Review: DOC OF THE DEAD (2014)

Review: DOC OF THE DEAD (2014) {0}

Anyone who sets out to make a documentary film about the history of zombie cinema is in a no-win situation: if you stick with the obvious stuff, then the hardcore horror fans will get bored, impatient, and very annoyed. But if you focus mainly on the oddest and most obscure information regarding cinematic zombiedom, then(…)


Review: THE GREEN INFERNO (2013)

Review: THE GREEN INFERNO (2013) {0}

There’s no denying that The Green Inferno director Eli Roth is a horror geek among horror geeks.


Retro Review: HATCHET III (2013)

Retro Review: HATCHET III (2013) {0}

The problem with paying homage to the slasher films of the 1980s is that, well, there’s not all that much to homage. Put down your pitchforks and hear me out. I’m a child of the 1980s and I’ve made no secret about my affections for scrappy, low-budget slasher-era throwbacks. I’m glad that it’s FEARnet’s friend(…)


Review: THE PIT, aka JUGFACE (2013)

Review: THE PIT, aka JUGFACE (2013) {0}

With a title like Jug Face, you could get just about anything. Is it a satire? A basic slasher retread? A tale of haunted dishware? The good thing about an offbeat title is that it compels you to approach the film with a touch of caution and a dash of attentiveness. Fortunately Jug Face –(…)




Lots of horror movies take place in the wilderness, and it’s not really hard for a screenwriter to get their characters out there. It could be a rave in the forest, a wrong turn in the desert, or a detour caused by a crazy hitchhiker in the mountains, but in most cases the “WHY” of(…)



Review: CABIN FEVER 3: PATIENT ZERO (2014) {0}

Let’s just get it out of the way from the beginning: it’d be really hard to make a worse Cabin Fever (2002) sequel than Cabin Fever 2 (2009). Arguably the only weak movie in Ti West’s filmography (and he’s not a big fan of it himself), Cabin Fever 2 was the victim of endless studio(…)


Review: MR. JONES (2014)

Review: MR. JONES (2014) {0}

At this point in the “found footage renaissance,” we’re dealing with new indies that only work for established fans of the format. You already have to be a pretty open-minded horror fan to watch a ton of found footage/“faux documentary” films in the first place, but a lot of the smaller flicks are also asking(…)


Review: DAYLIGHT (2013)

Review: DAYLIGHT (2013) {0}

Clever indie filmmakers just keep coming up with new (and generally legitimate) excuses to position their horror tale as “found footage.” In most cases their film’s premise involves a documentary film crew, which helpfully explains all the extra lighting and the “keep filming no matter what” attitude that keeps the action moving forward, but lately(…)


Retro Review: BIG BAD WOLVES (2013)

Retro Review: BIG BAD WOLVES (2013) {0}

We certainly don’t get a whole lot of horror films from Israel, so when one called Rabies (aka Kalevet) hit the festival circuit a few years ago I made sure to give it a bit of a spotlight. Fortunately for all involved the debut film from Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado was a dark and(…)


Retro Review: CARRIE (2013)

Retro Review: CARRIE (2013) {0}

The list of “high profile” horror film remakes is a long and colorful one indeed. One tends to think of these “reboots” as disposable at best, or (in most cases) complete worthless. But if you look a little more closely it seems that classics like The Thing, The Blob, The Fly, Dawn of the Dead,(…)


Retro Review: 6 SOULS (2013)

Retro Review: 6 SOULS (2013) {0}

The patently familiar new psycho thriller 6 Souls actually played film festivals back in 2010 under the title Shelter before collecting dust on a Weinstein shelf for a few years, only to pop up on VOD this week. In April of 2013. That’s not meant to imply that every genre title that suffers a long(…)


Retro Review: IN FEAR (2014)

Retro Review: IN FEAR (2014) {0}

A wise man (OK fine, it was me) once said that, as far as indie horror films are concerned, originality is frequently overrated. The seasoned genre expert has seen dozens of zombie films, haunted house horrors, and home invasion thrillers by now, and what separates the quality from the crap is not originality. It’s presentation.(…)


Retro Review: CURSE OF CHUCKY (2013)

Retro Review: CURSE OF CHUCKY (2013) {0}

Well, here’s a nice switch. After a pair of sequels in which raunchy comedy and silly splatter were much more important than anything resembling a legitimate scare or creepy idea, everyone’s favorite killer doll is back with Curse of Chucky, a sixth chapter that clearly wants to be taken a bit more seriously. Or at least(…)


Retro Review: BIG ASS SPIDER (2013)

Retro Review: BIG ASS SPIDER (2013) {0}

I’m a huge fan of spider cinema, and I’m not talking about superhero silliness. I mean flicks like Tarantula (1955), The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo (1977), Kingdom of the Spiders (1978), Arachnophobia (1990), Spiders (2000), Eight Legged Freaks (2002), and a dozen others you’ve probably never even heard of. Like most(…)


