Leprechaun’s Revenge (2012)

Directed by Drew Daywalt [Other horror films: Camera Obscura (2010)]

I’ve seen this movie once before, and seeing it again solidifies my view that it’s a damn fun movie. Worth noting before I get into any of this, Leprechaun’s Revenge was re-named Red Clover for the DVD release, which is a much better title (and less likely to confuse people into thinking it’s related to the Leprechaun series).

Let’s talk about the primary reason the movie’s so fun, being the cast. Billy Zane cracked me up here. I don’t know if it’s just because I’ve seen him in mostly low-budget horror (Memory, Surviving Evil, Vlad, and The Mad), but he doesn’t seem like a great actor. Even so, he has great lines of dialogue (that whole story on his wife), and is fun throughout. William Devane’s character was fun too. Dave Davis and Courtney Halverson’s conversations cracked me up. Halverson, on a side-note, with her red hair and green eyes, was damn attractive.

Azure Parsons’ conversations with Davis cracked me up, along with Karl Herlinger’s conversation with Azure Parsons. These are just fun characters, and they have some ridiculously funny conversations that make it all worth it.

The leprechaun design is okay. It’s a lot different than Warwick Davis’ type of Leprechaun, but that’s for the best. It’s a beast more than anything, using it’s claws and teeth to attack people with gold, which is fun enough (and leads to some okay kills). I did have an issue with the fact it briefly drove a car, but that was just a small scene.

Really, other than the fun characters and the overtly Irish small Massachusetts town, Leprechaun’s Revenge isn’t really that special, but I had a lot of fun with it when seeing it again, so I rate this decently well.

8/10

Haunted High (2012)

Directed by Jeffery Scott Lando [Other horror films: Savage Island (2004), Insecticidal (2005), Alien Incursion (2006), Decoys 2: Alien Seduction (2007), House of Bones (2010), Thirst (2010), Goblin (2010), Boogeyman (2012), Roboshark (2015), Suspension (2015)]

I saw this one once before shortly after it came out, back in October of 2012. As is the case with many Syfy movies, I thought it was rather awful. Seeing it again with a larger frame of reference though (American Horror House came out the same year, for example, and was quite a bit worse than this one), I can accept that while rather poor, I did gleam some amusement from this.

Let’s be honest here: the special effects are almost uniformly terrible, the antagonist is pretty awful (though M.C. Gainey is at least having fun), and it fails on most levels, but with at least some of the corniness and characters, it’s possible to have a fun time.

Most of the acting is about as iffy as you might expect. I certainly liked a few of the actors and actresses here, such as Lauren Pennington, Shawn C. Phillips (who has appeared in many a low-budget horror film), Jonathan Baron, Marc Donato, Danielle Greenup (who also stood out as the most attractive cast-member, in my view), and M.C. Gainey (who was hamming it up at every opportunity, which is a move I don’t think makes sense character-wise, but after reading the script, I can see why Gainey went that way).

The elephant in the room is Danny Trejo, who plays the janitor of this private school, and also knows all about the sinister and Satanic acts going on. Because of course he does. That’s how Trejo do – his character is often just important enough for him to get top billing, and it worked again. Do I have anything against Trejo’s performance here? Not at all. But seeing Trejo pop-up in ridiculous low-budget movies, be it this, 3-Headed Shark Attack, or On Bloody Sunday, just rubs me the wrong way. It doesn’t help that his story here is perhaps the most generic aspect of the movie.

Haunted High, known also as Ghostquake (which I regret to inform you is a term dropped in the movie at one point) is a terrible film, but like some other terrible films, such as the Satan’s School for Girls remake, it can be sort of fun. This is nowhere near as good as Satan’s School for Girls, no matter how much Gainey tries, but I did like it more this time around than when I first saw it, so hey, I guess that counts for something.

6/10

Silent Night (2012)

Directed by Steven C. Miller [Other horror films: Automaton Transfusion (2006), Scream of the Banshee (2011), Under the Bed (2012)]

Sort of a remake-in-name-only (from 1984’s Silent Night, Deadly Night), Silent Night is a decent amount of fun, and includes some memorable characters, decently gory deaths, and a cast that mostly makes things work, along with a light tongue-in-cheek feel.

