’t love his character’s story), and Mimi Rogers (especially toward the end, with a bit of a WTF line). All add a little something to the film, which is welcomed, but none come close to comparing with the leads.

By throwing in puberty and periods into the mix, Ginger Snaps feels real. Isabelle’s character is literally growing up, threatening to leave Perkins’ character behind, and this alone would make for a great sibling drama. Mix in some werewolves, very solid special effects, and an emotional conclusion, and you’re set. Very much worth watching multiple times, Ginger Snaps is a definite treat.

8.5/10

This is one of the films spoken about on Fight Evil’s podcast, so if you want to hear Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this, by all means listen to the fun.

Hellraiser: Inferno (2000)

Inferno

Directed by Scott Derrickson [Other horror films: The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005), Sinister (2012), Deliver Us from Evil (2014)]

Inferno takes a different route than previous Hellraiser films (the first, second, third, and fourth can be found here), and originally, the script wasn’t even meant as a Hellraiser film, which you could sort of guess by watching the final product. Instead of what we got before, this is much more a psychological-based horror than straight-out gore. It’s an interesting idea, but comes out a mixed bag.

The special effects in the film are okay for straight-to-video. I’ll say again that the Cenobite designs are pretty awful (Torso, while it’s nice to be reminded of Chatterer, just doesn’t do it for me), but because the movie isn’t as focused on the Cenobites as the main character’s battle with his sanity, it doesn’t hurt the film as much as it did the third or fourth movies. Gore throughout is moderately decent – the hook-whip scene in particular was pretty solid, and the sound effects nailed it (along with a few other scenes). While there’s not that many explicitly gory scenes, plenty of aftermath is seen, and all-in-all, it worked out.

The cast wasn’t amazing here. You could certainly get the straight-to-video feeling from them. Craig Sheffer was about 50/50, and his narration didn’t particularly help. He certainly got hokey at times, especially toward the end. Nicholas Turturro didn’t shine here either, and came across as generally weak. Of course, Doug Bradley did just fine as Pinhead, though didn’t have lines as quotable as he’s had in the past. I did like briefly seeing Kathryn Joosten (of The West Wing fame), and overall, I enjoyed James Remar’s performance, though his character didn’t make a lot of sense.

Which is the biggest issue with the movie, being the story, which just feels both underdeveloped and, at times, nonsensical. The time-frame stated in the film is entirely unrealistic, and though toward the end we’re given some answers, I can’t help but still feel unsatisfied. It doesn’t help that some portions of the movie just look rather amateurish (I’m happy to say, though, that the director, Scott Derrickson, greatly improved, and went on to direct 2012’s Sinister, a rather enjoyable film), and some sequences (the cowboy bar, for instance) just seem both random and not relevant to the plot.

I’ve seen this film some three or four times prior, and I probably liked it more in the past than what I do now. That said, I do think I’d prefer this one over the third or fourth Hellraisers, despite their generally more, for lack of a better term, ‘Hellraiser’ feel. Inferno has some interesting ideas, and I think a more clear-cut script would have helped the movie out greatly.

Nowhere near the best the series has to offer, but more enjoyable, despite its flaws, than the third and fourth movies, Hellraiser: Inferno would probably disappoint many going into it, but I’ve found it consistently an okay film, though still below average.

6.5/10

Satan’s School for Girls (2000)

Satan's School for Girls

Directed by Christopher Leitch [Other horror films: I’ve Been Waiting for You (1998), Secrets in the Walls (2010)]

This television movie is a remake of a 1973 television movie of the same name. In fact, the Dean of the college in this movie is played by Kate Jackson, who played a girl in the original version. I’m suspecting, by-and-large, that the only reason they chose to remake a Satanic 70’s television movie was due to the moderate then-recent success of The Craft (which came out in 1996). I’ve not seen the 70’s movie myself, so I can’t compare them, but I can attest to my feelings that this one is sort of fun.

Now, make no mistake – this is not a good movie. But perhaps due to the lower-quality (if you’ve seen one early 2000’s television movie, you know what I’m talking about), or the utter silliness of some of the special effects (wolves turning into humans, killer lightning bolts striking and lighting girls on fire, and crows/ravens with glowing red eyes), I found that Satan’s School for Girls has some charm.

The cast was okay for a television production. Shannen Doherty did fine as the main character, I guess. I sort of got the sense her heart wasn’t in the movie, but given what the movie is, I think that is moderately forgivable. Daniel Cosgrove (who has appeared frequently in soap operas in the past) played his character a bit generically, but still had a surprise up his sleeves. The aforementioned Kate Jackson did decently well until the end, when she had to deliver some rather cheesy dialogue during the *cue dramatic music* ultimate showdown.

Perhaps my favorite actor was Richard Joseph Paul, who played a sleazy college professor. I mean, this guy dated multiple students (in an all-girl school), and more so, did it openly. He would literally go to parties the students throw and show up with his student squeeze, not even trying to hide it. Paul’s character was a hoot and a half, and if you watch this movie, keep your eye on him, because he’s good fun.

Many aspects of this movie aren’t great. The music is exceptionally weak, the special effects were horrendous (as you’d expect from most TV movies), and very little suspense is ever really felt. Still, though I’ve seen this movie before (I suspect it’s been at least ten years), a few things caught me pleasantly by surprise, and a twist or two took me for a ride. Nothing spectacular, but when I finally figured out where the movie was going (a testament to how much I remembered about it), I thought to myself, “Damn, that’s cool.”

This remake is a goofy, cheesy movie. The epilogue was laugh-your-ass-off awful. But it still had some charm to it, so while I definitely think it’s a bit below average, I do think it’s close. Satan’s School for Girls is far from perfect, but damn it, I still had fun. Take that to the bank.

6.5/10

Killjoy (2000)

Killjoy

Directed by Craig Ross Jr. [Other horror films: Dead South (2016), Bunker of Blood 07: Killjoys Carnage Caravan (2019)]

If you’ve seen this flick, you know what a mess it is. But if you’ve watched it with friends, you also know what a hoot it can be.

I first saw this film for one of the October Challenges, watching it with a friend. Though the movie was atrocious in so many ways (acting, production value, audio quality), it was a fun time. Upon rewatching it, it still has that fun vibe, but it’s deeply muted.

I won’t waste time discussing the acting – in almost every way, the actors manage to fail, which admittedly is a bit of a feat. The story itself, while somewhat interesting, gets muddled down due to over melodramatic moments and a slow beginning. When things do pick up, it doesn’t much help, as Killjoy isn’t that fun a character. Basically, I just kept getting the mentally-challenged Pennywise-vibe from him. That said, an ice cream truck that can teleport you various places is sort of fun.

As for the audio quality, it’s not uncommon throughout the film that you’re unable to make out what someone’s saying. I don’t think it’s the fault of the DVD I own – I think it’s the best print they had to work with. The kills aren’t all that imaginative, and when they are, they include hideous early 2000’s computer effects. Can Killjoy be a fun movie in small doses when viewed among friends? Indeed. But it doesn’t really hold up with a second viewing, and overall, you can’t help but tell how poor of a movie it really is.

4/10

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