Tales from the Hood 2 (2018)

Directed by Rusty Cundieff [Other horror films: Tales from the Hood (1995), Mr. Malevolent (2018), Tales from the Hood 3 (2020)] & Darin Scott [Other horror films: Dark House (2009), American Horror House (2012), Something Wicked (2014), Deep Blue Sea 2 (2018), Mr. Malevolent (2018), Tales from the Hood 3 (2020)]

I rather liked the first Tales from the Hood, and in fact, I think it’s probably one of the best horror anthologies of the 1990’s (in truth, competition isn’t that strong). This, though, is rather laughable, and has almost no redeeming attributes. At almost an hour and 50 minutes long, with a pitiful framing sequence, this is just hard to get through.

Comprising of four stories (‘Good Golly’, ‘The Medium’, ‘Date Night’, and ‘The Sacrifice’) and the aforementioned atrocious framing (‘Robo Hell’), only one of these is possibly worth watching, being ‘The Sacrifice’ which is easily the most political and also most reminiscence of the first movie (taking an element or two from ‘KKK Comeuppance’). It’s a bit heavy-handed, what with a black Republican being forced to change his ways by the ghosts of Emmett Till, Medgar Evers, Chanay, Goodman, Schwerner, and, of course, Martin Luther King Jr., but at least it was somewhat interesting, especially with the brief alternate history had those listed not made the sacrifices for the Civil Rights movement they had.

I’m not saying ‘The Sacrifice’ is great, but it is leagues above anything else in this movie. ‘Good Golly’ honestly started out fine, but really quickly went down an utterly idiotic and regrettable route. ‘The Medium’ was entirely generic, and ‘Date Night’ was actively bad.

As a matter of fact, not only was ‘Date Night’ bad (though not near as poor as ‘Good Golly’), it had, what seemed to be, a rather glaring error in it. Two men drug some women with the intent to rape them, and of course, they plan to record it. However, when looking through the viewfinder, they can’t see the women – they’re vampires. All fine so far, but then the women make a video for the men, and – – – the women appear just fine on camera now?

What?

Yeah, it didn’t make any sense. It didn’t make the story worse, as it was already terribly generic, but it was beyond pathetic, which can be said of ‘Robo Hell’, the framing story, in which a racist law-and-order guy wants a story-teller to tell stories to a Robocop-esque robot, so it can properly track down ‘criminals’ and take them out. It’s very fascist, very obviously wrong (I despise conservatives and what they stand for, but very few are as obviously terrible as this guy is), and when the ending comes, it would amaze me if anyone was surprised.

I’m not going to bother about harping on the performances. Some people were fine, such as Lou Beatty Jr.. Others were somewhat pathetic, such as Alexandria DeBerry and Bill Martin Williams. Keith David was no Clarence Williams III. The problem here wasn’t the performances, though, as bad as some of them were – it was the piss-poor stories.

And it’s not like they didn’t have potential. It’s pretty clear from the final product that they had some money and the ability to get some really good camerawork here. I mean, you can’t tell from the opening graphics (which looked utterly terrible, and I can’t even begin to describe how much it made me laugh), and the fact that they briefly showed House on Haunted Hill (public domain for the win, right?) in one of the segments, which never bodes well, but the movie wasn’t near as cheap as other poor horror films.

Which is the most damning thing of all. I’m not going to say this was as bad as Late Fee, which is probably one of the worst anthology horror movies I’ve seen. I will say, though, that it’s a worse movie than Slices, because at least Slices was dealing with a next-to-nothing budget, and it showed. Here, there was clearly a crisp and solid-looking production. It suffered, though, due to the terribly shitty stories, and overall, this just feels like a mockery of the first Tales from the Hood as opposed to a good-faith continuation, which, given the director of the original also worked with this one, is just amazing.

3/10

Snake Outta Compton (2018)

Directed by Hank Braxtan [Other horror films: Evil Deeds 2 (2010, segment ‘The Hebrew Hacker’), Blood Effects (2011), Chemical Peel (2014), Unnatural (2015)]

To quote N.W.A, you are now about to witness the strength of snake knowledge. I’m not trying to mock N.W.A. – that’s how the film starts out.

