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Glynn Avenue Massacre

Horror Movie Reviews

STRANGER THINGS (2016) (Netflix Original Series)

stranger-things-kids

Director: Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer, Shawn Levy

Writer: Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer, Jesse Nickson-Lopez, Justin Doble, Paul Dichter, Jessica Mecklenburg, Alison Tatlock

Music: Kyle Dixon, Michael Stein

Format: Streaming (Netflix)

Series Length: 8 episodes

Starring:

Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers

Matthew Modine as Dr. Martin Brenner

Charlie Heaton as Jonathan Byers

David Harbour as Jim Hopper

Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler

Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson

Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas Sinclair

Natalia Dyer as Nancy Wheeler

Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven

Noah Schnapp as Will Byers

During my childhood, there were certain movies and television shows that I felt “got” me. Media that was specifically aimed at my demographic that seemed to understand what it meant to be a child that was a little different. I loved sports, but was never super athletic. I would rather grab a copy of Shocker on Shock Street or a collection of Alvin Schwartz stories than a baseball bat. My idea of a great time was a trip to the video store to rent A Nightmare on Elm Street III for the fourth weekend in a row. So when I was introduced to The Goonies, The Monster Squad, E.T., Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Goosebumps (TV series) and so on, I felt like it was cool to be uncool.

Now, it seems like young adults have a little taste of what I felt back in the yearly 90s. With shows like Gravity Falls and the new Scooby Doo mysteries (just to name a couple), there’s still a flow of media out there to reach the next generation of obsessed super fans. But these aren’t quite the same. They are missing that key element of nostalgia. Nostalgia for the 80s babies. That is, until this past weekend, when Netflix dropped a bomb of what it was like to grow up in a time before twitter and smart phones.

Stranger Things takes places in Illinois in 1983. A clan of 4 middle-schoolers (very reminiscent of my school yard chums) are gathered in a basement neck deep in an exciting game of Dungeons and Dragons. Mike (Wolfhard), Dustin (Matarazzo), Lucas (McLaughlin) and Will (Schnapp) wrap up their 10 hour session and the visiting boys are sent home. On the way, Will is frightened off the road and proceeds to be chased home. Seeking shelter in his tool shed, the being that chased him has caught up to him and Will mysteriously disappears.

Meanwhile, across town, a strange girl with a shaved head shows up at a local burger joint, sneaks into the kitchen and chows down on leftovers. Wearing a tattered hospital gown and an intense scowl, the girl soon reveals a secret to the audience; an ability to control things with her mind. The mystery of this girl all traces back to a secret government lab, protected by a large, barbed wire fence and checkpoint stands with soldiers, where testing is being done. Only, no one in town knows exactly what kind of testing goes on within its monstrous walls.

I really don’t want to give too much away here. The disappearance of Will turns the Byers family upside down. Convinced that her youngest son is still alive, Joyce (Ryder) will stop at nothing to find him. Will’s friends also believe that Will is still alive, only stuck in a place unseen by the human eye.

The Duffer Brothers (Matt and Ross) are magnificent in this series effort. Creating the series and directing most of the episodes, they encapsulated the very essence of the 80s child adventure. Pitting pre-teen kids up against almost impossible odds. Shawn Levy (director of This is Where I Leave You, The Internship, The Night at the Museum films and many others) adds his directing prowess in 2 episodes and a plethora of writers helped in creating this exciting universe where nothing is exactly what it seems. Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein add a jaw-dropping score to the adventure that accommodates the action while creeping you out.

As far as acting goes, Ryder, Modine, and Harbour give excellent performances. Truly believable roles delivered with the poise and grace that is expected from these experts of their craft. With that said, in my opinion, they play second fiddle to the kids. I was very impressed with the acting of Wolfhard, McLaughlin, Schnapp, Brown, Matarazzo, Heaton and Dyer. Their performances took me right back to childhood, battling monsters in my backyard with my neighborhood crew of ragamuffins. Be it great directing or just natural talent, these kids stole the show.

