★★ out of ★★★★★ What in the world happens when filmmakers run out of ideas? Well, it’s rather simple. A) In most cases they go back to the well, B) there’s always a sequel, or prequel, or a reboot, C) the idea is reimagined through the lens of an out of copyright idea, story, or myth, or D) they just run out of ideas. Sadly, for 2020’s The Hunted, the answer is D.
Mike’s Nightstream Review: The Queen of Black Magic (2020)
★★★★.5 out of ★★★★★ In the latest installment of “If you’re not watching Indonesian horror movies, you’re blowing it,” brings us 2020’s The Queen of Black Magic. It’s true. Indonesia is the new incubator for the creepiest crawlies that the horror genre has to offer. Every country has had their day in the sun. The UK plastered us with Hammer and Amicus throughout the 1960s. The US reimagined the genre with slashers and super killers throughout the 1970s and 80s. And Japan brought a whole new slate of water and hair-borne frights in the late 1990s and in to the early 2000s. Now it’s Indonesia time to shine.
Mike’s Nightstream Review: Leap of Faith William Friedkin on the Exorcist (2020)
★★★★ out of ★★★★★ There exists that great space in documentaries that take place decades after the event occurred. It’s this beautiful melange of revisionist history, lucid thoughts, purposeful sleepwalking, and repressed memories. All answers are correct and infallible when the documentary is filtered through the iconic lens of a single and thoughtful directorial darling. THE William Friedkin is the ultimate bridge between Hollywood’s glorious beginnings and the revolutionary young guns of the 1970s. It should come as no surprise the Friedkin has some rather insightful things to say about one of the greatest films of the 1970s, possibly the greatest horror film of all time, and in some camps, THE greatest film ever put down on celluloid — the Exorcist.
Mike’s Review: Spiral (2020)
★★★★ out of ★★★★★ Horror movies really are the ultimate glimpse in to the soul of man. Society’s reflection upon itself. Our most base thoughts, visions, hopes, dreams, and fears all laid bare for the universe to see. The historic period of time is largely irrelevant to the equation, because the result is always the same — man’s continued inhumanity to man.
Mike’s Book Report: Devolution (2020)
★★★★ out of ★★★★★ The perfect metaphor/antidote to 2020. Well-meaning people set out to change the world, lessen their foot print, and revel in their own brainy viewpoint. Only to be horrifically outdone by the unplanned mysteries of mother nature and her largely uncaring and brutish ways. Devolution is exists in a very real space with very real consequences. It’s everything that 2020 has offered. From the hopefully earnest to the horrifically primal.
Mike’s Review: I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020)
★★★ out of ★★★★★ I mean, really, who are we to ever question the greatness of the great Charlie Kaufman. A visionary. A cinematic poet. A deep thinker that throws head-scratchers our way every chance he gets. A repertoire filled with unimpeachable films. One after another. BUT, he’s never really dabbled in the horror genre, nor has he dealt with a storyline so chilling, unnerving, and downright baffling. And it kind of shows.
Dead List: Top 10 Sci-Fi Horror Films of All Time
Congrats! You’ve wandered down to the end of the cul-de-sac and discovered the world of sci-fi-horror. Is is horror? Is it sci-fi? Is it horror-sci-fi? Does it have space aliens? Are those furry little space aliens scary? All these questions are answered with the Top 10 Sci-Fi Horror Films of All Time!
Mike’s Review: Beyond the Woods (2018)
★★★.5 out of ★★★★★ Not all horror films need to be over-wrought. They needn’t be filled with hyper-complex multi-layered lore. CGI has its time and place, but that time in place is not in every time and every place. On occasion horror is able to lean simply on human emotions, quaint spaces, and languid settings. If you need a reprieve from the hustle and bustle of 21st century horror then Beyond the Woods is waiting for you…just beyond the woods.
Mike’s Review: Mother of Tears (2007)
★ out of ★★★★★ All the old adages about aging are sadly true. While there are a handful of unique exceptions to aging, largely the process is mean, maddening, and without fail. The longer you stay in the game the harder it is to compete at your once prolific rate. That 12th album, might not quite be as fresh as that first lighting in a bottle 30 years prior. That 300th game might be a tad disinclined. It’s just a fact of our meager little life on planet earth and this impact is felt by all — including Dario Argento.
