Copperhead (2008)

Directed by Todor Chapkanov [Other horror films: Ghost Town (2009), Monsterwolf (2010), True Bloodthirst (2012), Asylum (2014)]

Here’s a Sci-Fi movie I’ve enjoyed in the past and find myself enjoying once again. It’s a generic-as-hell western-horror movie with snakes, but damn it, I have fun with this.

I won’t waste too much time on performances, because I don’t know any of these people. Brad Johnson, Keith Stone, Brad Greenquist, Gabriel Womack, and Atanas Srebrev all did decent jobs, and had interesting and mostly fun characters.

The CGI behind the snakes was pretty God-awful, as were pretty much any of the special effects, but hey, it’s a Sci-Fi movie, what can you expect? Honestly, as bad as they were here, they’ve been much worse in many of their later efforts (for example, Sharknado and 2-Headed Shark Attack).

What works well with Copperhead, I think, largely comes from the enjoyable cast. Sure, the story’s ridiculously generic, that gun-fight is almost comically suspenseful, and you can see a few things coming from miles away, but even so, it’s a movie I have fun with, and also sports the quote ‘It’s hotter than nickel night at the whore house,’ which I use often during the summer.

Seriously, for a television movie, Copperhead consistently entertains me and keeps me interested. It did when I first saw it, and it did this time around also. I’ll never say it’s an amazing movie, but there are enough fun characters and amusing lines to keep me happy, so I find the potentially high score justified.

8/10

The Children (2008)

Directed by Tom Shankland [Other horror films: w Delta z (2007)]

I forget exactly when I first saw this British addition to the killer kid sub-genre, but I suspect it was during an October sometime between four to seven years ago. From my vague recollection, I didn’t much care for this one, and seeing it again with fresh eyes, I hate to agree with that earlier assessment. The Children may not be a bad film, but it’s certainly not as good as many seem to think, and I genuinely find the movie unremarkable with a hint of frustration.

Make that a lot of frustration, actually. Maybe this is simply because I’m not a parent, but if someone is trying to stab you, you have every right to defend yourself, no matter if the assailant is a kid or not. Yet the parents here wore blinders when it came to the fact that their children weren’t just a little dangerous, but fatally so. It took a teenage girl (played fantastically by Hannah Tointon) to do most of the work, and what does she get out of it? Nothing but hatred and physical pain from the others.

She’s not entirely the perfect character though, either, especially toward the end. I’ll just say this so I don’t give too much away: STAY THE HELL IN THE CAR AND DRIVE BY, YOU IDIOT!!

Now that I have that out of my system, I can briefly try to explain why I didn’t care for this one. Partially, it has to do with the fact that both times I’ve seen The Children, I can never tell the children apart, and thus, I don’t know who’s who’s kid, and it just loses me with names of kids that I sure as hell aren’t going to remember. In all fairness, it was better this time around, but still, I didn’t love any of the characters aside from the teen played by Tointon, which hurt.

None of this is to say that Stephen Campbell Moore, Jeremy Sheffield, Rachel Shelley, or Eva Birthistle put in bad performances, but I pretty much thought all of their characters, save Sheffield’s, were terrible. It’s probably a good performance that made me dislike their characters so, but either way, the only one here I really liked was Tointon’s character (who looked smoking in that unseasonably drafty short skirt, if I may say so).

This reminds me of one thing I did rather like about the movie, being it’s setting. It takes place in a decently-sized house in the country during winter, with a bit of snowfall toward the end, which looked pretty cool. It’s just a shame the story they came up with (and ‘twist’ to follow, if you want to call it that) wasn’t great.

Was the gore okay? Reasonably, when the movie deigned to go in that direction. At the same time, while it was nice finally seeing kids meet the grisly end they’re so often denied in horror films, I don’t know if anything here was particularly memorable, problematically. There was potential during a few scenes (the kids had plenty of sharp instruments at their disposal), but it never quite got there.

I can’t exactly pinpoint why I don’t like this one more. It’s not like I think the movie’s terrible, but I definitely find it underwhelming despite some decent tension of Tointon’s performance. When it comes to killer kid movies, I’d go as far as to recommend Peopletoys, also known as Devil Times Five or (get this atrocious reissue title) The Horrible House on the Hill over The Children, or even Mikey, or hell, even The Good Son. But this British movie isn’t one I enjoyed either time I’ve seen it, and though it really feels like it should be better, it’s a consistently disappointing film.

