[31 Days of Horror: The Final Chapter] Day 22 – Night of the Demons (1988)

Director: Kevin Tenney

Cast: William Gallo, Hal Havins, Amelia Kinkade, Cathy Podewell, Linnea Quigley, Alvin Alexis

Screenplay: Joe Augustyn

90 mins. Rated R.

 

There are so many “Night of” films. Night of the Living Dead, The Night of the Iguana, The Night of the Hunter, Night of the Creeps, Night of the Comet. It can get confusing trying to remember which night we are all in. Night of the Demons slipped by me for some time because of it. Now, here we are.

Night of the Demons is classic 80s rock horror from director Kevin Tenney (Witchboard, Bigfoot). In it, several friends and acquaintances gather at an abandoned funeral parlor on Halloween to party with host Angela (Amelia Kinkade, My Best Friend is a Vampire, Girls Just Want to Have Fun). But when evil and demonic forces begin possessing some of the teens, it is clear that there will be some serious fatalities and not all of them will make it to November.

As before, this is prime time cheese 80s horror. It is easy to tell with Linnea Quigley (The Return of the Living Dead, The Barn) appearing, but director Tenney and screenwriter Joe Augustyn (Exit, Night Angel) crafted a seriously goofy and strange horror film. There’s an odd framing subplot involving an old man purchasing apples and razor blades that feels oddly out of place, and the enjoyment level is very hit or miss throughout.

Night of the Demons was enjoyable enough, but it wasn’t really all that good. Genre fans may find something to love, but this movie doesn’t have a lot of appeal and hasn’t aged as well as other similar fare. Maybe the sequel is better, but I doubt it.

 

2.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

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[31 Days of Horror: The Final Chapter] Day 21 – Body Bags (1993)

Director: John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper

Cast: John Carpenter, Tom Arnold, Tobe Hooper, Stacy Keach, David Warner, Sheena Easton, Debbie Harry, Mark Hamill, Twiggy, Robert Carradine

Screenplay: Billy Brown, Dan Angel

91 mins. Rated R for sexuality and horror violence.

 

Body Bags was to be the pilot episode of a series on Showtime to rival Tales from the Crypt. At some point during production, Showtime pulled the plug, leaving us with thoughts of what might have been. So was Body Bags not worth the time? I checked it out.

Body Bags is another anthology film, this one from John Carpenter (Halloween, The Ward) and Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Poltergeist). It features three stories with wraparound introductions from a Coroner played by Carpenter in heavy makeup. The Coroner is showing us how the bodies ended up in his morgue. The first story, “The Gas Station,” is a classic small set horror story that you might find in a pulp magazine about a young woman by herself running an overnight gas station and a killer stalking her. The second story, “Hair,” features Stacy Keach (American History X, Cell) as a balding man named Richard who wants more than anything to have thick lustrous locks, and he’s willing to sacrifice anything to get it. The final story, “Eye,” features baseball player Brent Matthews (Mark Hamill, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, Bunyan and Babe) who loses an eye in a car accident and gets a transplant, but the eye he gets isn’t the one he wants.

We’ve talked a lot about anthologies this month, and, as before, I’ll say it again: anthologies can be hit or miss. That being said, Body Bags is so much fun, the flaws hide behind the flavor. Having cameos from tons of other horror aficionados like Wes Craven and Roger Corman, Body Bags is a lot like desert for horror fans. It’s sweet and enjoyable and you can never have enough. I personally think the first story is the best one and it’s very simple, and Robert Carradine (Django Unchained, Tooth and Nail) is exemplary in it. The second and third stories are only flawed in that they are rather similar to each other. The framing device, though, is quite fun as John Carpenter just kind of lets loose and has fun in a very Cryptkeeper-esque role.

If anthologies and horror are your thing, then I highly recommend Body Bags. It’s not a film that pops up often and it isn’t always easy to find (I was able to hunt it down on my Roku for free, though), but if you can get a copy, I think you’ll be happy you did. It’s rare to see someone like Mark Hamill get to really flex some insanity, and that alone is worth the price of admission.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of John Carpenter’s Halloween, click here.

