Monday, February 20, 2017
By William Pattison, aka Eric Morse
For Horror Bob’s Blog
Gore and scares! For my review this time I have the new anthology XX. This anthology was done by four female filmmakers: Jovanka Vuckovic, Roxanne Benjamin,
Vincent aka Annie Clark, and Karyn Kusama. The film is made up of
four terror tales connected by a weird animated wrap a round featuring an odd
doll house with a doll’s face.
The first story is an adaptation by Jovanka Vuckovic of the overly treaded Jack Ketchum short story The Box. Honestly when I saw that they were doing The Box in this anthology I figured this segment was going to be the weakest of the stories given the fact that The Box has had three previous short film adaptation as well as a feature film. For those who somehow missed this story, in Ketchum’s original story a man with a messed up side of his face goes to a couple who is having financial problems and offers them the chance to get a million dollars. The only catch is they have to push a button inside a black box which will kill a random person. They only have a week to decide. Well, Vuckovic does a total re-writing of the tale. She still has the mysterious man and the box, but this time the box is red and has a big red bow on it. Vuckovic’s version starts on a train with a mother and two kids. A mystery man with a messed up eye is sitting nearby them holding the box. The mother’s son asks the man what is in the box. The man opens the box and shows him. From that moment on the boy refuses to eat. His father in one scene gets so frustrated he starts yelling at the boy who breaks down in tears but refuses to eat. Eventually the boy tells his sister what he saw and she refuses to eat as well. Then at the end the boy tells his father and he stops eating. You can gather the end of the story. Jovanka Vuckovic is brilliant in how she handles this story. Seriously, the way she films the food in the scene makes you hungry. It looks so appealing yet the boy and later his sister turns their noses up to it. This adaptation is psychological horror at its best and is in fact the strongest of the tales in this anthology.
The second story is by filmmakers Roxanne Benjamin and
aka Annie Clark. It is titled The Birthday
Party. It tells the tale of a mother who is having a costume party/
birthday party for her adopted daughter. Unfortunately, she finds the girl’s
father dead in his den. Now the mother finds herself trying to hide the body
from her daughter and the arriving party guests. She ends up disguising the
body in a panda costume and sits it at the party table. Of course fate hits in
a predictable ending.
I have to say this was the weakest story of the anthology and suffered from an annoying habit that some female filmmakers have. That is they fall so much in love with style and costuming that they forget the story and focus solely on visual elements. This is an issue I have with the Soskas as well. For instance the mother spends the entire story in a dark green nightgown with a mauve silk bathrobe. The daughter is wearing a supposed handmade ghost costume. The distracting thing is it is made out of a white overly shiny vinyl material. Then the other kids costumes look like nothing a modern kid would ever, and I mean ever, wear unless they were forced to. It looks like a twisted school play. Then of course the parents costuming and hair styles were horridly off. I doubt that any man, even a gay guy, would wear an orange tennis shirt with a atomic yellow sweater and puke green colored pants. With all these distracting costume elements it royally takes away from the focus of the story, which is the mother and her husband’s body.
The third story is a definite improvement over the last installment. I was directed by Roxanne Benjamin and is titled Don’t Fall. It tells the story of a group of vacationers who set up camp in an area they are not supposed to be near a ancient cave painting. The cave painting shows a group of figures. The figure in the middle is bigger than the others and appears to have horns. The group does some rock climbing, have a campout, and settle in their RV for a good night’s sleep. Well, that is when the fun begins….One of the girls wakes up in the middle of the night. She somehow had been moved up the rock face and was laying beneath the cave painting. She ends up being possessed by the evil entity that lives in the rock. Now the vacationers must try to escape their friend who has turned into a monster set to rip all of them to pieces.
I loved this story. It was a no nonsense monster story that was gritty and nasty in the tradition of The Evil Dead. The possessed girl-creature was awesome and all the FX were gory practical effects. I have nothing but praise for this installment.
