WHY DO GOOD SCARES LIKE BAD GIRLS?

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From as far back as 1936 when Gloria Holden graced the screen as Dracula’s Daughter to contemporary’s like Sheri Moon Zombie’s adorable yet vicious “Baby”, horror has always loved a good bad girl. Remember, even bad boy Jason Voorhees learned everything he knew from his dear demented mother. Recent horror cinema is no exception, as we take a look at a couple of recent horror cuties who would rather kill than cuddle…

Be warned there may be some SPOILERS if you haven’t seen some of the films our hellion honeys are featured in.

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THE LOVED ONES (2009): LOLA STONE

Cute but lethal Lola is the product of her demented father who likes to keep his lobotomized wife around like a pet. And daddy has passed his psychopathic tendencies on to his little princess as she continually shops around for her prince, keeping all the candidates locked up in the basement after a date night of torment, torture and home lobotomy. Though none of these poor lads will ever live up to her standards…she is daddy’s little girl after all…she keeps looking. She’s got quite a collection going as she chooses troubled teen Brent as her latest prom date though Brent might be a bit more than the sadistic sweetie can handle.

Actress Robin McLeavy is a powerhouse as the twisted teen, giving a tour de force performance that takes Lola from adorably awkward to gleefully sadistic to full blown psycho hose-beast without ever crossing the line into camp. Sean Byrne’s script gives McLeavy a lot to chew on and she savors every bit. Lola is ever the more effective because the Aussie actress is able to somehow imbue her with a cuteness and sexiness despite how vicious and demented she gets. She’s disturbingly adorable even as she wields a power drill on her helpless prince charming or playfully teases him about his lack of a voice after she’s damaged his vocal chords with drain cleaner. McLeavy’s Lola is as disturbingly playful as her acts are disturbingly sadistic. Despite knowing how the date will end up, not well for you obviously, you still think she’s kinda hot. One of recent horror cinema’s most seductive and sinister leading ladies and hopefully Robin McLeavy will get recognized for her talents. She recently has appeared in Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and now plays Eva on AMC’s Hell On Wheels. So hopefully this talented actress’ star is on the rise.

Read my review for The Loved OnesHERE!

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EVIL DEAD (2013): MIA

Jane Levy’s Mia is an emotionally troubled girl with a heroin addiction. But that’s nothing compared to demonic possession and attempting to feed her friend’s souls to an ancient evil. As a sinister looking book is discovered in the basement…along with hordes of dead animals, which is never a good sign… and one of her overly curious friends decides to read from it despite warnings, Mia’s afternoon walk in the woods becomes a nightmare which the now filled-to-the brim vessel of horrors is more than gleefully happy to share with the rest of the gang. Even when locked in the basement, Mia is like Satan’s personal cheerleader as her brother and friends are tormented and taken over during the ensuing blood bath. But actress Jane Levy gets to pull double duty as a clever twist of plot transforms the heir to the throne of Linda Blair into a chainsaw wielding heroine determined to put evil back in the dark box it came from.

Levy, who was really good on Suburgatory as the feisty Tessa, puts in a strong performance on all stages. She is damaged and vulnerable as the suicidal heroin addict who may be trying to kick her habit, or may not. Once possessed, Levy has a blast with the demonic imp who delights in tormenting the people she used to love and is positively giddy about watching the evil force possess and torture them. Then, when free of the demon’s grasp, Levy does a good job going full blown Ash and grabbing her chainsaw to give the Evil Dead a taste of their own medicine. Levy is a wonderful actress who makes all three stages of Mia work and work perfectly. I liked how when Mia is first attacked and possessed she is wearing white and when she is freed and ready to fight, she is wearing red. Virginal and innocent no more, she’s all grown up and ready to give Beelzebub a beat down. Hollywood more Mia and more Jane Levy please!

Read my review of The Evil Dead (2013) HERE!

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THE PARANORMAL ACTIVITY SERIES: KATIE

Texas born actress Katie Featherston has the best of both world’s in that she portrays one of horror’s newest heroines…and newest villains…as “Katie” from the Paranormal Activity series. In the original film she starts out as a college student who is being pursued by a demonic entity since childhood. Moving in with her arrogant and prideful boyfriend has escalated the haunting as he decides to film the entity’s late night antics and to provoke it. The sweet Katie is slowly broken down emotionally as the supernatural fiend continues it’s attacks until it finally possesses her and has her kill her boyfriend, Micah with a sweetly scary smile. In PA2, which is both prequel and sequel we get to see both sweet Katie in the early sequences, which take place before PA1 and then demon Katie in the chilling climax which takes place the night after she has killed her boyfriend. Here we find the demon is after her toddler nephew and sends Aunt Katie to kill her sister and brother in-law in terminator fashion and make off with little Hunter. Prequel PA3 gave the demoness a break and she only had a brief cameo as sweet Katie, but in PA4, which takes place five years after the end of PA2, the bitch is back in her neck snapping glory, as Aunt Katie returns to reacquire the adopted Hunter and secure his adopted teenage sister as a human sacrifice.