Retro Review: ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW (2013)

Retro Review: ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW (2013) {0}

A film like Randy Moore’s certifiably bizarre Escape from Tomorrow comes bearing a rather unique history. Suffice to say that Mr. Moore and a few colleagues decided that instead of shooting their black & white character study / psychological thriller / film noir homage on the streets or in a studio — they’d shoot Escape(…)


Retro Review: ARGENTO’S DRACULA 3D (2012)

Retro Review: ARGENTO’S DRACULA 3D (2012) {0}

One does not walk lightly into a criticism of Italian filmmaker Dario Argento. The lovable auteur behind horror classics like Deep Red, Suspiria, and Tenebre, Mr. Argento is inarguably one of the most influential genre filmmakers imaginable. Yes, right up there with Romero, Craven, and Carpenter. So even when the man turns out a bad(…)


Retro Review: FRIGHT NIGHT 2 (2013)

Retro Review: FRIGHT NIGHT 2 (2013) {0}

As usual, let’s begin with a brief history lesson.  Fright Night (1985) arrives from Columbia Pictures and writer/director Tom Holland (he’d later go on to direct Child’s Play, The Temp, and Thinner), becomes a modest box office hit, and goes on to become a nostalgic favorite among horror fans of a certain age. (Like me.) Essentially(…)


Retro Review: THE LAST DAYS ON MARS (2013)

Retro Review: THE LAST DAYS ON MARS (2013) {0}

Cinematic appreciation is all a matter of perspective. To some viewers, the new indie sci-fi horror flick The Last Days on Mars will feel like a patently familiar or even simplistic rehash of themes, ideas, settings, and characters we’ve all seen before. To others, including me, The Last Days on Mars will come across more(…)


Retro Review: INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 2 (2013)

Retro Review: INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 2 (2013) {0}

If you’re getting a little sick of haunted house movies by now, you can blame a man called James Wan. He hit the movie world with the original Saw before moving on to flicks like Dead Silence and Death Sentence, but he had the second big hit of his career in 2010 with a lovable(…)


Retro Review: NO ONE LIVES (2012)

Retro Review: NO ONE LIVES (2012) {0}

It’s safe to say we’ve seen the “home invasion” thriller thrown at us from every conceivable angle by this point. The premise is nothing new, of course, as those who remember the original Straw Dogs (1971) can remind you, but over the last several years we’ve seen a whole lot of foreign and/or independent films(…)


Retro Review: THE CONJURING (2013)

Retro Review: THE CONJURING (2013) {0}

We never seem to get sick of haunted house movies, do we? It has to be considered one of the most reliable (not to mention profitable) sub-sections of our beloved horror genre. From The Old Dark House (1932) to The Haunting (1963) to The Amityville Horror (1979) to Poltergeist (1982) to recent hits like Sinister,(…)


Retro Review: BLACK ROCK (2013)

Retro Review: BLACK ROCK (2013) {0}

You wouldn’t have to hit many film festivals to become a fan of the filmmaking couple known as Katie Aselton and Mark Duplass. He, along with his brother Jay, brought us low-budget winners like The Puffy Chair, Baghead, and Cyrus, while she directed The Freebie not long ago and has graced many an indie project(…)


Retro Review: THE PURGE (2013)

Retro Review: THE PURGE (2013) {0}

The latest “home invasion” thriller The Purge can be approached like that old cliché about optimists and pessimists. Those who say the glass is half empty may dismiss the flick as a clever sci-fi concept that gets wedged into a very conventional horror story. Those who think the glass is half full will believe that The Purge is (yes,(…)


Retro Review: BYZANTIUM (2013)

Retro Review: BYZANTIUM (2013) {0}

Seasoned horror fans will no doubt recognize the irony in today’s vampire cinema. The “romanticization” of the vampire has been evolving since (at least) John Badham’s 1979 rendition of Dracula — but we never saw our beloved cinematic bloodsuckers lose their teeth like they did in the feckless Twilight movies. What used to be sexy but scary became gothic(…)


Retro Review: AFTERSHOCK (2012)

Retro Review: AFTERSHOCK (2012) {0}

We don’t get a whole lot of independently-produced disaster movies, and it’s pretty simple to figure out why that’s the case. Of all the action film sub-genres, the “disaster epic” is easily one of the most ambitious and expensive, and filmmakers like Irwin Allen and Roland Emmerich clearly need a whole lot of cash to(…)




It seems that the producers’ goal in following up The Haunting in Connecticut with Ghosts of Georgia is to produce a series of creepy horror movies that are based on documented events of the supernatural. That’s all fine and good, but it doesn’t make a title like The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia a good idea. Yes, you need(…)


