Evil Dead (2013)

Directed by Fede Alvarez [Other horror films: Don’t Breathe (2016)]

This remake/soft reboot/re-imagining (however you wish to describe it) certainly ups the ante from the original film, but much like how I’ve never found The Evil Dead all that amazing, I’m likewise lukewarm to this rendition.

No doubt the gore here is noteworthy. What with electric knives cutting arms off, or faces getting peeled off, or tongues getting halved with box cutters, or any of the other various brutal scenes within, Evil Dead has the goods as far as gore’s concerned. It literally rains blood toward the end, so it’s not necessarily a movie for the queasy.

And all of that’s good-and-well, but that doesn’t make me any more a fan of the story. Personally, I’ve never found possession all that interesting. More than anything, when someone becomes demonically possessed, I just get annoyed that their friends and family keep getting fooled by their innocent acts after demonstrating utterly inhuman abilities.

That happens here, too, multiple times. I get it, Shiloh Fernandez’s character wants to believe the best of his sister, played by Jane Levy (Don’t Breathe), but come on, after some of the stuff that the demon does, get it through your head that it’s no longer your sister and do what needs to be done. Stuff like that just always aggravated me, and as such, Fernandez’s character didn’t leave much a positive impression.

Actually, the only one here I really liked was Lou Taylor Pucci. His character made mistakes now and again, but it’s through him we got most of the lore, so I definitely appreciate what he brought to the table. Jane Levy wasn’t bad, by any means, but for most of the film, she was a demon, so we don’t really get to spend that much time with her.

I guess the big issue is that I’ve never been a big fan of The Evil Dead series. I enjoy the second well enough, but the first and Army of Darkness aren’t really my cup of tea. No doubt the atmosphere of the original is decent, and this film itself does have a pretty epic finale, but possession-themed flicks aren’t my go-to when it comes to horror.

Evil Dead isn’t a bad movie due to this – I think it did enough right to satisfy many watching it. The setting (desolate cabin) and some prop pieces (especially that book, which looked hella hip, as the kids say) were commendable, but I did find the movie a bit below average, and that one-second post-credit scene with Bruce Campbell? Pointless.

All-in-all, the movie’s fine, with a decent amount of gore it can boast about. I’d just rather watch so many other things, personally.


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

The Purge (2013)

Directed by James DeMonaco [Other horror films: The Purge: Anarchy (2014), The Purge: Election Year (2016)]

I wasn’t that big a fan of this the first time I saw it, and in many ways, it’s not that far removed from a generic home invasion flick, but I still found myself enjoying it more than some years back when I first saw it. I’d never call The Purge great, but I think it’s decent.

The cast here is surprisingly solid. Ethan Hawke (Sinister) was thrown into a pretty interesting role of a father trying to protect his family. Lena Headey (Game of Thrones) actually got some sympathy from me, which was nice. Adelaide Kane was quite attractive, which was a nice plus. Though maybe a little over-the-top, Rhys Wakefield was pretty fun (and psychopathic) in his role too.

What is most interesting about The Purge is the Purge itself, an annual event in the U.S.A. in which all crime is legalized in order to ‘purge’ the hatred and violence in the citizens, giving them an outlet for their desires. Otherwise, crime is low, and society is generally happy, including Hawke’s family, who are quite wealthy due to his business in selling security systems. Because they’re wealthy and have little chance of being impacted, Hawke’s character fully supports the Purge, despite not participating himself.

It’s a very barbaric idea wrapped up in psychology and good policy. The rich going around and killing the poor (physically, as opposed to how they do it in our actual society) is certainly somewhat a political statement, and this movie was interesting for that aspect alone. The dialogue of Wakefield made it quite clear that he thought the homeless were only there to be purged, which is an unique point-of-view, not to mention arrogantly self-centered (but we’re talking about the wealthy here, so I’m repeating myself).

Obviously, I think The Strangers had a lot of influence on this one, from the whole home invasion thing to the creepy masks the multitude of killers wear. Now, I actually like this a bit more than The Strangers, because the whole Purge element, while pretty ludicrous, is still something that’s on the unique side of things (and also, given it’s government-sanctioned, adds an extra element to it). I wasn’t a big fan of The Strangers anyway, so while this isn’t necessarily a whole lot better in terms of home invasion (though it is, to the extent that we have a family here while in The Strangers was a soon-to-be-broken up couple), I do find The Purge better.

