Tag Archives: Horror Movie Review

Bad Blood: The Movie (2016)

STARRING Mary Malloy, Vikas Adam, Troy Halverson
DISTRIBUTOR Level 33 Entertainment
RELEASE DATE April 1st, 2016
RUNTIME 80 Minutes
COUNTRY United States

A classic werewolf flick with an amphibious twist; it’s a race against time to find the antidote.

Horror fans have been watching the exploits of werewolves on the silver screen for almost 100 years. We’ve experienced them in their earliest screen appearances in films such as Universal’s Werewolf of London and The Wolf Man, and have stayed fascinated by them all the way up to current day lycanthrope-based cinematic excursions such as HowlLate Phases, and Wolfcop. But what about those other human/animal hybrids that are born from the light of a full moon? Surely, they deserve their moment in the celluloid spotlight, right?

That brings us to Bad Blood, the new “were-frog” movie from writer/director Tim Reis, producer of 2013’s The Demon’s Rook and co-producer of 2015’s The Mind’s Eye. Yes, I did say “were-frog”! Half man, half amphibious monstrosity. Well, in this case, a half-woman/half-amphibious creature, capably designed by effects artist James Sizemore.

However, the biggest question regarding Bad Blood isn’t whether or not the effects hold up or if the story makes any sense, but whether or not the film is ultimately ruined by too much being revealed in its trailer. The answer? No. All of it is ruined.

College student Victoria (Mary Malloy) has returned home to stay with her mother after taking a break from pursuing her degree. Unfortunately, the respite may not be as relaxing as she had hoped. Mom has since remarried to Wade (Brian Troxell), an angry, judgmental guy who seems just a little too stereo-typically like your stereotypical jerk of a step-dad. You’ve seen this guy 8,000 times before in other films.

Also added to Victoria’s “new” family is Wade’s young son, Wade Jr.. The name alone tells you that this kid will be just as unlikable as his “old man”, if not more so. To help convey this sentiment, Wade Jr. is portrayed as a pudgy, candy-faced, spoiled, little backstabbing shit. You’ve seen this kid before too, although maybe not as many times as his Dad.

As you might expect, Wade doesn’t buy Victoria’s claim of “needing a break”, and instead believes that Victoria is just too concerned with partying to focus on school. His suspicions prove to be correct when she steals his car to go out with a friend. Adding to her growing list of poor judgement calls, she also stops to buy gas with Wade’s credit card, also presumably taken from him without permission. That said, her offenses won’t really matter much as there are apparently no police anywhere in this town.

Even early on, most of the characters and dialogue feels far too broad and cookie-cutter to be taken very serious. However, Victoria’s poor friend doesn’t get the chance to establish much of a personality before being ripped to shreds by a creature lurking on the gas station’s roof. The creature then turns its attention to Victoria, ripping open her face and throat before being brought down with a chemical-filled syringe fired dart-like into its throat. Victoria is dragged away as she loses consciousness.

The story picks back up one month later, Victoria still missing. A detective (Troy Halverson), hired by her parents, links her disappearance, as well as a string of recent murders, to the gas station. He has also discovered that the shady looking attendant is actually a disgraced scientist, as well as the “coincidence” that all of these murders and disappearances seem to occur on the night of a full moon. Despite all of these connections, he attributes everything to a drug cult and not lycanthropy. Frogcanthropy? However, his failure to spot the obvious is due less to ineptitude than it is his blossoming psychopathic tendencies.

Halverson provides the stand-out performance in the film, displaying the capability of being comedic and threatening in the same scene. His role is also the most developed, which is an odd choice when you consider that he should really be one of the least essential character in a film that has “family drama” as its biggest sub-plot.

Victoria is revealed to be alive and hiding out in the nearby woods. She is fully aware of the attack she suffered… as well as the side-effects of the ordeal. In her absence, she has been secretly meeting with the gas station scientist in order to obtain a serum that helps prevent the transformation process. Her departure is witnessed by the detective, who “retrieves” her at gunpoint and returns her home.

Now convinced that she is nothing more than a junkie, Wade searches Victoria’s belongings and steals her last vial of serum.  This leads to the obligatory confrontation with Wade, in which he briefly displays a totally expected abusive side. He barricades Victoria in her bedroom to sweat out “whatever she is on”.

