Thursday, December 31, 2015

Magic (1978)

Happy New Year, everyone!

As a Christmas present to myself I signed up for a subscription to the Shudder channel. Did someone say a curated collection of some of the best known (and unknown) horror films out there? SAY WHAT?


The first movie I chose to watch on this channel was Magic. It somehow seemed appropriate.

Based on the book by William Goldman and staring Anthony Hopkins, folks. this movie is nothing short of awesome. 

Anthony Hopkins is crap your pants frightening - and that's only 5 minutes into the film! Apparently the ventriloquist doll in the film was also so crap your pants frightening for Anthony Hopkins that he demanded, in the middle of the night, that it be removed from his home RIGHT NOW (the one night he took it home with him). 

I picture the good folks making Silence of the Lambs saw Hopkins in those first 5 minutes and said, "That's our man."

This one is also a thriller with a capital T. There are plenty of bad doll movies out there but nothing quite like this one...

You'll cringe, you'll gasp, you'll curl up in the corner and quietly say happy thoughts aloud to yourself. That is my kinda horror movie!!

If it's not already obvious, this movie is about a man and his doll. When third parties try to get in-between these two, things get ugly right quick. Although there is very little blood or gore, there is plenty of gut-retching suspense and heart-pounding drama. Frankly, this movie blew me away.

And just when I thought it was over - just in the last few seconds of the film - Peggy Ann Snow (Ann-Margaret) said something that sent Eeegads What!? chills down my spine. The thing of nightmares, folks. I'm not entirely sure she intended that. Seriously, I don't think that was her motive - happy accident...?

In any case, the horror was thorough.

Check this film out! You won't regret it.

Pairings: great for a group or alone. Just be sure everyone is paying close attention. Bourbon in flasks or beer in bottles. Coffee (milk and sugar). Roasted asparagus and popcorn. Have a few cigars and/or a couple decks of cards hanging around...

I saw this film on my Shudder Roku channel. Use the links under Find It. Watch It. on Horror Habit's side bar to locate where else you can find this incredibly terrifying film, and roll into the new year with some Magic...

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Come Back To Me (2014)

Holy Smokes!

Folks, this is one knock-your-socks-off thriller!

Come Back To Me opens with a very brutal, intensely brutal domestic violence scene. These few moments will leave you completely horrified for the duration of the film.

My first thought: "Oh my - oh my word. This is terrible. This family is going to need some serious counseling. Serious counseling. Oh man, now it's getting worse. Serious. Counseling."

And then the horror morphs into a whole new level of hell for the entire family and anyone who comes into contact with them.

This movie is insanely original and kept me on the edge of my seat up until end - which is brilliant. Brilliantly horrifying ending, that is. The story line weaves and wanders, and you think you know what's going on - and you might be on the right track for a while - but I can assure you that you've never seen a "creepy guy stalking the ladies" story quite like this one.

Come Back To Me is based on the novel, "The Resurrectionist" by Wrath James White. A book and author I had not previously heard of but must now follow. Insanely original.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film. I'm filing it under top thriller entertainment, and head-spinning story lines so unique they're almost blasphemous. Great stuff.

Now, I've come across some reviews of this film that were a little harsh. Some didn't like the acting, for instance - okay, okay, I get it. It took me a moment too. Some of the characters were a little 'cheesy' at first, but that moment passed quickly for me. 'Cheesy' morphed into full on Responding-To-Terror-Appropriately pretty fast and furiously.

This movie could pair well in a group, but I would recommend that it be a small group (or alone). If you can watch it late at night, alone, with all the lights off - even better. You might want to peek out the window now and then, keep your eye on the new neighbor who just moved in...

Food and beverage pairing: Cookies and popcorn. In fact, make that *too much* cookies and popcorn... then WINE. Lots of red wine. Especially if you're having a ladies movie night. Shots of tequila will work nicely as well. Milk in wine glasses as a booze alternative.

I saw this film on Netflix. Or use the links under Find It. Watch It. on Horror Habit's side bar to locate where else you can find this mind-blowing feature.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Unseen (1980)

Some months back I was cruising through YouTube, probably watching fails or kittens or the like, when a suggested movie popped up: The Unseen.

When I saw the suggestion I was all like: "The Unseen! Why have I not seen this!?"

The movie surprised me in many ways, the first being that it takes place in and around Solvang, California. I was not expecting a horror movie to come out of this quaint little Danish village!!

