When Witches Ruled the 90’s

After the Satanic Panic of the seventies and eighties, witches became a shockingly more popular aspect of pop culture and were more generally accepted. It’s almost inexplicable how and why witches suddenly became so prevalent in pop culture, but the nineties were all about the mythical figure and all kinds of TV shows tackled the trend in one way or another. Along with shows capitalizing on the trend, there were also a myriad shows and movies that pretty much centered on the witches trend. Before America paralyzed itself with ideas that witchcraft and paganism were ideas meant to destroy Christianity, the ideas of witches were always more family friendly or sought to appeal to the horror fan base.

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A Witches’ Ball (2017)

At best I’d say that “A Witches’ Ball” is a serviceable movie. It’s exactly the kind of movie you’d find at Walmart one day that you’d probably buy for your daughter in hopes of distracting her with a fantasy while you’re preparing for dinner or something. It’s mediocre and hits about all the right beats for a movie heavily aimed toward small girls. Director Justin G. Dyck is a man whose entire filmography revolves around filming cheaply made, holiday oriented, family films and “A Witches’ Ball” s right up his alley.

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Bonejangles (2017)

One thing I will say about “Bonejangles” is that it has a lot of enthusiasm. It has so much enthusiasm, in fact, that every bit of coherence is thrown out of the window in favor of a horror mish mash that makes no sense, is unfunny, not scary, and feels like it was put together by someone who had a lot of ideas, all of which were not enough for one feature length movie. It’s a shame too since Bonejangles is a cool slasher villain with a lot of potential, he’s just bogged down in to a movie that is without a doubt a humongous waste of time. I’m not against nonsense, but “Bonejangles” is directionless, random nonsense that felt sloppily composed from minute one.

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Top 5 Family Friendly Horror Animated Shorts

If you’re looking for some great Halloween oriented or scary animated shorts with a classic flair, the folks at MGM, Disney, Hanna Barbera and Warner Bros. have a humongous library of classic cartoons that will fit your Halloween theme. These are only five of my favorite horror themed animated shorts that will make you laugh and spook you out at the same time. These can be purchased online or viewed on almost any video streaming website! Trick or Treat!

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The Black Cauldron (1985)

It’s a shame that Disney treats “The Black Cauldron” kind of like the black sheep of the family they don’t mention at family reunions. It’s such a riveting and creepy film that evokes a lot of what makes the fantasy genre so appealing. There’s even the Horned King, one of Disney’s most frightening, if not their most frightening villain ever created, he’s a skull faced, horned monster with one goal to grab the magical black cauldron and use it to take over the world. In galleries and retrospectives, he’s almost never mentioned, which says a lot considering Disney is fond of including the Chernabog, who is only on screen for eleven minutes in “Fantasia.”

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Dead Man Tells His Own Tale (El Muerto Cuenta su Historia) (2016) [Fantasia International Film Festival 2017]

A man who can best be described as a misogynist cheating liar finds himself undead and bound to do the biddings a coven trying to raise their goddess to take over the world.

Written by Nicolás Britos and Fabián Forte with the latter directing as well, Dead Man Tells His Own Tale sets up its lead to be despicable and dislikable, doing so very successfully and keeping that up almost throughout the entirety of the film.  Then it attempts to make the public care for him and his undead plight, something that works a lot less given that he’s still an unlikable being and still is trying to do what he always has and wanted to without much care about how it affects the people around him.  The way they build him makes it very hard to care for him.  Most of the characters built are hard to care for as most are written in a way and into situations where they do things that make them less than likable.  This creates an atmosphere of negativity that evolves towards the ending here which makes sense, but does not make this viewer want to care.

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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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Don’t Knock Twice (2017)

A young mother who gave up her daughter up during a troubled period is trying to reconnect with her years later.  As they try to repair their estranged and strained relationship, they become plagued by the legendary Baba Yaga witch. Written by Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler and directed by Caradog W. James, the film takes a folk tale that originated in Old Russia and brings it to the UK and modernizes it.  Together they create a horror film that will scare the uninitiated but may not do much for hardcore horror fans.  There are a few well directed and developed scares that should work for all however.  These happen in an environment built around the strained, but attempting to be rekindled, mother-daughter relationship.

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