Wednesday, July 27, 2022

The Beast of Bray Road (2005) ... Again

So I was scrolling through Facebook when I saw someone in one of my horror community pages post a meme about it being Werewolf Wednesday. 

About a half hour later, when I finally controlled myself after laughing so damn hard, I thought: what the hell - let's have Werewolf Wednesdays! Why not?!

Folks, you know I'm a huge werewolf fan - a rabid fan, one might say - and when I was trying to come up with a werewolf film to watch, to kick off the inaugural Werewolf Wednesday, I suddenly and instantly (and oddly) thought of:

The Beast of Bray Road

[clears throat, takes a deep breath] Okay, here we go.

I would first like to send a formal apology for my completely, totally, utterly lame first review of this film, which I wrote in 2012.

I've learned so much. I've grown so much. This film is still not great, BUT boy howdy, how perspective and appreciation can change over the course of nearly 17 years from when I first saw this film. Moreover! I wrote that itty bitty review seven years after I watched this movie only once! 

Oh, growth. 

Let's dive into why this review is taking a 180 from 10 years ago:

I first saw this film right around 2006, when I was in the height of my hipster stage, sporting white belts, smoking in bars, and running around town with my lead singer of a band bodyfriend. Good times. My horror movie connoisseur skills were just begining to really bud and frankly, I was mostly just watching David Lynch films or campy movies from the '50s and '60s. Not much in-between. 

And then this film fell into my lap and I was all, WTF is this? I was not a fan. I didn't understand its style or rhythm, the werewolf costume made me laugh, and I simply wasn't able to pay much attention or take the film seriously (if that was their intention).

Over the years, occasionally this film would pop up in my head and I wondered about watching it again, but never made an effort to do so until this new fandangled Werewolf Wednesday.  And I am so glad I did! I had a riot of a good time!

This is the story about a werewolf that has been spotted around Bray Road, in Walworth County Wisconsin, for years. So the movie is not lying - it is in fact based on actual accounts of sightings of this mysterious cryptid. Although I doubt these accounts involve a new sheriff, the small town bar, and a rapidly growing body count. 

But that's where the fun comes for the movie watcher!

The film is so deliciously mid 2000's, I could barely contain myself. It's a special type of treasure that begins to shine brighter over time. For example, this line sent me over-the-edge in delight: "I brought my picture phone" and he whipped out his flip phone. Lololololololo. And if we didn't already need another reminder of how COVID changed everything, this gem of a line is also stated: "...the ebola virus for werewolves..." Oh lordy. 

This movie is campy, salty, bloody, and actually tighter in plot and acting than I remembered. However, there's a few yikes moments. Slurs are said a small handful of times to enhance the douche baggery of some folks. But still, yikes folks, yikes. So ... there's that.

Let's get to the actual werewolf. I am a big fan of practical effects, especially when it comes to creature features. While I laughed in almost mockery for the first viewing, by the second, I laughed with charmed amusement. Folks, while the beast here is murdering on a tight budget, you can tell a whole lot of love went into creating it - and it shows. This werewolf is not exactly hiding in the film either, it's full monster a lot of the time (i.e., not just showing an arm or hinting at its existence, etc), which I really appreciate now and didn't really understand then. It's a fun monster, folks!

Now this might just be hilarious to me, but I'm a big Josh Gates fan, and when the cryptozoologist in this film rolls into town after hearing rumors of the beast, I was on The FLOOR, in tears. Did Josh Gates get his exploring attire from this film? The other way around?! Was this actor hired because he looks like Gates? This is now its own mystery and I am beside myself in delight! LOLOLOLO

Now, this also might just be entertaining to me, but there was a very brief reference to Black River Falls, Wisconsin, and my ears perked right up. Was this a nod to the book (and film) Wisconsin Death Trip??!?!?

Wow. 

Never, never in my life did I think I would write up so much about The Beast of Bray Road, but here we are. My brothers might not side with me and my new found appreciation for this film, but I'm happy to be here. 