Malcolm McDowell was great here. I didn’t love his portrayal of Loomis in the Halloween remake, but here, his character was a lot of fun and had some great lines. The over-the-top style he sometimes took brought with it a lot of chuckles, and he definitely outstrips the main character, played by Jaime King (who, it should be noted, still did a fine, and sometimes emotional, job). Otherwise, we have Donal Logue (whom I know best as Detective Bullock in the Gotham series), who is great to see, but doesn’t appear enough, along with Ellen Wong (a familiar face from The Void) and John B. Lowe, who played my second favorite character in the film.

There’s not really as much mystery behind the killer in this film as I sort of wish there was. Oh, people wonder who the killer is, but it’s far from a focus, and the audience finds out via a flashback at the conclusion, so no on-screen characters quite figure it out. The good thing is, though, that Silent Night is heavy on gore, and there are some pretty solid kills here. A few stand out as weak (the electrocution scene, for instance), but others make up for is, such as the flamethrower kill, and the wood-chipper scene.

Like I mentioned, there’s a light tongue-in-cheek feeling throughout the film. I wouldn’t call much of the film outright comedy-horror, but a few scenes definitely caused solid laughter, such as a pre-teen girl cussing out church, or a priest who does all the things priests probably shouldn’t be doing. Even some of McDowell’s lines illicit chuckles, such as his ‘Don’t put avocado on a burger’ talking point. This is not at all like Krampus or Santa’s Slay, but there are some amusing bits spread throughout.

There’s a lot of Christmas-themed horror out there, and a lot I’ve not seen as of yet, but it seems to me that many of them don’t quite hit the mark. Views on this loose remake seem to be mixed, and I suspect that’s partially because, as a slasher, Silent Night doesn’t really add anything into the mix. Even so, it’s a film I’ve had fun with during multiple viewings, and while I’d tweak a few things, Silent Night’s a film I enjoy a decent amount.

8/10

Arachnoquake (2012)

Directed by Griff Furst [Other horror films: I Am Omega (2007), Wolvesbayne (2009), 30 Days to Die (2009), Lake Placid 3 (2010), Maskerade (2011), Swamp Shark (2011), Ghost Shark (2013), Ragin Cajun Redneck Gators (2013), Starve (2014), Cold Moon (2016), Trailer Park Shark (2017), Nightmare Shark (2018)]

When I first saw this one, I was somewhat amused, because unlike other Syfy films that actually try for a more serious tone and epically fail, from the beginning, you could tell that this one knew it was utterly ridiculous. There’s a humorous tone throughout, and that went a long way to make Arachnoquake more enjoyable despite the atrocity of the CGI.

One thing I definitely didn’t care for, though, was Edward Furlong. I didn’t really see much of a point in his character, other than to pad out some additional time. Most other performances were fine (or at least not terrible), but Furlong just rubbed me the wrong way. On the other hand, there were two rather attractive women, Megan Adelle and Olivia Hardt, so it wasn’t all bad. Also nice to see Ethan Phillips (who I definitely recognize, but I can’t figure out from where), and Bug Hall made for a decent leading actor.

The biggest issue with the film is the fact that the spiders don’t look anything like actual spiders, and given the CGI is so bad to begin with, it’s a rather large detriment. Obviously, I don’t think people go into a Syfy movie with high expectations insofar as special effects go, but at the same time, I feel like they definitely could have tried to do a better job with the design. Also, while much of the movie flows at a decent pace, the final twenty minutes were a bit of a grind. If they had found a way to trim out maybe ten minutes, perhaps fifteen, I think that Arachnoquake would probably work a bit better.

As it is, I generally find this film fun. There are some attractive ladies, some amusing lines, and while the special effects were just utterly abysmal, I had fun with the story. Like I said, this is one that I’ve seen before, and though it’s not quite good, I suspect that I wouldn’t have that much hesitation with watching it again.

