Why We Love: “Crimson Peak” (2015) Review

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On Tuesday I watched Crimson Peak (2015) in theaters in IMAX together with a friend of mine. I have been anticipating the release of this movie for months. The trailers and official stills really grabbed my attention and the cast is simply fantastic. Guillermo Del Toro is truly a one of a kind director and Crimson Peak is actually the first film that I’m watching from this director. I do own some of his movies like: Mimic, Blade II, The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth, but I haven’t yet seen any of them. After having watched Crimson Peak, I definitely respect and honor Guillermo as a director and creator. His work behind the camera is outstanding and literally every shot in this movie looks mesmerizing and exquisite.

The acting performances are flawless by everyone involved. Mia Wasikowska once again proves that she’s one of the best young actresses working today. One of her best performances to date and her character is a very interesting protagonist. Jessica Chastain definitely stole this entire movie with her stone cold portrayal of Lucille Sharpe. This woman is seriously long over due to win an Oscar. Such an immensely talented actress. Tom Hiddleston stole my heart when he appeared on screen from the very start to finish. What a charming and handsome actor with brilliant acting chops. Charlie Hunnam, while not on screen too often, did a fantastic job as well. I admit that the story was a little different than I initially thought it was gonna be, but it was very interesting as I’ve never quite seen anything like this movie before. The costumes, set design, cinematography, creature effects and especially the art direction are fascinating and absolutely stunning. I loved the suspense and sense of dread throughout the movie and it’s a beautiful and haunting ghost story.

It is an amazing movie to experience on IMAX format and I encourage everyone to go out and see Crimson Peak on the big screen. It’s truly one of the best movies of the year! Definitely buying it on Blu-ray when it comes out.

–Ferdi Akkulak

Why We Love: “Fright Night” (1985)

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“Fright Night” is quite possibly the best vampire movie that I have ever seen. The mood, the setting, the atmosphere…everything in this movie works. From beginning to end, this film reeks of dread and, more so, the 1980’s. I don’t mean that to be a smack in this movies face, I truly mean that as the ultimate compliment. If one were to make a time capsule of the movies that embodied each decade, this movie, along with “Heathers”, would have to be near the top of my list for movies to include. There is not a single damn thing that I don’t like about this movie. “Fright Night” made vampires scary, erotic, and fun. Compare this to “Twilight” and you will see there is no comparison.

Why We Love: “The Last Slumber Party” (1988)

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Oh boy, where to begin… The Last Slumber Party is one film that needs to be seen in order to be believed. This movie takes the term, “so bad, it’s good,” to another level. The story takes a few weird turns along the way and viewers are given the privilege of meeting some very memorable characters. A group of middle school kids could rival the overall production value and probably find better actors. The line delivery is atrocious and I love it! I love it almost as much as I love the Sesame Street poster in the teenage girls bedroom.

Although this film is just about as cheesy as it gets, it is one of those films that always seems to put a smile on my face. Just thinking of it now makes me want to watch it again. I can only dream that one day it gets a proper dvd or even blu-ray release that is packed full of extras to answer the extensive list of questions I still have. I need to know more about this film. Where did the filmmakers find these actors? How many days was the shooting schedule? How many hundreds of dollars was the budget? So many unanswered questions…

Even though The Last Slumber Party does everything wrong, in a strange way, that is why this movie is so fun to watch in all it’s amazing 80’s-horror-film glory. The acting and line delivery is inane. The camera work and “direction” has no rhyme or rhythm to it. The plot and killer makes no sense whatsoever. And I loved every minute.

Why We Love: “Serial Mom” (1994)

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Serial Mom came at a time in society in which America was becoming obsessed with the mass murderer and giving “killers” celebrity status. How else can you explain the thousands of marriage proposals Ted Bundy received in prison after confessing to the murder of over 20 young women? It may be a serial killer but isn’t he dreamy! Nobody is perfect, right? Well, Serial Mom takes that celebrity obsession and turns it on its head.

Serial Mom is that perfect pitch black satire Hollywood never makes. The film was a bomb on its initial release grossing only $6 million on a $14 million profit and that’s a shame. From the game cast to spot on direction from Waters, everything works. This is the type of movie that you will either find hysterical or you will wonder where all the laughs are. This movie makes me smile like a naughty little kid and I try to watch it every Mother’s Day with my mom. If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.

Why We Love: “The Loved Ones” (2009)

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It turns out some girls don’t like being told no and some girls are as bat shit crazy as his captive, Lola. Lola is played by Robin McLeavy in a performance that simply must be seen to be believed. Many actresses would be afraid of going this far with the role but McLeavy is clearly having a ball here. The torture, the prom, the glitter…everything in her mind has been done FOR Brent and not TO him, if that makes any sense. Speaking of Brent, this is the kind of movie that you just want to give a hug to actor Xavier Samuel once it is over. The things this guy has to go through in order to survive the night and cope with Lola’ “love” is heartbreaking and it is clear that he will never be the same person again. Nonetheless, I don’t want you to think this a dreary and depressing movie about torture and kidnapping. The movie has a wicked sense of dark humor as well that is perfectly aided by Byrne’s strong direction and screenplay. The fact that the demented father and daughter keep screaming at Brent “WE CAN’T HEAR YOU!” left a twisted smile on my face.

Slasher Studios Examines: “The Rise of Supernatural Slashers”

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With the slasher subgenre becoming one of the more non-existent subgenre in horror cinema, the supernatural ones are on the rise. This is all thanks to the trend that Paranormal Activity started (along with the over-abundance of found footage). With this all happening, more often than not, the found-footage genre usually has a paranormal story going for it. This consists of the aforementioned ghost/spirit films such as Paranormal Actvity, possession films such as The Last Exorcism, and alien films like The Fourth Kind.