Dead List: Top 10 Found Footage Films of All Time
You love ’em. You hate ’em. You don’t know where to start. You worship at their altar. All these things are true. One of the most polemic (and satisfying) devices in the horror genre — shaky cam/found footage flics.
Mike’s Review: The Pool (2019)
★★★★ out of ★★★★★ So close. Not quite. Just about there. One more try. Close but no cigar. You’re right in the ballpark. Just. One. More. Inch. This is the prevailing and effectively repeated trope in the 2019 (U.S. release) Thai film, the Pool.
Dead List: Top 10 Animal Horror Films
Thumper, Ben, Lassie, Willard, Cujo…my pet gator? Why have you chosen to forsake me? In Episode 16 we explored this very question and got down and dirty in the animal kingdom. These are some of the scariest pets and animals to have ever graced the silver screen and boy have they gone bad! They PRETEND to be man’s best friend but ultimately they’ve got other things in store for us weak and inferior humans. Before you race out to the pet store watch the ten scariest films ever made featuring animals!
Mike’s Review: Impetigore (2019)
★★★★.5 out of ★★★★★ Ghosts, doomed villages, tortured family dynamics, the blackest of black magic, and thousand year old Javanese curses all come home to roost in the latest spookfest from Joko Anwar. Possibly (read: possibly) the best horror film director out currently, Anwar knows his way around a story, cinematic shots, and the creation of truly sympathetic characters.
Movie News: The Vigil Trailer
Blumhouse is back on the scene with a brand new joint that’s guaranteed to give you a mean case of the shivers. Don’t look now, but the Vigil is coming your way on July 31, 2020.
Movie News: Possessor Trailer
Ultraviolent sci-fi? Sign us up! Just when you thought 2020 couldn’t get any weirder, darker, and more complex — along comes Possessor. Directed by Brandon Cronenberg (offspring of THAT David Cronenberg), Possessor allegedly involves some high-falutin corporate espionage, some brain control devices, and a whole lotta’ assassinating.
Mike’s Review: The Beach House (2019)
★★★.5 out of ★★★★★ If you’re not completely freaked out by the current pandemic, the strange and uneven response to the greatest crisis the world’s faced in the modern era, then have we got a film for you! This is not a fun filled family fete at the beach, oh no, The Beach House is a dark and twisted look at our current state of affairs filtered through the very real possibility that the worst is yet to come.
Horror Short: Desert Quarantine (2020)
★★★★ out of ★★★★★ “Timely, topical, and terrific.” Well that’s what the Scariest Things Podcast would say if Variety came calling for a pull quote. Joe Burke’s (Four Dogs) brand spanking new horror short Desert Quarantine is a perfect reflection of a perfect reflection of society’s current spate of worry, hate, fear, and confusion.
Mike’s PHFF Review: Uncle Peckerhead (2020)
★★★★ out of ★★★★★ Pulling off a feature length film takes some serious gumption. Pulling off a film that balances impeccable comedic timing, a fully realized soundtrack, empathetic characters, complicated friendships, and a heaping dose of spatter gore — well, that’s a whole different story. Directed by horror short filmmaker Matthew John Lawrence, Uncle Peckerhead hits every single note and simultaneously manages to bang out a gory film that would make Herschell Gordon Lewis blush.
Mike’s Review: The Siren (2019)
★★.5 out of ★★★★★ A somber, quiet, and contemplative affair. This faux mythology, while largely devoid of dialogue, packs away some interesting social/sexual dynamics. Fans of Troma and Full Moon be forewarned, this film is NOT for you. While it is a monster movie that’s loosely based not the eastern European “Rusalka” water harpy myth, this is not the Toxic Avenger, nor is it the Evil Bong.
Mike’s Review: Demon Seed (1977)
★★★★ out of ★★★★★ The Demon Seed is one mighty mashup of technological/sociological concepts. Freedom of choice, meets man’s desire to concur his natural surroundings, meets the infallibility of the god complex, meets sexual politics, meets the ecology movement, meets the military industrial complex, meets a horrifying faux 2001 psychedelic freakout. Yes, it’s all here on display in a 1970s groove.