Retro Review: EVIL DEAD (2013)

Retro Review: EVIL DEAD (2013) {0}

One does not call their film “Evil Dead” without expecting some serious scrutiny from the old-school horror fans. It doesn’t matter if names like Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert are on board for your remake, and it makes no difference that you went for a “hard-R” rating and delivered a pretty kick-ass trailer. That’s all(…)


Retro Review: DARK SKIES (2013)

Retro Review: DARK SKIES (2013) {0}

It doesn’t take a genius to combine the basic trappings of a standard “haunted house” story with the well-worn convention of “alien invasions,” but it’s nice to see that some filmmakers are still willing to give it a shot. Although clearly inspired by the recent and endless litany of paranormal-centric horror flicks and a big(…)


Retro Review: COMPLIANCE (2012)

Retro Review: COMPLIANCE (2012) {0}

If you don’t think this one is a horror film, stop fooling yourselves. Ever get yelled at by an angry policeman? It’s not a pleasant experience, especially if you didn’t do anything wrong. The power of authority is a dangerous thing, especially in a society as dense and confused as America. Given too much authority,(…)


Retro Review: MANIAC (2012)

Retro Review: MANIAC (2012) {0}

William Lustig’s 1980 horror flick Maniac has enjoyed a long and healthy shelf life as a cult favorite among horror geeks, be they curious youths or nostalgic old coots, so it should come as no surprise to learn that, yep, someone went and remade the damn thing. The original was a grungy, sweaty, and virtually(…)


Retro Review: CITADEL (2012)

Retro Review: CITADEL (2012) {0}

One of the cool things that horror films can do is take topical and timely cultural issues, and then expand upon them in a variety of generally unpleasant ways. Pick any “based on actual events” film about a serial killer, Silence of the Lambs for example, or think of films like Battle Royale or The Strangers: horror movies that use(…)


Retro Review: THE BAY (2012)

Retro Review: THE BAY (2012) {0}

Every time I feel beaten down by a rash of mediocre new “found footage” horror flicks, I have to remind myself that HEY, I actually do like this gimmick. (Yes, still!) If I have to struggle through Area 407 and Crowsnest and Hollow to find buried treasures like [REC], Paranormal Activity, and Grave Encounters, then that’s just fine with me. But just as(…)


Retro Review: THE LAST EXORCISM PART II (2013)

Retro Review: THE LAST EXORCISM PART II (2013) {0}

It’s one of the most familiar stories in the realm of horror cinema: a studio purchases a solid indie horror film, makes a pretty penny on the deal, and then settles down for a sequel parade. Paramount did it with Friday the 13th and then Paranormal Activity, Lionsgate did it with Saw… and it sure(…)


Retro Review: MAMA (2013)

Retro Review: MAMA (2013) {0}

When it comes to the films he produces but does not direct, Guillermo Del Toro seems to enjoy helping young filmmakers to create “old-fashioned” genre films. Films like The Orphanage, Julia’s Eyes, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, and even Splice (to a point) seem to hearken back to an earlier era in which scares(…)


Retro Review: CHAINED (2012)

Retro Review: CHAINED (2012) {0}

Once in a while we hear a horrific story about a mentally deranged kidnapper who abducts someone, and simply keeps them. No ransom, no murder; just time spent as someone else’s plaything or reluctant companion. When they pop up in the newspapers, these tragic stories hit home in a dark, personal way. We ponder (hopefully(…)


Retro Review: ANTIVIRAL (2012)

Retro Review: ANTIVIRAL (2012) {0}

Why are we so obsessed with celebrity? Obviously it makes sense to admire a talented person, and if that person finds fans all over the world, then they’ve earned that spotlight. But beyond that, why do we care if Brad Pitt gets a divorce or if a troublesome starlet goes to jail? Why are there(…)


Retro Review: JOHN DIES AT THE END (2013)

Retro Review: JOHN DIES AT THE END (2013) {0}

Some movies are just born weird, plain and simple, and thank the movie gods for that. Sometimes weirdness and absurdity hit the screen like a lead weight, like a few of us saw in last year’s Branded, and other times the cinematic weirdness clicks into place and serves a purpose besides that of simple, well, weirdness.(…)


Retro Review: AMERICAN MARY (2012)

Retro Review: AMERICAN MARY (2012) {0}

I’ve been covering horror movies for a while now, and over the years I’ve noticed a lot of very interesting genre films about women — that are also written and directed by men. That’s meant as a compliment. Indie filmmakers like Paul Solet (Grace), Mitchell Lichtenstein (Teeth), and Lucky McKee (May, The Woman) are clearly(…)


Retro Review: THE DIVIDE (2011)