I know what I was expecting with this one. A bad movie, certainly, but an interesting mixture of generic rappers versus a bunch of snakes. What I wasn’t expecting was a parody film, which is quite a bit of what Snake Outta Compton is, and boy, is it a hard movie to watch.

The snake looked terrible (and yes, it was just a single snake as opposed to a nest), but that really plays no part in just how bad this movie is. I don’t know what was worse – the character Vurkel (a parody of Urkle from Family Matters, complete with the glasses and suspenders) or the characters Denz and Ethan (rip-offs from the 1999 Training Day, starring, you guessed it, Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke). Or the rap battle against the snake.

Yeah, this movie went places that weren’t locations much worthy of a visit.

There are a few meager things about this I liked, though not enough to boast this above the atrocious rating it’s going to get. For one, a few of the rap lines here were decent, my favorite being ‘cold-blooded showman like Frosty the Snowman’, and another one made reference to Godzilla, Mothra, and Ghidorah. Also, Arielle Brachfeld, who played a white girl who did everything possible to act black and thug, was sort of funny. Her character was pretty terrible, but she had heart, and was about the only character (and I do mean only) that was worth anything.

Otherwise, this movie is really cringy. Why they chose a twenty year old action movie to parody, I have no damn idea, but it doesn’t work at all, and the movie was just as terrible as a movie could be. Vurkel’s character arc was awful (by the end, he becomes a part-snake superhero, because of course he does), and overall, this movie was just painful to watch.

I was really hoping for something else when I marked this to record on my DVR. Like I said, I wasn’t expecting anything stellar, but I definitely didn’t see a parody coming, and boy, was this an utter disappointment, almost entirely void of worth. Not something I’d recommend unless you’re high as fuck and want a good time. I wasn’t, and thus, no good time to be had.

1.5/10

6-Headed Shark Attack (2018)

Directed by Mark Atkins [Other horror films: Evil Eyes (2004), Halloween Night (2006), Haunting of Winchester House (2009), Sand Sharks (2012), Alien Origin (2012), Knight of the Dead (2013), A Perfect Vacation (2015), Planet of the Sharks (2016), Empire of the Sharks (2017)]

I think that this is probably the second-worst entry into the [Insert random number here]-Headed Shark series, which is a shame, because as the second film (3-Headed Shark Attack) showed, these movies could almost get sort of close to okay. Here, though, there was little to really watch for.

Are some of the characters okay? Not really. Pretty much, every character here is either generic or disappointingly portrayed. The hippie couple (Chris Fisher and Megan Oberholzer) could have been great, but like everyone else, they just got on my nerves. The one outlier was Jonathan Pienaar, who was so serious (yet over-the-top), he cracked me up. And Nikita Faber was quite attractive, so there’s that.

Also, did you know sharks could walk? Well, they can if they have six heads, because four of the heads can be used as legs, because that works well. The CGI looks great, guys, I promise.

I really don’t know why Syfy bothers with these types of films, but then again, I watched all four of the movies (if they make another one, though, I can’t promise I’ll see it), so what do I know? Pretty pitiful, and were it not for a few okay characters or small bikinis, this wouldn’t be getting the already bad score it is.

3/10

Cherokee Creek (2018)

Directed by Todd Jenkins [Other horror films: N/A]

Sometimes my reviews can go a bit longer than they really need to. For some films, I think it’s worth examining much of the film, from performances to the special effects, and at times, maybe it’s a bit much. I’ll try not to make the same error with Cherokee Creek, though, and the only point I really need to make clear is just how utterly unenjoyable I found this piece of trash.

I honestly thought the film was a joke at first – to me, the film felt so bad, they had to know it was bad, and there was going to be some early reveal about how it was a movie-in-a-movie type situation or something. Alas, that’s not what happens, and the movie kept going and going with these jokes that don’t even approach amusing.

Cherokee Creek is an hour and 56 minutes. We don’t get about any Bigfoot action until about an hour and ten minutes in, and unfortunately, it’s far, far, far, far, far too late to make any positive difference. It’s true that for a lower-budget film, the special effects are good, but damn it, by the time they show up, I wish I were dead already multiple times over. The nudity might have helped out if I was quite a bit younger, but it didn’t do anything for me here. None of the characters were remotely likable, and few of the performances were decent.