This, of course, leads to the film’s selling point, as well as its biggest attribute: a full-on monster rampage filled with geysers of blood and more than a few randomly strewn internal organs. The transformation sequence is nice and gooey, which compliments the finished creature design. The fountains of blood and (acceptably hokey looking) body parts help make up for the deficiencies in character development and dialog, as well as plot holes big enough to lead Rubber Duck and the rest of the convoy through.

Regrettably, if you’ve watched the trailer, you no longer have any reason to watch the full film. Everything is in the trailer. EVERYTHING. Every single “moment” is revealed for you, thus leaving the film with nothing in the line of surprises or suspense. The film is then forced to plod along to its conclusion, which doesn’t match the fun or shock of the now-spoiled moments that preceded it.

Don’t come out of this review thinking that Bad Blood is an awful film. It’s not. It’s not a great film by any means, but it undeniably provides a solid dose of bloody monster madness with a healthy touch of camp. It’s fun, which seems to be the filmmaker’s ultimate goal. Unfortunately, there’s just no looking past the fact that most of that “madness” can be contained within a 2 minute trailer.

Evilspeak (1989)

DIRECTOR Eric Weston
STARRING Clint Howard, R.G. Armstrong, Joseph Cortese, Claude Earl Jones
RELEASE DATE February 26, 1982
RUNTIME 89 min.
COUNTRY United States

The clumsy military cadet Stanley Coopersmith is orphan and completely outcast in the West Andover Academy. He is frequently abused and humiliated by four despicable mates, and has a bad treatment from his teachers, the coach, the colonel and even from the local reverend. When Coopersmith finds a book of black mass that belonged to the evil medieval Father Esteban, he uses a computer to conjure Satan and revenge his harassers.

The term “acquired taste” could never apply more appropriately than it does for this film but there is something intriguing about this “video nasty” that separates it from films such as ”Cannibal Holocaust” or “The Driller Killer.” This film is not necessarily concerned with nudity or gore (don’t worry it’s still in there though), but more with grotesque imagery that makes you feel nauseous such as the violent hordes of swine and some vile scenes that hold up to Cronenberg and Fulci. Rather than being concerned with obvious plot incoherence and Clint Howard’s awkward acting, along with his awkward toupee, we must be concerned with the film as a whole as it defines an era of horror that was pushing the limits on censorship.

The film opens with a satanic ritual on the shores of Spain during the dark ages and after our first swift cut decapitation scene, which transitions perfectly to a soccer ball getting kicked at a school game, we are introduced to our main character Stanley Coopersmith. Stanley is a classic archetype of a social outcast and the epitome of “uncool,” not even the instructors like this kid. Stanley is an orphan at a prestigious military academy and is constantly harassed by his classmates. After Stanley is punished for no reason and sent to clean the cellar he uncovers something sinister: the diary of the evil “Estaban!” Estaban was the leader of the satanic cult we see in the opening scene. Once Stanley begins to translate the Latin writings of Estaban to English with the school lab computer he opens a new gate for hell to break loose.

The movie bears a strong resemblance to the plot of Stephen King’s Carrie as Stanley is driven by vengeance for the mistreatment he has endured by his classmates and instructors. Films like this are particularly disturbing because they show us how cruel people can be and how vengeance and retribution can be an even crueler as a consequence, especially if brought on by the dark lord himself. What makes this film interesting is that the goofy hero becomes a powerful agent of what we consider the most exalted form of evil…Satan.

The film contains some really horrific, and at times humorous scenes, such as a man being thrown upward only to be impaled by an iron spike chandelier and Clint Howard flying through a chapel with a medieval sword bearing a pentagram slaughtering all that oppose. There is also a specific scene that is unique for the time period only to be described as a “Satanic Tron” scene. A glitchy sequence with neon colored pentagrams and a pixelated face of Estaban.  Coupled with the 80’s style hard hitting synth bass and chants of a satanic choir reminiscent of “Ave Satani” from the omen we are carried to a very memorable climax makes the whole movie worth the watch. One will come to understand why this film became branded an infamous “video nasty.”

So give yourself credit because if you can sit through this film and enjoy it, you’ve come a long way as a horror fan. Something we need to understand is that we should never take our love of the genre so seriously. These films aren’t looking for Oscars, they are looking to offend, repulse, disgust, and ultimately…create horror! We can all agree that there are films that are defining and groundbreaking, but what about the films that carried the essence of horror through the decades in obscurity, only to continue to keep the foundation alive when censors were trying to shut down the art form altogether. Regardless of all opinion, “Evilspeak.” is eclectic part of the genre and a top “video nasty” that deserves at least one watch in your lifetime. I WILL RETURN!