Let’s put a bow on this. I can’t say enough about the awesome power of this series. It’s funny, action-packed, frightening and all-around fantastic. If you haven’t caught the bug yet, jump on board! Still not sold? That’s cool. Check out this trailer and see how you feel afterwards.

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I GOT 5 ON IT! Top 5 Directorial Debuts Since 2010

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A mark of a great director can always be seen in their early work. An original idea, no matter how simple the idea or what kind of budget they are working with, that leaves an impression with the audience will always keep consumers coming back. In fact, an in-your-face debut can define a director’s career. The film can give the director a lifetime pass even when he or she falls from grace in the latter part of their film making. Also, it can serve as a notice to cinephiles as to who has the chops to continue onto master status.

So far, this decade has seen a number of up and coming directors showing off their skills in a massive way. Especially in the horror genre. Maybe it’s just me, but I would rather see a low-budget slasher with passion than an attempt to put butts in theater seats that lacks soul. That brings us to our list. A list of my personal top 5 directorial debuts from 2010 until now.

I must note that my definition of debut here is a full length, credited movie. I’m leaving off short films, TV work or uncredited help. Now that the rules are in place, let’s get knee deep into it!

 

TOP 5 DIRECTORIAL DEBUTS SINCE 2010

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5. Fede Alvarez – Evil Dead (2013)

Remakes and reboots have a bad rep. Usually, when a remake is announced, my initial reaction is an exhausted gasp and subtle head shake. Especially when dealing with the remake of a genre classic. When I first heard about an Evil Dead remake, my jaw collapsed and my stomach churned. Why remake something that stands as a perfect slice of horror pie? I watched with reluctance and I’m happy to say that I was dead wrong about this one. What Fede Alvarez was able to accomplish should be the standard for directors remaking classic films; make the film your own and breathe new life into it. Alvarez didn’t just modernize the story beat for beat. He created new life in an already familiar universe. Because of this, Evil Dead has to be mentioned on this list.

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4. Drew Goddard – Cabin in the Woods (2012)

It’s not every day that a director can take all the tropes and rules of horror films and kick them out the window. Drew Goddard took a simple spin on the cabin in the woods (no pun) idea and made his audience squeal in delight. Regardless of what he’s doing now, Goddard will be remembered in the genre for years to come because of this triumph of bloody elation.

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3. S. Craig Zahler – Bone Tomahawk (2015)

A western in appearance, but every part of an extreme horror film at heart, S. Craig Zahler’s Bone Tomahawk delivers in the creep department. An all star cast mixed with a revenge story wrapped in sheer terror is unforgettable. The last act of the film has a the gritty feeling of a 70s mondo minus the documentary style. Picture Cannibal Holocaust without the film crew, with an ending that closes the story but only leaves you filled with dread.

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2. Ana Lily Amirpour – A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)

The Iranian vampire western shot in black and white, the visually stunning A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night will leave you spellbound, overwhelmed and straight horrified. Artistic, passionate and mind-blowing, Amirpour’s first feature will resonate with you long after the final credits roll. Take a trip into Bad City and leave a little piece of you within its desolate streets.

the babadook

1. Jennifer Kent – The Babadook (2014)

All of the hype is real. There’s nothing to say that hasn’t been said before. The Babadook is an absolute masterpiece. I love that horror has taken a slight turn from huge, CGI monster-ish “things go boom” films to these little, independent gems of emphatic joy. The duel force of Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman on-screen is undeniable and Jennifer Kent’s directing and story is pulse pounding from the first second. For me, it’s one of those films that I will always remember where I was the first time I saw it.

Body Bags (1993)

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BODY BAGS (1993)

Director: John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper

Writer: Billy Brown, Dan Angel

Distributor: Republic Pictures

Music: John Carpenter, Jim Lang

Runtime: 91 min.