4/10

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

Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008)

Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman [Other horror films: Saw II (2005), Saw III (2006), Saw IV (2007), Mother’s Day (2010), 11-11-11 (2011), The Devil’s Carnival (2012), The Barrens (2012), Angelus (2014), Tales of Halloween (2015, segment ‘The Night Billy Raised Hell’), Alleluia! The Devil’s Carnival (2016), Abattoir (2016), St. Agatha (2018), Death of Me (2020), Spiral: From the Book of Saw (2021)]

So I’ve seen this about three times, and it’s still not really my go-to when it comes to horror musicals. The style is something I don’t care too much for, and some of it’s just a bit too slapstick for me, but at the same time, I do think it’s a movie worth experiencing at least once.

A big issue I have with Repo! The Genetic Opera is that I don’t really care for many of the songs. Many are in a very industrial style, and one’s randomly an Avril Lavigne-inspired punk song. Still, there are some I rather enjoy, such as ’21st Century Cure,’ ‘Genetic Repo Man,’ ‘Inopportune Phone Call,’ ‘Zydrate Anatomy,’ ‘Chase the Morning’ (my favorite song by far), ‘Let the Monster Rise,’ ‘I Didn’t Know I Loved You So Much,’ and ‘Epitaph’. That may seem like a lot of songs, but there were quite a few that I didn’t enjoy at all. Part of it was how half of the songs were more spoken than sung, such as ‘Shilo Wake,’ which I just found awkward.

The cast here, though, is pretty solid, save for some characters I didn’t care for. Alexa Vega (who I know best from Spy Kids, a series I watched when I was a kid) did very well with her character, and her songs with her father, played by Anthony Head, were highlights of the film (especially ‘I Didn’t Know I Loved You So Much’). Head was amazing, his tragic back-story was on point, and the two sides of his personality were fantastic.

Terrance Zdunich cracked me up with his ‘GRAAVVVEEESSS’ line from ’21st Century Cure,’ and I also really liked his style in ‘Zydrate Anatomy’ (some mighty fine print). I sort of wish his character was more involved in the plot, but he was fun regardless. Another solid casting choice was Paul Sorvino as the main antagonist, Rotti, who didn’t have any standout songs, but had a great character. Sarah Brightman’s last scene was great, as was her portion of ‘Chase the Morning,’ but her character wasn’t really on my radar most of time.

What bothered me most insofar as the cast was concerned were Rotti’s three children, played by Paris Hilton, Bill Moseley, and Kevin ‘ohGr’ Ogilvie. Technically, the acting was fine, but I really didn’t like the over-the-top nature of these three, especially Moseley. Otherwise, like I said, the cast is fine, but boy, these characters just got on my nerves.

Obviously, what with the repossession of organs being prevalent to the plot, there’s some decent gore here, but much of it is more for slapstick value than it is shock. It’s done decently well, and though not often the focus, does occasionally stand out, especially in a scene toward the end regarding eyes and an iron fence.

Having seen this musical multiple times, it’s still not something I find myself enjoying as much as I wish I could. Some songs are great, but others are just sort of there, and that combined with some ridiculous characters really brings this down. If musical horror is something you’re interested in (and there’s not many other choices save Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street), I’d give this a look, but you may not be blown away.

6.5/10

Slices (2008)

Directed by Lenny Lenox [segment ‘Turnout’ / Other horror films: N/A], Neil McCurry [segment ‘Night Screams’ / Other horror films: N/A], Lance Polland [segment ‘The Range’ / Other horror films: Crack Whore (2012), Werewolves in Heat (2015)], Steven Richards [segment ‘Dead Letters’ / Other horror films: N/A] & Vito Trabucco [segments ‘The Exterminator’ & ‘Wraparounds’ / Other horror films: B-Movie: The Shooting of ‘Farmhouse Massacre’ (2002), Visions of Horror (2007, segment ‘Hooligan’s Valley’), Bloody Bloody Bible Camp (2012), Never Open the Door (2014), Happy Horror Days (2020, segment ‘4th of July’)]

When I first saw this film, I knew I found it below average. What I had forgotten in the years that passed was just how below average this mess of an anthology film actually was.

In Slices, we have five stories plus a framing sequence. Of these six total stories, maybe two are acceptable, and the other four all range from tepidly bad to downright awful. You certainly get a variety here, what with a  vampire story (‘Night Screams’), a slasher (‘Turnout’), a zombie story (‘The Range’), and torture porn (‘The Exterminator’). The last one (‘Dead Letters’) is sort of a Monkey’s Paw-like story, slightly unique in that is occasionally uses what seems to be claymation.

