31 Days of Horror: Day 28: “Scream Park” (2012)


Two things I love in life: horror movies and theme parks. With that being said, as I head of the story behind Scream Park, I could not wait until my chance to view this film. The plot sounded fun, the running time was a solid 85 minutes and yes, I loved the title.

Scream Park takes place at Fright Land, the under performing theme park that is forced to close due to lack of attendance. The employees of Fright Land plan to throw one last party at the park after the gates close for the final time. The booze is flowing, the girls are putting out and oh yeah, the villains are killing!

The film had a nice look. The color tone is perfect for the film and the cinematography is decent, but the believable acting is what this film lacks. The acting isn’t atrocious, but some casting improvements could have been made. Perhaps a greater casting search could have benefited the film. Some of the roles are dull and boring and lines seem to flow a bit unnaturally. A few of the cast members did however do a great job, including the park owner (played by the outstanding Doug Bradley, otherwise known as Pinhead from the “Hellraiser” series).

The deaths and effects are well done and my personal favorite is the deep fryer death. I do wish the the story had a bit more going on at the beginning, but the last half was better paced as the killers began to pray on the employees and chase after our final girl. If you like horror movies and theme parks then this is a film to check out. It won’t “wow” you, but I feel the story is fun and unique enough and as we all know, indie horror can always use the support.

Horror Movie Challenge: Day 28: A Great Zombie Movie (Night of the Creeps)


“Night of the Creeps” is a forgotten classic from 1986 that mixes just the right amount of humor with a nice dose of jump scenes. When the film was first released, it grossed only $500,000 at the US box office before being unleashed on VHS and on pay stations everywhere. I remember the first time I saw it being scared out of my mind and begging to sleep on the floor of my parents bedroom. While the film doesn’t scare me as it once did, the effects and the acting both hold up quite nicely. If the film does drag a bit in the second act, it comes roaring back for a killer finale. Good stuff all around.

31 Days of Horror: Day 27: “Silent House” (2011)


I thoroughly enjoyed the film. I thought the cuts in the movie were seamless and it really did feel as though the movie was being shot in real time. The movie had a sense of fear and dread that have been missing from the Paranormal movies with some great imagery. Elizabeth Olsen was amazing in this film and after Martha Marcy May Marlene, she has risen to the top of my young actors to watch list. That’s not to say that everything in the movie works. With the expectation of Olsen, the other actors all come off a little hammy, overacting to a sometimes hilarious degree. The geography of the house is never very clear and it is sometimes very hard to figure out just what room each of the characters are in and even what floor they are on. There will be some viewers who will take offense to the ending or, rather, lack thereof. None of these flaws make me like the movie any less. This is an imperfect film but also one that takes a lot of chances and actually requires intelligence from its audience. It’s nice to see what I’ve been missing.

31 Days of Horror: Day 26: “Zombieland” (2009)


Zombieland may not be your typical zombie flick, seeing as it is filled with comedy, but that paired with a few other great attributes is what makes this film stand out. Great effects, a fun and exciting cast and some very cool looking (and fast) zombies creates for a fun and wild ride.

The special fx that can be seen in Zombieland, really took me by surprise. The blood splatter and the make-up done on the zombie actors was well done. It is easy to see that they had an experienced team of artists on hand to apply the rotting skin, scabs and bruises. A round of applause must go out to them. But that was not where the effects ended. Throughout the film, 3D text is displayed over the picture and interacts with its surroundings. I found this to be a very cool visual and really enjoyed the way the words became part of the movie.

The zombies were amazing to watch because they were fast and exciting. They helped give off a felling of suspense and wonder. I always have been a fan of a threatening zombie and these gross guys and girls help give Zombieland a boost a well needed thrill that some fellow undead films may lack. Plus, I felt Woody Harrelson was able to put his own flare into his character and create a very unique Twinkie loving zombie hunter. And nobody can forget the Bill Murray scene. If you have not seen this yet, then I wont spoil it for you. So run and check it out!