Retro Review: THE DIVIDE (2011) {0}

It was only a few years ago that French filmmaker Xavier Gens hit the festival circuit with a colorfully bizarre horror flick called Fronteire(s), which in turn led to an ill-fated Hollywood gig  (the video game adaptation known as Hitman), which in turn led the filmmaker back to … smaller projects. His third feature is a patently(…)


Retro Review: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 (2012)

Retro Review: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 (2012) {0}

Are we really at the fourth chapter of Paranormal Activity already? Seems like only yesterday that Paramount grabbed hold of a great little indie horror flick, released it during the Halloween season, and made a billion dollars on what turned out to be a really smart bet. Speaking of smart bets, Part 2 and Part(…)


Retro Review: EXCISION (2012)

Retro Review: EXCISION (2012) {0}

At first it felt like a strange dark comedy pulled from inspirations from John Waters and Todd Solondz. And then it starts to feel a bit like an “alienated teen” psychological thriller not unlike a rough, indie version of Carrie. And then something clicked in my brain: something about the premise, the tone, and the admirable(…)


Retro Review: HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA (2012)

Retro Review: HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA (2012) {0}

Seems we’re presently in the midst of a miniature renaissance for horror-themed animated features. A few months ago we got the truly impressive ParaNorman from Universal, and next month Disney has a treat in the form of Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, but while the former film is very clever and the latter one is very sweet,(…)


Retro Review: THE AMERICAN SCREAM (2012)

Retro Review: THE AMERICAN SCREAM (2012) {0}

There are documentaries that focus on history, science and important current events, and obviously those are important. We will always need honest and objective filmmakers to educate us beyond the junk we’re taught in high school. But there’s also a sub-genre among documentaries that might seem slight, but is still important in some small way.(…)



Retro Review: HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET (2012) {0}

Some horror flicks are designed for the young and communal experience, and that’s perfectly fine. There’s more than enough room under the genre umbrella for family films, “tween” films, young adult films, and hardcore horror junkie films. And while the new thriller House at the End of the Street earns a few points for trying(…)


Retro Review: FRANKENWEENIE (2012)

Retro Review: FRANKENWEENIE (2012) {0}

At first it sounds like typically unoriginal revisionism — or outright laziness: the news that Tim Burton and Disney would be expanding the director’s 1984 short, Frankenweenie, into a feature-length film. Mr. Burton’s 30-minute short is an absolute delight, so (as many movie geeks audibly wondered) why would you want to mess with a good thing?(…)


Retro Review: THE GOOD DOCTOR (2012)

Retro Review: THE GOOD DOCTOR (2012) {0}

Of all the scary things we poor humans have to deal with, putting our lives in the hands of someone else has to rank among the most terrifying. We hope, pray, and trust that if we’re stricken by something life-threatening, our attending medical professionals are among the world’s smartest, purest, and most talented. In most(…)


Retro Review: COCKNEYS VS ZOMBIES (2012)

Retro Review: COCKNEYS VS ZOMBIES (2012) {0}

There are several colors in the “horror/comedy” spectrum. Some films, like John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London is a horror film with sly wit, whereas on the other side of the scale we have Scary Movie, which is little more than a broad spoof that happens to focus on cliches and stereotypes found in horror flicks. Somewhere(…)



Retro Review: BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO (2012) {0}

When someone says a new movie is “made for horror fans,” what they usually mean is that it’s fun, fast-paced, nostalgic, and probably pretty self-deprecating or subversive. Movies like Scream, Slither, and The Cabin in the Woods are “made for horror fans” in that way. Then there are films like Berberian Sound Studio, which is made for horror fans(…)


Retro Review: DEAD SUSHI (2012)

Retro Review: DEAD SUSHI (2012) {0}

There’s broad comedy, there’s wacky stuff, and then there’s the Japanese version of non-stop silliness. Throw all three into a blender and you’ll get a bizarre (and kinda tasty) concoction known as Dead Sushi, a horror / action / ultra-goofy slapstick farce from the man who brought us RoboGeisha, Mutant Girls Squad, and Zombie Ass. Yes, those are(…)


Retro Review: GRABBERS (2012)

Retro Review: GRABBERS (2012) {0}

Virtually every film festival in the world has a handful of charming little Irish movies hiding in the fringes. And if they don’t, they should. Sincere drama about little but real characters; light comedy that almost always brings some heart and sweetness to the fore; tough stories about violent histories; and dark thrillers based on(…)


Retro Review: PARANORMAN (2012)

Retro Review: PARANORMAN (2012) {0}

“A boy who can talk to the dead must come to the rescue of his unfriendly town when a bunch of zombies and an evil witch rise from the dead and start to raise holy hell.” Doesn’t exactly sound like a “kiddie flick,” does it? Not really. And that’s only one of the reasons that(…)


