Robert Vincent O’Neill’s “Angel” is a fun mixture of a campy exploitation and a stern crime thriller that also conjures up some classic neo-noir overtones. The 1984 drama thriller about an under age prostitute trying to outwit a serial killer garners some clumsy plot elements but stands as a strong film overall. You’d figure it’d be distracting to be sucked in to a thriller starring a protagonist who hangs around an aged cowboy and a transvestite, but “Angel” gets the job done. Donna Wilkes gives a strong performance as young Molly Stewart, a high schooler by day who is also a prostitute by night.
A group of gay friends welcome one of the guys’ new boyfriend in their mist. Joe is just like them they think, except for the fact that he is a serial killer who doesn’t bother to hide it. In fact, he flat out tells his new man George who thinks it’s some hilarious long running joke. As people around them start to disappear and the random idle chatter never ceases, George may need to reassess his new adorable boyfriend. The story written by Jim Hansen and Jeffery Self has a fairly simple premise: What happens if a serial killer, after admitting it to himself, is completely open about what he’s doing but no one pays attention because we are all too busy talking about our lives and celebrities?
Independent filmmaker Anthony Spadaccini always had a keen visual eye, leaving no stone left unturned. You can tell by watching his films that he takes great pride in every shot and every camera angle. His films are an emotional experience, but even more than that, they are a visual experience to remember. You feel as though you are entering another dimension or another universe. You are a little uncomfortable, scared, and unsure, yet you can’t look away and you can’t wait to see what unfolds next. It grabs the viewer right from the get go and doesn’t let go.
One thing about “Horror Stories” that brings it down from the get go is its lack of ambiguity. Often times this anthology over explains the stories, and can never seem to have confidence in its own plot elements. That said, while “Horror Stories” surely won’t be confused with the brilliant “Three… Extremes,” it’s definitely a solid and often times very scary horror anthology with four really entertaining stories that will keep audiences watching, even when they falter and stumble.
I held out almost little hope for Michael W. Watkins crime thriller slasher film about a Greek mythology obsessed serial killer who has a penchant for gathering and murdering his victims on the basis of fulfilling some need within him to manifest some Greek legend, but “Circle” gradually proved me wrong as it progressed. While it’s not a masterpiece by any definition, it definitely is a solid horror film with some roots in the formula cop sub-genre in which we’re following two mismatched hard boiled cops on the track of the vicious Bennett, a mastermind and genius psychopath who manages to break free from his asylum after ritualistically killing off a group therapy session he was engaging in.
It’s difficult to create an original and exciting murder mystery these days, especially since there have been so many murder mysteries that have promised an explosion and really just ended up a dud. Sadly, “H” is really no different. While it’s not a horrible piece of filmmaking, it’s sadly just standard. Mismatched pair of officers, both with their own sordid pasts, an elusive killer, a genius serial killer taunting the officers, gruesome murders alluding to abortion, body part and blood splattered clues left behind, red herrings, plot twists, and barely any exposition, all for a surprise ending. I’ve seen it all before, and “H” never rises to the occasion to challenge that formula and create its own niche upon which to break free from, so it remains a typical cop drama with a great ending.
The road from troubled girl, to certifiable insane psychotic killer is not an easy one, and it’s a declaration Katie Bird can attest to. “Katie Bird” is not particularly a perfect film, but when it hits the mark it’s quite possibly one of the more steadily disturbing horror entries that really did entertain and fascinate me. After her father’s funeral, she and her psychiatrist, lovers and all, have a fight and eventually make up, but Bird then suddenly goes over the edge and ties him up. Through small interludes of torture, Bird finally gives her therapist the brunt of her love for killing and sadomasochism. Many times, a film can basically come off as contrived when exploring what leads to the inevitable birth of a serial killer, and Bird is not a sympathetic character who was pushed in to this.