Mike’s Review: Z (2019)
★★★ out of ★★★★★ With an increasing number of horror films eschewing the well-trodden path of gore, gags, and scream queens, there’s always the risk of re-calibrating too far to the other end of the scare spectrum. Over the last 20 years there’s been a trend towards melancholy and family trauma — Shudder calls it parental terror, we’re calling it melancholy horror. Sometimes the quiet and somber affairs work and sometimes they’re just weighty, boring, and devoid of scares. The Shudder original Z certainly ran that risk, but effectively shook itself off the melancholy mantle.
Mike’s Review: Blood Quantum (2020)
★★★★ out of ★★★★★ Much of the history of native peoples in horror film, or in this case Canada’s First Nation people, has been beset by misunderstandings, skepticism about tribal rituals, and outright racism. These troubling portrayals throughout horror’s uneven relationship with non-Euro traditions has manifested itself in a series of clumsy attempts to capture the native condition. This, in turn, has played out with mysterious and prescient shamans, strange and incomplete tribal rites, and silly depictions of day-to-day tribal life. That was the case until 2020, with the release of the superb Blood Quantum.
Horror News: Daft Punk is Scoring the Next Dario Argento Film
What?!?!? First Thom Yorke dips his toes in the water with his somber interpretation of the Goblin’s color-soaked Suspiria vision, and now Daft Punk is scoring the next Dario Agento film? Color us shocked and awed.
Mike’s Review: The Isolation Horrors (2020)
★★★★ out of ★★★★★ More often than not the horror story teller is beset with complex stories, radical exposition, and meandering narrative. The horror fan and the horror filmmaker so desperately want to hear and tell a compelling and multi-layered story. But as we all know too well, these stories are overtaken by this well-meaning desire and evolve in to a product so complex that they forget their intended purpose — the SCARES! The prescient and timely The Isolation Horrors is superbly aware of this exposition trap and manages to create an exquisite economy of horror story telling.
Mike’s Review: Wonder Valley (2017)
★★ out of ★★★★★ Who knew that there was a sub-genre of horror known as Coachella Horror? Well there’s not, but you heard it here first. Perfect millennials mixed with impossibly mundane feuding, throw in a couple very stylish floppy hats, a little paranormal fright (but not too much), and a gathering of genetically perfect young ladies and — POW — it’s Coachella Horror!
Horror News: The Isolation Horrors (2020)
Have you had enough yet? Did you lose out on the last role of toilet paper? Are you debating the merits of the Exorcist vs. Exorcist III with your cat? Has the isolation started to creep under your skin and in to your psyche? Good! You’re in luck. There’s a new short horror anthology that looks at the dark and horrific side of ISOLATION!
Mike’s Review: Lake Mungo (2008)
★★★★★ out of ★★★★★ There exists this exquisite location somewhere right between a documentary, a dramatization, found footage, a fictionalized accounting of events, and a full on horror show. This venn diagram of a locale is a rather tough place to pinpoint and few films ever wandered there. That was of course until 2008 when Lake Mungo was released.
Mike’s Book Report: I’m Thinking of Ending Things
★★★★ out of ★★★★★ It’s been known throughout the human experience that the journey is far more rewarding than the end point. For mountain climbers the peak is only the halfway point. Few endeavors have one introspectively looking solely at the terminus. For horror fans the end often isn’t entirely satisfying and the nostalgia for a film (or book) lies in the way the spooks and chills unfold along the way. Ian Reid’s 2016 novel, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, is the pure embodiment of this sentiment.
Horror Movie News: Cannibal Holocaust is Going to be a Video Game!
Things just can’t possibly get weird enough. Hollyweird may have run out of ideas and the public is going to […]
Trailer Alert: Train to Busan 2 (Peninsula)
Did we ask for this? Is the zombie genre dead? Did the Walking Dead franchise kill the zombie genre? Will Train to Busan 2 live up to its forefather? Is this really just cheap hype for a video game tie in? SO. MANY. QUESTIONS!!!