Tag Archives: Horror

Easter Horror Movies – I Watch Them So You Don’t Have To

To celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, I thought I would do something extra special on the blog.

So, while you’ve been munching chocolate for breakfast, I have been exploring a small selection of crappy Easter horror movies (and munching chocolate for breakfast). Apparently the Easter horror sub-genre is really a thing and while it was hard to get hold of a lot of them, I did my best.

*Minor spoilers*

1.-eastershortbunnyjesus

JESUS Christ

Holidays (Segment: “Easter”) (2016)

HOLIDAYS is an anthology feature film that puts a uniquely dark and original spin on some of the most iconic and beloved holidays of all time by challenging our folklore, traditions and assumptions.

Nicholas McCarthy‘s segment “Easter” is a nightmarish short, playing on childhood fears and things that go bump in the night. I almost didn’t want to feature the above image because it is pure nightmare fuel and the story itself, while super simple, isn’t much fluffier.

A young girl gets freaked out on the night before Easter when her mum tells her about an impending visit from The Easter Bunny. Worried she might accidentally disturb him in the night, mum tries to explain the bunny’s connection to JC as his holiday mascot. When she does wake up and meets the bunny for herself, she soon realises he is nothing like his wholesome description.

Let me assure you that the image of the resurrected Jesus/Easter Bunny hybrid of this story will not leave you quickly. He’s grotesque in every way, popping baby chicks out of the holes in his post-crucifixion palms. He’s not evil per se, just otherworldly and he’s not about to let the girl off now she’s the first child to ever see him IRL.

For a short film I think this packs a pretty decent (and macabre) punch.

🐣🐣🐣🐣 out of 🐣🐣🐣🐣🐣

Hop it

Cottontail (2017)

A notorious Serial Killer known as ‘Cottontail’ faces a slew of personal issues as he falls in love with the girl of his dreams, all the while trying to put together his ultimate ‘Easter Egg Hunt’.

This plays like a high school media studies project but isn’t a terrible premise. Cottontail the notorious serial killer wears his ‘skin suit’ 364 days of the year but for one day – Easter Sunday – he gets to be who he really is: a very bad bunny.

CT swears down that nothing has happened in his life to turn him into a psychotic mass murderer but there are red flags. While he works on his physical fitness for the big day and gathers together a like-minded group for his Easter ‘game’ – he laments a broken heart and his feeling of guilt towards his family.

He’s surprisingly sensitive is our antagonist and when he falls for moll Carmela, a similarly beautiful monster – he realises he’ll do anything for love. Which is all kinds of cute if you can overlook all the horrific murder, obviously.

This is… not good. But it’s kind of fun and the earnest narration by our bunny is quite endearing. The masks are cool too.

🐣🐣 out of 🐣🐣🐣🐣🐣

Only the very best FX for this blog post

The Beaster Bunny! (2014) – also known as: Beaster Day: Here Comes Peter Cottonhell

A giant bloodthirsty Easter bunny starts viciously killing the local townsfolk. When the Mayor refuses to act and the attacks grow more gruesome, the town finds its very survival in the hands of a wannabe actress and a crazy dog-catcher.

This is an absolute travesty but it has a certain charm. I mean, I’m a sucker for crazed giant animals stomping humans like ants, especially obnoxious ones. Meanwhile, the film’s director seems to be a sucker for boobs – since almost all his female victims either lose and/or are stripped of their clothing before their respective death scenes.

This gives it a seedy feel which I can’t even be bothered to rage at. Anyway, it’s all pastiche right? Needless to say there are a lot of lame jokes and observations (young people are obsessed with social media!) peppered throughout, some truly atrocious but enthusiastic acting and the worst FX I’ve ever seen.

Want to know an Easter secret? I paid £3.49 on Amazon Prime for this monstrosity – and I couldn’t even finish it. So I don’t know why there’s a giant Easter bunny terrorising this town or how it ends. I suspect I’ll live with my decision though.

🐣 out of 🐣🐣🐣🐣🐣

Hello boys

Critters 2: The Main Course (1988)

Eggs of the small, furry alien carnivores are left behind on Earth and, after hatching, again set their appetites on the town of Grover’s Bend.

