On a secluded farm, a man is slowly dying. His family gathers to mourn, and soon a darkness grows and a sense that something evil is taking over the family : I really LOVE scary movies and Bryan Bertino’s THE DARK AND THE WICKED does not disappoint : it’s an unsettling rather loathsome horror film that reeks of EVIL at every turn, from it’s deliberately slow start that peels back the layers to it’s grim, nightmarish finale with grisly scene’s such as the knitting needle, dad on the cealing, the slaughtered cattle and those chopped mushy fingers The Dark and the Wicked is certainly in keeping with the filmmakers twisted horror style : I really love the farmhouse at the centre of the film’s bleakness, from those bottles, horseshoes and hooks that hang from the rope ends in the cattle pen to it’s nerve jangling interior including it’s dimly lit kitchen and dad’s death surrounding bedroom Bertino manages to get under your skin early on, not everything is what it seems and the emotion pouring from it’s cast including Michael Abbot & Marin Ireland who play siblings and Lynn Andrews who plays the nurse is compelling yet disturbing to watch : the scenes when Michael returns home to his wife and kids is wickedly upsetting and Louise waking up with lipstick drawn on her face is draining : so if like me your a fan of Bertino’s work that includes The Strangers and most recently The Monster then wait till you see The Dark and the Wicked it’s a movie that mirrors it’s title and one of the BEST horror movies of the year ★★★★½
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 ★★★★★
Number 9 of My Top 31 Horror Movies : 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 BEST opening to a Horror Movie of ALL TIME…. it’s like WTF just happened….. and the great Homages to scary movies of yesteryear Wes Craven’s 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 is a pure joy to watch, pictures such as Elm Street, Friday 13th, The Exorcist and of course Halloween get nods and even the great filmmaker 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 exciting 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 the rest of the night : WHAT A BUZZ ★★★★★
Number 17 of My Top 31 Horror Movies : A small-town farmer’s son falls for a beautiful drifter who’s part of a traveling group of Vampires : “I’m gonna separate your head from your shoulders, hope you don’t mind none…” : Since watching this movie in ’87 Kathryn Bigelow’s NEAR DARK has been one of my favorite movies of all time, let alone one of the darkest, scary movies I’ve ever seen : yes it may have tanked at the box office but over the years Near Dark has gained cult status, and I for one love watching the movie : I mean come on… has there been a better Bill Paxton performance (and there’s been some crackers) than Severen the psychotic, blood thirsty vampire that has all the best lines, the best moments, and the insanity he injects into the role gives Bigelow’s Near Dark it’s captivating performer : and is there a better bunch of vampire names than Severen, Diamondback, Jesse and Homer? there incredible, all kinda dark & twisted yet so yummy : amongst my favorite moments in the movie is the motel shootout, the beautifully shot scene when Caleb feeds on Mae near the derricks is as crazy and in love as you get and the films tense and burning finale is both dramatic and sad as you watch the vampire’s demise : Overall Near Dark is a moody neo-western horror with a scintillating, atmospheric score by Tangerine Dream, the RV with it’s tin foil covered windows that keep the light out & the darkness in, the energy & humor of the Aliens trio Paxton, Henriksen, Goldstein and quite simply the BEST bar scene in horror movie history : it’s FINGER LICKING GOOD ★★★★★
Number 20 of My Top 31 Horror Movies : Carrie White is a shy teenage girl, sheltered in life by her domineering mother, unleashes her telekinetic powers after being humiliated by her classmates at her senior prom : As Stephen King movie adaptions go Brian De Palma’s CARRIE is the finest to date, a supernatural horror centered around high school bullying, bad parenting and the over powering use of religion : like King’s novel Carrie is heartbreaking to watch and the way De Palma’s movie shows Carrie’s transformation from innocence to power weilding destroyer is quite terrifying : I know some people will always criticise the changes from book to movie but in fairness the only change which I was slightly unhappy with was how Carrie killed her momma played in the movie by the deliciously evil Piper Laurie (in the book Carrie killed her by stopping her heart with her powers, in De Palma’s movie she was killed by various knives nailing her to the wall like a Crucifixion) : along with the great Sissy Spacek & Piper Laurie I was absolutley floored by Nancy Allen’s turn as Chris, her nasty, lick lipping performance is enough to make you spit blood and absolutley loathe her character : the use of sound and score by Pino Donaggio is enough to stand your hair on end and De Palma captures each scene with haunting precision and although the bucket scene at the prom is the film’s most talked about moment and by god it made my stomach turn, my favourite has to be when Carrie is argueing with her momma whilst getting ready to be picked up by Tommy and taken to the prom, it’s terrific piece of acting by both, the bed scene is still quite unnerving “Sit Down” yells Carrie and you can see the fear in Piper Laurie’s eye’s as she’s pinned to the bed : CARRIE (the 1976 version) is as powerful and disturbing today as it was back upon it’s release, a film full of religious themes and supernatural elements that shock, anger and reward thanks to it’s great performances & disturbing narrative ★★★★★