There’s some violence here, but none of it is really over the top, and while we do see some knives and machetes, much of the violence is via firearms, giving a much more action feel to this film than a horror one. Make no mistake, the movie’s still horror, but don’t be surprised if you feel like you tuned into Die Hard at times.

The Purge isn’t a great movie, but I do think it’s decent, and reasonably entertaining with a strong cast and interesting moral issues that aren’t generally present in other home invasion flicks, which alone gives it a slight edge.


Mama (2013)

Directed by Andy Muschietti [Other horror films: It (2017), It Chapter Two (2019)]

This isn’t a film I had much interest in seeing, but given it’s directed by Andy Muschietti (who later went on to do It Chapters 1 and 2), I was holding out hope that it could transcend the typical Hollywood ghost story. As it turns out, while there were a few things in Mama to enjoy, it wasn’t really able to do that.

Off the bat, the first thing I noticed was Nikolaj Coster-Waldau was one of the stars. Now, I know him only from Game of Thrones, but I still thought it was sort of cool seeing him here. Jessica Chastain I know only from the aforementioned It Chapter 2, and she was pretty good here also. I really liked her punk look, and the fact that she was thrown into the role of a mother was pretty heart-wrenching. I really liked Coster-Waldau and Chastain together – they made a cute couple here, only to be ruined by the children, though Megan Charpentier, who played the older kid, was pretty decent.

The only other character that really made an impact (aside from Mama, of course) was Dr. Dreyfuss (played by Daniel Kash). It’s through him that we, the audience, discover the story behind Edith, the woman who becomes the ghostly Mama. Her story isn’t without interest or tragedy, but to be blunt, I didn’t find myself caring that much.

There is a really solid scene about thirty minutes into the film, where the camera shows both the hallway and the kid’s room, and something happens there that I thought was pretty cool. It was expected, no doubt, but I still liked the execution. I bring that up because otherwise, I didn’t think there were that many noteworthy things in the film. There was an okay dream sequence, and the emotional ending was solid, but otherwise, it was just generic ghost movie #1523.

Mama had potential, and I wish the final product was better. The design for Mama wasn’t great, in my opinion, but what helped the film avoid a worse rating was the feeling the film occasionally possessed. Seeing Charpentier slowly warm up to Chastain’s character was nice, and the ending, like I said, packed a decently emotional punch. Mama isn’t a great movie, and I do think it’s below average, but I could probably see myself giving it another go in the future, and perhaps if I’m in a better mood, the movie will come out slightly more enjoyable.


Dark Skies (2013)

Directed by Scott Stewart [Other horror films: Legion (2010), Priest (2011), Holidays (2016, segment ‘Christmas’)]

I knew next to nothing about Dark Skies before starting it, and that probably worked in it’s benefit. For much of the film, it’s a slow-burn, and though I saw the ending coming a mile away, I do like the way this movie approached the finale.

The main family cast were all decent. Josh Hamiliton (who I swear I must recognize from a miniseries he was in called The ‘60’s) was my favorite, but Keri Russell (who played his wife) was great too. The two kids, Dakata Goyo and Kadan Rockett, were as okay as young actors are, and though neither were great, I had no issues with them.

It’s the story more than the performances that’s of interest here, what with a lot of mysterious things going on around the house and no one in the family has any idea what’s going on, giving the movie a very Poltergeist-like feel (including a similar kitchen scene, now that I mention it). It’s a slow-burn, yes, but it’s interesting in the moment and worth the wait, so everything worked out well.

Dark Skies is a movie that I think works best without preconceptions. I knew one thing about this movie going in, and that shaped a lot of the thoughts I had about how the film would progress, but I was entirely wrong (which was amusingly somewhat lampshaded by J.K. Simmons’ character in the movie). Once I knew where this was going, I was both surprised and impressed, which pretty much covers my feelings on this one. Certainly a movie worth checking out if you’ve passed over it in the past.