The final story is titled Her only Living Son. It was directed by Karyn Kusama and tells the story of Cora, who has a special son named Andy who she spends her days protecting. Cora has had to move constantly to protect her son because some “crazy people,” as she calls them, want to take Andy and use him for their own purposes. Well, Andy’s eighteenth birthday is coming up and Cora worries that he might have to make a frightening decision.
I really enjoyed this installment. Both the actress that played Cora and Andy both did fantastic performances. In fact all the performances are top drawer. There is a scene where Cora in having a conference with the dean of Andy’s school. Supposedly Andy had pulled a fellow student’s finger nails off. Surprisingly, the dean tells Cora that she isn’t going to discipline Andy because he is a special boy and needs to be encouraged. The look on Cora’s face speaks volumes. The most frightening scene is towards the end of the story after Andy tells Cora that a strange woman told him his real father was coming to get him. He orders his mother to kneel before him and while she pleads about how she has done everything to protect him Andy strokes her hair with his hand which has changed and has long sharp finger nails. The best part of this story is when Andy’s father finally arrives the camera doesn’t show him but focuses solely on Andy and his mother. Also, though the end is bloody it is done well and fits the feel of the story rather than being overly grizzly.
So, in conclusion, I have to say that XX is a really good anthology film. If I was to give it a number rating I would give it a 3.5 out of 5. The reason I would not give it a full 4.0 is because I felt the cryptic wrap a round took away from the film. Also, as I said, I wasn’t very pleased with the second story. But, I will say that this anthology surprised me and is one I will recommend….
Keep on Creepin’, Horror Bob’s Blog….
Wednesday, February 8, 2017
William Pattison’s Top 20 Best Horror Films of 2016
Gore and Scares Everybody! It’s me, William Pattison. Well, 2017 is here and so is horror awards season. Yep, all the horror magazines and film festivals will be naming their favorite horror films from 2016 via Top Lists or full on awards ceremonies. So I thought what the hell. I’ve watched around 200 horror films this last year, more or less (Probably more than most of the people who are judging this year…). So, why shouldn’t I name my Top twenty films I thought were superior for 2016?
It was hard but after a lot of painful cutting and trimming I managed to knock my list down to twenty. It really was hard work because there were a lot of excellent horror films that came out in 2016. So here are my choices…..
20. She-wolf Rising
A nonstop supernatural thriller that explores the dark side of underground filmmaking. Gina Sklar, the reigning queen of horror, portrayed by Tiffany Shepis, lures Jake Bubar (Tim Mandala) into the decadent world of illusions and myths. Robert Lonzo (J. Edmund Fond) is Gina's mentor and producer in the world of horror cinema. Someone has stolen the footage from his latest movie and Gina needs Jake's help to recover it. It's Lonzo's best movie ever and Gina's breakout performance. Gina believes that this movie could catapult her out of the "B" world of films and into mainstream cinema. Jake struggles with his own demons internally but in the end cannot resist her. He only sees her vulnerability and beauty and will do anything to help. Jake's beliefs are challenged when he discovers Gina's true nature and realizes that the "the heart becomes savage." Together they forge ahead and deal with the demons and beasts that try to stop them from their forbidden desire.
Tiffany Shepis, Debbie Rochon, Timothy Mandala
When passengers on a train are attacked by a creature, they must band together in order to survive until morning.
Mark Huckerby, Nick Ostler
Ed Speleers, Holly Weston, Shauna Macdonald
18. The Veil
Twenty-five years after members of a religious cult committed mass suicide, the lone survivor returns to the scene of the tragedy with a documentary crew in tow.
Robert Ben Garant (screenplay)
Jessica Alba, Lily Rabe, Thomas Jane
A squad of unsuspecting cops goes through a trapdoor to Hell when they stumble upon a Black Mass in an abandoned building.
Ogulcan Eren Akay, Can Evrenol, Cem Ozuduru, Ercin Sadikoglu
Mehmet Cerrahoglu, Görkem Kasal, Ergun Kuyucu
A loving father finds a clown suit for his son's birthday party, only to realize that it is not a suit at all.
