Top 13 Horror Movies of 2018
Well, well, well, here we are again, nursing our New Year’s hangovers, making plans to go to the gym and opening up that new Dilbert desk calendar (and man, do I miss The Far Side calendars). 2018 had me very nervous, my dear Hellions. For a while there, I didn’t think there would be enough worthy movies to make it to the unholy top 13 list. Last year wasn’t the strongest year for horror movies, but there are some damn fine flicks to enjoy. So, take my paw and let’s travel back in time…
#13 – SATAN’S SLAVES
Talk about a last minute entry! I literally watched this right after I had finalized my list because I heard it was on Shudder. It’s not very often I get to tout an Indonesian horror flick. Not to be confused with Satan’s Slave (1976), this horrific ghost/Satanic cult foray into primo jump scares is tense, atmospheric and crazy terrifying. The English subtitles are in need of another pass by a translator, but you can enjoy it without them. It’s that creepy. * Editor’s note, this movie knocked The First Purge off the list. Sorry Staten Island.
#12 – THOROUGHBREDS
What’s a top 13 list without an entry that involves Anya Taylor Joy (The Witch, Split)? Thoroughbreds just skirts the horror line, but damn is it twisted fun. Lily (Anya) is a rich brat who hates her step-dad and lacks empathy. Amanda (Olivia Cooke from the amazing Bates Motel) is her old friend, an automaton born without the ability to feel emotions who once stabbed her beloved horse to death. These two chicks are fucking nuts in all the best ways. Great performances all around, and it’s also Anton Yelchin’s last movie before his tragic demise. Watch it and pour a little libation on the floor for Anton.
#11 – HALLOWEEN
I was very excited to see what the folks at Blumhouse would do with a franchise that had seen better days (but had yet to fall into the pit of Hellraiser inanity). I LOVE the original. It’s one of those pivotal movies in my horror education. I dig part 3 and 4 and could do without all the rest. And Rob Zombie’s attempt? Let’s move on. Anyway, this is a direct sequel to the original, asking us all to forget the others happened (did Bobby Ewing just step out of the shower?). Poor Laurie Strode is still traumatized by the babysitter massacre. Now a grandma channeling Sarah Connor, she’s just waiting for Mikey to get out of max so she can finish him off. Luckily for her, a pair of podcasters are just the hokey patsies to reenergize the unkillable killer. It was better than the sequels, but for me, fell flat in some areas that could have made it amazing. When it was over, my first thought was – I hope this is the actual end. I think if I had tempered my expectations, I would have liked it even more. Ignore me. It’s a solid horror movie.
#10 – TERRIFIED
We’re going international again, this time to Argentina for some bat crap insane multiple hauntings. Terrified has THE scariest and most disturbing imagery of the year. There isn’t just one haunted house on this idyllic Buenos Aires street. No, there are three, and shit is gonna get crazy. From rotting dead boys who come back home for milk and cookies and something sinister and hungry in a kitchen cabinet sucking the blood from a wounded hand, this is one of the craziest ghost movies I’ve seen in a long while. If you have a kid afraid of monsters under the bed, DO NOT let them see this. You’ll be carting them off to a looney bin if you do. I hear they’re remaking it for an American audience with the same director. I hope they don’t lose the mojo.
#9 – VERONICA
OK, now we’re off to Spain for a disturbing possession movie that, in my opinion, trumps The Exorcist. Teenager Veronica plays with a Ouija board during an eclipse and done gets her soul repossessed. Here’s the cool part. It’s based on an actual Ouija/possession case in Madrid back in 1991, so that always adds to the icicles up the spine vibe. I fell in love with Veronica, a teen with way too much responsibility who just wanted to be a dumb kid for a fateful moment. With scary nuns and devilish disasters and well executed jump scares, you’ll steer your ass away from spirits boards for life after this puppy.
#8 – TERRIFIER
Art the Clown is the scariest motherfucker who ever donned greasepaint. Taking place on Halloween night and mostly in an abandoned building, Terrifier channels the best of 80’s gore with spectacular kills and some true WTF moments. I’m no fan of clown horror flicks and thought this would be just like all the rest. Crap, was I wrong. Seriously, when Art smiles that bloody-mouthed smile, your genitals will crawl up to your esophagus. No blood is spared and please, oh please, let there be a world with more Art the Clown!
#7 – THE RITUAL
This was an early entry from our pals at Netflix. Based on a novel by Adam Neville, this British don’t-go-in-the-woods descent into terror centers around five buddies who have had their share of tragedy. Honoring their friend’s last wishes, they get to hiking in the middle of freaking nowhere in Sweden. When the weather gets bad, they find shelter in a rickety cabin and so, so much more. We’re taking hallucinatory images that may be real, bones in trees, a village of the freaking damned and a mythical monster. The creature effects in The Ritual are unforgettable. This is destined to be a movie I revisit time and time again. And yet another import from a far off land.
#6 – THE STRANGERS – PREY AT NIGHT
Did I have any high hopes for a follow up to The Strangers? Hell no! I took Hellion #2 and my mother to see it at a matinee so I didn’t have to pay full price. Well, I’m here eating my hat. In some ways, I liked this better than the first. Loved the 80s music (you will never hear Total Eclipse of the Heart and not think of the swimming pool) and it has two scenes that I think are damn close to legendary. Killer cast meets masked killers. What’s not to love? Unlike the first, this is one I have to own.