Sharknado (2013)

Directed by Anthony C. Ferrante [Other horror films: Boo (2005), Headless Horseman (2007), Hansel & Gretel (2013), Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014), Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! (2015), Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens (2016), Forgotten Evil (2017), Sharknado 5: Global Swarming (2017), The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time (2018), Zombie Tidal Wave (2019)]

Well, The Asylum comes out swinging with the beginning of one of the most ridiculous franchises imaginable, Sharknado. Honestly, the film is sort of fun, but in that rather awful way you come to expect from Syfy atrocities. I’ve seen this once before, and God forgive me, I’ll probably see it again, but the movie isn’t at all good, as many would expect.

There are a few strong cast members, though. I’m not a giant fan of the main character, played by Ian Ziering, but I did like both Cassandra Scerbo and Jason Simmons. I don’t know Simmons from anything else, but Scerbo starred in another rather awful Syfy flick titled Bering Sea Beast. She’s a fun addition here, and along with Simmons, makes Sharknado worth watching. I will admit, though, I do like Ziering’s character, if not the actor, especially during his more heroic portions.

Of course, the special effects here are just really awful. So is the plot. And so is mostly everything. Sharknado’s strength lies in the fact that, beneath what a mess the film is, you can certainly have fun with the film if you’re so inclined, and I’ve apparently been inclined both times I’ve seen this.

I can’t speak for any of the many sequels (to date, there are five following this one), but I can say that I enjoyed this one to an extent, and though I’ve rated it somewhat lowly, I don’t have any really big issue watching this again in the future. It’s far from a good movie, but as I have fun watching it, how much does that really matter?


This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast – if interested, listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss Sharknado.

Bering Sea Beast (2013)

Directed by Don E. FauntLeRoy [Other horror films: Anaconda: Offspring (2008), Anacondas 4: Trail of Blood (2009), SnakeHead Swamp (2014), Gates of Darkness (2019)]

Another true modern-day classic from Syfy. Also known as Beast of the Bering Sea, Bering Sea Beast is about what you’d expect from Syfy – underwhelming story, utterly atrocious special effects and CGI, and a hollow feel.

As such, there’s still enjoyment to be had here, coming from a combination of the less-than-stellar performances and just terrible CGI ‘sea vampires.’ Words probably exist to describe how bad these creatures look, but I don’t have them. Do yourself a solid and just look them up, and you’ll see (and because I believe in making life easier, the picture above should help out). These elements, which alone further cement Bering Sea Beast as terrible, come together majestically to create the final product.

I actually sort of liked one of the main characters, played by Cassandra Scerbo (who is likely most well-known for her role in the Sharknado films). Scerbo’s acting here is very questionable at times (her line delivery, to be exact, really faltered a time or two, causing one scene in particular to be worthy of a few rewinds), but her character had spunk, and was perhaps the most fun here. Brandon Beemer did fine for a generic, somewhat dull lead, while Jaqueline Fleming did rather better as a helpful marine biologist (though boy, did her character make a few idiotic mistakes).

Honestly, if you can get past terrible CGI (and if you’re watching a Syfy movie, you probably can), Bering Sea Beast can be a perfectly enjoyable time for all the wrong reasons. Wrong reasons or not, having seen this one twice now (once in 2017, and now again in 2019, at the time of this writing), I find the movie somewhat amusing, and while it’s certainly a below average film, I could see myself turning to it a third time in the future.


Zombie Night (2013)

Directed by John Gulager [Other horror films: Feast (2005), Feast II: Sloppy Seconds (2008), Feast III: The Happy Finish (2009), Piranha 3DD (2012), Children of the Corn: Runaway (2018)]

The Asylum strikes again, and while Zombie Night isn’t necessarily as bad as much of their output, it’s definitely rather generic and as run-of-the-mill as you might expect from a modern-day zombie flick.

Truthfully, I’ve always thought that more than any other subgenre of horror, zombies are the most difficult to keep consistently engaging. How many zombie movies have a group of people banding together to survive a zombie attack, and that’s virtually it? From Doomed to Consume (2006) to Remains (2011), from Day of the Dead (2008) to Isle of the Dead (2016), Zombie Apocalypse (2011), Dead Season (2012) and Zombie Women of Satan (2009), there’s so many bad and generic zombie films out there to make the genre virtually pointless.

Obviously, there have been some well-deserved successes, and those films almost exclusively add something different to the experience. Technically, Zombie Night sort of tries the same thing, as apparently the zombies are only active at night (during the day, they’re just harmless corpses), but that’s not really enough when everything else in the movie has been done to death (pun intended).