For my review of John Carpenter’s The Thing, click here.

For my review of John Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness, click here.

For my review of Tobe Hooper’s Salem’s Lot, click here.

For my review of Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist, click here.

 

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[31 Days of Horror: The Final Chapter] Day 20 – Psycho III (1986)

Director: Anthony Perkins

Cast: Anthony Perkins, Diana Scarwid, Jeff Fahey

Screenplay: Charles Edward Pogue

93 mins. Rated R.

 

A friend of mine once told me that he believes the Psycho franchise to the most underappreciated franchise in horror. When I pined, he told me that while most people regard the original film as a classic, the sequels are mostly dismissed as they started appearing over two decades after the first film. When I saw Psycho II, I got what he meant. No, it isn’t the first film, but it doesn’t try to be. Today, we’ll take a look at the follow-up, directed by Anthony Perkins (Lucky Stiff) himself.

When Maureen (Diana Scarwid, What Lies Beneath, Another Happy Day), a nun, has a horrible accident, she goes on the run, leaving her old life behind. She finally ends up at the Bates Motel, being run by Norman Bates (Perkins). Norman has a new assistant in Duane (Jeff Fahey, Grindhouse, Atomic Shark) and a whole lot of skeletons in his closet after murdering Emma Spool, the woman claiming to be Norman’s true birth mother.

Psycho III isn’t as clean as its predecessors. There are a lot of moving parts here and they don’t hold up as well as what has come before. There is a subplot with the disappearance of Mrs. Spool and the journalist who suspects Norman. There’s the plot with Maureen and her striking resemblance to Marion Crane. Then there’s Duane, who has a plan of his own. Sadly, the multitude of plot points don’t hit as well as they did in Psycho II.

The film does have its merits, though. There are plenty of callbacks and referential material to firmly tie this film to the rest, and it does build on the story without retread. Psycho III takes its own path without falling back on the same story over and over. Sometimes, the film’s connective tissue with the original film helps, sometimes it does not.

Overall, Psycho III works well enough, though it never reaches the heights that it could or should. First-time director Perkins can’t juggle the pieces as well as should, but fans of the first two will find enough to like in this third installment.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, click here.

For my review of Richard Franklin’s Psycho II, click here.

 

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[31 Days of Horror: The Final Chapter] Day 19 – Patrick (1978)

Director: Richard Franklin

Cast: Susan Penhaglion, Robert Helpmann, Rod Mullinar

Screenplay: Everett De Roche

112 mins. Rated PG.

 

 

I really just picked out Patrick because I have a friend named Patrick. This one’s for you, Patrick.

So Patrick is an Ozploitation horror film from the 1970s  directed by Richard Franklin (Psycho II, Road Games). Susan Penhaglion (Soldier of Orange, Top Dog) plays Kathy, a nurse who takes on a new patient in Patrick, who killed his parents three years ago and now lies in a coma. Hospital owner Dr. Roget (Robert Helpmann, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Henry V) explains that Patrick is being kept alive for studies. What they do not know, however, is that Patrick has psychokinetic powers and can leave his body at will to commit all sorts of horrors. Can Kathy figure out how to stop it?

Well, Patrick is rather boring. Not my friend. Hi, Patrick. No, the movie Patrick is rather boring. Richard Franklin failed to bring life to this comatose film that has an interesting conceit but blows it all on meandering plot threads and little to no scares. You might think that Patrick perhaps just hasn’t aged well.

The movie, not my friend. Patrick, you have aged just fine.

Patrick, the movie, hasn’t aged well, but I think altogether, it didn’t work long ago and age has just not been kind.

I didn’t find the characters interesting, but I respect that they too started out well and were interesting at the beginning, but failure to further explore them with an interesting narrative tanked the movie.