Format: VHS

Starring:

Alex Datcher as Anne (The Gas Station)

Robert Carradine as Bill (The Gas Station)

Stacy Keach as Richard Coberts (Hair)

David Warner as Dr. Lock (Hair)

Mark Hamill as Brent Matthews (Eye)

Twiggy as Cathy Matthews (Eye)

John Carpenter as The Coroner (The Morgue)

If you visit my site on a regular basis of any kind, you already know my crazed love affair with the horror anthology film. I devour all I find. When I discovered John Carpenter had an anthology of his own loaded with Hollywood big names and genre idols, I was like a kid locked in a candy store for an entire weekend. The gloves came off with utter excitement. Body Bags is a made for TV movie that aired late in the summer of 1993 on Showtime. Originally meant to be an anthology show for Showtime in the vein of The Twilight Zone or Tales From the Crypt, the idea was scrapped and the episodes that were filmed were thrown together for a movie. Not being privy to the awesome power of Showtime as a child, I wasn’t introduced to this film until later in my adolescence

I remember distinctly being creeped the F out by the site of a ghastly John Carpenter as the “host”, if you will, in the wrap around story and being flat out terrified by The Gas Station segment. I didn’t, however, remember a single thing about the other stories other than Mark Hamill. This brings us to 2013, when Scream Factory released the special edition blu ray of this demented scarefest. After seeing it was getting a release that could only be described as “nerd candy”, it reminded me of how long it had been since seeing the film. Naturally, I broke out my faded DC comics wallet, pulled out the debit card…and ordered a VHS copy for a few bucks.

My over-eager hands couldn’t get the package open fast enough when it appeared on my doorstep a few days later. Almost immediately, the doors were locked and the lights were off. I popped this piece into my super fresh VCR and prepared myself to engage in heart stopping horror. Man…I miss being a kid. Now that I have adult eyes and my brain has processed more of the “extreme” horror cinema, I have to say I was a little disappointed.

What I did remember about the film still held pretty true. Carpenter as The Coroner is still a frightening sight. Is it just me, or does seeing John dance around in full corpse coroner garb give you the willies? The wrap around works. A big part of an anthology film working is a delightful wrap around. Whether it be another story that ties everything together or, as in this case, a tour guide that interjects between each story and introduces the next.

The first story, The Gas Station, is best in show in my opinion. It’s a simple story that gets your skin crawling right away and doesn’t let up until Carpenter is back on screen. Anne (Alex Datcher) is a gas station attendant at a 24 hour fuel station. It’s her first night and gets dropped off by a friend. You can already feel the tension. She’s trapped, alone, all night with no car. Just her, the fluorescents, a cramped attendant stand, the smell of gas and the creeps that wonder around in the middle of nowhere at night. One thing that I did forget that was a pleasant surprise is all of the cameos that appear throughout the film. Wes Craven and Sam Raimi appear in this story (Craven as a weirdo that shows up for gas and Raimi as a body…without giving too much away). As the night progresses, the creepier the “customers” get and the more things go wrong. Anne’s nerves of starting a new job coupled with the horrific fear of the desolate location is felt by the audience. I was terrified for her and I was safely in my house. Out of nowhere, the spit hits the fan now Anne is trapped in a life or death situation with a madman. It’s a great little spooky story that serves it’s purpose by getting your blood pumping; a great way to start off an anthology.

It’s all downhill from there.

Our next story, after a little comic relief from John, is titled Hair. The mighty Stacy Keach stars as Richard Coberts, a wealthy man who has it all…except hair. After seeing men, women and dogs with long, flowing, full heads of hair, he decides to pay a visit to a doctor whose infomercial guarantees hair growth for anyone. Richard gets the hair transplant and is overjoyed with the results. Finally, the long mop top of his dreams was his…only, it won’t stop growing. Eventually, the hair takes over his body. Hair begins growing out of all the wrong places on his face. Looking like J. Fox’s stunt double from Teen Wolf, Richard tries cutting it off, but it only causes him pain. What’s weirder than that? He discovers that the hair he is able to cut off has teeth! All in all, this story is a little on the weak side for me. Stacy Keach delivers, but the meat and potatoes just aren’t filling enough.