#5 – HEREDITARY
Kudos to releasing a ‘mainstream’ movie with more what-the-hell-am-I-watching moments than you can shake a machete at. Toni Collette gives the performance of the year as a woman cracking up as her family falls apart. Mom dies. Uber stranger daughter gets the James Dean treatment, son loses it and hubby just tries to make dinner and keep their shit together. This is basically two movies. The first three quarters has a The Shining aura about it with a gradual buildup and breakdown. Collette physically reminds me of Shelly Duvall and their mental collapses are just as similar and moving. There is a moment when a switch is flipped (you’ll know it) and it’s time to fasten your seatbelts. The ending is not for everyone, hence a lot of confused and angry people in my theater. Good. Stay out of my genre!
#4 – PUPPET MASTER – THE LITTLEST REICH
Yeah, I’m just as surprised as you that this is not only on my list, but in the top 5! I mean, it definitely has the most ridiculous title of the year. And it’s a fucking Puppet Master movie. It’s also the one movie I can’t stop thinking and talking about. Why? Well, it’s written by the amazing S. Craig Zahler (who has given us Bone Tomahawk and Brawl in Cell Block 99). ‘Nuff said. Witty, self-aware and loaded with unique kills, nudity and gore, it’s everything previous Puppet Master movies are not. If you ever wanted to see a dead guy pee on his own head in a toilet bowl, look no further. And it has cameos by Barbara Crampton and Udo Kier. Hot damn, this was the most fun I had watching a movie all year.
#3 – REVENGE
I’m not a big fan of the rape/revenge subgenre, though I do like the trio of I Spit On Your Grave remakes. Revenge is made with such artful direction, it stands head and improvised weapons above the rest. Matilda Anna Ingird Lutz has herself a real star turn as Jen, a young wanna be messing around with a married man in his sweet desert house. When his two creepy friends crash the party for a day of hunting, the raping begins and the blood flows. And let me tell you, the amount of blood shed in this flick is epic. Jen bleeds more than ten stuck pigs. It’s over the top and goes a little Machete every now and then, and that’s perfect. The final sequence running in circles around the house is gag inducing and brilliant. The bar is now set and I dare someone to raise it.
#2 – OVERLORD
Thank you, JJ Abrams! Overlord is not one, but two great movies. If you like war flicks, this is your jam. If you’re a horror hound, ditto. If you’re like me and dig both, holy Hannah is this awesome. American GI’s have their plane shot down over a Nazi occupied town in France and need to take out a tower so Normandy can happen. No pressure. The shit that happens in the plane in the opening sequence had me breathless. I know it’s no shock that those creepy ass Nazis have been up to their old weird science shenanigans again. What ensues is pure chaos, savage monsters, explosions and gunfire. I could easily slide this into the number one slot. In fact, this and the next movie have been jockeying back and forth for months now. I’m sure a year or two, I might declare this the winner. But for now, we’ll call it 1B…or 2.
#1 – A QUIET PLACE
Jim Halpert, who knew you had this in you? A Quiet Place is, quite simply, brilliant. The world has been taken over by creatures from another world. They may be blind, but they can hear your every move. It opens with a stunning gut punch and ratchets up the tension like a torture rack for the next 90+ minutes. I’ve literally never been so uptight in a movie theater. I had to have my ass cheeks surgically separated. With a small but stellar cast, A Quiet Place is an instant classic. Especially for a guy like me who is obsessed with alien/horror movies (The Thing, Alien, Signs). This takes a familiar trope and adds a spin that makes it unforgettable. Like It Follows, this is one of those movies that will be the measuring stick by which I judge a person’s character. A sequel is already in the works, following a new band of survivors. I doubt it can equal this, but I’m in.
Here are the other movies that were in contention and just missed the cut:
CAM, MANDY, STEPHANIE, APOSTLE & GHOST STORIES
And my nod to the stinker of the year is THE MEG. Just like 2017’s dreadful THE MUMMY, The Meg was so bad, my blood pressure spiked and I wanted to tear the screen in half – or take a nap, which I settled for.
You made it this far. Let me know what you think of my choices and their ranking. What do you think I missed? What movie on the list do you think is a stone cold stinker? Most importantly, what movies are you looking forward to in 2019?
10 Horrifying Rat Movies
In honor of the release of my novella, RATTUS NEW YORKUS, I decided to share a list of 10 horror movies centered around those disease-bearing rodents. If rats make you squeamish, this makes a great double dare to watch a few of these selected horrors.
Now, in no particular order, here are 10 flicks straight from the sewer. Click the movie poster to watch the trailer and see which one ‘squeaks’ your interest.
I named one of my hamsters Ben, and he was appropriately mean as hell. With a theme song performed by young Michael Jackson, this was my first foray into rat horror films. A young boy befriends old Ben, who just happens to be the ringleader for a horde of menacing rats. I always tell people, this is the rat movie to start with.
9. THE FOOD OF THE GODS
This is my favorite because it’s a Bert I. Gordon joint. That man is my hero. When the animals on a pacific northwest island start slurping up some white goo, they get, well, they didn’t call him Mr. B.I.G. for nothing. I saw this in the theater when it first came out and buy it on every new format.