6/10

True Bloodthirst (2012)

Vampyre

Directed by Todor Chapkanov [Other horror films: Copperhead (2008), Ghost Town (2009), Monsterwolf (2010), Asylum (2014)]

For a Syfy Daybreakers clone, True Bloodthirst (better known as Vampyre Nation) is actually okay. I can’t tell you how surprised I am exactly to be saying that, but it’s true. While there are big problems, such as horrible special effects and moderately forgettable characters, the story itself was unique enough to give the film a bit more heart than I’d have first expected.

From the get-go, the plot is interesting. In a world where the existence of vampires has been found out by the general human population, vampires live in segmented sections of the cities, treated generally as second-class citizens, and due to a synthetic blood, there’s theoretically no need for hostilities between them and the humans.

Of course, that alone might make for an interesting drama, but naturally they threw something into the mix, being tainted synthetic blood that causes the vampires to regress to a much more primal, unsophisticated killing machine, which goes after both humans and vampires. A detective, with the help of both a group of vampire hunters and vampires themselves, tries to figure out what’s going on in order to save human and vampire alike.

Generally, I don’t think I’d like most movies with the plot description above, but this made it work. Admittedly, from a political perspective, I did find it interesting to see how the confirmed existence of vampires would theoretically play out among the human populations on Earth, and the creation of a synthetic blood seems logical in order to keep both sides feeling relatively safe. Of course, one can easily see the vampires as substitutes for either racial or religious minorities, bringing an actual element of contemporary politics into the mix, which I personally found welcomed.

I think the reason that I found myself engaged with the movie’s story, other than that it was pretty intriguing, was that it seemed somewhat well thought out. Elements could have been better fleshed out, of course, but overall, I got the sense of semi-realism. It’d be a legitimate concern of humans that more and more people would chose to transform into vampires (given a much longer life-span), and of course what with not having almost any power, vampires, just by being in the spotlight, are at high risk of danger themselves, especially since humans in powerful positions are more likely to back up vampire hunters than attempt to protect the weaker class (vampires), which all brings a lot of pretty solid points to the forefront.

I didn’t love Neil Jackson as the main character, but I eventually got used to him. More enjoyable was Ben Lambert, playing a vampire, and Heida Reed, who was a bit weak at times, but her character was both fun and had an interesting story. Most everyone else was a bit run-of-the-mill, such as Andrew Lee Potts (playing Harker, one of the vampire hunters, he was a bit over-the-top), Roark Critchlow, and Jonathon Hargreaves (which is a shame, as this is his sole role on IMDb). Bordering pointless, we have Claudia Bassols, who had a generic role with a pretty unnecessary character, so she didn’t really have much of a chance.

Like I said, the special effects were pretty awful. The primal state of a vampire seemed to be a blob with wings, not too dissimilar from a rather strong-looking gargoyle. The blood didn’t do it for me, and aspects of the vampire’s abilities, such as occasional bursts of super-speed, just looked ridiculous. I don’t fault the movie too much for this, given it’s budget limitations, but even so, from a technical standpoint, it was rather amateur.

I’m not overly familiar with director Todor Chapkanov’s other output; I have seen both Copperhead (2008) and Ghost Town (2009). Copperhead was actually a rather enjoyable film, from what I recall, while Ghost Town was more in the forgettable vein (until I rewatch both of these, though, my final judgment will have to wait). He’s behind other horror films of which I’ve seen, but based on what I have, Chapkanov at least seems a competent director with the budget he has. Since most of his work is on Syfy originals, though, it may be worth his while to branch out a bit at some point.

Vampyre Nation (which is the title I saw the film under) definitely had problems, but since I went into it with very low expectations, the fact that it felt as good as it did really skewed with my perceptions. It’s not a great movie, nor is it a good movie, but I could easily see myself watching it sometime in the future, so while it’s below average, Vampyre Nation isn’t disastrously bad, and may perhaps be worth a shot.

6/10

American Horror House (2012)

american horror

Directed by Darin Scott [Other horror films: Dark House (2009), Something Wicked (2014), Deep Blue Sea 2 (2018), Tales from the Hood 2 (2018), Mr. Malevolent (2018), Tales from the Hood 3 (2020)]

So, we have random ghosts with no discernible backstories killing bitchy sorority girls (who are illegally hazing new pledges), and along with this, there are also some dumb fraternity jocks around. Because of course there would be.