Retro Review: LOVELY MOLLY (2012)

Retro Review: LOVELY MOLLY (2012) {0}

One day (very soon) I’m going to write an article about the large number of surprisingly insightful male directors who make horror films about women. On that list I’d mention films like May, The Descent, Teeth, Grace, and recent Sundance flicks like Excision (reviewed here) and Eduardo Sanchez’s Lovely Molly. That’s not to say that these films offer any definitive(…)


Retro Review: THE FACILITY (2012)

Retro Review: THE FACILITY (2012) {0}

As is often the case with interesting indie horror films, The Facility proves that you don’t need much to deliver something worthwhile. Here we have a straightforward story that offers A) a simple premise, B) an effective location, and C) a handful of characters worth watching for 90 minutes. The Facility never comes close to(…)


Retro Review: CHERNOBYL DIARIES (2012)

Retro Review: CHERNOBYL DIARIES (2012) {0}

When is a found footage horror film not a found footage horror film? When none of the characters scream at the person holding the camera. That’s pretty much exactly what the new horror flick Chernobyl Diaries is: a rather typical tale of six young idiots who visit somewhere they REALLY shouldn’t, and briefly live to regret it.(…)




It’s all right there in the title, so don’t walk into a film called Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter with a chip on your shoulder. You may like, love or detest the film, but by purchasing a ticket for a film with that title, you officially recuse yourself from being a snarky wise-ass. You buy the ticket, and(…)


Retro Review: THE PACT (2012)

Retro Review: THE PACT (2012) {0}

An unhappy young woman with a tragic past travels back to her old family home following the death of her mother, only to discover that … wait, let me go take a nap. Surely we’ve seen a dozen or so horror films that could boast that same sketchy premise, and here is yet another one.(…)


Retro Review: PIRANHA 3DD (2012)

Retro Review: PIRANHA 3DD (2012) {0}

It all started with a film called Jaws. And it was good. From that 1975 classic we leap over several truly terrible rip-off movies and focus on Piranha (1978), which was Roger Corman, Joe Dante, and John Sayles ripping off Jaws, with a hearty dose of their own clever gimmickry and amusing ideas. That one led to Piranha 2: The(…)


Retro Review: DARK SHADOWS (2012)

Retro Review: DARK SHADOWS (2012) {0}

Here’s how to create a true stinker, in Hollywood terms: A. Purchase the rights to a creaky old “cult favorite,” one that means virtually nothing to modern audiences (aside from a vaguely familiar title), but still maintains a loyal fan following. (These are the people who will do all your free advertising soon.)


Retro Review: CABIN IN THE WOODS (2012)

Retro Review: CABIN IN THE WOODS (2012) {0}

“Subversive” is a great thing to be, especially if you make movies. Smart, subversive filmmakers can take something beloved yet painfully familiar, examine it from all possible sides, and then construct something that pays homage and pokes fun at the same time. Airplane! subverted disaster movies; Hot Fuzz did it for buddy cop movies; and now, Drew Goddard and(…)


Retro Review: ATM (2012)

Retro Review: ATM (2012) {0}

How many tight places can movie characters become stuck in? We’ve seen phone booths, ski lifts, and (of course) coffins in recent years, but here comes a trap for the modern age: the isolated, indoor ATM vestibule. I know I’ve seen a few of these things: obscure little islands of light that are sometimes tucked(…)


Retro Review: THE INNKEEPERS (2011)

Retro Review: THE INNKEEPERS (2011) {0}

The indie king of the slow-burn horror flick is back, and this time Ti West is bringing along an unexpected dose of wit, warmth, and weirdly effective character-based comedy. In many ways, West’s The Innkeepers is a lot like his previous features (The Roost, Trigger Man, and The House of the Devil), in that you know it’s a horror(…)


Retro Review: THE GREY (2012)

Retro Review: THE GREY (2012) {0}

I know what you’re thinking. Liam Neeson trudging through the Alaskan wilderness in a humdrum January survivalist thriller flick. Looks kinda like Alive and certainly doesn’t have a whole lot to offer horror fans. But what promotional materials only hint at, wild wolves watching the every move of these men as they battle for survival amidst the(…)


Retro Review: THE DEVIL INSIDE (2012)

Retro Review: THE DEVIL INSIDE (2012) {0}

You may recall a terrible horror flick from a few years back called Stay Alive. It was a very typical slasher flick copycat that showed up at the tail-end of another slasher cycle. That happens a lot to rip-offs: they arrive just a bit too late to steal much money. That forgettable film came from the(…)


Retro Review: ABSENTIA (2011)

Retro Review: ABSENTIA (2011) {0}

Most horror movies are horror/action movies, really. We wait through the slow parts, we (hopefully) get built up with some style and atmosphere, and then we get the kills/scares/chases, and those are a lot like action scenes.


