Not one but two Richard Bates Jr. movies, who knew? Not nearly enough Stephen King though there is one very bad one on this list. A lot of new films from this year, a classic turn from Prince of Peculiar Nicholas Cage (Mandy is a masterpiece) – and an Exorcist revisit.
2 Halloweens – 40 years apart – and I almost prefer the newer one, not going to lie. Strong cameos from horror gems Babak Anvari, Alexandre Aja and Ti West. One low-key Shyamalan horror which absolutely slaps.
It’s almost time for this blog’s version of Christmas – Blogtober of course! Who’s excited?!
Not only will the divine Jill and I be doing horror movies month for the collab, there will also be posts galore – some spooky, some not so much – every day in October.
Personally, I’m most looking forward to bringing back Final Girl Friday and talking about some of the films Glynn and I watch for 31 Horrors. We’ve got some right corkers and of course, some of the usual suspects (Trick R’ Treat, I shall never forsake you!).
I guess I’d better pull my socks up and plan some decent content, huh? BEST. MONTH. EVER! 🎃🎃🎃
Paula Maxa is the Parisian Grand Guignol Theatre’s leading lady, famous for being murdered on stage every day. But is there a link between the theatre and a series of gruesome real-life murders?
Um. Let’s not rely on anything I say here in this review, I may well have the wrong end of the stick. Paula Maxa (Anna Mouglalis) is a beloved by some, hated by a lot actress at the Grand Guignol Theatre in good old gay Paree. She’s been slaughtered on stage more times that she’s had hot dinners and relies on stage-hand Paul (Jean-Michel Balthazar) to make it look as real as possible.
The theatre itself is run by some right oddballs who seem to have a very bizarre arrangement in place. Although the shows they put on nightly seem to do alright there is a very real threat on the horizon: the birth of cinema.
When journalist Jean (Niels Schneider) arrives to interview Paula, a friendship is formed and there’s possibly something more a-brewing, though our girl is rather closed off. Via Paula’s own mouth we learn about the terrible secret that haunts her – the very driving force that keeps her screaming night in, night out. Meanwhile, there seems to be a plot to turn Paula over for real to a mysterious gentleman who might have a connection to her past… What the devil is that all about?
TMAWITW is gorgeous looking. It seems to capture the time period perfectly. All the costuming is wonderful and Paula’s supporting actresses are a lot of fun. Mouglalis is soulful as Paula, a haunted woman with a sad story, one that revolves around the death of her sister at the hands of a very bad man – and her inability to do anything to save her.
Guilt is a powerful emotion and it eats at Paula, who stays at the theatre as some sort of penance. Here she can scream as much as she likes, something she failed to do to save her sister’s life. When Jean arrives to offer her a way out, she’s torn. Can she leave this place and make it in Hollywood?
The ending is a little bit confusing, I won’t lie. But it doesn’t really matter. It didn’t spoil my enjoyment of this movie, which has some suspenseful moments and really is wonderfully OTT. The murders on stage are gloriously bat-shit and the audience laps it up. They come complete with bibs to capture the splashes of blood that coats everything around them.
Ooh la la!
What does my leading lady think of this one? Would she beg it for an encore or slit its throat? Find out here.
Lots of horror fans refuse to acknowledge Rob Zombie‘s place in Halloween history. Lots of people are torn about the man himself and honestly, I really get it. Personally, I’m a fan and have loved most of his movies. While Halloween & Halloween II don’t really work the way John Carpenter‘s original did*, they do at least try to explore the story from a fresh angle and I appreciate that.
This week I thought I’d pay tribute to the second most famous Laurie Strode in cinematic history, played by Scout Taylor-Compton, an actress with a couple of cool roles under her belt.
This one probably doesn’t need much of an introduction. The character of Laurie Strode is probably one of, if not THE most famous final girl of all time. But just in case, Laurie is the adopted daughter of The Strodes. She is also the baby sister of serial killer Michael Myers who killed their elder sister Judith when he was six years old.