I first saw this film back in the 2012 October Challenge for HMF (Horrormoviefans, a forum I’ve been a member of for many years), and I rather disliked it back then also. Really, there’s not that much to say about this Syfy affair. There is occasionally some okay gore, but otherwise, the movie’s void of any pleasant additions and feels overly vapid.

None of the characters, aside from maybe Alessandra Torresani’s, have any value whatsoever. When they get killed, you just find yourself shrugging. Why would I care one way or the other if a sorority clone gets killed? If the kills were more impressive, sure, but this movie can’t really boast that.

Speaking of clones, the ghosts got a bit old. There were more than a handful, but we never really got much a read on any of them, excepting the main ghost, who, *SHOCKER* somehow is still around at the end, and should Syfy ever want to, they have room for a sequel.

As I said, there’s not really a lot to say about this film. It was bad the first time I saw it, and American Horror House does not increase in value over time. It’s just not that enjoyable or good a movie whatsoever. Part of this may be that I see absolutely no value in either frats or sororities. Why would you want to join an organization that abuses and humiliates you? I don’t get it at all. And given how horrible most of these characters are, it makes these people pretty hard to be sympathetic for. Nothing much here, and I wouldn’t recommend this.

4/10

2-Headed Shark Attack (2012)

2 Headed shark

Directed by Christopher Ray [Other horror films: Reptisaurus (2009), Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus (2010), Megaconda (2010), Shark Week (2012), Mega Shark vs. Kolossus (2015), 3-Headed Shark Attack (2015), A House Is Not a Home (2015), Circus Kane (2017), Minutes to Midnight (2018)]

No. Just no.

The problem with some movies is that there are no characters that are interesting or much worth rooting for, no matter how bad their situation. 2-Headed Shark Attack is one of them. What doesn’t help is the hideous CGI, most noticeable during the death sequences. They put the least amount of effort possible into making the CGI passable (and, of course, still managed to fail).

These types of films can occasionally be okay. And this film in particular had, to date, three sequels, so there’s always a chance that one of those might be passable. But there’s no redeemable characters here save one played by David Gallegos, and a bunch of somewhat attractive girls in bikinis doesn’t make up for the fact that the movie and story utterly sucked. Hopefully the series can pick up after this one, as if all four movies are of this quality, I just don’t get the point.

2/10

The Facility (2012)

The Facility

Directed by Ian Clark [Other horror films: N/A]

I have to admit, while this British film is far from perfect (and perhaps a few steps away from being good), I enjoyed it more this time around than when I first saw it.

A lot of this comes from the sort of low-key feel the film takes – no dramatic music, no surprising twists, nothing that modern horror films sometimes have an overreliance on. It felt almost like a documentary at times, and I think that heightened the sense of realism. It helps that this is based off an actual event (the 2006 human trial of Theralizumab), so when the credits at the end say “no one from the company was charged with a crime,” and “none of the fatalities during trial were legally said to be caused by the drugs”, I can give it leeway (as I generally hate that type of thing).

There were quite a few decent performances here, but the ones that stood out most were Alex Reid (known due her appearance in The Descent), Nia Roberts, Steve Evets, and Aneurin Barnard. None of these individuals blew me away or anything, but they all gave perfectly acceptable performances.

The film does get a bit tiring near the end, especially after a plethora of utterly idiotic decisions made by the characters. It’s a shame, because for the most part, the first half is pretty good. I particularly appreciate the character building by means of showing each of them getting their shot (some of which are placebos) to officially start off the trial. Also, the fact that the film is mildly bleak in it’s conclusion (the corporation, of course, faces no legal ramifications for their actions) made the realism even more apparent.

Like I said, I did enjoy this British flick more than when I last saw it, and while I don’t love it, I could see myself giving it even another viewing in the future.