Retro Review: HOSTEL 3 (2011)

Retro Review: HOSTEL 3 (2011) {0}

As any astute horror fan knows by now, Eli Roth’s Hostel (2005) and Hostel Part 2 (2007) took place in a sleazy and hopefully fictional version of Slovakia. This setting afforded the writer/director ample opportunity to explore concepts like xenophobia, cultural egocentricity, and American provincialism — but explore them in a decidedly creepy, disturbing, gory, and occasionally amusing fashion.(…)


Retro Review: BEREAVEMENT (2011)

Retro Review: BEREAVEMENT (2011) {0}

The astute fan of indie horror cinema may recall a not-half-bad offering from 2004 called Malevolence. Written and directed by Stevan Mena, it told the story of a bank robbery gone (seriously) awry when the criminals choose the wrong patch of woods to hole up in. And that’s an understatement. A clearly low-budget and scrappy indie,(…)


Retro Review: THE AWAKENING (2011)

Retro Review: THE AWAKENING (2011) {1}

Last year’s quiet treat known as The Woman in Black proved that there’s still a little energy left in the horror sub-genre we’ll call “old-school British creepiness” for the time being, and while the inclusion of Daniel Radcliffe (aka Harry Potter) was no small part in that film’s success, the end result was an admirably old-fashioned, low-key(…)


Retro Review: 11-11-11: THE PROPHECY (2012)

Retro Review: 11-11-11: THE PROPHECY (2012) {0}

There’s something almost quaint about the new occult thriller from Darren Lynn Bousman, and not just because it’s a low-key departure for the guy who directed three Saw sequels, a Mother’s Day remake, and one of the craziest cult musicals since Rocky Horror. At times the somewhat dry, somewhat comfortably familiar horror tale known as 11-11-11: The Prophecy feels like a late-era(…)




Note: this review may contain mild spoilers that deal with personal and frequently smelly bodily functions. The already-infamous horror film The Human Centipede was a gimmick the second it was born: by telling people what the film is about (a man who grafts three people together, ass-to-mouth) you were already doing marketing. Many people recoiled at the(…)


Retro Review: CONTAGION (2011)

Retro Review: CONTAGION (2011) {0}

There are numerous ways one could go with an “epidemic thriller” like Contagion. The smash hit Outbreak turned the premise into a goofy little race against the clock affair; last year’s Never Let Me Go looked at the after-effects in personal and heartbreaking fashion; horror flicks like The Crazies are content to roll around in the gore while making a simple point(…)


Retro Review: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 (2011)

Retro Review: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 (2011) {0}

Horror sequels are a double-edged sword for their producers. Present a series of stand-alone follow-ups, like the old Friday the 13th franchise, and the films end up being little more than carbon copies of one another. On the other hand, if you’re intent on creating an ongoing series that keeps a bunch of plot-threads percolating, you chance(…)


Retro Review: DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK (2011)

Retro Review: DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK (2011) {0}

One doesn’t like to use the word “quaint” to describe a horror film, particularly if it’s a horror film they’re ultimately trying to recommend. But that’s the word that stuck after seeing the latest Guillermo del Toro production, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark: quaint, old-fashioned, sedate, deliberate, quiet — but also good adjectives like dark,(…)


Retro Review: DREAM HOUSE (2011)

Retro Review: DREAM HOUSE (2011) {0}

It may have sounded like a good idea on paper (how else could it attract such talent?), but the recent haunted house thriller Dream House is saddled with bland, outdated concepts, overtly predictable”surprises,” dead-eyed acting performances from generally reliable players, and a relentless intent on wedging as many hoary old cliches as possible into the dreary 92-minute(…)


Retro Review: KILL LIST (2011)

Retro Review: KILL LIST (2011) {0}

One of the coolest things about Ben Wheatley’s debut effort, Down Terrace, was the way it forced an audience to slow down a bit, to get used to the characters and the story threads … and then pull the rug out from beneath the viewer, leaving them to marvel at the weird and darkly amusing machinations(…)


Retro Review: FRIGHT NIGHT (2011)

Retro Review: FRIGHT NIGHT (2011) {0}

Here we are in Remake County again, population: crappy. Well, that’s not entirely fair, is it? I know dozens of horror fans who love remakes. The Thing, The Fly, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Dawn of the Dead, Let Me In and The Blob are all remakes, and I’d content that not one of those(…)


Retro Review: APOLLO 18 (2011)

Retro Review: APOLLO 18 (2011) {0}

Apparently somebody, somewhere, at one point had a light bulb go off over their head while watching The Blair Witch Project or Paranormal Activity or [REC], it doesn’t really matter. The new idea was this: hey, let’s place a “found footage” horror flick inside the capsule of an ill-fated trip to the moon! Not a terrible concept, truth be told,(…)