Number 21 of My Top 31 Horror Movies : The film follows a married couple that haunted by a series of mysterious occurrences after the death of their young child : I’ve never had children but everytime I revisit this grief stricken horror movie I can’t stop thinking about it for days after, it’s truly haunting and it’s not just the death of the young child it’s pretty much everything about the film, from it’s dubious looking characters, Daphne Du Maurier’s dark & mysterious story, the down trodden city of Venice that gives the movie it’s atmospheric look just as Corwall did for Du Maurier’s ghostly Rebecca, the twisting narrow streets and murky canals of the Italian city are brought to life, in haunting and surreal fashion by frequent Roeg collaborator Anthony Richmond and Julie Christie & Donald Sutherland with two of the most authentic, enriching performances I have ever seen, their onscreen chemistry is beautiful to watch : Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now is one of the most memorable, shocking & scary horror movies that’s graced the screen & if you get the chance may I recommend the Criterion Edition as it’s utterly gorgeous and contains lot’s of fabulous extras too ★★★★★
Number 29 of My Top 31 Horror Movies : After Amelia looses her husband she and her child fall into a deep well of paranoia when a creepy children’s book titled “Mister Babadook” manifests in their home : Aussie Jennifer Kent wrote and directed THE BABADOOK after securing it’s budget of $2.5 million via Kickstarter : I must confess after seeing the movie for the first time I was terrified and struggled sleeping for days after, the imagery and the darkness that consumed the screen throughout the movie tugged deep into my soul and I couldn’t stop thinking of this poor family desimated by the loss of a father & husband, the mum then having to cope by herself with her imaginative & energetic young son was scary in itself, let alone this hideous, life sucking creature that invades their world : Essie Davis & Noah Wiseman give the film it’s heart, their chemistry playing mother & son is downnright believable, the old house in the movie was specifically built for the film and it’s fair to say that Jennifer Kent was influenced by the style of old horror movies and maybe even the Lon Chaney era whilst filming : along with the possession and what follows, one of my favorite scenes in the movie is when the Amelia visits the local police station to report being terrorised by someone or something, watching Essie’s performance in this scene her head swimming with fear and paranoia is quite special, like a character from an old Hitchcock movie : The Babadook is not only one of the finest horror movies I’ve seen, with one of the scariest adversary‘s but it’s also a draining experience, a hard watch that concerns the welfare of a young child, the evil that lurkes and the battle of a family torn apart by with what life has dealt them : interestingly Babadook is an anagram of A bad book ★★★★½
Number 30 of My Top 31 Horror Movies : In the sixteenth century, Francis Barnard travels to Spain to clarify the strange circumstances of his sister’s death after she had married the son of a cruel Spanish Inquisitor : for me PIT AND THE PENDULUM is the best of the eight movies that Vincent Price and Roger Corman worked on together, it’s certainly the most haunting and beautifully filmed by High Noon’s Floyd Crosby : shot in just fifteen days the film is a bonafied 60s classic, a horror that has no doubt been a point of influence for horror filmmaker since, from it’s weird & ghostly flashback scenes, the shots of the waves hitting the rocks, it’s eerie nerve pinching sound, Vincent Price’s trademark expressions and dramatic eye movements to those other impressive cast members including John Kerr, Barbara Steele, Luana Anders, Antony Carbone but what really makes Pit and the Pendulum such a fine horror film is it’s chilling suspense, sweeping sets and that devious, evil little twist at it’s end ★★★★½
A bunch of friends hire a medium to hold a séance via Zoom during lock down but get much more than they bargained for as things quickly go wrong when an evil spirit starts invading their homes : HOST is directed by Rob Savage and filmed during this years coronavirus pandemic : As a rule I’m not social media friendly and have never used the likes of Zoom so I had low expectations going in but HOST really rattled my cage : The movie has a short runtime (just under the hour) but it’s very atmospheric and at times I was chewing on my finger nails (the attic scene and Haley being dragged across the room really freaked me the frack out), you keep hearing noises, looking for things in the shadows and the silence at times is deafening : but for me the movies real haunt is those crazy good ladies above who really do capture the essence of being played with by some supernatural entity, their facial expressions keep the whole shit real and create moments of complete and utter dread especially throughout the second half of the movie when all goes pete tong : So if you scare easy & suffer from any pre-existing heart conditions then please avoid HOST BUT if you love being scared and fancy watching something that may keep you up at night then this horror gem is worth the watch – PS… don’t forget to take a shot everytime someone mentions the word astral-plane ★★★★