In this version, we meet a young Michael Myers who on the night he kills his sister, also kills her boyfriend and his mum’s horrible boyfriend. This isn’t really in keeping with the original story but never mind. He’s also ten when he commits these atrocities. Anyway, Laurie is really Angel Myers but she doesn’t know it (yet). Her secret history is just dying to creep out and slap her around the face, thus changing her life forever – but how will she handle it?
The Final Girl
This Laurie is cool because she takes on all the characteristics of the original character but she also has to deal with the aftermath of the loss of her adoptive parents, after Michael slaughters them. She’s super young and has dealt with so much, having lost most of her friends, the only parents she’s ever known and now, some of her marbles.
Halloween does what is says on the tin (with a little embellishment here and there, including more focus on Deborah Myers (Sheri Moon Zombie), mother of Michael), but Halloween II examines Laurie’s PTSD in more detail. Following the events of that first night, Laurie now lives with Sheriff Brackett (Brad Dourif) and his daughter Annie, who is Laurie’s BFF. The two girls have barely made it out alive but here they are and their relationship is shaky at best. Laurie finds it hard to look at her friend’s badly scarred face without recounting that night and that is driving a wedge between them.
Laurie seeks out faster friends, alcohol and drugs like any normal teen would. But she’s a fighter still and although she’s haunted by the truth once it’s outed, she comes out kicking. Michael’s MO is to find Angel and rejoin his mother in the afterlife, a fucked-up family for all eternity. But you didn’t think it would be that easy did you, Mikey?
The ending of HII suggests that Laurie has completely lost it (and is perhaps compelled to take on Michael’s role) as she ends up in an institution but I feel as though there is more to her story. I don’t think of her as the same girl played by Jamie Lee. She’s a contemporary anti-victim and a pretty good FG too. A terrible screamer though.
Final Girl Rating
3/5. I like everything but the scream.
*For the record I think these movies are too gory (I know, right?) and they take away the things that made the first so iconic. We’re not supposed to know anything about MM, that’s the point. He’s evil personified and we don’t really know what’s going on in his head. But they are kind of fun too.
Men are such cocksuckers aren’t they? You don’t have to answer that. It’s true. They’re scared. Their dicks get limp when confronted by a woman of obvious power and what do they do about it? Call them witches, burn them, torture them, until every woman is afraid. Afraid of herself… afraid of men… and all for what? Fear of losing their hard-on. ~ Daryl Van Horne
What do you get when you put three of the hottest women of all time together, and then add Jack Nicholson? You get this charming film about a trio of witches who discover their hidden powers (and sexuality) when the devil comes to town.
There’s just something so delicious about The Witches of Eastwick. I feel as though it really captures a moment in time, the zeitgeist of the eighties. By casting the hottest actresses onscreen at that time, it’s a snap shot of a bygone era of film and I couldn’t love it more. It’s witty, grotesque and it also has a lot to say about grabbing life by the balls, even if the balls are attached to a very bad man indeed. Or indeed are a metaphor for something so much more fulfilling.
I can’t choose my favourite of the three, they’re all so gorgeous in their own ways; Suki (Pfeiffer) is the earth mother, Alex (Cher), the artistic hippy and Jane (Sarandon), the secretly sexual sex kitten music teacher. But together they’re a force to be reckoned with and what’s more satisfying than that?
This is such a bitchy film and I was obsessed with it when it was first released, not least because I was ‘of an age’ (or maybe just a little bit older) that it all made sense. Especially the outcast aspect of the movie which fuels the narrative.
Nancy, Bonnie and Rochelle (Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, Rachel True) are three ordinary girls who aren’t particularly successful or significant in the high-school hierarchy. When Sarah (Robin Tunney) comes to town, she seems to be the perfect fourth pillar of the group. A group that needs things a certain way in order to make things happen. Magic things.
