Archive for the ‘Horror’ Category

Under the ShadowThe Iran-Iraq War was an interminable sequence of horrors, largely unseen by the West and then quickly overshadowed by Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent Gulf War. The conflict stretched from 1980-88 and featured some of the most brutal warfare since the First World War including child soldiers, chemical weapons, trench fighting, human wave offensives, and wide-scale civilian bombing. To set a fantastical horror movie within the horribleness of this conflict would seem to risk trivializing the tragedy, but the eloquent, understated film Under the Shadow amplifies the terrors of the war and the all too real consequences for the populace. (more…)

ThirstFirst things first – Thirst is a lousy name for this movie. It’s a pretty bad one for almost any movie at this point, considering how many times it’s been used in the last 40 years as a film title. On almost every occasion, the movie in question has been about vampires. That’s not the case here. This Thirst is about an alien that arrives on earth hungry. Yeah, apparently Hunger as a title might have given too much away.

And that beautifully illustrates the core problem for this movie – it’s lazy, sloppy work. The inspiration likely came from the mind of a nine-year-old boy who spent his school days drawing fantastical creatures in his spiral notebook and his nights watching Alien, Predator, and Terminator movies. The monster in Thirst is a B movie classic – with a lizard body, an alien mandible, predator dental work, a terminator metal skeleton, and an anus in the middle of its chest. Nice work, kid.

Unfortunately, that same nine-year-old apparently wrote the screenplay. How else to explain that the character among the group of eight wandering the Utah backcountry who is given the most backstory is among the first killed? Or that no proper motivation can be given for the group going further away from civilization after a dead body is found? Or that the most annoying among the many annoying characters sticks around until almost the end? (more…)

MV5BMjA4MDA4NzAzN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTQ3MTA1OTE@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,740_AL_Horror is a forgiving genre. Fans do not expect perfection; they generally do not nitpick to excess. They are adept at overlooking minor flaws such as bad acting, lack of logic, and narratives that take a sudden 90-degree turn at the end out of sheer desperation. All they ask is is to keep the pace up, keep the scares coming, and when in doubt, at least keep it weird. The one filmmaking error that cannot be forgiven in horror is when the movie is just flat-out boring. (more…)

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.

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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…)