I’m not gonna lie. This one is not so great. Also known as Altered Species, its the common rat trope of a chemical getting exposed to rats and making them…well…rattier. If this came out now, it would be in Red Box with a bitching cover image and nothing else.
7. OF UNKNOWN ORIGIN
You know, I had forgotten all about this until now, and I don’t know why, considering how much I liked it back in the 80s. It stars Peter Weller (Robocop), a man possessed with figuring out what unseen terror us lurking in his home. Is he out of his mind, or is there something furry and lethal stalking him? Pure 80s goodness.
6. THE RATS ARE COMING! THE WEREWOLVES ARE HERE!
This wins, hands down, for best title. Not sure how easy it will be to find this early 70s shlock (ahem) classic that’s more about werewolves than rats. If you like watching loonies do bad things to rats, this might be for you.
5. THE KILLER SHREWS
I have to tell ya, the giant shrews in this 50s scifi romp are kinda icky. They made my skin crawl when I first saw it many moons ago. Yes, I know a shrew isn’t technically a rat, but watch this one and tell me if it makes a difference. You know it’s worth a watch when it was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000.
4. DEADLY EYES
I fell in love with this VHS cover back in the day. I rented it quite a few times over the years. Now, it’s not the greatest, but there is some fun to be had here. We’ve got rats as big as dogs invading homes and an entire city. I’d love to see this movie remade with a The Meg sized budget.
3. RATS – NIGHT OF TERROR
Ok, this is an Italian horror movie, and we all know how I feel about that. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include it. I will give it props for being a post-apocalypse rat horror flick. And there is a pretty cool twist in the end.
2. GRAVEYARD SHIFT
Maybe not the best Stephen King adaptation, but it’s still fun to watch. And how about that movie poster, huh? There’s tons of rats in the old textile mill, and a little somethin’-somethin’ extra. I actually dig this movie and have to remember to watch it during this year’s Horrortober.
Whether you watch the original (co-starring Elsa Lanchester, the Bride of Frankenstein) or the remake with the supremely odd Crispin Glover, you can’t go wrong. The lesson here is, beware of dudes who have a posse of rats as their only friends. Considered a classic for a damn good reason.
And there you have it, 10 movies with high ick factors starring armies of furry beasts. Once you’ve seen them all and want more, don’t forget to check out Rattus New Yorkus and find out what happens when you take a blowtorch to thousands of rats in Grand Central Station.
Top 13 Horror Movies of 2017
It’s that time of the (new) year again. 2017 was a surprisingly strong year for horror flicks. Once you got past duds like the latest Resident Evil and Underworld installments, horror hit its stride with a slew of stellar releases, one of them already on most classics lists. Many of my favorites came out between January and April, which is not the norm. I had a hard time whittling my list down to 13, and some real quality movies just missed the final cut. Basically, I ranked movies based on how much they lingered with me long after the final credits rolled on. There are some controversial picks on here, so strap in and get ready…
#13 – CREEP 2
Mark Duplass is one hawk-eyed lunatic. I loved Creep and was anxious to see what he did with the sequel. Let me tell you, Creep 2 did not disappoint. Stakes were upped, strangeness got, er, stranger, and Peach Fuzz made a reappearance! Best watched in a hot tub with a serial killer.
#12 – SUPER DARK TIMES
As My Chemical Romance once sang, “Teenagers scare the living shit out of me.” This one creeped me out because it seemed so damn real…and terrifying. Set in upstate New York, it’s bleak both in imagery and tone. You’ll remember kids you grew up with that were just like the cast presented here, and you’ll think, “crap, this could have happened to me.” This is one that will stick with you for a long, long time.
#11 – THE DEVIL’S CANDY
From the director who gave us one of my favorite movies, The Loved Ones, this one was on my top 10 list for most of the year, getting bumped at the very end. Ethan Embry gives a stellar performance as a struggling artist caught between a rock and a devilish place. Filled with awesome metal guitar licks and psycho imagery, it’s a can’t miss.
#10 – GERALD’S GAME
2017 was inarguably the year of Stephen King. Unlike most people, IT won’t be on my list. But the adept direction of Mike Flanagan brought King’s most difficult book to life, anchored by the performance of the year by Carla Gugino. It also had the most cringe-inducing scene of the year, bar none. Netflix has knocked another one out of the park. I also suggest you head on over to Netflix to check out another King adaptation, 1922. It’s bleak and haunting, so have plenty of booze on hand.
#9 – SPLIT
Thanks to The Visit, I was chomping at the bit to see M. Night Shyamalan’s newest venture into horror. James McAvoy is brilliant, his multiple personalities putting us all on edge from start to finish. There’s not a wasted frame of film in this tight, suspenseful hostage drama with an ending that had people shouting “holy shit!” at the screen.
#8 – LIFE
I have to say, this one surprised me the most. When I saw the coming attractions, I was like, meh. Boy, was I wrong. Life is the best monster movie of the year. I tell folks it’s like Alien, only brighter and prettier. The creature in this space opera is terrifying and there are some super-sweat-inducing moments. Best of all, they nailed the ending. Life breathed life into the monster movie!
