Strait-Jacket (1964) [Blu-Ray]

It’s well documented that William Castle had aspirations to be Hitchcock, or in many ways rise to his level of filmmaking prowess. Speaking as someone who loves Castle as much as Hitchcock, I’d say they’re about neck and neck, but with different ideas of what constitutes a horror movie. Castle’s talent is theatrics, and with “Strait-Jacket” he takes what is essentially his own version of “Psycho” and stages it as a twisty, occasionally campy, and very cerebral murder mystery. Castle also goes a step forward, turning his killer on their victims with an axe that they use to lop their heads off.

Continue reading

The Hollow (2015)

Sheldon Wilson’s “The Hollow” or as I refer to it “Phantoms 2: Samhain Edition,” is one of the more incomplete feeling horror films I’ve seen in a long time. Although the movie isn’t the completely worst Halloween oriented horror entry I’ve ever seen, it definitely feels like it could have stood for twenty minutes of exposition. Even when it stops the movie in its tracks to drop exposition, it still feels like the screenwriters are working on an under cooked film that never finds its footing. So much of “The Hollow” is downright unpleasant and dull, and manages to squander a potentially really cool movie monster.

Continue reading

Annabelle Creation (2017)

2014’s “Annabelle” should have been an easy win. Take one of the most frightening elements from 2012’s “The Conjuring” and give her her own spooky tale about where she comes from and you have another hit. Sadly, “Annabelle” was an ill conceived and silly movie that is given a second chance with another prequel “Creation.” This film goes even further back before “The Conjuring” to where the doll was merely a dormant spirit lying and waiting for fresh souls to exploit.

Continue reading

Warning Sign (1985)

You could definitely call “Warning Sign” a precursor to “28 Days Later,” but the latter film just handles the premise so much better. Hal Barwood’s movie is a shockingly bland meshing of science fiction and horror that is never quite sure what it wants to be. Sometimes it’s a science fiction movie about government conspiracy and a top secret disease gone out of control, and other times it’s about three bystanders battling disease ridden rage induced zombies, and the undead. It bounces back and forth between grim science fiction to gruesome horror and feels so ill-conceived and poorly constructed.

Continue reading

Female Filmmaker Friday: Braid (2018) [Philadelphia Unnamed Film Festival 2018]

A woman living in her imaginary world of her own making received a visit from two old friends on the run from the law and looking for easy money and as well as an easy way out. Turns out, going home may not yield the results they were aiming for.

Writer/director Mitzi Peirone creates a story here that is strong yet somewhat vague on some fronts and very hard to explain without giving too much away. What she creates with Braid is something that pulls the viewer in and doesn’t let them go until the end of the credits. Her works in writing and behind the camera are perfectly paired and create a world of its own on the screen. The characters she creates are complete and complex while not putting all the cards on the table at any point. This leads to a mysterious atmosphere and an odd flow to the story that work perfectly in this film.

Continue reading

The Witch in the Window (2018) [Philadelphia Unnamed Film Festival 2018]

A divorced father takes his son to a house he’s bought to renovate and reconnect. As they work on the house, something there is showing itself, adding a few layers of fear and oddity to what is already going on.

Writer/director Andy Mitton takes themes of connection, family, letting go, and even grief and mixes them with his own personal take on the haunted house tropes. As the viewer follows along, the film takes these tropes and makes them their own while also not fully committing to being a haunted house film. The film feels more like a psychological film than a straight up scary one.

Continue reading

Bad Apples (2018)

Truthfully, “Bad Apples” isn’t a terrible movie even when you consider it’s a shameless rip off of “The Strangers.” It just obviously has a paper thin premise and not much else to do but pad the time. The movie is ninety minutes long and for twenty of those minutes it feels like a relationship drama set on Halloween starring Brea Grant and Graham Skipper as married couple Ella and Robert. She’s trying to adjust to her new house, he’s working his new job, and she’s trying to teach at a school run by an overly religious principal, oh the hilarity. Then it decides to dip in to the horror–eventually.

Continue reading