Actress Katie Featherston makes Katie such a lovable and sympathetic character in Paranormal Activity part 1 that it adds a welcome dose of tragedy to her intimidating demon possessed Katie. She skillfully guided us through her emotional breakdown and we are sympathetic to her now being in evil’s grasp. Sure we know when she appears in the corner of a dark room somebody is going down, but we also feel bad for her and hope she’s freed, in one of the future installments, from her torment. I personally would love to see this underrated actress play a Katie, now freed of the demon, who is horrified by the acts it forced her to commit, yet, angry and vengeful enough to want to make right her wrongs and teach a demon-loving witch coven how pissing off a sweet Texas girl is not a good idea. As with Miss Levy and Miss McLeavy, Hollywood…give us more Katie Featherston.

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TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D (2013): HEATHER MILLS (SAWYER)

This might be stretching it a bit as sexy and feisty Heather spends most of the time being the embattled heroine and running her buns off from Leatherface for most of the film’s length, but let’s not forget she is his cousin and blood is thicker than water in more ways than one, here. Heather has inherited a house in Texas from a grandmother she never met and the will did not state that it included a chainsaw wielding maniac in the basement…though there was a letter which Heather neglects to read, tsk, tsk! So obviously, Leatherface can’t resist a little fun and decides to decimate Heather’s friend’s and go after her. But Heather Mills is by blood a Sawyer and as she uncovers the truth about how her whole family was murdered for the acts of a few and the sleazy mayor lead the charge, Heather decides to overlook that her last remaining family member is a murderous cannibal that killed her friends…her boyfriend was cheating with one of them, so maybe it’s for the best…and joins him in a showdown with the redneck mayor and one of his flunkies. Once vengeance is had, Heather decides to take care of her kin who repays her by cleaning up some of the unpleasant details in her life such as her white trash adopted parents, since it was dear old adopted dad that killed her mom anyway.

New York City born Alexandra Daddario, who was a feisty and strong-willed heroine in Stevan Mena’s Bereavement, does play a good horror heroine. She can be both damsel and ass kicker when called upon and was both in the horrors she’s appeared in. I was especially impressed by the emotional depth she gave Bereavement’s troubled Allison and Chainsaw’s script sadly doesn’t give her the same opportunity. But Texas Chainsaw does prove she can play a vengeful horror bad girl too and we enjoy her obvious change of heart toward her legendary cousin as the statuesque beauty tosses him his trademark weapon and encourages him to “do his thing”. I personally would like to see more of Daddario in the seductive villainess role thought, as with her horrors and the Percy Jackson series, we will be more then happy to see her as the sexy butt kicker, too. My choice for Wonder Woman if they ever get a decent movie for the comic book character going. Hollywood has taken notice of the raven haired beauty and let’s hope she gets the roles she deserves.

-MonsterZero NJ

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE LOVED ONES (2009)

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THE LOVED ONES (2009)

The Loved Ones is a 2009 Australian horror film that wasn’t released in the US till 2012, when it got a limited theatrical release in June and then on to VOD and DVD in September. It is one of my favorite horror movies of 2012…

Brent (Xavier Samuel) is a teen suffering emotional scars from the death of his father from 6 months earlier. School is almost over and the ‘End Of School Dance’ approaches. But Brent’s life is about to go from one horror to another as he is targeted by the deranged Lola Stone (Robin McLeavy) and her equally deranged father (John Brumpton) for a prom night of torment and torture. But is torturing a tortured soul a good idea?

What separates this from the recent torture porn sub-genre is that writer/director Sean Byrne crafts his horror with emotional depth and with some nicely and subtly intertwined story elements that I won’t spoil here. His script is both straight to the point and brutal, but at the same time, not without some dark humor weaved in between the horror elements and the gruesome moments. The characters that populate his tale are three-dimensional and come across as real people even if they are very twisted. He also fills the film with some very effectively designed shots to accent the intense and vicious goings on. There isn’t a bad shot in the movie and the film looks great. Even the soundtrack is like another character in the film as the songs and music are very deliberately selected and placed for added emotional resonance.

His cast members are all on target from Xavier Samuel as Brent, the wounded and guilt ridden teen who cuts on himself, but suddenly discovers a will to survive when someone else is doing the cutting. Robin McLeavy gives a tour de force performance as the deranged Lola making her menacing, but not without letting a cuteness and sexiness through, which makes her even more disturbing as she torments her ‘date’. She gives her character a fiendish quality and never goes over the top enough for the character to become campy. She remains menacing even when going full tilt psycho for the chilling final act. John Brumpton is her equally disturbed father who will do anything to make his princess happy and his character is given just enough restraint to never upstage the fruit of his deranged loins, Lola. The supporting cast all perform their roles with some nice emotional depth too, making everyone seem important to the story even before Byrne subtly lets us know why.

A terrific, clever and fiendishly entertaining Aussie horror film and a very impressive debut from Sean Byrne.

Check out “Why Do Good Scares Like Bad Girls?” for a closer look at Robin McLeavy’s character, Lola here. (Careful though, there are some spoilers.)

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 bottles of drain cleaner…don’t ask.

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