#7 – A DARK SONG
In any other year, A Dark Song might be my top pick. How can I describe it? Dark. Desperate. Bizarre. Creepy. A grieving mother hires a man experienced in the dark arts to bring her son back so she can talk to him one more time and get his forgiveness. You never know whether the shaman is full of shit or the real deal, and what he puts her through is truly torturous. A fantastic movie.
#6 – THE SHAPE OF WATER
Having known about this movie for some time, I had penciled it in as my favorite movie of the year way back in March. It didn’t quite make it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a beautiful movie to behold. Imagine a love story between the Creature from the Black Lagoon and a mute cleaning woman. It’s lush and dreamy and at times achingly beautiful, so much so that it’s on the fringe of a true horror movie. Guillermo Del Toro is a master storyteller and his visual aesthetic is this side of stunning. I’m pretty sure I’d love this movie even if the sound was off.
#5 – THE BELKO EXPERIMENT
Now, this is my kind of horror. We all think of the work place as one of the inner circles of hell. Well, your warren of cubicles and backbiting co-workers has nothing on Belko. It’s gleefully insane, bloody and gripping. I rarely watch a movie more than once in a year, but I’ve already seen it three times. The Belko Experiment takes no prisoners. Literally.
#4 – THE BLACK COAT’S DAUGHTER
I can’t say enough good things about this atmospheric, haunting tale by Oz Perkins (son of Anthony “Psycho” Perkins). With a miniscule but fantastic cast, this is one that will linger with you for a long while. The sense of isolation in this blizzard-wracked girl’s academy will leave you shivering. I have to admit, this one bothered me for days. I watched it again to see if I could dispel the feeling, and it only got worse! It also has one of the most realistic and brutal kills of the year. Watch it now!
#3 – GET OUT
Look, I know this is going to be #1 on 90% of lists you see. Don’t get me wrong, it deserves it. Get Out is an instant classic, a Rosemary’s Baby-esque romp into dark territory and creeping dread. I loved it. Jordan Peele knows his horror and has his pulse on the stuttering heartbeat of American society. It’s crackling smart and witty and will keep you guessing all the way to the end. Everyone who loves horror needs to watch this one.
#2 – MOTHER!
I’m not going to lie, this is the most controversial movie I’ve seen in a good long while. Is it horror? It is for me. The building tension and utter confusion had my heart racing for most of the movie. Jennifer Lawrence is simply amazing in her portrayal of a woman in love beset by people and events of Biblical proportions (there’s a hint for you). No movie has set my brain on fire more than Mother! – ever. Not to mention, there are a few scenes that left me breathless and wishing I’d averted my eyes. And that’s coming from an old, jaded horror hound. I can’t recommend this for everyone, but I feel in my gut it’s going to be the kind of movie people talk about and dissect for generations.
#1 – RAW
Yeah, I’m just as surprised that this French import has made the top of my list. Set in a veterinary school that looks like a post-apocalyptic academy run by MDMA-fueled lunatics, Raw was a punch to the gut. Again, we have a small yet killer cast (the Oscars never looking to the genre for best actors is just one of many reasons it’s a sham), off-kilter storyline and moments of incredible gross-outs that easily made it my movie to least forget in 2017. Subsequent viewings have only made it even better. Raw will be on my steady viewing rotation from here until I’m rotting and raw meat.
HAPPY DEATH DAY
Just like The Autopsy of Jane Doe from a couple of years ago, I didn’t see this one until recently, after I had compiled my list. Rather than revamp the entire list, I decided to give it an honorable mention. A self-aware horror take on Groundhog Day, this is witty and fun and guaranteed to make you jump a few times. Shit, even out cat hit the ceiling at one point. If you’re a fan of The Final Girls, you’ll love this.
What do you think of the list? How does it compare to your own? How many have you already seen?
But wait, there’s more! Still looking for more horror movies to catch up on? Take a gander at my Final Guys podcast where I present a slightly different list, along with my partners in crime. Happy bingeing!
5 Netflix Movies To Get You In The Halloween Mood
The Halloween season is just around the corner, and as we all know, Netflix is chock full of horror movies – both good and godawful – to get you in the mood. With just a few more days until the official start of fall, I thought it would be helpful to present 5 specially curated movies that will have you thinking of crisp nights, the crunch of leaves, pumpkins and flat out horror.
So next time you’re in the mood to Netflix and chug (I suggest a nice Octoberfest beer right about now), check these 5 movies out:
TALES OF HALLOWEEN
Ten stories are woven together by their shared theme of Halloween night in an American suburb, where ghouls, imps, aliens and axe murderers appear for one night only to terrorize unsuspecting residents.
** 3.5 out of 5 Jack o lanterns
THE HOUSE OCTOBER BUILT
Beneath the fake blood and cheap masks of countless haunted house attractions across the country, there are whispers of truly terrifying alternatives. Looking to find an authentic, blood-curdling good fright for Halloween, five friends set off on a road trip in an RV to track down these underground Haunts. Just when their search seems to reach a dead end, strange and disturbing things start happening and it becomes clear that the Haunt has come to them…
**3 out of 5 Jacko lanterns.
THE DEVIL’S CANDY
An artist and his family think they’ve moved into the house of their dreams, but when he is possessed by a mysterious dark force the family must fight to save their souls.
**4 out of 5 Jack o lanterns
A DARK SONG
A bereaved mother and an occultist retreat to an isolated house in Northern Wales to practice black-magic rituals. The pair hope to contact the dead, but their attempts at witchcraft lead to something even more terrifying.