Christopher Ford (screenplay) (as Christopher D. Ford), Jon
Andy Powers, Laura Allen, Peter Stormare
A bachelor party becomes a savage fight for survival when the groomsmen unwittingly unleash a fabled predator upon the festivities.
David Bruckner (based on characters created by), David Bruckner (original screenplay: Amateur Nightt), Ben Collins, Luke Piotrowski, Nicholas Tecosky (based on characters created by)
Chase Williamson, Hannah Fierman, Justin Welborn
14. Blair Witch
After discovering a video showing what he believes to be his vanished sister Heather, James and a group of friends head to the forest believed to be inhabited by the Blair Witch.
James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Corbin Reid
13. Hollow Creek
Seeking inspiration for his latest horror novel Blake Blackman, a writer from
New York, retreats to
a remote cabin in the Appalachian Mountains.
He is secretly accompanied by his lover Angelica Santoro a book illustrator who
he's been having an affair with. She brings her dog along with them. Upon
arrival they hear an amber alert on the radio and first learn about the case of
several boys missing in the area. Soon after they arrive to the cabin her dog
starts acting strange like there's someone or something out in the woods. A
twist of fate turns the romantic interlude into an abduction-murder case when
Angelica follows a lead to one of the missing boys and she mysteriously goes
missing. Blake then becomes the prime suspect of her disappearance.
Guisela Moro, Steve Daron (collaborating writer) Guisela Moro (creator)
Steve Daron, Guisela Moro, Burt Reynolds |
12. Don’t Breath
Hoping to walk away with a massive fortune, a trio of thieves break into the house of a blind man who isn't as helpless as he seems.
Fede Alvarez, Rodo Sayagues
Stephen Lang, Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette
After botching an ill-conceived bank robbery in a desolate
California town, two
wannabe crooks flee the scene with a hostage and lead the local lawmen on a
dangerous high-speed chase.
Ashley Bell, Pat Healy, James Landry Hébert
A married couple of scientists create a modern-day monster.
Danny Huston, Matthew Jacobs, Dave Pressler
9. Ouja: Origin of Evil
a widowed mother and her 2 daughters add a new stunt to bolster their seance
scam business, inviting an evil presence into their home.
Mike Flanagan, Jeff Howard Stiles White (characters) Juliet Snowden (characters)
Elizabeth Reaser, Lulu
Wilson, Annalise Basso
10 Cloverfield Lane
After getting in a car accident, a woman is held in a shelter with two men, who claim the outside world is affected by a widespread chemical attack.
Josh Campbell (story), Matthew Stuecken (story) Josh Campbell (screenplay) &, Matthew Stuecken (screenplay) and, Damien Chazelle (screenplay)
John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr.
7. The Monster
A mother and daughter must confront a terrifying monster when they break down on a deserted road.
Zoe Kazan, Ella Ballentine, Aaron Douglas
6. Before I Wake
A young couple adopt an orphaned child whose dreams - and nightmares - manifest physically as he sleeps.
Mike Flanagan, Jeff Howard
Thomas Jane, Kate Bosworth, Jacob Tremblay
Five carnival workers are kidnapped and held hostage in an abandoned, Hell-like compound where they are forced to participate in a violent game, the goal of which is to survive twelve hours against a gang of sadistic clowns.
Malcolm McDowell, Richard Brake, Jeff Daniel Phillips
4. The Train to Busan
While a zombie-virus breaks out in
South Korea, a couple of passengers struggle to
survive on the train from Seoul
Sang-ho Yeon (screenplay)
Yoo Gong, Soo-an Kim, Yu-mi Jung
An investigative reporter teams up with a Police officer to solve the mystery of why a seemingly good man murdered her sister's family.
Darren Lynn Bousman
Christopher Monfette (screenplay)
Jessica Lowndes, Joe Anderson, Lin Shaye
2. The Conjuring 2
Carey Hayes (screenplay), Chad Hayes (screenplay), James Wan (screenplay) and David Leslie Johnson (screenplay) (as David Johnson), Carey Hayes (story) & James Wan (story)
Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Madison Wolfe
1.The Autopsy of Jane Doe
A father and son, both coroners, are pulled into a complex mystery while attempting to identify the body of a young woman, who was apparently harboring dark secrets.
