Number 3 of My Top 31 Horror Movies : When a 12-year-old girl is possessed by a supernatural entity, her mother seeks the help of a priest to save her : Based on William Peter Blatty’s novel, The Exorcist came out in 1973 from filmmaker William Friedkin who also directed The French Connection & Sorcerer amongst others : I don’t think there’s ever been another horror movie about possession that’s even come close to scaring me half as much as The Exorcist still does, the way Friedkin slowly tells us the story of Chris MacNeil an actress and her 12yr old daughter Regan entwined with Father Karras who’s struggling with the loss of faith & loss of a loved one is not only compelling, but adds so much depth to the film and it’s characters, so by the time the possession truly takes hold of Regan and her bed starts rocking, head starts spinning and the vomit starts flowing the fear factor has already set in, your pulse is racing, your breathing has become shallower & you start burying your head in your hands in an attempt to hide from this devilish force of intimidation : I revisited The Exorcist two days ago and apart from the shocking possession scenes that include Regan violently masturbating with a crucifix, spider crawling down the stairs, forcing her mother between her legs & her head spinning 360 degrees there are also so many terrific sub-moments, I really loved the excavation scenes, the sound, color and imagery is so haunting during this beautifully shot opening to the movie, watching the broken Karras visit his mother in the hospital is emotionally draining, the subliminal hidden image of the demon shown during a scene with Ellen Burstyn really caught me off guard again and the scene with Lee J. Cobb’s brilliant Lieutenant is questioning Chris at her home is captivating, “can I have your autograph” really was a lighter moment : Jack Nitzsche’s score flows through the film better than most in it’s genre, it’s haunting and memorable and adds greatly to the films atmosphere and considering it’s low budget the film really come through with it’s creepy special effects that haven’t aged one bit : I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better performance by Ellen Burstyn the way she portrays being the helpless mother is phenomenal, Jason Miller is the embodiment of a broken priest and considering his limited screen time previous to this film was outstanding, Max von Sydow plays the elderly, tired yet commited Father Merrin wonderfully well but it’s Linda Blair as Regan who you will remember when think about this film, her vulgar, unpleasent display whilst being possessed by the devil is something to behold : The Exorcist is not for the faint hearted, it’s an unforgettable, multi layered horror movie that contains one of the most horrific final acts in cinematic history ★★★★★
Number 7 of My Top 31 Horror Movies : A wealthy socialite pursues a potential boyfriend to a small town on the coast that slowly takes a turn for the bizarre when birds of all kinds begin to attack the town folk : the film premiered in 1963 and for me THE BIRDS is the jewel in Alfred Hitchcock’s crown of suspense, imagery and pure dread, from it’s story which is loosely based on a short by Daphne du Maurier, the confidence, beauty & fear of it’s star Tippi Hedren, it’s breathtaking backdrop of Bodega Bay and the way Hitchcock builds up the story, slowly allowing you to know a little about each of the characters before the chaos rains down and The Birds attack which is utterly frightening to watch : there’s also very little music during the movie which also adds greatly to it’s atmosphere, just the screeching, scratching and calling of The Birds : although they lacked the chemistry the leads in the majority of Hitchcock movies had I did feel Rod Taylor was a fabulous leading man and gives a strong protect what I love at all cost performance alongside Hedren and the scenes at the bird shop between the two are fun to watch, there’s also a great Jessica Tandy performance who catches the eye in a supporting role, playing the distressed and over protective mother and a young Veronica Cartwright and the terrific Suzanne Pleshette both fleshing out the cast and doing fine jobs in their respective roles : The Birds has so many great scenes but I really love that moment around 85mins in when Hedren’s character finds herself stranded in a phone box and watches in panic, spinning around almost hypnotized in terror as The Birds cause mayhem around her, the gas station and cars lit on fire and people running for their lives, it’s perfect and not only one of the most chilling moments in the movie but possible the best shot also : there are certain horror movies that I revisit that could be placed higher on my list and Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds is certainly one of them, I can only imagine how shocked the audiences must have been back in the 60s when it was released : it’s a well structured, ALARMING ride into FEAR and a Hitchcock MASTERPIECE that deserves it’s place amongst the Greatest Movies of all time ★★★★★