The sequel to 1986’s Critters has a tenuous link to Easter but fuck it, it made the list anyway. After the events of the first film, a couple of Grover’s Bend locals unwittingly discover a nest of eggs left behind by our alien buddies. Keen to turn this find into a profit, they sell them to an antiques store in town where they’re sold as Easter eggs to a nice old lady. What could possibly go wrong?

Thankfully, there are a gang of space bounty hunters on the case to clear Earth of the Critters – but until they arrive, lots of high jinx and murder ensue. Exactly what you need to celebrate your favourite chocolate based holiday.

Well, this has an unfair advantage perhaps in the sense that it holds cult status and production values of more than $5 (looking at the last two movies in this list) – so it’s better all round. And it’s also nice to see the Critters again honestly. Sure, they’re no Mogwai and pals but they are a slice of kitschy horror history.

🐣🐣🐣 out of 🐣🐣🐣🐣🐣

Uh, wrong blog post, guys…

If you’re interested in exploring this niche pocket of horror movies, then I have a list of titles for you. I think I’ll line some up for next year:

  1. Easter Casket (2013)
  2. Easter Sunday (2014)
  3. The Night Before Easter (2014)
  4. Serial Rabbit (2005)
  5. Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill! (2006)
  6. Easter Bunny Bloodbath (2010)
  7. Peter Rottentail (2004)
  8. Kottontail (2007)
  9. Bunnyman (2007)
  10. Night of the Lepus (1972)

Happy Easter All!

Hellboy

Demons Have Demons Too.

Hellboy (2019)

Based on the graphic novels by Mike Mignola, Hellboy, caught between the worlds of the supernatural and human, battles an ancient sorceress bent on revenge.

Starring: David Harbour • Milla Jovovich • Ian McShane • Sasha Lane

*Minor spoilers*

Hellboy-Still-6

“Who are you calling ‘Helmet’?”

Who are you calling a monster, pal? Have you looked in the mirror recently? ~ Hellboy

This movie has received a lot of negative reviews. Milla Jovovich herself was asked what she thought of all the bad press and she responded that it will be a cult classic instead – and fuck the box office (to paraphrase). Which is possibly the best answer ever.

Having now seen it for myself, I can safely say… I completely agree with her.

Nobody is more surprised than me to learn that I loved this. I adored del Toro‘s HB movies more than cocoa puffs. BUT – I had a high old time with the new Hellboy (though admittedly it took me a moment). David Harbour might not have been my first choice to fill Ron Perlman‘s boots but I’m glad he’s here now.

The addition of psychic conduit Sasha Lane to the cast – as well as a fine turn (as always) from Ian McShane and a little help from a wild and wonderful new friend – and this does have the makings of a film you’d revisit again and again. Screw the people who didn’t like it.

milla-jovovich-blood-queen-in-hellboy-2019-p3

Yaaaaaas (Blood) Kween

Directed by Dog Soldiers’ Neil Marshall, it is extremely gory – with limbs flying and eyeballs exploding left and right. It is bloody for the sake of being bloody in places – and I am down for that.

Sure, some of the dialogue is utterly laughable but in that 90’s action movie way, particularly the one liners. In fact, most of the things this movie has been criticised for are the things I loved about it. It’s fun. It doesn’t take itself too seriously.

There’s a wonderful and grotesque segment inside Baba Yaga’s walking house which I adored – and the story itself, while stupid in place, is firmly grounded in old English folklore so what’s not to like.

Jovovich plays it pretty straight as super villainess Numue the Blood Queen but has a comedic sidekick in the form of pig faced Gruagach (voiced by Stephen Graham). And while we failed to stay for the post-credit scenes (rookies), this does climax with a hint to what could follow in the Hellboy universe and I’m there with bells on.

Yeah, I probably would

Glynn and I were pretty much the only two people in the cinema enjoying ourselves but I’m not mad about being in the minority – come see me when this is the ultimate cult classic in 25 years time and I’ll tell you – I told you so.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?

Pet Sematary

Sometimes Dead Is Better.

Pet Sematary (2019)

Dr. Louis Creed and his wife, Rachel, relocate from Boston to rural Maine with their two young children. The couple soon discover a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods near their new home.