There are so many idiotic character choices in the movie, it gets really hard to feel sympathy for any of them. Have an older, blind mother? Leave her in the basement alone without company, I’m sure that won’t freak her out at all. Have a family member about to turn? Just refuse to shoot them, I’m sure that they’ll take your feelings into consideration and stay dead. Want a great place to hide? Try a greenhouse, you know, one of those structures made mainly of transparent glass that, you know, cracks. Even if the greenhouse was stormproof, you really think having a mass of bodies pushing against the glass isn’t eventually going to cause the structure to give? Oh, and instead of letting a babysitter go home to her family, lock her up in one of the rooms, I’m sure that’ll work out.

Of course, it didn’t, and a zombie broke in, killed her, and then all hell breaks loose, not that it matters, because most of the characters utterly suck. I sort of appreciate Anthony Michael Hall’s character, and Rachel G. Fox was sort of cute, in an emo way, which gave us a little something, but otherwise, no other performance (including Daryl Hannah) do that much for me.

It doesn’t really matter, because with a movie this generic, it’s really hard to stand out. Certainly, I was a bit more invested in this movie than, say, Day of the Dead (2008), and generally, I thought the movie was a little better (the fact that no origin was given for the zombies was somewhat refreshing, as opposed to some ham-fisted explanation twist at the end), but it’s still pretty pointless. For a zombie movie, you could definitely do much worse than Zombie Night, but I don’t think this movie has a whole lot to offer overall.


The Green Inferno (2013)

The Green Inferno

Directed by Eli Roth [Other horror films: Cabin Fever (2002), Hostel (2005), Hostel: Part II (2007), Knock Knock (2015)]

His first horror movie since Hostel: Part II, Eli Roth, with this film, writes a love-letter of sorts to the classic 70’s and 80’s Italian cannibal flicks. At times, The Green Inferno is deeply uncomfortable, undeniably brutal, and genuinely horrifying, yet it’s kept back from being a truly great film due to the somewhat anticlimactic conclusion.

While I won’t say that I was an activist when at college, I did participate in a handful of demonstrations and most memorably, in an anti-Guantanamo Bay protest, so it was interesting seeing such activities from a different perspective (Sky Ferreira’s nihilism and glib references to tear-gassing protesters was pretty disturbing, on a side-note). Seeing a naive freshman getting wrapped up in an activist group, then seeing her utterly broken throughout the course of the film, was both depressing but well-done.

It helps that Lorenza Izzo was able to pull-off the innocent, idealistic college kid look. She generally had a pretty strong and emotional performance. Eusebio Arenas was okay as slight comedic relief, but didn’t really fit in with the vibe I was otherwise getting from the film. Perhaps my favorite actor here was Nicolás Martínez, who, despite definitely not looking like a college student, had a particularly strong presence (and was one of the few truly good characters here). On the flip-side, Ariel Levy did well playing the scumbag leader of the activist group – past a certain point, nothing his character did was worth applauding, but he played the type well.

The Green Inferno does take a little while to get to the point, and it’s something like 45 minutes into the movie until things really get bad. I can imagine that bothering some people, but I was actually pretty interested from the get-go, and the protest scene after they get to Peru was damn tense, which only escalated over the following twenty minutes.

Which leads to the gore. Personally, I was somewhat taken aback by just how graphic one of the scenes was (which including both dismemberment and the messy removal of eyeballs), and when I first saw that scene, I admit I was disturbed. I watched it a few additional times, and it still positively stands out. The unfortunate thing is that no other scene even comes close to that level of brutality. There’s a very uncomfortable scene à la female genital mutilation, but it’s not particularly graphic. Other scenes, such as one when a man is fed to ants while on a pole, didn’t really work that well (in that case, it was due to the somewhat bad-looking CGI ants).

Generally speaking, though, I think the gore here, while limited, was very solid when it showed up, and I’d daresay that it probably beats out any competing scene from the Hostel films. I just sort of wish there was more of it.

As it is, the conclusion was somewhat lackluster. I was expecting a bit more of a downer ending, which I wouldn’t have loved, but what we got didn’t really do it for me either, especially when they added in an utterly unnecessary dream sequence (it was short, at least). The post-credits scene, too, felt a bit much, and if they’re setting up for a potential sequel, I don’t think that would be all that great. Lastly, the marijuana scene was just a bit too ridiculous, and I definitely wish they had come up with a better idea than what they did.