The House of the Devil (2009)

STARRING Jocelin Donahue, Tom Noonan, Mary Woronov, Greta Gerwig & Dee Wallace
DISTRIBUTOR MPI Media Group / Dark Sky Films
RELEASE DATE October 30, 2009
RUNTIME 95 Minutes
COUNTRY United States

Desperate to make some money so she can move into a new apartment, college student Samantha Hughes (Jocelin Donahue) takes a mysterious babysitting job. When she arrives at the house, Mr. Ulman (Tom Noonan) mentions a full lunar eclipse and explains there is no child, but that Samantha will be watching his mother instead. After exploring the sinister-seeming house, Samantha soon comes to realize that her employers are hiding a horrifying secret and have plans to use her, dead or alive.

80’s nostalgia and the occult never blended so well together until you see “The House of the Devil”. Now, I’m not bashing modern horror because I really do enjoy it all, but this film puts most attempts to utter shame. Horror in the last decade is hit or miss either being deemed torture porn, glorified for its pretentiousness, or just PG-13 garbage. The House of the Devil is an exception by allowing us to reflect on what made the classics so important to the genre and the cinematic experience in general. Horror heads will be reminded why they descended to the dark side in the first place.

Being that the time period for this film is the 1980s it only makes sense that it be captured on 16mm. This produces the illusion of the era appropriately beside just the feathered hair and Volvos. Along with the visual aesthetics, the film is set on a backdrop of the “Moral Panic” of the 80s: the menace of Satanic Cults conjuring darkness behind the closed doors of American life. We are informed of this collected paranoia by a PSA-like message in the opening scene adding further to the realistic value of the film.

This satanic panic begins with Samantha Hughes, a young college student, viewing an apartment. Unfortunately, she is lacking funds for the deposit, but the landlady is sympathetic and extends the time to get the cash. (Notice the cameo from scream queen Dee Wallace as the landlady.) Luckily Samantha finds an ad on the Wall: Babysitter needed…and guess what?! She gets the job! Hail Satan!

Accompanied by Her best friend, Megan, they venture to the house out in the middle of nowhere. Upon arrival, they meet the awkward Mr. Ulman dressed in formal attire to celebrate the night’s Lunar Eclipse with Mrs. Ulman, who is basically a far creepier version of Morticia from the Addams family. Mr. Ulman informs Samantha that she is not actually babysitting at all, but watching over his mother-in-law. He adds this should be fairly easy since she “keeps to herself.” Now obviously this should be a red flag to our heroine but she still agrees after persuading Mr. Ulman to up the payment to 400 dollars. Meanwhile, Megan is getting creeped out by the whole eerie atmosphere and tries to convince Samantha to leave but some people will do anything in desperation? Even if it means a night in the house of the devil and after a bloody explosive scene be warned that the rest of the film will scare you back into Sunday school.

As menacing things begin to occur in the house we get some great scenes filled with nostalgia to remind you of the decade such as ordering pizza from a rotary dial and listening to The Fixx on cassette with your Sony Walkman while dancing through a creepy house. Samantha soon begins to suspect something sinister might occurring in the house. I don’t want to reveal anymore so all I will say is get some pizza and watch this movie.

Aside from the soundtrack containing chart-topping hits of the era, the original score is awesome as well. Jeff Grace composed a chilling score that intensifies the slow-burning terror. The spine-tingling strings alone create a crawling atmosphere that suggests something evil is lurking. The opening credits are specifically powerful as it solidifies the vision director Ti West was attempting to accomplish. Upon first viewing, you might be convinced you’re watching the film on VHS incorporating a carpenter-esque track collocated with freeze frames and classic yellow text.

Executed with brilliance the film delivers almost Hitchcockian suspense that builds to a hellish climax. I promise this movie is more than your typical horror film, it is a study in horror itself. It is a respectful homage to the genre at the height of it’s popularity. This film America’s worst nightmare in the 1980’s, besides Communism. Complete with blood rituals and a couple pentagrams, The House of the Devil will get you waking up early on Sunday morning again.