One year after the brutal murder of her mother, Sidney Prescott and her friends are terrorized by a new killer : Written by Kevin Williamson & Directed by Wes Craven SCREAM is the BEST HORROR MOVIE in the last 25yrs : From that shiver inducing Dimension Film logo before the film starts, it’s smart edgy blood soaked script, the shocking start to the movie that nobody saw coming & the great Homages to horror movies of yester-year the film always delivers and to this day continues to blow my mind : Scream totally re-invented the genre from a director who already owned the scares in the 80s with his freaking great horror A Nightmare on Elm Street but unlike Elm Street Scream uses horror cliches and a whip smart script that’s incredibly funny yet utterly terrifying at times : The way Craven used horror films as the backdrop to Scream was a pure joy to watch, pictures such as Elm Street, Friday 13th, The Exorcist and of course Halloween got nods and even Wes makes a brief cameo as a school janitor dressed in that iconic Freddy Sweater, that small moment alone made me smile sooooooo much : Also let’s not forget the contribution it’s young fresh cast made, stars that were not household names such as Neve Campbell, Matthew Lillard, Rose McGowan, Jamie Kennedy & Skeet Ulrich all helped Craven’s blood lust come to life and create a new horror franchsise : The scene in the movie when Randy explains to his drunken friends about the Rules on How to Survive a Horror Movie whilst watching Halloween is one of my favorites, he pauses the film stands before the TV and tells his audience….. No.1 : Never have Sex…. No.2 : Don’t drink or do drugs…. and finally never ever ever say “I’ll be right back…” it’s sheer brilliance : I remember watching SCREAM in New York when it was released in the cinema, I didn’t know anything about the movie – I came out 2hrs later shouting, laughing and looking over my shoulder for Ghostface for the rest of that evening, what a movie BUZZ ★★★★★
Trapped in a cave, five men cut the arm off of another companion in order to ward off starvation. After they are saved, their victim seeks revenge on them one by one – THE SEVERED ARM is quite the rarity a 70s slasher movie that I had not seen or heard about until yesterday – Directed by Tom Alderman who’s short filmmaking career ended with this movie, and a cast including John Crawford, Paul Carr and the delightful Deborah Walley (1960’s Gidget Goes Hawaiian) – WOW !! what an incredibly atmospheric slasher, that contains some moody inventive camera work, a screamingly good synth score and a whole bunch of gruesome gore scenes (especially that severed arm moment later in the movie), I really enjoyed Walley’s turn as Ted’s daughter Teddy, as an actress her face lent to 70s slasher so well and I’m surprised she didn’t do more in the genre, also I loved the twist in the movie’s finale albeit a little predictable but it is well executed – If like me you love visiting these wildly odd B-Movie style slasher movies with a side plate of revenge and gory fun then The Severed Arm is worth the watch ★★★★
ATERRADOS aka: TERRIFIED: Demian Rugna
Ariel Chavarria, Maximiliano Ghione & Noberto Gonzalo
“When strange events occur in a neighborhood in Buenos Aires, a doctor specializing in the paranormal, her colleague, and an ex police officer decide to investigate further” It’s a rarity these days with Hollywood remaking, rebooting anything and everything that you come across a slice of original horror that makes your skin crawl, your palms sweat and your heart race so fast you feel like it’s gonna explode – Demian’s camera work, his use of light and the slow lingering photography are just perfect in building the atmosphere, the bathroom scene is one of the most disturbing horror moments in the last few years and the young boy at the dining table is chilling to say the least – so if your a fan of the paranormal or horror in general and are looking for something to creep you out this witching season then take a look at Demian Rugna’s ATERRADOS it’s a quick paced latin america horror movie that will make you jump out of your skin, lock all the doors and check beneath the bed before turning in – Demian Rugna has crafted something special and downright scary right here ★★★★
