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.

Lost Souls (2000)

Directed by Janusz Kaminski [Other horror films: N/A]

I wasn’t really expecting too much out of this, given what little I knew about the plot (an atheist journalist finds out he’s the Antichrist, essentially), and also given this came out a year after End of Days, another Antichrist-based horror film, so after finishing it, Lost Souls basically went how I thought it would.

Certainly I’ll admit that it’s nice to see Winona Ryder (Beetle Juice and Alien: Resurrection) and John Hurt (Doctor Who and Whistle and I’ll Come to You), both of whom did an okay job, and I didn’t mind the other performances, though Ben Chaplin, despite being most of the focus of the film, never really resonated with me.

That said, the story, while occasionally interesting (the most enjoyable portions being the short time spent with Ryder and Chaplin investigating Chaplin’s origins), felt really rushed at times. I mean, that ending just came and went like zat, as my homegirl Fleur would say (that’s a random Harry Potter reference for all my wizard friends out there). There were some aspects in the story worth delving into (though no matter how hard this tried, it couldn’t beat Damien: Omen II in the Antichrist learning his origins), but that didn’t really happen here, even with the pointless twists thrown in.

Also, I just don’t buy for a second that all of those people at the end knew Chaplin’s character was the Antichrist his whole life and were able to keep it a secret. With that many random people, I don’t care how secure the cult, word would get out.

I feel like this movie was trying to cash in on the whole End of Days and Stigmata trend (Stigmata is a film I started once, but never got around to finishing, on a dull side-note I can pass off as interesting), and while I did like this marginally more than End of Days, maybe solely for Ryder’s presence and maybe that assassination attempt (which was almost tense), it’s not a hell of a lot more than below average.

5.5/10

Bruiser (2000)

Directed by George A. Romero [Other horror films: Night of the Living Dead (1968), Hungry Wives (1972), The Crazies (1973), The Amusement Park (1975), Martin (1976), Dawn of the Dead (1978), Creepshow (1982), Day of the Dead (1985), Monkey Shines (1988), Due occhi diabolici (1990, segment ‘The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar’), The Dark Half (1993), Land of the Dead (2005), Diary of the Dead (2007), Survival of the Dead (2009)]

This movie is a hodge-podge of different ideas, and I think that’s partially why it came across, at least to me, as a mess. It’s part thriller, part romance, part comedy (I guess?), part slasher, and for the lulz, it throws in some music at the end.

Listen, the fact that Romeo directed this doesn’t bother me. I enjoy Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead (I’ve yet to see any sequels past that), but he’s not someone who I’d rate up there in the best horror directors, and if he wanted to change things up with this one, so be it. It’s just that Bruiser is such a mess that it defies almost any enjoyment.

Hell, it’s an hour and 45 minutes, and I watched every second. I still have exactly no idea what “brusier” even means, and that’s a problem, but just one of many.

Primarily, it could be said that the fact Brusier isn’t strictly horror is my biggest personal issue. Don’t get me wrong, even if it focused more on horror and less on the thriller/romance/fantasy stuff, I’d probably still rather dislike it, but it just seemed all over the place, as if it had no idea what it was going for (some scenes were openly comedic, but that never seemed the main idea either).

The whole premise bothers me, to be honest. This living carpet of a man wakes up one morning and his face is all white, probably because he has no identity (well, an overtly aggressive identity, anyway). Why this is is never explained, or how. Or what. It just happens, and it didn’t interest or intrigue me at all, especially once I found out we probably weren’t getting any answers on that anyway.

Jason Flemyng was decent in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but he doesn’t suit the role here. To be fair, no matter who took on the role, I’d have hated it, but even so, Flemyng doesn’t seem right here. Peter Stormare (Fargo) was unbearable in his over-the-top role, and I hated him. Tom Atkins (The Fog, Night of the Creeps, Halloween III) is here, but it also doesn’t do anything at all for me, given how poor the film is.

Listen, I don’t even want to harp on this anymore – for some people, Bruiser apparently worked fine. It’s straddling the 5/10 rating on IMDb, so enough people found it competent, at least. I didn’t. I legitimately didn’t have a good time at all. I felt it was going for some deep message about identity, but it never really makes it clear, and without a focus, it felt like a mess. Oh, and that last scene? Just shows me that the whole thing is a joke that no one bothered to explain.

