Chris Jopp’s short horror film feels like a lost segment from “Cat’s Eye.” It’s a nice and fun horror tale about fate intervening and coming to rescue of someone who didn’t know they needed rescuing. Samantha just moved in to a new apartment in a new town and has to deal with an overbearing mother who insists in calling her every chance she gets. What worse, is that she also has to deal with a very intrusive and overly attentive landlord who insists that pets are not allowed in the building.
Two teenagers involved in ghost hunting plan to go to the Villisca house where, in 1912, a family was murdered by an axe wielding maniac. When a charming female outcast joins them, the three of them decide to go into the house after hours and do their own tour and investigation where they discover something worse than the usual for this kind of house. Written and directed by Tony E. Valenzuela based on a story by Kevin Abrams and Owens Egerton. The story is based on a true case from 1912 which is still unsolved. To bring it to modern day settings, they use the story as a starting point for teenage ghost hunters to go investigate.
After the dumpster fire that was 2014’s “Ouija,” it’s a most impressive feat to see Mike Flanagan follow it up with a damn good horror film that serves as a prequel. It’s also kind of shocking how Flanagan is able to deliver a truly creepy horror movie that also almost makes the original “Ouija” retroactively better; if just a little. While “Origin of Evil” is not a masterpiece and feels a bit like a pseudo-sequel to “The Conjuring,” director Mike Flanagan is able to do what the original film couldn’t. He involves us in an engrossing and interesting story about loss, death, and grief, and how evil can prey on our desperation to want closure in a world where very few of us can actually get it.
I can’t help but appreciate the inherent ambition behind the production of “Pitchfork.” Director and Writer Glenn Douglas Packard delivers a slasher film that offers the classic tropes, while also feeling like something completely different. He also manages to concoct a premise that’s actually original and doesn’t feature the same old idiot teenagers looking to party who get stranded or whatnot. He actually sets out to deliver a unique premise, and gives our characters their own motivations. It’s also not often we get slasher movies with final boys, but “Pitchfork” creates one who is not only genuinely heroic, and selfless, but facing his own dilemma when we meet him.
While “Puppet Master 3” was a prequel to “Puppet Master” parts one and two, “Retro Puppet Master” is a prequel to the entire series. Rather than being chased by the Nazis, a young Toulon is facing off against mysterious undead agents working for a demonic force that wants his life serum. In “Retro Puppet Master,” the writers pay tribute to the original movies by re-casting Guy Rolfe as Toulon. Still running from Nazis, he camps out for the night in a cabin and regales his puppets with how he originally began his journey.
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 Plot is Afoot! It’s Hell Night, the night before classes officially start, and Marti and her friends have been challenged by Alpha Sigma Rho to stay overnight at the dreaded Garth Mansion. The Mansion has a long history involving a deformed family, murder, and suicide, and the classmates are intent on making their night terrifying. Taking the challenge, soon they begin to realize they’re being terrorized by the deformed owner of the manor, and are unknowingly locked in the mansion thanks to the steel gates. Now they have to escape and make their way back to town, or fight for survival and hope for a rescue.
Lluís Quílez’s short science fiction drama reminded me of the famous opening line from Frederic Brown’s “Knock”: “The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door…” Director Quílez centers his science fiction tale on a man named Edgar who spends his days biding his time for inevitable rescue, and looking for some semblance of companion ship in his every day life. Edgar walks around the ruins of his city after an undisclosed “incident” has caused many to flee or die off.
It’s just such a travesty that Adam Wingard’s shot at the “Blair Witch” mythology flopped and has been generally derided by fans alike. I, for one, completely loved “Blair Witch,” not only for being such a unique and terrifying experience, but for the respect Adam Wingard has for the mythology. Even if you never bothered to watch those documentaries about Burkittsville, director Wingard brings everything full circle, including nods to the documentaries, the much derided sequel, and the original film. It’s a legacy sequel, but one that also acts as an impromptu book end to the whole series. After this I don’t know when we’ll ever see anything about the Blair Witch ever again, but it’s a great consolation the series goes out on this note.