HALLOWEEN: David Gordon Green
Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak & Virginia Gardner
If you love horror and especially the slasher genre then David Gordon Green’s HALLOWEEN movie is a must watch on the big screen – the film is set 40 years after the John Carpenter’s original 1978 movie and is classed as a sequel to that movie, I know what your thinking “wasn’t there a Halloween II?” and you’d be right but Green and his writing team and it must be said with the blessing of Carpenter himself have decided to take their new movie in this direction – David Gordon Green’s movie sticks to the same formula as it’s predecessor, keeping things simple, uncomplicated and downright SCARY – the filmmaker makes use of Carpenter’s iconic score that always manages to creep me out and if that’s not enough to scare one silly then the sight of Michael Myers prowling the screen will make you quiver in your seat, the violence is brutal at times and not for the squeamish and along with the many homages to the original film it’s the return of Jamie Lee Curtis who once again gives the horror it’s heart-beat, her character Laurie Strode is now older, battle worn waiting for the boogeyman to return to Haddonfield, that Sarah Connor vibe she’s giving off was really something, the writers did well putting some life in Laurie and I felt she looked ready to chew bubblegum and kick some ass (whoops wrong movie) but HELL YEA she was – Horror newbie Andi Matichak is a revelation and maybe a new scream queen in the making, Virginia Gardner gives a terrific turn as Vicky, veteran Will Patton is always great and I just love Judy Greer – Overall if your looking to see the second best film in the Halloween franchise then get your scared ass to the cinema this weekend and watch a treat of horror that will have you shaking in your boots and looking in your closet afterwards…… ★★★★
There’s something very unsettling about Robert Eggers movie debut THE WITCH a horror film set around the infamous Witch Hysteria’s in the New England Puritan times – it’s slow pace and it’s fine narrative penetrates your soul, the picture entwinines your subconscious and fills your mind with creepy, haunting images some beautiful others terrifying, like Kubrick’s The Shining The Witch plays on your fear of isolation, your darkest thoughts are let loose and the not knowing of what will happen next becomes more relevant, all of this is greatly helped by Mark Korven’s harrowing score that pushes your pulse upwards and gives each haunting scene greater significance – it’s cast that includes Ralph Ineson and Kate Dickie both known for work on HBO’s Game of Thrones are remarkable, they both deliver a harsh realism to their roles and you can’t help but be horrified by their circumstance but for me what gives THE WITCH it’s greatness is the young actress Anya Taylor-Joy who’s performance as Thomasin the elder daughter is utterly mesmerizing, her pale complexion & wide eyed innocence is something to behold, there’s a surreal beauty but also a cunning guile about her that Taylor-Joy captures perfectly, the scene where she tormentes her sister is both breathtaking & disturbing – Overall: this is no slasher movie and there’s ceretainly no great body count The Witch is not your mainstream horror movie, it’s masterful cinematography and direction allows the picture to be both unique and disturbing, my advice is don’t watch it alone – The Witch is a GEM in its genre a truly scary piece of work ★★★★½
The Babadook (2014) – Movie Review ★★★★½
“Baba dook dook dook!!!“
