Devil Woman (2018) [Final Girls Berlin Film Festival]

“Social Horror” Shorts Block

Director Heidi Lee Douglas’s “Devil Woman” is kind of a jumbled mess of a horror movie that has a ton of potential. On one side of the coin it tries to be a horror movie about feral monsters spreading their virus through a bite. On the other side of the coin it tries to an environmentally conscious tale about Tasmanian Devils suffering from hideous cancer destroying the population. It’s tough to get sucked in to a horror movie about feral monsters when the movie bookends the tale with an actual picture of a disfigured Tasmanian Devil suffering from cancer.

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Valentine (2001): Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray]

Jamie Blanks’ “Valentine” is one of the many latter day slasher films that would completely steal from the premise of “Slaughter High” and retrofit it to a new generation, as well as blatantly ape the gimmick of “I Know What You Did Last Summer.” “Valentine” is one of the more ambitious slashers that not only steals from “Slaughter High” but also jumps on the valentine holiday as its primary gimmick for the stalking and slashing. “My Bloody Valentine” always has my loyalty, while “Valentine” is just a sub-par absolutely vanilla slasher thriller with the classic whodunit plot motivation that also became a common element of latter day slashers post-“Scream.”

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Into the Dark: Down

For Blumhouse’s polarizing anthology series in February, the writers of “Into the Dark” tackle Valentine’s Day. One of the nasty aspects of having to write the review for “Down” is it’s nearly impossible to write about it without spoiling the episode’s big hook. And the primary motivation for watching “Down” is the way the premise devolves in to a huge twist mid-way. Like all of the episodes of “Into the Dark” so far, the episode is fifteen minutes too long, but once it completely reaches fever pitch, it’s quite an exhilarating horror thriller based around the holiday.

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Rust Creek (2019)

Sawyer Cotter is an over achiever who is very much looking forward to a new job and decides to drive home. While driving home, she accidentally loses her bearings and winds up on a deserted path on the back woods of Kentucky, where she meets Hollister and Buck. The pair happens to be drug traffickers who suspect she might have seen what they were up to. Anxious, they attempt to kidnap her, but Sawyer manages to fight them off and flee in to the woods. As they track her down, Sawyer has to rely on her wits to find her way back home, and becomes a part of a bigger plot involving the drug wars.

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Bird Box (2018)

Netflix’s horror drama “Bird Box” has been unfairly dismissed and ignored as a blatant rip off of acclaimed horror film “A Quiet Place.” That’s disappointing (especially considering “Bird Box” is an adaptation of a book from 2013) since, while “Bird Box” and “A Quiet Place” share similar tones and framing devices, they’re more companion pieces than copies. “A Quiet Place” examined a family trying to stay together during impossible odds as well as the extremes parents go for their children, while “Bird Box” is ultimately about learning to let go, and the paralyzing fear of losing our children to an outside world that we can’t understand or ever fully trust.

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The Critters Collection [Blu-Ray]

After almost twenty years basically out of print, us “Critters” fans spent the better part of the digital age celebrating our favorite movie series on DVD. And not just any DVD, but a basically cheap transfer DVD that stuffed all four movies on to a few DVDs. Granted you could have done worse, but the movie series deserved so much better. The “Critters” series remains one of the more underrated creature features in horror, and it finally gets the royal treatment on Blu-Ray. With a hard shell casing, all four movies come packed, along with a humongous plethora of bells and whistles. This is the collection I as a hardcore fan, have been waiting for. It’s also a good thing that the “Critters” movies are a lot of good, gory, monstrous fun.

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Murder Party (2007)

Jeremy Saulnier has managed to become one of the most original voices in indie cinema for the last eleven years, and “Murder Party” is an off beat debut that twists conventions left and right. Knowing Jeremy Saulnier as we do now, “Murder Party” is typical Saulnier, as he’s prone to trying to make a statement with every film he makes. Every time you think “Murder Party” is heading one way, Saulnier is a lot more content with delivering the unexpected, and I quite enjoyed what he had to offer here. Like most debuts, “Murder Party” is rough around the edges but it’s offbeat horror fun.

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