The last segment, titled Eye, is the story directed by Tobe Hooper. Brent Matthews (Mark Hamill) is a baseball player on a hot streak and is about to make his move from the farm league to the big show, when a car crash leaves a piece of shrapnel buried in one of his eyes. Unwilling to give up his pro ball dreams, he has an eye transplant. Of course, there’s a downside. The eye belonged to a recently deceased serial killer and now Brent is having visions of mutilating women. The story comes to a head when he attempts to attack and murder his wife Cathy (Twiggy). Much like Hair, Eye falls a little short. It’s more enjoyable than the previous segment, but still doesn’t carry very much weight with this guy.

The movie ends with one last visit with The Coroner to discover just why Carpenter looks like a corpse and guzzling down formaldehyde martinis. A few last second cameos by Tom Arnold and Tobe Hooper himself completes this little package of fright.

In summation, Body Bags is the 1993 version of Nightmares from ten years earlier. A television show that ended up being jettisoned from their respected corporate aircraft and, in an effort to save face, put the filmed material together into an anthology film. Both had great opening stories and became stale from that point on. If I had to choose, I would pick Body Bags as a better movie in total. The stories are a little better and the acting is a step above its predecessor. Yet…it’s not that GREAT of a film. A fun little ditty to pass some time. I would recommend watching it for The Gas Station segment. It was under my skin and got it crawling.

Check It Out! July 2016

CREEPS! Welcome back to our little ghastly neck of the internet. As you already know, this is our look at some of my picks of what’s getting released to Blu/DVD this month. This month is chock full of great titles, so c’mon Roy….let’s get our hands dirty.

July 5:

holidays

Holidays (DVD)

Weird. I’m excited about an anthology film. I’ve been keeping up with this little nugget of cinema since it was announced and now it’s here! The stories are based on the macabre of our national holidays and features shorts by directors such as Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer (Starry Eyes), Nicholas McCarthy (The Pact, At the Devil’s Door), Sarah Adina Smith (The Midnight Swim), Scott Stewart (Dark Skies) and Kevin Smith (Red State, Tusk, Yoga Hosers). This title just got added to Netflix, so if you want to test the milk before buying the cow, go for it. You won’t be disappointed.

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Blood and Black Lace (2 Disc Special Edition Blu/DVD)

Many believe this to be Mario Bava’s masterpiece. And I can’t say that I would disagree with that statement. If you’re not very familiar with or looking for a good film to start building a foundation in Italian horror/giallo, look no further. Amazing camera work, visually stunning color design, a gut-wrenching “who will survive” story…Blood and Black Lace has it all.

July 10:

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10 Cloverfield Lane (Blu/DVD)

Because of my love of Matt Reeves’ Cloverfield (2008), I have read nothing about this film and just waiting to watch. I’m not saying it’s a sequel, because I’m not sure. But I will find out soon enough. I’m dying to see this. Plus, almost anything starring John Goodman is worth watching. Roseanne being a prime example. I have to give it up for whoever pieced together the trailer(s) and tv spots for this flick. They did an amazing job of filling me with wonder without giving away any of the mystery. I might just give this a watch after I’m done typing this.

July 12:

green room

The Green Room (Blu/DVD)

Another one of those films I’ve been patiently waiting for since hearing about it in December of last year. I was a big fan of Jeremy Saulnier’s Blue Ruin and have been anxious to see his next film. Considering what I’ve heard and read so far, this is Blue Ruin on steroids. A punk band finds out about a secret bar to play a show. When they arrive, they quickly discover that they may be in the wrong place in front of the wrong crowd. After some tension, the band begins to win over the crowd and the show ends well. Then the trouble starts.