**5 out of 5 Jack o lanterns!
HOUSE ON WILLOW STREET
The perfect kidnapping goes gruesomely awry in this shock-a-minute, supernatural wild ride. Led by the tough-as-nails Hazel (You’re Next’s Sharni Vinson), a band of desperate criminals abduct Katherine, the daughter of an ultra-wealthy family, for ransom. What the gang doesn’t realize is that although they have Katherine’s body, her soul is already in possession of a demonic force that’s about to turn the tables on them. Cue a cavalcade of carnage, all building up to a totally twisted, off-the-rails finale.
**3.5 out of 5 Jack o lanterns
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To Shudder Or Not To Shudder
If you’re a horror freak like myself, I’m sure you’ve heard of the all horror movie streaming service, Shudder. They say ‘It’s always midnight on Shudder’ and to me, that’s a good thing.
I’ve been on the fence for the past year whether or not to subscribe. I mean, I already have Netflix and Amazon Prime. How many more flicks could Shudder offer me?
Well, with all of the hype for the Shudder exclusive, PREVENGE, I finally took the plunge. Man, I’m kicking myself for not doing this sooner. First, I really dug Prevenge. Its dry wit and proper English pacing stands in stark contrast to the horrors that unfold as a pregnant woman goes on a murder spree…all at the behest of her very talkative fetus!
A Shudder subscription is only $5 a month. Why did I think it was so much more? I spent an hour going through their catalog, adding movie after movie to my Watch List. Here’s a sampling of what I found there and can’t wait to watch :
Demons, Demons 2, The Church, The House by the Cemetery, The Legend of Boggy Creek, Night Train to Terror, Sleep Tight, Shock Waves, The Stuff, Wake in Fright, Crystal Lake Memories.
There are a lot of brand new horror movies on there as well. I have to work my way through all of the older movies I haven’t seen in a long time before I do a deep dive on the new stuff.
So, if you watch a lot of horror movies, like I do, I’m going to give it a hearty recommendation. Not to mention, it costs less than a meal at McDonald’s. I’ll talk about at least one Shudder flick each week on my FINAL GUYS podcast to help you add to your own Watch List.
Are you or were you a Shudder subscriber? What do you think of the service? Severed thumb up or down?
Bigfoot on Film – HUNTING GROUNDS
It goes without saying that I get a little giddy whenever I come across a new Bigfoot movie. Which seems odd, since most of them are so terrible. If horror is the red headed stepchild of cinema, Bigfoot is the redheaded step-beast of the genre.
That being said, there has been an upswing in Squatch movies the past few years. In fact, one of my favorite flicks was Exists, the found footage Bigfoot thriller by Eduardo Sanchez.
Ever since I saw just the poster for HUNTING GROUNDS, I’ve been dying to see it. I even saved it on my Instagram account to remind myself to watch it as soon as it came out. Well, the time is nigh!
This latest foray into Squatch Horror is brought to us by Uncork’d Entertainment, the company that has released cool flicks like It Watches and After Death. Hunting Grounds centers around a father and son (played by Jason Vail and Miles Joris-Peyrafitte) down on their luck, recovering from the loss of their wife/mother. Dad’s drinking has cost him his job and now their house. They have nowhere else to go but the family’s dilapidated cabin in the woods.
Little do they know, the cabin is smack in the middle of the infamous Ape Canyon. Squatch devotees like myself will be giddy over the reference. You see, back in 1924, a group of miners were attacked in their cabin by a band of highly pissed off Bigfoot who rained rocks and fists on the small structure for an entire night. In the world of Bigfoot stories, this is right in the top 5. Kudos to the filmmakers for doing some research! Also, once you know the true story, you have a pretty good idea what’s going to happen here.
The family dynamics are at times uncomfortable to watch, and that’s a good thing. Dad is a bit of an ass, a man lost in his grief. His teenage son absorbs his abuse because he knows there’s a good guy deep down inside. Things get even worse for the kid when his father’s absolute asshole of a friend shows up at the cabin to do some drinking. This friend, Sergio (David Saucedo), is possibly the biggest jerkoff I’ve seen in a movie in a long time. You want this schmuck to get it in the worst possible way.
The cast, though small, is filled with familiar faces in the horror scene. You’ll be like me, checking IMDB and going, “Oh yeah, that’s where I saw him!”
The father’s brother-in-law also comes to visit, and the foursome go out hunting. Let’s just say, things go downhill from there.
Look, I know Bigfoot movies aren’t going to be high art…yet. That’s what they used to say about comic book movies. What I want is to be entertained and to see some Squatches. Hunting Grounds gives us a glimpse of Bigfoot within the first few minutes. Score one in the win column. Too many of these movies wait for the reveal in the last couple of minutes.
Also score one for no CGI. The Bigfoot creatures are all practical effects, which were decent. I will say, they are huge. I would have liked a little articulation in their faces so they didn’t look so much like masks, but that’s quibbling. What I got was a trio of enormous Squatches wreaking havoc on the cabin and the puny humans inside.
That’s not to say that Bigfoot is the bad guy here. On the contrary, they’re more curious than anything else. It’s only when they’re provoked that they strike back, and in some pretty cool ways. There is some good gore in the final act, which was pleasant to see as well.
