Archive for the ‘Horror’ Category

Train to BusanRap versus rock. The designated hitter or pitchers batting. And, of course, the most contentious of arguments pitting fans of a classic approach against a band of upstarts: slow-moving zombies or their quick-footed brethren.

These are the unresolvable debates of our time. And while the Korean horror action flick Train to Busan (aka Busanhaeng) will not end the vitriol, advocates for a more fleet flock of undead have received a major boost from writer/director Yeon Sang-ho. In his first live-action feature film, Yeon has crafted a thrilling ride through a society sliding into the zombie apocalypse, utilizing a passenger train as his literal and metaphorical vehicle. (more…)

ViralLike a parasite or a particularly unpleasant invasive species, venereal horror can be a nasty and truly gruesome phenomenon – if done properly. The source of the horror can spring from the earth or drop in from outer space. The result can be sex crazed maniacs, hopped-up zombies, or just any non-specific antisocial and lethal behavior, but the motivation of the creature that results from the infection is simple: survive and multiply. Prime examples in this sub-genre are David Cronenberg’s Shivers and John Carpenter’s The Thing. Viral is closer in its DNA to Cronenberg’s film than Carpenter’s, but whereas Shivers was full frontal venereal horror, Viral is the equivalent of just holding hands.


The WailingThe Wailing is a film that works – almost in spite of itself. It plays footsie with several genre conventions, while outright flouting others. It’s a horror movie that runs for 156 minutes. It’s a police procedural with an overweight, adulterous barely competent cop on the periphery of the investigation. One moment, The Wailing is about as subtle as a rake stuck in the head of a zombie (an actual image from the movie), and the next, it is as enigmatic as the mysteries of the world’s religions. It’s a Hitchcock mystery. No, it’s a gruesome hunt for a serial killer. Wait, it’s a biblical allegory.

You could spend the entire post film discussion arguing about the proper categorization for this latest offering from director/screenwriter Na Hong-jin, and not even have time remaining for a discussion of what the movie’s epigram from the Book of Luke means when it is uttered by a character in the denouement. (more…)

The DarknessMom’s an alcoholic. Dad’s an adulterer. Sis is bulimic. And little brother is autistic.

Meet the Taylors!

If only it were a comedy, but, alas, those are the tormented members of the family in director Greg Mclean’s career altering mess of a would-be horror movie, The Darkness. Aficionados of the shock-and-slash genre will remember Mclean’s previous work in Wolf Creek and Wolf Creek 2 with respect and affection. In Mick Taylor, the sadistic killer/torturer of the Australian Outback, Mclean created an iconic monster that terrorized foreign backpackers who were unfortunate enough to cross his path. Throw another European on the barbie, mate! (more…)

ShelleyThere is a theory that horror films reflect social anxities and that the type of monster in the movie corresponds to a specific and prevalent fear of the moment. Under this theory, zombies are a fantastical manifestation of angst over invaders, foreigners, immigration or globalization. Vampires reflect the potentially dangerous results of sexual encounters – venereal disease, herpes, HIV/AIDS. Werewolves or a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde changeling reflect the duality of man and the beast within that can result in an individual falling prey to an uncontrollable rage.

And then there is Frankenstein, which since the Mary Shelley novel first appeared in 1818 under the title Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus, has served as a metaphor for a society’s unease with scientific advances encroaching on what had previously been associated with religion.  (more…)

bone tomahawkBone Tomahawk is a horror-western hybrid – think The Searchers meets The Hills Have Eyes. Hey, nothing wrong with that except director/screenwriter S. Craig Zahler opted not to take the best elements of each genre, but rather all the elements of both. The result is a movie with an unconscionable run time of 132 minutes, which is at least 30 minutes too long, given the subject matter and treatment.

Put more bluntly, if the centerpiece of your movie is a lost tribe of murderous cannibal mutant freaks, don’t keep them off the screen for three-quarters of the film. (more…)

Some Kind of HateDrive-in credo is never, “Don’t get mad, get even.” Drive-in credo is always, “Get mad, then get even.”

Revenge is a dish best served with boiling hot blood in your basic exploitation movie, and Some Kind of Hate gets the recipe exactly right. The special ingredient here is the outsourcing of the violence to a malevolent spirit as high school bullies get their comeuppance from the evil incarnation of a victim who died at the hands of her tormentors.


If Hellions is the third feature on the drive-in line-up this weekend, take the speaker off the window after the second flick, and call it a night. Even with a crisp 80-minute runtime, this would-be scare fare about the Halloween night from Hell is not worth the time or heartburn from snack bar French fries.

The most unsettling aspect of Hellions is its treatment of teen pregnancy. At its worst moments (worst as in truly bad rather than frightening), this otherwise conventional horror story comes off as right-wing, pro-abstinence, anti-abortion political propaganda. If you’re a seventeen-year old girl who screws around with her boyfriend even once, be prepared to get knocked up and then visited by evil children intent on taking possession of the unborn, all in short order and, quite naturally, all on Halloween night. (more…)

blonde-smokeYou’ve had this one circled and underlined in your appointment book for weeks. As soon as the trailer flashed up on the big white screen in the field a few weeks back during the Coming Attractions break between movies, you swore by all that is unholy that you would be back at the drive-in for the opening weekend of 7 in the Torture Chamber. For aspiring exploitation directors and screenwriters everywhere, always bear in mind that the single most important marketing aspect for your film is a title that grabs the would-be viewer by the goodies and squeezes. You need a title that will have 11-year old boys conspiring to somehow, someway get in to see the film without knowing a single additional thing about it.

7 in the Torture Chamber fits the bill nicely. (more…)

MaggieTwenty-five years ago, Maggie would have been a profoundly different movie.

Cast Arnold Schwarzenegger in a zombie movie back then, and the only question would have been whether the one-line wisecracks would have outnumbered the body count.

Skip Arnold and go with the same script of the film that opened this weekend, and Maggie would have been widely viewed as a metaphor for the AIDS epidemic and the societal shunning of its victims.

In 2015, the film is an oddity, neither action adventure nor art house fare, with Schwarzenegger cast against type as part of his second act as a movie star after his hiatus in politics. (more…)