Starring: Jason Clarke • Amy Seimetz • John Lithgow

*Minor spoilers*

Which way to certain doom?

She won’t come back the same ~ Jud

Hmmm. I waited a long time for this updated adaptation and now it’s here, I’m not sure.

I mean, it looks good – let’s start there. There are a couple of really sweet SK nods that I appreciate. The house and the setting of the cemetery itself is spot on. I love the Wicker Man aesthetic of the local children in masks (even though they aren’t used at all, which is a shame).

John Lithgow‘s Jud is magnificent – but there’s a lot of character development missing for me. While they go in quite hard on the Zelda/Rachel story arc (which pays tribute subtly to another SK classic), they don’t pad out the family enough for me to give much of a damn.

Louis: loving life

Jason Clarke (good-looking Piers Morgan) is Louis, the tormented father with the power to bring his dead child back from the dead. He’s alright but I do feel the character could have been played by any slightly hot dude of a similar age. Rachel (Amy Seimetz) is actually quite good at times as she deals with the PTSD of her sister’s illness – but as with a lot of female characters in King’s stories, she isn’t given that much to do beyond look stressed out. A modern adaptation could of had her kicking more arse? (Just me?).

I also have issue with how easily Louis resurrects his daughter, Ellie (played by Jeté Laurence). In the book there’s much more examination of his moral quandary – and how much the decision plays on him. The film is only 101 minutes so we don’t have the luxury of spending too much time with the to and fro but still. I think perhaps having the book so clearly in my mind (I read it in the last year and loved it) hasn’t helped but slightly hindered my enjoyment.

There he is

I have to mention the trailer too! It gives so much of the film away that it really damaged things for me. Yes, I get that this is a story that most people know, either from the book or from the 1989 film but this version offers a different take on the story (sort of) by choosing to kill off a different kid. Had we not known that this was the case then ‘the scene’ would have packed quite the punch. While keeping our eye on Gage, we would have completely dropped the ball on Ellie.

I suppose the ending is different and it deserves a nod for that. It’s pretty dark and maybe I would have liked a bit more time to sit with that rather than just have it end. I can’t help think how good this might have been had they made it into a series instead.

All of the above said, Glynn and Matt enjoyed it much more and for some of the reasons I didn’t – so it really is down to a matter of taste. My verdict is: not terrible but ultimately, what was the point?

⭐⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?

Us

Us (2019)

A family’s serenity turns to chaos when a group of doppelgängers begins to terrorize them.

Starring: Lupita Nyong’o • Winston Duke • Elisabeth Moss 

*Spoiler free, I promise*

I’ve seen Us twice in the cinema so far and it is hands down the most interesting film I’ve seen all year.  I understand that it might not be everybody’s cup of tea but it really is mine.

Reviewing it is not going to be easy because I could never do it justice but I’m going to try.

In 1986, young Adelaide Thomas is momentarily separated from her parents at a Santa Cruz fairground. Drawn to a hall of mirrors, Adelaide encounters a doppelgänger of herself and is scarred by the experience. Her parents try everything to get her to speak (she has been rendered mute), including dance and art therapy.

In present-day, Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) and her husband Gabe (Winston Duke) have two children, Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex). We meet them as they head back to her families beach house in Santa Cruz on vacay.

While Ade is apprehensive given her connection to the beach, she allows Gabe to take the family anyway, where they meet up with their friends, Kitty (Elisabeth Moss) and Josh Tyler (Tim Heidecker) – and their teenage twin daughters. Gabe is eager to impress the couple, who are rich AF but clearly despise one another.

All is well until Jason disappears for a moment – and Ade panics. While temporarily missing, Jason sees a man in a red jumpsuit with blood dripping off his hands. He chooses not to tell the others, given Ade’s current mood.

ABBA had started to do PAs in people’s homes

Later, back at the holiday home, the family are stalked by a family in their drive way. It is here that things become frigging sinister and I don’t want to give the game away. I can say that the ‘visitors’ are the Untethered (as well as doppelgängers of the entire family) and they do not come in peace.

What follows is a story of fairy tale proportions, of parallel worlds and of mystery. Adelaide and family must fight to protect each other at all costs – and in the process Ade must face up to the trauma of her childhood, which is finally starting to make sense.

