Dig Two Graves (2014)

Following her brother’s accidental death, a girl gets involved with the local black sheep and learns a thing or two about her family, the past, and revenge.

Written by Hunter Adams and Jeremy Phillips and directed by the former, Dig Two Graves is an ok drama with a few horror elements that goes at a decent pace. The film has decent characters, decent dialogue; it’s all decent, but it’s all a bit bland. The film has some interesting aspects, especially the family that lives in the woods, but it’s not quite enough to make it a stellar film or even a really interesting one, which is too bad as everyone involved is seemingly talented and capable of more.

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Kairo/Pulse (2001)

Kyoshi Kurosawa’s “Kairo” is a film dripping in terror that deliberately paces itself as a slow burning end of the world tale. Rather than an all out orgy of gore and carnage, “Pulse” eventually explodes in to something of a last gasp of humanity, and a civilization that ends in a whisper and somber whimper. “Kairo” is written as something of a two act structure where Kurosawa opts for a film that’s episode in the vein of “Pulp Fiction,” and then smashes together in the stunning climax. Much of what we see seems and feels random in many places, and events collide allowing for a cogent unfolding of events that doesn’t just make sense but feels so meticulously planned from square one. What makes “Kairo” so haunting even when the credits have drawn to a close is the way the director opts less for splatter and gore, and more for a requiem that depicts mankind as a stain and nothing more.

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Deadtime Stories (1986): Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray/DVD]

Pee-yew! You have to appreciate Shout! Factory for restoring what is easily one of the worst anthology movies of the eighties. I admit to being a completely newcomer in regards to “Deadtime Stories,” and upon finishing it, I was not surprised it was such a rarity for so many years. “Deadtime Stories” watches like someone really loved “Creepshow” and decided to make their own version with only a quarter of the budget. Then mid-way when the studio realized how awful the movie was, they decided to turn it in to a comedy at the last minute so horror fans can convince themselves the whole disaster is intentional and a tongue in cheek jab at the anthology crazy of the decade.

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The Devil’s Candy (2015)

After buying their dream house in Texas, The Hellmans, a painter, his wife, and their daughter, must face human and supernatural threats.  As the father finds an incredible muse and must paint, his daughter and wife deal with lurking dangers.

Written and directed by Sean Byrne, The Devil’s Candy is a strong follow up to his debut feature The Loved Ones, showing that his talent was not fluke and showing that the man can craft a good horror story with truly creepy and even scary elements.  Here he creates an interesting family who is traditional in one way and not in others; they are a cool, artsy family with a love to heavy metal.  Their differences set them apart from the usual cinematic families who encounter evil in their new homes.  Also, the way the evil comes into their lives is original and works well in the film’s context.  His characters work well together, giving them more to care about, more to worry about, more to lose.  His writing and directing create a film with a family the viewer can identify with and care for.  Also, his human antagonist is one that has presence, who oozes creepiness while playing in the potential supernatural angles.

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The Dark Below (2017)

It’s kind of a tough situation with “The Dark Below” that I found myself in. Ultimately I appreciated its creativity, its twist on the stalker thriller, and how Douglas Schulze delivered his premise, but in the end “The Dark Below” is only a slightly serviceable thriller. Despite the film being genuinely creative in unfolding its narrative of a woman fighting to survive underwater in the arctic while evading a killer, the movie itself left me lukewarm and generally unengaged. Douglas Schulze banks a lot on audiences being either claustrophobic, terrified of drowning, and terrified of being alive, as the center of the films premise relies on our protagonist being stuck under a frozen lake while being hopelessly outmatched against a killer in the snow. Schulze does switch up the monotony of this kind of genre offering by creating a film that has absolutely no dialogue.

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Firestarter (1984): Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray]

If there’s anything that Stephen King loves to write about, it’s powerful children with god-like abilities, and I imagine considering most of his stories connect in to a universe, someone with Danny Torrance’s abilities is married to someone with the abilities from “Firestarter.” Mike Lester’s adaptation of the Stephen King novel is not a masterpiece, but I still insist it’s a fun movie with a good amount of effort behind it. The only thing it really suffers from is being ahead of its time. I imagine were we given a new adaptation “Firestarter” might be a mix of dazzling and disturbing a la “Carrie.” As it is, “Firestarter” is mostly a compelling horror drama about another very powerful young girl who is being hunted by the government.

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Get Out (2017)

Jordan Peele has effectively fired off the starting gun of what I think will become an landscape of cinema filled with social commentary about the racial climate, and division among a certain kind of people. As with all horror movements, Peele expertly crafts a movie that reflects the racial relations of modern America, and how there is a thin line between acceptance and cultural appropriation and fanaticism. Peele is a man who has devoted most of his career to brutally sharp and funny comedy, and here he delivers what is a darkly comedic but very scary tale about cults, the racial dynamic and what is arguably the next movement in the racial hysteria in the country. “Get Out” derives a lot of uncomfortable laughter from the audience, but it has a lot to say about the extremes of racism, and the sheer horror of pure ignorance and naivete.

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Drive-In Mutants: The Gate (1987)

Every month we discuss some of the best and worst cult films ever made, from the hits, classics, underground, grind house, and utterly obscure, from Full Moon, and Empire, to Cannon and American International, it’s all here, minus the popcorn, and car fumes.

The Gate
1987
Aliases:
None
New Century Vista Film Company
Directed by:
Tibor Takács
Starring: Stephen Dorff, Christa Denton, Louis Tripp

The Plot is Afoot! When his parents go away on a trip for the weekend, Glen and his best friend Terry begin experiencing unusual goings on in their backyard, including the discovery of a mysterious geode and a bottomless hole. After accidentally playing a Satanic incantation on one of their favorite heavy metal albums, events spiral out of control, as Glen, Terry, and big sister Al find themselves under siege by relentless demons that plan to drag them back to hell, and infiltrate Earth to invade. With the trio trying to survive the demonic invasion, they decide to fight back before hell opens up and swallows reality.

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