Spiders (2000)

Spiders

Directed by Gary Jones [Other horror films: Mosquito (1994), Crocodile 2: Death Swamp (2002), Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter’s Cove (2005), Ghouls (2008), Boogeyman 3 (2008), Lightning Strikes (2009), Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan (2013)]

Spiders is a moderately low-quality romp, with ridiculous characters and rather dated-looking spider CGI. The story is slightly unique, in that the first hour and ten minutes take place in an underground military base, but for the final twenty minutes, the setting becomes a college campus and finally, the city as a whole. The last two portions seemed sort of jammed in there, just to make the film a bit longer – they certainly don’t feel in place.

That’s not to say this movie isn’t enjoyable – if you like lower-quality monster movies, then this one seems right down your alley. The “aliens” at the beginning of the film are hilarious, and the overacting of Mark Phelan, once you get used to it, is pretty amusing. And like I said, it’s just a ridiculous movie overall. Not bad, not great. Not a waste of time, though, so I guess it’s about slightly below average.

6.5/10

Hostel (2005)

Hostel

Directed by Eli Roth [Other horror films: Cabin Fever (2002), Hostel: Part II (2007), The Green Inferno (2013), Knock Knock (2015)]

Each time I see this film, I continue to be impressed. The story is not necessarily overly creative, but it is well crafted (especially the switch half-way through the movie, in which we end up with an unexpected protagonist). The gore is a pretty decent touch also. Not only that, but the movie has a pretty satisfying ending, which is rather unexpected from a movie that is as grimy as this one.

Paxton’s not a character that I overly enjoy for most of the film, but his depth does grow as the story goes on, and by the end, you’d be hard-pressed to not be rooting for him. Insofar as the torture aspect, it’s pretty solid. Not overdone, either. While it’s definitely shocking the first time around, this movie doesn’t drown itself in unnecessary gore, which I applaud it for. There are downsides present, but truth be told, I don’t believe there are all that many. Only thing that comes to mind right now is that I wish some of the characters had a slower death than they did. Alas, we can’t always get what we want. The ending makes up for that, though.

7.5/10

Halloween (2007)

Halloween

Directed by Rob Zombie [Other horror films: House of 1000 Corpses (2003), The Devil’s Rejects (2005), Halloween II (2009), The Haunted World of El Superbeasto (2009), The Lords of Salem (2012), 31 (2016), 3 from Hell (2019)]

I cannot express how much I despise the first 50 minutes of this film – I always have. Because I completely understand why Michael would kill his stepfather, his sister and her boyfriend. I can’t imagine a more annoying family than that. And therein lies the problem – I don’t want to understand why Michael is the way he is. It’s not necessary.

From the fourth Halloween film, Donald Pleasence’s character said it best: he’s evil on two legs. And while I appreciate what Zombie was trying to do, and I know he was told to make it his own, I cannot pretend that I enjoy the first half of this film. From the song “Love Hurts” to the quote “It hides my ugliness,” I just can’t help but cringe.

It does get better, though. Marginally. But Laurie’s character here is not the innocent girl from the original Halloween (her first scene, where she mimics being molested, shows us that) – her two friends are worse. In fact, there are few sympathetic characters here – funnily enough, I think the most sympathetic are Laurie’s parents, and we see what happened to them (same can be said for Danny Trejo’s character). We have some worthwhile sequences in this film, such as Laurie trying to escape from Michael nearing the end, but too much here just bothered me. Truth be told, the best character had such little time, and that, of course, would be Joe Grizzly. This might have some decent gore, but it’s just a disappointing movie, and a disappointing remake.

6/10

End of Days (1999)

End of Days

Directed by Peter Hyams [Other horror films: The Relic (1997)]

Arnold Schwarzenegger never did much for me as an actor, and End of Days, though I’ve seen it three times now, never did much for me as a movie. Now, that being said, this is a mostly enjoyable film. But things fall apart at the end. Satan chasing after Arnold’s character and the girl who is supposed to deliver his spawn doesn’t do it for me.

It’s just run-of-the-mill, especially when other Satanic movies around the same time are so much better (The Ninth Gate, I’m looking at you). Honestly, I don’t have much more to say. This movie isn’t necessarily bad, but I wouldn’t go in expecting much.