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Just Desserts: The Making of Creepshow (Blu Ray)

One of the handful of films that started it all for me, Creepshow will go down as one of my favorite horror films of all time. In 2007, Michael Felsher heard my prayers and made a documentary on the making of, in my opinion, the greatest anthology ever made. Now, finally, I can own a copy. Thank you dear sweet nerd lord. This will be in my collection sooner than later.

July 19:

bad moon

Bad Moon (Blu/DVD)

The good folks over at Scream Factory continue to give forgotten gems a well-deserved release. This time, they’re back at it with the release of Bad Moon (1996). Eric Red’s werewolf film is one of the few werewolf movies I missed as a kid. Even better, I get to enjoy it as an adult. Practical effects are something that I miss from the golden age of horror, so anytime Scream Factory releases a film from pre-2000, I get excited.

July 26:

the boy who cried werewolf

The Boy Who Cried Werewolf (Blu Ray)

Speaking of Scream/Shout! Factory and werewolves, we get a double dose of werewolf fun as Shout! Factory is releasing the Blu Ray of The Boy Who Cried Werewolf (1973). Not to be confused with the 2010 movie of the same title (which appears to be a Nickelodeon TV movie), we’re talking about the 1973 fright flick directed by Nathan Juran (Attack of the 50 foot Woman, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad). Juran’s last directed movie, this would be a nice classic to add to the stash.

five miles to midnight

Five Miles to Midnight (Blu Ray)

We’ll wrap up this section of Check It Out with another suspense thriller I didn’t know existed until preparing to write this article. This is why I do this. For your sake and mine. Five Miles to Midnight is a 1962 film starring two screen legends, Sophia Loren and Anthony Perkins, as a couple who get in way over their head in a get-rich-quick scheme with dire consequences. Directed by Anatole Litvak (The Snake Pit).

Pick(s) of the Week(s): June – July 18

What’s up, Creeps? Man, it’s been awhile. It’s insane how quickly time can slip away on you. There have been many changes in my personal life (great changes), but I’m back to deliver you some great recommendations to sink your teeth into. Many of the titles I’m about to mention are available via streaming TV or fairly cheap for rental. So let’s get right in!

 

southbound

Southbound (2015)

A very cool, creepy, thrill ride of an anthology film, featuring shorts from up and coming horror directors Roxanne Benjamin (co-producer of Faults, The Devil’s Candy, V/H/S films), David Bruckner (The Signal, V/H/S films), Patrick Horvath (The Pact II) and Radio Silence (V/H/S). I love a good anthology with a nice wrap-around that ties the stories up with a nice, little bow. Plus, listening to the eerily soothing voice of Larry Fessenden is always a thumbs up.

 

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Deathgasm (2015)

Black metal, satanists, demons, gore, comedy and corpse paint; this film has a little bit of everything. I’ve been meaning to check this film out for quite some time now. It’s a blend of my two favorite things period; death metal and gruesomeness. With this film and Housebound, New Zealand is leading the surge of horror comedies and I’m really excited to see what Jason Lei Howden (a very accomplished visual effects artist) does next.

 

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Hush (2016)

Directed by Mike Flanagan (Absentia, Oculus, Before I Wake), this film was a little bit of a festival darling early on and was released to Netflix last month. It tells the story of a deaf writer, escaping to a cabin in the woods to work and gets terrorized by a man with a crossbow. What separates this film from other slashers is the aspect of being hunted without the use of one of your senses. This allows for some really cool set pieces and guaranteed to leave you on the edge of your seat. Speaking of Mike Flanagan, he recently appeared on an episode of the Shock Waves podcast and delivered an astounding interview. Check it out if you’re into the podcast thing. Also, Flanagan announced earlier this year that he’s working on a film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel Gerald’s Game, which should be pretty f’n interesting.