7/10

Black Rock (2012)

Black Rock

Directed by Katie Aselton [Other horror films: N/A]

This movie doesn’t have a lot going on, really – six total characters, and really, only five get all that much screen-time. It felt like a cheaper version of Eden Lake, more or less.

While at first I didn’t know where the story was going, once the catalyst to the action occurred, everything afterward was pretty predictable. The gore was decent, more on the realistic side as opposed to a splatter film.

What was really the strong point of the movie was the friendship, somewhat strained, between the three main female friends. While the dialogue can sometimes feel like a bit much, I thought it worked out well, and the actresses all did a decently good job (Kate Bosworth being my favorite, as I also enjoyed her performance in 2008’s crime/drama movie 21). For most of the beginning, it felt like a real friendship, and to me, they seemed to talk like real people, which isn’t something that is always seen in movies.

Past a certain point, though, things drag a bit, which is saying something, as the film’s under 80 minutes. It starts out decently strong, but peters out about twenty minutes in or so. All-in-all, Black Rock’s not a bad movie, but in the end, it feels rather more average than I’d have preferred. An okay viewing the first time around, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it again, as it’s just far more predictable than I’d have hoped for, and drags rather badly at times.

6.5/10

Siodmak (2012)

Siodmak o

Directed by Nicholas Ortiz [Other horror films: N/A]

This came as a surprise on a few different levels. Firstly, I was amazed I could find the film at all – on IMDb, it had just seven ratings [Edit: it now has nine, so it hasn’t moved much], which doesn’t generally an easy find make. But seconds later, boom – it’s on YouTube, put up by the production company. Needless to say, I was pleased.

Siodmak is a simple story, but told in a more complex way. A serial killer has been hunting in New York City for decades, and the only one who believes in his existence is a video blogger, Nick LaRosa, whom no one takes seriously. But with the help of NYPD officer Angel Vega, who has had a tragic run-in with the serial killer, they soon discover some things weren’t meant to be pried into. This is interspersed with scenes a day later, after the events that transpired, and focus on a medical examiner’s examination of the killer, and learning about what brought him here. It’s a more unique way to tell the story, and overall, I think it worked.

While the production was low, I think that most scenes were shot pretty well, and some in unique ways (a sequence near the end, with a reddish-auburn tint, comes to mind). As far as actors go, Masha Mendieta (Vega), Kit Lang (LaRosa), Russell Jordan (Dr. Feliz, Vega’s psychiatrist), Krista Chandlee (the medical examiner), Madison Idoate Candelario (Vega’s niece), and Michael Valentine (the killer) all stood out, doing a solid job.

Jordan, as the psychiatrist, had an almost Colin Salmon-feel to him. Mendieta and Lang, despite their short screen time together, really worked well, and had some of those small human elements that sometimes go amiss in bigger budget films. The killer, known as the New York Ripper, had a Michael Myers aura to him, helped by his featureless mask, which I rather enjoyed.

The music present was decent also – near the end, a record player can be heard playing hits such as “I Wanna Be Loved By You” (famously lip synced by Baby in House of 1000 Corpses) and “Hush, Hush, Hush (Here Comes The Boogie Man)” (from the credits of Jeepers Creepers), which was a nice touch.

For as much as I liked it, though, a few problems need be addressed, one being the run-time. Siodmak is one hour and fifty minutes long (or 110 minutes) – it’s not a short movie, easy to digest. Siodmak makes you work for it. Many of the scenes are interesting, but after the third flashback or the finale taking the last thirty-five minutes, it might come across as a bit much.

There were also a few unanswered questions, not to mention what came across to me as a Hollywood ending which I was both disappointed but somewhat unsurprised by. A few audio issues were present, but that wasn’t that much a deterrent. For what gore there was, I thought it was decent, though the focus of Siodmak wasn’t gore, but the story told.

This movie was an interesting find. Was it an amazing movie? Not really. The story, while told in an interesting manner, wasn’t overly original. That said, Siodmak is one lower-budget film that should have gotten more attention. Some surprising kills also stand out, a few I certainly wasn’t expecting. It’s a decent, above-average film, if you can get through the lengthy run-time.

7.5/10