When everything is said-and-done, I think The Green Inferno is a solid exploitation flick reminiscent of Man from Deep River (originally Il paese del sesso selvaggio) and Jungle Holocaust (Ultimo mondo cannibale). The gore is great when it’s present, and I can imagine some people thinking it a bit much. It’s not an amazing movie, but I do find it a little above average, and if you’re a gore-hound, or a fan of the classic cannibal movies, perhaps worth a watch.


Vampire Ticks from Outer Space (2013)

vampire ticks of

Directed by Michael Butt [Other horror films: Yetis (2012), This Woods Is Cursed (2015), This Book Is Cursed (2017)]

This is a low-budget, low-quality, ridiculous film, yet at the same time, I’ve not had this much fun in a while.

In many ways, this low-budget film (apparently, the budget was around $700) seems a love-letter to the B-movies of the past, such as Attack of the Giant Leeches (and I will say, this movie had a lot more feeling than the 2008 remake of that very title). It has questionable, yet fun, acting, a paper-thin plot, and special effects that maybe aren’t that special. I will say, the blood in particular looked bad (basically just water dyed red most of the time; it was that thin), but really, in a movie like this, I don’t see how that’s a big problem.

As far as actors go, I pretty much liked everyone. Most of them were horrible, which brought a lot of charm. I loved it when some of them couldn’t keep a straight face, and one of them couldn’t help but smirk every time he was on-screen, which was especially funny when another actress actually got into her role, and kept crying. Terrible acting, and I loved it. My favorite was Charley Guaren, who was the opening kill. His over-the-top attitude, his lines, his delivery, everything about him, I absolutely loved. I just wish he had gotten more screen-time.

The movie ends on a somewhat serious note. While the credits are running, it shows interviews with people who believe they’ve seen UFO’s. These look authentic to an earlier time period, and if I had to bet, I’d say wherever the director got them, they’re probably real interviews. Just a small touch that felt slightly out of place, but was cool regardless.

Toward the end, there was a small element of the film I didn’t care for, but it shortly led to a really interesting conclusion, one that a big-budget film likely wouldn’t have the balls to pull off (mostly because it’s so damn ridiculous). Still, I thought it was a lot of fun, and really helped cement the feeling of the movie.

No doubt, Vampire Ticks from Outer Space isn’t an amazing film, but it is both entertaining and amusing. It has that drive-in movie feel, and most everything about it, from the terrible acting to hilarious dialogue/delivery, horrible special effects, and the story, was fun. I had a hoot watching this one, and I would gladly give it another go in the future. When it comes to rating a movie, what matters more than that?


Grave Halloween (2013)

Grave Halloween

Directed by Steven R. Monroe [Other horror films: House of 9 (2005), It Waits (2005), Sasquatch Mountain (2006), Left in Darkness (2006), Ogre (2008), Wyvern (2009), I Spit on Your Grave (2010), Mongolian Death Worm (2010), I Spit on Your Grave 2 (2013), The Exorcism of Molly Hartley (2015)]

I will try to keep this brief, because the longer I dwell on this piece of crap, the more I just want to rate it a 0/10 and get it done with.

What few things does this made-for-TV Syfy movie get right? The forest is a nice setting. Occasionally there’s some decent gore (an okay dismemberment, a good leg-snapping, and a solid impalement). The story had potential. The plot twist, while somewhat pointless, was fine.

Nothing else was.

In typical bad-movie fashion, this was a bad movie. I totally didn’t expect the creepy old man these characters meet early on is actually a ghost. Oh wait, I did. I totally didn’t expect the ending where things look like they’ll be okay, but then the one surviving character finds out ‘IT’S NOT OVER‘. Oh wait, I did.

I don’t mind a few overused tropes now and again, but this movie was just full of dull, uninspired scenes. There was very little original about this film, which might be okay if they had a competent director or a story that had more suspense and less pointless jump scares.

Some occasionally good gore aside, though, I don’t see what value this movie possesses. None of the actors or actresses were necessarily terrible, but no one wowed me either. If you want a bad movie, you might want to check this out. If you want a movie where you basically know where it’s going from the beginning, Grave Halloween may be your flick. If you want a movie of value, though, I’d suggest looking elsewhere.