BARE BONES: HOUSE ON WILLOW STREET (2017)

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HOUSE ON WILLOW STREET (2017)

Flick has four kidnappers snatching a girl (Carlyn Burchell) whom they plan to ransom, only to find she is possessed by a demon and now they can’t get rid of her as she takes them down one by one. Silly flick is flatly directed by Alastair Orr from a script by he, Jonathan Jordaan and Catherine Blackman. Despite that it gets goofier and goofier as it moves along, this flick takes itself way too seriously, so we can’t even have fun with the ridiculousness of it all. It’s an endless parade of horror clichés and movie scene rip-offs that doesn’t even have the decency to allow us to laugh at it, as it’s just so dull. There is some nice make-up FX and gore, but the CGI is laughably bad and the performances and dialog are wooden and weak. Overall it’s a tedious mess of things we’ve seen so many times before and not reused with any cleverness or ingenuity. Yawn.

There was some good advanced word on this, though not sure where it came from. Stars Sharni Vinson (You’re Next, Patrick: Evil Awakens), who looks uncomfortable and like she’d rather be elsewhere, during the entire movie.

-MonsterZero NJ

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THE HOUSE ON WILLOW STREET GETS A TRAILER!

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A trailer and a cool poster have arrived for the new film The House On Willow Street. Directed by Alastair Orr and written by he and Jonathan Jordaan, the film stars Sharni (You’re Next) Vinson and is about a group of kidnappers abducting a girl (Carlyn Burchell) under demonic influences. Film is slated for release on VOD, streaming and select theaters on March 23, 2017 from IFC Midnight!

Source: Youtube/IFC Midnight

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: PATRICK: EVIL AWAKENS (2013)

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PATRICK: EVIL AWAKENS (2013)

Patrick: Evil Awakens is an Australian horror film that is a remake of Richard Franklin’s 1978 horror flick Patrick… which I must admit I haven’t scene until now but, that is being remedied as I write this. The story finds recently single nurse Kathy Jacquard (You’re Next’s Sharni Vinson) coming to work at a clinic specializing in the comatose and brain dead. The Roget Clinic is run by the brilliant but, cold hearted Dr. Roget (Charles  Dance) and his equally cold head nurse Matron Cassidy (Rachel Griffiths). Her only friend there is pretty and promiscuous Nurse Williams (Peta Sergeant) until she starts to feel sympathy toward a handsome brain dead patient named Patrick (Jackson Gallagher) who Roget uses as the focus of his experimental treatments… treatments Kathy finds cruel and unnecessary. But, Patrick may not be as brain dead as he seems and when he starts to communicate with Kathy through simple gestures and then through more advanced methods, she is delighted …until not only is Patrick’s true nature revealed but, the full force of his telekinetic power and his homicidal infatuation with her. Now she and anyone close to her are in mortal danger from a fiend whose mind is far from dead and whose intent is far from good.

Under the skilled direction of Mark Hartley, from a script by Justin King based on the original film, Patrick: Evil Awakens is a pleasant horror surprise that gives us a healthy does of chills and thrills and is loaded with heavy Gothic atmosphere that reminded me of the classic Hammer Horror films in their heyday. Even in it’s quieter moments, Hartley establishes an underlying tension far before Patrick reveals himself to be the powerful and demented fiend that his handsome, peaceful demeanor hides all too well. Patrick’s powers and intent are revealed slowly as first strange occurrences happen to injure the two men vying for Kathy’s attention, ex-husband Ed (Damon Gameau) and handsome Brian (Martin Crewes) and Patrick begins to communicate with her through electronic devices such as PC and cellphone. But, it’s not long before Patrick goes all Carrie and people start dying in gruesome ways and the film really takes off and has a blast with it’s story. And despite how outrageous things get and some weak FX betraying some of the more advanced applications of Patrick’s power, Hartley maintains the tension and dread while having a little over the top fun in his last act… and the last act is a blast of intense fun even with some borderline silly uses of telekinesis and the weak FX mentioned earlier. The film also has some sumptuous but, unsettling cinematography by Garry Richards and an atmospheric and very effective score by legendary Italian composer Pino Donaggio that help director Hartley deliver a horror that is both quaintly old fashioned and yet visceral, intense and modern. Not bad for a documentary filmmaker’s first flick!