I’ve heard that Everett De Roche’s screenplay was, at one point, over 250 pages (a massive tome that would’ve translated to a four-hour film), and that Franklin helped him fine-tune it. Well, the film feels like it retained that weighty rambling tone but cut all the interesting pieces.

Sadly, I don’t like Patrick all that much. The movie. My friend Patrick is pretty cool. I don’t think you’ll like Patrick. But if you ever meet my friend, he’s alright in my book.

 

  • Patrick (1/5)
  • Patrick, my friend (4.5/5)
  • Patrick, the poster (4/5)

[The poster is pretty damn cool, though, right?]

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

 

For my review of Richard Franklin’s Psycho II, click here.

 

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[31 Days of Horror: The Final Chapter] Day 18 – The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999)

Director: Katt Shea

Cast: Emily Bergl, Jason London, Dylan Bruno, J. Smith-Cameron, Amy Irving

Screenplay: Rafael Moreu

104 mins. Rated R for strong graphic horror violence and gore, brief strong sexuality and language.

 

Well, that was just…bad.

The Rage: Carrie 2 is the Carrie sequel that is more like a bad Carrie remake that shoehorns in a Carrie connection but is sadly a very bland ripoff of Carrie. Did I cover all the bases?

In The Rage: Carrie 2, we are introduced to Rachel (Emily Bergl, Blue Jasmine, TV’s Shameless), a teenager who is growing up in foster care years after mother Barbara (J. Smith-Cameron, Man on a Ledge, Christine) went batshit. Now, Rachel not a part of the cool kids and is picked on for being strange and a little emo before emo was really a thing. When Jesse (Jason London, Dazed and Confused, As Far as the Eye Can See) asks her out, Rachel doesn’t know what to think. He’s a nice guy, but he doesn’t even know her, and what if it’s a trick? But what Jesse and the other kids don’t know is that Rachel is very special…and very dangerous.

The Rage is just terrible. It feels almost disrespectful to the original film to put such little effort into the sequel. Even bringing back Sue Snell (Amy Irving, Hide and Seek, Adam) from the original Carrie does nothing as she is introduced and then serves virtually no purpose. The background characters are flat, Rachel is not nearly as interesting as Carrie White was, and every mention of Carrie feels like you should just be watching the original, and that’s true.

This sequel is bad and not worth your time. Sure, it features a lot of stars of the 1990s teen fame like Eddie Kaye Thomas and Mena Suvari, but I’m guessing they all signed on to a Carrie sequel without actually reading a script. Screenwriter Rafael Moreu (Hackers) turns in a crummy little script that doesn’t even work as a ripoff. Yuck, it’s garbage. Stay away from Carrie 2.

 

1.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Brian de Palma’s Carrie, click here.

 

 

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[31 Days of Horror: The Final Chapter] Day 17 – Honeymoon (2014)

Director: Leigh Janiak

Cast: Rose Leslie, Harry Treadaway, Ben Huber, Hanna Brown

Screenplay: Phil Graziadei, Leigh Janiak

87 mins. Rated R for disturbing bloody images, sexual content and language.

 

I’d been meaning to watch Honeymoon for some time now. Yes, it’s because I love Rose Leslie (The Last Witch Hunter, Morgan).

Bea (Leslie) and new husband Paul (Harry Treadaway, City of Ember, TV’s Mr. Mercedes) have rented a cabin for their honeymoon. But things quickly change direction when Paul finds Bea wandering outside one night. She becomes distant and strange in her reactions and she won’t tell Paul what’s going on. It becomes clear to Paul that something horrible happened to Bea, but what?

Honeymoon is a small little horror film, but it is an extremely effective one. Leslie and Treadaway have amazing chemistry that raises the tension very well and the finale is unexpected and odd but very unnerving. It all seems a little easy to put together at times, but Honeymoon and its director Leigh Janiak aren’t hiding anything. It just feels like there’s more to it.

