Whether you know it as “Bram Stoker’s Shadowbuilder,” “Shadowbuilder,” “Bram Stoker’s Shadow Builder,” or jut “Shadow Builder,” Jamie Dixon’s 1998 horror fantasy is an okay genre entry. While stumbling here and there in visual effects, the STV horror flick makes for a neat diversion with genre vets at the helm. Dixon’s horror fantasy is one of the last remnants of the video store/Pay Per View age, where horror was mostly relegated to trenches. I never gave it much of a chance when it was heavily promoted on cable back in 1998, but watching it now, it’s aged considerably well, garnering the old fashioned late night cable flavor I miss so much.
Twenty years later, and Rusty Cundieff’s horror anthology “Tales from the Hood” is probably the most socially relevant horror anthology ever created. 1995 gave way to some pretty tame horror entries, but “Tales from the Hood” doesn’t just try to scare, but has a good time delivering some schlock, and sneaks in a lot of social commentary about the race and class warfare that divided us then and continues to divide us more than ever, today. It’s too bad the movie never caught on as a cult classic, since re-watching it years later has allowed me to appreciate it so much more. “Tales from the Hood” tells four horror tales centered on an urban setting and social problem that ensues to this day, incidentally, and they end up being rather compelling and often very creepy.
After the 2012 horror anthology “V/H/S” fan reactions were mixed, but the opening segment “Amateur Night” garnered quite a following and even made a celebrity out of its star Hannah Fierman. After four years, Chiller Films decides to adapt the very popular horror segment and realize it in to a feature length film. Now on VOD, DVD, and limited release, “Siren” is a larger version of the original story with the gorgeous Hannah Fierman reprising her role. In honor of “Siren,” here are five of the best segments of the “V/H/S” horror trilogy. What are your personal favorite segments from the acclaimed found footage horror series?
The Fight (Canada) (2016)
In this super short film, a couple fights each in their own scene, or perhaps each in their own timeline. Their fight escalates and a surprise is in store for each of them and the viewer. This grim short, short for an estimated $50CAD (yes you read that right), is written Clint D’Souza, Neil Tavares and directed by D’Souza. Stars Asoya Hall and Steve Kasan sell the fight and its emotions well while escalating at a nice pace. This short is a visceral one for anyone who has ever reach a breaking point with a significant other.
I freely admit that I was skeptical until the very end that comic book fans would ever get a good or respectable movie about “Doctor Strange.” Some comics just don’t translate at all to the cinematic medium. Thankfully, director Scott Derrickson proves me wrong, providing a cinematic adaptation of “Doctor Strange” that’s very much its own superhero tale while also embedding itself as a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Marvel spirit is in full force here, but the movie does take the source material seriously while subtly injecting a sense of whimsy here and there. “Doctor Strange” comes during a good time where movie audiences like some magic with their adventures, and Doctor Strange is that kind of fantasy movie for comic book fans that they’ve always wanted.
The 1978 TV movie “Dr. Strange” is one of the many failed pilots for a potential series based on a Marvel comic. This is yet another of the many seventies pilot movies that didn’t just misunderstand the source material, but didn’t have enough of a budget to realize the concept of its characters. Dr. Strange is a man who battles demons and monsters, and uses his will to use magic. “Dr. Strange” looks like a supernatural version of “Quincy M.E,” following a Dr. Stephen Strange as he focuses his efforts on troubled patients in his hospital while accidentally entering in to the magical arts. The movie even goes so far as setting up the entire series with the beautiful Jessica Walter as the series’ primary antagonist, but the storyline is a big hint at a sequel that would never come. It’s probably a good thing since the pilot movie is ninety minutes and we only get to see Dr. Strange in full garb in the final half hour.
“The Granny” is the definition of late night cable movie fodder. I saw it twenty years ago very late at night on cable television here in America, and it kind of burned itself in to my brain ever since. Granted, it’s not a masterpiece of horror comedy; in fact it’s so furiously stupid and ridiculous, it’s a film that’ll inspire more eye rolls than laughter. It’s at least worthy of one viewing for folks that enjoy pain with their cinema, though, and years later it’s about as silly as I remember. Star Stella Stevens chews the scenery, adjoining buildings and most of the wildlife up with her role as Granny, a bitter and angry old woman who lives in immense wealth. Unfortunately she was cursed with a vile and greedy family, all of whom are obsessed with counting the days until she finally dies leaving her fortune to them.
In 1977, James Earl Jones co-starred in what is arguably one of the greatest movies ever made, and what is arguably one of the worst movies ever made. “Exorcist II: The Heretic” is a fine example of what could have happened if the original “The Exorcist” ended as an ill-conceived pseudo-spiritual mess. A bad idea from beginning to end, it’s one of the iconic bad sequels that is famously recollected by its producers as the movie that literally got them chased out of a theater by angry movie goers. Four years after being victimized by a demon, Regan MacNeil has somehow managed to put her life back together and live some semblance of normality. Sadly after the demonic possession, everyone’s life was just about ruined, and Regan’s life remained basically the same, as her mother Chris is frequently out of town. Does a girl have to get possessed again to get your attention, Chris?