31 Days of Horror: Day 25: “Gravity” (2013)


In a special segment of Not Quite Horror we have a guest reviewer taking a look at the horror elements behind the sci-thriller hit “Gravity.” Thanks Cody Landman for your take on the flick.

The Monster: Space. Not since Alien(s) has outer space been so terrifying. The vast openness, distance, and lack of oxygen are only just a few characteristics of this terrifying monster.

The Horror: Being put on the same level as the same characters (the 3D really provides this). We slowly begin to feel the lack of oxygen our characters feel as we hold our breaths during the events in front of us. The distance, isolation, and fear of the unknown also bring the horror of the film.

The Shared Fate: Watching the horror unfold for our characters and really putting ourselves in their position, gasping for breath, and striving for the will and strength to survive.

31 Days of Terror: Day 24: “Evil Dead” (2013)


Words cannot simply describe the experience of watching “Evil Dead” (2013). For a remake, it feels more like a sequel than anything and I really mean that as a compliment. This is the rare movie that stays true to the original while adding a strong new story, likable characters, and more blood and gore than you will likely see all year. It is relentless in its terror and atmosphere and actually made me feel uneasy at several key moments. If this film had to be cut to receive an R rating, I can’t even imagine what the original NC-17 version looked like. Not everyone is going to come out of this film with the same admiration that I had for it. Those that like their horror “fun” may feel a bit drained by the entire experience but I remember that I left the theater shaking. Yes, I found it to be THAT good.

31 Days of Horror: Day 23: “Dr. Giggles” (1992)


I’ve always been a big fan of 90’s horror and Dr. Giggles did not disappoint. For whatever reason, I have been putting off watching this 1992 movie for a few years now, but finally, the slasher stars aligned and Dr. Giggles was all mine. I found myself very curious as to how this movie would play out for a few reasons. Would this middle aged villain keep my attention? Would the very 90’s characters be likable or would I be dying to see their demise. And always a huge turning point for me, would the production value and camera work be able to rival the blockbuster films of its generation?

Dr. Giggles was played by Larry Drake and I found myself loving him more and more as the story progressed. Turns out, his father was a crazy old murdering doctor himself. We fast-forward 3 decades later and after years locked up in the mental ward, Dr. Giggles escapes to terrorize and kill. Needless to say, he needs to work on his bedside manner as a group of classic horny teens begin to fall one-by-one. The doctors bag, white coat, and inventive deaths help create a memorable killer in Giggles. I loved how he incorporates medical tools with each brutal kill. Many are cut-away deaths, but the way they were shot and the creative ways they happened made for some great visuals and may even force some people cover their eyes…but not me of course…

As a whole, the teen characters were fairly likable. The slutty girls were fun, and although nobody in the group was amazing and unforgettable, they all seemed to be able to play the part that they needed to play. The comedy, when it worked, was a nice change of pace every now and then. I enjoyed the condom-in-the-toilet scene and the little brother playing Dr. Mario was pure perfection.

As far as the production value goes, this held up to most of the rival slashers of its time. There wasn’t anything that put it over the top, but just all around nice work by the entire crew. The camera work was typical, but a dutch shot here and there was a nice added bonus. So, take the doctors orders and add this to your own must-see-list if you haven’t already. Don’t be afraid, Dr. Giggles will take good care of you!

31 Days of Terror: Day 22: “Poltergeist III” (1988)


“Poltergeist III” is, by all means, a film that I should hate. It’s a sequel with only two returning characters (Carol Ann and the ever reliable Tangina), it’s PG-13, and it’s supernatural. By all means, this should be on my worst list of horror sequels. Hell, that’s where most other horror fans would put it. But it’s a good film damnit and it’s a film that I will defend until the day I die. To be honest, I just don’t understand the hate for this film. The mirror effects are surprisingly effective and the film attempts to bring closure to the story (even though there are only two returning cast members, it is surprisingly faithful to the original two films). The film is just plain fun from beginning to end and what the film lacks in logic it more than makes up for in inventive special effects. Sadly, this is young Heather O’Rourke’s (Carol Anne) last film as she would pass away shortly after filming would commence. Sure they may say Carol Ann about a hundred times too many but it really just adds to the fun of the film. Have a few drinks and do a toast to Miss O’Rourke, one of the genre’s youngest scream queens that was taken far too soon.