Honeymoon is good fun, and it’s creepy, strange, unexplained, and memorable. But best of all, it’s on Netflix. This is worth it next time you find yourself wandering the Netflix pages looking for something, anything, worth watching. I know you do it, we all do.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

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[31 Days of Horror: The Final Chapter] Day 16 – ABCs of Death 2 (2014)

Director: Rodney Ascher, Julian Barratt, Robert Boocheck, Alejandro Brugues, Kristina Buozyte, Alexandre Bustillo, Larry Fessenden, Julian Gilbey, Jim Hosking, Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen, E.L. Katz, Aharon Keshales, Steven Kostanski, Marvin Kren, Juan Martinez Moreno, Erik Matti, Wolfgang Matzl, Julien Maury, Robert Morgan, Chris Nash, Vincenzo Natali, Hajime Ohata, Navot Papushado, Bill Plympton, Dennison Ramalho, Todd Rohal, Jerome Sable, Bruno Samper, Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska, Soichi Umezawa

Cast: Eric Jacobus, Andy Nyman, Simon Barrett, Julian Barratt, Pat Daniel, Tristan Risk, Beatrice Dalle, Laurence R. Harvey

Screenplay: David Chirchirillo, Julian Barratt, Julian Gilbey, Robert Morgan, Alejandro Brugues, Jim Hosking, Toby Harvard, Erik Matti, Dennison Ramalho, Kristina Buozyte, Bruno Samper, Ossa Earlice, Robert Boocheck, Larry Fessenden, Hajime Ohata, Todd Rohal, Rodney Ascher, Benjamin Hessler, Juan Martinez Moreno, Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska, Vincenzo Natali, Jerome Sable, Nicholas Musurca, Jeremy Gillespie, Julien Maury, Alexandre Bustillo, Soichi Umezawa, Chris Nash

125 mins. Not Rated.

 

Who would think that The Human Centipede was part of a shared universe? Okay, take this rather lightly, but Laurence R. Harvey from The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) appears as the same character in a post-credits scene from ABCs of Death 2. Stupid, but I’m counting it.

So if you have seen The ABCs of Death, this sequel anthology should explain itself, but I’ll go through the motions with you. 26 different directors were each given a budget, a letter of the alphabet, and complete creative control to craft a short film involving death. The 26 shorts are collected here in this anthology and played in order of letter. The shorts range from horrific to comedic to disturbed to gross-out. The style ranges from found-footage to animated to traditional narrative.

Now, just like the first film, any anthology is hit-and-miss. Some of the shorts are great, some are not. The shorts in particular that I enjoyed were:

  • B is for Badger
  • I is for Invincible
  • J is for Jesus
  • M is for Masticate
  • N is for Nexus

But overall, this anthology is much better than the previous one. There are more good shorts than bad ones on display here, and the overall tone is more refined than the first one, perhaps each of the directors saw the original series and took the feedback, though I’m not saying this was a requirement.

Now, there are still bits in the film that are absolutely terrible and overtly grotesque without redemptive qualities, but that’s the brilliance of ABCs of Death 2; in five minutes, you will have an entirely new tale. Therein also lies the issue of ABCs of Death 2. The formula can wear thin when the shorts wear thin. But that’s what you accept when you see this film, and I can deal with it.

ABCs of Death 2 is a worthwhile watch, and while there were some great pieces in the original film, there are more in the sequel. If you liked the first film, you will find a lot to enjoy here. If you didn’t like the first film, I wouldn’t expect to be swayed here.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For the anthology film The ABCs of Death, click here.

For my review of Tom Six’s The Human Centipede (First Sequence), click here.

For my review of Jen & Sylvia Soska’s American Mary, click here.

[31 Days of Horror: The Final Chapter] Day 15 – Cloverfield (2008)

Director: Matt Reeves

Cast: Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Lucas, T.J. Miller, Michael Stahl-David, Mike Vogel, Odette Annable

Screenplay: Drew Goddard

85 mins. Rated PG-13 for violence, terror and disturbing images.