The cast are exceptional, and go a long way in helping the preposterous scenario work, with Vinson once again playing a strong and resilient heroine but, with a very human and compassionate core. Charles Dance… a very underrated and skilled actor… creates a character that deftly walks the fine line between brilliant physician and obsessed Frankenstein in his Dr. Roget. He at first seems arrogant but, noble till, like Patrick, his true nature become clear. Rachel Griffiths also gives us a character that at first feels like just a cold-hearted bitch but, there are some interesting layers revealed as the plot progresses and Peta Sergeant is very lively and likable as Williams, the only person at the clinic that seems to have a heart aside from Kathy. The rest of the cast do well in establishing their characters despite not a lot of screen time and the work of the cast overall really helps make this the treat it is. They take their parts very seriously and along with director Hartley’s giving lots of respect to what could have turned out to be a silly story, give this horror the weight it needs even when it starts to go over the top.

So, Overall, I had a blast with Patrick: Evil Awakens. It’s a film which nostalgically reminded me of a Gothic Hammer Horror film yet very much a modern day chiller with a lot of visceral intensity and gore. The film isn’t afraid to go over the top but, wisely chooses when to do so and overcomes some weak FX while keeping the sillier uses of Patrick’s telekinesis from camp territory. It’s a fun and very effective horror and based on what I’ve seen while writing this, livelier and far more intense then the well made but, stuffy and low key original… and the remake honors that flick with some nice nods too. A very entertaining horror and a really effective feature film debut from director Mark Hartley. Sad this got dumped unceremoniously onto home media when it ranks as one of the better horror flicks I’ve seen so far this year.

3 and 1/2 nightmare thrown nurses.

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WARNING: Trailer is brief but, does give away a key character’s fate and one of the film’s better bits.

 

…AND THE ORIGINAL…

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So, watched the original PG-rated flick while writing my remake review and while it is well-made and basically follows the same story… not to mention stars 70s Brit cutie Susan Penhaligon who I was crushing on as a kid after first seeing her in The Land That Time Forgotit is basically very low key and works more in melodrama and subtlety with Patrick’s (here Robert Thompson) moments of telekinesis being a lot more grounded and all done in camera. It was an interesting film and well acted but, I prefer the remake’s more stylish and intense approach. The original was also very somber and humorless compared to the remake which had a more fun with it’s premise.

So, in this case, while I am not fond of the horror remake trend, this is an example of a good one where the original isn’t perfect and is expanded and improved upon in the redo.

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YEAR END HORROR ROUND-UP 2013

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I’m not a big fan of top 10 lists and all that year end fuss but, I thought I would give a bit of a look back at what I liked and didn’t like in the horror genre this year and, or course, share it with all of you. These are just my opinions and since the world is filled with different tastes and preferences and each horror film effects, or doesn’t effect, everyone differently, I certainly don’t expect everyone to agree with my selections but, this is how I look at what the horror genre had to offer this year…

BEST HORROR OF THE YEAR

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EVIL DEAD (2013)

To a degree it’s sad that the best horror of the year was a remake but, I had a blast with Fede Alvarez’s re-imagining and it had some nice scares, plenty of gore and Jane Levy rocked in the lead. Alvarez showed he’s a director to keep an eye on and he paid tribute to the original while doing his own thing. Fun horror! Read my full review HERE…

BEST HORROR RUNNER-UP

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THE LORDS OF SALEM (2013)