Shout out to 10 years ago me who wrote this, about the film: "...that all said, I own this movie. I'm waiting for a perfect time to re-watch with friends as I'm sure I will have a different, truly entertaining experience. Maybe I'll see more things which were missed during the first viewing." 

ZING! NAILED IT! High-five Me!

In all, I'm so glad I gave this film a second chance. Grab your friends, that cooler full of beers, sit down and have a great time with this cheeky little surprise. 

Sunday, July 24, 2022

She Waits (1972)

Oh how I love made-for-TV movies so much!


SO GADDAM MUCH!


I'm not sure if it's the dramatic pauses built for commercial breaks, the peculiar (often poor) video quality, or just the passionate but charming ridiculousness of it all. Whatever it is, I’m here for ALL OF IT!


Let’s take a little dive into the spooky world of: 


She Waits



Here we have a recently remarried man bring his second wife home to meet Mother and see the family estate. But! There’s a deep secret buried within the walls of this home - a ghost guarding the mysterious death of the man’s first wife…


YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS Hell Yeah!


That’s all you really need to know! Is the ghost of the first wife really haunting the house? Is Mother mad? Is the innocent and sweet new wife getting possessed? Was it MURDER?


Oh yeah, this is the good stuff. 


Folks this is a mighty decent film. The acting is engaging and well done, the plot is deliciously consuming, and this delightfully succinct film is perfect for anyone who enjoys spooky little drama stories. 


I think another charming element of films like these is that they often fit best for lazy Sunday afternoons while doing chores or working on a cooking project. Admittedly - for me - it’s a little difficult to pay full attention to these films. I get rather fidgety and would rather have the film’s accompaniment as a friend who is running errands with me, telling me about their buillshit week while we slay the day. 


Pairs with PJs and snacks all day, a gentle breeze coming through delicately billowing white drapes, wine or iced tea, and living your best life.


I watched this film on Amazon Prime or use the Find It! Watch It! links on Horror Habit's side bar to see where else you can find this ghostly tale. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Werewolves Within (2021)

My brother called me and asked if I'd like to come over and check out the latest rental he picked up at Scarecrow Video

Me: "What's the movie?"

Brother: "Werewolves Within."

Me: "Hell yeah, I'll be over by 6!"

I mean. It has the word WEREWOLVES in it! And this is how I'll get lured into a creeper van. Somone rolls by and asks if I want to check out some werewolf films and I'll be 'alrighty-o, let's go!'....

Let's check out: 

Werewolves Within


First of all: what fun this one was! 

I walked into this one completely blind. I didn't want to know anything about it - didn't even look up a poster. Which I like most of the time, but I don't see a reason why others should do the same (I mean ... you're here so I'm suspecting you're looking this film up...). 

So I was pleasantly delighted to find this film so utterly charming and entertaining. 

Here we have the classic tale of a new guy arriving to a remote, quirky small town but something more sinister bubbles beneath the quaint village and he ends up accidently in the middle of it all. 

This is absolutely a creature feature whodunnit that kicks off right away with a brutal werewolf attack! I'm always a fan when they jump right in there with the murders... With a great cast of characters, puns-a-plenty, and that quintessential small town finger pointing, you'll be sure to find something to like here.  

Naturally, since my brother and I are watching this, we're also both battling out our movie/actor/random knowledge skills while watching. I was actually having a hard time trying to figure out where I saw the character of Cecily. While I'm racking my brain, my brother pulls up her IMDB profile and suddenly shouts: "I'm one degree of separation from Milana Vayntrub!"

And wouldn't you know it, folks - he is! He directed a short film that starred a guy who would later work with Milana (or as I finally realized, Lily Adams from the AT&T commercials...). Does that also make me some degree of separation since the short was filmed in my living room? 

In all, if you're looking for something on the lighter side of horror but heavy on the wit and humor, then look right this way. Hell, make it a double feature with The Wolf of Snow Hollow!

