It’s time to look back at the past year and see what I DIDN’T like. These are pretty much the worst flicks I saw this year in the horror genre with little to enjoy or recommend!
NOTE: There are a few titles here initially released in 2015, but I did not catch up to them till their release on VOD or home media in 2016 and felt it unfair not to include them!
(Click on the titles below the movie poster gallery to get to our reviews!)
Full review links for the worst of 2016!
1. Cabin Fever
2. The Darkness
3. The Devil Complex
5. Cherry Tree
6. The Girl In The Photographs
7. Blair Witch
8. The Phoenix Incident
9. The Forest
THE FOREST (1982)
(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)
Loopy 1982 slasher finds two men, Charlie (John Batis) and Steve (Dean Russell), challenging their ladies, Teddy (Ann Wilkinson) and Steve’s wife Sharon (Tomi Barrett), to a little camping excursion in the California woods. Teddy and Sharon head up to the mountains with the men deciding to follow them up early, not convinced the gals can handle themselves. As per our opening scene, though, the cannibalistic John (Gary Kent) is hiding out in those same woods after murdering his unfaithful wife (Jeanette Kelly) years before. Now the young ladies are in grave danger as the hungry hunter has his sights set on dinner…oh, and did I mention that the woods are also haunted by the spirits of John’s dead wife and kids (Corky Pigeon and Becki Burke)?
This is a terrible movie, sometimes in a good way, but even that wears out it’s welcome long before it ends. Written and directed by Don Jones, this flick meanders along as the homeless John tracks and lamely kills his prey. At the same time John’s dead children visit his intended victims and there are some laughably awful scenes of our two couples, especially Sharon, conversing with the echo-voiced offspring of the demented cannibal. Their mother even appears to the campers randomly looking for her children that she abused in life. Even more amusing is that none of the four campers find it odd they are confronted with ghosts and engage in conversations with the spirits as if it was something they do often. WTF? Equally laughable is that Steve and Charlie even spend a night in John’s lair and nothing about a man living in a cave six hours hike from civilization sets off any alarms, it’s only until John admits killing his wife…then they get a little nervous. Also, how did John carry his chair and candelabra six hours hike into the woods to decorate his cave? Even without the eccentric goofiness of the script, this is a slow paced flick that is edited very badly and even the kills are lamely executed. Sometimes the flick gives the feeling of being somebody’s home movie they made with friends on a weekend and maybe it was. The acting and dialog are awful and it’s no surprise this flick is an 80s obscurity…though the look and feel is more 70s.
Overall, the only reason to watch this is to see the goofball plot unfold for yourself. I did find some of it amusing, though cannibalistic homeless men and their apparition-like family did wear out it’s welcome rather quickly. The dialog and acting are awful, the editing barely coherent at times and even the kills are lamely choreographed and amount to some fake blood thrown around. Hard to believe that Don Jones made five other movies besides this one. Only if you’re really curious.
Rated 2 (out of 4) spectral ghost children…and it only gets THAT cause I found some of this dreck amusing.
THE FOREST (2015)
Being gift-wrapped with a disturbing true-life backstory, you’d think director Jason Zada would have had a walk in the proverbial park making a creepy horror flick out of this but…no. Story takes place in Japan’s Aokigahara forest, which is a dense wooded area around the legendary Mount Fuji and is not only renown for being inhabited by spirits, but for an alarming phenomena of suicides being committed inside it. Our tale focuses on pretty Sara Price (Game Of Thrones’ Natalie Dormer) who travels to Japan upon finding out her twin sister Jess (also Dormer) has gone into that forest and disappeared. As she searches for her sibling, Sara soon finds the legends of this place may not be mere legend.
Zada and the three script writers responsible couldn’t have had a better backstory to springboard their horror, but instead deliver a generic, by-the-numbers and dull movie with the same tired jump scares and dreary phantoms that every generic PG-13 supernatural thriller is throwing at us. You’d probably get more chills watching an actual documentary about the place than watching this lazy movie. Dormer is pretty and starts out effective, but even she seems to get bored as her performance falls into a one note groove and she stays there till the end. The cinematography by Mattias Troelstrup of the Japanese countryside is quite beautiful, but otherwise we get the same tired clichés about a foreigner in a strange land, such as Sara just happening to run into a handsome American (Taylor Kinney) working there and just happening to conveniently always meet Japanese folk that speak english. Considering the true events it’s based on, how they turned this into such a snoozer is a mystery.
BLACK MOUNTAIN SIDE (2014)
Written and directed by Nick Szostakiwskyj, this is part a noble effort and part a movie with a severe case of John Carpenter’s The Thing envy. The story has an archeological dig unearthing a temple-like structure deep in the Canadian wilderness. Soon after they discover it, strange things start to occur, such as their native workers just walking off into the wilderness in the sub-zero cold and some of their own getting unusually sick with increasing aggressive behavior. They lose contact with their home base and now are stranded with supplies running low and tensions running high. Have these men unearthed something that should have stayed buried?
As much as the flick tries to do it’s own thing, it’s Carpenter’s Thing that the film keeps evoking and imitating down to replaying certain scenes like autopsies and pointing guns at each other. Szostakiwskyj gives us some archeological babble mixed in with a possible malevolent spirit-god, but can’t let himself stray too far from Carpenter’s classic by also including an unnecessary ancient bacteria that takes over a person’s cells and changes them. The explanation of this sickness is very unintentionally funny, as is the upright stuffed deer used to represent this malevolent animal spirit that may, or may not, be a figment of the men’s imaginations. There seemed to be a sincere effort here to do something interesting, but Nick Szostakiwskyj never strays too far from his influences or properly fleshes out his own ideas. On a technical lever it’s photographed well, but the pacing is really slow, the editing is choppy and the acting wooden across the board. It’s obviously low budget, as even it’s attempt to replay The Thing‘s dynamite filled climax is done off camera, so no sets have to be demolished. Disappointing considering some positive word floating around out there.