5.5/10

Salem’s Lot (2004)

Salems Lot

Directed by Mikael Salomon [Other horror films: N/A]

Here’s a little secret for you all: so far in my horror movie viewing, I’ve not yet seen the original Salem’s Lot. I’ve been meaning to, but it’s never happened. What I have seen twice is this 2004 adaptation, starring Rob Lowe (of The West Wing fame). And overall, I am pretty pleased with it.

Many of the characters are enjoyable, and the acting is solid; toward the end, the little vampire-killing group was enjoyable to observe, though I wish they were seen together a few more times than they were. Being a mini-series, it’s pretty lengthy, much like the original (both over two hours, I believe), but I was quite happy with what I saw.

Oh, there’s the occasional subplot or scene that didn’t do much for me, but those were far outweighed by stuff I enjoyed. Andre Braugher’s character, Matt Burke, for example, was a fine character, but not necessarily overly likable. The ending was somewhat reminiscent of Fright Night, where they go to the main house and hope to finish the vampires off, which was sort of fun. I’ve no major complaints, really, and I feel this is worth a watch, despite the changes they made from King’s original novel.

8/10

HauntedWeen (1991)

HauntedWeen

Directed by Doug Robertson [Other horror films: N/A]

This is why I watch obscure horror. While not necessarily a gem, this early 90’s slasher really made up for the not-so-great movies I’ve seen recently. While the budget is clearly low, and many of the kills uninspired, I certainly got the feeling that this Kentucky-based slasher had heart. That being said, as I’m a fan of virtually 3/4’s of the slashers from 1975 to 1995, that likely doesn’t surprise anyone.

I’ve wanted to see this for a few years now, and I’m just happy I’m not disappointed. The nudity was ample enough to warrant a plus in that department. The kills, while at first, not great, got better, and toward the end, I was quite happy with what I witnessed. The story, while lacking, wasn’t as big a factor, as few people really watch slashers for the story.

If you’re a slasher fan in particular, this may well be worth watching. I did see that after the credits, “Coming Soon… Hauntedween II” rolled across the screen. Sadly, this looks like it never happened, as it’d have been a hoot to see. The acting here was pretty bad, on one last note – one of the characters has a terrible accent that really grates on you. After a while, though, you start to love the guy. As for other characters, they’re nothing special. Still, this was a pleasure to see, and if this ever comes out on DVD (which, after twenty some years, looks like it has), I’m definitely picking it up.

7.5/10

Fist of the Vampire (2007)

Fist of the Vampire

Directed by Len Kabasinski [Other horror films: Swamp Zombies!!! (2005), Curse of the Wolf (2006), Wendigo: Bound by Blood (2010), Ninja: Prophecy of Death (2011), Skull Forest (2012), Blood Mercury (2014), Angel of Reckoning (2016), Blood Prism (2017), Swamp Zombies 2 (2018), Schlock-O-Rama (2018, segment ‘Film Trailer’)]

I forgot during which October Challenge I first saw this film, but I remember thinking that it was likely the worst film I saw for the challenge. And upon rewatching it, that opinion hasn’t changed. This is one of the worst horror movies I’ve seen. In fact, on IMDb, this is one of the 18 horror movies I rated a 1/10. Only a select few make that listing, and this certainly belongs.

The acting is terrible, and while that is a problem, that’s far from the worst this movie had. The dialogue was weak – the delivery overly stale. No one’s heart really seemed in this movie, which is a shame, as since the plot was utterly atrocious (vampires running an underground fighting ring; an undercover cop infiltrates the ring and becomes one of their fighters), it needed something to carry it. Nothing was there to do so, though.

The nudity wasn’t particularly impressive, and the kills were blah. Sure, they had blood to an extent, so they tried, but it just didn’t ring as something worth seeing, and certainly nothing worth the wait. And the kung-fu fighting. *groans*. The overly-choreographed fighting that looked so fake was a prominent part of this movie. Another recurring motif – CGI bullets. CGI fire. Generic hard rock/heavy metal.

It was God-awful. This was simply a bad movie. The hammy dialogue at the end only made it worse. A true chore to get through in one sitting. Just avoid this, unless you’re like me and has to watch every other horror film nearby. On a quick side-note, the director of this flick, Len Kabasinski (who also acted in the movie), directed a low-budget 2005 flick I tepidly enjoyed titled Swamp Zombies!!!, so it’s a shame he couldn’t end up directing another low-budget favorite. In short, this movie simply isn’t worth watching, in my opinion.