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 ★★★★★
THE NUN : Corin Hardy
Taissa Farmiga, Demián Bichir and Jonas Bloquet
I loved 2015’s The Hallow a low budget Irish Horror by Corin Hardy that was both atmospheric and superbly shot and I have recently spoken of my admiration for James Wan and his effective, simply terryfying Conjuring movies so of course when I heard Hardy was taking the reigns for a new movie set in The Conjuring universe I was pulse racing, mouth dribbling excited………… Sadly that excitment ended after recently watching Hardy’s The Nun a film that fails to live up to to the scares of it’s predecessors, no bold, darkly written storyline, almost rushed in the making, a film that felt like a corny version of Hammer House of Horror, that’s not to say the film totally sucked it just needed to be much darker and less predictable – due to it’s small budget there’s no doubt the film will make money at the box office but being a fan of the series and a horror geek in general I was left overall very disappointed ★★★
TOBE HOOPER (1943-2017) – directed one of the truly great films of our time, and in my eyes the scariest, most brutal raw ride into terror that i’ve witnessed – THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE stills gives me chills as it did when I first came across it as kid watching it on video over a friends whilst his parents were at work – I was HORRIFIED it gave me NIGHTMARES but it also started my love affair with all things horror – you will be missed but your legacy of horror such as TEXAS, THE FUN HOUSE, SALEM’S LOT, LIFEFORCE and POLTERGEIST will continue to entertain and inspire a new legion of fans forever…..
Since 2004 film maker James Wan has impressed & scared the holy moly out of me, in the horror genre he’s been a revelation, a breath of fresh air and dare I say the best horror director in the last ten years, a modern genius, dark and twisted yet alarmingly smart – he has this uncanny knack of getting it right, he knows his audience & how to tap into their fears, his haunting camerawork, clever use of casting and his usual heart stopping soundtracks add to the overall tension & creepiness of his narrative, I have not seen this consistently in the horror arena since Carpenter ruled the screens in the late 70’s early 80’s – his films including that devilishly fun & violent Saw, the twisted underrated Dead Silence, both scary ass Insidious movies and 2013’s spine tingling The Conjuring gave me nightmares for weeks after – so upon visiting the big screen for his latest offering expectations were already high, not only was this a new James Wan horror movie but this was a sequel and as any movie fans know creating that same vibe, that same intensity of any original movie is a hard task to get right but James Wan is better than your average film maker, his horror’s are uncomplicated, low budget but most importantly they will scare you in spades and guess what? THE CONJURING 2 is certainly no different, it’s Wan at his delicious, frightening best, a nail biting pillow hiding feast of supernatural horror at times reminiscent of the classics of yesteryear such as The Exorcist and maybe just maybe this will go down as one of the Best Horror Movie Sequels of all time – Once more at the heart of a James Wan feature, almost like a muse is the brilliant Patrick Wilson his chemistry with Vera Farmiga is a pleasure to watch, at times it’s like watching Tracy & Hepburn bounce off each other, their energy infectious, their acting sublime and their roles of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren were just made for them two actors to play – there are too many good bits in this movie that scare and are downright creepy, from “The Crooked Man” to the “Nun”, to that “ghostly flooded basement” and that scary ass “Rocking Chair” all of which will make you look for that light switch but for me the opening scenes where Farmiga’s character Lorraine witnesses the Amityville Murders via a seance is as good as any of them, it’s heart thumping, spine tingling cinema, your glued to your seat, in the dark as you watch the camera pan from room to room, the echo of the gun going off as each of the murders are committed, the cinematography is spectacular yet completely terrifying – Overall: The Conjuring 2 is some scary ride, if your a fan of the supernatural and things that go bump in the night then James Wan’s latest will help raise your heart beat to a new level – also take note of this name Madison Wolfe one day soon she will be a huge star – Brilliant !!
When the Master of Horror Stephen King calls the film “gorgeous and just fucking terrifying” you know Guillermo del Toro’s latest gothic horror CRIMSON PEAK is going to be something very special – first of what a great cast Mia Wasikowska who was recently blowing us all away with her performances in Only Lovers Left Alive and Map to the Stars, Charlie Hunnam the star of Del Toro’s Pacific Rim, the gorgeous Jessica Chastain who’s roles in Zero Dark Thirty and A Most Violent Year were remarkable and last but least the superb Tom Hiddleston who also starred in Only Lovers Left Alive with Mia and rocked playing the villain Loki in Thor & The Avengers – I for one can’t wait for this beauty, take a look at the posters below
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)