However, it is fairly recent within in the past couple of years that slashers may have taken a new form. No longer do we have a terrifying stranger in a mask creeping around stalking young and beautiful teens. But now we have a supernatural entity stalking and killing our characters. Some may say this all began with Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street films. This is a very valid argument as Freddy is long dead and only appears through supernatural means. Some may disagree since he is a full figure, but it can definitely go both ways.

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Time passed and several Freddy sequels later we arrived to the early 2000’s and Final Destination fell into our laps. This time we have our leads being killed off in slasher form by an invisible force in ways that appear by accident. Followed by four sequels, Final Destination really put the supernatural-slasher train in motion. And truthfully, it gave new fear as to who can kills us. It made us fear every little thing that some unseen presence could kills us with. Like Nightmare on Elm Street, Final Destination gave us some of our more stereotypical characters we see in a slasher film. Again one can argue either side, but it can’t be denied there is a strong slasher presence in it.

Continuing on since then the only slashers we have received were remakes or sequels, not so much original ones with the exception of Wrong Turn, See No Evil, and You’re Next came about, everything else was essentially straight to video low budget films. Certainly there is nothing wrong with low budget slashers being released straight to video, but it hardly leaves fans of the subgenre with anything to see in the theater.

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Then came the age of straight up supernatural and found footage. While most of them deal with characters getting killed off, in Paranormal Activity’s case, it’s due to the characters getting in the way of the demon’s intentions. But following this we have supernatural/found footage films such as The Quiet Ones, The Lazarus Effect, Grave Encounters, and As Above/So Below. These films (some found footage, some not) give us some fairly stereotypical characters that wander off into places they shouldn’t be or messing with things they shouldn’t. Ultimately, whatever spirits they anger begin to kill them off, in the above examples, some in pretty disturbing ways. While these films aren’t considered hits for the horror genre, they’re shining examples of the direction slasher films are heading.

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We have now come to the year 2015 where we are back to stereotypical teenagers are being killed off. The small film Nightlight which depicts a group of teens entering the woods for a fun night game, but of course, an evil presence that haunts the woods begins to kill them off. Following this we are smacked with the surprise hit Unfriended which encapsulates the recent trend of supernatural slashers. We have the most stereotypical and glossy, snobby teens you could expect, and we have a vengeful spirit coming back to haunt them and brutally murdering them in front of each other. While I wasn’t the film’s biggest fan, it certainly opened up my eyes to the prospect of the direction slasher films could be heading. The most recent release of The Gallows was a major flop, but it brought forth the same concept as Unfriended, an evil presence killing off stereotypical teens (but this time by means of a noose).

Despite the fact that we are getting The Final Girls released this month (October 2015), it’s not the slasher we typical expect as it is more of a parody of slasher films (the same goes for the MTV’s Scream series and Fox’s Scream Queens). If this is the only direction REAL slashers going, by means of making them comedic, it shows that the slasher genre really doesn’t affect mainstream audiences anymore unless there is comedy behind it. While The Final Girls looks really fun, as is Scream Queens, it’s not the subgenre of slasher I know and love. At this point it seems like any real slashers we get will be a remake or a sequel, any other form would be with heavy humor involved. Clearly serial killers in horrific costumes killing off these stereotypical, pretty, and horny teenagers just doesn’t cut it anymore. Modern audiences want ghosts, demons, and the evils of the unknown coming after people. But by releasing such supernatural films with heavy slasher touches, is this just pure convenience, or is this the filmmakers’ way of trying to please fans of the supernatural genre as well as those of the dying slasher genre? Whether you love the idea or not or just simply accept it, one cannot deny there is a trend going here.

–Cody Landman

Why We Love: “Cherry Falls” (2000)

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Cherry Falls is a product of the massive post-Scream slasher boom, but one of the few to truly get it right. Ken Selden’s script is crackling with originality, terror, and an extremely unguessable twist. The late Brittany Murphy stars as Jody, the teenage daughter of the local sheriff who finds herself a target of the long, black-haired serial killer murdering virgins. The final twist at the end left me completely surprised and the soundtrack is ahead of its time. If you’re a fan of school hallway chase scenes, mysteries, and gruesome imagery, you’ll love this little underrated gem which is coming to bluray via Scream Factory in 2016.

–Noah Nicholas Nelson

Why We Love: “Nurse 3D” (2014)

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Paz de la Huerta plays Abby Russell, a head nurse who has just taken a new girl, Danni (Katrina Bowden), under her wing. Abby has a secret. She likes to lure married men into having sex with her only to keep them in the process. Along the way she gets a little too “close” to Danni as she begins to control and destroy every element of Danni’s life that she doesn’t like.

Boy, this movie is a doozy. With some of the most laughable dialogue I’ve heard on screen in years and some of the most bizarre murders I’ve ever seen, “Nurse” is a treat for lovers of bad cinema. The blood flows like water on screen the movie is a very brief 84 minutes which culminates in one of the goriest final acts in recent memory. Sure the movie has more plot holes than the body’s Abby leaves in her wake, but if you enjoy a good-bad horror movie…you won’t find anything better than this one.

Why We Love: “Sleepwalkers” (1992)

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Does this movie make any sense? No. Does that bother me? Not in the slightest. Incest practicing shapeshifters move to a small town to feed off the blood of virgins only to face their greatest enemy: dozens of stray cats. This is tasty ripened cheese and I love every second of it.

Why We Love: “Poltergeist III” (1988)

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“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.