Best watched all snug on a couch that has seen better days but is still unreasonably comfortable. Pairs with something that's been brewing in a slow-cooker all day. Cold brews or hot teas. 

This movie was rented from a physical movie store, or use the Find It! Watch It! links on Horror Habit's sidebar to see where else you can find this fun for the whole family (....sorta...) feature. 

Thursday, May 5, 2022

A Good Woman Is Hard to Find (2019)

I had settled into the night, a cross stitch project in hand, trying to figure out what to watch when I stumbled upon this curious find. I was instantly taken by the succinct yet somewhat allusive description:

"A recently widowed young mother will go to any lengths to protect her children as she seeks the truth behind her husband's murder."

I was all, "...I'm a widow..." AND I have just recently (finally) began to really, truly appreciate the shear terror, art, and joy of revenge horror films. I've avoided most of them for years simply because I could never really find a good head space to prepare myself for the premise that most revenge films rely on: sexual assault. 

So when I deduced this film was most likely a revenge film, and I was madly - madly - stabbing away at my cross stitch project because I just got word of the threat to repeal Roe v Wade, and since it's Mother's Day coming up, I figured:

"Let's see what this bad bitch is going to do!!"

Let me introduce you to the fabulous: 

A Good Woman Is Hard to Find


And let me tell ya - She's A BAD BITCH, ya'll! And I'm here for it!!

The landscape is drizzly, on the poorer side of a poor town, drugs are running pretty rampant, and this very young woman with two very young kids is just trying to make it minute to minute.  

She's not getting any information from the cops about her husband's murder in a park, in fact it's mostly dismissed. She's not getting any great support from a mother who has been upset she married that man in the first place, and then suddenly a drug deal outside goes down - badly - and she suddenly finds herself face to face with a man named Tito standing in her kitchen. 

Things go on a thrilling hell ride from there!

Note, fine folks, there's a dildo involved in this film (and not in the way you think ... exactly) that plays such a dark humored role at first and then such a pivotal role later - it still impresses me with its symbolism and sharp, witty use. To me, it spoke a wide variety of volumes about power, sex, and women. I loved it. Loved. It. 

I was genuinely impressed with this film. It really surprised me because on the surface, it's a simple film. When you dive deeper, however, you find onion layer after onion layer of social commentary but also a straight up film about a woman who ran out of options one day and just wasn't going to take it anymore. 

This stellar film will make a great double feature with another BRILLIANT revenge film, simply titled: Revenge. I'm sure I'm fine but I watch this film maybe a little too much.... 

Or, if you want to go the more rock n' roll psychedelic revenge angle, but with the same amount of intensity, I highly recommend Mandy. Either of these would pair nicely as a double feature with the stunner that is A Good Woman Is Hard to Find

Best watched alone or with a trusted person. Pairs with TV dinners and a shit ton of bad assery. Might I recommend a cross stitch to stab at? 

Stay:

ladies!

I watched this film on Shudder or use the Find It! Watch It! links on Horror Habit's side bar to see where else you find find this work of art. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Evil Dead 2 by Hourglass Escapes AND Evil Dead II (1987)

My family are puzzle people. We LOVE Puzzles! Almost any kind - with the exception of 99% of word puzzles... 

But back to FUN puzzles! 

So we love puzzles, particularly jigsaw puzzles and hours long board games. With that, a brother and I are particularly fond of escape rooms! So, when I asked what he wanted to do for his birthday he said he wanted to do an escape room and would look for one that looked like fun. 

A few days later I get a call: 

Him: "Hey, Jolie. I found an escape room. Can you guess which one?"

Me: "Is it scary?"

Him: "Yes ... it's a movie..."

Me: "Is it Evil Dead!?"

Him: "Yes! How did you know?"

Because I'm good, that's how. No really, I had heard that something like this exists and I was certain he was going to find it and would want to check it out. Siblings. 

So this particular post is going to be a little different because it's both a shout out to an EXCELLENT escape room experience - my favorite so far! AND and little review/reminder of the amazing Evil Dead II.

