It (2017)


Directed by Andy Muschietti [Other horror films: Mama (2013), It Chapter Two (2019)]

I’m a giant fan of the novel It – I read it annually. It’s all-around a fantastic book. I have great memories of the television mini-series from 1990, but let’s be honest: it certainly was lacking most of the great things the book brought us. And so when I went to go see this in theaters when it initially came out, I had my fingers crossed that we’d get a better adaptation. And though It was not without flaws, we basically did.

Let’s talk about the main seven kids, first. All actors did a good job, but the biggest kudos go to Finn Wolfhard (Richie), Jaeden Lieberher (Bill), Wyatt Oleff (Stan), and Sophia Lewis (Beverly). Richie was a crowd-pleaser, and for good reason. He had a plethora of fantastic lines, hilarious quips, and was overall a great character. Bill was as solid as you’d hope he’d be, and Lieberher did well to show the pain of losing his younger brother. Stan was a favorite of mine from the book, and Oleff played his careful nature (that bike stand scene gets a kick out of me) perfectly. And as for Lewis? Does wonderful with this new version of Beverly, who is so different from the mini-series.

While Mike, Ben, and Eddie were well-acted, I had a few gripes with some of their storylines. Mike no longer being the historian, that role instead going to Ben (in reality, both characters sort of filled the role in the book to a certain extent) really reduced the potency of Mike’s character, There wasn’t even a race-element, that we saw, of Henry’s bullying him. Mike just seemed like he had nothing much to do throughout the film. Ben played his lovesick puppy act well, but really, he was more a punching bag for both Henry and Pennywise than anything else. Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer) was well-done, and while I prefer the four listed above, he was the fifth best-done kid.

Bill Skarsgård brought Pennywise to life in a whole new way. I’m not going to say that Curry didn’t do a good job. But I will say what another individual said about comparing the two: Curry seemed like an evil clown, moderately charming, even, and not much more. Skarsgård had moments that made him seem alien (the beginning with George, where his smile and laughter suddenly died, for instance), and he honestly felt more threatening than most of Curry’s performance. Playing more like a kid, also, was a great addition.

Patrick needed more scenes to show the extent of his insanity (such as in the book), and honestly, I thought all of the bullies, Henry included, needed more characterization. Showing Henry’s father embarrassing him once in front his friends doesn’t do it for me.

While there were certainly a high amount of jump scares, and occasionally some not-so-great CGI, there were some standout scenes I really liked, such as Stan’s encounter with Pennywise near the end, Georgie’s encounter at the beginning, and the projector scene (overall). The Neibolt House sequences were certainly enjoyable also.

As for drawbacks, I have a few: the run-time, even at two hours and 15 minutes, was too short, some portions feeling rushed. I feel as though another 30 minutes, to carve out a few more characters, such as Patrick or Henry, wouldn’t have gone amiss. What they did with Mike’s character just felt off, as they gave most of what he was known for to Ben, which gave Ben a bit more to do, but really left Mike in the dust. I do have to mention also that I dislike that they moved the children’s portion from the late 50’s to the late 80’s. I get why they did it, and it came out alright, but I still don’t particularly like it.

Some of the classic scenes of the book, such as Richie and Bill’s journey to Neibolt House, Mike’s encounter with the giant bird, and the Killer Eye in the sewers, were nowhere to be seen. Hell, the Smokehole would have been extremely cool also, and bringing up the Ritual of Chud should have been mandatory. Exploring more of Derry’s past too, would have been welcomed.

Overall, though, I think that It was a fine adaptation. Not as great as could be done – we’d probably need an HBO mini-series to get something even close – but very enjoyable indeed.


This was one of the movies covered on Fight Evil’s podcast, episode #12. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this one.

Wolves at the Door (2016)

Wolves at the Door

Directed by John R. Leonetti [Other horror films: Annabelle (2014), Wish Upon (2017), The Silence (2019)]

The only reason that I sought this movie out was due to Elizabeth Henstridge, who plays one of the main characters in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, a show I rather enjoy. And as it turns out, aside from Henstridge, this movie doesn’t have much going for it. Dramatizing the events of the murder of Sharon Tate and company (purely hinted at until the end, for some unknown reason), Wolves at the Door is almost utterly run-of-the-mill. If you’ve seen Ils (2006) or The Strangers (2008), or hell, even The Purge (2013), you’ve seen a more enthralling and tense movie than this one.