Cutting crew

This film is stunning with incredible double performances by a solid cast. Lupita in particular is mesmerising as Adelaide and her doppelgänger Red. Support in the form of Moss is also satisfying – while Duke brings a welcome comic relief. The kids are outstanding – the bickering siblings really come into their own when they’re required to fight their own doubles – and I love their scenes.

The imagery, the music, the story – in the hands of the mighty Jordan Peele it just works brilliantly. On second viewing I noticed far more foreshadowing and clues to what is going on, and I genuinely love this movie. It’s frightening and beautiful in equal measure with an insane final sequence between Adelaide and Red. The dance/fight choreography is pure perfection.

Art Attack’s new presenter was proving really popular

I cannot wait to see what Peele does next. And with new Twilight Zone episodes and a writing credit for the 2020 Candyman remake, I don’t think we’ll have to wait too long.

⭐⭐⭐⭐  out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?

Hell Fest

Hell Fest (2019)

A masked serial killer turns a horror-themed amusement park into his own personal playground, terrorizing a group of friends while the rest of the patrons believe that it is all part of the show.

Starring: Bex Taylor-Klaus • Reign Edwards • Amy Forsyth • Tony Todd

*Minor Spoilers*

Some movies are just perfect to watch around Halloween. Hell Fest would definitely be one of them. I couldn’t wait until October though and treated myself this afternoon because there’s nothing better than a Saturday afternoon horror sesh in bed with the lights off.

Hell Fest isn’t truly original but it is fun and centers around six actually quite likeable young people, including Taylor (played by Bex Taylor-Klaus, who I loved in both The Killing (2013) and Scream: The TV Series (2015)).

When scholarship student Natalie (Amy Forsyth) returns home to visit her BFF Brooke (Reign Edwards), she’s bummed to learn that her former roommate has replaced her with Taylor, a girl she doesn’t really like. To cheer her up, Brooke persuades Nat to come to Hell Fest, sweetening the deal with talk of Gavin (Roby Attal), her long-time crush being there – and asking after her to boot.

What could possibly go wrong?

Along with Taylor and their boyfriends, the six meet and agree a plan of action for Halloween Night’s activities – go hard or go home. Even Taylor and Natalie start to get on as they navigate the Hell Fest park, but Nat is a cynic and not easily frightened.

Things change when she witnesses ‘a murder’ that feels very real and the perpetrator, a very committed park employee (or is he?), starts stalking the group. Convinced something’s not right and that some of the effects are just a little too realistic, things take an even darker turn when Gavin disappears and one by one so do the rest of the gang…

What’s the mask-wearing stalker’s deal though and is most of it in Natalie’s head? *Spoiler – of course fucking not*

Don’t lose your head

I thought the setting of this was fantastic and has forever cemented my resolve not to return to Shocktober Fest for the fourth year running (they wanted us to put sacks over our heads last time, nothankyouverymuch). It’s relateable because I can remember what it feel like to be followed onto the Haunted Hayride by a dude with a chainsaw.

There’s a special vulnerability to being frightened in the dark but also trusting that everything you see is an illusion – and then finding out that it’s all a lie – and I like the way this is used. There’s a really tense scene in a ghost train which I really enjoyed, it takes me back to all the rides I’ve ever enjoyed. And hated because they were shit.

The kills are imaginative and disgusting for the most part and as mentioned above, as I actually like the kids I care about them when they’re knocked off and cheer when they get away. I think the ending is interesting too in a sort of Michael Myers/unexplained mystery of the human psyche kind of way.

Scream if you want to go faster

And of course, a cameo from horror legend (and my personal fave) Tony Todd could never hurt. I dug it – and will definitely be revisiting come October.

It’s already been added to my 30 Horrors list for 2019.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?

Climax

Climax (2018)

*Minor spoilers*

TW: Violence, pregnancy, suicide.

Gaspar Noé and I share a complicated relationship. I just love to hate him and all because of the terrible, over-sexed Love (my review of it here). I always feel like he’s done more than just that to warrant this reaction but he really hasn’t.

Irreversible (2002) is not a bad film, however brutal and difficult it is to stomach and those, until this morning, were the only Noé films I had seen. 

And now there’s Climax.

I bloody loved it!