I’ll throw it a few points for Flemyng’s recital of a poem, though, and for that scene where he shoots his backstabbing friend. Otherwise, this has little to nothing going for it, at least not in my opinion.

4/10

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

Cut (2000)

Directed by Kimble Rendall [Other horror films: Bait (2012), 7 Guardians of the Tomb (2018)]

More than anything, Cut pissed me off. This Australian slasher could have been something interesting, but ended up an annoying movie that explained little-to-nothing, and just fell as flat as something could fall.

Get this – after a murder during the filming of slasher in the 1980’s titled Hot Blooded! (which doesn’t sound remotely like an 80’s slasher, which is consistent, because the movie doesn’t look like an 80’s slasher either), the production shuts down. Some film students want to finish up the film, but they start getting killed off. I’m tempted to just reveal who the killer is, but I’ll simply spoil it by saying it’s none of the characters that’d make sense.

Apparently the film is cursed. People who screen the unfinished movie mysteriously die. I don’t know why, because based on the only scene we ever see from the original film, it’s just generic rubbish that would be out of place in any recommendable 80’s B-slasher. The movie isn’t good enough to be cursed, and it would have helped if there was some reason for the curse to begin with.

Oh, and don’t forget, one of the characters is actually the daughter of the original movie’s director who was killed, and she thinks that Hot Blooded! was more than just a “hacky slasher.” Apparently it was deeper than that, but the problem is, we literally see zero evidence of that in any way. It looked like a 90’s made-for-TV slasher when it was supposed to be some unsung classic of the 1980’s.

Oh, and get this: they defeat the curse by burning the film (whatever), but then it’s screened by a whole lot of people at the end of the movie, and of course, because of the curse, the scary Scarman (who looks like a really shitty Freddy Krueger at times) pops up and kills them all.

God, this movie frustrated me. As soon as the girl in charge of wardrobe and the boom operator go missing for a whole day, you’d think they’d shut down the shoot until they, you know, find them? I didn’t even like Molly Ringwald in this, and I loved her in The Stand (that may be because her character’s far better in The Stand, though). I guess Jessica Napier and Sarah Kants do okay, but I’ll forget them tomorrow, so the fact they stood out the most is troubling.

You know, another movie with a somewhat similar idea was 2008’s Midnight Movie. The difference being, of course, that Midnight Movie was actually pretty fun, all things considered. It had flaws, but it was fun. I didn’t find Cut fun. There was a single line I laughed at (and it was more of a chuckle, let’s be honest), but mostly I was stuck watching a really bad post-Scream slasher.

Oh, and one of the characters, when talking about making the movie, said “Who wants to make a mainstream slasher movie? Bigger than Halloween, creepier than Friday the 13th, more blood and guts than Texas Chainsaw Massacre?”

I wanted to give up then. Some of these characters speak about the positives of horror films, and come across as fans at times, so it amazes me that they think The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was bloody. It was brutal and gritty, sure, but “blood and guts”? Yeah, no. If they had said something like “more blood than H.G. Lewis and Nathan Schiff combined,” I would have given some points, because at least they’d sound like fans, but the Texas Chainsaw Massacre?

Oh, and “bigger than Halloween”? Get the fuck out.

Post-Scream slashers sometimes get a bad rap, and I’ll admit that many of them aren’t as good as they should be (such as Urban Legend, which did rather disappoint me the last time I saw it). I still enjoy I Know What You Did Last Summer, The Clown at Midnight, Lovers Lane, and Cherry Falls, though.

Cut, however, is trash.

3.5/10

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

Batoru rowaiaru (2000)

Directed by Kinji Fukasaku [Other horror films: The Green Slime (1968), Fukkatsu no hi (1980), Makai tenshô (1981), Chûshingura gaiden: Yotsuya kaidan (1994), Batoru rowaiaru II: Chinkonka (2003)]

Undeniably more than just a horror/action movie, Battle Royale (or Batoru rowaiaru) is an utterly beautiful, yet violent, film which never fails to leave an impact on me when watching.

We all know the story – a bunch of classmates are dragged to an island and forced to kill each other off due to a fascist Japanese government. If the adults are scared of the youth, I’m not sure making one of them into a super killer is the best idea, but the faulty logic aside, it’s a story that really gets to me, and it’s just so tragic.

The adolescent view of life is apparent in most of these kids. You have people harboring untold crushes which influence their actions, or people relying on past friendships in the hope that they’ll work toward a peaceful outcome as opposed to slaughter. Loners and the misunderstood now have a chance to make something of themselves, and petty disputes can now turn kids murderous.