So you do get a variety with these entries, but as very few of them are worth watching, I don’t personally think it means much. Look at ‘Night Screams’ and ‘Turnout’ – both have needlessly dramatic narration (I don’t even know why they thought ‘Turnout’ even needed narration, but whatever) that doesn’t really add much. It’s pretty bad for ‘Night Screams’ because the monotone narration about ‘My life has been molded by a series of bad decisions. Tonight turned out to be another one’ was about as non-enthralling as you could expect.

Also, a bit of the 1968 classic Night of the Living Dead is shown here. They don’t try to pass it off as part of the actual movie (such as O.C. Babes and the Slasher of Zombietown did) but just because the film’s in public domain, it doesn’t need to be seen in every other low-budget horror movie. It gets really old; I’m just saying. Also, it might be advisable to give your stories a conclusion, but as ‘The Range’ lacked one, perhaps that’s just my point of view.

The best thing about this film is Trent Haaga, playing a Svengoli rip-off named Lucius Phibes on Theater of the Macarbe that the framing story’s based around. Haaga did fantastic as the over-the-top and cheesy horror host, and while pretty much nothing else in the movie was worth much, it was great seeing him having such a fun time.

Otherwise, Slices can likely be placed in a Top 10 worse anthology horror film list. There are worse ones out there, don’t get me wrong (such as The Telling from 2009 and Nightmare Alley from 2010), but Slices is pretty inept. Also, this is worth noting, I had no problem with the lower-budget nature of the film – had the stories been made with more money, they still would have sucked. Slices just isn’t really worth it.

4/10

Triloquist (2008)

Directed by Mark Jones [Other horror films: Leprechaun (1993), Rumpelstiltskin (1995), Scorned (2013)]

So, it’s hard right now for me to resist the urge to write an all caps review of how terrible this movie is, because I want to try and retain some modicum of professionalism. That said, Triloquist is one of the worst horror movies I have ever seen, and if I had a choice to watch this again or kill myself, I’d been grabbing for the rope in a heartbeat.

That might sound like an exaggeration, but I’m not entirely sure that it is.

Directed by Mark Jones, who brought us the decently enjoyable classic Leprechaun, Triloquist is a horrible experience from beginning to end. It starts off reminded me of Seed of Chucky, only, get this, worse (and my seething hatred for Seed of Chucky isn’t something that I thought would have competition).

Narration by the dummy. Narration that’s supposed to be funny. The dummy often talks about how hot Paydin LoPachin’s tits are, because that always gets a laugh. Honestly, pretty much everything in this movie was cringe-worthy, but the dummy’s dialogue (not to mention voice) has to be the worst part of this.

Paydin LoPachin’s performance was terrible. She was trying so hard to be an even more crazy Baby Firefly, but she didn’t display an ounce of Sherri Moon Zombie’s talent. She’s attractive, but as she had zero nude scenes, all that concerned me was her atrocious dialogue, annoying personality, and the fact she’s entirely unlikable.

Also, I love how, for some reason, LoPachin’s character never says ‘ventriloquist’ – it’s always ‘triloquist,’ because… yeah, no reason. A+++++++++ choice, amiright???????

Let’s talk about Rocky Marquette – wait, no, as he barely did anything aside from look mentally challenged, it’s not fair to comment on him one way or the other.

At least we got some good music, amiright?

That’s a joke – the music here was, again, terrible. Everything in this movie was terrible. Everything. Every little thing. Every scene, every line of dialogue (save a single line near the beginning that made me chuckle), and everything else too.

Horror-comedies that are far more focused on the comedy aspect couldn’t interest me less. A movie like Arachnophobia or Scream? That’s a perfectly balanced ratio of horror:comedy. But when a movie gets too focused on the humor, especially the idiotic humor presented here (and other movies have done it too, such as Nightmare Sisters and Seed of Chucky), I lose all interest.

Seed of Chucky was a terrible movie with very few redeeming factors. I gave it a 2/10, and that’s being generous. Triloquist had no redeeming factors. Nothing. This is one of the worst movies I have ever seen, period.

0/10

This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast. If interested in hearing my outrage, listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this one.

Baby Blues (2008)

Directed by Lars Jacobson [Other horror films: N/A] & Amardeep Kaleka [Other horror films: N/A]

Often considered one of the more disturbing horror films made in recent times, Baby Blues is certainly a memorable film. It may not provide the most fun you’ve had while watching a movie, but no one can say that Baby Blues is forgettable.