It still sports all the classic Noé trademarks: the hyper-real dialogue, the not very likeable characters, the rapid descent in madness and Hell – but it’s brilliant. I’ve rented it on Amazon Prime and I’m tempted to go back for another watch because honestly, I was gripped from the get go.

I don’t want to give anything away because – and I say this a lot within my ‘reviews’ – I went in with little to no knowledge of the plot. My lovely friend Matt and I listen to a podcast called Evolution of Horror and during their 2018 horror movie review, the host Mike Mucher and guest discussed their favourite movies of the year. Climax was one of them.

All I remember about it is that they compared it to Suspiria (2018) and coined the term Dance Horror, a sub-genre I am very much here for.

In 1996, 20 French urban dancers gather in an abandoned dance school (familiar?) for a three-day rehearsal before they embark on a tour of the US. In high spirits and gagging for a party to celebrate their hard work, the collective enjoy a night swilling sangria and getting crazy. As there are so many characters it does get quite challenging to keep up with who’s who and more importantly, who’s banging who. As you’d expect, all those writhing nubile bodies need somewhere to connect and so there’s a whole lot of coupling going on.

David (Romain Guillermic) is with group leader Selva (Sofia Boutella) but boasts that he’s fucked every other woman in the troupe on the side. One of dancers ‘jokes’ that he must be riddled with STDs. He’s literally the worst (a classic Noé fuck boi) and the way he talks about women makes me look forward to all he’s got coming to him.

Gazelle (Giselle Palmer) has been dating Omar (Adrien Sissoko) for nine months, much to the disgust of her older brother who maintains that just ‘cos he can have his dick sucked any time he likes, it doesn’t mean she gets to suck any. (This is just a slice of the kind of conversation you can expect from the group, it’s coarse, misogynistic AF and rife with double standard).

We also have Emmanuelle (Claude-Emmanuelle Gajan-Maull), a single mum with her son Tito in tow, secretly pregnant dancer Lou (Souheila Yacoub) who has no clue who the father is and young Riley (Lakdhar Dridi), who’s determined to get his cherry popped tonight, preferably by David.

Psyche (Thea Carla Schott) and her lover Ivana (Sharleen Temple) are a couple on the rocks while Daddy (Kiddy Smile) watches over the flock, a grinning teddy bear on the decks. There are many other side characters and nobody here is all that relateable or nice. However, I did feel small mounts of sympathy when things get real quickly. Even David warrants some later on, however fleeting.

Climax works beautifully. It descends into horror and chaos quickly, after a very healthy intro. In fact, the actual opening title sequence starts around halfway through the film (while the closing credits appear at the beginning, and the title card at the very end). The dance sequences are enjoyable and much more accessible that the artistic moves of Suspiria. There’s a lot of Vogue-ing going on and all those limbs! These kids can contort in ways I never knew possible.

Later these shapes and movements will come back to haunt us as grotesque background pieces. Again, without giving too much away, shit kicks off and the troupe quickly begins to unravel. Former alliances crumble as distrust grows and pack mentality wins out. People are punished for imagined crimes (horribly) while others are pressured into taking their own action.

As the horror escalates we follow Selva and friends through the gateway to twenty personal nightmares. Things become disorientated, camera angles turn on their head. The use of colour is very effective, and reminiscent of a lot of Noé’s work – and just adds to the feeling of control slipping through our fingers, even as viewer.

Each room in the school becomes it’s own grimy vignette and you don’t know what’s coming next, what you’re walking into. And the sound – the screams and the yelling as they echo around the building – they hint at unimaginable horror.

I can imagine that anyone going into this with the expectation of traditional horror might be disappointed. I’ve read a few reviews that suggest that apart from some clever camera work not all that much happens. I disagree and the more I think about it the more I love it. It might not follow the rules of your average slasher nor submit to a supernatural narrative but that in some ways makes it worse. The dark side of human nature is terrifying and in this claustrophobic setting, with the lights off and the doors locked – what could be worse than losing control of all your senses?

I wouldn’t say I’m a newly converted Gaspar Noé fan but I suppose I’ll be open to what he does next. I still don’t think I’ll ever be ready for Enter the Void (2009) though.

⭐⭐⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What are you watching?