Retro Review: FINAL DESTINATION 5 (2011)

Retro Review: FINAL DESTINATION 5 (2011) {0}

There are many horror sequels that are A) redundant, B) silly, C) uninspired, and D) all of the above — but we like some of them anyway. The problem posed to the producers of horror franchises is this: how to give your money-holding ticket-buyers “more of the same” while still being able to “introduce something(…)


Retro Review: PRIEST (2011)

Retro Review: PRIEST (2011) {0}

A optimist would say that the second collaboration between director Scott Stewart and actor Paul Bettany would, by simple logic, have to be an improvement over their first one: the rather dire 2009 effort known as Legion. A pessimist would say there’s no prooof that their second film, the comic book adaptation Priest, would be any better(…)


Retro Review: RED HILL (2010)

Retro Review: RED HILL (2010) {0}

Given a choice between an Australian film and pretty much anything else at a genre-intensive film festival … I’m choosing the Aussie flick. From my earliest days as a movie freak, I knew that the far-away and magical land of Australia produced movies like The Road Warrior, Razorback, Road Games, and Patrick, and that was enough to(…)


Retro Review: HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN (2011)

Retro Review: HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN (2011) {0}

Take a big slice of Troma-style tongue-in-cheek nastiness, sprinkle it with some legitimately (if consistently) raunchy dialogue, pepper it with liberal doses of over-the-top (nay, cartoonish) ultra-violence, and cap it all off with a truly entertaining performance from a great veteran character actor, and you’re halfway to appreciating the serious lunacy on display in Jason(…)


Retro Review: INSIDIOUS (2010)

Retro Review: INSIDIOUS (2010) {0}

I simply do not envy the filmmakers who feel inspired to make a haunted house flick in today’s cynical age. What used to be so beautifully easy in The Haunting or House on Haunted Hill or The Innocents became a little bit tougher in The Amityville Horror and Poltergeist — and nowadays you have to break out the video camera if you want to dazzle(…)


Retro Review: MY SUCKY TEEN ROMANCE (2011)

Retro Review: MY SUCKY TEEN ROMANCE (2011) {0}

Self-taught filmmaker Emily Hagins is on her third feature with the clever little comedy My Sucky Teen Romance. And since I consider the young lady to be self-taught, I opted not to review her earlier films, Pathogen and The Retelling, because I felt they were akin to student films. Legitimate, fitfully entertaining student films that showed a lot of(…)


Retro Review: DRIVE ANGRY 3D (2011)

Retro Review: DRIVE ANGRY 3D (2011) {0}

You’re bound to read and hear a lot of opinions that call Drive Angry a mindless piece of stupid action flick trash … as if that’s some sort of shocking revelation. The trailers and TV ads all but scream “mindless action trash,” and the producers seem perfectly fine with that assessment. The question that stands, of course,(…)


Retro Review: A SERBIAN FILM, aka SRPSKI FILM (2010)

Retro Review: A SERBIAN FILM, aka SRPSKI FILM (2010) {0}

Imagine you’re a car mechanic and you’re tasked with fixing a car made entirely of body parts. Or pretend you’re a doctor who is faced with a shocking, violent disease that nobody’s ever seen before. Now here’s me: a (very) horror-friendly film critic who is asked to review a film that’s so shocking, so outrageous,(…)


Retro Review: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 (2010)

Retro Review: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 (2010) {0}

One doesn’t look at a nifty-yet-slight little horror flick like Paranormal Activity and think “definite sequel potential.” As one of those “found footage” gimmick movies, it works surprisingly well. It’s a clever little slow-burn indie chiller, which made it no surprise when Paramount picked up the $20,000 movie, primed their hype machine, and delivered it to an(…)


Retro Review: HATCHET II (2010)

Retro Review: HATCHET II (2010) {0}

Just like a thorough horror fan will return to the gory stuff after enjoying a quiet psycho-thriller or a suspenseful tale of simple survival, our pal Adam Green has returned to the sub-genre he loves so much: the slasher flick. The versatile genre freak started out with Hatchet before getting a little more sedate with Spiral and Frozen … and now(…)


Retro Review: LET ME IN (2010)

Retro Review: LET ME IN (2010) {0}

Let’s just point to the elephant in the room right now and get it over with. Yes, the 2008 Swedish horror film Let the Right One In is sort of what you’d call an “instant classic.” I (and dozens of my festival colleagues) adored the film during its film festival run, the rest of the critics were(…)


Retro Review: THE HOLE (2009)

Retro Review: THE HOLE (2009) {0}

Back when most of my friends were geeking out over their Mike Schmidt baseball cards or Spider-Man comic books, I was cataloging my own list of favorites. Sure, me and all my neighborhood friends loved baseball, comic books, and video games, but I’m pretty sure I was the only one who knew that Cujo and Cat’s Eye were directed(…)