If the film had been shorter, the movie still would have been bad, but I will say that, had it been only an hour, the film definitely would have been more digestible and wouldn’t have gotten nearly as low a score. There was an ultra low budget film I saw some time ago called What Happens in the Mountains – Should Stay in the Mountains, a movie that was 40 minutes long and doesn’t even have an IMDb page. That film knew what it was, kept things short, and despite the lower-budget, rather amused me at times.

Cherokee Creek did nothing of the sort. I think I laughed once toward the beginning (with the foul-mouthed old woman), but that was about it.

The movie opens with two of the actors pointing guns at the camera commending the audience for watching the film (providing they paid for it), and went on to comment that if the audience didn’t pay for the film (or pirating it, which is the only way I’d recommend watching this), they’d need to buy it after finishing the film because of how good we’d undeniably find it.

I didn’t pay for this. Luckily, it was uploaded on one of the many streaming sites I use, which is a good thing, as this movie was complete and utter trash. Maybe in the future, I can find the words to explain why, but for now, after having just finished it, I don’t much feel like spending more time on this.

0.5/10

This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast. If you’re interested in checking out Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discussing this one, check it out below.

Slender Man (2018)

Directed by Sylvain White [Other horror films: I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer (2006)]

Slender Man surprised me a bit. I definitely wasn’t expecting much, especially after seeing the low rating of 3.2/10 on IMDb, but for a good chunk of the movie, I thought there was definite potential. It’s with the second half of the film, though, that this is all flushed down the toilet and instead we’re left with jump scare after jump scare (assuming you can make out what’s going on), along with some pretty bad CGI. In a way, though, I’m in the unenviable position of feeling I need to defend this.

I didn’t think the main performances were particularly bad, but I also don’t think they were that memorable. Joey King was perhaps the best here, but Julia Goldani Telles, Annalise Basso (who is utterly smoking here) and Taylor Richardson all do reasonably. I didn’t see the point in Alex Fitzalan’s character, but I guess he did okay also.

What starts somewhat decently, especially regarding the mystery of one of the girls’ disappearance, turns into a really generic and jump scare-filled movie, and what tops it off to make it worse is that it has that glossy Hollywood look that just gives Slender Man such a tame feel.

Does the Slender Man design generally look fine? Sure. The CGI is really spotty at points, but the Slender Man himself wasn’t God-awful. It’s most of the other effects that fail, such as a few wild dream sequences, little of which looked appealing in any way.

Had they gone a different route, I think this could have been decent. I didn’t love the story past a certain point, but I did mostly like the characters, so with the budget they had, it’s just sad they couldn’t have come up with something better. At the same time, I don’t think Slender Man is near as bad as some of the ratings seem to indicate. I don’t think it’s good, but to me, it falls much closer to forgettable than it does memorably awful.

5.5/10

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

Karma (2018)

karrma

Directed by Nick Simon [Other horror films: Removal (2010), The Girl in the Photographs (2015), 2 Lava 2 Lantula! (2016), Truth or Dare (2017), Untitled Horror Movie (2021)]

For a Syfy release, Karma’s okay. It’s not particularly good, and I suspect it won’t be particularly memorable in the months to come, or even weeks, but it’s nowhere near as bad as other Syfy films such as Dead in the Water and Grave Halloween.

Story-wise, it reminded me a bit of It Follows, where, instead of a dark force following someone after sex, it follows them after they commit a terrible act. It’s not really original, but I liked some aspects of what Karma tried to do with it, though, and this perhaps wouldn’t come as much a surprise, the jumps struck me as mostly unnecessary.

When it comes to concerns, there are quite a few that Karma poses. For instance, only three of the performances in the film really stand out (being Tim Russ, despite his horrible character, Mandela Van Peebles, and Brytni Sarpy, who was also in the likewise unmemorable 2017 Syfy flick Truth or Dare). None of the other actors and actresses do particularly bad, but they’re just sort of there. And much could be said for the story itself – like I said, I enjoyed some of the aspects (such as Peebles’ attempts at removing the curse from himself during a feel-good montage), but ultimately, Karma felt pretty bland.