I'm half Danish and I traveled down there to celebrate our family's biannual reunion some years back. I have a particularly fond memory of my 88 year old Mormor (grandmother) taking one bite out of a local vendor's aebleskiver then promptly spitting it out and shouting: "This is PANCAKE MIX!". Mormor was not a woman to mess with, especially when it came to the aebleskivers. Remind me to tell you sometime about when Mormor, in a rush to get outside, plowed right through her screen door. Ah....fond memories.

Okay! So the movie takes place in and around Solvang, this delighted me so much that I continued watching the film despite the sense that this might end in disappointment.

It did not end in disappointment, rather the surprises kept mounting! They were horror surprises, however, not happy ones.

This film focuses heavily on domestic abuse. I actually did not see that coming - figured this might be more of a ghost or creature feature...and it is, a little, in a sense...

The film also focuses, to startling degrees, on sexual reproduction. I can not tell you how all these elements interplay without giving away significant portions of the film's twists, just know these elements are present.

The final surprise came with the knowledge (after I saw the film) that the Director, Writer, and Actor in the film, Danny Stienmann, was so upset with the editing process (apparently claiming all the good scares were cut), that he had his name removed from the credits. Seems like a rather bold move, and makes me wonder what on Earth could have been cut! 

That said, the editing of this film is a little odd - even before I learned of the apparent editing fiasco, I noticed that the movie moved rather awkwardly, sections of the story appeared as if they were forced together when they shouldn't have been. 

The acting is startling and very uncomfortable for the viewer, partially because it's good and partially because the characters are just so dang strange.... This makes for some good old fashioned hilarity but you'll also want to laugh to dislodge some of that discomfort.

In the end the movie is an unusual hybrid of campy 1980's slasher meets very dark and twisted secrets. This is a nice blend for those looking for films buried far beneath the 1980's classics. I enjoyed this film quite a bit, but not because it's a stellar horror story but rather that it's a ballsy horror story. An unsettling feature that will pair well with a small group on a cold, dark night.

Recommended drinks: light beers in little glasses or dark wines in large, gaudy goblets. Food: chicken, stale crackers, aebelskivers.

I saw this film on YouTube. You should not watch this on YouTube. The quality is poor and I'm not entirely certain the producers put it up there. A DVD version was released in 2008, I believe. Or use the links under Find It. Watch It. on Horror Habit's side bar to locate where else you can find this downright disturbing feature.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Krampus (2015)

Hello everyone!

After taking a little time off and creating a Roku channel, I'm back from my posting hiatus to present my review of Michael Dougherty's Krampus.

This is one hell of a fun movie, folks. So Fun! Fun in the only way demons for the holidays can be.

I saw it with my brother - couldn't talk my Husband into seeing it just yet. He heard an NPR report that stated it was okay but too scary for anyone under 13 and not scary enough for anyone over 13.

My reply: "So... like Gremlins?" (a film that terrified me when I saw it in the theater as a child, my parents thought the movie was hilarious).

I think this horror story is very akin to Gremlins. Adult humor, snappy dialogue, relateable characters, while also saturated with a bunch of unique and totally original (downright frightening) monsters.

Krampus moves quick and slow yet keeps the audience engaged thoroughly. The scenery and setting is so well done that one will feel very much as if they too are sitting there with the family, huddled next to the fire, listening to the pounding of hooves on the roof.

I very much appreciated how effectively the story isolated this poor family from the 'real' world, creating a very believable and entertaining fairy tale land that allows the viewer to sit and watch without questioning logic, actions, etc. Very well done here, script writers. Well done.

The monsters, folks. These monsters. It's not just Krampus - and that I did not expect. Someone culled these creatures from the deepest, darkest realms of our childhood fears and then made them bigger and faster! At times the entire theater audience could do nothing but gasp and laugh at these things. Not laugh because they were funny, but because they were so over-the-top nightmarish that one's initial response to is to laugh while recoiling in horror. My jaw dropped at the sight of these creatures. Dropped.

Those who reject blood bath films, fear not! There is no gore here, no blood and guts at all. In fact, no gore was needed to make this a horror show.

Finally, the dichotomy of the holidays were portrayed so brilliantly that you might just want to high-five someone. The gift shopping chaos, the family fights, the political wars brought to the dinner table, and even the gun debates - it was all shared here with sharp, almost (good) painful wit and satire.

In all, I found this film to be completely entertaining. Krampus took itself just as seriously as it made fun of itself, creating a great environment for groups and families (where the kids are a little older). Treat yourself to a fairy tale in the classic sense - dark, twisted, wrong, and with some heavy handed morals to take home.

Pairs with anything hot, and spiked with booze. Have cookies, soups, and candy canes sucked to the point that you've created a small, sweet stabby weapon handy (just in case...).