First, the Shout Out:

If you're like some of my co-workers and friends who just gave me a blank look when I excitedly shared that I went to an escape room over the weekend, let me summarize the experience:

An escape room is where you get locked into a room and you have to solve a series of hidden physical clues within the room to get to additional rooms and or simply get out. Now, this can be a rather claustrophobic experience for some because some of the rooms can be rather small. I actually went to a 'mad scientist horror show' escape room and actually had a bit of a panic because it was #1: felt too small #2: I was getting frustrated at not finding clues.  Sometimes booze helps before these adventures, sometimes it doesn't. 

In all, these rooms require a lot of fun team work and collective critical, analytical thinking. You know, a utopia and what I envision as world peace. 

So that's a summary of an escape room. There are rooms all over the country and they all have fun, exciting, themes that come in all shapes, sizes, and - if it's your flavor like mine - scares. 

With that, since I have been to so many escape rooms, and enjoyed them all, Evil Dead 2tm by Hourglass Escapes has by far been my favorite! My very favorite! This room was exceptionally and lovingly detailed with very clever clues. It was fun the entire time (instead of frustrating) and if you're an Evil Dead fan, all the more the bonus. It will blow your mind with the amount of Easter eggs and tributes - you can tell some love and fandom went into building these rooms.

So yay you, Evil Dead 2 by Hourglass Escapes! IT WAS A BLAST! And great job!

Second, the Movie:

I can't tell you how many times I've seen this film, but I can say it's an utter delight every time I do watch it. It's also a bit of a shock to me when I reference this film (or film series), fully expecting something like "Shop smart, shop S-Mart" as a response, when all I get is a blank stare. I really don't know what to do with myself in those situations and I usually make it worse by trying to share *more* quotes, which, naturally, just digs me deeper into the awkward hole. So, if this film is new to you, let me introduce you to:

Evil Dead II


There is a wild madness to this film. A wild madness that I can never stop looking at, and was honed in on after the making of the first Evil Dead (also an excellent, excellent film, but I think horror fans from all walks will agree that Evil Dead II is better than the original. I mean, hell - there's an entire escape room dedicated to film #2). 

The wild madness is about the first thing viewers will notice - the erratic monster vision, the nonsensical plot line beginnings, and the BRILLIANCE of Bruce mf Campbell (love you). 

Here we have a story about a couple that plan a stay in a remote cabin in the woods. A book of the dead is discovered and demons are unleashed on an epic, gory, hilarious, and outrageous level. I mean, on levels not ever quite seen before or since. 

I was re-watching this film after the escape room and I [insert the Leonardo DiCaprio pointing at the TV with a beer in his hand meme] was delighted af to see all the very, very sharp attention to detail with both this film and the escape room fan room. I could even point to certain scenes in this film where I was able solve parts of the Evil Dead escape room - and didn't realize it at the time. Clever, clever, clever. 

This film is madness in all forms and it's super fun, super gross, super brilliant. It's one-of-kind for sure. A must not miss if you're a horror fan and quite likely a film that will come up in conversation if you're new to horror films. It's a classic and must see. Again. And again. And again. And again. 

This particular escape room is best experienced in a small (around 3, probably no more than 4 person) group. You have 70 minutes to solve the clues and get out or you're dragged straight to hell by a gaggle of demons. Good Luck!

The film is best watched in a much larger group, probably after you just escaped the grasp of being dragged to hell. Pairs best with laughter, booze, pot (probably a lot of pot) and insane snacks that don't sound like they should work or taste good but actually do both and it blows everyone's mind. 

Again, shout out to Hourglass Escapes! If you're in the Seattle area, be sure to check them out. If you're not in the Seattle area please check out your local escape rooms if puzzle rooms are your thing!

I own Evil Dead II or use the Find It! Watch It! links on Horror Habit's side bar to see where else you can find this MUST SEE and can NEVER FORGET film.