Once everything’s said and done, that’s the biggest problem with the movie – it was completely unremarkable. It did boast one death sequence I rather enjoyed (involving a saw blade and a hammer, in a very Final Destination fashion), so it wasn’t completely without gore, but generally, there was little of interest here, and the conclusion felt a bit off, along with being somewhat anticlimactic.

Syfy has so many better movies, such as House of Bones (2010), Neverknock (2017), Cucuy: The Boogeyman (2018), and even Stickman (2017). Karma isn’t the worse that they’ve done, but it is both tepid and ultimately forgettable, which is the main issue. I’d pass on this one.

5.5/10

You Might Be the Killer (2018)

Poster

Directed by Brett Simmons [Other horror films: Husk (2011), The Monkey’s Paw (2013), Animal (2014), Chilling Visions: 5 States of Fear (2014)]

For a modern-day slasher, this was refreshingly innovative and ultimately a pretty fun take on what generally is a far too played out story.

Told in a non-linear narrative, much of it in flashback with a framing sequence, this comedy-horror mix was pretty fun. While laugh out loud moments weren’t really all that common, the humor here was still pretty enjoyable, and there was enough decent gore, though not the focus, to also keep slasher fans happy.

The structure of the narrative ends up making the film not only more unique, but more memorable also. I enjoyed how the beginning was told via flashback, but then we sort of caught up to the present, and went from there. It helped greatly with Alyson Hannigan’s inactive role, and gave her, despite lack of action, a lot to contribute.

Of course, Hannigan’s presence is perhaps one of the reasons this movie’s gotten more attention than it otherwise might have. Hannigan does great here, and while I basically only know her from the American Pie movies (I’ve never seen any How I Met Your Mother), I think she gave a great performance. As a lead, Franz Kranz (Marty the stoner from The Cabin in the Woods) was fantastic also, and brought a fun performance to the film. Brittany S. Hall and Jenna Harvey did well also, Harvey especially as the innocent, final-girl type.

At times, the humor was a bit much, such as the final few seconds, but even that was foreshadowed, so it didn’t come across nearly as bad as it otherwise would have. Really, for a modern-day horror-comedy, this was a pretty solid mix without the comedy coming across as either overbearing or too still, which was sort of nice.

The director of this film, Brett Simmons, also directed a flick called Husk from 2011, which had been one of the few scarecrow horror films I’ve found worth watching (along with the more classic Dark Night of the Scarecrow from 1981 and Scarecrows from 1988), but that film, as much as I recall liking it, didn’t reach the unique level this one did, so it’s great to see the director’s improving his craft.

You Might Be the Killer may not win any awards, but it’s a movie with a solid main cast (most of the cast not mentioned are interchangeable, but that sort of fits with the nature of the film), an occasional retro-feel, enjoyable humor, and most importantly, an innovative narrative. Definitely a movie I’d recommend to any slasher fans.

8/10

What Keeps You Alive (2018)

What Keeps

Directed by Colin Minihan [Other horror films: Grave Encounters (2011), Extraterrestrial (2014), It Stains the Sands Red (2016)]

With potential to be more, unfortunately What Keeps You Alive both goes on too long and possesses quite a few bad choices on the parts of the characters, making the movie all the more forgettable, though perhaps still worth at least one go.

It starts out pretty well, with a likable couple played by Hannah Emily Anderson and Brittany Allen (yes, they’re a lesbian couple, so should you be a piece of homophobic trash, this may not be for you) spending their one-year anniversary at a secluded cabin. It’s hard to tell where the movie’s going from the beginning, but come a shocking scene about twenty minutes in or so, from that point on, most can probably guess what’s coming up.

As it is, the story is pretty decent, despite a few small elements I don’t care for. The problem is that the story drags past the point of interest, and honestly, though I understand why they added in the last twenty minutes, I think the movie would have been better without it. Really, I’d rather have a pretty good eighty minute movie as opposed to a flawed hour and forty minute one.

The two main actresses do good, at least. Anderson might grate on you a bit as the movie goes on (she felt too similar to a few other characters I’ve seen in earlier horror films), but Allen is consistently fun, despite her utterly horrible choices toward the conclusion of the film. On a side-note, I find it somewhat amusing that both these women were also in 2017’s Jigsaw. Not relevant to this movie, I just found it interesting. Given that only four total individuals are in this film, it’s a good thing that these two main characters are at least bearable.