Rob Zombie’s latest horror is not for everyone but, I enjoyed this out-there story of a Salem Mass. DJ (Sheri Moon Zombie) who is sent a record that, when played, sets in motion the return of a coven of Devil worshipping witches and their plan to bring great evil into our world. Zombie’s flick has some really disturbing visuals and some very subtle and creepy scenes to go along with it’s more shocking moments and evokes the works of some of horror’s best directors while remaining a Rob Zombie film. His most solid directorial effort and a refreshingly off-beat and very unsettling movie. Even the soundtrack was disturbing and, as usual in a Zombie film, there are some great songs included in it that almost become a character in the film themselves. An acquired taste but, I really enjoyed it. Read my original review HERE…

BEST HORROR HONORABLE MENTION

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MANIAC (2013)

For a guy who bitches a lot about all the horror remakes, it is quite ironic that two of my favorites this year are in fact remakes but, Franck Khalfoun’s re-imagining was a vast improvement over the sleazy and overrated original and Elijah Wood gave me the creeps. There were some truly shocking and disturbing moments, strong tension and the film made creepy use of it’s POV shooting style. An art house style horror that really worked for me. Read my full review HERE…

MOST ORIGINAL HORROR

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AMERICAN MARY (2013)

Sure Mary isn’t perfect but, this story of pretty Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle), a down on her luck medical student who is lured into the world of underground body modification surgery for money and then is turned into a sadistic killer when horribly wronged, is a breath of fresh air in a genre saturated by generic haunted house and home invasion thrillers. A wickedly fun and disturbing flick from the Soska Sisters and one that made me second guess myself and I give it a lot of credit for that. Read my full review HERE…

ORIGINAL HORROR RUNNER-UP

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EXCISION (2012)

Yes, this film is from 2012 but, I didn’t catch up with it till this year and it deserves a shout out for being one of the more original flicks I watched during 2013. Another surgery themed flick has a troubled teen Pauline (AnnaLynne McCord) whose obsession with surgery and bizarre fantasies leads this demented ugly duckling to commit some horrible acts. A trippy and disturbing  little movie with a really strong performance by McCord who disappears into the role. A nice turn by Traci Lords as well as Pauline’s overbearing mother also gives this flick some weight. Read my full review HERE…

ORIGINAL HORROR HONORABLE MENTION

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JUG FACE (2013)

Chad Crawford Kinkle gave us an unsettling and offbeat little horror about a rural backwoods community presided over by a supernatural creature that resides in a large sink hole just inside the woods. The creature watches over the village and even cures ills as long as the residents feed it the appropriate sacrifice when it calls for it. When one of the intended sacrifices has other ideas, she brings it’s wrath down upon her entire village. Read my full review HERE…

BEST DIRECT TO HOME MEDIA HORROR /

BEST COMEBACK

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CURSE OF CHUCKY (2013)

This flick sadly went direct to home media but, Chucky’s first horror in almost 10 years is a fun, gory and suspenseful tale that returns to the series’ more serious roots and sets Chucky loose in a spooky old house. It had some nice suspense, some vicious kills, Fiona Dourif made a plucky wheelchair bound heroine and there’s some nice surprises for fans of the series too. Chucky was back in style and didn’t get the attention/respect he deserved. Read my full review HERE…

 

MOST OVERRATED HORROR

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THE CONJURING (2013)

Don’t get me wrong, The Conjuring is a well made and fairly enjoyable horror flick especially in it’s spooky first act, but with a second act that gets not only theatrical and a bit hokey, but climaxes with yet another routine exorcism, it lost it’s grip on me much like Wan’s Insidious did in it’s second half. A good flick, but not the masterpiece internet hype makes it out to be. Also doesn’t hold up under repeat viewings as the scares have lost some of their effect and the flaws only get more obvious. Read my full review HERE…

 

MOST DISAPPOINTING HORROR

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YOU’RE NEXT (2013)