If you have lazy Saturday and you’re tired of watching the dreck on the SyFy channel, definitely fire Hunting Grounds up. Or have some friends over for a booze n’ Bigfoot night and have a ball.
Give a Squatch a watch!
Best Horror Movies of 2016
2016 may not have been a year chock full of future classic horror flicks, but there were some real standouts. I had a bigger list than usual to choose from, but once I got past my top 5, the rest were pretty interchangeable as far as jockeying for position. March was a banner month for quality horror releases. October never seems to be. Strange.
So, without further ado, here is my annual top 13 list for the year. Hopefully this will give you something to watch on these cold January nights.
13. THE BOY
This was one of the first horror movies I watched in a theater last year. I was bored and figured it would kill some time. It makes my list because of the strong performance by Lauren Cohan and the overall creepiness of the doll, Brahms. Just look at that face. *shudders* With a very cool twist, The Boy is definitely worth a watch. Plus you’ll want to have a son and name him Brahms, just for the sake of saying his name over and over again.
12. THE CONJURING 2
Look, I know that this movie has as much to do with the real Enfield haunting as I do with ending World War II. That being said, it was fun in a well made, house of horrors kind of way. There were some good jump scares and that nun haunts my dreams. Plus, I’ll watch anything with Vera Farmiga (and if you haven’t been watching her in Bates Motel, shame on you!).
11. THE PURGE – ELECTION YEAR
I’ve come to realize that The Purge is one of the most solid horror franchises to come along in many years. For my money, it gets better with each movie. Election Year is just bat shit crazy with some of the wildest visuals of the series. I fell in love with the ‘car of lights’ and masked hotties out for a night of murder. Might be my next tattoo. It’s a wild ride and I demand a fourth flick!
10. THE WAILING
Don’t let the 2 1/2 hour running time scare you off. The Wailing is a disturbing, engrossing trip into witch doctory and possession. A product from Korea, it has the most stunning imagery of the year, with scenery to die for. Add to that several scenes that will make your blood run cold, and you have a winner.
The premise is deceptively simple – a deaf woman is trapped in her remote house, stalked by a masked (at least for a while) killer. I didn’t realize how tense I was until it ended and I felt stabbing pain in my jaw. Being deaf, she can’t hear her attacker as he prowls around the house, nor can she hear the noise she makes as she tries to get away. Good home invasion horror.
8. THE INVITATION
This is why you don’t accept a dinner invitation to your ex-wife’s house! You know right away that something is up with this gathering of old and new friends in the Hollywood hills, but it’s a blast watching it all unfold. The ending left my mouth hanging wide open. Best watched with sketchy friends.
7. DON’T BREATHE
Now, I know a lot of folks were calling this the best horror movie to come along in years. It’s not, but it is a lot of twisted fun, especially thanks to Stephen Lang’s killer portrayal of a blind man trying to fend off a trio of burglars. This is the second movie of note to be set in the ruins of Detroit (the first being my favorite, It Follows). The abandoned neighborhood alone gave me the willies. There is one scene that will linger with you. I won’t spoil it, but don’t watch it after you’ve eaten turkey.
6. 13 CAMERAS
A young couple moves into a house owned by the strangest looking and sounding dude since the wackadoo from The Human Centipede 2. What could go wrong? Disturbing owner installs cameras all around the house and sees things he should not see. I LOVED the way this one ended. If you’re a fan of The Loved Ones, the vibe this flick gives off is just for you.
5. THE WITCH
Hands down, the creepiest movie of the year. Colonists are thrown out of town and forced to struggle to survive in the wilderness. Right off the bat, a witch steals their baby and it’s all downhill from there. This movie has it all – creepy twins, bitter cold and darkness, the devil and Black Phillip the goat. Do not miss this one.
4. THE MONSTER
No one should be surprised that a guy who calls himself a monster man would be over the moon about a movie called The Monster. The real horror here is the relationship between an alcoholic mother and her young daughter. Trapped on a dark, rainy road in the dead of night, they have to battle a terrifying creature that is the physical embodiment of mom’s karma. With two stellar performances, it’s sometimes hard to watch and pretty bleak. All the ingredients I look for!
This is the first Turkish movie to ever make my list. It’s a true WTF flick. It makes Hellraiser look like a kid’s cartoon. It’s gross, disturbing and maybe doesn’t make a ton of sense, but it’s a freaking blast. If this is what hell is like, I’m going to church every day.
2. TRAIN TO BUSAN
Look, I’m sick to death of all things zombie, which just goes to show how great this movie is. It’s a Korean zombies on a train and easily the best zombie flick since the original Day of the Dead. I love the way the zombies reanimate here and pile up on one another. It’s the only movie I’ve watched in years that had me shouting out loud. Get your ticket for this train. You won’t regret it.
1.10 CLOVERFIELD LANE
The moment I saw this in the spring, I knew it would be my favorite movie of the year. John Goodman is menacing and simply awesome as a doomsday prepper who ‘saves’ a man and woman from a supposed alien invasion above. This is vastly different from Cloverfield, and for my taste, far better. I almost didn’t want to leave the bomb shelter. It’s the only movie that came out in 2016 that I bought so I can watch it over and over.