Adam Campbell (Wojciech) has some decent scenes, and if you like the ascetic of someone dragging a sledgehammer across the ground, well, Wolves at the Door has that also. But aside from Elizabeth Henstridge, who does a decent job despite the shallow script, the best I can say is that occasionally good 60’s songs play, such as ‘She’s Not There’ by The Zombies and ‘Lil’ Red Riding Hood’ by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs. There’s nothing else though – this movie is otherwise empty. And while I wasn’t fond of it that first time I saw it, I’m even less fond of it now. Not much here to recommend, folks.


Phantasm (1979)


Directed by Don Coscarelli [Other horror films: Phantasm II (1988), Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead (1994), Phantasm IV: Oblivion (1998), Bubba Ho-Tep (2002), John Dies at the End (2012)]

In many ways, Phantasm comes across as a mess. There’s not much really explained, and the ending is pretty jarring and confusing. But what it might lack in comprehension, it makes up for in almost everything else. The upsides of Phantasm? Firstly, most of the actors do a great job. Angus Scrimm, as The Tall Man, just dominates every scene he’s in. A truly fantastic performance, despite not many previous roles. Still, there’s more than just Scrimm. The three protagonists, Michael, Jody, and Reggie (played by Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury, and Reggie Bannister, respectfully) have a pretty compelling friendship, and specifically, Baldwin and Thornbury are decently believable as brothers. Even when annoyed with Michael’s antics, you can tell that Jody still loves him. And they both share the fear their parents were turned into dwarf zombies, so there’s that.

Which brings us to the creativity of this movie: a seemingly alien being turns corpses into zombie dwarfs and has flying metallic spheres is not something commonly seen, to say the least. So that’s fun. Need I mention the theme? It’s damn brilliant, and up there with the best themes of the genre (Halloween, The House by the Cemetery, and ANOES, for example). And the atmosphere? That dreamy, hazy, disjointed feeling? Nothing does it better than Phantasm. This might not sound like a great movie, but I’ve met very few horror fans who don’t adore it on varying levels. Not everything makes sense, but when the final product comes out this well, that hardly matters. A movie that stays fresh with each re-watch.


Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Directed by Don Siegel [Other horror films: N/A]

The intense paranoia present throughout this fantastically-done science-fiction/horror movie only add to the final product – one that is, at any point in time, a thought-provoking and terrifying film.

The film, in which pod people begin taking over the citizens of a moderately-sized California town, highlights how, even in suburban, run-of-the-mill locations, terror and panic can spread. While potentially anti-Communist propaganda (which would be the single flaw of the film, were it intended), the struggle for individuality and love versus complete conformity is still thrilling to this day – plenty of the scenes still stand strong even now, such as Kevin McCarthy’s character running down the highway, screaming for people to listen to him, or the chasing of McCarthy and Dana Wynter’s characters by the pod people that used to be their friends.

Telling the story in the past-tense, and book-ended by events that take place almost a day after the core of the film, was a somewhat questionable choice, and one could certainly argue the movie would be better (if not more downbeat) had the movie ended without the final framing sequence (in fact, that’s exactly how the original creators had preferred it to end), but I still find it an acceptable finale.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a fantastic film, well-worth the highest honor among horror films for both the decade of the 1950’s and of all-time. If I had one complaint, it would be that occasionally, I felt it became a bit too melodramatic – luckily, if that’s the case, it doesn’t happen that often, and shortly afterward, we’re back to action of some form or another. In short, this is a great film, and comes highly recommended.


Pray for Morning (2006)

Pray for Morning

Directed by Cartney Wearn [Other horror films: N/A]

This movie feels a bit longer than it actually is. While clocking in at a normal 90 minutes, Pray for Morning suffers from various problems that seem to drag the movie out.

In it, a group of friends breaks into an old hotel, which has been uninhabited for at least thirty years, and is the scene of brutal deaths that took place years past. Not a bad plot, but not overly creative either. Truth be told, I can’t even describe all the problems this movie has, but believe me, they’re there.