The story, revolving around a mother who, due to mental issues, goes after her children to kill them, is pretty disturbing. And that’s basically the movie – at around 80 minutes, there’s not a whole lot to it, but don’t let that fool you into thinking the movie’s any less tense.

I don’t know any of the actors from the film, but there wasn’t one that negatively stood out. Colleen Porch did great as the insane mother, and boy, did she ever seem like she utterly lost it. It wasn’t even clear if she realized she was killing her children, or if she thought she was simply ‘punishing’ them. Fantastic performance from her. Ridge Canipe, playing the central character and one of the kids, did a great job for a child performer. Joel Bryant and Gene Whitman also did good jobs, Whitman in particular playing a character I really liked.

There’s certainly some shocking violence in the film which goes beyond just the mother going after her children with a pitchfork. There’s multiple impalements, painful-looking cuts by butcher knife, and plenty of violence, none of it over-the-top, to keep you going. Because much of it is a mother inflicting such pain onto her children, it can be a bit much for some people, but it’s done pretty well.

This is a somewhat controversial film, and I know that there are some that are decidedly against the idea of this movie, and some even who refuse to watch it, calling it ‘tasteless.’ I’m not a mother, nor a parent of any kind, but it’s certainly everyone’s right to refuse to watch something they’ve no interest in. They’re missing out, though, because Baby Blues does a very good job with what they had, being a lower-budget, straight-to-video film, and while the content can be hard to sit through, I definitely recommend it.

8/10

And as an extra feature, a friend and I covered this on a podcast I do with Fight Evil, which you can listen to below:

And if you’re wondering, my friend Chucky (you can follow him at @ChuckyFE) is the one doing the introduction. I’m the awkward guy he’s speaking to.

Day of the Dead (2008)

Day of the Dead

Directed by Steve Miner [Other horror films: Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981), Friday the 13th Part III (1982), House (1985), Warlock (1989), Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998), Lake Placid (1999)]

Oh joy. Another zombie movie. As a slasher fan, I don’t have an issue with some derivative plots, but zombie films take it to another level. There’s virtually nothing about this film that’s unique or worth seeing, and I just wasn’t feeling it.

None of which is to say the movie’s particularly atrocious, it’s just overly generic. The movie’s done in a serious manner, which is a bit of a relief, but at the same time, as the story doesn’t add anything all that special, it doesn’t really amount to much.

Only a handful of cast members really stood out to me, such as Mena Suvari (who played Heather in the American Pie movies) and Ving Rhames (though he wasn’t in the film for that long). Nick Cannon did okay, and probably had some of the better lines, while Ian McNeice (who appeared a bit in Doctor Who) was fun also. Most everyone else ranged from generic to bad, such as Matt Rippy, AnnaLynne McCord (who later starred in Excision), Michael Welch, and Stark Sands.

The special effects ranged from bad to awful. At worst, they were completely forgettable. There was, of course, some gore, but despite just having finished the movie, I can’t think of any particularly sequence that stood out at all. I guess zombies bit someone – that’s some solid gore, right?

In all honesty, this is just one of those generic zombie movies in which it’s hard to isolate all that much worth saying. It pales in comparison to the original Day of the Dead, which I didn’t even personally love. I didn’t care for what they did with the Bud zombie here, and overall, while the story is fine, with a twist (although if it surprised anyone, I’ll eat my shorts) thrown in, it’s utterly forgettable.

Also, a zombie popped up in the final millisecond and growled at the camera. I always love it when there’s a jump scare for the audience which has zero impact on the story being told. Great stuff. A+. Just kidding. This movie isn’t the worst zombie movie out there, but there’s literally no point to it, which is a damn shame, as it’s directed by Steve Miner, who directed classics such as Friday the 13th Part 2 and 3, House and Lake Placid. There’s no magic here, though.

5/10

Cloverfield (2008)

Cloverfield

Directed by Matt Reeves [Other horror films: Future Shock (1994, segment ‘Mr. Petrified Forrest’), Let Me In (2010)]

I saw Cloverfield many years back, and didn’t remember much about it. It’s pretty clear why, as this film isn’t really that far removed from a multitude of other found footage flicks. It is, however, quite a step above them in some ways.

This is an action-packed film – trucks being thrown around, buildings crashing down, plenty of military firepower being utilized. It was chaotic, which is what this movie did amazingly well – it caught the chaos of this terrifying attack beautifully. Is it a bit annoying that often things aren’t in focus and multiple characters are speaking at once, creating a mostly unintelligible babble of sound? Very much so, but that is realistic. The chaos here was intense, and this movie got it down pat.