And now, for some honorable mentions…
Like I said, once I got past my top 5, quiet a few movies on my longer list could have cracked the top 13. Here are some others that tickled my horror bone : LIGHTS OUT, THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE, and I AM THE PRETTY THING THAT LIVES IN THE HOUSE.
What were your favorite movies of 2016? What movie do you think I’m crazy for including or excluding? Lay it on me!
11 UFO/Alien Movies That Are Out Of This World
I’m not afraid to admit I have an addiction. I can’t get enough movies about UFOs, aliens and abductions. No matter how bad, I’m compelled to watch them all. Lately, it seems as though a law has been passed decreeing that all UFO/Alien flicks MUST be found footage with a 10 shilling budget. I’m here to guide you from the darkness and into the light (you know, the one emanating from the underbelly of the Mothership).
Here are my favorite 11 (because anyone can do a top 10 list). I’ve put a quick synopsis followed by my own review for each. When you’re not watching the skies, put your peepers on these…
FIRE IN THE SKY
(Based on a true story) In 1975, logger Travis Walton (D.B. Sweeney) and his co-workers discovered a hovering UFO. Walton’s pals fled, but Walton was not so fortunate. Whisked aboard the strange craft, he was subjected to a painful, unearthly medical study.
The Travis Walton case is one of the most intriguing abduction cases of all time. The movie is very well done, tense and downright creepy, especially once we get a glimpse of the interior of the gross and trippy alien ship. 4 of 5 flying saucers.
Was a damaged alien spaceship really hidden by the government in the infamous Hangar 18? This film shows you how it might have happened. Aired on television as “Invasion Force,” but with a different ending.
I loved this movie when I was a kid. Plus, it stars Kolchak himself, Darren McGavin. It doesn’t hold up so well, but I can’t ignore the pull of nostalgia. 2 of 5 flying saucers
Still reeling from her parents’ divorce, April (Brittany Allen, Dead Before Dawn) is dragged by her boyfriend (Freddie Stroma, Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince, Pitch Perfect), and a group of his friends back to the cabin where she spent summers as a child. Her trip down memory lane takes a dramatic and terrifying turn when a fireball descends from the sky and explodes in the nearby woods. The group venture out to the crash site and discover the remnants of a ship from another planet, along with footprints that suggest its alien occupants are still alive. They soon find themselves caught in the middle of something bigger and more terrifying than anything they could ever imagine.
This is one bat crap crazy movie. And the more I watch it, the more I like it. I especially love the ending, the very point most directors in this little genre drop the ball. 3.5 of 5 flying saucers.
(Also based on a true story) Whitley Strieber goes with his family and some friends to his holiday home in the forest. They experience some weird occurances, are they UFO activity? Whitley is abducted and then faces a horrible dilema; was I abducted or am I going mad? He sees a psychiatrist who tries to use hypnotic regression to discover the truth.
Now, this one holds a special place in my tin foil heart. Living close to where author Whitley Strieber had his experiences, the book and then this movie totally captured my attention in the 80s. I watch it at least once a year, every year, despite its odd construction. Hey, it stars Christopher Walken and a score by Eric Clapton! 4 of 5 flying saucers.
THE FOURTH KIND
Based on actual case studies, The Fourth Kind uses archival footage and dramatic reenactments to present the most disturbing evidence of alien abduction ever in this provocative thriller.
Set in a remote Alaska town, I admit I was one of the suckers who bought the line that the footage interspersed within the movie was real. No matter. Even knowing it’s fake, the movie still gives me chills. 3.5 of 5 flying saucers.
Doctors are baffled when an expectant mother wakes to find her nearly-to-term pregnancy apparently disappear overnight. Police investigate the situation as a missing child, and only her husband and brother trust her version of events.
I’ll bet most of you have never heard of this one. I plucked it off of Netflix one day and was pleasantly surprised. It’s downright haunting and a found footage flick that gets it right. 3.5 of 5 flying saucers.
In the summer of 1947, a rancher discovers the charred remains of an unidentified flying object in the desert near Roswell, New Mexico. 20 years and 350 eyewitnesses later… the truth about what he found is finally coming out.
No, this is not the TV series. I think we all know about Roswell and Area 51 by now, but when this came out, it was pretty riveting. I believe this was produced by Showtime. I had to wait to watch it on VHS because I couldn’t afford Showtime back then. It was worth the wait. 3 of 5 flying saucers.
A farm family wakes up to find a 500-foot crop circle in their backyard and are told that extraterrestrials are responsible. The circles begin appearing all over the world as the family grapples with the fact that Earth is being invaded.
By far, this is my favorite M. Night Shyamalan and Mel Gibson movie. It’s a movie about a broken family smack in the middle of one of the most terrifying alien invasions ever put on film. Very atmospheric and one of the few movies where old Mel is not the macho hero. Swing away! 4.5 of 5 flying saucers.
As the Barret family’s peaceful suburban life is rocked by an escalating series of disturbing events, they come to learn that a terrifying and deadly force is after them.
Another well executed film about a family in crisis. I actually jumped a couple of times when I saw it in the theater. The ending pulls no punches. Pretty bleak stuff. 4 of 5 flying saucers.