Firstly, it takes a little while for each of the eight main characters to get fleshed out, meaning that before that happens, we’re left with pretty much interchangeable characters. Even toward the ending, though, none of the remaining characters stood out. The constant teleportation got a bit annoying (especially when one of the characters keeps insisting they’re just lost – as if popping up in a room on a floor you weren’t on seconds ago isn’t an indicator of a bigger problem than being lost), but that’s marginalized a bit by the fact that the malevolent spirit they’re facing was a magician in his previous life.

Elements of the movie fall flat, and this is most clearly seen in the final twenty or so minutes, in which a plot twist arises, followed by an explanation of something that doesn’t make much sense. Not to say that answers weren’t provided, but I felt as though I was missing something.

Just to note, the movie isn’t a terrible one – there are some decent scenes, even some more experimental scenes, that stand out, despite the low budget (through most of the film, a bright light represents the spirit of the magician). That said, just like most of the characters in the film, Pray for Morning just comes across as bland. A mostly forgettable experience, all-in-all. Robert F. Lyons and Udo Kier do well in their respective roles, at least.


The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)

Slumber Party Massacre

Directed by Amy Holden Jones [Other horror films: N/A]

My views on this film haven’t much changed since I last saw it.

It’s a quick-paced, fun, cheesy slasher movie. The 80’s soundtrack is both fun and nostalgic, and the female nudity is both memorable and captivating. At under 80 minutes, this movie doesn’t take long for things to begin happening, and given that the story’s moderately paper-thin, that’s only a positive.

The killer is a bit uninspired, but I do like the his choice of weaponry, being a drill. Gore throughout the film is pretty good, and given the quick-paced nature of the movie, it really doesn’t seem like all that long a time.

The Slumber Party Massacre is a simple movie, and while most of the characters are decent, none of them really stand out (though the neighbor, played by Rigg Kennedy, is a damn cool cat), it’s a fun movie that is always a good time. Not a long review, but don’t really have much to say. A good slasher worth watching.


Nightwatch (1997)


Directed by Ole Bornedal [Other horror films: Nattevagten (1994), Vikaren (2007), The Possession (2012)]

When I first saw this film, I rather enjoyed it. Or at least that’s what my IMDb rating (an 8/10) would lead me to believe. Perhaps the second viewing of this film falters for everyone, or it’s not nearly as good as I remember it being, though, as I was mostly not that enthralled with it this time around.

The whole atmosphere of the film seems sort of off, especially regarding Martin’s (Ewan McGregor) friend James (Josh Brolin). James just doesn’t seem to care about anything, and his attitude is one that’s difficult to relate to. He’s just an odd character, and didn’t feel right to me. The movie’s decently slow – it doesn’t really pick up until an hour and 15 minutes (the whole run-time is an hour and 40 minutes), which was a major detriment.

We had some memorable actors, such as Nick Nolte (who had a great role), Brad Dourif, and John C. Reilly (who was, for some reason, uncredited, despite having significant screen-time near the end), but the story itself didn’t do much for me this time around. It’s a disappointment, really: I was rather excited about seeing this one again, but not only does it not live up to what I remembered, and not only did it feel average, overall, I thought the film was a bit below average.

Truth be told, I don’t have much more to say about this one. It had solid actors, moderately decent gore, and it picked up near the final thirty minutes, but everything beforehand fell a bit flat. Despite previously enjoying this, it just doesn’t hold up.


Cabin Fever (2002)

Cabin Fever

Directed by Eli Roth [Other horror films: Hostel (2005), Hostel: Part II (2007), The Green Inferno (2013), Knock Knock (2015)]

I’m not entirely sure what it is, but I’ve never much cared for this film. Perhaps it’s the stupid comedy that pops up every now and again. Perhaps it’s due the the last thirty minutes, none of which I care for (from the authorities to the store-owners, to the karate kid, etc.). Something’s just off with this movie, as far as I’m concerned.

Some of the scenes are decent, but most of the characters are atrocious, including the aforementioned authorities and particularly the party-loving cop (which was another element I thought was more than a bit idiotic). Few of the actions in the second half of the movie are logical, and it grew increasingly hard to care for characters who were so stupid. This movie just rubs me the wrong way.