Well, it’s all a lesson in being careful what you wish for. After all, with power comes a fuck ton of responsibility and teenage girls aren’t always the most reliable, especially when they can make their bully’s hair fall out with a simple spell.
As things begin to spiral out of control and our friends begin to change (not for the better), one of them has to the tow the line before everything is lost forever. Can she? Also: Oh hi, Skeet Ulrich… *swoon*
There’s a little witch in all of us. ~ Aunt Jet Owens
I guess you could say this is a Vintage edition of witch movies since none of them are from this millennium. *Shrug* – I love what I love and that’s that.
Practical Magic is adorable, hopeful and has a banging 90’s soundtrack – so as far as I’m concerned it’s up there with the best of them. Sally (Sandra Bullock) and Gillian Owens (Nicole Kidman) are sisters who come from a long line of witches. Including Aunt Frances (Stockard Channing) and Aunt Jet (Dianne Wiest).
They’re very different people. Sally is a homebody while Gillian is a free spirit with a tendency to disappear for long stretches, usually with strange, sexy men in tow. When Sally loses the love of her life in a tragic accident, she is beside herself with grief and Gillian comes home to be with her and her children, in the house they all share with the Aunts.
Little does Sally know there’s an ulterior motive and the sisters bite off almost more than they can chew when they re-animate Gillian’s latest lover – the abusive and accidentally dead Jimmy (Goran Visnjic) – using old school magique. Shame that neither got the memo that what is dead should probably stay dead, eh? Bit of a pisser too that the cop (Aidan Quinn) who turns up to investigate the mysterious disappearance of Jimmy, also happens to be connected to a very specific spell cast by Sally…
God I adore this movie. Both leads are dreamy as fuck and the Stevie Nicks heavy soundtrack will always have a place on my (outdated) iPod shuffle. *Sigh*
I thought maybe I’d seen this movie before but it turns out not to be true. Like exorcism movies, I always get my Ouija board films confused too.
In this case I’m so glad this was new to me because I’ve been binge watching The Haunting of Hill House (2018) this weekend*, which is by the director of this movie, Mike Flanagan. And while I was going through his filmography this popped up, which was already on my 31 Horrors list. Bingo!
In 1967 Los Angeles, a widowed mother and her daughters add a new stunt to bolster their seance scam business by inviting an evil presence into their home, not realizing how dangerous it is.
It’s the swinging sixties and recently widowed Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) has a pretty good fake medium racket going. With the help of her daughters Lina and Doris (Elizabeth Reaser and Lulu Wilson), she is able to convince ordinary folk that their late loved ones are communicating with them beyond the grave.
While some customers are dubious, Alice maintains that they’re offering the legitimate service of comfort and kindness – so who cares if it’s real? I sort of get her rhetoric to be honest. Anyway, the family are still pretty raw over the loss of Roger, the girls’ dad who has recently passed himself.
When 15-year-old Lina goes to a sneaky house party at a friend’s house one evening, she stumbles across a Ouija board game, recently purchased by the parents of the household. Cynical about the so-called afterlife, Lina is level-headed when her and her friends sit down to have a play. Everyone’s freaked out but she is adamant that it’s all just a crock of shit.
She does suggest the Ouija to her mum as part of their scam business though and unfortunately for everyone concerned, Alice buys one. She has a little go before sharing with the group and little does she know, she summons a spirit called Marcus. Ooooooooo!
Doris also uses the board alone when she contacts her dad for help following a letter from the bank threatening foreclosure on the house. She is lead to a secret compartment in one of the walls that reveals a heap of money, thus saving the day.
The women then do the Ouija together believing it to be a pipeline straight to Roger. Doris seems to have the most affinity with the board and takes over as the star of the show but soon starts to pay the price. Slowly but surely she is possessed by something horrible. Lina gets freaked out by the change in her sister, particularly when she starts writing frenzied notes in what appears to be Polish.