With all the positive buzz and internet hype I heard about this flick, it was a major disappointment when I left the theater having seen this predictable and routine home invasion flick with transparent plot twists and a completely contrived excuse for the lethal skills of it’s final girl… though Sharni Vinson was effective in the part. Otherwise the bland cast recites some really bad dialog and does incredibly stupid things to set themselves up as victims both invaded and invader alike. A weak script and a shaky cam obsessed directer make this not only one of the year’s biggest disappointments, but one of the weaker horrors I saw this year. See my full review HERE…

 

WORST HORROR

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THE LAST EXORCISM PART II (2013)

After the entertaining and effectively chilling first flick, this shameless and stupid cash grab sequel is awful in almost every way. A poor script and story, lame direction and a laughable climax makes this hands down the worst horror I saw this year. Ashley Bell does try really hard, but the actress is given garbage to work with and garbage is what this sequel is. Read my full review HERE…

WORST HORROR THAT I STILL ENJOYED

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TEXAS CHAINSAW  (2013)

I’m not going to defend this flick, it had some glaring story problems, a highly questionable timeline…our plucky heroine Heather (Alexandra Daddario) should be in her forties not a nubile 20 something…and numerous other issues, but it gave me some chuckles and a couple of real hotties being chased by a chubby, balding Leatherface…who should be like 60 here…there were also some gruesome kills and did I mention it’s got Alexandra Daddario? A guilty pleasure for sure for, as bad as this was, I had fun watching it and it did have some nice cameos and homages to Hooper’s original masterpiece. Read my full review HERE…

HAVE A HAPPY AND SAFE NEW YEAR!

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REVIEW: YOU’RE NEXT (2013)

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YOU’RE NEXT (2013)

It amazes me how such a dull and predictable thriller such as You’re Next can arrive with such positive hype. It boggles the mind that so many positive adjectives are thrown at something that was so tedious to sit through and so unoriginal. You’re Next tells the story of a group of snooty rich people that gather for a family dinner at a remote mansion in the woods. But, all is not what it seems as soon they are besieged by a group of masked and well-armed killers and predictably, all inside the house are not what they seem either so it’s no surprise the killers are not in for an easy night. What follows is over an hour of annoying shaky cam, annoying characters, plot holes, brutal, numbing violence, plot twists seen from a mile away and a few well placed jump scares but, very little suspense or frights. First problem is the folks at the house are cardboard pretentious rich folks and not very interesting so, we have a hard time really giving a hoot as they become prey to the masked killers. The deaths on both sides are telegraphed long before they happen so, there is little suspense to go with the gore. We know ‘who’s next’ immediately by the unimaginative scene set ups that we’ve seen countless times before. Characters recuperative powers defy logic as they are gravely injured in one scene and appear fine the next. Running up the stairs with a crossbow bolt in your back? Sure! Characters also do really stupid things to set themselves up as victims on both sides and as for the ‘surprise plot twists’ they are obvious the minute the characters arrive as to who we should keep an eye on. There are a few effective scenes but, far too few to make this tolerable and it’s not inventive or clever enough to forgive that it’s really a routine home invasion flick with some predictable plot turns that are no surprise once revealed. We suspect this is what’s up from early on and are proven right by Simon Barrett’s weak script. Director Adam Wingard is too busy shaking his camera and spattering blood to do anything interesting with the simple concept nor distract us from seeing where this tedious flick is going long before it get’s there. The violence gets tiresome long before the final showdown… thought that scene does contain one of the film’s best bits. The cast too are pretty bland with Sharni Vinson showing a bit of spunk as the resourceful Erin but, even Re-Animator’s Barbara Crampton can’t give these two dimensional characters much life especially with spurts of some truly awful dialog. A character’s confession in the last act was literally making me wince. Worst yet, aside from knowing how it’s going to end, the film’s last shot ‘joke’ is also glaringly obvious, we know it’s coming and it offers no surprise or fun. A predictable and ineffective shock ending for a predictable and ineffective horror thriller. Also stars director Ti West in a brief role and TI West regulars AJ Bowen and Larry Fessenden. Very little to recommend unless you like violence for violence sake. A major disappointment.

2 blenders!

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