Ian B. Goldberg (as Ian Goldberg), Richard Naing
Emile Hirsch, Brian Cox, Ophelia Lovibond
Well, those are my top twenty horror films for 2016. I hoped you enjoyed them. If you haven't seen some of these films I suggest you take the time to do that because they are worth it....
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Saturday, January 28, 2017
By William Pattison, aka Eric Morse
For Horror Bob's Blog
Well, I went to see Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. I was of two minds on this film. The fighting sequences were fantastic. The production quality was good. Paul W S Anderson is a wonderful director. The big problem I had was with the story. I enjoyed the plot, which was simply the computer program The Red Queen informs
that there is an air born cure for the T Virus and she has a short time to
return to and get in order to
save the human race. The problem was the script, to be more exact the
continuity points. It starts at the very beginning of the film, when Raccoon
City Alice is going over the T
Virus history. Suddenly she says that another guy created the T Virus other
than Doctor Ashford (from Resident Evil Apocalypse) and that it was HIS
daughter The Red Queen was based on. Also that they daughter had had a disease
that caused her to age rapidly and the T Virus was created as the cure. On top
of that they say that the creator of the virus was killed before the outbreak
and this executive adopts the daughter. From this point on all the continuity
that we’ve known from the previous five film is cluster-fucked for this new
continuity they created for this one film, like they did with the film
Highlander: The Source and Highlander: Endgame. Also they didn’t even show the
battle that was starting at the end of the last film. They just mention it in
So, I enjoyed the film but I felt betrayed by the fact that they fucked up the entire established continuity just to make this film work they way they wanted. A film can have great special FX and wonderful production quality, but if the cheat on the story it fucks up the entire thing. It is a flawed tapestry. If you are simply going to see this film for cool battle scenes and zombie and monster action you will enjoy it. If you are a person who wants a good solid story you will be sorely disappointed.
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Tuesday, January 3, 2017
By William Pattison
For Horror Bob's Blog
On Sunday and Monday I listened to the unabridged audio book of Clive Barker's The Scarlet Gospels. It took eleven long hours. Honestly, I think Clive did a far better job on his series of Hellraiser comics than he did on this novel. This novel had a lot of issues for me. For one thing it was very unbalanced and parts of it seemed very uninspired. I think there were exactly four scenes in this book (I won't go over them) that were brilliantly Barker, but that was it.
The major uninspired part of this book was Hell itself. The truth is there really wasn't anything hellacous about the Hell Barker describes, it could have been Middle Earth or Imagica for all you could tell.It definitely wasn't a place where Pinhead or his troops fit in. I definitely prefer the labyrinth and Leviathan in the films over the Hell in this book. Unfortunately, it is the trip through Hell that takes up the majority of the book.
I liked how Barker handled Lucifer, I think that was pretty much the best part of the book next to Pinhead's intro. I felt Harry D'Mour was wasted in this book, even though he was the main character. Really the only good part for D'Mour was when he entered the secret "party" house of his dead client. After that his part just didn't thrill me.
I felt Pinhead's anticipated death was completely lack luster and a waste. Also, that the entire end of the book was as drawn out as the end of Peter Jackson's film adaptation of Lord of the Rings.
So, in the end I can't recommend The Scarlet Gospels. If you want some really good Clive Barker/Pinehead action get the four part Clive Barker's Hellraiser comics that came out four years ago.
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Sunday, December 11, 2016
By William Pattison
For Horror Bob’s Blog
When a recently widowed man (played by Todd Lowe) named John moves his kids into an old Victorian house his kids find an old box full of 19th century antique items. Unknown to any of them these items are curse by a malevolent spirit of a murdered medium.
I have to say I loved this film. It was a very well constructed ghost story. Maria Olsen plays the murdered medium and though she has very little screen time she makes a strong impression. Todd Lowe does a wonderful job as the grieving father. The real surprise in the cast is Hannah Nordberg who plays the youngest daughter. Not since the character of Carol Ann in Poltergiest has there been as memorable the performance this girl presented.