Linguistics professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) leads an elite team of investigators when gigantic spaceships touch down in 12 locations around the world. As nations teeter on the verge of global war, Banks and her crew must race against time to find a way to communicate with the extraterrestrial visitors. Hoping to unravel the mystery, she takes a chance that could threaten her life and quite possibly all of mankind.
Wow, wow, wow. Don’t expect over the top theatrics and insane special effects. This is pure storytelling woven with some high concept science. It’s taut, intelligent and at times, heartbreaking. A must watch! 5 of 5 flying saucers.
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND
Universally considered the best film ever made about alien visitation to Earth, Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind was nominated for eight Academy Awards®, winning for Best Cinematography. Power repairman Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) has an extraordinary encounter with a strange spacecraft while out on a call. Recurring visions of a mountain fuel an increasing obsession that drives him to an emotional breaking point.
This is the godfather of all UFO movies. So much of this has become part of our everyday culture. Beautifully shot with a fantastic performance by Richard Dreyfuss, at almost 40 years old, it’s still the one UFO movie to watch if you plan to watch only one. 5 of 5 flying saucers.
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Creepy Movies For Halloween and Casting Remakes
Tis the season for lots ‘o horror movies. There are so many to choose from, it’s always difficult to decide what to watch. If you’ve been following what I’ve been watching on Twitter under hashtag #Horrortober, you’ll see I’ve watched over 30 so far. I’m hoping to hit the 50 mark this year. I give a rating for each movie so you know which ones to avoid and which ones to pop in the Blu Ray player or get On Demand.
Catching up on a couple of episodes of Monster Men, we review perfect movies for Horrortober like HUSH, DON’T BREATHE, GREEN ROOM and NEON DEMON. These 4 flicks will definitely have you waiting for the Great Pumpkin.
Next up, we wax unpoetic about unnecessary remakes and who we would cast in each. Do movies like Jaws, Alien and Escape from New York need to be remade? Hell no! But we all know that Hollywood can’t help itself. It will happen. If it happened today and we were casting directors, here’s where we would take things. The big question is, how would you recast them?
Movie Review : 13 Cameras
My man man, pots and pans, Spencer Mitchell is back, this time with a review of a very cool flick called 13 Cameras. I haven’t seen it myself, but after reading his review, I’m going straight to Amazon this afternoon. There’s great horror out there. Sometimes, you just need to rely on someone’s recommendation to point you in the right direction! And this particular movie opens up a whole can of worms about the prevalence of cameras in today’s society and what that means for us.
Take it away Spencer…
13 Cameras: A Video Surveillance Horror Story
While ugly, failing appliances and bug infestations may be at the top of the list of a renter’s worst fears, being spied on by creepy landlords is also another concern. No one wants to be unknowingly watched and recorded, but the movie 13 Cameras takes it a step further. If nothing else, this film shows that the technology so many depend on to protect their homes, property, and person can easily be used against them.
As 13 Cameras opens, Gerald, played by Neville Archambault, is seen purchasing a load of little cameras and installing them in a house. In come newlyweds Ryan and Claire, played by PJ McCabe and Brianne Moncrief, who are expecting their first baby and looking for a new place to rent. Claire picks up on Gerald’s unsettling vibes right away, but since the house is perfectly suited for their growing family, the couple signs a lease and seals their fate.
During the film, Claire and Ryan do the normal things that all married couples do within their homes: argue, have sex, and plan their futures. The problem is most people don’t have a landlord watching their every movement on camera. Then comes the twist: Ryan is having an affair with his assistant Hannah, played by Sarah Baldwin. It gets to the point where Ryan’s indiscretion is not only threatening his marriage with Claire, but Gerald’s favorite pastime as well. And you know Gerald’s not having that. As the tension between Ryan and Claire becomes more intense, Gerald steps beyond watching them on camera and physically invades their lives.
Archambault’s performance as Gerald is excellent and flawlessly gives the audience sweaty-crazy-landlord realness. He doesn’t say much throughout the film, but his very presence is unnerving. Once the audience sees he’s not some quivering lump but a very muscular man beneath his sweat-stained shirt, you get a sense that Claire and Ryan are in serious danger. As for the ending of 13 Cameras, let’s just say that it is as disturbing as the rest of the film.
Theatrical drama aside, there are some real life problems with video surveillance. It’s commonly abused and can easily put sensitive information and footage into the wrong hands. Technology simply hasn’t reached the point of being fool-proof, and that era may never come at all. That said, home security systems can provide some major benefits, are effective at warding off would-be intruders, and there are ways to safeguard them, according to many resources.
One of the biggest vulnerabilities with most home security systems is they’re not encrypted, which makes it much easier for hackers, stalkers, and even pranksters to spy on you and invade your privacy. Choose a system that uses encryption and is tamper resistant. Another way to stop hackers is by properly securing your home’s router if your security system relies on WiFi. Change the default password and be sure your router’s firmware is current. To very easily determine whether unauthorized users are interfering with your security system, regularly scan the IP history of your camera logs.
The problems presented by unlawful, intrusive surveillance all seem like infrequent worse case scenarios, but cameras are hacked into more than people realize. Because it touches on real life issues that people have encountered with surveillance gone wrong in a terrifying way, 13 Cameras is more of a horror movie than a suspenseful thriller. Take a lesson from Claire and Ryan: to avoid a safety and privacy catastrophe, you have to be careful when it comes to having cameras within your home.