Part of it might be the fact that the idea in itself is pretty cool – seeing a bunch of people slowly realize that there’s a disease in the area that’s highly contagious and they die slowly to it could be a really well-done psychological and serious horror film. But that’s not the direction that they took.

Instead they threw in humor that, for the most part, didn’t work (the ending scene with the black individuals being a case in point) and far from taking a serious, psychological look at how each character is affected by the knowledge of their mortality, we get subplots that make little sense and authorities who, for some unexplained reason, don’t mind if a disease spreads throughout their community. Eli Roth had a hit with Hostel, but it’s a shame his earlier hit misses the mark. Points for Karen (Jordan Ladd) being so cute, at least before her flesh got eaten off.


One Body Too Many (1944)

One Body Too Many

Directed by Frank McDonald [Other horror films: N/A]

Though with an additional comedic element, One Body Too Many has almost all the staples of 1930’s and 1940’s horror movies. A dark and stormy night, a crowded mansion, mistaken identity, reading of a will, secret passages, red herrings, the whole shebang. In fact, the only thing it doesn’t have is a gorilla. Still, I don’t say this as to portray the movie as being too generic – while that might be the case, I happen to love these dark and stormy night will-reading movies; they’re entertaining, and this one’s no different.

The aesthetics are pretty cool – thunder and lightning in the backdrop as multiple mysterious people are creeping through a silent dark house. While the copy I own (and that’s most widely available) is a bit on the grainy side, it doesn’t lose the effect. The downside of the film is two-fold, though: firstly, the while the plot is simple, throwing in ten to twelve different characters can come across as convoluted. When the killer was revealed at the end, I thought he had already been seen with the other characters in the previous scene. Lost a bit of the power they might have been aiming for.

Really, the main character (played by Jack Haley), Bela Lugosi’s character, and Professor Hilton (William Edmunds) were the only ones that I could easily tell apart. Most of the others were interchangeable. Still, that may be more a problem with myself than the movie. Secondly, though, is the run time. While the movie is just 75 minutes (an hour and 15 minutes), some sequences seemed to drag on a bit too long (especially one particular sequence involving secret passageways about an hour into the film). Had they just cut out ten to 15 minutes, I think the movie would have been a bit better.

The comedic elements overall weren’t too bad or distracting (the main character’s cowardice, not to mention a few of the antics, were a bit much), and some of it was actually rather amusing, such as the recurring gag of the butler (Lugosi) trying to serve seemingly-poisoned coffee multiple times throughout the movie, only to get consistently rejected. I have to admit, I got a kick out of that. When I first saw this film, I rated it slightly above average. It just doesn’t stand up to my memories, though. One Body Too Many is an amusing film, but the problems can be a bit glaring. Overall, I think it’s slightly below average. Likely still worth a watch if these films are your type of thing.


Killjoy (2000)


Directed by Craig Ross Jr. [Other horror films: Dead South (2016), Bunker of Blood 07: Killjoys Carnage Caravan (2019)]

If you’ve seen this flick, you know what a mess it is. But if you’ve watched it with friends, you also know what a hoot it can be.

I first saw this film for one of the October Challenges, watching it with a friend. Though the movie was atrocious in so many ways (acting, production value, audio quality), it was a fun time. Upon rewatching it, it still has that fun vibe, but it’s deeply muted.

I won’t waste time discussing the acting – in almost every way, the actors manage to fail, which admittedly is a bit of a feat. The story itself, while somewhat interesting, gets muddled down due to over melodramatic moments and a slow beginning. When things do pick up, it doesn’t much help, as Killjoy isn’t that fun a character. Basically, I just kept getting the mentally-challenged Pennywise-vibe from him. That said, an ice cream truck that can teleport you various places is sort of fun.

As for the audio quality, it’s not uncommon throughout the film that you’re unable to make out what someone’s saying. I don’t think it’s the fault of the DVD I own – I think it’s the best print they had to work with. The kills aren’t all that imaginative, and when they are, they include hideous early 2000’s computer effects. Can Killjoy be a fun movie in small doses when viewed among friends? Indeed. But it doesn’t really hold up with a second viewing, and overall, you can’t help but tell how poor of a movie it really is.