1/10

Hit and Run (2009)

Hit and Run

Directed by Edna McCallion [Other horror films: N/A]

I’ve not seen this since either the 2009 or 2010 October Challenge. Either way, I think I disliked it even more this time around.

The good elements Hit and Run contains are as such: 1) the main actress, Laura Breckenridge, was pretty attractive, 2) the usage of the Modest Mouse song “Float On” was welcoming to the ears and 3) some of the scenes, specifically death scenes, were acceptable.

Everything else failed miserably, though.

Most prominently among them, you don’t feel an ounce of sympathy for the main character – whether she lives or dies, you really don’t care. You dislike her boyfriend even more, though. And it doesn’t help that you don’t feel much sympathy for the murderer past a certain point. It’s a movie with no sides to root for. Not only that, but some edits and cuts in this movie just look amateurish.

Now, some have commented that this film was trying to harken back to the days of 70’s/80’s slashers. If this was their intent, they failed miserably. After the initial incident, in which our main character runs someone over while driving home intoxicated, the movie almost turns into a character study. We see how she reacts, the trials of going through with burying the person she hit instead of letting the police know. And for 40 minutes, the horror elements are zilch.

If this character had been particularly interesting, or had this been done by the hands of a far more talented director, maybe it could have worked. For what it was, though, I was bored out of my mind. And when things do happen, it’s not particularly good. This is just a disappointment of a movie, and does many things wrong. The points I gave it come from the fact that while this film isn’t good, it’s certainly leagues above the worst horror films. It’s overly generic, and just overall not conducive to a fun viewing.

4/10

Stanley (1972)

Stanley

Directed by William Grefé [Other horror films: Sting of Death (1966), Death Curse of Tartu (1966), Impulse (1974), Mako: The Jaws of Death (1976), Whiskey Mountain (1977)]

I last saw Stanley back in 2009 for my first October Challenge. In the many years that had passed, I forgot how much I enjoyed it.

Part of this may well be the fact the version I watched back in 2009 was a 90 minute version, whereas what I watched this time around was 105 minutes. Truth be told, I couldn’t tell you what scenes have been added, but the additions did seem to flesh out the main character’s motivations better.

The main drawback this movie possesses is the long set-up time. It takes 45 minutes, thereabouts, for us to really get introduced to the horror elements. Beforehand, we’re meeting various characters, most of whom who are killed in the last hour of the film. While that in itself may seem strenuous, with the 70’s music in the background, and the lack of editing out small things, it just feels grueling. But once it picks up, I think the pace sails along pretty nicely.

The kills are nothing overly special, but I do rather enjoy some of them. The freeze-frame when one of the characters jumps into a pool filled with snakes was overly ridiculous, and I loved it. Truth be told, while it’s slower at the beginning, once the kills come along, Stanley does well for itself. The ending is a bit to be desired, but I don’t fault it all too much. One last note – one of the characters, a pill-popping, cocaine-sniffing ‘psycho’ was consistently one of the funniest around for his short screen time. A sluggish pace, yes, but this movie, I personally feel, was worth it.

7.5/10

Piranha 3D (2010)

2879-E_PIRANHA 3d ART 70x100 OP 50%.indd

Directed by Alexandre Aja [Other horror films: Haute tension (2003), The Hills Have Eyes (2006), Mirrors (2008), Horns (2013), Crawl (2019)]

I don’t think anyone would claim this movie amazing, or I hope no one would, anyway. But it does accomplish it’s goal, and that’s to entertain the hell out of the audience.

Most of the characters are annoying idiots, but as half of them get eaten in the fantastic piranha rampage about halfway through the movie, I can’t rightly hold it against them. Some of the characters are solid, though – Sheriff Forester does all she can to both ensure the safety of her own children and her community. Deputy Fallon goes all out in trying to save people during the rampage. Jake’s valiant attempts to save Kelly, a character herself who sort of got pulled into this whole thing, show him a person of high worth. So we have some solid people, who I feel make up well for the Derricks of the world.

The gore in the movie, at least to me, is the biggest selling point, and I feel they did pretty well. The aforementioned massacre has long been a favorite scene of mine – the blood, the chaos, all done so wonderfully. The nudity’s a bit less captivating, but I can only imagine it’d help pull some more people in to watch the film. Overall, this second Piranha remake (after the 1995 failure few recall) is quite enjoyable for what it is. It’s not amazing, not to me, but it does what it set out to do, and that’s all I can ask.

7.5/10