 

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Making a Murderer (Netflix Series) (2015)

Not really “horror”, but can be horrific at times, this 10 part series blew the pants off of America when it was released. Of course, I waited for all of the fuss to die down before checking it out…and I’m really glad I watched this. It engages you and leaves you talking about it for the next two weeks. If you haven’t seen this, I highly recommend checking it out

Cutting Class (1989)

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Director: Rospo Pallenberg

Writer: Steve Slavkin

Distributor: Republic Pictures Home Video

Music: Jill Fraser

Runtime: 91 min.

Format: VHS

Starring: Donovan Leitch Jr. – Brian

Jill Schoelen – Paula

Brad Pitt – Dwight

Roddy McDowall – Mr. Dante

Martin Maul – William

 

When thinking about the big time “before they were stars” roles in horror films, a few come to mind immediately. Johnny Depp in A Nightmare on Elm Street, Kevin Bacon in Friday the 13th just to name a couple. Rarely mentioned is a young Brad Pitt in the high school slasher Cutting Class. In 1989, Pitt had some cameos in a few films, had a some minor roles in film and television, but hadn’t really had a starring role. That is, until Rospo Pallenberg’s directorial singlet.

Surprisingly enough, the crew for this film has an impressive resume. Pallenberg was an uncredited writer of The Exorcist II: The Heretic. Writer Steve Slavkin was the creator of the beloved Nickelodeon show Salute Your Shorts. Then, throw in special effects guru Robert E. McCarthy, who worked his magic in Phantasm II, Return of the Living Dead and would go on to work with artistic god David Lynch in Twin Peaks (TV and Fire Walk with Me), and you have all the making of something special. Well, sort of.

Cutting Class is a pretty typical teen slasher. Still riding the wave of the 80s flurry of psycho killers mangling teens, this film doesn’t add anything too memorable to the sub-genre. In all honesty, the film’s only reason for rediscovery would be Pitt. Fans of the actor grab this up and watch how, even at a young age, Brad was light years ahead of his peers at mastering his craft.

When District Attorney William (Maul) heads to the woods for a week of hunting and r&r, his daughter Paula (Jill Schoelen) is left to hold down the fort and stay busy in her studies. Naturally, as any rebel teen filled with rapidly increasing hormones, her boyfriend Dwight (Pitt) sees it as an opportunity to party and bang his high school sweetheart. Paula is the “hottie” of the school, catching the eye of many of the young men (and principal Mr. Dante), but none more than Brian (Donovan Leitch Jr.). Brain is a troubled youngster. He has recently returned from an institution for cutting the brakes on his old man’s car, which lead to his demise. Decked out in a super sweet black blazer and menacing blank stare, Brian sneaks around the school, creeping everyone out. Well, everyone but Paula; she seems to find it charming…for some reason.

Meanwhile, in the forest, DA Will is hot on the trail of water foul when an arrow plunges into his chest. As we see progressively through the film, though, the arrow was not a kill shot. Set up as the comedy relief from the heavy material of teenagers and school teachers being offed by a 16 year old, William struggles through the woods trying to stay alive. He’s even walked over by the biology teacher while the kids are on a field trip…to the marsh? I guess? It’s time out of class, I suppose. But who approved a field trip into a thick patch of forest?

Anyway, the film makes the audience believe that Brain is committing the murders for the first 70 minutes. At the last possible moment, they throw in some red herrings of sorts in the form of Brad Pitt and an “off his rocker” janitor to maybe confuse the audience right before the big “who dunnit” reveal.

As stated early, this is a pretty standard slasher. A studio’s way of cashing at the end of slasher era. There are some fairly gruesome death scenes, which makes sense considering the mastermind behind the special effects. Pitt is the stand out. Martin Maul really isn’t on screen that much and when he is, it’s for comedic reasons. He really is playing that bumbling cop role made famous in 70s shock films. Roddy McDowall is the same. Barely on screen and when he is, he’s the perverted old high school principal looking to catch a peek on some teenaged underwear.