Luckily, kindly widower Father Tom (Henry Thomas) is kicking about to help the family, and when Lina mentions Doris’ oddness, he comes over under the pretense of chatting to his deceased wife Gloria. He then reveals to Lina and Alice that the Polish shorthand notes are entries written by an immigrant named Marcus (and transcribed through Doris), who was tortured by an evil doctor in the basement of the house during World War II. Awkward.
Meanwhile, Doris just keeps getting weirder and weirder – and is very not okay, hun. Basically the house is rife with evil angry spirits down below and the family have got their work cut out for them. Will they come together when it matters to kick Marcus and his pals’ ghostly arses – or?
Hmm. Yes. Yes I liked this very much. It’s a nice period piece loyal to the time period and is genuinely creepy. There are times it’s a little heavy handed on the effects but I didn’t mind that. All three women are convincing and I really enjoyed the climax.
I haven’t gone into it too deeply for fear of spoiling it but it is an interesting lament on grief and longing. Like, wouldn’t we all do similar just to speak to the precious ones we’ve lost? I know I would – and I have. My one and only brush with the Ouija when I was backpacking in Australia was terrifying and I believe it completely. Or at least I believe in the fear and behaviour it can invoke.
If we’re honest, there’s nothing earth-shatteringly new here but something Mike Flanagan does well is characterisation (back to Hill House) and he obviously has a lot of love for the genre, which comes across in his work. I’m a big fan and I really like how he continues to use the same actors across the board. Maybe I’m a bit biased because I love HH so much (*and will be waffling on about it soon) but this was good too.
What does my little demon think of this one? Would she haunt it until the end of time or throw it in the goddamn furnace? Find out here.
A bombastic throw-back horror-comedy that follows three young women who go out partying one night and find themselves Frankensteined together in one body. Now they must put aside their differences so they can find who did this and exact revenge!
Blimey. This week’s pick is not what you’d call a pretty picture – we do get three (sort of) Final Girls for the price of one though so I’m not really mad at it.
Jennifer (Tory Stolper), Ellie (Tracey Fairaway) and Madeleine (Maria Blasucci) are three individual women. To start with. Via a series of flashbacks we learn that each were present in the same bar on the night they became one. Thanks to a maniacal gentleman known only as The Surgeon (Corey Sorenson), who splices them together in the same body, our trio are quickly and reluctantly acquainted.
All conscious and babbling at once, the girls share one body and three minds which proves challenging but also fucking awesome when they pool their skills to solve the mystery of what happened to them.
Jennifer is a billy no mates who, after a lack luster birthday party returns home to wait for her married lover. Here she is knocked unconscious and when she awakes, she’s not alone. She is joined by ditzy party girl Ellie and quiet girl Madeleine – as mentioned above, in the same mangled body.
Luckily, all three are on the same page regarding vengeance and the film is at its best when they go on a rampage for the truth, revenge and hopefully, a cure. Along the way they meet geeky Garret (James Phelps) who may have a big thing for bitchy Jennifer, and scene by scene they kick arse and take names (because even if half the men in this bar are not The Surgeon, they are THE WORST and therefore guilty of something).
Jellileine (lol) dispose of date rapists and pervs, cheats and generally douchy arseholes like pros – which is joyful because girl power but also… is there a secret lurking deep down within one of them?
When we learn more about the motivations of one of our heroines I felt like it was trying to say something about the societal pressure of being a woman and trying to be perfect, but that falls apart for me quickly.
This film tries so hard to be kooky and falls short. It could be great if they dialed down the hamminess and stuck with the feminist theme. I enjoy the fact that each of the women has their own issues and when they start to bond it made me happy, like they’d finally found each other. But that feeling didn’t last long and I got bored quickly.
All the male characters are dreary and terrible – and this is proof that yet again comedy/body horror is so hard to get right. Which is shame because I really wanted to like it.
2.5/5. A mish mash of ideas that never really come to anything, sadly.
What would my sweet think of this one? Would she surgically attach herself to it forever or… not so much? Find out here.