Most of the performances here were fine. I personally liked both Michael Stahl-David and Lizzy Caplan. I couldn’t stand T.J. Miller, though. I get that different people react to wild situations in different ways, but Miller’s character drove me up the wall. His flippant commentary at times just felt utterly bewildering given the grim situation they were in. This isn’t to say people wouldn’t want to lighten the mood, but can’t that guy ever shut up?

Somewhat related, the first 18 minutes of the film are pretty much utterly mind-numbing. It does somewhat set up the characters we follow around for the next hour, but it could have been cut down by at least six, seven minutes. As soon as the first earthquake-type event happened, everything picked up nicely, though.

I enjoyed the design of the monster, at least what we saw of it, and though I’d like to have some kind of origin to tie with it, I get entirely why there wasn’t one presented. My one gripe is that the spider/crab creatures (seemingly parasites created by the main creature) seemed way too similar to the spiders in The Mist, which came out just a year earlier. Luckily, they weren’t used that often, but really, this did feel, at times, like a found footage version of The Mist, which sort of hampered the film a bit.

Found footage isn’t a style of horror that’s often done well. Sure, there’s good films out there, such as [Rec] and As Above, So Below, but more often than not, found footage seems to be the cheap go-to style for amateurish film-makers, and they flood the horror genre. Cloverfield manages to catch the chaos, though, that few of these movies seem to do, and so while I don’t love the movie, and I find Miller irksome beyond belief, this is a decent flick to put on to pass the night away.

7/10

Ghost Voyage (2008)

Ghost Voyage
A poster that far surpasses the movie, example A

Directed by James Oxford [Other horror films: N/A]

Unfortunately, this television movie is little better now than when I last saw it many years back.

The biggest problem with this movie is that literally within the first two minutes of the film, you can guess what the plot twist is going to be, and you’d be right. Since the plot twist isn’t officially revealed until an hour and three minutes in, you’re stuck with people getting a lot of clues (and I mean a lot) before they finally figure it out themselves, and meanwhile, you’re bored to death. It doesn’t help that this Sci-Fi movie (yep, this was before that hideous name change) had atrocious special effects.

The gore was a little better than the other special effects, but there wasn’t enough of it to really much positively influence the film. As for most of the special effects, oh boy. Very little here actually looked anything close to resembling good. A lot of terrible effects here, which compliments the generic characters we get.

I won’t talk much about the performances here. The only character I thought was enjoyable, Nicholas Irons played. He wasn’t a great actor, but I liked the character. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa was somewhat fun, but his character was quite bland. Antonio Sabato Jr. was just blah, and leading girl Deanne Russo was terrible.

Ghost Voyage might have some charm if you can take the bad story, bad special effects, and bad ending. Other than that, though, I wouldn’t recommend it. Definitely not one of Sci-Fi’s better efforts.

4/10

The Midnight Meat Train (2008)

Midnight Meat

Directed by Ryûhei Kitamura [Other horror films: Down to Hell (1997), Versus (2000), Alive (2002), Aragami (2003), Gojira: Fainaru uôzu (2004), No One Lives (2012), Downrange (2017), Nightmare Cinema (2018, segment ‘Mashit’)]

It’s been quite some time since I’ve last seen this, probably somewhere around five or six years. From what I recall, I liked it, and upon seeing it again, I think it, by-and-large, holds up.

Based off a short story written by Clive Barker, the plot is decently interesting and captivating. Bradley Cooper made for a solid main character, and both Vinnie Jones and Roger Bart (who I recognized, after a few scenes, from Hostel: Part II), not to mention Leslie Bibb, made good secondary characters. The lore behind the going-ons was interesting also, though I hear that the original story went a little more in depth.

The special effects were mostly solid, and the heavy gore welcome. Some really brutal killings where in this film, and they were quite enjoyable. The epic fight at the end, too, was pretty fun. But it’s in this realm where my main issues with the movie come from, being the use of CGI more than a few times. Some of the killings just looked rather blah due to the CGI use, and while it’s always nice to see more gore, when it’s tainted with CGI, it sticks out pretty noticeably.

Other than that, though, I think the movie’s pretty good. The ending is generally pretty fun, and while at times I do think the pacing could have been tightened up, The Midnight Meat Train is a more-modern film that I think many horror fans would get a kick out of.

8/10