The writing is descent. As far as a story goes, it flows fairly well. You’re never confused or wondering where this train is headed. For me, the problem with Cutting Class, and slashers of the like, is that we’ve seen it before. And we’ve seen it done one hundred times better. It’s not necessarily a “bad” movie. It’s just not that great. Give it a watch if you want to see a young Pitt and discover why it was a no brainer that this guy was going places. His acting really does make his counterparts look silly.

That’s all for this film. Stay posted on new things coming from Glynn Avenue Massacre and, as always, let me know what you think about this film. What do you like or dislike about it? Check back in frequently for new material. And as always…stay spooked.

Check It Out! June 2016

Welcome back, ghouls! It’s that time once again, to check out the Blu Ray and DVD releases of this month!

Now…there’s quite a bit being released in June (much like every month), but we’re going to be talking about some much anticipated releases this go around. So let’s get after it and see what should be added to your collection this month.

6/7

The Other Side of the Door (Blu/DVD)

I might have already lost some of you…but hear me out. I’m not saying this film is mind-blowing or is in any way going to change the face of the genre. But, as far as big budget studio films are concerned, this one doesn’t look too bad. I love the story and some of the clips I’ve seen are pretty dope (horror wise). Before you completely write this one off as another The Forest, give it a whirl.

6/14

The X-Files: The Event Series (Blu/DVD)

I was a big fan of the TV series and missed it’s run on cable, so I’m pretty excited to get the physical copy and run through the 6 episodes in one sitting. Naturally, there are some mixed feelings about the 10th season of this beloved show…but I’m still pretty jazzed to watch it myself.

The Invitation (Blu/DVD)

Stop reading. Buy this film. Watch it. Return to reading. #1 film of the year so far.

6/28

The Girl in the Photographs (DVD)

It’s on VOD now (June 18) so you can go enjoy this film from your living room at anytime. It’s the last film that Wes Craven had a part in (executive producer), so that alone is worth a viewing. Also, Osgood Perkins was apart of the writing process and he’s definitely worth keeping an eye on. If you’re into slashers, give this one a go.

 

That’s it for this month’s installment of Check It Out! Stay posted for more mutilated mayhem here at Glynn Avenue Massacre. Stay spooked.

POTW 6/13 – 6/19

What’s up, everyone? It’s been a while, but we’re back at it again. Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there! Personally, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate a day for dads then watching a new film that will creep the pants off of you. Luckily for you, I have just the film to tense up your nerves.

 

This Week:

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The Invitation (2015)

Karyn Kusama’s fourth full length film (six years after Jennifer’s Body) is my #1 film of the year so far. I’m a big fan of films that have cults as the subject matter, so I’ve been following this one for quite some time now. As soon as I saw it was released on VOD, I didn’t hesitate to purchase it (Blu/DVD released this week!). It’s the type of slow burn that spreads through your body until you can’t take it anymore.

Will (Logan Marshall-Green) and his girlfriend Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi) are invited to a dinner party thrown by Will’s ex-wife and new husband. After being back in his old homestead and being around the ex Eden (a mesmerizing performance by Tammy Blanchard), Will begins to suspect that there is something dangerous happening and the party is a cover for something evil.

Beautifully shot, astounding performances and amazing writing makes this film a must-see for anyone who enjoys the genre. Let me tell you…when the tension breaks, try not to jump out of your seat.

RATING: 9/10

 

Midnight Madness Double Feature: Fright Night/Fright Night II

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Ladies and germs….welcome to the new throat-ripping category here at GAM! In this series of posts, I’ll be checking out two films of the same style, sub-genre or a film and its one sequel to see if they play well as a double feature. Are you with it? I hope so. Let’s rip this thing open and dive in with two films that beckon to be watched and adored.

Fright Night (1985) and Fright Night II (1988)

When it comes to vampires, I’m partial to the Hammer films. Christopher Lee comes to my mind when the name Count Dracula is mentioned. No disrespect to Bela Lugosi. He is the original Dracula and his role as he Count is brilliant. There is just something about Lee. Dracula Has Risen From the Grave, The Satanic Rites of Dracula, Taste the Blood of Dracula, Horror of Dracula…the list goes on and on. Even Jess Franco’s Count Dracula from 1970 when Lee sported a monstrously badass handlebar mustache; he always brought a certain swagger to the character that grabs your attention and beats you over the head with it.