In many ways, Battle Royale is drenched in the angst of being a teenager. Some of these kids have more to deal with than others, but the core of it is they’re all still kids (well, mostly, aside from one of the transfer students, a winner of a previous Battle Royale). It’s due to this that I think the movie has a greater impact – not just shock value due to the fact that they’re young, but in that these characters have only lived for 15, 16 years, and are now expected to fight for an adulthood they may not even comprehend on violent terms (there’s four who opt out and commit suicide in the situation, and I can’t say that’s a bad choice).

Also, it’s a movie of friendship. Sure, some of these characters love one another, but the bonds of friendship really shape most of the relationships. Look at the tragic story of Chigusa (Chiaki Kuriyama) and Sugimura (Sôsuke Takaoka). Hell, look at Mitsuko’s actions and the basketball flashback – she’s never felt like a part of the group, so do her actions really come as a shock, given her background? If she had some solid bonds, would she have taken a different route?

Battle Royale isn’t for the light-hearted, not with this level of violence beautifully melded with a very tragic story. I won’t even get into specific scenes to watch out for – there’s fantastic gunplay, of course, but there’s also more traditional horror deaths, such as knives, axes, and other fun sharp implements. It’s a bleak movie, but don’t be surprised if a few surprising moments of levity arise.

I won’t go as far as to refer to this one as a black comedy, but there certainly are elements here and there, especially in the jubilant Battle Royale explanatory video and Kitano’s (Takeshi Kitano) commentary and obsession over the cookies. Or his final scene, as a matter of fact (not counting the requiems at the end).

If there are any standout performances here, it’s either Tatsuya Fujiwara (Nanahara) or the aforementioned Takeshi Kitano. Kitano has a pretty good scene with Aki Maeda (Noriko), and Maeda’s really good too. Maeda and Fujiwara have solid chemistry, and I buy their adolescent affections.

Tarô Yamamoto (Kawada) was a bit of a mystery at first, but really came into a pretty good character. If you discount Kitano, the two main antagonists are Masanobu Andô (Kiriyama) and Ko Shibasaki (Mitsuko), both of whom are strong. It could be said that maybe Andô’s performance is a bit on the cliché side, but I still think it was good.

Others who positively stood out include Eri Ishikawa (Yukie, who really only had one scene of note, but it made her a lovable character), Takayo Mimura (Kotôhiki, who’s heartbreaking scene with Sugimura was amazingly sad), Sôsuke Takaoka (wish he would have done more than look for Kotôhiki, but the heart wants what the heart wants), Chiaki Kuriyama (Chigusa, who added another rather depressing scene in the film), and Takashi Tsukamoto (Shinji, who had a cool, revolutionary uncle and was perhaps one of the most interesting and apt characters in the film).

Battle Royale, if it hasn’t been made clear by now, is an emotional experience. The way that flashbacks and dreams are utilized just work really well, and gives depth to some characters who might otherwise just be seen as one-dimensional caricatures. There’s a sense of hopelessness throughout the film, but come the ending, with the final monologue, we’re told to “run for all you’re worth”, and if that’s not an optimistic conclusion, one of a hopeful future, I don’t know what is.

It could be said that the three requiems at the end aren’t necessary, and the third one (an extended dream conversation between Noriko and Kitano) is just bizarre, but what the hell, they still add some flavor into the film.

And speaking of flavor, that music, tho. Sure, you get some quality classical pieces, such as Johann Strauss’ Blue Danube and the epic Dies Irae by Guiseppe Verdi, but the whole score is gold, and the cherry on top is the concluding song by Dragon Ash, titled “Shizuka na hibi no kaidan wo.” I fell in love with this song when I first saw the film, and even now, the song sends chills down my spine. An utterly fantastic song to end with.

All things said, Battle Royale is a film that, if approached with an open mind, you can really fall in love with. I didn’t fully follow the events when I first saw this movie (I was much younger, and couldn’t tell many of the characters apart from each other), but even then I sensed this was special, and Battle Royale certainly is. It’s a horror movie in my eyes, no doubt about it, but it’s so much more. A perfect movie, with great violence, amusing black comedic moments, and characters you can find yourself getting attached to. I doubt films get much better than this.

10/10

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

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), The Black Phone (2021)]

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