The only real weakness in the cast is the part of the oldest daughter, which is played by Brook Butler. Unfortunately, Brook seems a bit more mature than the teenager she is supposed play. This made it hard for me to believe her in the role of a sixteen year old. I had a similar situation in the early 90s when Charles Band cast a 22 year old in the part of a 12 year old. But even with this minor issue director Thomas Della Bella delivers a film with good characterization, tension, and plenty of chills.
All I can say is I had heard a lot of good things about this film and I can honestly say that it lives up to its hype. I highly recommend this film to anyone who loves a good ghost story…
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Sunday, November 6, 2016
Review: Hollow Creek
By William Pattison
For Horror Bob’s Blog
For my review this time I have a horror/thriller by actress, director, and screenwriter Guisela Moro, Hollow Creek.
Collaborating screenwriter Steve Daron plays author Blake Blackman. Blackman travels to do a retreat in a cabin in the
Mountains with Angie, the woman he is having an affair with,
played Guisela Moro. Blake is going to the cabin to write his next horror
novel. On the trip to the cabin they hear an Amber Alert and hear that there
are several boys missing in the area. Soon after they arrive Angie’s dog starts
acting strange like there was in the woods. Meanwhile Angie goes to the local
doctor because she has been sick for a couple days and is shocked to find out
she is pregnant with Blake’s child. In a twist of fate, on her way back to the
cabin she sees a rusty old white car with what she realizes is one of the missing
boys in the back. She follows the car to a house in a remote area of town. There
she is caught by the husband and wife who have stolen the boys. The wife finds
out that Angie is pregnant and convinces her husband to lock up Angie and keep
her alive until she has her baby.
Meanwhile Blake is the prime suspect in Angie’s disappearance and spends months trying the mystery of what is going on in the small town.
I have to say that Guisela Moro and Steve Daron have written a wonderful script full of tension and strong characterization. Guisela shows herself a real talent as she takes on the hats of director and screen writer, as well as delivering a powerful performance as Angie. Former
superstar Burt Reynolds also gives a wonder performance in the role as the rich
Grandfather of one of the missing boys. All in all this is a well done thriller
with a bit of ghostly action as well. If you are looking for gore this won’t be
the film for you, but is you want tension and drama this is the film for you.
All I can say is I highly recommend this film and I look forward to Guisela Moro’s next film.
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Saturday, October 1, 2016
Review: Dark Summer
By William Pattison, aka Eric Morse
For Horror Bob's Blog
I just finished watching the 2015 film Dark Summer. This film tells the story of a 17 year old cyber stalker named Daniel who was obsessed with a girl named Mona. As the story opens Daniel is under house arrest and has to wear a sensor on his leg that only allows him to walk around his property. Also because of his cyber stalking he is banned from going on the internet. But his close friends Abby and Kevin help him find a way to get back on the net. But when he does he receives a Skype message from Mona. Mona makes him watch as she blows her head off with a gun. After Daniel starts having frightening experiences and suspects he is being haunted by Mona. Now it is up to Abby and Kevin to save Daniel before the spirit of Mona finishes her plans for him.
I really enjoyed this film. It was well written and it didn’t have the same stereotypical characters. I’ve honestly gotten tired of seeing The Breakfast Club style character setups in films. In this film Daniel, Abby, and Kevin felt like they were long time friends rather than a bunch of pretty faces that would never be seen dead together lumped together. Also this film had atmosphere. You felt a sense of being closed in and trapped in Daniel’s home. Also I loved how the filmmakers treated the spirit of Mona. When she was seen she wasn’t overdone, like most of these modern horror filmmakers do. I get tired of seeing ghosts that look like they came from the cast of Hellraiser. Mona was made pale looking and the only gory thing about her was the hole in the top of her head. Also, the plot twist at the end caught me by complete surprise, which is a rare thing.
So, people if you want a well written ghost story, with well developed characters, not over done, with a kick assed plot twist, this is the film for you. I highly recommend it…
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