Retro Review: PIRANHA 3D (2010)

Retro Review: PIRANHA 3D (2010) {0}

Here’s a list of things you’ll definitely experience if you buy a ticket to Alexandre Aja’s remake of Joe Dante’s Piranha, Piranha 3D. 1. Some intermittently effective 3D trickery that I certainly won’t miss when the DVD hits the shelves. 2. Tons of gory scenes in which prehistoric, ravenous fish chew on shrieking people, most of whom(…)


Retro Review: THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE (2009)

Retro Review: THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE (2009) {0}

It begins in standard enough fashion: Two young, pretty, obnoxious women get lost on their way to a party, only to stumble upon an isolated house belonging to a certifiable lunatic. That sums up the first 20-some minutes of Tom Six’s The Human Centipede, but once we get that familiar fare out of the way …(…)


Retro Review: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (2010)

Retro Review: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (2010) {0}

Despite what the cynics say, there are many different reasons why someone(s) would want to remake a horror film like Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street: 1. Easy money, because the script is already done — and there’s always a few nickels to wring out of nostalgia and “name recognition.” 2. You love a classic(…)


Retro Review: FROZEN (2010)

Retro Review: FROZEN (2010) {0}

I’m a big fan of the “what would YOU do?” thriller; the kind that asks how you’d react to A) being left in the ocean with hungry sharks, B) being trapped in a phone booth by a mad sniper, or C) being accidentally abandoned while riding a ski-lift high above a frigid mountain. Oh, you(…)


Retro Review: DAYBREAKERS (2010)

Retro Review: DAYBREAKERS (2010) {0}

It’s a lazy technique … but it also works. I’m talking about the “movie X meets movie Y” style of cinematic analysis, and it’s how I plan to open my review of Michael and Peter Spierig’s Daybreakers: “It’s Gattaca meets Near Dark … sorta.” If I were one of those genre-lovin’ Australian Spierig boys, I’d choose to take that as(…)


Retro Review: CARRIERS (2009)

Retro Review: CARRIERS (2009) {0}

Pity the poor apocalyptic horror film Carriers. Here we have a well-shot, psychologically demanding, and impressively unflinching tale of global decay, but since the screenplay caught the eye of a now-defunct “boutique” label (namely, Paramount Vantage), the film is beholden to all sorts of lofty expectations. A “studio product” must A) yield a jazzy trailer, B)(…)


Retro Review: THE BOX (2009)

Retro Review: THE BOX (2009) {0}

Wikipedia tells me that the great Richard Matheson was none too pleased with the 1986 Twilight Zone episode that was based on his 1970 short story Button, Button. And having just witnessed the certifiably bizarre Richard Kelly adaptation, I think it’s safe to say that Mr. Matheson would have absolutely loathed this version. Let’s just say the TV(…)


Retro Review: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (2008)

Retro Review: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (2008) {0}

Apparently all it takes to make an effective horror flick are the following components: a guy, a girl, a camera, and a whole bunch of seriously creepy atmosphere. Oren Peli’s Paranormal Activity is one of the best haunted house flicks I’ve seen in quite some time — and what makes it even cooler is that(…)


Retro Review: JENNIFER’S BODY (2009)

Retro Review: JENNIFER’S BODY (2009) {0}

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, in about 0.6 seconds: The horror / comedy mixture is a mean and difficult beast to tame. I do not envy the screenwriter, director, and actors who must, for at least 100 minutes, waver back and forth between A) shocks, scares, and splatter, and B) jokes,(…)


Retro Review: THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (2009)

Retro Review: THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (2009) {0}

A college girl who desperately needs some income agrees to babysit in a giant creepy house, only to discover that she’s been enticed there for nefarious means. Your reaction is this: Yawn. Seen it. My response? That’s what’s so cool about Ti West’s The House of the Devil. It knows that YOU know all the “haunted house”(…)


Retro Review: BEST WORST MOVIE (2009)

Retro Review: BEST WORST MOVIE (2009) {0}

One of the main (and corniest) reasons I love film festivals is this: We’re (pretty much) all there to acknowledge / admire / adore the art of cinema, and the love for the medium oozes out of every crack in the sidewalk found at Sundance, Toronto, SXSW, etc. But here’s the thing: 99.5% of the(…)


Retro Review: HALLOWEEN II (2009)

Retro Review: HALLOWEEN II (2009) {0}

If you have a baby who loves to, say, take off his diaper and smear the walls with his own feces, it’s not really the kid’s fault. It’s the fault of the parents who allow a small child with a poop fetish to run around unchecked, free to do whatever he likes with his diaper(…)


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