 

Damn, this movie drove me crazy with its marketing. Seriously, I was one of those people.

Cloverfield is presented as found-footage from an incident that took place in New York City in 2008 in which a large creature terrorized the city. We are mostly filmed by Hud (T.J. Miller, How to Train Your Dragon, Deadpool) who is at a going-away party for his best friend Rob (Michael Stahl-David, In Your Eyes, LBJ). While there, Hud and the rest of the party witness the beginning of the attack and flee the party into the streets of New York. Hud joins up with Marlena (Lizzy Caplan, The Interview, Allied), Rob, his brother Jason (Mike Vohel, The Help, The Case for Christ), and Jason’s girlfriend Lily (Jessica Lucas, Evil Dead, TV’s Gotham) in an effort to seek shelter and hopefully find Beth (Odette Annable, The Unborn, TV’s Pure Genius), who left the party earlier after a fight with Rob.

People don’t give enough credit to director Matt Reeves (War for the Planet of the Apes, Let Me In). Over the last decade, he has crafted several films that should be classics of their respective genre, but have largely gone unnoticed or underappreciated. Cloverfield often finds itself lost in the mostly unimpressive found-footage subgenre, but its characters are developed, its visuals are striking, and its pace is excellent. At a tight 85 minutes, Cloverfield doesn’t let up.

Drew Goddard (The Martian, TV’s Daredevil) put out a real nice screenplay with mostly-sharp dialogue, although there are times where his dialogue gets a little too expositional, and T.J. Miller is forced to give that exposition, which isn’t a strong point in his performance.

Overall, Cloverfield is an experience like no other. This is a film that deserves to be seen and have more recognition, and maybe it will with the success of the Cloververse that I still don’t really understand. If you don’t get motion sickness, you just might enjoy the ride.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Dan Trachtenberg’s 10 Cloverfield Lane, click here.

For my review of Matt Reeves’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, click here.

For my review of Matt Reeves’s War for the Planet of the Apes, click here.

 

 

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[31 Days of Horror: The Final Chapter] Day 14 – [Happy 10th Birthday!] Paranormal Activity (2007)

Director: Oren Peli

Cast: Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat, Mark Friedrichs

Screenplay: Oren Peli

86 mins. Rated R for language.

 

Ah, Paranormal Activity, the franchise that killed Saw. I’m over it. I’m so over it.

The original Paranormal Activity has a fairly straightforward plot: A couple, Katie (Katie Featherston, Psychic Experiment, TV’s Solace for the Unloved) and Micah (Micah Sloat, The Death and Return of Superman) get a video camera to document the eerie happenings at their home. The strange activity seems to be centered around Katie, and Micah, having only just hearing about it, decides to attempt to capture it on film. What follows is a found-footage collection of the three weeks the camera is on.

The frights in Paranormal Activity are interesting, unusual, and a little intense at times. Director Oren Peli (Area 51) shot the film in 10 days using a script that was essentially a guided outline and created the characters alongside Featherston and Sloat to create as much realism as possible. Katie is depressed and sad as the movie shows the horrors she has experienced most of her life while Micah is kind of an asshole as he fails to see the toll inflicted on someone he supposedly loves. Neither performance is particularly exemplary but they are serviceable enough.

Credit should be given to Paramount Pictures and director Steven Spielberg for shepherding the film to release, as well as the horror fans who requested it in their homes. Paramount went all in on the finished product, opting to show the finished film without title cards or any credits in fact, playing up to the gimmick, and Steven Spielberg suggested a more marketable ending that this writer actually prefers to the original, if only slightly.

Overall, Paranormal Activity would be a good starting off point for horror fans. It is creepy but not altogether scary, and its thrills do not rely heavily on gore or dread but more a fun atmospheric ambiance. In fact, this is a film that is better outside of the theater, so gather some friends, turn the lights off, and enjoy!

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Christopher Landon’s Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, click here.

 

 

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