Nowadays, I’m sorry to say, that’s all gone. I’m honestly disappointed with 90% of the vamp flicks that meander onto my living room television screen. There is, however, that 10%. The stylistic A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, the clever Only Lovers Left Alive, the hilarious What We Do In the Shadows, and the brilliant Let the Right One In; these films almost make up for the dozens of bland, not so entertaining films that are being made monthly.

The 1980s. Now that was a decade for vampires. The Lost Boys, Near Dark, Vamp, Lifeforce, My Best Friend is a Vampire, Once Bitten…all astounding in their own way. Then there were two films. These two, in my opinion, defined vampires in the 80s. Their legacy would carry over into the 90s. And to this very second, are two of my favorite of the vampire films.

Fright Night tells the story of Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale), a regular teenaged boy with a love for vampire movies; more specifically, a horror show hosted by Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowell), the vampire slayer. A new neighbor, Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon) moves in next door and Charley quickly becomes convinced that he now lives across the lawn from a blood sucker. His girlfriend Amy (Amanda Bearse) and friend Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffreys) don’t believe him, naturally, so Charley enlists the services of Peter Vincent to take the vampire down. As a whole, the film delivers in every aspect. It’s just about as flawless as an 80s fright flick can be. In his directorial debut, Tom Holland (a master of the genre) delivers a center field bomb Sammy Sosa style that began his ascent into horror icon status. It’s funny, cleverly written, superbly acted and frightening with some amazing set pieces that put a grin on the face of the harshest critics.

I immediately wanted more. So I popped in my VHS copy of Fright Night II. As I said earlier (POTW) this was my first time watching this film. Back in the golden day, I remember seeing it on the shelf at Video Warehouse (represent) but never rented it. The film picks up on the same story, years later. Charley (Ragsdale returns) is now in college and has attended therapy for his unbelievable adventure into the depths of what goes bump in the night. Peter Vincent (McDowell) is still hosting his horror show, but his ego has flown over the moon, as he can now say he is a legit vampire hunter. Brewster is convinced now that the neighbor was just a good old fashioned murderer instead of a creature of the night. That is, until a mysterious new tenant occupies a room in his building; the alluring Regine and her motley crew of ragamuffins.

Charley is infatuated with Regine. Vivid nightmares, sensual daydreams, complete loss of basic motor skills when she speaks to him; the whole nine. One night, she enters his apartment and lays a bite into his neck. Now Charley is turning. The only one who can help is his trusty partner in crime, Vincent and love interest Alex (Traci Lind). The two films tie together in a nice little package when we learn that Regine is the sister of Jerry Dandridge, and she is hellbent on revenge for the death of her sibling.

As far as “which is a better film”, hands down, the award goes to the original. Fright Night is one of those must see classics that has been on everyone’s list and will continue throughout the end of time. Fright Night II is more of a surprise, though. Usually, you’ll hear nothing but grief about sequels to classics. For what it’s worth, Fright Night II delivers on entertainment, gruesomeness and creature effects as much as its predecessor. Fright Night is a better movie, but II is right on its heels. Tommy Lee Wallace (director of Fright Night II) is pretty well known in the genre, as well. Not saying he deserves Holland praise, but Halloween III is fantastic and It…I mean, everyone knows Pennywise.

My final verdict is this: Yes, this works great as a double feature everyday of the week. I could watch this two films again right now. If I had to choose one or the other, I’m picking Fright Night. However, if I were to put together a best of 1-off sequels, Fright Night II would be high on that list.

That’s all I have for right now, creeps. Go find copies of these films and make it happen. Let me know what you think. Grab some buds and make it a party. Smash that like button, follow me for more horror fun and we’ll see you next time. Keep it creepy and stay spooked.

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