31 Days of Horror: Day 20: “The Witches” (1988)


The Witches comes to us from across the pond as director Nicolas Roeg displays his creativity in this fantasy film that is a great October treat. If you are gearing up for Halloween, but want to save the slashing and gore for another night, then The Witches may just the the lighter film to fit this niche. You will follow the little boy, Luke, and his grandmother, Helga, as they take off on an adventure with some less than desirable witches. The European shot film is one that should be watched for a few different reasons.

The effects and work by Jim Henson are amazing. This was sadly his final film, but his work will live on forever. The puppetry and make-up effects were out-of-this-world and adds a lot of production value to this film. The witches have a great look and I wold love to know more about the design process and how long it took to create these creatures. Along side these Jim Henson creations can be found some fun and quite memorable actors. The witch of all witches is played by the very talented Anjelica Houston. Her performance is top notch as always as she is the perfect fit for her character. We also have a Mr. Bean sighting with Rowan Atkinson playing the role of Mr. Stringer. I kept thinking of watching him on PBS playing his well know Bean character. I was definitely taken out of the film a few times with flashbacks, but overall I was just fine with him being featured in the film.

The cinematography is by far my favorite part. I am a huge fan of the shot selection and choices made by the filmmakers and could witch this over again just for inspiration. Although it was released in 1990, I enjoyed the zooms as it gave it more of a vintage feel. The dutch angles and just all-around odd camera positions helped give The Witches a distinct look. I would love to hear from seasoned DP’s on their thoughts on the cinematography. The shots used will not be for everyone, but I found them to be creative and fun.

So, as we near Oct. 31st, try out The Witches and enjoy some great visuals and have a fun time with it. Don’t expect blood and guts, save that for Michael and Jason to deliver.

“Carrie” (2013) Remake Brings New Blood to Familiar Story

In the remake of the original Brian De Palma film, and based off of the novel by Stephen King, Carrie tells the story of young Carrie White (Chloe Grace Moretz) who goes through life being tormented by classmates and teachers. The only person she feels close to is her religion-obsessed mother Margaret (Julianne Moore). After a cruel joke, one of the popular girls, Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde) decides to provide an act of kindness to Carrie by allowing her boyfriend to ask her to prom. But along the way, Carrie starts to develop telekinetic abilities that could bring disastrous results if she’s pushed too far.

I believe that to compare this remake with the original and say which is better would be completely wrong and impossible. Both films have very strong aspects of their own that make them both able to stand on their own. But to discuss this version as a remake itself, I would definitely have to say it was VERY well-done. The film really gets into the emotional side of the story, we really get to know Carrie and get a sense of her loneliness. This in part is due to an excellent performance by Chloe Grace Moretz in what I really think is her best performance to date. She portrays the emotions of Carrie with such ease that you really feel for the character and think of her as a real person. But when it switches gears and her evil side appears, Moretz provides a very chilling performance. We are also given Julianne Moore as Carrie’s mother. From the start of the film and until the very end, Moore shows just how unhinged Margaret White is, and she does it perfectly. Her performances leaves the viewer really unsettled with her dead and haunting performance. As for the effects, unfortunately this remake is filled with a lot of CGI. Does it completely ruin the film? No. But it does take away a lot of the effect. The prom scene for example, while much more violent (which I was pleased about), the CGI was really noticeable. But despite this, some of the effects combined with amazing camera shots is very well-done. One example being when two characters are involved in a car crash, the impacts in the crash were very cool (and slightly disturbing) to watch.

So overall, Carrie is a very well-done and perfectly modernized remake that lets us get in touch emotionally with our lead, plenty of bloody moments, and most of all, amazing performances by Moretz and Moore.

–Cody Landman