It doesn’t really matter when it comes to the elongated conclusion, though. Like I said, without the final twenty minutes (which did have an okay scene, at least), I think many people would have liked this movie a bit more. Because of the route it took, though, What Keeps You Alive just hovers around average, maybe even dipping a bit below. Had the story been tightened up a bit, I could see giving this film a much better rating, but it wasn’t to be. Certainly an interesting idea, though.

7/10

Hell House LLC II: The Abaddon Hotel (2018)

Hell

Directed by Stephen Cognetti [Other horror films: Hell House LLC (2015), Hell House LLC III: Lake of Fire (2019)]

The second film of this planned trilogy doesn’t really change a significant amount as far as the style or story goes, but at the same time, it doesn’t set itself apart from the first one that much either, and toward the end, sort of goes a bit overboard on explaining some things.

Pretty much everything decent about the first movie is decent here – the multiple media forms (such as YouTube videos, a morning talk show, interviews, etc), the subtle creepy scenes, the setting itself – but there’s little here that wasn’t in the first movie, and the stuff that was added doesn’t much help the film a whole lot.

I think the biggest problem is toward the end, in which a sequence takes place that throws all subtly out the window, and instead makes obvious what could have mostly been inferred already. The scene felt unnecessary to our understanding of the story, and it was just too much. Instead of that, if they had thrown in some more creepy clown scenes, I think I would have been happy.

I do like all of the references to the characters from the first movie, and the fact that they expand a bit on one of the unanswered questions the first movie brought forth. Shining a light a bit on Alex’s motivations, both in the middle of the film and with the flashbacks at the conclusion, really add something that I thought was actually relevant.

Personally, I feel that if you’re a fan of the first movie, as I definitely was, this isn’t really all that different. True, I feel the first movie has a more mysterious and creepy, uneasy vibe to it, especially given that in this film, most people agree that the hotel isn’t the safest place to be, and it dampens the suspense. Still, it’s mostly a clone of the first film, which is both a good thing, as it does many of the same things right, but it also doesn’t seem to try and be more.

If you liked the first one, you’ll possibly like this one, as apart from the unnecessary sequence toward the end, there’s not a whole lot of differences.

7.5/10

Apostle (2018)

Apostle

Directed by Gareth Evans [Other horror films: Footsteps (2006), V/H/S/2 (2013, segment ‘Safe Haven’)]

This one caught me a bit by surprise. While I expected it to be an above-average movie based on the plot alone, I wasn’t quite expecting something of this high quality.

In many ways, this feels a bit like an updated version of The Wicker Man (a comparison that many others have made, it seems), only this takes place in the early 1900’s. There’s some amazing suspense and a somewhat layered story here, and combine that with both the quality performances and heavy quantities of gore, you have a solid movie here.

One factor that might initially seem detrimental to enjoyment may be the run-time, Apostle being a two hour and ten minute movie. That said, the film didn’t feel that long, and never really seemed to drag, which is somewhat of a feat in itself. I’d just say to not let the length deter you from giving the film a chance.

The cast makes the film better even if you think it’s on the sluggish side. I’m not familiar with any of these names, but Dan Stevens does great as the main character, and Michael Sheen was rather charismatic as Prophet Malcolm. Bill Milner did okay in his role, but his love interest Kristine Froseth did better. Lucy Boynton has a fiery nature about her, and Mark Lewis Jones really shone here, especially nearing the conclusion, which held a few surprises for us.

Possessing an unexpected brutality, Apostle had great gore. Multiple slit throats, a few torture scenes, impalement by spears, some mangled fingers, and my favorite scene, a disembowelment. I was pretty much thinking the movie would be an atmospheric slow-burn, and it sort of is, but the gore they had was top-notch, and like I alluded to, took me by surprise.

Apostle’s not a movie likely to appeal to everyone, especially given the run-time. If you’re a fan of The Wicker Man, though, this might be worth looking for. The gore would likely satisfy the slasher fans, and the suspense and pretty lush story and characterization would please those looking for something a little deeper. This is a movie that I can’t easily classify, but it’s all the better for it, and I think it was really a treat to see.

9/10