Director: Jennifer Kent – Cast: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall, Tiffany Lyndall-Knight & Tim Purcell – Synopsis: a single mother, haunted by the death of her husband, battles with her son’s fear of a monster lurking in the house, but she soon discovers an evil presence all around her – Overall: Scary & well acted horror films are quite a rarity these days, sadly we live in a movie world of endless remakes that only a quarter of which are decent and the rest once watched sit gathering dust amongst our film collection’s SO as you can imagine when I came across this film, a horror that felt so personal, so dark and one that left the hairs on the back of my neck stand to attention I DECIDED that I should shout the praise to all and sundry, to whomever would listen and most of all to the those who love a good old fashioned scare !! The Babadook starts with a thump, within its first 15mins I was already invested in its characters, I felt for Samuel we’ve all been there scared of the demons in our closet or under our bed – and I sympathized with Amelia Samuel’s mum, tortured by her loss, fighting to keep her own sanity and trying to bring up her son in a somewhat normal existence. Being a big fan of the horror genre and not easily scared by things that go bump in the night I was surprised by how haunting an effect Jennifer Kent’s film-making debut had on me, the story also written by Kent is almost like a ghost story of yesteryear, the majority of which is set inside a creepy house in the suburbs that adds to the movies scare, giving you the sense of confinement, suffocating you, a movie cabin fever that just keeps building, and building and building – of course along with its terrific story, it’s effective Kubrick-esque camerawork & an eerie score that at times would make your heart beat twice as quick – filmmaker Jennifer Kent also had to find an actress that would help bring her creation to life, become this broken women, this mum who would do unspeakable things and in Aussie Essie Davis she found exactly that, if I tell you that Essie Davis delivers the best horror performance for an actress since Shelley Duvall went visiting the Overlook in Kubrick’s The Shining then you know that this performance and this movie is something very special – Essie captures Amelia’s vulnerability, she’s a mother unhinged, you can almost feel her pain & you witness her terror as things really do go bump in the night. The Babadook is a nail biting, pillow hiding, lights on kinda horror that’s very reminiscent of early Polanski with splashes of Hitchcock, Kubrick and the imagination of Roald Dahl thrown in – the use of the illustrated book throughout is a master stroke, it’s images are effective and its words within pretty scary – there are some spoiler scenes throughout the movie that pull at the heart strings and these are only possible due to Kent’s groundwork in building characters you truly care for – I can’t remember many filmmakers making their horror movie debut with such gusto but Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook is up there with the very best of them ! This is one subtle, chilling horror that deserves your attention – just make sure you lock all the doors first….
Oculus (2014) – Movie Review ★★★¾
Director: Mike Flanagan – Cast: Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Katee Sackhoff, Kate Siegel, Annalise Basso & Rory Cochrane – Synopsis: Growing up 10yr old Tim and his 13yr old sister Kaylie were inserprable that was until Tim was sent to a psychiatric hospital for the supposed murder of their parents – Kaylie always suspected that an antique mirror haunted by a supernatural entity was responsible for these hideous crimes & spent the time her brother was locked away researching & documenting the lives and deaths of everyone who came in contact with it – upon Tim’s release from the hospital 11yrs later Kaylie sets out to prove her brothers innocence & destroy this supernatural force forever – Verdict: The film is based upon a short by Flanagan that was released in 2006 titled Oculus: Chapter 3 – The Man with the Plan – using flashbacks Oculus entwines two parallel stories that center around the Russell family in the past & present, this is cleverly used by Flanagan helping develop the structure of the story and adding to it’s creepiness – rather than the mundane, uninspired found footage format or the blood & gore from the general run of the mill slasher flick Flanagan injects a dose of horror reminiscent in style of James Wan, that’s almost a throwback in style to the 70s and 80s, with some fabulous character building, interesting camera angles and a film brought to life by a group of very talented young actors including Battle Star’s Katee Sackhoff, Doctor Who’s Karen Gillan and the talented Maleficent star Brenton Thwaites who all turn in excellent performances -made for just under $5 Million Oculus is a gem of a ghost story – yes at times the movie get’s a little lost in it’s illusions & hallucinations and forgets to scare but Overall: there’s enough to this movie to keep you rooted to your chair and have you avoiding mirrors at your home for days after….
Godzilla (2014) – Movie Review ★★★★
Director: Gareth Edwards – Cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn and Bryan Cranston – Synopsis: the movie starts deep in the Phillippines where archeological work uncovers some sort of gigantic skeleton and two egg-shaped pods – two scientists who work for a company called Monarch are called in to investigate, they realize upon inspection that one of the pods have hatched and whatever was inside have crawled out and made it’s way to the ocean – the action then turns to a Nuclear Plant near Tokyo, Japan where some rather unusual activity is being felt – minutes later an explosion occurs followed by a radiation leak that wipes out a crew of scientists and then suddenly the plant begins it’s collapse into ruin – the powers at be are calling this disaster a deadly earthquake but the plant’s supervisor Brody (Cranston) who lost his wife inside the plant is convinced otherwise – Verdict: Having watched Gareth Edwards showcase his directing skills on the small budget yet effective MONSTERS I was fascinated to see what he could do with a Hollywood blockbuster and a remake of the classic Japanese monster movie GODZILLA – I remember as a young boy watching them monsters (in rubber suits) battling it out in the original films and screaming at the TV in amazement and total wonder Godzilla was scary as hell, a destructive force but also hero and one you could root for – and then all grown up I set eyes on Roland Emmerich’s picture, a typical 90’s Hollywood Blockbuster that stomped and screamed all over my childhood memories, part of my dislike for the flick was Matthew Broderick who was awful and the film’s plot can only be described as hilarious, sure it did pretty well at the box office but as a screen spectacle it was pure garbage – so now in 2014 it’s the turn of British filmmaker Gareth Edwards to hopefully reignite GODZILLA in all it’s glory & on the biggest screen’s in 3D – hopefully this movie will be the start of a new chapter in the world of the King of Monsters – Overall: although at first the hiring of relative newcomer Gareth Edwards to helm this possible huge franchise may have been thought a brave and daring choice by the movie studio’s it could have also turned out to be the movie’s master stroke – Edwards obvious admiration towards the likes of Steven Spielberg is evident, the monster’s are slowly introduced to it’s audience teasing you, gripping you and allowing you to sweat a little whilst the action unfolds, the film’s buildup & tension is very reminiscent of Spielberg’s classic JAWS and is beautifully filmed, carrying some great nod’s to the monster movies of yesteryear and complimented by a heart thumping soundtrack – the film’s main trio of cast members do a great job too, first up you have the reliable star of TV’s Breaking Bad Bryan Cranston who comes across as this family guy, totally committed to his job & who’s eventually turned into this guy who looks to have some serious paranoia issues, secondly there’s the soldier come action hero Taylor-Johnson who many know from his role in action flick Kick-Ass and Oliver Stone’s superb Savages who has not only matured as actor but seems to exude lot’s of screen presence and looks every bit a Hollywood leading man and last but not least there’s the underused & super talented Elizabeth Olsen who plays a wife and mum, who shows great emotion and steals pretty much every scene she’s part of – GODZILLA is in an exciting, bold and refreshing monster movie that can be enjoyed by all – it’s certainly no masterpiece and it won’t win any movie awards but one thing for sure is that when you take your seat at your local cinema Gareth Edwards vision will entertain, surprise and make you smile like a school kid once more….
From director Mike Flanagan comes the new supernatural movie OCULUS following a woman who attempts to exonerate her brother who has been convicted of murder by proving that the crime was committed by a supernatural phenomenon – a haunted antique mirror – the movie stars Doctor Who actress Karen Gillan and Battlestar Galactica’s Katee Sackhoff – take a look at this pretty creepy teaser trailer….
Oculus – US (11th April) – UK (N/A) – Australia (N/A)
THE STARVING GAMES – (2013) – Movie Review ★★
Cast – Maiara Walsh, Brant Daugherty, Lauren Bowles and Diedrich Bader – from the team that wrote the Scary Movie‘s and directed such movie spoofs as Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans and Vampires Suck comes the latest film mock titled The Starving Games and yep you guessed it it’s a parody of The Hunger Games and pretty much everything else that writing & directing team Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer can squeeze into 80mins – VERDICT the first thing to say about The Starving Games is at least it’s consistent with the below average garbage that Friedberg & Seltzer are churning out these days, like many I enjoyed 1996’s Spy Hard (directed by Jason Friedberg’s dad Rick) and possibly the first two Scary Movie films but since 2006’s Date Movie it’s been a down hill slide into the abyss of unfunny, messy parodies that rely on the actors slightly resembling the movie characters they mock or having a name that’s been twisted to sound like it’s original – overall The Starving Games is a movie full of badly written gags and way too much gross out-humor – the only positive in the film is Desperate Housewives actress Maiara Walsh who embraced the silliness and delivered a half decent performance – my advice to anybody young or old who are smitten with this style of humor is to check out the master Mel Brooks and his films such as Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein & Spaceballs it’s something I hope Friedberg & Seltzer do before undertaking on their spoof of the “Fast and Furious” racing movies titled Superfast they might even learn something….